Relegating Rick Reilly

ESPN journalist Rick Reilly recently published an article titled “Demoting Notre Dame” which has sparked a bit of a firestorm. You can go read the article for yourself, but the basic premise of it is that Notre Dame has been irrelevant for decades and doesn’t deserve the perks, exposure or special attention they receive from the NCAA and media.

Before I dive into this, I’m both a Notre Dame fan and a Rick Reilly fan. What was most confounding to me about Mr. Reilly’s article is that while constantly stating why Notre Dame should not be special, it seemed a bit hypocritical for him to give the lowly program such space on the front page of “the worldwide leader of sports”.

After all, this is well covered territory. He’s not covering something new. Reilly also penned what read as almost angst as well claiming to be a former Irish fan that “grew up”. Apparently growing up meant he no longer was a Notre Dame fan – or that perhaps he just jumped on the bandwagon of a team that started to win more as he was quick to use Southern Cal as an example of excellence later in the article. There was also a tip of the hat to Boise State, Oregon and other programs – all pointing out their supremacy over the downtrodden Indiana program.

Mike Golic, a graduate of Notre Dame whose family are dug in like ticks in South Bend came back with an uppercut of his own and the situation has gone viral. Of course, I’m sure this was the real point of the article – targeting a fan base that is second largest in the nation behind Ohio State to stir up traffic.    

Still, as I expect a bit more from both parties let’s look at his gripes without getting into Reilly’s almost childish berating. Again, I love his articles. This one was just a bit over the top and seemed personal.

The Beef List:

Notre Dame should be forced to join a conference, but if were up to Reilly he’d tell them to “leave a message”.

You’d be the only conference that would Rick. I completely agree with Reilly’s point that Notre Dame Football has been a wreck since Lou Holtz left, but any conference in the country would be drooling over the Irish. They’ve already sold 35,000 tickets to a game in Dublin, Ireland against Navy. People are flying to another continent to see them play a service academy (no offense Midshipmen, I love you).

Second, Notre Dame really has no reason to join a conference while the NCAA continues to give them all the perks they do.

Notre Dame gets $1.3 million for not going to a bowl game. All they have to do is dress up the stupid leprechaun.

On the other hand they take a substantial cut when they do go to an FBS bowl game Rick. However, I hate this deal as well and other than your “stupid leprechaun” nonsense you hit it right on the head. When the deal was struck I wrote that it was a “loser’s mentality” and built the wrong culture in a program. So, I’m 100-percent with Rick that this is crap – but again – if the NCAA is willing to give ND will take.

Notre Dame no longer gets its own television deal with NBC. Notre Dame should not renew the contract in 2015 until they right the ship.

Opinion. Does. Not. Process. Brain. Hurts. Malfunction.

Again, this is where Rick is going completely off the deep end and sounding like a raving lunatic that has a personal beef. I just don’t get it. No logic, just insane opinions.

That’s like saying, “I think Notre Dame should stop playing in pads to get tougher” or “they should replace the grass in the stadium with nails instead of turf”.

Statements like these make me feel like I’m watching “Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas”.

Notre Dame no longer gets its yearly “undeserved hellahype in preseason rankings or All-American teams”.

Agreed and disagreed. The coaches just voted them in the Top 25 and Vegas has them with pretty solid odds to win the National Championship compared to most schools Rick. Frankly, I don’t think they’ll finish above .500 this year. Again, how does Notre Dame control this? Also, when did you become a character from Point Break?

As for All-American teams, you might want to check the draft buddy. Despite their only “solid” records, the Irish have been filling up the NFL with some very good players.

Rick had more to say, but I’m beating a dead horse.

Look, I understand the underlying point here. Notre Dame is not what they were in 1966 or 1988. Reilly says “they’ve failed him” and I’m sure some Irish faithful feel the same way. Their results on the field certainly do not reflect that of a program that would receive the plethora of benefits the Domers obtain, but that’s football.

Alabama started to take a mighty tumble after Gene Stallings left the Crimson Tide and NCAA sanctions were imposed. Even after the effects of those penalties went away, there were still losses to Louisiana Tech, a young Central Florida program, Minnesota, Hawaii and other inferior programs under Mike Shula, Mike DuBose and even Nick Saban. Still, ‘Bama is an historical program that demands national respect.

People didn’t stop watching. Recruits didn’t stop coming there. Were players like Shaun Alexander, Fernando Bryant, Chris Samuels, Cornelius Griffin, Dwayne Rudd, Deshea Townsend or Jarret Johnson “underserved hellahype All-Americans”?

Notre Dame has lost their identity. I believe that and had Reilly wrote it I would have agreed. Willie McGuinest said after being drafted out of USC that one of the things he was most happy about was never having to play the Irish again because you hurt for weeks after that game. That inherent toughness seems to have left South Bend to a point. You see flashes, but not like I did as a kid under Lou Holtz. Those teams had a quiet, working class swagger to them. If you punched them in the mouth they spit the blood out and smiled at you, forcing your will to shrink.

Let’s cool the hyperbole on “relegating” them though. Last I checked, we aren’t in England and this isn’t soccer – although as an Irish fan I’d love to have Shane Walton in the secondary this season. It’s impossible for any team, let alone Notre Dame to be what they were six decades ago in modern football.

There are plenty of weaknesses and miscues to point out at Notre Dame – as there are at any program – but Reilly seems to be throwing a hissy fit rather than writing something constructive or intellectual.

In short, I expected better from you Rick. That or I expected it to be “hella” funny. On thing is for sure, after reading that article you may need to be relegated to ESPN’s “Page 2” for a couple of weeks.

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6 Responses to Relegating Rick Reilly

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