The Lost Caretakers of Notre Dame

Kristian DavisContributor IDecember 3, 2008

Should Charlie Weis go? Absolutely. For a number of reasons, but for more than just the obvious losses.

In life, many of our successful individuals, whether in business, sports, or any public arena, have great problem-solving skills. With any problem we know that you must go to the root cause, and not just solve the symptoms.

Notre Dame's root cause is not necessarily the head coach, or the players, but deeper still. It lies with the caretakers of the program.

Notre Dame is arguably the iconic program for college football, similar to the Yankees, Packers, and Cowboys. These programs have remained competitive through the years due to their caretakers.

Like them or not, they have the love, passion, and the understanding for what they have chosen to take care of. Notre Dame has quite simply lost their caretakers!

I was born and raised in South Bend in the late 50's, and grew up a mile away from Notre Dame. My uncle worked in maintenance there for 35 years, and I was privileged to see many games from the sidelines, and I have season tickets to this day.

More than that, I meandered and frolicked about the campus as a kid, teenager, and young adult, even taking post-graduate studies there. I have watched and been around practices, games, and even numerous social events, and continue to do so to this day.

I can tell you that there is the absence of that feeling of eliteness, and our position of who we are, and where we are, both in the landscape of sports, and the presentation of our values and pride to society.

Yes, there is still the thought that "we are ND," but there is not that swagger we used to have, or that feeling that everybody else plays their Super Bowl against us.

Also lost is our feeling of toughness, and representation of being in the heart of America, the little school from Indiana that played with defense, and grit, and determination that represented the best part of Americans.

It's simply gone, and that has more to do with simple won-loss record, but the direction and leadership of its caretakers, which include the President, AD, and coach.

Ever since Moose Krause and Father Hesburgh left their duties to others, the program has been in steady decline. The spirit, commitment, and passion for their continued presence as the elite program in this portion of our society has not been the driving force for those in charge now.

On the coaching front, and to the point, since Ara left, we had the following:

Dan Devine

A self-serving coach that really won the title with Ara's team, and perhaps the greatest quarterback ever in Joe Montana. He took this job to erase his failure at Missouri. However, he never had the passion or the backing of the program, players, or the fans.

Gerry Faust

The great experiment that failed. Faust had the passion, and the understanding of what Notre Dame was, but going from High School to the elite program was too great a step. Many felt it was his reverence for the program, and his incredible "work-hard" mentality that endeared him to Krause and Hesburgh.

Also, many folks forget that he had arguably the best High School program in the country, and had forgotten how formidable Cincinnati Moeller was.

They had been compared to many small college teams, and his program was considered better than many colleges.

Still, he should be the at minimum the measuring stick to understanding success in anything other than major college football is simply not enough.

Lou Holtz

Even though Krause had stepped down by then, he had enormous input in this decision, both privately and publicly. After all, how could you not have the confidence in a proven college coach with a Notre Dame out clause in his contract.

Lou would be the last connection to the "iconic" presence of the program. He understood ND, its place in history, and its place for the future. Is really a shame how he left, basically because of the caretakers lost.

Lou is too big, and too good a person to elaborate on the snake pit that was at ND during the last years. Or, how he was left alone to argue their 12th National Title, yes they are the true 1993 National Title winners, not Florida State.

In years past the ND machine would have easily secured that public opinion title, yet Lou was left out their to argue only of the head-to-head win over Florida State that year.

This sticks in my craw, as it does Lou's. Lou should have left ND with the reverence, acclaim, and comparison to only Knute Rockne.

I think Lou still had one or two more titles in him at ND. you could say that the beginning of the Holtz era was the last remnants of the great caretakers, and the end of his era was the beginning of the lost caretakers.

Bob Davie

How could ND so easily forget their previous mistake of allowing a coach to handle this iconic program with no head coaching experience, especially when they were only one position removed from that experiment?

Especially with someone who never lived up to his billing, as ND never got close defensively to what Texas A & M was considered to be. Perhaps that genius really lied in R.C. Slocum? 

Furthermore, from a man who made many less than favorable comments about the man who brought him to ND. Of course, he had the ear of the lesser caretakers and the start of our path to the abyss of elite college football.

George O'Leary

I actually think that this ill-fated attempt could have been a redemption for the caretakers, but it only strengthens my argument.

Look at it this way. Here is Notre Dame, a religious university of the largest religious sect in the world, and they totally missed the boat in this.

Religion is solely based on the premise of forgiveness, and redemption, yet the caretakers could not forgive what really boiled down to a simple mistake in the grand scheme of things.

Had they any type of leadership it would have been an easy strategy to utilize that religious side of the university to stand behind their choice, show forgiveness and redemption and move forward.

After all, George was a proven college commodity, such as Lou, winning at places with less resource, and doing it the right way, as I do not believe there has ever been scandal anywhere George has coached. However, it showed again the lack of presence in the lost caretakers.

Ty Willingham

We all know of the arrogance ND showed to their first choice, Urban Meyer, and poor Ty was the result of yet another poor decision by our inept lost caretakers.

Ty never had a chance here, yes because the caretakers chose him more as a symbol to cover their own mistakes, but more because he never had that tough, defense oriented, Midwest mentality.

Charlie Weis

This is the biggest travesty of all, yes even more than Gerry Faust. Why, you say?

We obviously forget the first kick, and the second kick of the mule in Faust and Davie (w/ no college head coaching experience) aside from the fact he had only one year as a High School head coach, we are seeing the "buddy" system at its worst in that the "alumni" status had impetus in his hiring.

Yes, Charlie was successful as a coordinator, but it's interesting how well the Patriots are doing since his departure. In fact, the Patriots supposedly lost both their Offensive and Defensive geniuses, or did they? Perhaps the real genius still presides in New England!

ND is as lost as a program as I have ever seen them. With the supposed great classes they continue to not only lose, but lose in a totally inept way.

They lose in a complete manner, from poor time management to poor fundamentals, and ultimate predictability. Their tackling is as bad as I have ever seen it.

You have to admit, there is something about their "schematic advantage" that makes it very simple for other teams to key on, as top-tier teams seem to know what they are doing on almost every play.

You can say this is the second coming of both Faust and Davie, because Weis has arguably fewer credentials than either of them. Just like Faust, you need more than the love for this university to coach here, you need to have understood major college football, and shown the proven ability to succeed before given the keys to an icon.

Charlie Weis is not the guy, and mostly for allowing his team to perform and represent the way they have, even in their wins!

Weis' hiring definitely has everything to do with the loss of caretakers for our beloved icon. Their lack of foresight, and moreover their lack of hindsight.

The real question is, do we have real caretakers there now, and I mean even from the one above the AD?

Will they both recognize what they are tasked to do, and the significance it holds to our history, our present, and our future. Let's hope so!


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