Tuesday, July 15, 2008

100 Days

To: Jack Swarbrick, Notre Dame Director of Athletics
From: Mike Coffey, ND alumnus and semi-random blogger

Dear Mr. Swarbrick:

Congratulations on your new position. As someone used to inefficient action coming out of South Bend, your hiring has come as a breath of fresh air to me and I hope portends a new methodology under the Dome.

I realize as an alumnus, you probably have a closer understanding of Notre Dame's position on things than an outsider would. But you've had your own life to lead the last couple of years and may not be familiar with how things have been going in ND sports lately. Some things have been good, but other high-profile things have not been.

Presidents often are judged by their first 100 days. Presumptuous as it may be, as someone who has watched ND athletics closely for the past decade, I'd like to suggest some actions you can take in that period which could reverse recent and long-standing problems and get the alumni and fanbase energized.

First, break out the cell phone, because there are a couple calls you might think about making.

The first call is to Joel Maturi, your counterpart at Minnesota. He's a fellow alum and was at least considered for the chair in which you're now sitting, so I imagine you'd have a lot to talk about. But while you're on the phone with him, remind him our name had come up as a potential opponent for the first game at their new stadium on September 5th, 2009, and you'd like to further the discussion, especially if it means a return game by the Gophers to South Bend in a couple seasons.

The second is to Cary Groth, your counterpart at Nevada-Reno. Explain to her the unique opportunity you have to set something up with Minnesota, but the scheduled game we have with them is holding things up. Obviously something can be done, be it a buyout check or a postponement, right? The tail doesn't wag the dog on these things, and there must be a mutually-advantageous resolution here.

Next on the docket is a conference call with Ron Mason and Morgan Burke, the AD's of Michigan State and Purdue, respectively. Jim Delaney, the Integer commish, can sit in if he wants to, provided he keeps his phone on mute. Explain to these fine gentlemen how much Notre Dame values our relationship with them ... in fact, tell Mason he should stay on the line after the call so you can work out a home-and-home basketball contract. But unfortunately, continued dates in September isn't going to work for either of our series long-term. The first one who agrees to move games to late October or early November gets a 16-year home-and-home contract. The one who comes in second will be put in a rotation with some other Tier 2 schools. If both of them agree, by all means, try to accommodate them.

Once you're off the phone, show us the money. As big a reputation as Kevin White had as a moneymaker, it seems a lot of that was done via selling off portions of the schools at which he worked. When it came to relationships with donors, it was a ham-fisted mess. One-off projects benefited from windfall donations, sometimes as a result of tragedy no one would ask for. But the big projects, like the Joyce Center redo and the still-to-be-funded ice rink improvements and hoops practice facilities, either came in horribly late or continue to wither on the vine.

Previous AD's knew how to relate to the folks who had deep pockets and sell them on the importance of athletics to the Notre Dame community. Those bridges must be rebuilt. I don't know you well enough to know if you're a schmoozer by nature, but if you're not, you need to find someone who is and put them in a position in oversight of athletics fund-raising.

But while you're hiring that person, don't be a afraid to trim a little fat. Seems you can't swing a dead cat around the Joyce Center without hitting an assistant athletics director in charge of men's room toilet paper or something. Division I athletics is big business, to be sure, and I don't advocate overworking anyone. But a little multitasking goes a long way. Go through the employee list and start weeding out the duplication. Not everyone who departed in Kevin White's wake needs to be replaced, and a penny saved is a penny earned, after all.

Not all of this is guaranteed to work, but there's no harm in trying. At the very least, it'll be a warm-up to the next NBC and BCS negotiations, where the rubber truly will meet the road.

ND athletics needs a new and bold direction. Your CV indicates you're a good candidate to provide it. Like so many others in ND history, you're being given an opportunity to seize greatness. It would be great if you took advantage. Or at least interesting.

Thanks for your consideration, and welcome home.

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

Very nice...I hope he gets this advice!

7/16/2008 07:14:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


You are such a broken record. I have grown so tired of listening to you whine. Grow up.

7/16/2008 07:41:00 AM  
Anonymous jiminnc said...

