“We care about winning and losing here,” Swarbrick said, “but it doesn't matter right now. What matters is taking care of these young men, honoring Declan's memory and getting ourselves moving forward."
Thursday’s version of moving forward constituted letting the college football world know that the Notre Dame-Tulsa football game Saturday at Notre Dame Stadium would go on as scheduled, but that very few of the events surrounding the game are still in play.
“Certainly we talked about it,” Swarbrick said of possibly bumping the game out of Saturday’s scheduled time slot. “You don’t just move forward without considering all of that. And we had a discussion about whether we found it appropriate to play the game as scheduled.
“We concluded that is was, because it’s an opportunity to honor Declan. We will wear decals on our helmets that reflect Declan as a member of our family. We will have a moment of silence and a prayer (in) pregame, and more broadly, we’ll dedicate this game to his memory.
“Leading up to it, we wanted to eliminate all the things that weren’t critical to conducting the game.”
The includes the Friday night pep rally and the Friday afternoon football luncheon. Head coach Brian Kelly’s weekly Thursday radio show was scrapped, as was his Thursday evening meeting with the media. In fact, the next time he or the Irish players will face the camera, mikes and notepads is after the Tulsa game on Saturday.
Thursday’s practice was held indoors at the Loftus Center, the very place some wondered if Wednesday’s practice should have been conducted. Today’s walk-through will be in the Loftus, too — insulated from the weather and the gawkers alike. The scissor lifts, incidentally, are not used inside.
Kelly wasn’t part of Thursday’s Q&A, by design. Notre Dame President the Rev. John I. Jenkins was the first speaker, but didn’t take questions. Swarbrick did, but didn’t have many answers.
“What we want coach Kelly focused on is the young men that are part of the program, and women,” Swarbrick said of why Kelly will be sequestered until Saturday. “The student managers, the video team, the student-athletes. As a university, that's our first priority. He is the head of that group of student-athletes and students, and we want him focused on them. That's why I'm here today, so he can do that.”
The questions that still dangle most awkwardly until Kelly does break his silence, or until the university’s investigation is complete and public, are who makes the decision whether practice is indoors or outdoors? And, who makes the decision to send the videographers up in the scissor lifts?
“Every program makes those decisions, every sport program with regard to the practices,” Swarbrick responded. “In football there are a series of issues that are different from the ones rowing encounters or soccer or somebody else. And those programs are made within each individual athletic program, based on its experiences.”
So what’s the football experience?
“Well, we’re going to look at all that as part of the investigation,” Swarbrick said. “We’re going to take the time to take past practices and understand the decision-making process of (Wednesday) and the way it was made. But that’s what we’re going to use the investigation for, to understand that.”