by Mike Coffey
By now, we’ve all figured out Mike Royko never said, “Some things you wonder, some things you think, and some things you just know.” He did, however, say, “Show me somebody who is always smiling, always cheerful, always optimistic, and I will show you somebody who hasn’t the faintest idea what the heck is really going on”**. So this edition is dedicated to our Fearless Athletic Leader and the current kerfluffles.
I think the folks putting the current media campaign together are great. I marvel at their energy, knowing I have a difficult time matching it these days when it comes to ND. I know ND may not like the message, but they’re lucky there are people who still give enough of a damn, because it’s become a dwindling breed. I’ve known smcchick for years, and while I’ve never met GoIrish89 and MrWendal, they seem as high-quality as a lot of the other NDN folks I’ve met. At the very least, I know they’ve each provided me a non-anonymous email address, so I’m comfortable they’re not bots.
I think if recruits aren’t well aware that a 4-8 season and the last nine years of ND football haven’t been satisfactory to Irish alumni and fans, they’re not paying attention. According to some people, record-setting poor performance on defense, on- and off-field meltdowns, and a coach with a nasty habit of throwing his players under the bus while absolving himself from blame doesn’t affect recruiting at all. But an ad? A billboard? Heavens to betsy, they’ll get the vapors. Won’t someone think of the children?
I wonder if all the people trying to draw a parallel between the money being raised for this effort and the money being donated to various charities understand how budgets work, and how it’s possible to take money you might have used for one purpose (e.g. ND football) and use it for another (e.g. a media campaign) without it affecting the money you use for other purposes (e.g. charity). On the other hand, I know that folks who use a public funding site that takes 5 percent off the top to raise money for charities that already have mechanisms for users to donate directly to them don’t have a good grasp of finance. But I also know any contributions to worthwhile charities are good things, and encourage all our users to participate, particularly in this one.
I know the best way for Jack to make this all go away is to do what probably is the absolute last thing he wants — have an honest-to-God press conference with non-captive media who can ask whatever rolls into their heads. I think it would be great for statements such as “being around elite coaches for 35 years” and 2015 being “the best coaching job [he’s] ever seen” to be subject to, for lack of a better phrase, more detailed scrutiny.
I’ve reconciled myself to the thought that, barring his running off with a Peruvian pan flute combo in the next few months, Brian Kelly will be Notre Dame’s coach next season. But I also know, based on what he’s said the past few months, Jack Swarbrick isn’t anywhere close to being ready for a coaching search, so I’m not hell-bent on a change in Kelly’s status. Based on his horrific track record with personnel decisions in his ND career, I don’t think I want Swarbrick running that search anyway. His best on-paper coaching hire — Jim McLaughlin for the women’s volleyball team — was initiated by McLaughlin and still almost screwed up.
But having said that, I wonder why we’re not hearing potential DC names, even if Kelly allegedly waits until the recruiting dead period to interview people. I wonder why Paul Longo still has his job when you consider how bad ND has looked in the 4th quarter of games and how many players on this team hired their own S&C consultants. And I think anyone who expects the level of wholesale change on the staff needed to right this sinking ship has misplaced their faith.
I think Swarbrick has had some successes at Notre Dame, but his gaffes are eclipsing them right now. The long-promised hoops practice facility remains out of reach in the proverbial ether. ND tickets are now contractually sold by a secondary market company with a horrible customer service problem. The baseball program languishes in mediocrity, and hockey will be on its third conference in four seasons next year.
I know Fridays are considered “take out the trash day” for PR people, so that’s where the lead balloon efforts usually are slipped out. It certainly was the timing for the in-house video interview that started all this … or, rather, brought it all to a head. I can’t help but notice December 23rd not only is another trash day, but it leads into a week book-ended by holidays where people probably won’t be paying too much real-time attention. I wonder if any more info will be slumping out of South Bend that day?
I know I’ll be watching.
** Of course, it was also a policy of his to view the Internet as “an electronic asylum filled with babbling loonies,” so, good with the bad and all that.