Significant factors in being an Irish Fan
Associate Sports Editor
Every once in a while, I begin to question why I am a Notre Dame fan. I wonder why I continue to root with all my heart for a team that is unranked and under investigation by the NCAA. I ask why I continue to defend my favorite team against its detractors.
Then last week, I remembered why I love this football team. The 25-24 victory over the Men of Troy gave me that little reminder about the magic of this football team and the special things that happen inside that stadium. But more importantly last week, I remember that the real reason Notre Dame is so beloved across the country is because it does things the right way.
When Lee Lafayette's grades weren't where they should be, he was suspended from the team so that he could focus on his grades. The NCAA didn't force the Irish to suspend him. His grades are probably still above the minimum standards. Notre Dame suspended him because it was the right thing to do. He was suspended because graduating and succeeding in the classroom are higher goals than winning on the football team.
Compare this to Ohio State where players like Andy Katzamoyer are allowed to take joke classes and get grades that are an even bigger joke. I am glad that I will never have to open Sports Illustrated and read a feature story on whether or not an Irish player will pass golf so that he can play for the team.
When Tony Driver broke parietals, he was suspended from the team. Legally, Driver did nothing wrong. He didn't break any national, state or local laws. Warrants issued for his arrest and he won't have a criminal record. But he did break a Notre Dame rule and for that he was suspended for the rest of the year.
At the same that the the Irish were suspending Driver, the Seminoles of Florida State were reinstating wide reciever Peter Warrick. According to head coach Bobby Bowden, the reinstatement was a "miracle from above." Since this was a miracle, it can probably be assumed that Warrick recovered from some horrible desease or survived an accident, because when I think of miracles, that is what I think of.
But Warrick didn't live through cancer or a car accident, he survived a brush with the law by pleading to a misdameanor rather than a felony charge for taking more than $400 from a department store for just $21.40. If Bowden and the Florida State administration did things the right way, Warrick would be off the team faster than you could say "Free Sneaker University."
Warrick was reinstated because he was no longer facing charges. According to Florida State rules, a player cannot take the field if he is charged with a felony or does jail time.
"He's not wearing stripes, he's not in jail, and that's a significant determining factor for the university," Warrick's lawyer, John Kenny, told the Associated Press.
I think the real significant determining factor in this case is Warrick's catches, yards and touchdowns.
The views expressed in the Inside Column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.
All Inside Stories for Tuesday, October 26, 1999