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One last Freekbass encore

May 4, 2010, 12:18 AM EDT

While I don’t want to do it, I’m going back to the Freekbass situation. There’s been plenty of thoughtful work on the video, and a few columns that are definitely worth reading.

Over at AOL FanHouse, John Walters — also a Notre Dame grad — penned a pretty spot-on column about the entire debacle.

Here’s a sampling of his open letter to Father Jenkins:

Dear Fr. Jenkins,

Hasn’t the Class of 2010 suffered enough? Four straight losses to USC.
Two home losses to Navy.
The 3-9 season. A first-round NCAA tournament loss to Old Dominion (which, okay, if it were women’s hoops, would not be so
awful) before half the student body had even woken up that day. And now,
just a week or so before graduation, this video, which
we’ve also embedded later in this letter along with some other reviews
of the thing.

Honestly, Padre, whither the self-inflicted wound? This is like a
fragging incident without the live ammo. If I’m Lane Kiffin I open
every press conference next season with this tune.

Fr. Jenkins, you’re an alum. Please tell me this is a joke. Please tell
me this is an hilarious outtake from The Keenan Revue and you thought it
would be fun to release as a social media experiment. Please tell me
you’re deaf.

Even better, friend of the blog and ESPN senior writer Bruce Feldman caught up with the man behind the infamous video, Notre Dame FTT professor Ted Mandel, and got his thoughts on the reaction and feedback.

Here’s what Ted had to say:

“The video was intended to be played at the student awards banquet,”
Mandell said. “Most of the video is light-hearted, fun, parody
commercials. We’d done the song. Coach Kelly and Mike Golic were kind
enough to do a little cameo in it. It was just part of this fun,
light-hearted music video that has taken on a life of its own, I

“People are mocking it and having fun with it, and actually I think
that’s great,” said Mandell, who played French horn in the Notre Dame
marching band in the mid ’80s. “I love reading the John Walters column
[quoted above] who satirically blasted it. It’s supposed to be fun.
Obviously, it has angered some people. I definitely can see in college
football where people have things so close to their heart and they’re
very passionate, it can upset them. I’m sorry they’re upset.”

Having been thousands of miles away from home over the weekend and stuck on runways and in airports thanks to rainstorms and Delta’s incompetence, I wasn’t fully immersed in the immediate aftermath, but the song has already burned itself into my head.  Each time I logged onto the net this weekend, I found myself starting up the YouTube video, only to stop playing it after about 45 seconds, cringing every time I see that dopey bass player bend his knees and point to the camera.

I’m not sure if it was to see if the video disappeared yet, or the incredible remixes that have already been created, but sure enough I found myself humming, “Woah-ah-woah-ah-woah… We are ND,” a lot this weekend, which I’m hoping I can blame on the all-inclusive open bar.

Feldman also points out some very serious ramifications from the video, specifically how the video could be used against Notre Dame in recruiting.

A lot of the sentiment is rooted in concern about how recruits may
see the video. I can already hear some rival recruiter showing a
prospect the video and asking the player to “count how many non-white
faces you see in this thing.” I remember interviewing Louis Nix, the
blue-chip defensive line recruit from Jacksonville the Irish landed last
winter. Something he said about his perception of the school came back
to me. Here’s
the interview:

“I thought it would be a way different
atmosphere. I thought the guys would be like “high-class” guys who
wouldn’t want to hang around with a guy like me. Or I thought everyone
was like a nun or a priest. I saw a couple of priests. They were really
nice guys. But I really thought it was a place I could fit in. Let’s put
it like that. After I met the players, this was a place I could adjust
to and really appreciate it and have fun at the same time.”

The key for Nix was to get him on campus and learn more about the
school — and that it could provide an environment where he might
thrive. Still, the perception is one that obviously existed long before
anyone had heard of Freekbass.

Mandell made the video to pay homage to the antics of the Digger Phelps crazed fans of the late 70s and 80s, and I don’t doubt that the video drew plenty of smiles and laughs from the students at their awards banquets. That said, when you tout the video as featuring the award-winning musician Freekbass, and post it on the university’s official YouTube page, between videos of a Notre Dame expert speaking on the seriousness of Iran weapons sanctions and the university’s commitment to helping Haitians recover from the earthquake, you make it hard for us to believe that people under the Golden Dome were in on the joke.

Today marks the near midpoint for the dredges of the college football offseason, which helps explain why the video has created such an uproar. But after five years of seeing the head coach of the Irish take one of the nastiest internet beating in college football, you’d think that people inside the university would get the picture.

As Freekbass proved, there’s still some learning to do.


  1. Shazamrock - May 4, 2010 at 10:43 AM

    When I was a youngster many, many, years ago. My parents took me to the Art Institute in Chicago. As we strolled the hallways we came accross a new painting that was generating quite a crowd. It was a Piccasso perhaps. I watched as people cocked there heads from one side to the other. Some moved up close, others viewed it farther back from a distance. One guy was even squinting at it.
    They were all tring to interpet what exactly what it was. It’s pourpos was, it’s meaning. Then I heard someone say that the artist that created it was ahead of his time. Beyond his years. And in 20 years or so the real meaning behind his baffeling painting would be realized by society.
    Maybe those special students who created this… this… this music video thing, are just misunderstood and ahead of their time as well. Maybe future generations may look upon it and understand the mastery of it all.
    Then agian, it might be just an awefull mess thrown together by a group of students who huffed too much gold paint when preparing the Team’s football helmets eariler in the day!

  2. TLNDMA - May 4, 2010 at 11:13 AM

    Funny this whole thing reminds me of a Seinfeld episode, a whole lot about nothing.

  3. Joe - May 4, 2010 at 2:55 PM

    This is such a non-issue! If some recruit is going to NOT select Notre Dame over this video, we don’t want him anyway. Keith, I normally like reading your columns…stick to stuff that matters.

  4. E-Man - May 4, 2010 at 5:22 PM

    I’m sorry, I thought I was linked to Keith Arnolds’ blog site, and instead I must have ended up on EDSBS. Let me try that link again…

  5. Sgt. Moon - May 4, 2010 at 9:22 PM

    Joe and TLNDMA…. Well said!! Keith, get a grip!!! It’s a music video by some students having fun. Keith, you have said many times on this site to stick to ND football. So practice what you preach.
    Bruce Feldman is concerned about rival recruiters showing this to a potential prospect? Count the non-white faces? Are these prospects coming to Notre Dame to make videos or play football?
    All Brian Kelly has to do is WIN and show these prospects videos of ND football games. Then have these prospects count the non-black football players. I don’t think any prospect with any sense could care less about this video. They want to know what is going on with the football program and hopefully with their education.

  6. Scott - May 5, 2010 at 1:59 AM

    I don’t get the fuss. Just people having fun. If this turns off some recruit, we don’t need him. Pull your heads out and get a little green faced crazy. Go Irish!

  7. Doug - May 5, 2010 at 8:09 AM

    I agree with all of the comments above. What’s the big deal? If anything, I think it shows that ND isn’t the stuffy, uptight place that some recruits might think it is. Why are we waisting Internet space by discussing it?
    Keith – by writing about the video (more than once I might point out) you are doing just what you complain about. Let’s discuss football and the progress of the team!

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