While Jack Swarbrick is saying he won’t evaluate the football program until after the season and Charlie Weis is saying that he is going about business as usual this week, the business going on at Notre Dame is anything but usual. Rumors are swirling of a coaching change on the horizon and Charlie Weis’s once hot heat might be down to a pile of smoldering ashes in the very near future. One thing is certain though, the next two weeks or so is going to be a roller coaster of emotions for Notre Dame fans around the country.
If there’s anything I learned during the last two coaching changes that took place while UHND.com has been around, it’s that there isn’t anything other occasion that brings out more bad information from “unnamed sources” than a coaching change. The bad information that comes out close to Signing Day or during fall camp when reports of previously unproductive players “tearing it up” doesn’t even come close.
Coaching changes at most schools are the same way, but at Notre Dame, it’s a whole other ball game. All around the country, opportunistic coaches’ eyes light up when it looks like there will be a coaching change. Why? Because they can use the media to leak their names as possible candidates only to publicly deny their interest. After, of course, they announce that new contract extension they just signed after the news “broke” of Notre Dame’s interest in their services.
In fact, it’s probably about time Gary Barnett holds a press conference that he is not a candidate for the job.
Remember the line of coaches who “removed their names from consideration” the last time around for the Irish? It got to the comical point when Kansas’s Mark Mangino said he wasn’t a candidate for the job fresh off his 4-7 season with the Jayhawks. Mangino’s career record at that point was 12-24.
This time around coaches like Brian Kelly and Bob Stoops are already being asked about the Notre Dame position even though Charlie Weis is still the head coach for the Irish for at least another two games. Heck, even Tony Dungy has been asked about the potential Notre Dame opening already.
Considering the number of blogs that have popped up since 2004 – remember back then UHND and ND Nation were still really it for Notre Dame fan sites – this time around figures to be much, much worse. The Notre Dame head coaching position isn’t even technically available yet, but the message boards are already getting bent out of shape because someone heard from someone they know who knows someone who knows a guy who serves someone “in the know” their morning coffee that one coach or another isn’t being considered or that another coach is being considered.
Should a change occur, the number of blog and message board posts dissecting every tiny bit of information out there will be head spinning – if they aren’t already. There will be cases made for and against every imaginable candidate for the job. Again, considering there is a job opening. Everyone seems to already be forgetting that Notre Dame still has a coach.
A good general rule of thumb to keep in mind during these times is that no one posting on any of these sites really has any good idea of what is going on, when it’s going to happen, or who may or may not be a candidate despite the countless posts that start off with “according to my source” or “from what I’m told”. Anyone who knows what is really happening isn’t talking right now.
If things are going on in the background right now, and Notre Dame is doing things properly, the information that “leaks” out won’t be of much value. If Jack Swarbrick is on top of his game, the chances of learning anything definitive until after the Stanford game are slim to none. In the meantime, however, there is going to be a whole lot of bad information and misinformation leaked to the media from all over the place.
If you want to keep your sanity during this time, realize that you can’t take anything another coach says at this point too seriously. Most coaches won’t comment one way or the other about a job until it’s actually open out of professional courtesy. Some coaches might not even say they are interested in a job when it is open. Remember how many times Nick Saban said he wasn’t leaving the Miami Dolphins for Alabama only to be in Tuscaloosa a week later being introduced as the next head coach for the Crimson Tide?
Unfortunately, it’s going to get worse before it gets better. The instant the last second ticks off the clock in Palo Alto next weekend, the questions will only intensify. Should the inevitable happen shortly after, then the real “fun” will begin.
Buckle up Notre Dame fans – we’re in for a bumpy ride over the next few weeks.
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