Who You Callin’ Chicken?

Notre Dame Stadium prior to 2013 Spring Game
Apr 20, 2013; Notre Dame, IN, USA; A general view before Notre Dame Stadium before the 2013 Notre Dame spring game. Mandatory Credit: Matt Cashore-USA TODAY Sports

Summer is the time of year that gives school officials headaches. With many student-athletes remaining on campus, and with a sudden burst of free time, trouble and bad decisions are always lurking around the next corner. College students getting into trouble is nothing new, and, to a certain extent, is almost expected. A more disturbing trend is beginning to emerge during the summer doldrums, and its occurrence comes courtesy of a group that not only has the age and wisdom to know better but also tends to be the highest paid employees of the universities they represent.

Brady Hoke, head coach of the University of Michigan, stood at a lectern in front of the West Michigan Sports Commission in Grand Rapids, Michigan, and stated Notre Dame is “chickening out” of its series with Michigan.

Thirteen-hundred miles to the south, Tim Davis, offensive line coach for the University of Florida, spoke at a booster club meeting in Melbourne, Florida, and called Nick Saban, head coach of the University of Alabama, the “devil himself.” Oddly enough, comparisons to Satan are not new for Saban, as James Franklin, head coach at Vanderbilt, informed a group of high school students at a sports banquet in Macon, Georgia, that “Nicky Satan” was a more apt title for the Alabama ball coach.

The verbal assaults did not stop short of being lobbed at opposing universities or rival coaches, however. LSU head coach, Les Miles, fresh of losing quarterback commitment Gunner Kiel (who decommitted from LSU, signed with Notre Dame and ultimately transferred to Cincinnati), decided to taunt a teenager by telling those in attendance at the Tiger Gridiron Club in Baton Rouge that Kiel lacked the “chest and the ability to lead a program.”

So, what’s the deal?

One thing is for certain: the allegations and verbal taunts are not based in fact. Notre Dame and Michigan both possessed the contractual right to opt out of their series, and Brian Kelly owns a 4-1 overall record against Hoke, with the only loss coming in 2011 after Notre Dame blew a 24-7 lead in spectacular fashion. Florida head coach, Will Muschamp, is 0-1 overall against Alabama, and Florida is 0-3 and has been outscored 101-29 against Nick Saban since their last victory against the Crimson Tide in 2008. Vanderbilt hasn’t defeated Alabama since 1984 when Saban was just a defensive backs coach at Michigan State.

The most likely culprit for such bizarre and inaccurate statements involves energizing the fan base. Coaches travel to different functions and use fiery rhetoric to get their fans mobilized and excited. But the world has changed, and just as every student-athlete has to be mindful of the notion camera phones are everywhere, coaches should be held accountable, too.

Brady Hoke definitely achieved his desired result if the objective was to energize the Michigan fan base. Living in Michigan, hearing or seeing comments such as a suggestion that Notre Dame should change its mascot to a part of the female anatomy was the general tone witnessed here, and ESPN even held a segment debating whether or not Notre Dame actually is chicken (though, strangely, no segment aired debating whether or not Saban actually is Lucifer).

But what effect did it really have? Witnessing a head football coach accuse another academic institution of being “chicken” when that same head coach lost the previous year to the team in question and posted a 5-loss season is the kind of bluster expected from reoccurring laughing stock and head coach of the New York Jets, Rex Ryan. It makes the university he represents look poorly, and a great academic institution such as Michigan should be embarrassed by his school yard taunts.

I attended a Notre Dame booster event in South Bend with my father and a family friend a few short months after Brian Kelly accepted the position as the new head coach of the Fighting Irish. Attendees were able to pose questions, and Kelly answered them with the kind of charm you would expect at such an event. When my father asked Kelly how he managed to get former Notre Dame quarterback and eventual Cincinnati transfer, Demetrius Jones, to ultimately play linebacker when he left ND due to his unwillingness to switch positions, Kelly immediately quipped, “I asked him, ‘Would you like to play or sit on the bench?’” to a roar of laughter. And Kelly mobilized the crowd, not by taking shots at other universities but by telling everyone Notre Dame’s name was in good standing on the recruiting trail, and that he expects to play championship-level football.

