For the most part, I'd assume the big donors are folks that have been pretty successful in business, and I'm shocked that they tolerate the pennywise and pound-foolish antics that we've seen. As others have posted recently, a good coach is an investment that will more than pay for itself both objectively through revenue, donations, and not paying buyouts for failed coaches, and subjectively through the pursuit of excellence in one of ND's pillars that helped make ND what it is. They're spending a half-billion on Crossroads, and while the cost is not all football, there's no way in hell they'd think about a project of that scope without football.
Of the other historical powers, all have recovered save ND, UM, Nebraska, and PSU, and UM looks like they've decided to step up to the table with Harbaugh. We squandered a great chance to capitalize on SC's cheating and UM's incompetence, and while all it takes is one good coach to restore us to our rightful position, I genuinely fear that one more failed coaching search could really set us back.