Dec 21, 2012; South Bend, IN, USA; Notre Dame Fighting Irish forward Jack Cooley (45) talks to his teammates in the second half against the Niagara Purple Eagles at the Purcell Pavilion. Notre Dame won 89-67. Mandatory Credit: Matt Cashore-USA TODAY Sports
The Irish pulled off the trifecta this week by knocking off IPFW, Kennesaw State, and finished the busy stretch off by taking down the Purple Eagles of Niagara. Notre Dame now sits at 12-1 on the season with their only loss of the year coming to a solid St Joe squad in overtime. Senior forward Jack Cooley paced the Irish over the 3 game stretch, averaging 17 points and 12 rebounds. Cooley continues his physical style of play as he has no issue banging underneath and consistently out hustling opponents for rebounds. The Irish continue to get strong play from guard Eric Atkinson who dished out a season high 13 assists against Niagara, Patrick Connaughton who averaged 12 points this week, and some productive play off the bench in the form of Cameron Biedscheid, Garrick Sherman and freshmen Zach Auguste, who had career highs of 12 points and 7 rebounds against Kennesaw State.
Anyone who follows Irish men’s basketball understands that coach Brey is not a huge fan of going deep on his bench, so it is imperative that the few he will turn to, be able to provide solid and consistent numbers. Notre Dame isn’t quite there yet, but if they plan on making a deep run in the Big East Tournament and the NCAA Tournament, having a bench that can provide productive and physical play is imperative. One would have hoped that with the somewhat soft schedule early on, Brey would have gone deeper on his bench, but once again he failed to do so. If the past is truly an indicator, we have a feeling this will come back to haunt the Irish again in the NCAA tourney as the Irish starters will be forced to play excessive minutes all season long. While most coach’s do not utilize the whole bench, the former Duke assistant and 12th year Irish head coach makes an art-form out of it. The biggest problem this presents for Irish is when they face a very athletic and high tempo team, and it requires Notre Dame to be active for 40 minutes. While doing this for a one game doesn’t present an issue, doing this over the stretch of 2 or 3 games can, and it can progressively wear the Irish down over a tough Big East schedule and typically hinders any chances of making a deep run in the tourney at the end of the year.
The Irish will enjoy the holiday break and then welcome Seton Hall into Purcell Pavilion on the 5 th, and then head down south to face a very talented Bearcat squad in Cincinnati. This game will provide what I believe to be the biggest challenge of the season so far, as playing in Cincinnati is a very tough environment, and the #10 ranked team in the country can be very physical at times and very intimidating. The one thing that may play into the Irish’s hands is the fact that the 12-0 Bearcats get jump-shot happy and tend to forget about getting the ball down low occasionally. They also struggle sharing the ball a little too much, and if they continue this trend it could help the Irish pull off its biggest win of the season. This game will be a huge barometer, and Irish basketball fans should know where their team stands once this game is complete. The game against Seton Hall on the 5th can be seen on ESPN Full-court and ESPN 3, and the game against the Bearcats can be seen on ESPN 2 and ESPN 3.
Dec 15 2012; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Notre Dame Fighting Irish guard Eric Atkins (0) lays the ball in against the Purdue Boilermakers at Bankers Life Fieldhouse. Mandatory Credit: Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports
After a wild game in the previous session that saw #1 Indiana get knocked off in overtime by the Butler Bulldogs, it was Purdue’s and Notre Dame’s turn to hit the floor in the “Crossroads Classic” in Indianapolis. While the game did not match the intensity and drama of its predecessor, it still provided moments of its own for the fans left in the stands. It was evident early on the differences between the style of play between the two Indiana based universities. The Irish played a more methodical game that consisted of being patient and sharing the ball. Purdue on the other hand, pushed the ball up the court quickly while looking to create their own shot and maintaining a frenetic pace throughout the game.
While Purdue is young and inexperienced, they still have raw talent up and down the roster. They used that talent to keep themselves in a game that they should not have been in. While the Irish were the more experienced team on the floor, they consistently found it difficult to defend the quick tempo that Purdue Coach Matt Painter had enlisted for the “rivalry” game on Saturday . Notre Dame held a lead of 15 at one point and eventually ended up winning the game by 13, but that doesn’t tell the whole story. In the 2nd half of the game Purdue Frosh Rapheal Davis took over the Boilermaker offense by throwing up 21 points in just 18 minutes before fouling out towards the end of the game. The Irish offense on the other hand slowed down in the 2nd half and struggled penetrating, struggled passing the ball, and seemed to lose the aggressiveness on both sides of the ball. If there is such a thing as frustrating 13 point victory, this victory would be classified as that.
