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  • Tim Layden’s Lies of Omission and Laziness

    by SEE

    (The Rock Report) – It is a shame that in the week before Notre Dame plays its most meaningful game in more than a decade that Notre Dame Nation is confronted with a national story that looks to benefit from personal tragedy and “salacionalize” the truth.

    After first reading Tim Layden’s Sports Illustrated cover story, Notre Dame Miracle, I walked away with a feeling that, while missing key facts, it had a semblance of balance. Two days later, it’s clear I was duped by a clever structure that masked blatant truth twisting via omission of important points.

    One could surmise that these lies of omission were part intent, part laziness, but given the pedigree of the writer and his access, it doesn’t seem likely that Layden was simply outright negligent in gathering his information. A college journalist would be fired for such negligence.

    As has been written here many times, there are only three stories in Notre Dame football: The Resurrection, Notre Dame Sold Its Soul and Notre Dame Can’t Win Anymore. Sports Illustrated has managed to profit by peddling this cycle for years. The real magic this time around is that author Tim Layden has accomplished cycles 1 & 2 in concert with each other.

    Here’s the structural trick Layden pulled off, while the article is “balanced” in “word count”, that is the number of words devoted to good and seemingly bad about Notre Dame, it is the balance within each passage that has gone wildly askew. Entire passages had little reason for being included other than laying out personal tragedies as dots in a completely disconnected way that the author hopes to lead the reader to connect.

    It is a journalistic tact no better than referring to Kim Dunbar as a booster without mentioning the very pertinent fact that she was only deemed a booster because she once paid $25 to go to lunch at ND. “Booster gives trips to players” sells. “Notre Dame football groupie wants to date players,” not so much.

    Let’s begin with the entire passage mentioning changes in du Lac and the firing of Bill Kirk framed as “marching downward from the moral high ground.” First off, Layden fails to note that the anomaly has been the past few decades where Notre Dame careened from a caring University that applied du Lac with judgment and understanding to a byzantine enforcer of the rule of law.

    That manifested itself in an absurd string of decisions that saw players kicked off campus for the most minor infractions. In protest players like Will Yeatman transferred out of the University completely. That bizzaro enforcement of du Lac contrasted greatly with so many stories of Notre Dame’s past, where priests wouldn’t call the cops, but simply tell kids to go home. One of my favorite stories recounted here was when three students were found by Father Riehle sitting on a couch in the middle of a street. He simply told them to throw the couch in the lake and get home and not do it again.

    When Charlie Weis complained about residence life, he was complaining about an unfairness in application and an abdication of the moral responsibility of the University to use judgment. Far from descending from the moral high ground of the last century, Notre Dame simply adjusted back to what had, mostly, always been.

    Layden makes no effort to frame the issue correctly nor explore the context around the changes in du Lac and enforcement. I’d actually buy laziness with regard to his account here, but not on his account of the treatment of Michael Floyd.

    Layden contrasts the treatment of former players Rashon Powers-Neal and Michael Floyd, but he does so deceivingly.

    He correctly reported that Powers-Neal was suspended for a DUI in October of 2005. He then contrasts Powers-Neal treatment with the treatment of Floyd who didn’t miss a game and noted that his punishment was at Kelly’s discretion. It’s here where Layden makes an egregious omission, he inexplicably fails to note whether Floyd was punished at all, what that punishment was and how it related to the time of year.

    He left out half the story, the half that would have given the reader context and balance.

    Let me help. Floyd’s arrest happened in March and the timing is important. Floyd was suspended for all of Spring and wasn’t reinstated until August and until after he had completed community service, agreed to move back on campus and passed a series of steps to prove that he had committed to change.

    Just slipped your mind, Tim? I simply can’t fathom Layden didn’t have facts that were readily available in any newspaper.

    One could argue about the balance of that punishment vs. Power-Neal, but that would have watered down Layden’s point to soup. The fact is that Floyd went on to have a error-free final year at Notre Dame and became an example of the use of good judgment and rules used to teach and change behavior rather than rules callously applied as punishment.

    One could argue, and I would, that Notre Dame ascended the moral the high ground at that point. Rather than mindlessly applying rules, Notre Dame attempted to instead help the player make changes in his life.

    But nothing was worse in the article than including a passage entitled “Winning as Tragedy”, which was simply cover for introducing two tragedies that weren’t, in fact, tied to winning at all.

    Including Declan Sullivan’s tragedy as some sort of point of reference in the now loosely hanging thread that Notre Dame was “descending from the moral high ground” was simply irresponsible, but not near as irresponsible as introducing a second tragedy, that of Lizzy Seeberg, a St.Marys student who committed suicide after her allegation that she was inappropriately touched by a Notre Dame player.

