Harpooning the Whale: Notre Dame’s obsessive pursuit of prestige could send it down to Davey Jones.

The University of Notre Dame is one of the oldest and most prestigious Catholic universities in the US. Even non-Americans have heard of the Fighting Irish, its legendary football team which inspired a famous film featuring a young Ronald Reagan. The team’s dismal record in 2007 — the most losses in a single year – sparked anger and anguish amongst the university’s 120,000 alumni. It was arguably the biggest controversy of the university’s existence. Until now. The current fracas has placed the university in the bear pit of American culture wars – not exactly the catbird seat for an institution whose undergraduate program is ranked 18th in the US. It began with an invitation to President Barack Obama to speak at commencement day on May 17. He will also be given an honorary doctorate.