Lennon leaves and the foolish blame game begins

This whole “it must be somebody’s fault that Dale Lennon left” line is total bunk. Yesterday on KFAN, Scott Swygman and Wayne Nelson of the Grand Forks Herald said it wasn’t widely known, but other schools had taken serious looks at Lennon and he’d taken serious looks at them.

Quite obviously, UND’s head football coach was considering better opportunities for some time. And that’s fine. There’s nothing wrong with it. Anyone with an ounce of sense should have understood that the moment Lennon won a national championship in 2001, there was a chance that he’d be offered a job he couldn’t refuse. Frankly, I think UND was extremely fortunate to have had a coach of his caliber here for so long.

But there were some who claimed that if not for former UND athletic director Tom Buning, Lennon would stay at UND for his entire coaching career. The university got rid of Buning and Lennon left anyway. So much for the accuracy of “inside” information.  The idea that a witch hunt should be conducted to purge the university of those responsible for Lennon’s departure is simply ridiculous.

The fact is, UND bent over backward to create a situation that would help keep Lennon here and it wasn’t enough. Until UND joins the ranks of the top dogs in college football, there will always be schools that can offer its coaches more money and better situations. It’s just a fact of life. It’s no single person’s fault.

When a coach as competent and as popular as Lennon leaves, it’s probably natural that the finger pointing and blame game takes place. But it’s unseemly, counter productive and childish.

Lennon is gone and publicly leveling accusations against certain individuals at UND isn’t going to change that. It’s time to get over it, move on and set the stage for UND’s next football coach to successfully transition the program to the next level. Public backbiting and infighting serves no useful purpose, a lesson Fighting Sioux fans should have learned from recent experience.

  • jimdahl

    I would completely agree with the above article if Lennon’s departure were an isolated event. However, I think a lot of fans see it as part of a pattern of turmoil in the athletic department. The “blame game” is an effort to suggest that recent problems may not be coincidental, but tied together.

    You’re absolutely right that we all need to get over Lennon’s departure, move on and set the stage for the future. However, if Lennon’s departure is related to problems that haven’t been solved, then moving must include addressing those.

  • Patrick C. Miller

    Actually, Jim, I think Lennon’s departure should be viewed as an isolated event that happened to occur at an inconvenient time for UND. He got the opportunity to move into a good situation under a solid program with much greater pay. Lennon can also begin contending for a national championship immediately rather than waiting for five years as he would have at UND.

    If he has ambitions about moving up the coaching ladder (and he obviously does), then taking the job at Southern Illinois at this time was a no-brainer. There should be no great mystery as to why he made the decsion he did.

    Why should the fact that Lennon made a move that was best for his career be someone’s fault? What more could UND have done to keep Lennon that it hadn’t already done? Or am I supposed to believe that the needs and desires of a single coach should take precedent over the health and welfare of the university?

    As for me, I’m getting quite disgusted by the vague athletic department/administration “problems” accusation being tossed out on SiouxSports.com and the character of UND employees being impugned for no good reason without a single shred of evidence to back up such claims.

    Virg Foss has a good column in today’s Grand Forks Herald headed “New AD at UND will face a tough assignment.” Foss writes: “In a conversation with a current athletic director recently, he told me he couldn’t think of a tougher job in the country than being the next athletic director at UND.”

    Foss went on to list a host of problems and challenges that the next AD will face at UND, but he left out one important element, which is: How do we treat our own? It’s not difficult for me to understand why anyone on the outside looking in at what’s posted on SiouxSports.com about coaches and administrators at UND would want what Foss called “the worst job in America.”

    No, I’m not laying all of UND’s problems at the doorstep of SiouxSports.com, but I am saying there’s ample evidence to suggest that some of what’s being posted here is not helpful to the university. As Pogo said: “We have met the enemy and he is us.”

  • jimdahl

    I didn’t mean to argue that Lennon shouldn’t have left now because it’s an inconvenient time for us. Rather, I wanted to observe that the difference between you and those “playing the blame game” is that they view Lennon’s departure as related to other turmoil, whereas you don’t. Personally, I agree with you — it was an unfortunate coincidence that now was the best time for Lennon to depart — but I can see why the faithful are restless.

    You know I share your disdain for people using anonymous forums to try to pursue personal grudges 🙁 , but if public criticism of the University and its administration is harmful, doesn’t a Herald article calling it the worst job in America do far more damage than a few disgruntled fans venting their spleens on a message board?

  • Steady

    UND has been blessed to have Lennon as long as they have. The worst job in America is the University of Minnesota Gophers.