Open Letter to Kevin White, Athletic Director, University of Notre Dame Athletic Department RE: You’re Fired

Dear Kevin,

You’re fired.

Granted, I do not hold any official affiliation with the University of Notre Dame beyond being an alumnus, but you’re fired nonetheless. From this point forward, HerLoyalSons.com will not recognize you as the Athletic Director of the University of Notre Dame. And while we may continue to discuss the office of the Athletic Director of the University of Notre Dame, we will no longer refer to you personally. Merely on principle, you do not deserve the distinction, and now that you’re fired, it’s simply impractical to supply you with that distinction.

Knowing full well that an Athletic Director, even one with your mind-blowing ineptitude for contract negotiations, would have some clause in his or her contract about only eliminating you from the payroll for cause, we supply you with these items:

  • The stupefying way in which you handled the elimination of Bob Davie from the position of Head Football Coach, University of Notre Dame.
  • The pain you put the Notre Dame Football Program through as you handled the search for a new Head Coach of Football with all the competence of a McDonald’s Drive-Thru Cashier who can’t figure out the illustrated buttons on his register.
  • The embarrassment you brought on the University of Notre Dame, its students, faculty, staff, and alumni when it was discovered that you did, in fact, not actually do your freaking job and make sure George O’Leary’s resume wasn’t a total lie before announcing him as Head Coach, Notre Dame Football.
  • The hurried, and pathetic way in which you let Tyrone Willingham con you into believing that “you need him” as the Head Football Coach of the University of Notre Dame.
  • The profoundly myopic new deal you agreed to with the BCS, essentially costing the program money (your golden god, ironically), every time our miraculously competent new coaching staff leads the Notre Dame football team to a BCS game.
  • The way you acted like a 4 year old child with a tendency to avoid confrontation when it became clear to all involved with Notre Dame that Tyrone Willingham had no business coaching the Notre Dame Football Program, or any other Football Program for that matter.
  • The bush-league “Sunday-Friday” comments about Tyrone Willingham, that equated Notre Dame, a place for which you do not hold any real love, to so many “football factories,” and gave every two-bit journalist and columnist the juiciest sound-byte for which they could have ever dreamed.
  • The miserable execution on your part in replacing Tyrone Willingham, including, but not limited to the laughable way you handled the Urban Meyer situation, the lack of fore-thought and planning that went into your coaching search, and the fact that Florida wasn’t just a few days ahead of you, but darn near an entire season ahead of you.
  • The shoddy introduction of Coach Weis as our head coach, including the fact that the “ND” backdrop looked like it had just been removed from it’s plastic pouch, unfolded, and hung up behind Weis 10 minutes before the presser. Did it smell mildewy too? I’ve got 15 year old camping tarps that look better.
  • The insistence that Notre Dame is in the midst of an “arms race” with other programs, without any recognition on your part that, while technically that may be true, Notre Dame is still Notre Dame, and what makes Notre Dame special is also what allows Notre Dame to participate in that arms race without having to lower itself to some “level playing field” in which Notre Dame Stadium would ever need box seats or a jumbotron.
  • Failing in the so-called “brand management” arena, and allowing Adidas to hold Michigan as a “most favored nation.”
    • (Update: Apparently the Michigan AD “gets it” when it comes to doing his job.)
      • Q: How important was the favored program clause? Martin: Very important, if they raise the cap. They may say, hey, no problem, we’re not going to pay anybody else any more than this. I don’t know. But over an 8-year period, there’s a chance that will happen. I couldn’t get that from Nike. I wanted it, and they said they would guarantee we’d have the highest contract at the time the contract was signed.

        Q: It’s interesting to me how much that particular clause has meant to your fans. It’s gotten a lot of buzz.

        Martin: Did it? That’s a pride factor. Nobody is going to be better than us. I’m glad they recognize that, because it was important to me. It makes me feel like I did my job.

  • The utter failure to realize that “barnstorming” doesn’t mean heading off to some neutral field, insisting on controlling the gate and TV revenue, and playing shoddy, back-water teams which only open you up to the potential of losing to those shoddy, back-water teams, thus leveling more embarrassment upon a program that you neither love nor “get.”

