Friday, July 14, 2006

The Media is so Unfair to Notre Dame

How rude of Gene Wojciechowski
to make sweet, sweet love to the Irish for 1,256 words for ESPN.com and he didn't even have the decency to mention that Charlie Weis is secretly undermining the Iranian nuclear program and working on a medical cure for ennui in his spare time.

13 comments:

Ed said...

Why all this consternation about Notre Dame, Michael? Is another crappy Wolverines team about to make its underwhelming appearance, stage right?

Don't worry - all great programs have their down cycles. Cheers.

Alex said...

You can't forget Brady Quinn already polishing the Heisman on his mantle and the seven Olympic boxing medals that Zbikowski (sp?) is sure to nab simply beacuse -- gasp! -- he also plays football!

Michael said...

Ed, I seem to recall you making the point that the media is unfair to Notre Dame. That article was for you. I'm glad you enjoyed it.

And by the way, a crappy Wolverine team still goes to a bowl game. Shall we discuss where crappy ND teams end up?

peacedog said...

Crappy Notre Dame teams wind up him hell, having displeased the pope as they did.

Ed said...

Um, crappy ND teams usually go to bowl games. Sometimes they go 5-6. Point?

Actually, crappy ND teams end up firing their crappy head coaches, and having crappy commentators like (drumroll please) Gene Wojciechowski lament the event as a sign of the loss of Notre Dame's moral standing in the universe.

Wish ESPN still had that article in its archives. You would enjoy it.

But who am I kidding? Numerous articles about ND's moral debasement, hypocrisy, and football factory status in December 2004 vs. countless articles about how great a boxer Tommy Z is today. Of course, ESPN loves Notre Dame!

Michael said...

1. Crappy Notre Dame teams don't go to bowls. Crappy Michigan teams do. That's my point. ND fans mock "LLLoyd Carr" for three-loss seasons, but ND hasn't done anything better since 1993, coincidentally the last year that the Irish won a bowl game. Our mediocrity is your apex, apparently.

2. I'm still waiting for the avalanche of links to establish that the media has it out for Notre Dame. If they did, then why would they publish so many puff pieces? Do you think it's possible that Notre Dame gets more coverage than anyone else, so when they're up, they get more love and when they're down, they get more blame? Do you think that all the negative coverage of the Knicks these days is because the media hates the Knicks or because they're obsessed with the Knicks and overcover them whether they;re good or bad?

2.

Ed said...

Notre Dame's apex is 11 national championships. That would be 10.5 more than Michigan has had in the last 50 years, in case you want to drop that joke about your mediocrity being our apex.

Your comparison between coverage of the Knicks and Notre Dame is flat-out pathetic. It's not a question of the media panning Notre Dame's football team when its bad; it's a question of it questioning its integrity as an institution when it attempted in 12/04 to stop being bad. Do you detect any sort of difference there?

Here are your links:

http://proxy.espn.go.com/ncf/columns/story?columnist=forde_pat&id=1935406

http://sports.espn.go.com/ncf/news/story?page=argument/1202

http://proxy.espn.go.com/espn/page2/story?page=grant/041201

http://proxy.espn.go.com/espn/page2/story?page=caple/041201

http://proxy.espn.go.com/espn/page2/story?page=whitlock/051101

http://www.sportingnews.com/yourturn/viewtopic.php?p=387467

There are so many more....

Maize n Brew Dave said...

Regardless, Ed, that story made me feel like I needed to shower.

Wojo wrote the following:

"Willingham finished 5-7 the year following his 10-3 debut season at Notre Dame. He was whisk-broomed away at the end of 2004.

A year ago nobody had a real clue about the Weis Era. Now we do."

Um. How? Other than using Willingham's players and recruiting a very good class, Weis hasn't done much by Notre Dame "standards". He's been there a year. By those standards Willingham was/is an even bigger genius than Weis by virtue of his better record.

A year after Willingham showed up the same crap was being touted by ESPN. There was even a book (linked here: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0316607657/ref=si3_rdr_bb_product/002-3088714-4694465?ie=UTF8) "Return to Glory" that came out immediately after their 10-3 season and subsequent bowl beat down.

The only thing missing from that article was a cigar and blue dress.

ugh...

Ed said...

These articles are worthy of a very long, cold shower - no disagreement.

More is at work here, im my opinion, than simple veneration for Notre Dame. Willingham did not get nearly the praise after his first season that Weis is currently getting, regardless of a former player's glowing book.

(incidentally, do you know what that the former player wrote on ESPN.com after Willingham was fired? Pure venom, my friend. And did any of his Notre Dame-loving colleagues demure? Not one. But I'm just paranoid.)

I think there is a real excitement about Charlie Weis in college football circles. I don't see any other reason why someone like Kirk Herbstreit would suddenly become such a sychophant. Same goes for Skip Bayless. Weis is the hot new genius commodity that can resurrect a moribund program.

Now does his presence at Notre Dame, in particular, escalate the attention? Absolutely. But I've never argued that the media stiffs the football team or tries to puts its accomplishments in a shadowy light. My argument is that the attitude towards the institution of higher learning is one of extreme skepticism where it really isn't warranted and extreme censure
when events require a more balanced perspective.

The rush to condemn the firing of Willingham was utterly uncalled for, and would have you guys livid if it happened in Ann Arbor. I know it would.

peacedog said...

"The rush to condemn the firing of Willingham was utterly uncalled for, and would have you guys livid if it happened in Ann Arbor. I know it would."

