- The Washington Times - Wednesday, December 5, 2001

SOUTH BEND, Ind. (AP) As Notre Dame launched a search for its next football coach, some people who heard Bob Davie talk the past two weeks might wonder who would want the job.
After being fired Sunday, Davie talked about how the stress of the job, Notre Dame's difficult schedule and the school's stringent academic requirements made it harder to succeed.
"Prior to the time I went there, I was hearing the exact same thing," former coach Ara Parseghian said yesterday. "The academics are too tough, you can't compete because of that, the schedule, the whole thing. The exact same thing."
Notre Dame went 2-7 in 1963 under coach Hugh Devore. A season later, Parseghian led the Irish to a 9-1 finish and a No. 3 ranking the first of seven straight Top 10 finishes after the Irish had gone six straight years of not finishing in that category.
"I don't think I was a miracle man," he said. "Neither were Lou Holtz or Frank Leahy. We all found ways to win."
Now Notre Dame has finished out of the Top 10 for eight straight years, the longest such streak in school history. The Irish finished only two seasons ranked in the Top 25 under Davie, who blamed the schedule.
"It's going to be a challenge each and every year because of the schedule that you play," Davie said five days before he was fired.
Parseghian said how Notre Dame plays affects how difficult the schedule looks. For example, had Notre Dame beaten them, Michigan State wouldn't be playing in the Silicon Valley Bowl and Nebraska and Tennessee probably wouldn't be in contention for Bowl Championship Series berths. Instead, the Irish lost, enhancing the records of those teams.
"When I was coach at Northwestern, we beat Notre Dame four straight years and everybody talked about how tough we were. I come to Notre Dame and we beat Northwestern every year and people talk about how Northwestern is a patsy," Parseghian said.
Despite the complaints by Davie, who lost five straight times to Michigan State, Notre Dame's schedule was rated only as the 21st toughest in the country by the NCAA and would have been rated even easier if the Irish had won more often.
"If scheduling is the problem, then how do you explain the success Knute Rockne, Frank Leahy, Lou Holtz and I had? How do you explain that?" Parseghian asked.
Parseghian and Gerry Faust, another former Irish coach, also said they don't think academic standards should prevent Notre Dame from fielding a top-notch team. Notre Dame's national exposure more than compensates for the academic standards, they said.
"You can't compete for every top player and you're going to be playing against some of them," Parseghian said. "But by the same token you have a national reputation and you can recruit on a national basis and you can get more than your fair share."
Faust said he thinks some coach could come in and win a national championship in the next few years.
"For sure. Lou came in and won one right after me. Sure they can," he said.

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