Blue and Gold Illustrated

August 2023

Blue & Gold Illustrated: America's Foremost Authority on Notre Dame Football

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16 AUGUST 2023 BLUE & GOLD ILLUSTRATED BY TYLER HORKA O n a recent episode of the ESPN College GameDay podcast, Pete Thamel laid out a concerning reality facing the sport. It's an annual exercise for Thamel to speak candidly with coaches in the summer to gauge enthusiasm and opti- mism tied to their respective programs approaching the upcoming season. While there were still plenty of those two things on a broad level, less oozed from an individual perspective. Hectic recruiting schedules. Crazy transfer portal timelines. The inevitabil- ity of name, image and likeness (NIL) drama affecting the happiness of pro- spective players or current ones. Or both. It has all taken a toll. "There is just much more of an open- ness to [leaving college coaching]," Thamel said. Thamel's podcast cohost, Rece Davis, spoke to a coach who made the switch from the college ranks to the NFL. That anonymous coach told Davis he's totally fine with leaving the former behind for good. "'I am never going back,'" Davis re- called the coach saying. "'This is great. There is actual structure to my calen- dar.' We've joked about that a little bit, but for someone like me and for some- one like [Thamel] who loves the sport and wants great people in it, that's as concerning as anything." Jack Swarbrick isn't a coach, but he's one of the good guys in college foot- ball. Soon, you'll be able to replace "is" with "was." After 15 years, Swarbrick, 69, is stepping down from his post as Notre Dame's director of athletics in the spring of 2024 and handing the job over to former NBC Sports Group chairman Pete Bevacqua. Notre Dame president Rev. John I. Jenkins, who hired Swarbrick in 2008, said in a statement the transition will be made during a "time of great chaos and disruption in college athletics." Swarbrick and Jenkins coauthored a New York Times opinion essay in March highlighting that line of thinking. "College athletics is a treasured na- tional institution," they wrote. "Profes- sionalizing teams, treating athletes more as employees than as students and weak- ening the vital connection with the edu- cational mission of their colleges will rob college athletics of its special character." Let's be clear: Swarbrick isn't ditch- ing Notre Dame at a time of great na- tional peril. He's put in his time. He's held the AD tag at ND for the longest amount of time since Moose Krause was in his chair from 1949-81. Notre Dame won four national championships in football during that timeframe. Curi- ous George could have been the athlet- ics director and the Irish would have let him stick around for however long he wanted with a number like that. In all seriousness, it's not the lack of a football title during his tenure that pushed Swarbrick out the door. And he's not bolting solely because of the disorderly climate of college football at the moment, either. But if you had to pick one over the other as a stronger reason for choos- ing this moment in time, with a first- year men's basketball coach, second- year football and baseball coaches, and fourth-year women's basketball coach Notre Dame has won 10 national championships across all sports during Swarbrick's tenure, the most for any Irish athletics director. PHOTO BY CHAD WEAVER HEAD HELD HIGH Notre Dame director of athletics Jack Swarbrick is set to step down in 2024 after 15 years of admirably serving the Fighting Irish

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