December 01, 2004

Cutting Ty

Notre Dame made the rash and I believe irresponsible decision yesterday to fire football coach Tyrone Willingham, after only three years on the job. Willingham, one of the better young minds in college football, did a lot of good work in returning the team to respect following the George O’Leary fiasco, and he departs South Bend with a winning record. Willingham was the first Notre Dame football coach to ever not have his original contract honored, and was also denied the opportunity to coach a team consisting entirely of his own recruits.

In making the choice, ND failed to learn from the example of Nebraska, another longtime college power who fired coach Frank Solich last year after a 9-3 season, only to post a losing record this year and not qualify for a bowl. Willingham is expected to be replaced by Utah coach Urban Meyer.

Rejecting the racial angle in favor of the "old boys network" angle, I believe it all boils down to this: There’s been a Pope Urban before. There hasn’t been, and likely never will be, a Pope Tyrone.

Wilbon has more, as does ND alum Joe; I for one wouldn’t mind seeing the Vikings bring back Willingham, a onetime assistant under Dennis Green, once they eventually cashier Mike Tice.

UPDATE: Spoke too soon- there IS a Pope Tyrone.

Posted by Stephen Silver at December 1, 2004 07:46 PM

While the 30+ point losses and less than stellar records were obvious problems, the underlying failing was in the area of recruiting. Willingham has had very poor(by ND standards)recruiting classes. This was seen as a sign that things would only get worse, not better. For all the racial overtones, I believe this is a move of racial nuetrality--black or white(Willingham or Zook)--if you don't get the job done at places like ND, Florida, or Nebraska, you get fired. You might argue that the job done at ND merited allowing him to finish his contract, but the powers-that-be saw the writing on the wall. It was felt that his firing was inevitable. Better to do it now, rather than suffer two more years of mediocrity, then face his firing anyway. For what it is worth, I think Urban Meyer may end up at Florida. That program, and Florida's talent-rich high school football program, is a much safer choice than Notre Dame's current program-in-decline scenario.

Posted by: DBrooks at December 1, 2004 09:56 PM

Damn! nEUtrality

Posted by: DBrooks at December 1, 2004 09:58 PM

Steve, I have to completely disagree with you here as well. Ty had to go. I am much happier it was now and we did not have to sit through a one or two year death watch. Ty's main problem was that he was not a good game coach. He and his staff simply got out coached all the fecking time. See losing to a miserable BYU team, see BC and Pitt at home this year. See the Irish getting their asses handed to them all the time. I had the great misfortune to sit through two of the 30+ point loses last year at ND stadium. It was awful.
I think Wilbon completely blows it when he says that "we" never embraced Ty. Fair enough but I wouldn't exactly describe Ty as charismatic and inspirational. The congregation could have handled the lack of emotion but not with those results. I liked the guy, I really really did. I wanted him to win but he simply didn't and only someone who wasn't paying attention could look at the evidence and think Ty would get substanially better.
I think my fellow domers are delusional if they think a return to glory is in short order but it had to be done to get any better than mediocre.
Go Irish

Posted by: paddy at December 2, 2004 01:14 AM

I would take most coaches over Tice right now. Although paddy's statement that he isn't a good game coach gives me pause. Still, he has got to be better than meathead.


Posted by: Ivan at December 3, 2004 12:55 AM

As bad as Ty and the Irish got, Ty never made it past Tice on the list of people my brother and fellow ND grad, wanted to see get hit by a bus.

Posted by: paddy at December 3, 2004 02:26 AM

Ty didn't get the chance he deserved, and I think Notre Dame will end up paying for it in the end.

Now some other team will pick him up and they'll be better for it. The Michigan State grad deserves a job where he is respected for his time at Stanford and Notre Dame. 21-15 is a respectable record, don't you think?

Posted by: Bryan at December 10, 2004 11:43 AM
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