Declan Sullivan incident being forgotten

November 19, 2010 · Filed Under Editorials, Football · Comment 

Note: This article is an editorial from our head writer.

Since the allegations and inside information started leaking out about Auburn University quarterback Cam Newton, the Declan Sullivan incident has faded from the memory of college football fans. However, I felt like I should write something about this because I think nothing is happening up in Indiana to address this.

Yes, OSHAA is looking into this however it is clear as daylight that several layers of security was completely overlooked in his death. According to the Notre Dame Athletic Director Jack Swarbrick recounted his time at practice that day. He claims that when he was there, it was calm. However, it was known that the winds had been and were currently very gusty in the area as a very powerful low pressure system was moving through the area.

It was Coach Brian Kelly who decided to practice outside on that blustery day. Some in attendance of the practice said that it was very difficult to complete passes with the gusty wind. He should have been mindful enough to get the video cameras down off of the scissor lifts, however he did no such thing. Anyone who has watched Brian Kelly coach gets the sense it’s his way or the highway. He has no visible compassion for his players or his coaches. When the coach has a 5 yard buffer zone on the sidelines at all times, you know there is something about the guy the player and coaches do not like.

The next line of defense would be the equipment manager. As the name implies, he is in charge of all equipment from the footballs, the yard sticks, practice equipment and that would also include the scissor lifts. It is his job to know the safe operation of the equipment. If a graduate assistant, coach or player were on a golf cart and were using it in a manner that was unsafe, it is his responsibility to stop it and prevent it from happening again in the future. In this case, he was supposed to know that the scissor lift is only rated to be used in conditions where wind is speed is less than 25 miles per hour. Also I do not know where the scissor lift was being used, but I would harbor a guess that it is at least recommended if not required to be used on a solid, level area. Something like concrete or asphalt. Thus the equipment manager could have made the call at any time to get Declan and any other video camera operator off of those lifts.

Finally, probably the first line of defense would be the video coordinator. He could have stood up to the coach and told him that he felt it was unsafe for Declan to be up in a scissor lift in the conditions that they were suffering. Video, or football for that matter, is not worth a kids life. Was standing up to Coach Kelly that difficult? Was he afraid for his job? He was the first person in a series of responsible adults who could have avoided this tragedy.

Some people across the nation spoke out by saying that Declan should have refused to go up or got down on his own accord. Some people are mature at 20, others take a little longer. Twenty is an age where we are becoming adults but are still inclined to do some nutty stuff. Kids like Declan typically do what they are told to do, because they have a trust in their superiors that they would not put them into harms way. This trust was clearly broken.

Most kids would opt not to work while going to college. He could have pursued his love of film and video without working for the football team and making money. If he really needed the money to make ends meet while he was studying at Notre Dame, a responsible person would trust their superiors and do what they were told so they could continue their education. So I do not agree with those who would say that he was to blame entirely. I agree he could have came down or refused to go up in the first place. After all he did post the following messages on facebook and twitter: “Gust of wind up to 60mph well today will be fun at work… I guess I’ve lived long enough :-/.” and the following not long before his tragic death: “Holy f*** holy f*** this is terrifying.”

What I have been saying since shortly after this incident happened and what I continue to proclaim is that Athletic Directory Jack Swarbrick, Head Coach Brian Kelly, the equipment manager and the video coordinator should all be fired. A young life was cut short by complete disregard of duty by people who were in charge. Any one of those four people mentioned could have stopped the incident from happening. Is it the case that three of those four were afraid to stand up to “General” Kelly? Because head coaches have become the equivalent to Gods in some places, are people afraid to stand up to them?

One case in point is TCU and their coach Gary Patterson. Patterson ‘verbally accosted’ a TCU doctor over a player being diagnosed with a concussion. According to the AMA, if a player loses consciousness, he is automatically considered having a concussion. Additionally the player had an unsteady gait and a few memory problems. Which are two diagnosis points for a doctor to determine if a player has a concussion. However, Coach Patterson said that “As far as I’m concerned Wesley was fine 10 minutes after he was hurt.” However the doctor stood up to the coach, and rightfully so in order to protect this players health and potentially his life.

Notre Dame should hold the persons responsible for this tragedy. I would dare say that a fairly strong case could be made that Coach Kelly was guilty of willful negligence which caused a death orĀ  possibly even involuntary manslaughter.

Notre Dame should take action immediately and do the right thing. If all four are not fired, then at a minimum that Athletic Director and the Board of Trustees should step in and get rid of the rest. Kevin McGuire from Examiner.com posted that, according to a source, that a number of boosters pressured the AD to ask Kelly for his resignation. Then as many as 20 boosters asked Swarbrick and Kelly both for their resignations. Additionally, Notre Dame examiner Shawn Lewallen also posted a very similar article a day or so later with a similar number of boosters. In this case, I really hope the boosters put enough pressure on that they succeed.

What do you think?

