Thursday, November 30, 2006

Note to Irish—Here's a Clue: Hire Shula

After only four seasons and despite a 10-2 2005 record, Head Coach Mike Shula was fired from his beloved alma mater, the University of Alabama, this week. Son of Don Shula, the winningest coach in NFL history and the only man to take a pro team to a perfect 16-0 record, both father and son were not only outstanding coaches but devout Catholics. And though it is sad to see Mike Shula (who, when coaching the Bears went to daily 6:30 a.m. Mass with Head Coach Dave Wannstedt, and assistants Danny Abramowitz and Dave McGinnis, something unprecedented in NFL history) be forced out of the school he played for and the job he loved, I have an idea for Mike. Come to South Bend and coach at a place where your passion for faith and football are both respected.

What role, you may ask, would I like Mike to claim once he came to Notre Dame? After all, Mike played quarterback at 'Bama and coached offense almost exclusively at his pro stints with the Dolphins, Bears and Buccaneers. And Notre Dame has "The Lord of the Rings" Charlie Weis, the wizard of all things offensive, especially QBs. The Irish weakness is defense, especially against the pass, something Shula has little coaching experience with ... or so it appears.

But cannot a former quarterback, who spent his career picking apart corner backs, put them back together too? Shula, knowing firsthand what works against secondaries, might be the perfect man to help them defend against it. If Mike can get the DBs to think like QBs, his Irish on-field mission would be accomplished. Which leads, of course, to the second question.

Would Mike, having had a taste of being a big-time head coach, settle for a job as an assistant? And the answer, for almost any man with Mike's talent, is no. But when the man is Michael Shula, and his treasure is found not only on the gridiron but heaven, he might just consider a team where both types of conversions are possible. I cannot think of a Catholic coach who is able to import faith and football better than Shula, and I have a feeling he'd be a great help to Charlie in persuading the truly Catholic high school recruits to settle on Notre Dame too. So pray about it Mike (and Charlie) and maybe Our Lady will see two proven Catholic coaches addressing Her charges next season instead of one.

No comments :