That’s not to say all was bad for the Irish, as it most definitely was not. Although the Irish guard tandem of Atkins and Grant struggled from the floor, they still found a way to put up a combined 26 points and 15 assist by getting to the line, and getting the ball underneath to Irish Seniors Cooley and Sherman often. Cooley found himself in a physical battle underneath the rim all game long, but found a way to put up 18 points and grab another 9 boards. While Sherman didn’t provide quite the same output as Cooley, he still was very consistent and took advantage of the Boilermakers’ youth underneath adding 11 points and 3 rebounds of his own. The Irish, a team that typically does very well from beyond the arc, found itself struggling at times Saturday inside Bankers Life Fieldhouse, shooting just 5-15 this day. Senior Scott Martin was the biggest culprit, as he went 1-5 and ended the day with just 5 points.
If you didn’t watch the game and just looked at the highlights and final score of the game, you would probably feel pretty good about the game’s outcome. The most troubling aspect of the game was not about the way the Irish played necessarily against Purdue, but rather the lack of killer instinct from the ballclub and if this trend will continue to haunt them once their Big East schedule starts in a couple of weeks. If it sounds like we are knocking the Irish effort on Saturday we are not, but there are real concerns that need to be addressed as the season progresses. Bottom-line is the Irish didn’t play their best and still found a way to pull out a 13 point win on a neutral court, and for that fans have to be happy. Notre Dame has another good team on the court this year, but fans have to wonder if this team is athletic and consistent enough when tourney time rolls around.
Notre Dame(9-1) has a very busy week coming up as they will finish off their out-of-conference scheduling by hosting IPFW on Monday(ESPNU –ESPN 3), Kennesaw State(ESPN 3) on Wednesday, and then will close it out by facing the Purple Eagles of Niagara(ESPNU) on Friday night. Tickets are available for all 3 games at Purcell Pavilion.
Dec 8, 2012; South Bend, IN, USA; Notre Dame Fighting Irish guard Jerian Grant (22) goes up for a shot in front of Brown Bears forward Cedric Kuakumensah (21) in the second half at the Purcell Pavilion. Notre Dame won 84-57. Mandatory Credit: Matt Cashore-USA TODAY Sports
The #22 ranked Irish are starting to wind down their OOC schedule, with their latest victory coming in the form of an 84-57 drubbing of Brown. Notre Dame was led by reserve forward Cameron Biedscheid, who put up 17 points in just over 17 minutes and Jack Cooley had another solid performance underneath the rim as he scored 15 points and grabbed 12 boards. Not many expected Brown to be much of an opponent, but what fans want to see is the Irish taking care of business when they should, and that’s exactly what they did. Notre Dame improves to 8-1 on the season and are now ready to play in-state rival Purdue Boilermakers in Indianapolis at “Bankers Life Fieldhouse” as part of the “Crossroads Classic”. Along with the Irish taking on Purdue, fans can also catch the #1 ranked Indiana Hoosiers battle against the Butler Bulldogs.
While Purdue may be a tougher opponent by namesake then Brown, they are struggling just as bad early on in the 2012-13 campaign. That’s not to say they have no talent, but already have two bad losses on the season to Bucknell and Eastern Michigan, but did play a tough Xavier team down to the wire before eventually dropping the game 70-65. The Boilermakers’ are led by frosh center A.J. Hammons, and guards D.J. Byrd, and Terone Johnson, but are not a very deep squad with much experience. Byrd and
Johnson both struggle with creating their own shots and with type of pressure defense the Irish like to play, it could be a long day for Purdue. If the Boilermakers plan on challenging the Irish on Saturday they are really going to have to rely of their young center in Hammons. At 7’ 280 pounds he can be a force to deal with, but is still learning the game at the college level. The biggest issue for Purdue on the season is they just don’t share the ball well as they only average 14 assist per game, and struggle from the floor as they are shooting just over 40% on the season as a unit.
The Irish should thrive on Saturday from outside and inside as long as they stay out of foul trouble. Look for another big day from Irish guards Atkins and Grant, but Cooley and Sherman will need to adjust their games a bit as they both will be giving up about 35 pounds and 3 inches to the before mentioned Hammons. Notre Dame should take control early and give Coach Brey a chance to use his reserves a bit more. After Purdue the Irish still have games with IPFW, Kennesaw State, and Niagra before opening their Big East schedule with Seton Hall. If you have not had a chance to see the Men’s squad, tickets are still available to see them in person, or you can catch the 4:30 tip-off on ESPN2 and ESPN3.
