Living in the South Bend, Indiana area one quickly learns the importance of the Head Football Coaching position at the University of Notre Dame. Certainly the entire world knows by now that Charlie Weis was fired two weeks ago as the coach of the Fighting Irish.
Weather Weis’s firing was justified or not it is for much wiser football minds than mine. I do know that when you lose a game at Notre Dame, the fans turn on the coach first and then the team, and the win/loss ratio has not been good for the last three years. During that time the press has been relentlessly questioning the team’s performance and every single decision rendered by the coach and his staff. Transgressions off the field by players have not improved the relationship between the team, the players, the media, the fans, and the local community either.
What I have found especially troubling is the fact that Weis and his family have been harassed constantly during his reign, and that is something I feel should be off limits. Judgments about the team are one thing, but leave the family off-limits. Unfortunately, Weis was not media or public relations friendly and that just added fuel to the fire. Weis is leaving with his ego well taken care of by the huge buy-out of his lucrative contract, so there will be no tag-day for the Weis family, and there are NFL teams lining up to buy his services in pro-football as Offensive Coordinator. Weis joins a growing long list of under-achieving ex-Notre Dame Coaches.
It is time to stop piling on Weis, because his era is history. It is time to look to the future. It should be recognized that much of the pressure that comes with the Head Football Coaching job at Notre Dame comes from the demands of the University itself to win and bring the team to national prominence now…not at some future time and place. Winning means money and that is very important to this and a growing number of educational institutions.
At the same time, the local community is going through tough economic times and it, too, has added pressure to have a winning team, because it has a huge economic impact to local business. When the team wins, local business wins. That is something that has not happened in South Bend for many months.
Brian Kelly, ND’s recently named new Head Coach, comes with great collegiate credentials and a proven track record of accomplishment at the college level. I wish him well, but at the same time I warn him that he is now on a totally different field of play. He no longer can go to a local supermarket or local restaurant with his family, and he will be entering an isolated world of win or you’re out. Life will never be the same, but that is what comes from making huge money and entering into a world of succeed or be fired. While Kelly will be in the limelight, his family will pay a huge price for his new position. Just ask Tyrone Willingham, Bob Davie or Jerry Faust.
I truly wish Kelly and his family well, but I really wonder if it is all worth the price he and they will have to pay. Personally I do not think it is, but that is why he is the Head Coach and I will never be in that position. We should all remember that football is just a game, and there is much to learn in life from losing also. Winning is not everything as it is promoted by many today.
While I salute the University of Notre Dame for its academic excellence, I do not share the near frantic demand to win football games or the coach is dropped like a hot potato. The economic rewards of winning football games have created an unhealthy atmosphere, and it has created misplaced priorities with significant negative consequences. Money is not everything, but it appears to be at Notre Dame, and one wonders just how the founding Holy Cross Priest’s would address the situation today?
Football is no longer just a game or a sport, but a huge big-money business. Frankly, my personal priorities are far different from those excessively loud greedy voices being heard and acted upon today. I am quite content to be living a wonderful rewarding live in obscurity accepting the fact that we all win some and lose some everyday.