Hesburgh started his tenure much like Monk did with many of the same issues, especially the view of ND as a "football factory". He tried to de-emphasize football.
Then came the crucial difference. Hesburgh realized and corrected his mistake. Monk did not.
Hesburgh recognized the fact that football had been, and always will be crucial to the financial underpinnings of the University. That without it, much of the mission of the university would be much more difficult to accomplish. He also came to understand the very public way excellence in football set the bar for everything else the university does. Not only the technical excellence wins vs losses, but the manner in which the wins are achieved and how the program comports itself.
Once he realized his mistake he corrected it, and along with Fr. Joyce, led the university through decades of incredible growth in football, all athletics, AND academics.
One of Hesburgh's greatest strengths was/is his uncanny ability to put things in proper perspective and develop priorities that stand the test of time.