Links to similar articles calling for Brian Kelly’s and Jack Swarbrick’s resignation or outright firing:

http://www.examiner.com/college-football-in-national/source-notre-dame-boosters-request-resgnation-of-brian-kelly-jack-swarbrick

http://www.examiner.com/notre-dame-fighting-irish-in-south-bend/brian-kelly-asked-to-resign

http://msn.foxsports.com/collegefootball/story/notre-dame-must-fire-brian-kelly-over-student-death-102910

http://thebiglead.com/index.php/2010/10/30/notre-dame-should-force-brian-kelly-and-jack-swarbrick-to-resign-over-the-declan-sullivan-incident/

http://www.naplesnews.com/news/2010/nov/06/moulton-notre-dame-brian-kelly-declan-sullivan/

http://collegefootballtalk.nbcsports.com/2010/10/30/brian-kellys-crisis-of-conscience/

Doing The Conference Shuffle 2010 Edition

June 6, 2010 · Filed Under Football, News · 1 Comment 

Some interesting things have popped up lately about conference expansion/realignment. There have been speculation about the Big10 (actually 11 teams) grabbing at least one more team to make the NCAA required 12 teams in order to have a conference championship game.

The Big10 (actually 11) first inclination was to offer to Notre Dame who already has some well established rivalry games within the conference. They are in the right place in the region and, well, it just plain makes sense. However, Notre Dame holds onto this notion that they are special and that their name means something in College Football. Unfortunately, it only does to Notre Dame alums, elderly college football fans and Lou Holtz. If you face the facts like Kirk Herbstreit said on College Gameday late last year, Notre Dame has been irrelevant for about 20 years. The best thing for the Irish to do is to join the Big 10 (actually 11) while they looking for a 12th team.

Other Big10 (actually 11) candidates would be getting Connecticut as well as luring Syracuse and Rutgers to the fold. This would bring in the New York market and money. But UConn isn’t part of the AAU. Plus they aren’t that good anyway.

Next on the list would be Missouri. Pulling them from the Big 12 might prove to be a tough proposition but Mizzou fits in much better than UConn, Rutgers or Syracuse. The bottom of the short list has Pitt. They are rivals to Penn State and the Big 10 (actually 11) is already in Pennsylvania. Nebraska is another Big 12 school that could be lured to the Big 10 (actually 11) and would fit in like Missouri.

The Big 12 has given both schools, Nebraska and Missouri, a deadline of Friday at 5pm to tell them what they are going to do. If they don’t meet the deadline, then another very interesting twist could unfold.

The Pac-10 is also looking to expand their ranks. If Mizzou and Nebraska fail to meet the deadline then six Big 12 schools could possibly bolt the conference for the Pac-10. Those teams would include Texas and Oklahoma. The Big 10 (actually 11) has not formally extended any invitations to anyone but continues toward trying to land a major program. Texas is in play for every league exploring expansion.

Mike Slive, commissioner of the SEC Conference is currently sitting atop the mountain right now. The SEC is the superconference that everyone wants to be like. The Big 10 (actually 11) wants to join them on that mountain as another superconference. Slive is ready to react if the Big 10 (actually 11) expands to 14 or even 16 teams.

Some people have said that the SEC would be ready to extend an invitation to Texas and Texas A&M. Other possible schools could be Florida State, Clemson or Virginia Tech. Tech was actually being courted when the SEC was looking to expand last time but they added Arkansas instead. Some Georgia Tech fans might try to pull for their school but they don’t really fit the SEC model.

So all of this talk about Big 12, Pac-10, Big 10 (actually 11) and SEC but what does it mean for South Alabama? Could USA be the dark horse and sneak into the SEC? Doubtful at this time. But with this talk of superconferences what about a merger between Conference USA and the Sun Belt?

Looking at football schools, this would bring together South Alabama, Western Kentucky, Arkansas State, Louisiana Lafayette, Florida International, Middle Tennessee State, North Texas, Louisiana Monroe, Troy and Florida Atlantic together with Alabama-Birmingham, Memphis, Southern Mississippi, Tulane, Houston, Central Florida, Marshall, Rice, SMU, UTEP and Tulsa for a very large conference.

Do they need all of those schools? Not really. Who to pick for a 16 team conference? South Alabama, UAB, Louisiana Lafayette, Louisiana Monroe, Southern Mississippi, Troy, North Texas, Houston, UTEP, Tulsa, Memphis, Central Florida, Florida Atlantic, Florida International, Middle Tennessee State, (Marshall, Rice or SMU). But what would be better would be if this new megaconference (not quite a superconference) could lure someone like East Carolina, Georgia Tech or Clemson to the conference.

But how all this will shake out is anyone’s guess at this point. The ball is in the Big 10’s (actually 11) court with Notre Dame. If they can convince them to join, it’s mostly all over from there. The PAC-10 will still probably look to expand but trying to convince six Big 12 schools to join them would be infinitely more difficult if Missouri and Nebraska do not have to face a choice of joining the Big 10 (I won’t mention the 11 this time) or staying put.