Note to self: Do a more thorough background check before defending anyone's integrity.
Additional note to self: Soften the "Sous chef" and "Submarine construction engineer" experiences on resume to more accurately reflect duties as part-time counter clerk at Subway delicatessen.
Just five days after accepting his dream job and coincidental with this columnist's staunch defense of his coaching resume, George O'Leary was publicly defrocked as Notre Dame's football coach because of ancient inaccuracies in his official biography.
After 22 years as a college football coach and on the brink of inheriting the most storied program in history, it has been determined that O'Leary is among the 20 to 25 percent of Americans who reportedly falsify information on their resumes.
It seems that O'Leary underachieved as a player even more than his 2001 Georgia Tech team, considering he didn't actually play any games at New Hampshire, much less earn three letters as his bio claims in the Yellow Jackets media guide.
It also seems that O'leary's personal graduation rate was only slightly higher than Georgia Tech's, as only one of the two degrees he claims actually exists. The M.S. in Education from New York University was more B.S. than his B.S. in Phys Ed from UNH.
Upon the discovery of these fictional facts by the intrepid watchdogs who delve into the minutiae of everything Fighting Irish, O'Leary had no choice but to offer his resignation in the middle of the night. Being Irish and Catholic wasn't good enough. There weren't enough confessionals and Hail Marys to forgive the stink of deceit in the eyes of the football faithful who weren't entirely sold on O'Leary as the best coach in the first place.
"Due to a selfish and thoughtless act many years ago, I have embarrassed Notre Dame, its alumni and fans," O'Leary said in statement regarding the phantom letters and degree that most people don't really care about to begin with. "The integrity and credibility of Notre Dame is impeccable and with that in mind, I will resign my position as head football coach effective Dec. 13, 2001."
Nothing that was revealed in the past 24 hours changes O'Leary's qualifications to coach a football team to winning seasons. Whether or not you could play a lick or have a Ph.D. doesn't matter on Saturday afternoons in the fall. On those counts, O'Leary passed with flying colors.
But in O'Leary's zealous pursuit to advance beyond the high school ranks and land a college gig at Syracuse in 1980, he succumbed to the temptation to pad his resume with minor myths. O'Leary got away with it this long because nobody bothered to check the more irrelevant details of the coach's background.
Of course, shameless self-promotion is almost as much a part of coaching as the intricacies of the inside trap. In an earlier stint at a small college program, a now high-profile coach insisted on printing a what-they're-saying-about-me spread in the media guide.
It was glowing stuff, all made up by the coach himself and attributed to others. I know this because the sports information director who printed it told me. The coach was hired away to a bigger program within a year.
Note to other college coaches: Remove the inflated items on media guide biographies before the 2002 issues are printed.
Note to journalists: Compare versions to see what's missing, and don't ignore the little things. Even they can take down a giant.
Reach Scott Michaux at (706) 823-3219.
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