Leave it to Notre Dame to take a cheating scandal (if the skylarking of college athletes can even be called a scandal anymore) and somehow use it to buff its own halo. No one does exceptionalism and shabby gentility quite like the Domers, who were always less exceptional and a little shabbier than they would have us believe. Here they are in The New York Times, crying, "Gosh, this is so unlike us!"
Notre Dame football stands apart in many ways. It is the only university that commands its own network television deal. It has the only major program that remains independent. And it demands unusually rigorous academic performance compared with other top programs. "I've said this, and we say it in recruiting: It's harder at Notre Dame," Coach Brian Kelly said Tuesday. "But if it was easy, then it wouldn't be special. That's why Notre Dame is special."
Listen, I have heard Joe Theismann speak on national television. You don't have to be a genius to get yourself an ND diploma. It's Purdue with nicer helmets.
The scandal could even be evidence that college sports have passed a point of no return. If it could happen at Notre Dame, the thinking goes, it could happen anywhere.
You know the only group of people thinking this? People at Notre Dame. That is not the thinking of any other sane person who knows that Notre Dame is from the same cesspool that gave us Miami and USC and Oklahoma and all the rest. This is the mindset of the lousy suburban mother who wrings her hands and blames Little Junior's friends for his weed bust. NOT MY LITTLE ANGEL!
Many still take in earnest the alma mater's declaration that "glory's mantle cloaks thee." "It's man bites dog when it happens here," said John Gaski, a business professor and alumnus who serves on the faculty board on athletics.
Horseshit. Pure horseshit. It's an amazing little con, isn't it? Here's Notre Dame investigating commonplace academic fraud and somehow using it to distance itself from the rest of the college football-industrial complex. When the Domers don't openly cheat, they're saints. When they get caught, they're saints for owning up to it. They win either way. It's quite the party trick, like overtone singing or auto-analingus.
Glory's mantle? George Gipp was a drunk and a pool-hall gambler who would've put glory's mantle up against your $5 if you spotted him the six and the break. The school has had booster problems like everyone else, and it has had 'roidheads like everyone else. If Notre Dame "stands apart," as the Times puts it, it's as a chronic bungler of sexual-assault accusations against football players.
But this school can have a scandal every fucking year and keep its hands clean simply by saying: "Oh, this is not what Notre Dame is about. We're one of the good ones!" This is the Jim Nantz of schools. The Times quotes a Captain Renaultish professor who "doubted the university's academics had been tarnished substantially."
"I'd be shocked beyond belief," he said. "It's just not something I think could or would happen here."
Well then, you're an idiot. Who is this guy? Where'd he go to college?
Paul McGinn, a professor of chemical engineering who heads the faculty senate and roomed with football players at Notre Dame almost four decades ago ...