Sunday, June 15, 2008

The Quiet Men

An Irish story, indeed, except instead of a man fighting for his wife, these men are charting the future of Irish athletics.

I was chatting with a good friend on campus last week, and the first words out of his mouth were, "It's so quiet right now". I guess he had anticipated an inquiry on the search for a new Athletics Director, and obviously I need a new year's resolution to talk to some folks about more than just ND sports happenings.

But he was right. This truly is the radio silence time of year at Notre Dame, regardless of what's happening. Between graduation day and the third week in June, not a lot is happening on campus. The summer sessions haven't begun, and most of the time is spent decompressing from the last school year before the ramp-up for the next begins. So people tend to use their vacation, schedule off-campus meetings, and otherwise scatter far and wide.

But that's what makes the info hard to come by. Though the mice will play when the cat's away, it's also hard to tell what kind of catnip he's buying while he's gone.

That doesn't mean there's no new info. As my dear friend Rock posted yesterday, ND has not been idle during the quiet time. They've retained an executive search firm (unsure of which specific one) and have started the vetting process. Joel Maturi, like Gene Smith, has taken himself out of the running (in a classy and deferential manner, just as Smith did), which is too bad, but at least it gives the new AD a specific first task in calling Maturi and getting that stadium-opening game set up.

From what I've been told, we can expect the search to "heat up" a tad as the month progresses into July, with school starting up again and more campus activity. If I were a betting man (and this is based completely on a gut feel from offhand talks with a couple people, not any specific info), I would put my money on Steve Orsini being named by the end of July with Rick Chryst as the dark horse. Then again, there's a good reason I don't live in Las Vegas.

This whole process got me thinking about a number of things.

The entire concept of executive search firms befuddles me, especially when they're used to search for a coach. It seems to me a lot of the functions they would serve, like vetting candidates and whatnot, used to be part of the job description of the appointed searchers (like an AD or an EVP). I know the ND folks have more on their plate than finding Kevin White's replacement, and there's a lot of administrative bullshit you have to pour through when you're handling this kind of stuff. But it seems like an effort to distance the searchers from the searchees, making the whole thing really impersonal and CYA-governed. It's reassuring Fr. Jenkins has affirmed it'll be his decision and the buck will stop on his desk, so we'll see how it all turns out.

The difference between coverage of a coaching search and coverage of an AD search could not be more stark. Compare the jungle-animal-instinct masteria of Decembers 2001 and 2004 with today. Right now, Michael Rothstein might have a blog blurb about someone either promoting or excusing themselves. But the rest of the media world seemingly couldn't be less interested. The Decembers of our discontent, on the other hand, had multiple articles every day talking about the ND coaching job and its alleged perceived viability in the known universe. I guess sensationalism sells because effort isn't required. Nobody tell Grantland Rice, he'll cry.

I think there's a site out there that makes some ND admin folks more uncomfortable than we do: FlightAware. Back in the post-Willigham daze, some administrati were getting itchy over the number of posts tracking the ND plane -- "Don't your people have anything better to do with their lives?" was a question posed to me. Now ND is back in the human resources business, and we've already had two threads about where N42ND is or is not headed, so I can hear the scratching from here. Of course, the problem could be solved if they flew commercial. As George Carlin once said, see how often the simplest solutions will elude us.

I still believe handling a relatively-high-profile football program is a good prerequisite for the job, which is why Orsini is high on my list. I realize there are commissioner aspects to the ND job, but I don't think Rick Chryst has enough on-the-ground time at a specific school. Besides, the number of irritated voices from the MAC football group gives me too much pause.

Happy Father's Day to one and all.

Labels: , , ,


Blogger IRISHTEXAN said...

I do not see why Orsini is becoming the media favorite - he has done nothing in terms of powerhouse hires in the coaching ranks - his hires have been totally unimaginative - he hires re-treads from ND at both Football and Basketball (Doherty at Basketball at SMU and George O'Leary at University or Central Florida). He finally hired someone not formerly of ND when he hired June Jones at SMU (I guess Davies said no).

What about actually looking at what a candidate has done - no one is talking about Dan Coonan - current AD at Santa Clara and an ND '84 grad - He is a candidate for the PAC-10 commissioner job (see article at this link: has been the top enforcement official in PAC 10 and has done great coaching searches in his career.

He was in charge of football and other revenue sports at CAL as an assistant AD and is THE GUY responsible for the hiring of Jeff Tetford as head football coach, possibly the best coaching hire in the last decade - taking a perennial also-ran into a consistent Top 20 team. He also just hired Kerry Keating as head Basketball Coach at Santa Clara - a very sought after assistant from UCLA.

We need someone at AD who can think for himself and is capable of the great coaching search. The media has done their typical shallow job of reporting - doing a google search of ND grad athletic directors without really looking at what they have done, who they have hired and thought about what they are capable of.

6/15/2008 03:06:00 PM  
Anonymous TNT65domer said...

I believe that the idea of a search firm is based on the deniability if someone is caught being overly inquisitive about the prospective candidates. A firm can hire a private investigator, while it has a sleazy tone if ND does it. Not to mention that some of the PIs can go outside of the normal and accepted lines and ND would not want to be associated directly with that kind of attention.

6/15/2008 04:37:00 PM  
Anonymous FightingSonofNotreDame said...

The only thing on or off campus I care about is that the boys are drinking their creatin, power lifting twice a day and building their anger to avenge last year.

6/16/2008 01:57:00 PM  

Post a Comment

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home