Great article but lets stop confusing people about Notre Dames location,why we of all people cannot seem to get it is beyond me. Notre Dame is in Notre Dame Indiana not South Bend.It is bad enought to hear NBC and ESPN admit that as large they cannot find themselves around,but for you folks to continue to not know to what you write is troubling.Lets all break the South Bend misconception and glorify Our Ladys name.

7/16/2008 08:01:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

That Minnesota game needs to be worked out.

It still baffles me to this day what Kevin White was thinking there. Then again, it's Kevin "not the sharpest knife in the drawer" White we're talking about here.

I think a good solution for the Nevado-Reno aspect would be to have one of the future neutral site games with them. A great location would be Denver. Or maybe even Arizona's new stadium.

I also love the idea for Michigan St. and Purdue. Brilliantly simple solution.

7/16/2008 08:52:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Can someone explain to me the obsession with this Minnesota game? I'm all in favor of a stronger schedule and playing quality opponents on the road, but Minnesota is a Tier III program from a conference with at least 3 annual ND opponents. While in principle I guess I'd rather play Minnesota than Nevada, there are so many bigger issues with scheduling--to start, moving the PU and MSU games to November and setting up series with Big XII and SEC schools are the real priorities.

7/16/2008 09:15:00 AM  
Blogger Moof said...

Help me understand why it is so important to move MSU and/or Purdue from the September time frame. True, The Big Ten is inflexible in how it schedules its League's games. As a ND and MSU grad, I want to see them play every year ("Michigan State is THE university of Michigan"). Does it matter when they play?

7/16/2008 09:18:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Let's not forget about putting Alabama, Miami and Fredo on future schedules. We can keep Navy, but please don't play Army and Air Force.

7/16/2008 09:43:00 AM  
Blogger Andy said...

Dear Jack,
Please keep in mind your primary goal should be to return ND in all aspects to the period of 1986-1992, when many prominent NDNation message board posters were in their formative years. It may be helpful to remember that the quality of our scheduled opponents is subjectively based on their success during that period as well.
Thank you,
Andy '98

7/16/2008 10:21:00 AM  
Blogger Mike Coffey said...

the quality of our scheduled opponents is subjectively based on their success during that period as well.

Actually, it's not, but don't let that stop you.

I also don't understand why you wouldn't want ND to operate as it did during a high point, but to each his own, I guess.

7/16/2008 10:28:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm sure the new AD really cares about your opinion or any opinion on this board.

I find it hillarious how some people think they are or their opinion means anything to those in power. Most of the board needs a reality check.

That means your opinions on a playoff system, the 7-4-1 schedule, playing 3-4 games against Tier one teams, etc. carries zero weight. They are as important as the average joe's opinion.

7/16/2008 10:37:00 AM  
Blogger Mike Coffey said...

It carried enough weight that you took the time to read about it and comment on it.

Never assume anything.

7/16/2008 10:47:00 AM  
Anonymous NVDomer said...

Good article, but it's not Nevada-Reno, it's just Nevada (similar to Indiana, Cal, Illinois, etc.).

7/16/2008 11:06:00 AM  
Blogger somebodytogobackintimewith said...

Mark Hollis is the AD at Michigan State, for the record.

7/16/2008 11:13:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The Big 10, in order to force ND into their league or stronghold them otherwise, has a rule that they cannot play games out of conference after Oct 31. This was specifically designed to force ND's hand into joining the Big X (or XI as you might have). Any scheduling of PU or MSU will have to be done prior to that date or no date at all. The Big X will not budge. That is why you see ND with 3 different conferences throughout the season...1)The Big X schedule 2) The Armed forces schedule 3) The Pac 10 schedule. They loathe the Irish and will not make ammends to accomadate their scheduling conflicts. Let's move on to the Miami's, the Florida's and the LSU's.

7/16/2008 11:14:00 AM  
Blogger Mike Coffey said...

I don't know if that's correct. I've seen Integer teams playing MAC snacks in November. With 11 teams, at least one team is going to be off every week, so that would effectively force conference teams to have a bye after November 1.

But if they can't do November, fine ... let's get them into late October.