    Layden plays up the salacious parts of the case, that a friend of the player texted her two days after the incident writing “messing with Notre Dame football is a bad idea,” that the case wasn’t turned over to St. Joseph’s County for days, that charges were dropped and that the father was angry and unsatisfied.

    Layden’s omissions here are particularly misleading. He fails to mention that Seeburg had a history of psychological problems (including attempted suicide,) that her account didn’t meet with the facts, that the text from the player’s friend wasn’t shown to be anything more than a college kids’ bad judgment, that the assault stemmed from an unwanted hand on a breast, that there was no compelling reason for NDSP, which has the ability to investigate the incident, to notify St. Joseph’s County, and that, as the Duke case taught us, authorities have to be concerned as much about the accused as the accuser.

    In other words, as with Floyd, Layden omitted all of the facts that would have given a semblance of balance to his representation of the Seeberg case.

    It was a case, as one of our posters wrote, that was doomed from the start.

    “Basically, as far as I can tell, the NDSP work was good overall and I fail to see any cover-up by ND administration which is the whole thrust of the Tribune article. Devious and misleading journalism by the Tribune. A truly tragic story for the Seeberg family, however.“

    From a story level, Layden failed to connect these topics to his overall point in any meaningful way, except that by including them he not merely implies a connection, he implores the reader to make one.  In the end, they were two tragedies and the only ongoing tragedy is that reporters such as Layden would exploit them to sell magazines.

    Layden then ends the article, supposedly focused on the resurrection, by implying that Notre Dame’s season was in part due to calls that went Notre Dame’s way. He cites the blown whistle at Stanford without bothering to note that the refs were running in and Notre Dame players stopped playing when their running back was a full half a yard away from the goal line.

    He notes the luck Notre Dame had that the refs failed to note the terrible twos on Pittsburgh’s failed field goal attempt that would have given Pittsburgh another shot. Notre Dame did have two players on the field with the number two, a violation, but Layden failed to note that it gave Notre Dame no competitive advantage whatsoever. It’s a sin akin to having a coach on the field. Unless the field goal kicker suddenly saw two twos and lost focus, it had no game impact.

    But by ending on that note, he leaves the reader with the distinct impression that the Irish are “getting away with something” … after, of course,”descending from the moral high ground.” It was stupidity masquerading as profundity. Layden’s story attack isn’t even original, it was lifted from from 2006.  It was six years ago that I was defending Notre Dame against a similar charge in the South Bend Tribune.  (See  Deconstructing a Smear Campaign for a good laugh)

    While it’s great to see Notre Dame on the cover of Sports Illustrated, it would appear that the subtitle was mislabeled. Notre Dame has ascended to moral high ground that it had abandoned for a short period of time, and it has ascended morally while graduating players off the field, winning on the field and while keeping the number of player incidents far lower than other schools.

    Sports Illustrated’s Tim Layden on the other hand, descends into blatant manipulation through omission, which is not only a moral breach, but a poor example for aspiring journalists. At least ones with a moral and ethical compass.

    Author’s Note: Some may say, “don’t publicize articles that sell sleaze”, an argument I generally agree with. Despite its diminished stature, Sports Illustrated remains a national magazine with a large audience and I’ve found that letting stories like this fester without challenge usually leads to a compounding story effect. For example, David Haugh’s misleading story in the Chicago Tribune was parroted by Layden this time around.Now, let’s beat the crap out of SC. As noted in  Remembering Not to Forget there will be more articles written like this one, the University needs to stand strong against these influences lest old lessons need to be relearned.

    28 Responses to “Tim Layden’s Lies of Omission and Laziness”

    1. Garr Isacco says:

      I was ready to go out and buy the magazine & now I find out it is just another rehash of John Feinstein’s cynical accusations against Notre Dame. Thanks for saving me from wasting $5.

      I’m going to focus on beating USC and getting tickets for the National Championship game in Miami.

    2. If there’s a market for people who want to believe that Notre Dame is any kind of college football cess pool…..well, what are ya gonna do? Seriously. There’s just no fighting such blindly upside-down hatred, let alone winning the argument. To paraphrase a great man: Forgive them, for they really ain’t got much goin’ on up there.

    3. Good post. I especially liked the arguments you made concerning the supposed “bad calls/non-calls.” I’ve made the same arguments vehemently on various places online.

