clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Chris Smith Goes Cruising for Irish Clicks

There will be no mercy for


Being a Notre Dame fan means you get used to the hate. You get used the absurd and irrational hate. But everyone once in a while a piece comes out that is so stupid that the author needs to be thrown to the wolves.

This is one of those times.

This past March, CW absolutely shredded the Sporting News' Matt Hayes in a piece that should be sent to the Journalism Hall of Fame for how to be so wrong on a given subject. By the way, do you think Manti Te'o made Hayes' Heisman Top 3 list?

Now, I turn my attention to's Chris Smith and this gem called, The Problem with Notre Dame.

I encourage you not to give it any page views and I'll provide most of the text here anyway.

First, the article begins mentioning a colleague of Smith's article about why people hate Notre Dame which reads exactly how you would think someone writing about college football at Forbes would read. Smith then begins:

College football fans are no stranger to the sort of good-humored razzing that accompanies such stereotypes.

Oh, is this piece going to be good-humored?

ACC fans would rather be watching basketball, SEC fans are crazed sociopaths and, yes, Notre Dame fans are frontrunning snobs nowhere to be found when the Irish are 3-9.

Nope, guess not.

First, of all the things to throw at Notre Dame fans---front-running is not one of them.

Did I miss something from the late 1990's through the last decade? Did Notre Dame stop selling out its stadium for every home game? Did the athletic department stop making millions of dollars because fans stopped caring?

If anything Notre Dame would be the perfect case-study for a fan base that stayed loyal through the lean years, a fan base that cared too much when the team wasn't playing well.

But what unsettles me about Groves' argument is that he eventually makes the claim that Notre Dame is "one of America's best examples of winning ‘the right way.'"

Uh oh, our dear author is unsettled.

Even worse, he suggests that the team's haters must acknowledge as much, forced to swallow what is nothing less than irrefutable fact.

There is an irrefutable fact about Notre Dame, but let's see how quickly that's glossed over because poor Chris' tummy is unsettled.

It's a popular claim and one that alludes not only to Notre Dame's supremacy on the field, so far undisputed this year, but to its infallibility on some sort of moral scale.

As you can imagine, the talk of 'morals' and 'doing things the right way' make Smith uncomfortable, so therefore we must dismiss them as false or ignore them altogether. Deep down he knows it's true, that's why people like him write articles like this.

That idea, the so-called "right way," irks me like few others. I'm honestly surprised that we have yet to retire the lazy and often dangerous phrase from the sports lexicon.

That's right the idea of doing things the 'right way' and talking about it is lazy. Not this article though. No, not this article. Graduating players with real degrees is dangerous!

To understand why, one needs only to think back on the figures who were famously thought to do things "the right way" until quite recently: Tiger Woods, Lance Armstrong, Joe Paterno.

Guess what guys, humans are fallible. Some of them make mistakes. Some of them make grave mistakes and pay dearly for them.

But since some people made mistakes and fell from grace, now the 'right way' doesn't exist? Now, we shouldn't talk about it or praise people for doing what is important in this world?

And whoa, did Smith just throw Paterno in to this discussion?

The last example is perhaps the most illustrative. Paterno became famous by leading Penn State football to on-field glory while raising its individual players to off-field maturity and manhood. He may very well have been the patron saint of doing things "the right way." Then Paterno became infamous when we learned that his widely-held moral superiority was partly responsible for systematic child abuse going unabated for 15 years.

Yup, that happened at Penn State, not Notre Dame.

Slander 101, for you journalism folks.

But despite all of Notre Dame's success, saying that it does things "the right way" tends to mask the fact that college football, regardless of where it's played, is all about business.

Oh no, not business!

You mean the business of graduating all their football players and giving them a degree to be proud of that can make them successful after college?

'Cause Notre Dame is in that business and partner, business is a 'booming.

Just look at recent conference realignments for some examples. Maryland didn't hesitate to leave behind its tradition in the ACC, the conference it helped found, to collect a bigger pay check from the Big Ten. Syracuse did the same when it left the Big East for the ACC not much earlier.