Nov 29, 2012; South Bend, IN, USA; Kentucky Wildcats guard Julius Mays (34) passes the ball to forward Kyle Wiltjer (33) as Notre Dame Fighting Irish guard Scott Martin (14) and forward Jack Cooley (45) defend in the first half at the Purcell Pavilion. Mandatory Credit: Matt Cashore-USA TODAY Sports
The 2012 Irish squad are sitting at 7-1 right now with its latest victory coming at the hands of the defending national champion Kentucky Wildcats. While the Wildcats are young and raw, they are still very talented, but t
he Irish took advantage of the Kentucky youth and inexperience to notch their 7th win of the season and first over a ranked team. If you watched the game though then you realize that it was the Irish who attacked the basket athletically, more specifically, Jerian Grant and Eric Atkins were the stars of show. Not only did the tandem attack the rim aggressively and often, but also found a way to get others involved with a combined 10 assists. There will be those who point out that Kentucky is still trying to find their way on the offensive side of the ball, and they would be correct. That doesn’t change the fact that this his same Wildcat team made a fierce comeback against the #2 Duke Blue Devils and almost pulled out an impressive win.
The lone defeat the Irish have suffered this year came at the hands of St. Joe of the A10 conference. Before you make a joke about that, the A10 is loaded this year and the Hawks are expected to be in the mix to win that conference. In that loss the Irish had plenty of opportunities down low, but missed too many easy layups and put backs, which eventually would cost them game. When tournament selection time comes around, trust me when I say this, the loss to St. Joe will not end up in the category of “bad loss” for the Irish.
For Notre Dame to have continued success throughout the rest of their out of conference schedule and into to conference play there are trends the Irish need to continue, stop, and start. As mentioned before it is imperative that Atkins and Grant continue to be aggressive in attacking the basket and creating their own shot. If the talented backcourt of the Irish can continue this, then that opens up the 3-point shot for Scott Martin Co. and dish-offs to Cooley and Sherman underneath. This also puts the opposing team in an aggressive defensive mode and allows the Irish more trips to the line. The impressive aspect of both of these guards game is that while they are having success aggressively penetrating the lane, they’re having just as much success from the behind the line. The duo is shooting at almost a 45% clip from behind the line, and while very impressive right now, both Atkins and Grant will need to prove that they can do it consistently when the Irish enter into Big East play.
Underneath the basket is where the Irish need to be slightly more physical and consistent. With that said, it’s not that Cooley or Sherman have played bad, but the Big East will provide some physical play underneath. Cooley has improved his game both in the paint and is proving that he can knock down a jumper from 12 feet out. He will hustle with the best of them, and is aggressive going after the ball which is never a bad thing. Garrick Sherman, the Michigan State transfer, is tall but lacks bulk. He can rebound and be aggressive around the rim, and on the defensive side of the ball, Sherman is no stranger to blocking a shot or two. The only concern with Sherman is that against athletic centers he tends to struggle. With the trio of Cooley, Knight, and Sherman the Irish have a talented rotation to man the paint, but if they want to be considered a true strength, they need to show a little more physicality and consistency.
Scott Martin, Cameron Biedscheid, and Patrick Connaughton round off the top 7 players for the Irish, and that is about as deep as Coach Brey likes to go in a game that matters. Martin has hit some clutch shots from outside this year and while he will never be a threat to go in the NBA draft, Martin does understand his role on the team and his strength and doesn’t pretend to be anything else. Even when the Irish have blown teams out this year, the final trio of Auguste, Burgett, and Crowley have not seen a lot of playing time, and do not expect that to change anytime soon. Brey has never been a huge fan of going deep on the bench, and that will not change this year. If the Irish play up to their potential they should enter Big East play with a record of 12-1. Notre Dame will welcome the Pirates of Seton Hall into Purcell Pavilion on January 5th to kick off their conference play. In the final 5 games before that the Irish should be favorites in every game, and the only team might pose a small problem would in-state rival Purdue.
It will be very interesting to see how this squad does over the course of the 2012/2013 season. If the backcourt continues to improve and mature, Notre Dame should find themselves consistently in the top 25 all year long and earning another birth to the NCAA tournament at the end of the year. Of course as any Irish basketball fan will tell you, that the tourney is where the real issues start. We will hold off on any judgment so far, and see how Brey and Co. progress throughout the year. If they play as a team and understand their individual roles, it could be a fun year – but let’s not get ahead of ourselves.