How should Notre Dame respond to such name-calling from another university? By saying nothing, as the university has done thus far. When someone you beat – and someone with a mediocre 8-5 record – makes an absurd statement, the best response is to let the statement stay suspended in space where all of its preposterousness can speak for itself.

Scott Janssen is a blogger for the Huffington Post and has authored several nationally-featured articles as well as co-founded a nationally-featured non-profit organization. In his spare time he takes his NCAA Football ’13 online dynasty way too seriously and alienates those around him by discussing football 24 hours a day. Scott can be reached at scottjanssenhp@gmail.com.

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  1. Two quick comments:

    The loss of Golson hurts, without question, but the Irish will be OK. Golson had his limitations too and now its time for Hendrix and Zaire to step up. Hendrix has the tools and perhaps he will flourish this year. It may be a little early for Zaire as a true freshman, but I’ve heard he is a truly special player. Maybe he is capable of coming in and playing from day one – we’ll have to wait until fall camp to see who steps up. I do find it interesting that Kiel didn’t have a little more patience. He would also be in the mix.

    With regards to Vandergoes, hopefully all of the talk is just that, talk. I sincerely hope this young man honors his commitment and attends ND and plays football for 4 years. If not, and he does indeed want out, then this is a complex issue. I don’t think ND should allow him out of his commitment this year. To do so would have negative ramifications throughout the country. This young man signed a binding letter of intent to play football for Notre Dame and to “release him” without him ever setting foot on campus for his freshman year would set a terrible precedent and render the signing of letters of intent throughout collegiate athletics as meaningless. Notre Dame should tell Vandergoes that he will need to honor his commitment for one year and then they would consider granting him his release after his freshman year if he still wants to leave. Then he would have to sit out an additional year before being eligible to play. This seems reasonable if in fact all the rumors prove true. I don’t believe that allowing a player to leave after signing a binding letter of intent simply on the player’s terms is in the best interest of anyone involved. It definitely isn’t in the best interest of intercollegiate athletics. Kids need to understand that once a school commits to them and they have committed to the school, both sides need to honor their respective commitments. When one chooses not to do so, there are consequences. In this instance, Vandergoes would need to stay one year before being released. Perhaps he would choose to stay once he played one year, made lasting friendships, and came to understand what a special place Notre Dame truly is. Go Irish!

  2. If necessary, I have no problems living with a larger version of Golson, ‘Zaire starting.’ Our experienced back-up QB’s (Rees primarily)can easily step in when needed. If there was indeed an academic code violation, there may be no back door redemption for Golson depending on the circumstances, only time will tell.

    Disappointing? Thunderously so!

  3. Jack,

    What’s going on in S. Bend is simple: ND won’t sell its soul to win a few (or a lot of) football games.

    Gunner left because he didn’t want to compete. So be it!

    Neal and others left for a variety of reasons. So be it!

    Vanderdoes is considering leaving for whatever reason. So be it!

    Golson was apparently kicked out for cheating. Too bad, but so be it!

    Like many of us have said here before, ND is not for everyone. You have to really be a true and loyal son (or daughter) to make it through. (I’m not an ND grad but have a few friends who are and that’s what they’ve told me!) ND’s not going to coddle or break the rules for anyone, not even a stud QB.

    So ND may go 6-6 this season (I doubt it!) and the internet trolls will be out in full force. The likes of “Ron Burgundy” and “Buckeye” no doubt will gloat if ND struggles without Golson. So be it. ND will not sell its soul to win unlike just about every other BCS school (with the exception of the Stanfords, Vandys, and Northwesterns of the world).

    IF Golson cheated, he needed to go. Simple! Hopefully it was a minor infraction and he can return. If not, so be it. What a shame for this young man, though!

    In the final analysis, this episode further shows why I love ND. Win, lose, or draw, it will not sell out. (Do you think Ohio St. would kick out any starter for any reason?!)

    We Are ND!

