According to Pete Thamel, the Notre Dame Fighting Irish won’t be hiring Andy Ludwig from the Utah Utes as the new offensive coordinator, because of money — specifically Ludwig’s buyout and the buyout of offensive line coach, Jim Harding.
Sources: Utah offensive coordinator Andy Ludwig is staying at Utah. His buyout proved an obstacle in discussions with Notre Dame.— Pete Thamel (@PeteThamel) February 14, 2023
Utah offensive coordinator Andy Ludwig will remain at Utah per Pete Thamel who adds that “Ludwig’s buyout proved to be an obstacle.” Sources tell FootballScoop between Ludwig’s buyout and Jim Harding’s (Utah’s offensive line coach), Notre Dame was facing a buyout bill approaching $4 million.
So... money. It’s the thing that is holding Notre Dame back from being a serious college football program. Money is the one thing they have a ton of, and the reason they have fallen behind over the last several decades. The constant decisions to pay less, look damn near miserly as TV contracts and ticket prices continue to rise.
On the surface, Notre Dame says all the right things about wanting to win national championships and compete at the highest level — but right underneath it all is disdain and an unwillingness to do what everyone else in the country is willing to do to be serious contenders.
How does Notre Dame go through this song and dance with Ludwig without the numbers being a focus? Were there any overtures to big-money alumni to help with a buyout of two coaches (as is the case at many other schools that are out there competing for national championships)? How did the process get this far and become so public when there was a hurdle that they wanted to walk around rather than jump over?
By my count, this is the third OC to turn down Notre Dame. Start with Tommy Rees, throw in a Collin Klein, and now we have an Andy Ludwig for our collection. Many people are out here joking around that this was all a preamble for a Gerard Parker takeover at OC — and maybe they are right. If they are... Notre Dame is just going through the motions of wanting to be a national contender — they aren’t serious.
Notre Dame paid a lot of money to make Charlie Weis go away. The combo buyout of Ludwig and Harding doesn’t even come close to that, so what’s the point? Notre Dame continually hamstrings itself across many facets of program-building, but we’re supposed to believe they are serious about winning a national championship?
It doesn’t make any sense.
If Marcus Freeman believes Ludwig and Harding are what the offense needs and are the best available option, why is the price so low? Rightly or wrongly, programs that are serious about winning use the conviction of their wallets to move forward. Notre Dame’s only real conviction seems to be cosmetic with a heavy dose of optimism — which isn’t how college football games are won on the field.
Perhaps even worse than not getting the guy you want is the way it looks — that cosmetic thing. The outside world fully believes Notre Dame to have deep pockets (because they do). Each and every refusal to invest some of the contents of those pockets into the football program gives the other programs even more reasons to give recruits as to why going to Notre Dame is a bad idea.
This choice that Notre Dame is making may end up having a lot more consequences attached to it than what the contract buyout would cost them. While nothing is certain, and sometimes things do just work out — it isn’t a lifestyle choice that brings sustained success.
Notre Dame isn’t serious about being a big-time college football program right now. It’s a problem.