One of the classic moments in comedic television was the "Andy Griffith Show" episode titled “Goober and the Art of Love.” In the show, Barney and Goober are spying on Andy, who is on a date with the beautiful Helen. Goober gets so worked up with excitement that he begins screaming at the window, thus arousing Andy in the absolute wrong manner.
Notre Dame athletic director Jack Swarbrick took to the stage at a news conference Tuesday and played the role of Goober, as he got so gleefully intoxicated with the signing of Fighting Irish men's basketball coach Mike Brey to a new 10-year contract that he started spitting out talk of Notre Dame winning national championships.
“We're in the business of winning national championships,” Swarbrick said. “If I didn't think Mike could win a national championship, we wouldn't be sitting here today.”
Now would have been a good time for the level-headed Andy (played by Brey) to enter the scene and bring an ounce of sensibility. Unfortunately, Brey couldn't contain himself either.
“We had to have an identity in the (Big East) first, before we started talking about making deep runs,” Brey explained. “We've done that now, especially these last six years. Those big dreams that you want to dream, they're worth dreaming now.”
It would have been best for all involved if someone from the Irish Sports Information office would have stood up at this point and yelled, “Cut!”
Not to interrupt Swarbrick and Brey's dreaming, but here is the truth: In many facets, Swarbrick's faith in Brey is absolutely justified.
The 12-year coach has been a tremendous representative of the university on and off of the court. The Irish have placed in the top three of the Big East Conference regular season three times in the past five seasons. The Fighting Irish have won nearly 22 games annually under Brey, which has made the program relevant nationally. And in the classroom, Swarbrick noted that Notre Dame has already “won national championships.”
Brey has been great and will most assuredly continue to be great in many regards. Unlike the infamous Charlie Weis contract extension, this is one 10-year deal that Notre Dame won't regret.
However, in true Fighting Irish fashion, Tuesday's talk of championships is so premature that this may have set a new mark for absurdity – which is difficult to do given the Irish Nation's propensity for doing just that.
Brey's history at Notre Dame should give no one – including Swarbrick – any indication that postseason success will be achieved anytime soon. But letting facts get in the way of a euphoric news conference wasn't going to curb the coach's enthusiasm.
“It's playing for the Big East championship, regular season,” Brey said. “You've heard me say to get to Saturday night at the Garden and playing for the tournament championship.”
In Brey's dozen years of competing in the league tournament, his teams have failed to win two games 11 times – including five years of not winning a single game.
Playing on Saturday night? Cue the laugh track.
“Because the groundwork has been laid - and we're thriving – we're in thrive mode,” Brey explained, “(championships) are the goals.”
I'm not certain as to how “thrive mode” is measured, but in Notre Dame's mind, having failed to advance out of the first weekend of the NCAA Tournament seven out of the past eight tries must be cause for celebration.
Most college basketball coaches are evaluated solely on their records during the month of March, but Swarbrick has done the opposite and completely ignored the most important month of the season. And that is fine. In fact, in some respect, I even find it admirable.
However, holding dialogue about this particular program winning championships – given its history under Brey – is laughable.