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Newz Forum: FOOTBALL: COLLEGE: Notre Dame fires Willingham

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TRD

posted on Nov, 30 2004 @ 03:45 PM
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Coach Tyrone Willingham was fired by Notre Dame on Tuesday after three seasons in which he failed to return one of the nation's most storied football programs to prominence.
 

Willingham went 21-15, including 6-5 this season. The Fighting Irish lost 41-10 to No. 1 Southern California on Saturday.

"We simply have not made the progress on the field that we need to make," athletic director Kevin White said.

Players are considering not playing in the Insight Bowl on Dec. 28, and White said he didn't know who would coach the game. Notre Dame accepted the invitation to the game on Sunday. Willingham's firing comes after a season in which the Irish pulled off upset victories over Michigan and Tennessee but also were beaten badly by USC and Purdue. Student groups were planning a protest on campus Tuesday evening to call for Willingham's firing; he faced criticism from fans much of the season.

White praised Willingham's handling of the team, especially the Irish's strong academic record.

"From Sunday through Friday our football program has exceeded all expectations, in every way," he said. "But on Saturday, we've struggled. We've been up and down and sideways a little bit."

White and Willingham met with some players Tuesday to tell them of the firing.

"As a player, you think it's our fault. We didn't get the job done," senior tight end Jared Clark said. "I think coach Willingham was a great coach and I enjoyed playing under him."

Notre Dame's loss to USC on Saturday marked the fifth time the Irish lost by 31 points or more under Willingham - including three against the rival Trojans. By comparison, former coach Bob Davie's team had just one such loss; Lou Holtz and Dan Devine had none.

Notre Dame hired Willingham, the first black head coach in any sport for the Irish, from Stanford to replace George O'Leary. The former Georgia Tech coach resigned five days after taking the job because he lied about his academic and athletic achievements on his resume. With Tony Samuel fired by New Mexico State and Fitz Hill resigning from San Jose State last week, there are now only two black head coaches in Division I-A: Karl Dorrell at UCLA and Sylvester Croom at Mississippi State.

In his first season, Willingham had many fans recalling Notre Dame's glory days, taking over a losing squad and turning things around immediately. The Irish won eight straight games to start the season before finishing 10-3 and going to the Gator Bowl. But during his second year, the Irish fell to 5-7, with four of their losses coming by 26 points or more. It was Notre Dame's third losing record in five seasons, the team's worst stretch in 115 years of football. One coach certain to be mentioned as a possible replacement for Willingham is Utah's Urban Meyer, an Irish assistant during 1996-2000. The Utes are 11-0 and ranked No. 5 in their second year under Meyer.

Meyer said he hadn't heard about Willingham's departure from Notre Dame until he was asked about it by The Associated Press on Tuesday. Asked whether he has had any contact with Notre Dame or whether he would be interested in coaching the Fighting Irish, Meyer responded: "I won't comment on it."

Notre Dame has won eight AP college football national championships, more than any other school, with the last in the 1988 season under Holtz. Players from the school have won the Heisman Trophy seven times, also the most in college football. But the Irish haven't won a bowl game since ending the 1993 season ranked No. 2 after beating Texas A&M 24-21 in the Cotton Bowl. Since then, the Irish have lost six straight postseason games.

Associated Press




posted on Nov, 30 2004 @ 07:12 PM
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Notre Dame is just trying to give away thier tradition...

How do they expect to get the program back on track by switching thier coach every few seasons?



posted on Nov, 30 2004 @ 07:18 PM
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Originally posted by TRD
White praised Willingham's handling of the team, especially the Irish's strong academic record.

"From Sunday through Friday our football program has exceeded all expectations, in every way," he said. "But on Saturday, we've struggled. We've been up and down and sideways a little bit."


Shows where the priorities are.



posted on Nov, 30 2004 @ 07:25 PM
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I remember a few years back (I think when Pawlus was there) ESPN did a bit on Notre Dame and how they were struggling, and there was a student complaining that his class wasn't going to experience a national championship. With attitudes like that, they deserve to have a decade or so of losing.



posted on Nov, 30 2004 @ 11:11 PM
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I dont think Willingham got a fair shot.

He was only there for three seasons.

His first season he took over as head coach, he obviously inherited the team and it's recruits from the former coach, Bob Davie.

In his second year, the kids that he started recruiting in his first year are either playing as freshman or a red-shirted freshman.

In his third and final season, his recruits were either sophomores or freshman. I heard that when they hired him they promised him at least five years which would have been a bit more fair. His Irish improved from last year but they're still young, they have a sophomore QB.

There are rumors swirling that this move was made to make room for Utah's Urban Meyer who coached in South Bend as an assistant coach for 5 years. Ironically, Meyer has a clause in his Utah contract that alows him to leave Utah at any time to coach Notre Dame without a buyout.





[Edited on 11-30-2004 by ProudAmerican]



posted on Dec, 1 2004 @ 07:11 PM
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Originally posted by ProudAmerican
I dont think Willingham got a fair shot.

He was only there for three seasons.

Ironically, Meyer has a clause in his Utah contract that alows him to leave Utah at any time to coach Notre Dame without a buyout.


You're darn tootin' he didnt' get a fair chance. How can you accomplish anything in 3 years?

Do i feel bad about this?

Yeah, for Willingham. But, I hope that the Irish keep this kind of attitude up for a long time, and get drug back down to mortal status, with the other NCAA football programs...



posted on Dec, 1 2004 @ 07:35 PM
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I refer you to my comments under the Black Coach Dismay post by crayon.



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