      The only bad call ND has benefitted from this year was the pass interference call against Tyler Eifert in the Pittsburgh game. And considering Eifert IS interfered with much more often than it’s called – and considering our defensive line and linebackers are badly held on literally every play, which is never called – I feel no guilt about accepting that bit of help. We earned it. Similarly, I feel no guilt about accepting our good fortune in having Pitt’s kicker miss that field goal – since he was only in a position to win the game with that field goal due to ND’s suffering an extremely UNLUCKY fumble on its previous possession.

      Go Irish. Beat SC.

    4. martinjordan says:

      I haven’t read Sports Illustrtated since Framk Deford wrote “Under the Tarnished Dome.” Deford was the former senior editor at that rag when he wrote that book. He exploited disgruntled former players to prove his point. One player quoted extenxively was Marty Lippincott. The problem is that as senior editor Deford would have been aware of this article in 1988 in which Lippincott blames himself.

      December 05, 1988
      Whatever Happened To The Class ’85?
      Douglas S. Looney

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      Each fall 300,000 young men across the U.S. suit up for their final year of high school football. Of those seniors, about 3,000 receive scholarships to play football at a Division I-A college. Identifying the best among these athletes isn’t an exact science. Example: Alabama’s senior linebacker Derrick Thomas, an All-America this year, generated yawns from recruiters when he came out of South Miami High in 1985.

      What has happened to the 20 or so players whom coaches and journalists deemed the class of the Class of ’85? They are now seniors or, if they’ve been redshirted, juniors. None has won the Heisman Trophy. Only two have played on a national championship team—linebacker Quintus McDonald and kicker Kevin Mills of Penn State. The following represent a cross section of the best of the Class of ’85.

      Marty Lippincott (below and preceding page), a 6’5″, 284-pound senior tackle at Notre Dame, is a mystery. The Maxwell Club named him the Philadelphia area’s best high school football player when he played at Philly’s Northeast Catholic High. The Dallas Morning News called him the sixth-best schoolboy player in the country. Lippincott recalls those heady days: “I thought of myself as a star because everyone kept telling me I was. And it’s true. I was so good compared to everyone else.” So how is it that he became such a bust at Notre Dame? For one thing, Lippincott thinks it’s because “everybody had me as an All-America before I played a down. Now I’m going to be a senior and not letter.” It takes 30 minutes of playing time in a season to win a letter; Lippincott won’t come close to that this fall.

      Another reason for Lippincott’s failure is that when he arrived in South Bend, he was, by his own admission, “out every night drinking, then back in the dorm drinking. I’m sort of a rebel in my own time.”

      And he has paid the price. Lippincott has been kicked off the team three times. The first was after a team meeting in which the importance of discipline and decorum was discussed. Lippincott celebrated the end of the session by mooning his teammates. The second time was after a private meeting with coach Lou Holtz in which Holtz cautioned Lippincott repeatedly about the confidential nature of the discussion. Lippincott left the meeting and promptly told his teammates all about it. The third time Lippincott can’t recall, and neither can anybody else. After each incident Lippincott’s locker was cleaned out, a clear indication that he wasn’t wanted back. But Lippincott kept returning, and the Irish staff kept giving him one more chance.

      Lippincott started one game as a sophomore, at defensive tackle against Michigan, then was switched to offense and the second team. As a junior he started against USC at offensive tackle because of injuries to other linemen, and played briefly on both offense and defense the rest of the season.

      Last summer Lippincott got into a brawl at a Chicago bar just two days before the start of practice. He found himself listed on the third team on the depth chart for the season opener against Michigan. He didn’t even dress for the home game against Purdue two weeks later, nor did he make the traveling squad for the games at Michigan State and Pitt. He was so furious about not going to Michigan State that he told Holtz that he was quitting the team. But, predictably, he returned. While he has worked his way back up to third string, Lippincott sneers when asked if he has any chance of starting: “Yeah, if 50 other linemen get hurt.”

      On the record, the Irish coaching staff complains about Lippincott’s slowness, and offensive line coach Joe Moore says, “You’re only as good as your feet.” But, privately, the coaches think that Lippincott is the perfect example of the overrated and undermotivated player. Lippincott has the picture: “They think I drag other people down. Holtz always says, ‘If you can’t be a leader, then be a follower.’ He thinks I’m a leader in the wrong way. It seems like I’ve spent my whole career here trying to fight my way out of a ditch. I don’t want to be in life like I’ve been in football. I don’t want to start at the top, then work down.”

