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December 6, 2009
On Jack Swarbrick: I leave here on good terms with Jack Swarbrick. There's no animosity between the two of us. He made a business decision that he felt was in the best interest of the program, and for that, I have no ill will. Although I would have liked the opportunity to continue, I understand why he did what he did.
QUESTION: You had said you wanted to speak today as a coach and as an alum. As an alum, what do you perceive to be the biggest problem on the Notre Dame campus?
These are college kids, and college kids do what college kids do. There are things they do that I just don't understand why they are even issues (with Residence Life).
Q: For example?
Q: What is Residence Life's solution to that kind of problem?
Q: So you're saying that it's difficult for a student-athlete to adapt or feel comfortable in the dorms at Notre Dame?
Boys will be boys and I'm always going to defend them. We as parents know what we interpret with our own kids, what's out of line and what's not out of line. We all wish the best, but we know that our kids are going to be in trouble during the course of their lifetimes. I just think there are so many things that border on petty, like, 'I'm even talking about this?'
Q: How many times have you had those kinds of conversations with Residence Life-20, 40, 100?
On the way Weis and his family have been treated: Every one of you guys has heard stories about me that have absolutely no truth to them. You've heard stories that do have truth to them. I'm not saying I'm a saint or that I'm perfect. But why do people arbitrarily say stuff? I don't get it. Don't they care about families?
Everyone says, 'He's making enough money; his family deserves (the grief).' How does money have anything to do with your family? What correlation could there be? Does that give them the right to take shots, to do harm to my wife and kids? I don't understand it. I can't even comprehend it.
Q: Are you saying that this happens face-to-face with your wife and son?
On maintaining a home in South Bend: We're so committed (to Hannah & Friends) that we're actually thinking about retiring in the house that we currently have. We might sell it or we might not sell it, but Maura and I have had this conversation because we're committed to this place being part of our legacy. It's really important to us.
We're not hypocrites when it comes to people with special abilities, or different abilities, as Maura would say. We're going to make that go. There might be a little lull in the action while we regroup, but there's no way we're not going to (make Hannah & Friends work).
There are plenty of people in the community who have been absolutely wonderful. They're not the people who every week would drive 'for sale' signs in my front lawn. I probably have about a hundred of them.
(Laughing) The problem now is that I could probably use one and I don't have one anymore. Every once in a while, I'd bring one into work. I always kept a couple of the small ones in my office. I'd like to know where the 'for sale' signs were once I got fired. That was a big disappointment.
On those who suffer: My staff, my players and their families. The people who suffer the most in all of this are these two groups. A lot of the staff will be gone and their kids will be uplifted from school, and they live these blows that are delivered. Every time there's a blow that somebody strikes out, these kids live that and our wives live that. A lot of them will be selling homes in a market that's not so great to be selling houses and moving to other places, and it's really heart-wrenching that I've disrupted their livelihoods. That's one of my deepest regrets.
The players and their families, I feel bad for them. But you're not getting rid of the players; you're getting rid of the coach. The players are resilient. Notre Dame will hire a top-notch coach, and it will be his deal then.
I want to make sure that I'm leaving Jack (Swarbrick) with all the information he needs to pass on to the next guy so that when he walks in the door, he knows where the land mines are. He knows about academics, he knows where we are in recruiting-not that he can't have his own ideas-but (I want him to know) where we are in recruiting.
Q: What are your thoughts about how the media actually covers Notre Dame?
There are guys that we all know that don't even want to be following Notre Dame. But because that's the assignment they have right now, they're forced to do it. There are other guys who have been following Notre Dame for a long time who are sour because they're not the man anymore. Instead, now they're going to you guys, and that really sours them. They then have an agenda, and it doesn't have to be about Charlie Weis and Notre Dame. It's just a negativity.
I've been able to fight through the negativity. But for those 18-to-23-year-old kids, it's tough for them to not feel like this black cloud is hanging over them all the time. Even when things are going good, the first time you lose a game, boom, it's back again. Or you could win a game and one guy could play crummy, and boom, it's still on them anyway.
Q: Do the players talk to you about that?
On recruiting the recruits after he knew he'd be fired: I've talked to several kids, and I really can't call on the kids anymore. That would be illegal for me to call kids. If they call me I can talk to them, but I can't call them anymore because then you'd be a booster of the school, so to speak. So I can't pick up the phone and start dialing people up. When I knew where this was heading, I told them why (they should) go to Notre Dame.
On his message to the team at the banquet: (Friday) night, when I spoke at the banquet, basically my message was how a Notre Dame education set me up for success. How during my life when I went to interview for a job, it was, 'Oh, you went to Notre Dame.' That was the main message of my talk, about how important those things were in the grand scheme of things when these guys look back five, 10, 15 years from now. It won't be about 6-6; it will be about Notre Dame and how the Notre Dame education set them up to be successful in life.
I actually wanted to tell the players last Saturday night (about his firing). But because officially, we were going to rubberstamp this with Fr. John (Jenkins) Saturday night or Sunday, (I waited). I thought it would be best to let everything officially take place, and I've always been one for protocol. There's a right way and wrong way of doing things, and I thought that was the right way of doing things.
Q: What was the Board of Trustees involvement with you?
I don't know with the current state how much they influence everything. I just know there are a zillion of them. I just don't know how you could have that many people being the voice of the University. What is there, 60 of them? How can all 60 of those people really know what the issues are and what's best for the University? It's a rhetorical question because I really don't know the answer. All I know is when things are going good, you see 'em and when things are going bad, you don't. Other than Dick Nussbaum, who does some work with Hannah & Friends, I don't know if I saw one member of the Board of Trustees this year. Not one.
I don't know how much influence they had over the decision. I think Jack came down to 3-9, 7-6 and 6-6.
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