Yes, just look at all the silly things other schools, not Notre Dame, have to do to chase money.

That's Notre Dame's fault naturally, and let's also remember not to bring up how Notre Dame has stuck to its principles and traditions and how it's admirable that the Irish haven't had to cave in to all the lunacy to chase a buck because of that front-running loyal and passionate alumni and fan base.

So while we the media won't hesitate to bring out the gilded traditions of Knute Rockne, Rudy and waking up the echoes, Notre Dame will use that reputation to further build up one of the nation's premier football factories, different from most others only in that it is more profitable.

Ouch, burn...?

Is Notre Dame supposed to apologize for making money? Is capitalism bad? Are we living in Soviet Russia?

The writer does write for Forbes, yes?

The team rakes in tens of millions of dollars - nearly $70 million last season, to be exact - from tickets, merchandise, concessions and TV deals, all made possible by reputation and fan devotion. The university was collecting more than $40 million from the team's annual profits as of our most recent college football valuations.

I don't understand how this could happen. Before Notre Dame was a bunch of front-running fans who didn't care about the team when it was mired in mediocrity. Now you're talking about things like 'fan devotion' and quoting $40 million profits?

Those are some crazy Soviet lies.

And like any good football factory Notre Dame has had its share of scandals, though you may not hear much about them between now and January 7th.

Remember back up top when I said that people weren't perfect? Remember that.

Notre Dame is not perfect.

And you're not fooling anyone trying to convince people that we 'won't hear much about the scandals.' Shoot, it's December 6th we still have a full month to go, we'll hear plenty of it.

Left out of the narrative will be the story of quarterback Tommy Rees, who barely dodged a felony battery charge last offseason after assaulting a police officer.

Barely dodged a felony batter charge? Barely?

For people who don't know the story, Rees was running away from cops who raided a house party and "allegedly" kneed an officer in the stomach. It's funny more than anything.

Omitted will be the tragic death of 20-year-old videographer Declan Sullivan, who was killed in 2010 after coaches sent him into a 50-foot tower despite gusts stronger than 50 miles per hour. Neglected will be the heartbreaking tale of Lizzy Seeberg, the 19-year-old who took her life after a reported sexual assault at the hands of a Notre Dame football player, scarily not the only such report in recent years.

Let's be real here. People like Chris Smith aren't concerned about Declan or Lizzy.

They're not concerned with the facts surrounding those tragedies, nor how the University of Notre Dame has taken steps to prevent the situations in the future, nor that in the case of Declan how his family has openly forgiven the school, established a scholarship in his honor, and moved on.

The problem, in the eyes of Chris Smith, is that these incidents happened and now Notre Dame is 12-0.

At the core, that's why this article was written---the Irish are back on top and the haters don't think it's fair and want to see the University suffer.

It's not about the victims, or to what degree of guilt Notre Dame shares or is responsible for in the tragedies. Notre Dame was involved, ergo, there is presumed guilt to the highest degree and a 12-0 Irish football must be smeared.

All of this is to say that, yes, Groves is right that Notre Dame wins. It wins on the field, where it is just one victory away from a national title, and it wins on its balance sheet, which is more impressive than most others in college sports. But does Notre Dame do things "the right way"? Not quite. It does things the same way as every other major program, it's just been doing them for longer.

Let's walk through this ending.

Smith tries to wrap up this rambling drive-by shooting by saying that Notre Dame does things the same way as every other major program but just for longer.

It's funny how so much of this article was about doing things the right way and graduation rates WERE NOT MENTIONED ONCE.

This article was called, "The Problem with Notre Dame."

Year after year after year Notre Dame is graduating virtually every football player that signs with the school. Every year the Irish are sending student-athletes out into society with real degrees, with real skills, so that they can be successful with the rest of their lives.

The program that graduates its athletes more than anyone else is now 12-0 and playing in the title game.

Maybe Smith can pop a couple Peptos and stomach an article about how all that money Notre Dame makes gets filtered back in to the academic side of the University so they can continue doing what's right with their students.

That might be too much of a problem tough.