      Lippincott is mad at himself and, sometimes, mad at his coaches. Above all, he’s disappointed. He admits that he has squandered his talent, and that’s embarrassing to him. At times he seems to have lost perspective on his woeful career: He fantasizes that Holtz might invite him back as a fifth-year senior. That will happen when Holtz is named Pope. It’s a sad spectacle, and as winter closes in on the Notre Dame campus, Lippincott is downcast. “What have I done for this team? Nothing,” he says. “I’m not a very bright kid. I had a 2.0 in high school and a 2.0 at Notre Dame. I guess basically what I want to do is own my own nightclub.”

      http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/vault/article/magazine/MAG1068059/index.htm

      • martinjordan says:

        My apologies. Th book was not written by Frank Deford but by Douglas Looney (author of the above artical) and Don Yaeger.

        Tarnished Pen
        By Paul Sheehan

        Forbes MediaCritic
        Volume 1, Number 2

        The 1993 college football season kicked off with a book by two journalists entitled Under the Tarnished Dome: How Notre Dame Betrayed Its Ideals for Football Glory. The Simon & Schuster book, which briefly made the best-seller lists, was anointed in such influential quarters of the news media as The New York Times and ABC’s “Nightline.” But careful examination shows that it deserved a far different kind of reception. The book provides a perfect case study of how reporters can manipulate evidence and how mere accusations can harden into media folklore as they are repeated, unchecked by other journalists.

        Under the Tarnished Dome purports to be investigative journalism, and the tone of its authors, Don Yaeger and Douglas Looney, a 20-year veteran of Sports Illustrated, is one of high moral outrage. Their book’s premise is aptly summarized in Simon & Schuster’s breathless publicity release:

        “Under the Tarnished Dome: How Notre Dame Betrayed Its Ideals for Football Glory is a jarring expose that strips the lustrous veneer off of America’s most beloved college football team. The book charges that, in its hiring of Lou Holtz to be its football coach and in its tolerance of his practices, the University of Notre Dame has punted away its ideals of academic excellence, good sportsmanship and high ethical standards.”

        To sustain this quite serious charge, Yaeger and Looney claim to rely on sources whom they list at the front of the book under the heading: “Notre Dame Players in Under the Tarnished Dome.” Their prime target – 108 former and present Notre Dame players are listed – is Lou Holtz. They allege that Holtz is “a despicable human being,” who “rules by fear and intimidation.” They liken him to a steamroller, “which operates without wisdom, compassion or humanism.” They cast him as not merely a repulsive, hypocritical bully, but also as mentally unstable. “In defense of Holtz,” they write, “it could well be that living in this asylum with all these inmates has made him a little crazy. …But never forget, he hand-picked the inmates he wanted to be around him.”

        The “inmates” Yaeger and Looney portray are an ugly crew of violent, stupid, drug-abusing athletes who besmirch the traditions of Notre Dame while being coddled by a hypocritical administration. “For all of Notre Dame’s palaver about there being no scuba-diving classes, no physical education majors, and no place to hide the athletes,” they write, “the no-brainer in place for the football players is American Studies.” As for the inmates’ drug abuse, Yaeger and Looney allege that steroid abuse is widespread at the school, having been encouraged by Holtz. Chapter three begins: “First Lou Holtz arrived at Notre Dame. Then a lot of steroids did. The connection is inescapable. It has also been devastating.”

        Yaeger and Looney refer repeatedly to the large number of players they interviewed on the record, and they quote some 71 players in all. It is on their interviews with the players that the credibility and power of Under the Tarnished Dome hangs. Hence the long list of names at the beginning of the book.

        But the list is bogus, a classic example of how journalists can stack data to achieve a desired outcome. More than 300 students have played for Notre Dame during Lou Holtz’s tenure, which began in 1986, but Tarnished Dome relies on a very small percentage of them. More than half of the 108 players on Yaeger and Looney’s list make either brief cameo appearances or are not quoted at all. The book turns out to have been built on quotes from two dozen players, most of whom were either thrown out of the university, suspended from the team, dropped out, failed out, transferred, were placed on probation, or never played for Holtz.

        Consider the 13 most-quoted players in the book (all those given more than 100 lines of text), listed in order of the extent to which they are quoted:

        1. Dan Quinn (suspended from the university, took steroids, accused of sexual assault, sued Notre Dame);
        2. Marty Lippincott (suspended from the team, placed on academic probation three times);
        3. Jim Baugus (suspended for steroid use);
        4. George Marshall (suspended for drug use);
        5. Linc Coleman (played only one year, dropped out of Notre Dame after academic problems);
        6. Tony Smith (claimed Notre Dame caused him to lose $1 million in the NFL draft by playing injured);
        7. John Foley (placed on academic probation);
        8. John Askin (claims Tarnished Dome is “an outright fraud”);
        9. Mike Crounse;
        10. Jeff Pearson (suspended from the university, tested positive for steroids, sold steroids);
        11. George Williams (suspended from the team);
        12. Kurt Zackrison;
        13. Mike Golic (played at Notre Dame before Holtz became coach).

