Saturday, December 06, 2008

In which the metaphor is extended

I can be accused of having many opinions on Notre Dame football. All of them equally passionate, fleeting, and vociferous. I slide in and out of them so quickly and completely, that there are times when even I can't explain my point of view because there are traces of past perspectives across the board, leaving me, in a sense, everywhere at once. Anyway, before I continue the genocide of commas set off by my blogging co-defendant, let me get to my argument of the breadth and depth of the fucked-up-ed-ness of the situation.

There is constant analysis and navelgazing of virtually every Notre Dame decision of the past 10 (30?) years, all of them centering around choice. Who had the power to choose? When did they have it? How did they come to their decision? I would like to step back from this exercise in futility, no one can ever really know what was on (or not on) the minds of the so-called "Powers That Be" so much as no one can ever really explain to me how decisions are really made at Notre Dame. The real question is what is the choice Jack Swarbrick had to make for Notre Dame?

At the end of it all, Jack Swarbrick had to choose between Giant Douche or a Turd Sandwich.

Regardless of your opinion of the breadth and depth of the available coaching pool, and such analysis has firmly become its own internet niche, the point is that there are precious few coaches that can improve the program beyond what Charlie Weis has built. What the program so sorely needed was a reconstruction from the ground up, and in these efforts no one can fault Charlie. 8 years of heartless coaching and sheer arrogance had rendered the program a smoldering pile of ashes in the freezing South Bend winter. The talent myth has been broken. The facilities myth is buried under 20 million dollars of weight rooms and trophy cases. Notre Dame is a destination for recruits as long as there is confidence in the program. Its really hard for Charlie to keep flashing those Super Bowl rings when my even my grandmother has to hear speculation about this Brian Kelly person on WGN.

So, on most tangible metrics, Charlie Weis is our guy. Of course, on-field performance and its related perks are still in neglect, but how different is that from anything else here in year 12 of the post Holtz era? I guess this is the real point driving the issue. Notre Dame has finally finally finally FINALLY gotten most of the pieces in place, but we've locked ourself in to a situation that can only be fully described as sub-optimal. Weis has not been able to show that he can improve upon raw offensive talent, and his fatal flaw of over tweaking to the point of Decided Schematic Failure is obvious. Even in his staff improvements, he has not proven that he can be an anything more than a glorified recruiter/QB coach.

But, with all of the evidence at hand, and rather large stakes, what decision was there to make? Most decisions would have cost Notre Dame a great degree of capital. In terms of money, there was the buyout. In terms of public image, the school was unprepared to do anything more than unleash the Keystone Cops on the coaching carousel. In terms of recruiting, a lot was at stake to maintain the momentum Weis has built the last 4 years. All of these costs, regardless of respective size and importance, factored in to the effective price of the decision, and despite our combined hopes and dreams for the program, none of them include an athletic director that fails to see the proper risk/reward. Chasing good money with bad money got Notre Dame into this mess so many years ago, and believing that doing the same thing over and over will produce a different result is the very definition of insanity.

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