The Bush administration in conjunction with the Democratic congress is now calling for a bi-partisan federal bailout of the Notre Dame Fighting Irish Football program to the tune of $ 14 billion. Citing its cultural and historical value to the nation, its tradition and it popular fan base, the proponents are warning that failing to act is no option, “time is of the essence,” says an administration spokesman, “or we will lose a national treasure.”
Senate Majority leader, Harry Reid told reporters, “Charlie Weis needs help and he needs it now. Notre Dame is coming to us for consideration and we are going to have to make a decision.”
Controversial congressman, Ron Paul, of Texas caused a brief uproar on the floor of the House of Representatives Monday when he asked House Speaker, Nancy Pelosi, why they couldn’t just fire coach, Charlie Weis, and get a another coach? “Why does the government always have to be involved in these things? If some teams are losing that means that some teams are winning too.”
But there is bi-partisan concern that looking for another coach at this stage would be the death knell in a 120 year tradition that represents thousands of jobs and millions of dollars in franchising and licensing fees, yet another blow to a failing economy.
“To get another coach at this point,” explains Treasury Secretary Paulsen, “would be like asking the heads of the auto industry to give up their plush, executive, jobs in favor of others with bold claims but untested ideas which may or may not work when, in fact, the current executives know their industry better than anyone and have a record that we can see. We know what they will do.”
Asks Paulsen, “Would you want the chairman of Citibank to just walk away? And lose all that talent, just because his business has failed in a down economy?”
Speaking on Bloomberg Television, Marvin Forbes explained that “if the government is going to give out these large sums of money it wants to give them out to men and women with proven records who have experience and not just create new billionaires out of new people.”
President Bush, in an informal Roosevelt Room meeting with newspaper editors from selected mountain states asked, “Why would the government want to give money to a new coach? What could a new coach possibly know that Charlie Weis hasn’t already learned in four years?” Bush says he has looked Weis in the eye and has “a sense of the man’s soul.”
Notre Dame officials will be coming to Capitol Hill this week and there is every expectation that the government will provide the help they need.
When asked about the crisis, President Elect, Barack Obama, has declined to comment, saying that there can only be one president at a time, but he did add that “These are emergency times and we need emergency solutions that are creative. Americans are looking for change.”
Some outspoken congressional critics, such as ESPN’s Duna Jacoby, are suggesting that half of the $ 14 billion should be withheld until the school and its coach can come up with a workable plan for winning games. But Marlin Yoder of the Catholic League says he met last night with Vice President Elect, Joe Biden, in a closed door session at the Chicago Hilton and stressed to Mr. Biden that any further delay by the government would be disastrous.
Secretary Paulsen admits that there are other storied football programs in trouble. The recent loss by Ball State raised some eyebrows in Washington. And while the government cannot bailout all the teams with losing seasons, it will consider them one by one on a needs basis.
Says a spokesman for the troubled Notre Dame football program, “No one here wanted to do it this way, we would have much preferred to have had a winning record on our own, as we did during the last Great Depression but this crisis came out of nowhere and has reached ‘Critical Mass’ and something had to be done and this seemed to be the only way to save the program.”