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Maui Forever: An “Extended” Love Letter to Michael Paul Brey

Mike Brey signed a contract extension yesterday, forcing Pat Rick to get back to writing and compose a gushy love letter to the best guy in Notre Dame sports

NCAA Basketball: Maui Invitational-Wichita State at Notre Dame Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

My dearest Michael,

I was ever so pleased to hear from a little bird (Tweet Tweet) that your tenure at the University of Notre Dame du Lac will be prolonged, as the school hath offered you the position of head basketball coach for three additional seasons.

I’d be remiss to say I’m surprised by this news, as your gorgeous accomplishments, against heavy odds and overcoming countless obstacles over the years, have earned you this joyous contract twice over. A 403-201 record?? Surpassing Digger Phelps as the winningest Notre Dame men’s basketball coach?? Reaching two Elite Eights and a Sweet Sixteen at the football-est of football schools? And all this after your two predecessors combined to go 128-139 over the prior 9 seasons??

You are a miraculous, beautiful man.

Our relationship has certainly had its ups and downs over the years — although I think most of our disagreements have been the product of my selfishness and shortsightedness and stubbornness as you hit a few understandable snags while erecting a clean, successful program in the two most arduous conferences in all the land (all without any meaningful support from the school administration, mind you).

Remember the early days, when everything was just fun and seemed to be building toward something amazing?

Remember when Luke Harangody burst onto the scene against Alabama?

Do you remember when you assembled and developed one of your most lethal shooting and passing squads of all-time in 2011, nearly earning a 1-seed?

And then that unbelievable regular season was all for naught as the 10-seed Florida State Seminoles destroyed the Irish with their length, and even worse* destroyed one particular ND sophomore’s** heart as he watched everything crumble around him in the United Center?

*for me


I’ll be honest, Mikey. I thought, at that moment, that we had been given a sign that we just weren’t right for each other. It’d been fun, but there was clearly no future for us in March. Right?

NCAA Basketball: Virginia Tech at Notre Dame Matt Cashore-USA TODAY Sports

I was wrong to doubt you, though, you beautiful, talented, brilliant, powerful musk-ox. You gave me the Syracuse court-storming and the Louisville 5-OT classic and tons more unbelievable basketball memories during my time as a student. I’ll never forget how full my heart was in times like these:

And then, after a VERY rough 2014 season transitioning into the ACC, you were still there for me. You held my hand and provided that sturdy rock of a foundation for me and the rest of the ND family, assuring us everything would be okay as long as we stuck together.

And then, per usual, you were right (because you’re a cunning, pliable, chestnut-haired sunfish). During the 2014-2015 season, you gave us the most fun season of Notre Dame basketball since the 1970s.

That upset of Duke at Purcell was one of the sexiest things I’ve ever seen.

That second upset of Duke was just plain exhilarating.

That devastatingly magnificent comeback run in the ACC Championship made me feel things I hadn’t felt in years.

And then, that run to the Elite Eight — looking shaky against Northeastern, barely topping Butler in OT after the best blocked shot in Irish history, dismantling Wichita State — that’s when I fell in love. That’s when I knew this was real. That’s the moment I realized you were my one and only ND basketball coach.

I know you came up just short against that behemoth of a Kentucky team that late March 2015 evening in Cleveland. I know how much it hurt, and although I can never take away that pain for you, I can tell you I shared your pain in the stands, sitting next to my Kentucky fan friend Tex, who was obviously jubilant about his team heading to yet another Final Four.

But that game — even in its ultimate loss and what it meant regarding the finality of the careers of Pat Connaughton and Jerian Grant — will forever be my favorite Notre Dame sports memory. I have never believed so purely and strongly and been as swept up in something bigger than myself as when the little 3-seed that everyone counted out went toe-to-toe with one of the most talented college basketball teams ever fielded.

From PC’s slam...

To White Steve’s ballsy three...

To Jerian’s “ONIONS” response to Kentucky taking a late lead...

I will ALWAYS love you for what I got to witness that weekend at the Quicken Loans Arena. Even for the heartbreak.

The best part of all this, though? We’re just getting started in building memories together. After that Kentucky game, you took a less talented Irish squad and you did it again the next year, giving us plenty of unreal moments:

And then you worked some of your magic again the following season, assembling yet another team full of amazing kids with amazing stories who came together to form something bigger than themselves.

And even this year, in a season filled mostly with shoulda-woulda-couldas and pain and deflating disappointment after deflating disappointment, you still managed to keep our spirits high and make us all feel special as Irish fans. Plus, we’ll always have Maui ;)

With the Juwan Durhams and Nate Laszewskis and Prentis Hubbs and Dane Goodwins and Robby Carmodies of the world officially entering our ND basketball fan lives next season, there will be no shortage of excellent memories to come, I reckon. And with this extension of your coaching tenure, I gotta believe that we aren’t done yet seeing that Brey March Magic that we’ve come to know and love the past few years.

Mike, I must go now, as it is late and I have a real job to get up for in the morning. But I wanted to close by saying that you are a poetic, noble land-merman, you are easily the biggest reason I am proud to follow, root for, and write about Notre Dame sports, and I will forever and always love you as my favorite sports coach of all-time, until the day I die.

I love you, Michael Paul Brey. Thank you for everything you’ve done as Irish men’s basketball head coach, and thank you for agreeing to be employed at Notre Dame for even longer.

NCAA Basketball: Boston College at Notre Dame Matt Cashore-USA TODAY Sports

My heart soars...with the eagle’s nest.

Forever yours,

Pat Rick


To: Maui Brey

From: Pat Rick

Subject: hey

Body: u up?