  4. WTF is going on up there? This is not going to be a good season. We have Recese and Hendrix with a freshman. Does anyone know what really happened?

  5. d-daniels possibly out to?!??

    since the final whistle of the usc game that saturday night in novemebr…………what in heavens name did we do to deserve ALL of this?

    im at a loss. feel like crying (but i wont)

  6. I hope that within the team, there is an understanding that the Irish have been called out. And not by some stupid bankrupt player, but by the head coach. Hoke is a clown. You insult an opponent and then try to change the meaning and intent of Mike and Mike? Hoke does not have my respect. And I hope that Kelly is saving the quotes. Hoke and his team need to go down. The Irish need to go into Ann Arbor and bury this team. Leave no doubt.

  7. More lyrics from Shazamrock, please.

    Less talk about Vanderdoes/Vanderdoesn’t until he does or doesn’t.

    And as Elvis would say, “Thank you very much!”

    1. M.T.A,

      I think there is only one approach that ND and her fans can take with Vanderdoes at this time…

      That is to…..

      Love him tender,
      Love him sweet,
      Never let him go.
      He can make out team complete,
      so let us love him so.

      Love him tender,
      Love him true,
      And all our dreams fulfilled.
      For our nose guard we love you,
      and we always will

      Love him tender,
      Love him long,
      Take him to your heart.
      For it’s there that he belongs,
      And shall we never part.

      We Love you tender,
      We Love you dear,
      Tell us you are fine.
      please be ours through all the years,
      Till the end of time.

      When at last our dreams come true
      Eddie this we know
      Happiness will follow you
      Everywhere you go

      “Tnank you, Thankyouverymuch”

  8. You have to love a website devoted to the most popular catholic institution in the country that has a discussion regarding whether or not the best coach in the country is the devil or not.

  9. Ever notice how he always wears that Panama Hat? Yeah. A good choice if you ever wanted to cover up some horns.

    God banished the evil angel to hell on earth. Ever been to Tuscaloosa in the summer time? Gets pretty damn hot down there!

    Crimson, Crimson, everything is Crimson in those parts!

    Think about it.

    1. Heez sure getting some fascinating officiating in the Southeastern Conference. Care of Mr. Thomas Ritter – top SEC referee + captain of all SEC officiating crews. Mr. Ritter a alum/native of the state of Alabama.

    2. Fee, fee, fi, fi, fo-fo, fum
      Look at Nicky now, here he comes
      Wearin’ his hat and shades to match
      he’s got football cleats and a Panama hat
      Wearin’ his whistle and his championship rings
      he’s got recruits under his fingers, now, and everything
      he’s the devil with the blue dress, blue dress, blue dress,
      Devil with the blue dress on…
      Devil with the blue dress, blue dress, blue dress,
      Devil with the blue dress on

      Wearin’ his headset set to channel. 5
      Got to be the finest head coach alive
      he walks real cool, catches everybody’s eye
      he’s got such good boosters’ that they can’t say goodbye
      Not too skinny, he’s not too fat
      he’s a real humdinger and the they like him like that
      he’s the devil with the blue dress, blue dress, blue dress,
      Devil with the blue dress on
      Devil with the blue dress, blue dress, blue dress,
      Devil with the blue dress on

      Good golly, Miss Molly!
      He sure likes football
      Good golly, Miss Molly
      He sure likes football
      While you’re rockin’ and rollin’
      Can’t you hear your mama call?

      From the early, early mornin’ ’til the early, early nights
      See little Nicky rockin’ at the House of Blue Lights
      Good golly, Miss Molly
      He sure likes football
      Good golly, Miss Molly!
      He sure likes football
      While you’re rockin’ and rollin’
      Can’t you hear your mama call

      He’s the devil with the blue dress, blue dress, blue dress,
      Devil with the blue dress on…..

  10. Once again ND shows great class! Don’t forget the saying about paybacks. I’m sure that statement by Brady HOAX will be plastered all over the campus when they meet this season. I for one can’t wait. I guess sometimes head coaches don’t think before they blabber something dumb. Thanks Brandy or Brady or what ever your name is. We won’t have to get the team up to play Michigan, that’s for sure!! Go Irish.

