Program At 'Critical Juncture'; White Fires Davie

Kevin White said Sunday Notre Dame's football program is at a 'critical juncture' and dismissed Bob Davie as head coach almost one year to the day that he gave him a five-year contract. White said he 'misread' the progress of the program a year ago and that football at Notre Dame has to be turned around to contend for a national championship. IrishEyes has the initial story and will have more.

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December 2, 2001

 ND at ‘Critical Juncture;'
White Dismisses Davie

By The IrishEyes.Com NewsService

NOTRE DAME, Ind. (IE) -- Saying that Notre Dame's football program was at a "critical juncture," athletic director Kevin White dismissed head coach Bob Davie almost exactly one year to the day that he had granted him a new five-year contract.

White said he had "misread" the progress of the football team when he offered Davie the new, five-year pact announced Dec. 5, 2000; and was "devastated" with Notre Dame's 41-9 loss to Oregon State in the Fiesta Bowl.

"We are at a critical juncture in terms of this football program," White said at a heavily attended news conference in the Monogram Room of the Joyce Center. "You talk about a defining moment; that's the defining moment I'm concerned about.

"We've got to find a way to make things work and work well. And that's what we're gong to try to do."

White said he conveyed his recommendation that Davie be fired at 8 a.m. Sunday  to the Rev. Monk Malloy, president of the university; and met with Davie at 9 a.m. White then met with the assistant coaches, who were offered to stay on staff until a new coach was named, and with the players.

"Bob Davie has brought good students and good people to Notre Dame," White said. "He has supported and taken an active interest in the academic progress of his players. He has encouraged good citizenship.

"These are expectations we have of all our coaches in all sports. However, we also expect and intend to excel on the field, and there, unfortunately, our results and progress have been disappointing.

"A year ago at this time, I believed that we had turned the corner under Bob and that we were prepared to reclaim our traditional standing among the nation's elite college football programs.

"Today, I no longer can say that."

White said he doesn't subscribe to a widely publicized premise that says Notre Dame can no longer compete for a national championship in football because of the changing athletic landscape and strict admissions requirements.

"I don't accept that premise," White said. He said he has a "short list" of potential coaches he would not reveal. He said he would like a coach in place "sooner than longer" but will not accelerate the search to the extent that Notre Dame's chances of landing the best candidate are hurt.

"We're different; we're unique," White said. "We have to find someone that really fits Notre Dame and fits our particular situation and I think that's a fairly small pool [of candidates]."

White said he will have the aid of a small committee to help him, but he will make the final choice of a candidate to recommend to Father Malloy.

Regarding the new contract preferred to Davie one year ago, White said: "It was a misread on my part. That's on me. It was my call."

Candidates mentioned prominently for the job during speculation have been Jon Gruden of the Oakland Raiders; Steve Mariucci of the San Francisco 49rs; Bob Stoops of Oklahoma; Mike Bellotti of Oregon; Tom O'Brien of Boston College and Tom Coughlin of the Jacksonville Jaguars.

White said the current staff of assistants will continue actively recruiting players. He said the football banquet will go on as scheduled Friday, but that an attempt will be made to defer recruits who are scheduled to make official visits then to a weekend in January.

 IrishEyes will have more on this story. Check back.

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