        And so it goes down the list – a list filled with the sound of grinding axes. The player with the greatest number of problems, Dan Quinn, is the player with the greatest number of quotes in the book. (Notre Dame refused to comment about any individual players. Their problems were revealed either in the Tarnished Dome or in Blue and Gold Illustrated, an independent sports magazine that covers Notre Dame football.)

        While Yaeger and Looney stack their book with problem cases, they do not present contrary testimony. For example, they do not present the views of the leaders of the football program, the 20 team captains during the Holtz era. After hearing what several former captains have to say about the book, one can see why Yaeger and Looney chose to exclude them.

        Rick Mirer, the school’s all-time passing leader and arguably the most well-known Notre Dame player from the Holtz era, is listed as one of the 108 players at the opening of the book, but Mirer told the Los Angeles Times that he was never contacted by the authors. “[Yaeger and Looney] looked for people who had a reason to be angry about whatever happened in their career there. They have no reason to talk to me.” The book, he added, is “a horrible misrepresentation of the university. If anybody knows what happened there in the last four or five years, I would definitely be one of those guys….I’m…disgusted with the things I see [in the book].” Mirer took the witness stand in defense of his former coach: “I feel badly for coach Holtz because he does so many things for the benefit of the players, to make you a better person, a better student, to make you a better athlete. It’s just not fair…the rap he’s taking.”

        Andy Heck, another captain listed by the authors but never quoted by them, told Blue and Gold Illustrated: “[Yaeger] asked me, ‘Did you use steroids at Notre Dame, because some teammates are saying you did.’ I flat out told him no, and anyone who says I used them is not telling the truth….ND pioneered random drug testing in college football. I can recall three or four team meetings with Dr. James Moriarty, who pointed out the dangers of steroid use to discourage anyone from using them.” Another football captain, Ned Bolcar, told Blue and Gold: “Lou Holtz and the athletic department should be commended on the way they test. We tested way beyond what the NCAA does. I never heard Lou Holtz or anyone on his staff support steroid use.” As for the one football captain quoted extensively in the book, Mike Kovaleski, he says many of his quotes were used out of context. “In no way did he or anyone on his staff ever condone steroid use. That’s a ridiculous accusation.”

        On this subject of steroid use, the authors also did not quote Barry Alvarez, head football coach of Wisconsin and a former assistant to Holtz. Alvarez told Blue and Gold that Holtz preached the need to be a “proper representative of Notre Dame. Don’t cut corners. Don’t look for loopholes. Every coach heard it, and he lived by it. Lou Holtz represented Notre Dame as well as anyone could….To claim that steroid use was condoned is an absolutely ridiculous statement. It doesn’t make sense. I don’t even want to give the accusation any credibility by responding to it.”

        Notre Dame took exactly the same approach to Under the Tarnished Dome when it was published, and the authors have used this as a shield, as if the university’s hostility exculpated them from adhering to basic journalistic standards. In their book, accusations and opinions are trotted out as truth.

        Take, for example, the allegation that Notre Dame football players are loaded into the American Studies program. Of the 112 players currently on the football roster, exactly two are majoring in American Studies, and the number has changed little over the years.

        Or take the allegations about steroid abuse. Everyone knows it is impossible to stamp out illegal drug use on any college campus, and college football, in particular, rides the testosterone tiger. Yet Yaeger and Looney single out Notre Dame, which has the most rigorous screening program in the nation, and then claim, against all objective evidence, that the impact of steroids at Notre Dame has been “devastating.” For the record, since screening began in 1985, only five out of more than 400 Notre Dame players have tested positive, and none since 1990. Bob Minnix, director of enforcement at the NCAA, says that Notre Dame’s “drug testing standards are much tougher than ours.”

        By many measures, Notre Dame has the most successful football program in the nation. Its success seems to goad Yaeger and Looney, whose prose often shifts into rhetorical overdrive – another of the book’s faults. “It is impossible,” they write, “to fathom any greater exhibition of greed or arrogance than what the University of Notre Dame perpetrated on the college football world in February 1990 when it announced, in effect, ‘We’re Notre Dame and you’re not, so screw you.”…Greed and lust can be laid unequivocally at the Irish doorstep – greed for money, lust for attention – as the motivating forces.”

