Notre Dame Peeved About Gruden Rumor

Irish spokesman claims talk is 'recruiting sabotage'

Yesterday, a New York Post reporter floated a rumor that former Tampa Bay coach Jon Gruden was in line to succeed Charlie Weis as head coach of the Notre Dame football program. Most people dismissed the rumor as just that -- a rumor -- one to be examined and then discarded with the rest of the rumors that fly across our pixelated screens every day. As long as no one takes the thing too seriously, we can all move on, yes?

Not so fast. Notre Dame is not pleased one bit with the innuendo, and in a statement to Blue and Gold, a Notre Dame recruiting affiliate site, ND spokesman Brian Hardin got mighty frothy:

“It’s ridiculous that this rumor has even gained the traction it has over the past few days. I hesitate to respond to it at all because by dignifying this ‘report,’ I set myself up to be forced to set the record straight on future rumors. But it’s obvious that some people out there are trying to sabotage our recruiting efforts and it’s unfortunate that their agenda has been published and reproduced in recent days,” Brian Hardin, Notre Dame’s Director of Football Media Relations, told BGI.

(Quick media aside: Dan Wilson, the reporter who filed the story, followed that quote with "He is absolutely correct in that statement." So Wilson knows for sure that someone is trying to destroy Notre Dame football recruiting through rumor? He can back that up? Otherwise, he's just blindly agreeing with a source, and that's an awfully weird way to do journalism.)

Anyway, the plot thickens. The notion that someone would plant a rumor to get Notre Dame off its recruiting game seems simultaneously fatfetched and plausible. It seems farfetched because Hardin's quote sounds like Nixonian paranoia -- if something leaks to the press, clearly, the communists (or in Notre Dame's case, Michigan) are trying to ruin everything. It sounds plausible because this is college football, and just when you think college football people can't stoop any lower, they somehow manage to. Planting incoherent rumors about Jon Gruden would certainly fall into that category.

In any case, the best way for ND to prove this is not a rumor is not mouthing off about it to a sycophantic reporter. It's to, you know, not fire Charlie Weis and then hire Jon Gruden. See how easy that is?

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