It's Come to This: Spoilers!

In one memorable day, Bob Davie told his football team they are not in the same class as Tennessee and ESPN that a national audience was not welcome in the Irish locker-room. IrishEyes Managing Editor Alan Tieuli writes that the Notre Dame head coach should not worry about people throwing "cheap shots" at the Irish. Davie has made a career of doing it himself.

Copyright by Global Electronic Telecommunications, publishers of IrishEyes™

October 31, 2001

Davie Applies
Loser's Label on Irish

By Alan Tieuli
 The IrishEyes.Com NewsService

At the Pittsburgh Pep Rally this season – back when he was still speaking on football Friday nights at the Joyce Center – Bob Davie encouraged to crowd to show their character and not take "cheap shots" at the struggling football program.

Davie should heed his own counsel.

We listened dumb-founded Tuesday afternoon when Davie referred to his team as nothing more than a "spoiler" in the current college football landscape.

"There are a lot of different forms of motivation," explained Davie.

This can't be one of them.  Davie has already labeled his team inferior before they take the field Saturday against a sturdy, but hardly unbeatable, Tennessee team.

"Anytime you play against a team as highly ranked as Tennessee, let's face it, we will be the underdog in that game," Davie said.

This isn't Lou Holtz psychological gamesmanship.  Davie really believes his team, man-for-man, pound-for-pound, is not as good as Tennessee.

My children may never grow up to sit in the Oval Office, but I'm always going to believe they can.  Why then, is Davie bailing ship on his team?

Forget about pointing fingers at Kevin Rogers and Greg Mattison.   It seems like the person in Davie's Cabinet that is really sitting down on the job is whoever dispenses public relations advice.

The Irish may be 3-4 this season, and just 30-23 in the Davie tenure, but the off-field record is far worse.

It began when Davie, within two days after Holtz left campus in December 1996, ripped apart the football offices.  Yes, they needed updating, but not the complete purging Davie oversaw.  There was not a whiff of Holtz' pipe smoke left on the carpets, and the winning aura went with it.

Then Davie sat by Ron Powlus side at a bizarre press conference in Berwick, Pennsylvania as Powlus announced he would return for his fifth year in South Bend.  "If there had not been a change in head coach, I wouldn't be back," Powlus said.   Davie sat there as a willing participant in a blatant cheap shot at his old boss.

Then, as the opening season denigrated into a 5-7 final record, Davie told reporters, essentially, that the current roster was more suited to be wearing the Blue and Gold of Navy.

Fast forward to this season.  The Irish in the locker-room during the National Anthem versus Michigan State followed the next week by Davie turning off the South Bend media during a fawning return to College Station, Texas. 

And now Davie has done a reversal on ESPN that defies imagination.

After agreeing to give ESPN a week of full access to practice, the locker-room and meetings, Davie pulled the plug after just one day.  "I didn't realize what we were getting into," said Davie.

How could he not?  His close friend and mentor, Texas A&M's R.C. Slocum, has been featured all season in a similar ESPN production.  The program has been well received and it can even be argued that the insight into the Aggie program has taken Slocum off the hot seat.  (Though his team's 7-1 record hasn't hurt.)

David Haugh of the South Bend Tribune wrote today that the ESPN free-lance producer, a 26-year veteran, that was hired to do the piece was stunned by Davie's decision.

"Notre Dame is something special and it couldn't have hurt me more   personally that they decided to change their mind," said Stephen Fleming. "The last thing I had in mind was to show Notre Dame in a bad light in any way."

Do you think ESPN will remember this the next time it is considering bringing its GameDay crew to South Bend?

It just can't get any worse around campus right now.  For all his faults on the sidelines, at least Top Stories