  11. So how did the author disprove Saban being Satan again? Just because Saban beat Muschamp doesn’t prove Muschamp is in the wrong for making such an accusation. I can’t call out my enemy for using unsavory tactics merely because the final score indicates I lost? Makes no sense

    1. There was no intent on my part to disprove that Nick Saban is the devil (and honestly, when you read such a silly statement, I shouldn’t have to). The point was simply that Florida and Vanderbilt have likely been calling Saban the devil because he’s owned them.

      1. I’m sure Davis probably IS a sore loser, which makes your point. I agree. However Davis also knows Saban very well on a personal level, and my point is that he can make a great case for labeling Saban a bad guy. You’re implying that Saban is a good guy, as the ONLY reason Davis would be calling him names is because he lost to Ala. I don’t agree with that part.

      2. I’m not implying Saban is a good guy or that the only reason Davis called him the devil is because he lost to Alabama (and Davis actually coached at Utah last year, so he hasn’t even gone toe-to-toe against Saban). More than likely Davis was just using rhetoric that he knew Florida fans wanted to hear, and they wanted to hear it because Alabama has dominated them in recent years.

  12. What’s the deal? … What’s the deal??

    History indicates this is nothing new.

    Michigan and Ohio St still enjoy a bitter rivalry. One that has carried on for over 100 years. It has been part of their culture which includes hurling insults at each other. Their motto is that if you can’t take the heat then get out of the kitchen! Maybe take up tittely-winks.
    One coach even refused to identify the school by name only referring to it as “That school up north”

    The South has the Iron Bowl complete with tree poisonings.(which,I grant, does seem a little extreme) Not to mention certain associations of the two schools hung in effigy on a routine basis.

    Nebraska and Oklahoma?

    The abduction of Mascots?

    Phone calls in the middle of the night to a visiting team’s hotel rooms?

    Signs hung out dorm room windows with the application of qustionable language dircted at that week’s opponent.

    Like it or not, this too is a part of college football. It’s part of what seperates it from any other sporting event. It is embedded in the spirit of youthfull exuberance and fierce competion that we grew up with.

    Even ND has has it nemesis over the years. I seem to remember one school from South Florida who were coined the “Covicts” and a head coach who stated that “one of these two schools is going to flinch first, and it’s not going to be ND!” or “SAVE JIMMY JOHNSON’S ASS FOR ME!”


    And we are to just give that up? Walk away???

    “What the hell happened to the Irish I used to know? Where’s the spirit? Where’s the guts, huh?! This could be the greatest year of our lives, but you’re gonna let it be the worst! “Ooh, we’re afraid to go with you, we might get in trouble.” Well, you can just kiss off from now on! Not me! I’m not gonna take this! Wormer, he’s a dead man! Marmalard, dead! Brady Hoke…

      1. Now we could fight ’em with conventional weapons. But that could take years and cost millions of lives. Oh no. No, in this case, I think we have to go all out. I think that this situation absolutely requires a really futile and stupid gesture be done on somebody’s part!

    1. The south used to have Ole Miss vs LSU but politics put an end too Mississippi athletics. Ole Miss VS LSU was the best rivalry in the history of CFB.

      1. NO! Secondly if you examine my statement it eludes too the fact that LSU/OM is no longer the rivalry it was in the 1950’s+ 1960’s.

      2. And all this time I thought Missouri vs Iowa St. Was the best rivalry in the history of CFB.

  13. Michigan versus UGA though they’ve only met twice would give UM a opportunity to show its bravery. Georgia might back out of the fight however like Florida who would run from a fight. If UM seriously wants competition much is out there. How about Texas?

  14. It’s unusual for Les Miles to openly criticize a student athlete. Gunner Kiel clearly is a player LSU saw promise in but so did the Irish. Losing Kiel hurt the denizens of Baton Rouge where he would have started. It now appears GK is headed for Tommy Tuberville’s Bearcats? Good Luck!

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