That last item is, ultimately, the straw that effectively buried an already dead, decimated, and decaying camel. Your only motivation is money, and this 7-4-1 schedule system, where we play one “neutral” site a year, is transparent to the point that even a Michigan grad can see right through it. Your intent isn’t to help recruiting, or the program’s exposure, or fans’ and the alumni’s ability to see a Notre Dame game. All you see are dollar signs. And, as with just about everything you’ve done at Notre Dame, you’ve handled this with a clumsy hand and a near-sighted vision. Why can’t we work out a deal to play the real behemoths of the college football world in these “barnstorming” games? What, we actually need the money? One of the highest value brands in the entire sports world couldn’t afford to split ticket money and TV revenue to effectively create, and place itself into, an annual “must see” game? That wouldn’t help recruiting? That wouldn’t provide the Notre Dame brand with an extra boost? Have you no idea how much begrudging respect that sort of behavior would derive from the rest of the sporting world?

The first response you’d probably have to this idea is that “it can’t be done.” And then you’d throw out contractual obligations, league rules, etc… as excuses. But that’s the very heart of your problem, and what has ultimately gotten you fired. You’ve approached pretty much every dealing with any party as the beggar. I can’t think of a single time you’ve stood up and said, “We’re Notre Dame, dammit, and if you want to get to work with us, you’ll work by our terms. Otherwise, go screw yourself. We’ll just take the next person in line.”

And as a result, Mr. White, you’re fired.

Thanks and have a nice day,

Management

Her Loyal Sons

PS – Before you check with HR to see how much vacation time you’ve got accumulated, remember saying this?

“We’re not looking to play any more heavyweights. We have enough on the schedule. We have to have a schedule that’s conducive to success. Take a look at the people who are winning national titles in the last five, six years, and look at their strength of schedules. That’s the kind of schedule we need to emulate. We don’t need to schedule over the top. To have the No. 1-2-3 strength of schedule and finish 15th or 18th in the country is not what we’re trying to do. We need to schedule in a way to put us in position to win national championships. We could have a great football team and schedule ourselves out of a national championship. That last time I checked, the most important thing here is to win national championships.”

I’d say you’ve taken all your vacation time in La La Land, Kev. Go look at our future schedules, consider the “reality of the landscape” for a moment, and realize how laughable this statement is. Not only do you not understand Notre Dame, you don’t understand how the rest of the college football world, including the media and poll voters, regards Notre Dame.

We fixed the glitch.

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  • gwzimm

    Well, actually, I think ND should tell Adidas to pony up some more cash or get lost. That’s easy.

    As to the 7-4-1 philosophy, I think it’s a good idea. Playing teams in places like San Antonio, Orlando, etc. is good for recruiting and gives more alumni a chance to see the Irish. What would you consider a better alternative? Scheduling Akron or Appalacian State at home? No thanks. Let Ohio State and michigan prostitute themselves if they want. This is a better option.

  • domer.mq

    gwzimm,
    The entire barnstorming idea is a great one, but he’s making a mockery of it. We should be playing top teams during those games. It’s what the lore of Notre Dame was built upon during the Rockne era. We should be splitting the gates and working out the TV deals so that both teams benefit equally, and we should be scheduling the games against the likes of Florida, FSU, Alabama, Georgia, etc… But as the rules that White has set up work today, we can’t get those sorts of teams to play in these games because of their league rules, contractual obligations, and TV deals. Essentially, White’s taken the easy way out, and instead of the college football world going, “wow,” they’re going, “lame.” Nobody is impressed with a WSU game in San Antonio.

  • gwzimm

    You can play the top 12 teams every year, but if everyone else compromises on that (and they DO), then what have you accomplished? I still say playing Wash. State is preferable to playing Akron, Kent State, Balls State, Appalacian State or Chattanooga.

    ND already routinely plays 4 or 5 ranked teams a year now, and you want to add an Alabama too?

    What SHOULD happen is that conference teams should play non conference games under a program like the NFL makes up schedules…degree of difficulty determined by prior year finish. No more scheduling Div. 1AA teams. When Ohio State has to play someone of consequence before that big rivalry with Minnesota or Indiana, then there would be real parity. Under than scenario, I wouldn’t mind if ND’s opponents were selected after traditional rivalries were played (USC, Mich, etc.)

