“Under the Tarnished Dome” is the bestselling book that rocked the Notre Dame football program.
In the last decade, however, Notre Dame has been linked with a wholly different set of values. Trash talking. Pregame fights. Off-field hell-raising. Academic misfits. Steroids. All the earmarks of a renegade program spinning out of control. How could this have happened at the one school people want so much to believe in?
In Under the Tarnished Dome, Don Yaeger and Douglas S. Looney take an in-depth look at the Fighting Irish over the past ten years. Drawing from more than 150 interviews, including nearly a hundred with former Notre Dame players, Yaeger and Looney describe the current state of Notre Dame football and show how far short of its ideals it has fallen.
The process began with the hiring of Gerry Faust, a spectacularly successful high school coach who brought Notre Dame everything it says it wants in its leaders: someone decent, caring, pious, and deeply concerned about the academic and social lives of his players. Unfortunately, he was also hopelessly overmatched as a football coach on the big-time college level. His tenure forced Notre Dame to confront the fact that while it wants to win with integrity, it’s the winning that is nonnegotiable. And, ironically, it was in getting rid of Faust that Notre Dame made it’s pact with the Devil.
In hiring Lou Holtz, Notre Dame chose to ignore questions about Holtz’s past and to concentrate on the wins he brought to every team he coached. Holtz is, without question, a brilliant football coach, and Yaeger and Looney show the motivational techniques Holtz uses to get the best out of his players. But the players Holtz was permitted to bring into Notre Dame– while Father Edmund Joyce publicly declared that the Notre Dame coach must live without “special treatment from the admissions office”– have left many Notre Damers wondering if the victories are worth the cost of the school’s unique reputation.
Under the Tarnished Dome further reveals the dark side of Holtz’s methods: the physical and emotional abuse of his athletes; his callous and potentially dangerous treatment of players who are injured; his tacit acceptance of and outright failure to punish players for using steroids to boost themselves up to his demanded levels; the scent of scandal and suspicion that has followed him throughout his coaching career; and the hypocritical statements and out-and-out lies he utters when speaking publicly about his coaching past– or future.