Waiting for the White Smoke
I'm finishing up work on a website that I'm trying to go live within a week to 10 days, so I haven't had much time to blog. However, I've been implored by commenter Joe C to expound upon my thoughts in regards to Notre Dame looking for a new head football coach.
The latest Search For A Notre Dame Head Football Coach extravaganza is a time of both great hope and great exasperation. "Hope" because I have my favorite candidate or two that I'm convinced would return ND to a consistent place in the Top 10; "Exasperation" due to:
• The "be the first to get the scoop" mindset of sportswriters has ramped up exponentially due to the blogsphere, where rumors fly with great volume and alacrity. This has even normally credible news figures claiming that this coach or that coach is definitely/not in negotiations with ND, based on the slightest hint of a rumor or on absolutely nothing at all.
An example of this came from ESPN, starting on Sunday night. Adam Schefert reported that Oklahoma's Bob Stoops was a bit of paperwork away from being ND's coach. Monday morning, he retracted all of it. Sunday night, and again on Monday, ESPN's Kirk Herbstreit opined that Stoops-to-ND was a "fantasy", and that in "reality" ND should look at Cincinnati's Brian Kelly (OK), Northwestern's Pat Fitzgerald (Ugh), and Stanford's Jim Harbaugh (triple Ugh). On Tuesday, Herbstreit reversed himself and said that the Stoops-to-ND scenario might happen.
Round and round we go.
• Coaches who have not been contacted or even considered by ND for the job are publicly announcing that they are not interested in the ND job. It's akin to the Pope dying and me calling a press conference to announce that I'm not interested being the next Pontiff.
• The usual phalanx of media pundits who spend entire columns and TV segments informing anyone who will listen that Notre Dame is no longer relevant or capable of competing at a high level. The high point (or, rather, low point) of this type of silliness was on display by ABC's play-by-play and color commentators during Saturday night's televised (shown to most of the country) Notre Dame-Stanford game, which demonstrated rather clearly that neither gentleman has any sense of irony. First they waxed eloquent about how ND was just not nationally relevant anymore....this while they are covering a prime-time matchup between Stanford (their only non-regional or non-cable appearance of the season) and a 6-5 Notre Dame team; ABC sure as hell wasn't there because of 7-4 Stanford. Then they cited ND's "tough academic requirements" as the reason for ND's irrelevance, all the while touting the running back from Stanford for the Heisman Trophy, given to the best (ostensibly) player in college football. Funny how Stanford's tough academic requirements for athletes wasn't much of obstacle for the Cardinal, huh?
These same type of missives appeared in 1958-63, 1981-1986, and again with the demise of ND's last three coaches. When Notre Dame finally gets its act together, hires a good coach (a la Ara Parseghian and Lou Holtz) and returns to elite status, these same pundits will dust off their "Notre Dame has sold its soul for football glory", claiming ND has lowered its academic standards for football players to get better recruits, though the test scores and GPAs of incoming recruits has remained rather uniform for 45 years (since such things have been tracked).
My rule of thumb for following the Notre Dame coaching search is this: When the new head coach is announced by Athletic Director Jack Swarbrick, then we'll know who it is. Until then, anyone who actually knows anything has too much to lose by having it go public before a contract is signed, an therefore is not going to tell anyone what they know.