7/16/2008 11:19:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Check it out. These schools will play JV and high school teams in Sep. and Oct., but the remainder of the season must be played against Big 10 opponents.

7/16/2008 11:33:00 AM  
Anonymous gozer said...

I think in most years, with the twelve game schedule and the "no games after Thanksgiving" policy of the Integer, most teams have no time for a bye week. So there will always be at least one team playing out of conference every week in November. No reason that ND can't be one of the opponents in that game, other than UM/OSU whining about their game being overshadowed.

7/16/2008 12:15:00 PM  
Anonymous Bob76 said...

Nicely done, Mike. As another member of the class of 1976, I wish my classmate great success in helping return Notre Dame to true glory. Hopefully, the "Disney Era" of Notre Dame will draw to a close under the leadership of Jenkins and Swarbrick.

7/16/2008 12:16:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Illinois, Nov. 6, Western Mich; I.U. Nov. 1, Central Mich; Wisco, Cal Poly (dynamite matchup!), Nov. 22. Seems it can be done. Why would anyone ever want to add Minnesota to our schedule?

7/16/2008 12:45:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

If notre dame wants to play better teams then they need to crush these lower tier teams. I personally would like to see what Swarbrick does before we start telling him what to do; the man wouldn't have the job if he wasn't qualified for it. If he proves to be weak then maybe a letter like this would be more suited.

7/16/2008 12:52:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

First order of business for the new AD: Add Minnesota.
And remove Purdue and MSU, both of whom we have long standing rivalries with, and one of whom is an in-state rival, to do so?
This goes against all you seem to preach. Toughen up the schedule by removing bowl caliber teams and replacing them with 1-11 (in 07) Minnesota? The Minnesota Golden Gophers, who are 7-18 in their last 2 seasons, 21-28 over the last 4? More on this "powerhouse" we should add:
"After their 8-2 record in 1967, the Gophers would not win 8 games in a season again until they went 8-4 in 1999. Their 10-3 record in 2003 gave the Gophers their first 10 win season since 1905."
Yeah, that's a legacy ridden football program we should start playing. Minnesota can't even draw a crowd at home, yet you somehow think they're a better scheduling choice than the likes of ASU or Washington State?
Get on some new material. This current idea you won't let go of is so dumb it's just plain hilarious. Hey, why don't we drop BC and play SMU while we're at it?
I do continue to enjoy how you think you know so much, and how you have the stones to display it on the web each day. I just can't figure out why you didn't throw your name in the hat when the AD job was open! Maybe Swarbrick will let you be a special advisor....
Everyone is entitled to their own opinion. It's just that you and your little buddies on here think yours is more informed than anyone else's. And nobody else agrees.
By the way, before you try to make the comment in defense, I read the site because you do a nice job of fetching all the articles for me. I sometimes read your pieces just to laugh at how important you think you are, and how little you actually know. Even better, if anyone can disagree or prove you wrong, you just remove their comments. At least you care. We'll give you that.

7/16/2008 01:08:00 PM  
Blogger DauntlessDave said...

Captain Jack is in control. I'm sure he agrees with many of your proposals.

Let's just hope that he is able to get them done in spite of the sh*t sandwhich left by the artificial doctor.

7/16/2008 03:47:00 PM  
Blogger Mike Coffey said...

While I'm glad you enjoy the article links, Mr. Anonymous, I can't help but notice there aren't any articles linked in the blog. So it's a pretty weak excuse for being here. If you don't think the work is of any value, feel free to ignore it.

But I have to say, if this is any indication of your reading comprehension, perhaps you're better off reading just the articles.

Let's start with:

And remove Purdue and MSU, both of whom we have long standing rivalries with, and one of whom is an in-state rival, to [add Minnesota]

Uh, that's not what I'm suggesting. Read it again, more carefully. I advocate a one-time home-and-home with MN because opening their new stadium would be an honor and add to ND's prestige, which offsets the fact that they're not a powerhouse. The change to MSU and Purdue is to balance the schedule and give us the flexibility to play those games later in the year instead of stacking them up in September, and is completely separate from the Minnesota task.

Toughen up the schedule by removing bowl caliber teams and replacing them with 1-11 (in 07) Minnesota?

