If it had just been a matter of a couple of varsity letters, coach George O'Leary's faulty biography might not have troubled some of Notre Dame's football family quite so much. But the missing master's degree was quite another matter.
Five days after accepting one of the most coveted jobs in college football, O'Leary resigned late Thursday, admitting his resume contained inaccuracies about earning three football letters at the University of New Hampshire and receiving a master's degree from New York University.
"I feel sorry for everybody connected with this," longtime Irish coach Ara Parseghian said. "That bio has been in the Georgia Tech guide for a number of years. Every year, you read your own bio and you can correct any mistakes. You add or delete things every year. All those years it was in there. How did it get in there? I can't understand how you could go all those years and not catch or correct it."
Parseghian, who won two national championships in 11 years at Notre Dame, was more troubled by the master's degree.
"The academic credentials, that's a little different," he said. "What does coaching have to do with not getting a letter? The other thing, the master's, goes to a different level."
Mike Golic, who played defensive end at Notre Dame from 1981-84, agreed with Parseghian.
"It doesn't matter to me that he didn't play," said Golic, now a broadcaster with ESPN. "If it's just monograms, no way he gets fired. The education part, the academic part is first, especially at Notre Dame."
Golic said faulty biographies are a way of life in football.
"It happens to players too," he said. "You look at your bio every year. You add a kid's name, maybe a charity you've done work for. You're always adding things, subtracting things.
"I was 275 (pounds) going into the NFL and 315 when I retired. It still said 275. Some things you let go."
Golic said there was plenty of embarrassment and responsibility to go around.
"I'm sure he's certainly not the first to do that on a resume to get his foot in the door. It's been in there a while. It's a shame. You want to be thorough in your investigation. There is some accountability on Notre Dame. Georgia Tech was misled for a number of years as well."
Gerry Faust, who coached at the university from 1981-85 and went 30-26-1, said the situation was sad for O'Leary and for Notre Dame.
"I really feel sorry for coach O'Leary and his family," Faust said. "He's a good coach. I think Notre Dame did the right thing."
Faust thought athletic director Kevin White would find a replacement quickly.
"There are plenty of coaches out there, good coaches who want to be at Notre Dame," he said. "I wouldn't care if I was the 10th choice, I'd jump at it tomorrow again. It's the greatest job in America, even if it's the toughest. It's a special place and I don't regret one minute of the time I spent there."
On the campus at South Bend, Ind., students were troubled by the news.
"It's sad because this university revolves around football and when things go bad there, it seems like everything else is a little off," freshman Alejandra Fabreda said.
Freshman Jacque Wilson seemed angry.
"When you falsify something like that, you have to wonder what else has he been dishonest about," he said. "What are his intentions, his whole entire character? He doesn't belong here."
O'Leary's resignation surprised Grant Teaff, executive director of the American Football Coaches Association.
"The recent turn of events is regrettable and very unfortunate," Teaff said. "Coach O'Leary is well respected by his peers as evidenced by his election last year to the AFCA Board of Trustees, representing District 3 of Division I-A."
When he accepted the Notre Dame job and left District 3, O'Leary gave up his post on the coaches board of trustees.
So where does Notre Dame turn now?
Andy Wisne, a defensive lineman who completed his eligibility this season, thinks the team does not need a hard-nosed coach.
"I think from a player's perspective, having played five years, the players are already disciplined," he said. "We're a disciplined team. Football has become a kind of drudgery for us. We need somebody to bring the fun back."
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