        For Yaeger and Looney, Notre Dame’s sin was to break with the College Football Association (CFA) and negotiate a separate $37.5 million television deal with NBC. The authors characterize the deal as “backstabbing” and “sleight-of-hand” and “indefensible.” They do no tell readers that the CFA had negotiated a contract that was constrictive for the university, which acted within its legal rights and in fulfillment of its own obligations.

        Yaeger and Looney ask: “How many national championships are worth the price of one’s own soul?…The whirring sound you hear is Knute Rockne spinning in his grave.” Here the authors’ ignorance betrays them. Knute Rockne was college football’s first and greatest entrepreneur, a point vividly amplified in Professor Murray Sperber’s 600-page history of Notre Dame football, Shake Down the Thunder. Knute Rockne just might have spun in his grave if Notre Dame had not struck the deal with NBC.

        Obvious flaws like this are marbled throughout Tarnished Dome. At Simon & Schuster, even the most rudimentary journalistic checks and balances appear to have no relevance. (How, one wonders, did Simon & Schuster allow Yaeger through its gate? His dubious career includes arrest for shoplifting when he worked for the San Antonio Express-News and two firings, from the The Dallas Morning News and The Florida Times-Union.) Under the Tarnished Dome was turned down by its original publisher, HarperCollins, after it saw an early draft and decided not to proceed with publication.

        Unfortunately, Simon & Schuster is not the only institution exposed by Under the Tarnished Dome. The book was serialized in such newspapers as the Detroit News and the New York Post, and it won a wide and uncritical follow-up among journalists, with the biggest boost coming from ABC’s “Nightline.” According to Publisher’s Weekly, “One of the things that helped propel the book to stardom – it now has 110,000 copies in print – is that ‘Nightline’ devoted an entire show to it.”

        Surprisingly, given Ted Koppel’s deserved renown for acuity and integrity, “Nightline” delivered a television replica of the book, with the same stacked deck and the same manipulated examples. The three Notre Dame players quoted on camera are among the 20 key malcontents who shaped Under the Tarnished Dome. It appears “Nightline” could not find a single Notre Dame player to offer an alternative to the Yaeger-Looney line.

        Moreover, the main accusations of the book are buttressed by ABC reporter Armen Keteyian: “In their book, Under the Tarnished Dome, Looney and co-author Don Yaeger, an investigative reporter with two other books on college sports to his credit, contend Notre Dame has sold its soul for football glory.” Interviewed by Keteyian, Yaeger says, “Now, it seems, ND stands for No Different.”

        ABC was hardly alone in its uncritical treatment of the book. The New York Times, in the first month after Tarnished Dome was published, ran no fewer than six negative reports on Notre Dame, five of them quoting the book: “Notre Dame Throws the Book at Michigan” (September 12), “Holtz Comes to His Defense” (September 13), “How to Make Notre Dame’s Dome Shine” (September 14), “The Notre Dame ‘Mutiny’ that Wasn’t” (September 17), “Seeing a Different Kind of Stars” (September 27) and “Push Comes to Shove, Again” (October 2). Thus the Times, the bellwether for a vast number of editors and reporters, helped embed the main accusations of Tarnished Dome into media folklore, accepting them without ever checking them.

        The underlying bias evident in this case study has little to do with Notre Dame. Rather, it reveals the news media’s deep structural bias in favor of discord, and its weakness for the disenchanted.

        Paul Sheehan, a former Nieman Fellow at Harvard University, is a contributor to The Atlantic Monthly and chief U.S. correspondent for the Australian Consolidated Press magazine group.

    5. Was at ND from ’96 – ’01. Your description of Reslife articulately encapsulates every feeling I had about the Kirk/Poorman dictatoship. The lack of wisdom in that regime was hellacious.

      • 2001 Sorin, I absolutely agree. I’m a ’97 – ’01 guy myself. But, I also benefitted from a person of authority who caught me in a bad state my freshman year, and gave me the break of simply handling the matter in house. 15 years later, I still remember that lesson and appreciate how it was handled.

    6. Penalty on Sports Illustratated. Intentional hatchet job. Cancelled subscription penalty. Notre Dames ball….1st down…

    7. I’d gladly trade the missed two #2s penalty for just half of the missed holding calls by the Pitt OL.

    8. GraceHallChapel86 says:

      Notre Dame will never get a fair shake from an increasingly nihilistic media. One wouldn’t think SI would stoop to the the level of other MSM outlets, but is clearly is. The outside world perceives Notre Dame to be a traditional Roman Catholic institution and is uncomfortable with that. Other teams and schools are critiqued, of course, but Our Lady will always be targeted in such a way as to tear down the image of ethical and moral uprightness. ND isn’t perfect by a long shot, but this guy knows full well she is squeaky clean compared to so many other “fine programs.” And he can’t stand it.

