Notre Dame might have the luck of the Irish to remain perceived among college football’s elite, but the headline above ESPN.com and ESPN The Magazine columnist Rick Reilly’s ESPN.com column is enough to turn the football team’s staunchest supporters green.
Demoting Notre Dame is the attention-grabber topping Reilly’s latest piece, published Wednesday, and it certainly grabbed the attention of ESPN Radio’s co-host Mike Golic, one of Notre Dame’s biggest (if not proudest) alums.
And if the headline didn’t raise Golic’s ire, what Reilly wrote beneath it did:
“If I told you about a team that had lost 10 of its last 12 bowl games, had dropped nine of its last 10 to USC, had led the nation only in disappointment, you’d figure that team would be halfway down the Mountain West standings. But Notre Dame still gets perks and love from the NCAA and BCS as though the year is 1946.”
On ESPN Radio’s Mike & Mike In The Morning on Thursday, Golic begrudgingly agreed with Reilly’s action: “Rick, are you right they’re not a powerhouse and haven’t been in a while? You’re absolutely right.”
But he vehemently disagreed with his reaction: “But don’t blame Notre Dame for taking the perks.”
That was part of a five-minute plus rant that left co-host Mike Greenberg speechless — and a little moist as more than words flew from Golic’s mouth.
With the advantage of countering from home after the show, Reilly writes to Front Row:
“I was very impressed with Mike Golic’s rebuttal to my column. I was impressed, for instance, on how he could rant like that for that long that loud without taking a breath. Did Greenie use an umbrella?
“Of course, Notre Dame-graduate Golic defending Notre Dame is sort of like Joan Rivers defending Botox, so you have to take it with a truckload of salt.
“Still, if you listen to it, Golic mostly agrees with me. His basic defense is: ‘Yes, we get too much hype. Yes, we are the only school with a representative at the BCS decision-making table and we shouldn’t be. Yes, we get an inexplicable $1.3M even when we don’t go to a bowl game.
‘Yes, we have our own network TV deal when we haven’t been a factor in almost 20 years. But what can we do? People give this stuff to us! Don’t blame us!’
“I agree. When the bank teller leaves the vault door open and somebody walks in and takes all the money, I mostly blame the bank teller. But it needs to stop. The BCS, the NCAA, and the media need to treat Notre Dame like the lukewarm program it is. It gets all its perks and status and special exemptions based on a program that existed long, long ago.
“Take a breath, Golic. It’s time to get with the times.”
Golic’s impassioned on-air feeling was that, “You can’t rip Notre Dame for accepting the perks they’re offered, because your school would do it, too.”
Even after the show, which included some humorous Tweets and e-mails, and an attempt by Greeny to don referee stripes “to step between” Reilly and Golic, ‘Big Mike’ remained adamant.
“My thoughts are the same now as they were doing the show,” he said. “Every now and then I feel I need to set the record straight.”
Kevin Ota contributed to this post.