Already went through it after Donnan got canned, thanks. We got reamed for that one, given that he was coming off a stretch where we went 40-19 and won 4 straight bowl games.

Every school faces it when a "successful" coach is removed. Success is not always measured reasonably in this sense - it's some nebulous concept the national media consciousness can decide on in a moments notice. Willingham was successful because ND was better under him than Davie ("return to glory"), to many eyes - whether rightly or wrongly. Similarly, the Dawgs under Donnan were successful because they were far better than they were in the Goff era. Never mind that we had some serious program issues that Donnan exacerbated.

Don't talk to me about a rush to condemn. I bet we beat you guys on media coverage on this one (for once). They were making jabs on sports center well after all parties had moved on.

I fail to see how you cannot recognize that ND gets an elevated level of coverage relative to the rest of college football. Mike's Nicks analogy is dead-on here. The best and worst of the coverage gets distorted and magnifed thanks to the volume. And you do get more volume. Hell, you guys have gotten into Bowls at 6-5 that you have no business being in, thanks to being "Notre Dame".

Also, trying to compare national titles while limiting one team's titles is period is bizzare. You have as many titles in the last 26 years as UGA. Whoopity do.

Fox said...

Ed, do you have any other real beefs beside the Willingham bit because I find that one a bit puzzling. Given the vast amount of media coverage that Notre Dame enjoys, doesn't it only stand to reason that when it makes a controversial move, many will bash it. And that bashing seems especially reason given that it was Notre Dame's own actions and behavior that set it up for the criticism. Notre Dame has gone out of its way, since before we were all born, to put itself on the higher moral ground, and pride itself on winning despite not joining most other powers in recruiting impropriety, rampant academic fraud and, among other things, honoring contracts with coaches til the bitter end. So when Notre Dame acted just like any other big football power would have by firing an OK but not great coach before his contract was up, and adding in the racial part to boot, how can it (or you) possibly complain about people writing about that.

It'd be like Duke basketball bringing in Calipari-style recruits. I think it's fair to say that any Duke-bashing on that would be warranted, and in my mind a pleasant offset to all the Duke worshipping the media does.

Ed said...

Fox,
There's too much stuff in your post for me to do justice to in this forum, so I'm just going to ask this....

Can one credibly write an article that suggests perhaps Willingham wasn't fired because of race? that maybe Notre Dame didn't show that it was indifferent to character and integrity by firing Willingham, but instead desired a coach who upheld high standards for both academics the gridiron? that the only real basis for the supposed "5-year rule" granted to previous Notre Dame coaches is the myth perpetuated by other sports writers? that even if Notre Dame erred in firing Willingham, that act does not cancel out years of graduating players at an extremely high rate or avoiding academic impropriety?

Because if I can credibly write any or all of these things, why wasn't this article written at espn.com, cnnsi.com? If the media loves Notre Dame or, at the very least, is neutral towards the institution, why wasn't there a counterpoint to all of the rhetoric of ND as "football factory" (Forde), ND as moral equivalent to Miami "pell grant" University of the 1980s (Grant), ND as losing a bit of its soul (Wojo)?

Because there wasn't. I think you all are putting your head in the sand, if you think that Notre Dame didn't get heat in Decemeber 2004, not simply because of a media obsession (a la the Knicks), but because of a host of factors about ND that include:

a) it having staked itself to certain academic ideals;
b) it having chosen to maintain its independence in the face of other institutions allying themselves to conferences;
c) it being located in the "white midwest;"
d) it being a very wealthy institution;

Etc. Now, when an incident occurs that could be deemed controversial, and an entire block of writers choose to tackle that controversy by tossing around rhetoric that touch upon some, or all, of the above in the meanest way possible. Without a tightly-reasoned argument to back that up. Without a counter offered by another writer. Then I have to call it bias.

I'm sorry. I know you all disagree. That makes horse-racing, I suppose.

peacedog,
Don't spend too much time gnashing your teeth over all those 6-5 Notre Dame teams that went to bowl games they didn't deserve. It only happened once (in 1995), with a 6-4-1 Irish team. A profound injustice, I know - like a 4-loss FSU team going to the Orange Bowl.

Oh, and if Michael can take a 13-year slice of history to show Michigan's eminence, I'm free to take 50. Thanks.

Michael,
Sorry for the Michigan crap. I have very little against the Wolverines actually and become a fan once a year when they play The Ohio State. Hope your Alma Mater does well this year. I'll be at the Michigan-ND game. Should be good.

Fox said...

I think the aspect of this whole thing you're leaving out Ed is just how polarizing Notre Dame is. So yes, the haters will pounce when they perceive them as doing something that isn't in keeping with their self-professed higher standards will the lovers will, well, slurp all over them when they do something impressive. So the cost of having ESPN act like Weiss is the second coming of Bear Bryant is getting pilloried if you decide to fire a football coach during his initial contract for the first time, he was less middling than the last guy who was allowed to finish his first contract, and he happens to be black to boot. (And yes, it's naive to think that in this day and age at least some writers, especially the Jason Whitlocks, won't pull out the race card in that situation.)

In the interests of full disclosure, I'm in the haters crowd ever since Bob Davies' least crappy team took the Fiesta Bowl spot that should have gone to Va Tech and Michael Vick just because they're Notre Dame. And yes, the pasting OSU put on ND was almost as fun to me as Tech's bowl victory that year.