    9. My impression of the Layden article is that, in the course of one article, he attempts to fully explain the evolution of the Notre Dame football program. While it certainly touches on a lot of the big stories over the course of many years, the fact is that Notre Dame is an infinitely complex place and all of those stories he touched on were much bigger and required a more comprehensive explanation than he provided (maybe simply due to space limitations).

      I agree with your assessment that he gives, and I think intended to give, a balanced perspective. However it is impossible to do without a much fuller, more comprehensive discussion. Sadly, I think this article was the unfortunate desire to sell magazines. This is the attempt to write something compelling that will sell magazines and to adhere to some sort of journalistic integrity by providing a balanced perspective.

      I’d also be curious to know the amount of time Layden had to compile information and write this article. It’s hard to believe even an undefeated ND would have been this week’s national cover story if the events of last weekend had not transpired. Again, given ND’s rich history and the complexity of balancing tradition with managing a modern day football, the subject matter is probably more appropriate for a book, not a 10 page SI article.

      The most unfortunate part of this article is that the casual fan will spend 10 minutes reading the article, proclaim themselves experts on the recent history of Notre Dame football, and thus create “informed” opinions about our football program.

    10. I am glad that you are covering this. One thing is certain: there is a benefit for teams (and the “journalists” who cover them) to criticize Notre Dame’s ethical or moral positions/approach. This has been going on since the beginning of big-time football. Unlike in the SEC, where virtually everyone is a crook and few student athletes graduate at all, Notre Dame is a place where academics are taken seriously. Heck, it’s the first time in the history of this BCS system that the team with the highest Graduation Success Rate is number 1 in the BCS.

    11. ND is our country’s most “storied” program. They don’t, however, admit football players who are different from normal 17-22 year olds. The problem with ND fans is that they believe their own “stories”. If you would just admit that kids are kids, even at ND, you would take less criticism. You get more benefit of the doubt than any other program because of your large, Irish fan base, and because of the mystique that surrounds the school. Believe it or not, many people even think that “Rudy” is the gospel truth! Just accept that there is going to be some bad with all that free good will. Thank God for that and move on.

      • LD,
        I think you’re missing the point of why Notre Dame fans on this board are so frustrated with the article specifically, and the anti-ND bias generally. This following summation of ND is incorrect: that we view ourselves as angels who never do anything wrong, and we’ll be damned to let anyone, even SI, speak incorrectly ill against us. That just isn’t true.
        At ND, we strive to do the right thing, as Harrison Smith is quoted as saying in the article. It’s not that ND is a perfect place with perfect people, again paraphrasing Smith. As you say, we recruit teenagers to go to college the same as any other place. The frustration lies in the implications of the article as laid out by SEE in this post, all without the true depth and complexity of the many issues mentioned by Chris above. Consider the following criticisms:

        1) That we’ve lowered our standards for students, citing Michael Floyd as an example. As many students during the Kirk era can attest, du Lac (our discipline code) and it’s application was regularly seen by the student body as overbearing and inequitable. And I’d wager that many alums prior to Kirks’ time who were still attached to the campus could speak to how much things had changed at the University from a student life perspective, largely for the negative. SEE certainly gets this.

        2) The article’s treatment of Ms. Seeberg’s case and death is irresponsibly shallow. Layden takes a case that involves no NDPD charges, no charges from the local prosecuting attorney, adds to that the infinite anguish of a father who will forever suffer through the tragic loss of his daughter, all to prove the point that ND has sold itself to ascend to the top of the football world, and Layden isn’t going to let that happen without shining light on the sins of this institution.

        It’s shallow, it’s devious, it’s insensitive to those involved in such tragedies (including the unnamed football player involved with Seeberg, and I’m glad his identity remains protected).

        Look, we know we’re going to get criticized. ND fans know that more than most, if not all. The last 19 years have been especially tough, and the criticism goes much deeper than football wins and losses. But if one is prone to criticize ND, and if you do it from the beacon of Sports Illustrated, we simply ask that you do it with the facts. This article doesn’t do that. And when it comes at the apex of this 19 year period, well, that’s incredibly frustrating.

    12. Really, in the entire article, there are only points that are even presented related to the “moral high ground.”
      1. The Seeburg case, which was presented in an incomplete manner
      2. The accusation that du Lac is being softened. But the author himself notes that it was being applied to strictly as a whole, not just to football players.
      3. Players hanging out in the Gug. Seriously?
      4. Training table. Seriously?
      Although the haters will pile on, this is just trash. He doesn’t come close to convincingly proving his point. And closing by bitching about the refs is just petty.

