By all accounts, Swarbrick is an extremely bright individual. The legal eagle has been on the job for only 18 months or so, and although he is an alum, he is just now understanding what it means to make a decision that may impact all his fellow alumni for years to come.
His greatest challenge isn’t simply pulling the right name out of a hat, but creating the environment that will allow that person to succeed. It may mean leaving things exactly the way they are and explaining to Notre Dame fans and boosters, “We’re committed to competing for a national championship … every once in a while.”
It may mean negotiating to allow more recruits in who ordinarily wouldn’t get in, with the explanation that a dominant football team means more money in the university’s coffers for other purposes. And besides, take a kid who isn’t a scholar coming out of high school, place him in the proper academic atmosphere with plenty of support, and you just may develop a star in the classroom.
It would also help if Swarbrick tells the next coach to keep his inner Muhammad Ali under wraps. Weis came to South Bend with NFL championship rings and a New Jersey attitude. He tried to make people believe he would be the next Knute Rockne or Lou Holtz. Instead, he wasn’t even the next Davie or Willingham, both of whom had better winning percentages that the more ballyhooed Weis (.583 for both, to .565 for Weis).
It’s true that college football is much richer when Notre Dame is at or near the top. The Charlie Weis watch, and the quest for his replacement, has garnered far more attention and created more drama nationally than anything being done on the field by any of the current contenders.
But a coach isn’t enough. Notre Dame has to change with the times. It has to change either its message to its fans about what goals are realistic, or alter its mission statement to give a tiny bit more emphasis to “athlete” in student-athlete.
If Swarbrick and his associates don’t do either, they might as well ask Weis to come back after all and save themselves a bundle of cash.
Lingering questions were answered emphatically by the 2012 team, but 2013 is an all-new season that brings all-new question marks. Brian Kelly feels fairly confident his offense is in a great position to take a step forward, but to do that, they’ll need the services of some under-the-radar players.
Now that Notre Dame has fired Charlie Weis, take a look at some of the potential candidates to take over for the Irish.
Notre Dame's 2012 season
Check out some of the best images from Notre Dame's 2012 season.
Meet the 2012 Irish
Take a look at some of the key contributors for Notre Dame this season
2012 Notre Dame opponents
Take a look at some of the key players the Irish will face this season
Check out some of the college football cheerleaders from across the country.