Notre Dame Fighting Irish running back Theo Riddick (6) runs the ball against the defense of Southern California Trojans linebacker Tony Burnett (34) during the first half at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-US PRESSWIRE
The Irish are going to Miami. Notre Dame completed its miracle regular season with a 22-13 victory over arch rival USC. The Irish followed their blueprint for success to perfection versus the Trojans, starting with a bend but don’t break defense to go along with a dominant run game and mistake free football from Everett Golson. The following players led the way for the Irish in their victory over USC.
One week Cierre Wood shines, the next Theo Riddick takes over. Riddick ran the ball with conviction against the Trojans, consistently gashing them for big runs and seldom going down to the first tackler. Riddick rushed for 146 yards and a touchdown and was unstoppable when running at the heart of the USC defense. Riddick also contributed three receptions for 33 yards, two of the receptions converted key third downs on scoring drives.
With the Irish offense often stalling deep in Trojan territory Kyle Brindza needed to step up, and he did just that. Brindza was 5/6 on field goals, all of which being critical kicks. Whenever the Trojans would make it a one possession game Brindza was there to re-establish the nine point lead. Brindza also drilled a career long 52 yarder to end the first half and put the Irish up six points, a margin that USC would never get closer than.
Matthias Farley was a key part of the defensive gameplan to keep everything in front of the safties and limit big plays. Farley played very well from his safety spot, limiting the big play potential of Marqise Lee and Robert Woods, causing Max Wittek to have to string long scoring drives together. Farley led the Irish with nine tackles and along with Zeke Motta had great success pinching down at the goal line and stopping USC’s running backs in the backfield.
The senior leader of Notre Dame’s defensive line stepped up when the Irish needed a pass rush. Lewis-Moore had five tackles, two of which for loss, 1.5 sacks and a forced fumble. Even when he wasn’t sacking Wittek, Lewis-Moore was having success collapsing the pocket around him and forcing difficult throws, largely through his use of the bull rush. Lewis-Moore led the defense in the second half in which their play drastically improved and they recaptured control of the line of scrimmage.
THE STREAK IS OVER. Despite losing the turnover battle 4-1 and playing half of the game in a driving rain storm, Notre Dame ended USC’s 8 year winning streak over the Irish and capped off a roller coaster regular season on a high note.
I’ll get into my normal post game comments in a bit, but want to give everyone a second to savor this victory and appreciate just how far the Irish have come in a month. On October 30 Notre Dame lost a heart breaker Tulsa a week after being dominated by Navy. A month later Notre Dame is on a three game winning streak with victories over Utah, Army, USC.
That’s what I call a remarkable turn around.
Now, on to some observations from the game.
Tommy Rees came back down to earth in the second half against USC after throwing 2 touchdowns in the first half to build Notre Dame’s 13-3 halftime lead. His 4 turnovers led to all 16 of USC’s points and he struggled to make any down field throws. Rees will have 15 more practices to prepare for the bowl game and he’ll need to use each one.
What a performance by Robert Hughes. Is there a better story from tonight’s win than Hughes game? Hughes hasn’t been used much this year, but when his number was called Saturday night he ran like the big, bruising back that we’ve all been waiting to see since 2007. Without Hughes, Notre Dame simply doesn’t win this game tonight.
USC did a great job of getting their hands up and closing the passing lanes down for Rees. Kelly is going to need to get Rees out of the pocket more for the Irish to continue this winning streak in bowl season.
On Rees’s first interception of the second half, he had Cierre Wood wide open down the sideline for a big gain and on his last interception of the game he had Riddick one on one with a safety but threw the ball into triple coverage. He’s going to be busy in the film room over the next month but should learn a lot from this game.
Great job by the offensive line today. They got a nice push throughout the game and kept Rees upright for most of the night. They didn’t get a single holding call against a very good defensive line either.
Riddick and TJ Jones weren’t featured much in the offense tonight. Given their lack of practice time with Rees over the last month that isn’t too shocking, but given Rees’s limitations both will need to have a bigger role in the bowl game.
Tyler Eifert made the heads up play of the game when he recovered Cierre Wood’s fumble on Notre Dame’s last drive. Eifert was a match-up problem for USC as well but Rees had trouble getting him the ball.
Duval Kamara gets props for his heads up play to reach the ball out over the goal line on his second quarter touchdown. He had not secured the ball while breaking the plane until he reached the ball out before stepping out of bounds.
With a more experienced quarterback, Michael Floyd would have had a monster game. He was the glue that kept the Irish passing game in tact throughout the game, but he could have dominated the USC secondary if given the chance. Floyd was a beast of a blocker in the run game as well.