  • domer.mq

    gwzimm,

    We don’t need to add a ranked team to the total number of ranked teams we play in a year to have a quality barnstorming game.

    Let’s look at, say, the 2009 schedule as a hypothetical…

    **********************

    S05 NEVADA
    S12 @ Michigan
    S19 MICHIGAN ST.
    S26 @ Purdue
    O03 WASHINGTON
    O17 SOUTHERN CAL
    O31 Washington St. (SA)
    N14 @ Pitt
    N28 @ Stanford
    Navy
    2 games TBD

    ***********************

    C’mon. You can’t seriously believe that there are more than 2 “premiere” teams on that schedule (SoCal and Michigan). Nevada, and Navy are essentially “guaranteed wins.” Pitt, Washington, and Stanford are, at best, big-time under-dogs. Those programs are under turmoil today, and will probably not be very good in the next few years.

    MSU and Purdue are 50/50 as to whether they’ll be any good or just totally sucky.

    Why couldn’t we replace WSU with a top-25 level team (a consistently T25 team) and “barnstorm” with them, and create a whole lot of buzz with it? We still have 2 TBD games that could help balance out the whole thing by playing a Syracuse or an Arizona State. Someone with a name known for being pretty good sometimes, but not likely a real power.

    This isn’t really that hard, especially with 119 teams in D1 football.

    I realize you can’t play the top 12 teams every year, but you also have to realize that if ND wants to make a Championship game, they’ll need a highly-regarded schedule + an undefeated or 1-loss season to get there.

  • gwzimm

    I understand, but if everyone else plays a shitty schedule and wins all their games, they WILL get into the BCS. I like a competitive schedule, ut not a suicidal one. If we play, for example, an Alabama home & home, and the ND home game is in Orlando, for example, then the opponent has a distinct advantage.

    I just think the current plan is workable and keeps ND competitive with conference teams that play a phony schedule. Now……if we ever get to a REAL playoff system, one that takes schedule strength into consideration, I would definitely agree. But until strength of schedule means something, well, nothing will change.

  • domer.mq

    gwzimm,
    What I’m proposing is by no means a suicide schedule. And dumbing down our schedule just because everyone else is doing it reminds me about something my mother used to ask about friends and bridges…
    Anyway, the “barnstorming” system shouldn’t work in the way you seem to interpret it either. It Shouldn’t be a “home and home” where ND’s “home” is in Florida. It should be a one-shot deal. ND/Alabama in Orlando, or something like that. Set up each game 2 seasons in advance so you have a pretty good idea of what you’re getting into, so you don’t mistakenly schedule an Iowa that ends up going 3-4 in the games before your barnstormer.

  • http://www.ndlna.com/notre-dame-football/recruiting Ryan

    Nice article domer.mq. Another good article on the subject:

    http://cfbdaily.blogspot.com/2007/07/bcs-and-rigged-schedules.html

  • http://www.thanksQ.com The Biscuit

    what did the barns ever do to you guys? sad, poor little innocent barns. they just want to house the horses and keep the hay bails dry. can’t we just leave them alone?

  • bgr

    Thanks Ryan; that’s a good article and by putting it in terms of the “haves” taking advantage of the “have-nots” it really highlights the fact that ND’s participation in it would seem to conflict with the university’s Catholic values of social justice. The student government just voted to use only ‘fair trade’ coffee on campus, which is fine, but we can’t then turn around and abuse the Duke’s and WSU’s by refusing home and homes in order to make more money at their expense. As someone else has said, Keven White is money-grubbing without any eye to what the University should be about. His stance of “it’s what everybody else is doing to win a MNC” seems a little odd when ND runs those commercials during football games where Fr. Jenkins says, “If we are afraid to be different from the world, how can we make a difference in the world?”
    Just seems hypocritical of Keven White, at least to me.

  • Joe

    How do you square the following attitudes:

    A) The money coming out of the BCS deal is the primary measure by which those negotiations should be judged. White’s failure secure that money is damning evidence against him.

