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Tuesday, August 08, 2006

...adds further to his mind-shattering girth.

I loathe to side with NDNation on any topic large or small, but when the opposition is provided by -- the only board on the Internet that can give the Nationites a run for their money when it comes to ludicrous arrogance better placed in 1955 -- the pill goes down a little easier. The situation: Jeff Carroll of the South Bend Tribune writes a four-article series questioning the hoopla surrounding Jimmy Clausen. It largely exists to fill space in supposedly controversial fashion, tackling the proverbial tough questions facing the Irish program. Are they selling out for victories? Is Weis playing by the rules? How good can Jimmah be if he thinks that haircut is an intelligent decision? All you need to know about the articles is encapsulated in the following lines:

A Google search for the phrases "Notre Dame" and "Just like everyone else" finds 11,700 matches.

Another search, for "tarnished dome," returns 5,310 matches.
("Jeff Carroll" and "lazy" = 83 hits.) The same level of hard-hitting(!), solid evidence persists throughout. There are vague quotes linked by paragraphs that hint at potential troubles followed by more vague quotes. The only thing of interest in the entire series is a surprisingly liberated quote from incoming freshman Paddy Mullen (yes, his real name):
"He's cocky," Mullen said. "He's a typical quarterback. We'll see what happens when he's at Notre Dame and getting knocked around a little bit. We'll see when he has a defensive tackle tackling the crap out of him.

"I committed to Notre Dame. I told as many people as I could, people who called. But I don't have a PR firm putting my name out there. ... This guy better be unbelievable."
When the articles are published, NDNation and assorted party organs explode with hilarious outrage. Several posters urge the moderators to place the South Bend Tribune on their Nixonian enemies list and prohibit any and all outgoing links to those damn pinkos. Eventually the spittle ceases flecking Internets rubberneckers and the whole thing blows over... until yesterday, when Carroll is informed that he is on Weis's enemies list and can no longer be suffered to ask questions of the high holy one:
It didn't take Charlie long to flex some muscle. Former Times Sports Writer Jeff Carroll, now working for the Irish Sports Report, was informed by school officials that he could not ask questions of Weis, his staff or players during the three-hour session. It seems Weis and senior associate athletics director John Heisler weren't happy with some of Carroll's reporting endeavors.

Here's an idea: Have someone ask the questions for you.

Personally, I think the intention was to embarrass Carroll, publicly.
The Mullen quote -- obtained outside of approved channels -- is the pretext given. Cue second round of hilarious outrage from This has been great fun all around for yours truly, who loves seeing both Notre Dame fans and journalists tweaked.

To play Mills Lane for a moment: I side with Weis. The series by Carroll was indeed a hack job that attempted to spin Pulitzer gold out of not even hay but air. Clausen's a big recruit with a lot of pub. He committed to Notre Dame. End of story. There's no reason ND should be expected to put up with a reporter who has clearly attempted to damage the school for personal benefit. Jeff Carroll is not granted inalienable rights to ask questions of the high holy one and his actions -- no one else's -- got those privileges removed. There's a fine line here: a reporter with an actual story and actual, you know, evidence of malfeasance is duty-bound to report his findings. Giving such a reporter a similarly cold shoulder is poor form at best and more likely rampant megalomania. Carroll doesn't fall into that category. He wrote the stories because he wanted attention, silly things like evidence be damned. The articles had the air of careful phrasing to avoid libel suits and nothing approaching justification; the sympathy meter reads zero.

I've often wondered why Drew Sharp doesn't get the same treatment from the Michigan program. Even though he's a columnist and therefore not beholden to said facts, his relentless negativity is a drag on both Detroit-area fans and the teams they support. Lloyd Carr hates the guy -- and can you find someone who doesn't? Personally, if I was AD I would ban all Free Press reporters from press conferences and give the News unprecedented access until Sharp was sent packing. But I have been told I'm somewhat combative.

(HT: HP. Eek.)