Apparently the rumors floating around now include Washington strongly pursuing Ty Willingham as our next coach.
If this turns out to be true, I’d like to thank the Irish for panicking and not giving Ty another year.
Oh, and a word of advice to Urban Meyer, you’d better be sure you can get the Irish into a BCS game within 3 years if you take the job. It’s not important if you increase academic performance or can avoid controversy (unlike a growing number of coaches). If you can’t win big, the rest doesn’t matter.
This is not to say that Ty was the perfect coach, but honestly I don’t know how much better a different coach could have done. The Irish just don’t have the dominance they used to, and it’s going to take a while to rebuild that. But patience is hardly in large supply in college football. Just ask former Nebraska head coach Frank Solich.
A poster on the NDNation.com boards writes:
Just spoke with a current player… Won’t say who (for obvious reasons), but here is the latest:
They are almost all in a bit of shock. “Very confused”.
The Seniors are still meeting to decide about the bowl game. As of this time, they are still torn… but I sensed they were leaning towards going. Because for many of them this will be their last game and they as players really did earn it.
A valiant struggle against a superior team to conclude a fantastic season for the Newington High School football Indians, who finish 9-2 — their best season in 13 years.
8:32 left in 3rd quarter
(according to casciac.org)
[Black Coaches Association] executive director Floyd Keith predicted the Notre Dame announcement would be a setback to [universities’ efforts to recruit minority coaching candidates].
“This action sends an alarming message to African-Americans who are pursuing coaching at the Division I-A level,” Keith said. “It’s still going to be tough.”
Hmm… I don’t think that’s quite right. Let me correct it to make it more accurate. How about this:
“This action sends an alarming message to any and all Americans who are pursuing coaching at the Division I-A level despite lacking the ability to motivate their players — players who are good enough to beat teams like Michigan and Tennessee — to come to play against the likes of BYU, Boston College and Pittsburgh,” Keith said. “It’s still going to be tough.”
There, that’s better.
As soon as I titled an earlier post “Bye-bye, Ty,” it was inevitable that I would try to write a song about this. It was just too perfect. So here goes:
A long, long time ago
I can still remember how
the Irish used to make me smile
And with Lou they never missed a chance
to make their loyal fan base dance
And everyone was happy for a while
But then Bob Davie made us shiver,
So they promised that Ty would deliver
Good news on the doorstep
Could ND take the next step?
I can’t remember if I cried
When Purdue destroyed us and crushed our pride
Our “Return to Glory” cast aside
The day the season died
So bye, bye, Mr. Willingham, Ty
All the promise and the hope
Well, it was simply a lie
You’re a good old boy
Yeah, you’re a really nice guy
But we need our coach to reach for the sky
And, well, you suck, so now we bid you goodbye…
The South Bend Tribune has coverage of campus reaction to Coach Willingham’s firing.
Here’s Brooke’s reaction.
And here’s a shot of students watching ESPN’s coverage in the Lafortune Student Center:
One passerby noted that the students looked “shell-shocked.” That’s about right.
More photos here, including shots from outside the press conference.
Fox Sports has more on Ty’s firing.
Stewart Mandel has more on Urban Meyer and the coaching carousel. Excerpt:
Notre Dame’s decision, which comes a year sooner than many expected, means Utah’s Urban Meyer probably will not be coaching Florida next season. That’s because he’ll be coaching at Notre Dame. …
The only thing more stunning than Notre Dame firing Willingham after just three seasons would be if Meyer doesn’t wind up as his replacement. Conspiracy theorists may argue that the timing was as much about the Irish not wanting to lose out on their dream coach as it was throwing in the towel on Willingham. …
Utah’s Meyer is the logical successor for a plethora of reasons. Unquestionably the nation’s hottest coaching commodity, the 40-year-old Ohio native was a recent Irish assistant (1996-2000) who still speaks reverentially about the school and has a specific out for it in his contract. “It’s the purest form of college athletics and it always will be,” he told the Chicago Tribune earlier this month. “… If you want to see what college athletics are for, go fly into South Bend.”
Many believe Willingham never truly bought into the spectacle that is Notre Dame football — his gruff personality and cryptic press conferences didn’t help any. Meyer, who was brought upÂ as aÂ CatholicÂ andÂ named after a Pope,Â would be the closest thing to a true “Notre Dame guy” since Lou Holtz left town eight years ago.
Here’s the transcript of the press conference.
…but there’s a rumor on NDNation.com that legendary former Irish coach Lou Holtz, who just retired from South Carolina, could come back to coach Notre Dame’s bowl game.
ESPN says there’s a rally going on at the administration building right now. I guess they didn’t cancel it. I’ll head over there now to see what’s happening.
UPDATE: Nothing was happening at the Main Building when I went over there. So either the rally is over, it was held somewhere else, or ESPN was making it up. :)
ESPN is babbling about Ty Willingham being black, and how firing this prominent black coach will affect Notre Dame’s reputation with black players. Ugh. His race is so a non-issue in this situation… or should be. It’s sad that it’s not.
They’re also missing the point when they say, “Notre Dame beat Michigan and Tennessee.” The whole problem is that Notre Dame was horribly inconsistent: they beat Michigan and Tennessee but lost to BYU, BC and Pittsburgh! A team that can beat Michigan and Tennessee should not be losing to those teams!
P.S. As I just wrote via IM to The Backer, “They clearly proved they have the potential to be good … and then they sucked against mediocre teams. It’s like when you get that one ‘A’ on your report card amid all the Cs… suddenly your parents realize you have ‘potential’ and they start expecting more.”
In the wake of Coach Willingham’s firing, ABC News reports: “Players are considering not playing in the Insight Bowl on Dec. 28, and [athletic director Kevin] White said he didn’t know who would coach the game [if they do play]. Notre Dame accepted the invitation to the game on Sunday.”
Professor Dutile, who was at the press conference, told me afterward that White said he had already spoken to a number of seniors on the team, and those seniors plan to talk to a bunch of other players about the bowl issue this evening and then report back to White tonight with the team’s opinion on whether or not they want to play. Dutile said it sounded like the decision was largely, if not entirely, up to the players.
If Notre Dame decides not to go bowling, it could have national implications. Recall Sunday’s Stewart Mandel column:
This season’s bowl lineup will wind up coming as close as humanly possible to having to answer that dreaded question we’ve all been asking for several years now: What if there aren’t enough teams to fill all 28 bowls?
A bizarre series of events over the past week has brought the projected number of eligible bowl teams down to 57 for 56 available spots — and left bowl officials across the country pulling their hair out. Unfortunately for fans of a doomsday scenario, the lowest the final total can reach is exactly 56, which will only happen if Hawaii loses Saturday against Michigan State.
If Notre Dame backs out on the Insight Bowl, that would no longer be true! A Hawaii loss to Michigan State would reduce the number of bowl-eligible teams to 55 — one fewer than the number of available spots! What will the GMAC Bowl (or whoever gets stuck with the “blank” slot) do? Invite a .500 or sub-.500 team? Cancel the bowl? Sue Notre Dame? Stay tuned!!
Moreover — here’s a question near and dear to this ticketholder’s heart — who would replace Notre Dame in the Insight Bowl? Boston College? Syracuse? UConn? Now that would be awesome!
UPDATE: D’oh! Not UConn!
UPDATE 2: Not BC, either!
UPDATE 3: Syracuse?