    B) White’s failure to secure “MFN” status from Adidas is damning evidence against him. Commanding the highest licensing deal from our outfitter should be a goal to be strived for.

    with the following complaints:

    A) An attempt to control the gate and TV revenues given the opportunity to add a twelfth game to the schedule represents a damaging misuse of the Notre Dame brand.

    B) White treats money as a “golden god”. Indeed, “all [White sees] are dollar signs.”

    Come to think of it, you applaud an attitude that says, “We’re Notre Dame, dammit, and if you want to get to work with us, you’ll work by our terms. Otherwise, go screw yourself. We’ll just take the next person in line.” Isn’t that precisely what an off-site 8th home game says to the college football world? Or would you prefer a more conciliatory attitude with our quality opponents– something that the BCS negotiations achieved?

  • domer.mq

    Joe,

    Pretty easily.

    The first 2 don’t dissipate, and, perhaps, enhance the fact/notion that Notre Dame is “different” and “special.” The second 2 hurt the image of Notre Dame.

    The “off-site home game” is a mockery of what Rockne did in his heyday. The idea isn’t about just “getting out there,” it’s about getting out there and wowing the world because we’ll play anybody. If sharing TV and gates is a requirement for that, in the long run, that sort of concession would improve ND’s stance in the football world. Just going out and playing WSU in San Antonio will do nothing for ND’s stance. In fact, the media and pollsters will use that game as a “yeah but” excuse not to rank ND as highly as they might otherwise be.

    The BCS deal didn’t come as a result of White being concilliatory. It came about because he allowed ND to be mired in mediocrity for a decade, and then didn’t have the guts to stand up on what legs he left himself. ND should get the full BCS money deal precisely because they’ve got the guts not to hide behind a conference that’ll buoy them when times are tough. More risk, more reward. Same goes for the Adidas situation. ND is special, and there should be a premium on getting to identify oneself with the ND brand.

    White’s motivation is “money at all costs,” including the legacy, history, and tradition of ND. I’d prefer his motivation be “the legacy, history, and tradition of ND.”

    Besides, if you think about it, if, in fact, he really is motivated entirely by money, then the BCS and Adidas situations just show he can’t even achieve his own misguided goals.

  • bgr

    Joe,
    You raise a good question and while I can’t claim to speak for HLS I would say this: wanting to raise revenue is not bad in and of itself. And in fact, it’s just good business (and let’s not kid ourselves, CF is business) to try to get the most out of a deal, whether BCS or Adidas, etc. What people have a problem with is the pursuit of more revenue at the expense of Notre Dame tradition and/or values such as the redefinition of ‘barnstorming’ and the reworking of the home vs away schedule which procludes intriguing match-ups. The leveraging of the ND brand should be used to secure quality opponents at neutral sites (if Alabama won’t take it, then fine, we’ll find a Texas or West Virginia who will be open to it).
    You’re right about the off-site home game and I don’t know anyone who likes this 7-4-”1″ deal. A true neutral site should be a split revenue neutral site in order to get teams like Florida, etc, to agree to a one game deal (as opposed to a home and home). This is what ‘barnstorming’ should be and White’s redefinition of it in order to force patsies to play by our rules smacks of greed at the expense of ND’s tradition and values.
    My 2 cents.

  • Brian

    “Besides, if you think about it, if, in fact, he really is motivated entirely by money, then the BCS and Adidas situations just show he can’t even achieve his own misguided goals.”

    Or, the BCS and Adidas situations prove that White’s motivations are certainly not “money at all costs”, the Adidas situation in particular. The near-universal hatred of the mythical jumbotron concept (I hate the idea myself) is precisely because there are certain non-negotiables when it comes to revenue streams. Why, then, would anyone assume that we could sign a MFN clause with Adidas without giving up something central to the Notre Dame legacy. How can we possibly assume that the terms to which Michigan agreed in their deal with Adidas would be to our liking?

  • domer.mq

    Brian,
    That’s a good point. We don’t know if those things would be to our liking. In which case, the best course of action would be to drop Adidas. But in my opinion we should never have left Champion to begin with. Funny how that decision so closely marks the beginning of our walk thru the murky depths of mediocrity.

