So… the billboard. (Sigh.)
Here’s where we left off. A mysterious billboard popped up earlier in the week, strategically placed above the popular bar, The ‘Backer. The billboard featured a pretty decent (actually good, but I’m not really willing to give the guy credit after learning the backstory) zinger at Charlie Weis, replacing the word “tenure” with “internship.”
At first the billboard company played mum, not willing to comment on the purchaser of the controversial advertisement that rests in the shadow of Notre Dame stadium. But it didn’t take long for Tom Reynolds to come forward and stake his claim as the man behind the billboard.
Then we got to find out more about Tom Reynolds. Not only was he not a fan of Michigan or Southern Cal or Boston College or somewhere you’d think would, you know, take a potshot at the head coach of Notre Dame. He was a former Notre Dame football player and someone who spent time on the faculty of the university as well.
That alone is treason, right?
But Reynolds then had to get all uppity. He had to flash his vocabulary, speak cringe inducing words like “my university,” “thus,” and quote an unabridged dictionary. Or basically reinforce about a thousand different negative stereotypes that get leveled daily when ripping Notre Dame people.
Tom, we already make it hard enough on ourselves with Touchdown Jesus, Rudy, Lou Holtz, and the tradition that we might sometimes flaunt. Now we’ve got you trying to prove a point about the team that you allegedly care about?
But now the story gets even more interesting.
Thursday evening, a new billboard replaced Reynolds’ pulpit. This one promoted the U.S. Marine Corps. Like a true idealist, Tom Reynolds wasn’t worried about his money (I’m sure he’ll tell us he’s got plenty). He decided to go all founding fathers on us.
“What Burkhart Advertising took away from me is far more valuable,” Reynolds told the South Bend Tribune. “They took away my freedom of speech. And Notre Dame pressured them to do it.“
Reynolds will not be stopped. He still plans on marketing and selling t-shirts with his Linebacker Alumni comments, hoping to create a groundswell of support.
“We’d like to have a sea of green,” Reynolds said.
(Probably won’t be hard, considering green is a pretty popular color among Irish fans, Tom.)
Apparently Reynolds met with Burkhart executives Thursday morning, who urged him to volunteer to take the billboard down.
“I told them that I’d think about it,” Reynolds told the Tribune. “But before I had a chance to think about it, they called me back and told me they were taking it down. I can tell you the university is behind this. And it’s hypocritical. It was a light-hearted message. The university should be bigger than that.”
Reynolds was indignant.
“All I’ll say… is this isn’t the end of this.”
Tom, we’re in the middle of a recession. The nation’s trying to figure out health care. We’re fighting wars overseas, we’ve got people all around the globe dying of hunger, disease, and genocide, and to top it off the polar ice caps are melting, and you’re fighting the fight for your billboard?
If Notre Dame flexed their muscles? Good. That’s what they should do. Flex your muscles when someone who supposedly loves his university tries to lecture the masses with his superior intellect, and parade his opinion above all of us for 12 straight weeks of alumni, students, recruits, and fans visiting campus. And if Burkhart media caved to some pressure? Smart move. I can tell you what, the University of Notre Dame and it’s multi-billion dollar endowment will be buying more outdoor advertising than Tom Reynolds could ever dream of, and there is no way to build good will in a community that’s 95% behind Notre Dame than to be complicit with a yahoo like Reynolds.
Everybody is entitled to their own opinion. Here’s hoping that we don’t have to hear Tom Reynolds’ anymore.