My very dearest friends both near and far,
As you might know, I have been "recently engaged elsewhere" due to some unfortunate circumstances that were blown completely out of proportion by the local media. For the record, I was NOT imitating the University of Notre Dame Athletic Director when I took that podium and demanded air time. I was simply exercising my right as an American, and, dare I say it, as an alumna of all things Blue and Gold over there on campus, and my arrest and the grounds surrounding it remain a mystery to me. I'm innocent, I tell ya! Innocent!
I think that the following transcript will adequately explain all of the hulla-ballew:
"Thank you for coming to my press conference. Before we begin, I would like to announce that this will be a short statement only and will not be followed by a Q&A. I have a limited amount of time before the authorities break the lock on that door and place me into custody, so listen up.
For the record:
I do not know the first darn thing about the game of football. Professional, college, European (in which case I think we Yanks call it soccer), or otherwise.
I was an original member of the Notre Dame class of 1988 that won the National Championship at the Fiesta Bowl in January of 1989. My diploma says that I graduated in 1989, but that's because my mom died and I took a year off. (So give a girl a break).
Here's what I would like to say:
We had an opportunity here at Notre Dame and we blew it. The world of collegiate athletics changed dramatically, and rather than leading the revolution and controlling what were sure to be unsavory aspects of all of it, we caved and decided to continue talking out of both sides of our mouths.
It's not 1989 anymore. College football has become a multi-billion dollar enterprise that drives a machine of sports marketing, television contracts, game day hype, and imprinted merchandising to levels of hysteria not previously thought of. The athletes are exposed to pressures unimaginable, and we're re-writing the meaning of the word amateur at a staggering pace.
It used to be a privilege to come to Notre Dame. You could poll any member of our football program and ask them "Why Notre Dame?" and the answers invariably went something like "I've loved Notre Dame from the time I was three years old" or "My dad brought me to a game when I was in grade school and I fell in love with the place" or "I wanted to know that when I graduated I would have received an excellent education and that for the rest of my life I could say that I played for the "Irish".
Now, we listen as the color commentator discusses the attributes of a player and lists all of the schools that he considered, and that he didn't even know about Notre Dame until the coaches were able to poach him from elsewhere. Our legends appear on Sports Center and do their best to maintain their love of the place, but after a few minutes, they too concede the fact that the guild is most definitely off the lily.
The opportunity that we had was one of integrity. And character. And principles. We had a chance to tell the world that college football might have changed, but the core of who we were was going to remain true and strong and that we weren't going to lower our standards or change our practices or dance the dance anymore.
Our players would live on campus. They would attend class, go to practice, eat in the dining hall with their fellow classmates, and then go to study hall. They would be gentlemen and scholars and team rules would be followed or their scholarship would be given to somebody else. When we won, we would win as a team. When we lost, we would stand firm, know that we had left everything on the field, congratulate our opponents, and then stand together. We would cut our hair and tuck in our shirts and not show our armpit hair. We would link arms with our brothers and sing the Alma Mater appropriately and with great fervor, and when it came time for interviews we would use words like "honor", "respect", and "heart".
The moment the world told us that nobody would watch, we would point to the hundreds of thousands of subway alums who built this school, and to the thousands of alumni who wanted the pride back and who wanted to feel like they were a part of a family again.
We'd tell all of the donors who threatened to pull their millions "Thank you, but we'll find somebody else who wants their name on a building" and then we'd be happy with the second largest endowment in the country and the fact that we hit a fundraising goal years ahead of schedule and that we raised a billion dollars more that we had hoped for.
If we won, we won, and if we lost, we lost. And if we happened to hit the lottery and actually field a really great team that was able to capture the National Championship once again, then we'd make a movie about it and hope that the poor saps who cried during "Rudy" would love this one too. In short, we'd be happy to be Notre Dame, and when our kids chanted "We are...ND", we'd all know what that meant and how no amount of loud rock and roll music would ever take the place of devoted fans cheering their little hearts out and then raising a mitten clad fist in the air as the Irish took the field, and that the biggest Jumbotron in the world would never -- ever -- capture the feeling of sitting in a football stadium looked over by You-Know-Who His Very Self and His mother a few steps away.
Alas, it seems that we chickened out in the face of the almighty dollar, and we hired a man who decided to single-handedly throw tradition and history into the dustbin while puffing his chest and blaming the players for "not buying in" to his way of thinking. He took it upon himself to pit brother against brother...teammate against teammate....and when we won, he addressed the adoring throngs in a smart shirt and tie and espoused his methodology and brilliance and proclaimed that he was "re-building" a program that was, in fact, the very foundation of the sport. When we lost, though, he appeared in his coaching fatigues, looking put upon, and declared that the mental state of a prized quarterback that HE had just set up to fail "was not something he had to worry about", but rather something that the player (who, by the way, had already been humiliated enough for this lifetime) had to handle.
The list of reasons as to why this particular gentleman is not my cup of tea is long, and I realize now as I stand here that nobody in their right mind actually cares what a portly spinster from Mishawaka has to say about all of this mess, so simply allow me to say that henceforth and furthermore I shall refrain from all things negative with respects to my beloved Notre Dame, and I will, eventually, consider drinking the Kool-Aide once again.
But I'm never going to like this guy and you can't make me."
So with that, my dear friends, I leave the stage of commenting and bitching about stuff I don't understand, and I'll leave the game day analysis to those who are paid big bucks to do so. In the meantime, does anybody know a good lawyer?