Rick Reilly, out of touch and formerly great award-winning columnist who is among the highest paid in his industry in spite of sagging contributions and demand, penned a column on Notre Dame Football's similar, but overstated struggles. It was a Win-Win for Reilly. As soon as he wrote the words "Notre Dame" in the header of an ESPN.com piece, he knew the page clicks and demand for his voice would follow. If ANY writer at ESPN or any other site wrote a column with "Rick Reilly" in the title would you have even noticed it? You would have ten years ago. So Reilly gets the attention from the article he and his ludicrous contract so crave. In mid August, a time frame where the fervor of pre-season College Football hits astronomical heights, Reilly's weak column filled with seemingly fudged personal anecdotes became a national hot-button topic. This is precisely what he the powers that be had planned.
While August & early September saw the buzz around Reilly's too easy attempt at attention fulfill their very clear intentions, the end game is almost as nearly as sweet for the writer of long bygone greatness. If Notre Dame struggled against a mighty schedule, Rick gets to puff his chest to the cameras in the season's latter stretch and join the legions of Irish detractors in the media mocking the program's every misstep. In an ESPN world where "I told you so" journalism and reporting has replaced "here's what transpired and why" – Reilly would be jammed down our throats on every relatable ESPN College Football entity to elaborate on why ND is an unnecessary leech of the modern football model and explain in detail how the Irish and their fans should be stripped of their entitlements.
Now, if Notre Dame experiences success? Oh my Irish brothers – that's where Mr. Reilly becomes the big winner. For starters, an easy guess of the signs on display Saturday morning would be that 20% include the word "Reilly" and over 40% likely feature the word "relevant", commonly with an "ir" on accompaniment. While Reilly was once only familiar with praise and accolade, his August column displayed an embrace of the Kardashian/Hilton media mentality that a name in use, no matter the context, is all that matters. So as the Irish students wave their Dumb & Dumber signs and gigantic heads of clueless Reilly expressions, just know that it's exactly what he hankered for and orchestrated in the face of diminishing professional relevancy. His column will be a topic on Mike & Mike, ESPN's South Bend set of College GameDay and he'll revel in the attention while more than likely taking a "ALL those teams the Irish faces so far we overrated, but THIS week is when we see the real Notre Dame" in an effort to hold onto further camera love for a tour of shows in November professing his sincere apology.
The media/hype train that is the Reilly piece is already at a speed and pace that won't be detained. Those of us watching ESPN on Saturday morning will see its effects in all the college student anger-filled glory while ESPN & Reilly take it to the bank. I'll be enjoying the run by this current Irish team for all it's beauty and not because the results counter the cries of so many anti-ND groups and their new megaphone front man. Congrats to Rick Reilly on a ratings hit. Looking forward to your next article about how Tim Tebow should force Mitt Romney to release his tax returns. No wait – that sounds like a great TV show for election season!
Follow me on Twitter @ManCaveQB and listen to my Irish podcasts at our feed or on iTunes. My solo podcast, The Man Cave Quarterback, features former ND quarterback Matt Mulvey breaking down the QB play in his "Red Army Review" and I'll be joined by former Irish players and current CFB writers and bloggers. Maybe even Subway Domer himself will stop by. This week's podcast featured Sports Illustrated video anchor Maggie Gray.