Umm, that's not what I'm suggesting either. Again, read more carefully. I'm suggesting replacing or postponing the Nevada game in favor of Minnesota. Nevada is a team that has never done anything in an area we don't recruit. Minnesota, while not a world-beater, is a member of a BCS conference that plays in a metro area that would be fun to visit in September in a state where we've recruited rather well in recent years. That more than offsets their failures.

Minnesota can't even draw a crowd at home, yet you somehow think they're a better scheduling choice than the likes of ASU or Washington State?

I imagine they'll draw quite a crowd for the first game in their new stadium, which (if you'd read carefully) you'd know was the point in scheduling the game in the first place.

Hey, why don't we drop BC and play SMU while we're at it?

That would be replacing a BCS conference team with a non-BCS conference team on the schedule, which (if you'd read carefully) you'd know was the exact opposite of what I was suggesting.

Again, feel free not to read my work in the future if you're going to put so little thought into it.

7/16/2008 04:33:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I don't care about Minnesota. Moving Purdue or Michigan State to later might be a good thing to work on but why threaten them? As for improving the schedule, lets start by getting rid of Stanford and the Big East schools except for Pitt.

7/16/2008 05:23:00 PM  
Anonymous Chris McGrady, '08 said...

Anonymous (the most recent) -

At least he has the "stones" to put his own name with his material, not hide behind an anonymous name. It's pretty blatant that he knows more than you - you just come across as a sniveling jerk. If you don't value what he has to say, then why read it? Not buying the "for the articles" thing because there are no articles on this blog. So go crawl back into whatever hole you came from. Pathetic.

Good article, Mike.

7/16/2008 05:46:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

First 100 days? how bout you take the first 100 seconds & let the man take a seat. I give it 8 months before the posts on Rock's House appear howling about this hire.

Phil Gramm was right about a nation of whiners, he just had the wrong nation.

7/16/2008 07:49:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Outstanding article. These suggestions are perfect. If our new AD accomplishes these items I will gain much confidence in our overall direction.

7/16/2008 09:02:00 PM  
Anonymous No Mas said...

To be so foolish as to think that anyone, be they in power not, cares what any of us think...shame on us.

7/16/2008 09:38:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

First of all as a die hard Notre Dame fan who lives out West. The two state schools here are UNLV and Nevada that both play D1 Sports.

If Nevada and Minnisota played each other right now Nevada would most likly win 9 out 10 if not all 10. Nevada will gice Notre Dame a real game and if our Irish our not careful will pull off the upset. Nevada took Miami to the final gun before losing in their Bowl Game in Coach Coker
last game. Why? Because of a blown call and a missed extra point. The also beat Fresno State the week after FSU took USC and Reggie Bush to the wire in LA.

I just hope my Irish don't take Nevada as lightly as some of the people on this blog take them. Chris Ault is already in the College Football Hall of Fame. He is a great Coach and a legend in the State. Nevada also has a great basketball program.

Gooooo Irish but don't take the WolfPack Lightly , they will come in jam it down our throats.

They are picked by many to be the non BCS Team to make to the a BCS Bowl this year. Kevin White was an idiot in his scheduling. I hope our new AD takes ND back to the top.


7/16/2008 10:05:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Re Jiminnc comment on the University's location. The way I understand it, there is no Notre Dame, Indiana. The school is located in South Bend and as of several years ago, when a US Post office was positioned on campus, the mailing address became, "Notre Dame, Indiana", referring to that delivery location. Can anyone verify?

7/17/2008 11:42:00 PM  
Anonymous tednict said...

Mike, perhaps there is a reason why you will not want to do this, but it would help me, and perhaps others, if you would identify the type of football schedule you feel ND should have. In doing this, I wish you would identify the twelve teams in this hypothetical schedule. Many years ago I was taught to ask if you do not know.

7/21/2008 03:22:00 PM  
Blogger Mike Coffey said...

I did that, about a year ago:

Right here

7/21/2008 03:32:00 PM  
Anonymous tednict said...

Thank you Mike...I appreciate your help.

7/22/2008 12:43:00 PM  

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