Well, its been some time since someone brought up the race card in discussing Tyrone Willingham’s dismissal from Notre Dame a little over two years ago, but BlackAthlete.net currently has an article posted mentioning it. And, not surprisingly, the author of the article has blinders on and does not have his facts straight. Here are a few excerpts from the article…
Coach Willingham took a struggling Fighting Irish team, a mediocre football team that did not have a winning record for some time, and turned the Notre Dame football program around and made them bowl eligible, only to be fired for no clear reason.
A team that didn’t have a winning record in some time? Let’s see, in all of 20 seconds I did a search on Google for “Notre Dame yearly records” and returned this WikiPedia site. Now, Tyrone Willingham took over Notre Dame in 2002. Prior to his arrival, Notre Dame has a winning record, 9-3, with a trip to the Fiesta Bowl in 2000, just two seasons prior to his inaugural season with the Irish. Also notice this author’s use of “bowl eligible.” Willingham never won a game so making Notre Dame bowl eligible for a second and third tier bowl game is hardly an accomplishment. In the four seasons prior to his arrival at Notre Dame, predecessor Bob Davie had Notre Dame in that same second tier bowl game, the Gator, in 1998 and also guided the Irish to a first tier bowl, the Fiesta, in 2000.
The Alumni stated that Willingham was an outsider and could not win the “big” game. It was never stated, but the race factor also played a part in this case. The School relented and hired a UND Alumni, Charlie Weis.
Yes, Notre Dame cared so much about race in its coaching staff that it is now one of only a handful of NCAA programs with an African American offensive AND defensive coordinator. I guess being the coordinators at a high profile institution like Notre Dame will have no effect on their chances to land a head coaching gig. Only two seasons ago Mike Haywood was only a running backs coach for Texas. He is now the offensive coordinator at Notre Dame and was interviewed for the Minnesota head coaching position after Glen Mason was fired. Also, nevermind the fact that Notre Dame just hired Corwin Brown, a 36 year old coach with only six years coaching experience as its defensive coordinator.
This year, the Fighting Irish got blown out in a bowl game this January. They lost to the University of Southern California and the University of Michigan big games, but nobody in the Alumni Association complained. The Question remains: WHY? Weis and Willingham have the same record after three years.
Um, maybe I missed something here, but Charlie Weis has only been the coach at Notre Dame for two seasons, not three. Maybe that’s why this author thinks Willingham shouldn’t have been fired. He doesn’t realize that Weis just won only one fewer game in only two seasons compared to Willingham’s three.
This double standard continues to plague the NCAA.
Double standard? Weis has a winning percentage of 0.760 after two seasons – Willingham’s was 0.583. So where is the double standard in retaining a coach that has won almost 20% more of his games coached than his predecessor?
After two years it is really getting annoying having to continually defend the reasons for firing Willingham. It’s funny this article also doesn’t mention how Willingham and Weis have had similar recruiting success as well. Oh, thats right, Willingham had one great class and then couldn’t follow that up with another good class. Weis meanwhile has just turned in back to back top 10 classes.
What really bothers me about articles like this is that the author didn’t even take the time to realize Notre Dame has African Americans at both coordinator positions. One way to increase the number of minority head coaches, is to first increase the number of minority coordinators since being a coordinator is the last logical step before becoming a head coach. No one likes to point this out, however, because then the argument of race being a factor in Willingham’s firing two years ago looses credibility. If you give Notre Dame credit for being progressive with the hiring of two African American coordinators, then the only reason you are left with for Willingham’s firing is that is an at best average coach and an at best average recruiter.