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In the Line of Fire

In the Line of Fire

Tyrone Willingham

Former coach: University of  Notre Dame 
head football coach, 2002-2004
Record: 21-15
Notre Dame  1997-1998 Entering Freshmen-Cohort Graduation Rate:
All Students: 95%
Student-Athletes: 89%

Source: 2004 Graduation-Rates Report for NCAA Division-I Schools

In a surprise announcement, Notre Dame head football coach Tyrone Willingham was fired Nov. 30, three years into a five-year contract. Reactions to the recent firing were swift and significant:

“Notre Dame’s actions underscore the painfully small margin of error offered to Black college coaches on the Division 1-A level, representing one reason there are only two left when there were eight in 1997.”
— Selena Roberts, The New York Times

“Shame on Notre Dame. Willingham, with a 21-15 record, was dismissed three years into his (five)-year deal. It wasn’t exactly the day college football died. That happened long ago, in terms of the game’s pure paradigm. But when a school claims to be something special — meaning that its players know what the word “paradigm” means — then the school needs to act special. Tuesday (Nov. 30), Notre Dame acted like Florida and Ohio State and Nebraska. Or worse.”
— Mark Purdy, San Jose Mercury News

“Assume nothing except that, if you don’t have a big-time winning record, you’re in trouble. And I think that is really too bad for higher education and the sports within it.”
— Hodding Carger III, president, Knight Foundation, to The Washington Post

“This is a story about arrogance, about the Neanderthal nature of
big-time college football, about a man who has more dignity than the bums who started calling for his head last season or those who plotted his firing for the last couple of weeks.”
— Michael Wilbon, The Washington Post

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