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Where Bad Sports Journalism Came To Die

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Wednesday, December 28, 2005


Sorry. One More from Scoop.

Notre Dame and the contract to Charlie Weis

When arrogance precedes racism, this is the end result. They act as if they never heard the comments. They act as if whatever was being said or written about the way they handled Ty Willingham's situation didn't apply to them. This is our world, you all should be happy to be living in it. That's their new Knute/NBC motto.

So when the University of Notre Dame extended Charlie Weis' contract to secure his services for 10 years just months after firing a coach who only three years ago was in the same situation with a better record (8-0 after the first eight games for Willingham, 5-2 for Weis at the time of his extension) during his first year, the validation of racism that so many people tossed at the university's feet in the wake of excusing Willingham last December was totally eclipsed by an arrogance unseen in the NCAA since Adolph Rupp and Bear Bryant thought "negroes" couldn't ball.

Yikes. Look, I'm not a huge Notre Dame fan (despite the fact that Mrs. Tremendous went there), and I'd be willing to bet that an all-Catholic university in Indiana has probably had its share of racism problems. As has virtually every institution of learning -- every institution period? -- in the country. (I would here also add that the founding of the University was partly due to the Catholic community seeking to establish a place where they could get a fine education without being discriminated against, hence the whole "Fighting Irish" deal. Neither here nor there.) But I think it's a bit much to just flat-out state that Ty Willingham's firing and Charlie Weis's extension were the products of racism.

Ty Willingham did get off to a very strong start in his first year -- 8-0. But his overall record in three years at ND was 21-15. Bob Davie, who is universally ridiculed and hailed as a massive failure in his three years at Notre Dame, was 21-16. Willingham was a pretty good coach at Stanford, but he was only 44-36-1 in his time there. And his Pac-10 titles came at a time when USC, UCLA, and other traditional powerhouses were pretty weak.

Also, and this is really key, Weis, who came one illegal Bush-push away from beating USC, and who turned Brady Quinn from an average passer to a future #1 overall draft pick, was rumored to be the frontrunner for like fifteen NFL coaching jobs at the end of the year. ND knew they had to do something to ensure that he didn't leave. So they extended him.

But this is a university, not an individual. And although ND athletic director Kevin White is the man in charge, it's not about his making the decisions as much as it is about the institution putting on display a serious complex of superiority. Oh, don't get me wrong, their actions are racist to the core. But their arrogance spoke much louder in this case. Notre Dame could care less about how careless they were. They didn't care how this would make them look in the eyes of African-Americans, or any white liberals who fight for civil rights against actions such as this every day. To ND, anyone not down with their program -- and how they run it -- is meaningless.

"Racist to the core." I don't know, man. That seems insanely strident -- and this is coming from a dude who loves a good strident piece of sports writing. Look -- is anyone in the ND athletic dept. a racist? Maybe. Who knows? But it's not good journalism to just look at two facts -- Willingham let go, Weis extended -- and conclude without any room for debate that it's hard-core racism. And my guess is, when you look at what Weis has done after three years (and yes, I know Willingham recruited the players, etc. etc.), you'll conclude that ND made the right choice.

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