    13. I Love Notre Dame

      My first son is an upper classmen there…a pre-med hopefull. Our love of the place and his tremendous hard work got him there. He struggles now to get the numbers for Med School – given the killer undergrad curriculm at ND for Pre-Proffesional. His motivation is definitely upliffted by the team.
      Did not read the article in SI but what I can say concerning Declan’s death ….it was a profound tradgedy. Really sad. My hope is BK will never let it happen again. First year coaching is tough. BK has become a leader for this team in year 3. Let us hope his direction leads us to a win against USC. And if the NC is our fate in year 3 go for it BK

    14. In the profession, Leyden’s work is known as “Yellow Journalism”.

      I’m sure Hough was probably one of the first to congratulate him. They’re both expert at it.

    15. Layden’s article serves to counteract/offset the proverbial “SI Jinx” GO IRISH!! beat Southern Cal!

    16. Just thought I should let everyone know this, and it isn’t entirely related to this particular article, but I found it relevant enough to post on this site (since it seems to garner a lot of web traffic around ND football).

      On the September 23rd episode of “Game Day Final” (the show with Reese Davis, Lou Holtz, and Mark May), Mark May said “If Notre Dame plays in the National Championship Game, I will dress in a leprechaun outfide and prance around the studio on this show at the end of the season.”

      They showed a clip of Mark’s stupid words on one of the ESPN halftime reports yesterday just to remind all of the parties involved, and also showed the leprechaun outfit for him to wear. So, apparently if ND wins tonight, we get to watch Mark May make a bigger ass of himself than he normally does. I hope everyone tunes in to enjoy the festivities following a beat-down of USC.

      Go Irish!

    17. What metric is used for the NCAA Academic Progress Rate that ranks ND 25th?

    18. I was at the Senior Day game with my teenage son. Actually, we made an entire weekend of it starting with the Kickoff Luncheon on Friday. Through a very fortunate (for us) case of mistaken identity, we wound up on the field after the game and left the stadium through the tunnel. He didn’t calm down for two days! I was in Chicago on business on the day the magazine came out and I stood waiting for the guy at the newstand to remove the shipment from the plastic…I bought TWO copies so my son could save one with his other ND memorabilia. Bottom line: I didn’t even let him read it. I threw them away.

    19. SEE, I agree completely. After reading it for the first time, I had an odd feeling. I knew some decent things were said about the school, but the “Winning as Tragedy” section really put a bad taste in my mouth. Thank you for reminding us of all of the facts.

      Also, having graduated in ’10, I can completely echo that ResLife had become a “letter of the law” organization, and not one that would try to help students overcome issues. The entire school felt that way about ResLife. On that same topic, students also had negative feelings about the Excise Police carding people in the parking lots during game day and the ushers in the stadium becoming power mongers. Rather than brushing off minor offenses (at Notre Dame on game day!), these groups immediately opted for harsh punishment. My note to them: lighten up.

    20. As much as I dislike current American vernacular, in this case there’s wisdom in the saying “Haters gonna hate.”. I’m sure the administration, the athletic department and the team don’t think twice about this stuff. 12-0 speaks for itself. Go Irish!

    21. I can’t take seriously any talk about moral high ground appearing in the pages of a supposed sports magazine that has an annual swimsuit issue.

    22. The deaths of Declan Sullivan and Lizzy Seeberg were clearly tragedies and any parent’s worst nightmare. However, as you pointed out, Ms. Seeberg was dealing with several psychological issues prior to this alleged incident. Additionally, there are only two people who know for sure what happened in that room on that day and one of them is dead. This is not an attempt to blame the victim, but there is no way to know if this alleged incident occurred and/or was the singular cause of her choosing to end her life and we’ll never know the answer to that question because, again, she’s no longer here. Layden doesn’t know the answers to these questions either, but he wanted to tie the situation to Kelly and the football program to smear Kelly and ND. Perhaps, if Layden and SI’s motives were altruistic they would have explored these issues two years ago when they occurred. The fact they chose to mention it now, when ND football is on the verge of something special, should tell any fair minded reader where their motivation lies. As for ND being lucky this year, yes, they have gotten some breaks; most championship teams do. Its about time the tide turned; hasn’t ND football had its share of bad luck/missed calls the last 15-20 years? How about the expired play clock at MSU on that fake field goal that wasn’t called 2 years ago? It’s hard to win all your games without some good fortune, but why does ND’s WIN against Pitt get more scrutiny than Alabama’s LOSS at home? The disdain for ND is alive and well, but the best revenge would be one more win on January 7th. Go Irish!!!

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