Let's leave race out of Willingham situation

I am writing in response to David Steele's paranoid ranting regarding the recent firing of Notre Dame football coach Tyrone Willingham ["Notre Dame decision warrants legal action," Thursday].

To state that he was fired because he is African-American is ridiculous. If I'm not mistaken, he was African-American when he was hired. If he were white, there would be no issue. How many dozens of white football coaches are fired before their contracts are up? Mr. Steele is the one "turning back the clock" by suggesting that legal action is warranted in this matter.

If Notre Dame was winning football games, Mr. Willingham would still be the coach. It's as simple as that. Whether or not Notre Dame has a tradition of allowing coaches to finish their contracts is irrelevant. That is the past. Do you continue to do the same thing if it's not producing the desired results?

Maybe I'm missing something, but what difference does it make in this case whether there is one African-American coach in Division I football, or 100? Hiring and firing in football and every other profession should be based on merit and/or performance. Not being able to fire someone because of a race/religion/gender issue is just as bad as firing them because of it.

Charles Greffen Odenton

All coaches get fired for lack of performance

Tyrone Willingham himself agreed that it was his own performance that cost him his job as coach at Notre Dame.

As far as his circumstance only being reserved for black coaches, look at Earle Bruce at Ohio State several years ago (fired after a 6-4-1 season and 81-26-1 career) and David Cutcliffe at Ole Miss, who was fired this week (with a 44-29 career record).

Steele and others need to stop forcing the racial issue in the media - and maybe the world will stop forcing it, too.

Calvin Jefferson Mansfield, Ohio

Could criticism affect minority coach hiring?

I agree with many of the comments David Steele made in his article regarding the state of affairs in NCAA football. But one problem that sticks out in my mind is that it appears that Notre Dame is paying a heavy price for hiring/firing an African-American coach.

The message Steele's column sends is that if a program does buck the sad trend of only hiring white coaches, it is stuck with the African-American coach they hire no matter what. An athletic director can read Steele's column, look at what happened to Notre Dame and say they would have been better off not hiring Willingham at all.

One of the problems for coaches in Division I football is that they all get fired too quickly regardless of race. They make a mistake and they are gone. Look at the treatment George O'Leary received at Notre Dame for his resume mistake. There's Mike Price at Alabama and other examples, I am sure.

Look at Notre Dame's performance under Coach Willingham - the Irish steadily declined and the blowouts they suffered under his watch were historic in nature and stature. How many 31-point losses to USC does Coach Willingham get (he had three in a row)?

The way to rectify the deplorable situation in the hiring of minority coaches is not to vilify those that do buck the trend. Go after the schools that do not hire any minority coaches, that are not willing to even make the initial step in the right direction.

Make the athletic directors, conference commissioners and school presidents properly ashamed for not hiring minority coaches at all. Don't make them afraid of what will happen if they do.

Joseph M. Clark Jr. Ellicott City

Giambi, others must carry stigma of steroids

Sun columnist Laura Vecsey is right. Baseball should find a way to throw Jason Giambi out of the game forever. ["For steroid injections, Giambi merits ejection," Friday.]

But that won't be easy. Giambi's grand jury confession was in the strictest of confidence. Someone with access to his testimony violated that confidence when he or she leaked it to the San Francisco Chronicle.

Since the evidence against Giambi is admissible only in the court of public opinion, commissioner Bud Selig will have a hard time selling a lifetime ban - or any punishment at all - to the players union.

It's a testament to baseball's greatness that it withstands one colossal scandal after another. The game has recovered from labor woes, competitive imbalance and Albert Belle. After a thrilling and historic postseason, baseball was due for another plummet. Right on time, here it is.

Giambi, Barry Bonds, Gary Sheffield and the other players who testified in the BALCO case don't need lifetime bans. The stigmas of cheating and dishonesty will be punishment enough.

Patrick Smith Baltimore

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