    Anyway, one issue is that we shouldn’t have gone with Adidas to begin with if we hadn’t been given the MFN clause ourselves.
    The BCS situation, I’m quite confident, was not some amiable move of White’s part to protect the integrity of the program. He just wimped out.

    Like BGR put so well, trying to earn money is not an evil. It’s the matter of trying to earn money with a disregard to those things that make ND special with which I take issue. There are a lot of special things about ND that could be leveraged, for the sake of making money and enhancing the reputation of Notre Dame. And those sorts of moves seem like they’d be in the best interest of ND, not scheduling WSU in freaking Texas. There are only two possible outcomes there: 1) We win, and nobody cares. 2) We lose, and the entire college football world has a laugh.

  • http://www.antizook.com The Biscuit

    The key problem is that ND has always played a national, and very difficult schedule. Frankly, it’s bene too tough. But we’ve gone too far. MQ is right – look at our future schedule and we’re lucky to have 2 solid opponents. We can go 15-0 with that kind of a schedule and still never win an NC in the BCS. We need that solid mix, and if we fill in those open spots with App. State and Kent, it’ll never happen.

    Adidas knows they shot themselves in the foot with ND with that Michigan deal, just as soon as the ND deal comes to a close we will be jumping ship. Nike is my bet.

  • Trey

    Domer, I’ve said it before and I still hold the contention with your comment about “playing Wazzu in San A wont bring more fans and alumni ND football.” Yes, it most definately does. Hell, I’ve only been to one ND game in my life and that was last year in Colorado Springs. I LOVE the Irish coming here and then to Dallas. But I do agree with you that we should be scheduling better teams for that game. Say Texas A&M in SA and UT or Texas Tech in Dallas. Hell, even TCU would be a good matchup.

  • domer.mq

    Trey, like I said before, barnstorming is a great idea, but not if the execution sucks. I’m sure many fans will attend that Wash State game that can’t make it to ND, but I think they’ll mostly be ND fans already.
    I don’t want to play insane schedules. I’m not exactly pleased with the first half of this year’s schedule. I do, however, want a nice mix of, say, 2 obvious wins, 3 top tier teams (of which probably 2 will be ranked in the top 15 that particular year), and then 7 “solid 6″ type teams – a range of “I can’t believe we hooked up with that, but hey, we’re drunk, and their face is cute,” to “damn, if she didn’t have those scars…”

  • Veritas Aequitas

    Bravo! I think you should actually send this to Dr. White. He needs to come back down to earth.

  • jake sommers

    Learn the difference between it’s and its. It’s is a contraction. Its is a personal pronoun.

  • domer.mq

    jake sommers,
    1st, You are correct. Good eye. Simple typo.
    2nd, bite me.
    3rd, relax.

  • http://www.gamedayhousing.com chris

    Performance on the job is all it boils down to… I still don’t understand why the schedule has been “dumbed down.”

    _______________________________________________
    Gameday Housing LLC http://www.gamedayhousing.com

  • http://www.noassesallowed.com The Biscuit

    Jake, please learn that names are supposed to be capitalized. They are proper nouns. Why is your name coming through as jake sommers, when it should be Jake Sommers? Another example would be Shit Head.

    We (meaning MQ) pound out witty comment and comical rejoinders for the enjoyment of the masses. We don’t need you picking apart the punctuation. Suck. It.

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  • Mike Kinsela

    Amen!

  • another domer

    You guys have missed the big picture issue amongst all the details. White has simply de-emphasized football by spending all his time and energy on improving all the “olympic sports” at ND. When a company CEO focuses all of his energy and directs his personnel to focus all of their energy on “diversification”, quite often the company falters because they have all lost sight of their “core business”. That is why White should be fired – he has lost sight of ND’s Core Athletic business: Football! His efforts to pursue the Sears Cup has taken the entire athletic department’s focus away from football and spread it too thin. When my core business has become pathetic, I’m looking for a new CEO. Fire Kevin White; hire someone who really knows and understands ND and all the “little things” will begin to fall back into place.

    Comments Welcome!

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