The battle between academics and football at ND has existed throughout her history. Sperber quotes Frank Leahy as saying of Rock, "The priests were getting ready to come down hard on him when he died." Fr. O'Hara raised the academic standards for Layden's players, requiring an "80 average" to be eligible to play (Layden couldn't have played for himself). Fr. Hesburgh came in like a reformer (I think LEAHY's post below catches the conflict nicely) and went out like a fan, hiring Holtz so that Monk wouldn't have to take any heat for hiring a successful coach with a few nicks in his past. Malloy, of course, turned on Holtz and football, even after he'd enjoyed the benefits of a top-rated program, while Jenkins has reaffirmed Hesburgh's ultimate attitude that there's nothing wrong with excelling at both academics and football. BTW, we're the only school I can think of that constantly endures this vacillation between the extremes, and I'm not going to analyze it here.
The conflict is evident in our football history, which is a series of peaks and valleys, with dry spells in the '30s, '50s-early '60s, early '80s, and late '90s-early 2000s sandwiched between peaks that included our eleven national titles.
All I can say is enjoy things now, for we seem to be on the ascendancy again (I am as firm a Weis-supporter as you're going to find), although our history says that somewhere down the road, in who knows how many years, we'll have another dry spell as "the priests," as Frank Leahy so aptly put it, decide "to come down" on football again.