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By David Rutter
Charlie Weis memo to Jack Swarbrick: Thanks, pal.
If being Notre Dame's football coach is one of the least stable jobs in sports, then being the athletic director in South Bend isn't far behind.
The big red bullseye that has long been on Weis is now also on Swarbrick - and he has no one but himself to blame. As one aggrieved alum wrote on an ND message board: "He put the gun into his own hands and then pointed it to his head."
The contract has been put out. If Weis is flying blind into potential unemployment if the Irish don't go big bowl this year, Swarbrick is sitting in the co-pilot's chair.
Have someone taste test your meals, Jack. Send a disfavored cousin out to start your car in the morning. Jack doesn't need a secretary. He needs a war consiglieri.
The central front of this little war is where the large amoebic group of crazed fans loosely referred to as "The Subway Alumni" meet. Some are former players, many are grads, most are professional folks with an insane devotion to the Irish. They live at "Rock's House" on NDNation.com.
These are not merely fans. They are FWBM; Fans With Big Money. The anger inside this bee swarm often generates the heat that gets ND football coaches sent to Siberia. And most important, all have a serious attitude what Notre Dame football is and what it should be.
So when Swarbrick announced last week that he had filled the 2010 schedule with Utah, Tulsa and Western Effing Michigan, the Subways went loony bin. They stopped talking about Charlie Weis' flaws, the pain of the annual Southern Cal embarrassment, and seemingly eternal humiliations from Boston College. The weekly lottery on who the next coach will be - erstwhile pro coach Jon Gruden or Cincinnati's Brian Kelly - was muted.
The gang at the Rock's House was in total Nurse Ratched Mode over Swarbrick and the schedule.
In reality, this started last year when Swarbrick scheduled a "home game" in San Antonio with Washington State. And then added Connecticut. And then a "home game' in Chicago against Army. It would be kind to call these dates understated in fan attractiveness.
This "home game" in another time zone concept seemed to Swarbrick as a great marketing tactic. To the Subways, it was apocalypse. They want to play Florida or Alabama or LSU in home-and home-dates. Swarbrick wants seven homes each year and mostly with no return road game in the deal. This limits the gene pool. But Western Effing Michigan was just too much. The Effings are effing bad even in their own effing conference, the Mid-Effing-American.
In anticipating the Subways would like the 2010 schedule about as much as a sharp poke in the groin, Swarbrick pounced first in an interview by suggesting that many Notre Dame fans weren't "savvy" or "sophisticated." Actually, he didn't just suggest that. He actually used those words. So, now it's war.
Said OC Domer: "The condescending elitist bullshit attitude get(s) sickening. I think it is reasonable to argue that there is a huge number of accomplished professionals that are on these boards daily who have far more impressive resumes than the douche bag bureaucrats in South Bend."
Said another: "You shouldn't schedule someone if you don't know what the team's nickname is." (It's Broncos)
Then they turned really mean.
The chat room domers were so angry, often excrementally in loud tones, they momentarily forget the unofficial but usually effective ban on spelling Swarbrick's name right. And almost no one had enough emotional energy this week to say that Weis is fat.
The scheduling fiasco seemed so blatantly insane that it immediately spawned conspiracy theories. The leader? Swarbrick was making the case of how scheduling was so impossible, even for Notre Dame, that the Irish would have to join a conference, the Big 10 most likely. This outcome, like a raging case of crabs, is not favored by the Subways.
All football powers have rabid fans, but Notre Dame also has a history of fan insurrections that lead to coaching dismissals. They are unforgiving, and they have long memories.
Previous AD Kevin White was blamed by fans for saddling the school with coaches Bob Davie and Tyrone Willingham. He gave Davie a contract extension and then fired him. He then hired and clumsily fired Willingham. He also hired and then unhired resume fixer George O'Leary. Some of the goofy scheduling quirks now being used by Swarbrick began with White.
And thereafter, White suddenly decided that working at Duke was his dream job.
So if Swarbrick announces soon that's he retiring to spend more time with his family, you'll know where his new familial devotion got started. It was Western Effing Michigan.
David Rutter, the former publisher/editor of the Lake County News-Sun, is the Beachwood's occasional correspondent about all things Notre Dame. Comments are welcome.More from Beachwood Sports »
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