The offense is still very much a work in progress, and given all of the injuries it would be a tall order for it to be much more than that at this point. With Jones and Riddick healthy and able to practice for the bowl game, the Irish passing attack should be able to develop some consistency.
USC fans will say that the only reason Notre Dame was because of Ronald Johnson’s drop on their final drive, but in reality, the only reason USC was in the game was because of Notre Dame’s turnovers. USC was given the ball inside the Notre Dame 40 four times on turnovers and could only muster three field goals and a touchdown. Even their lone touchdown came on a 4th and goal after they started the drive on the 2 yard line.
Bottom line, the Irish defense was flat out dominant against USC. The only reason the touchdown-less streak was broken tonight was because USC started with the ball at the 2 yard line.
USC averaged just 2.7 yards per carry and 4.8 yards per pass attempt.
Brian Smith played the best game of his career. He was all over the field from start to finish and came up with a huge pass deflection on the USC 4th down attempt that set up Notre Dame’s last second first half touchdown. His career has been a roller coaster ride, but he’s saved his best football for the stretch run this season. Hopefully he’s got one more game like tonight left in him.
The defensive backs did a hell of a job tackling in the first half, but missed a few tackles in the second half once the rain started coming down.
Gary Gray, Robert Blanton, and Darrin Walls were very solid in coverage other than Blanton’s blunder on USC’s final drive that could have cost Notre Dame dearly. Blanton went for the ball but whiffed. Luckily the ball was dropped.
Harrison Smith nearly had an interception on the first play of the game, but ended up with an important one to seal the victory. A few plays earlier Smith fell down leaving Ronald Johnson all alone with nothing but green in front of him – excellent response by Smith.
Great job by the defensive line clogging the running lanes and stuffing the USC running game.
It’s amazing to think that this is the same defense that got shredded by Navy just a month ago. Not sure what happened, but I certainly hope Bob Diaco, Chuck Martin, Kerry Cooks, and Mike Elston keep doing whatever it is they’re doing.
Additional tip of the cap to Diaco for his defensive game plans the last three weeks. He took the brunt of the criticism for the loss to Navy – especially after his interviews following the loss – but he’s responded with some excellent coaching.
Little bit on an inconsistent night from Ben Turk. He had a couple nice punts in the game but ended up averaging only 37.5 yards per punt. I wouldn’t be surprised if Kyle Brindza gave Turk some competition for the punting duties next year – especially if he ends up enrolling early.
It was surprising to see David Ruffer miss an extra point after not missing a field goal this season. Hopefully this is just an anomaly.
Pretty solid coverage today on kicks and punts against some dangerous returnmen.
The Notre Dame return game, however, remains to be a disappointment. Hopefully Kelly and special teams coach Mike Elston spend some extra time with the bowl practices to work on the return game.
This week’s Irish Blogger Gathering is brought to us by OC Domer – a Notre Dame blogger subjected to USC much more than most of us. Be sure to check out his responses to these questions with the link above and see my responses below.
1. Notre Dame played perhaps its best game of the year in a win over the Utah Utes two weeks ago. Utah remains ranked at #23 in the Associated Press poll. Notre Dame likewise took Michigan State (AP #11) to overtime before losing on a fake field goal. Therefore the Irish should have no trouble with this unranked Trojan squad. Agree or disagree? Show your work.
Manti Te'o seems like an obvious choice for team MVP this season, but Harrison Smith has quietly had an excellent season. (Photo - Icon SMI)
The transitive property of wins and losses never holds true in college football – especially in the case of a rivalry game like Notre Dame-USC. That doesn’t taken into account USC’s recent dominance of the series either and despite their lack of a top 25 ranking this year, the Trojans are still a very solid football team with playmakers on both sides of the ball.
USC’s record might not be what most Trojan fans became accustomed to under Pete Carroll, but USC has played some very good football teams tough. They took Stanford down to the wire and hung with Oregon for about three quarters until their lack of depth caught up to them and the Ducks ran away with it.
At the same time, USC was hanging by a thread for a couple of weeks before getting blown out by Oregon State last weekend. Three weeks ago they squeaked by Arizona State and two weeks ago hung on to a three point win over Arizona.
The X-factor here is what USC team shows up? The one that played Stanford and Oregon tough or the one that got blown out by Oregon State and doesn’t have a chance to play in a bowl game because of USC’s probation? The lack of a bowl game can work for or against the Irish here. On one hand, they could treat the Notre Dame game as their bowl game while on the other they could be lacking motivation after last week.
Bottom line – this year’s game is about as unpredictable as any Notre Dame – USC game in recent memory.
2. It is almost time for the OC Domer Player of the Year to be named. This award is intended to recognize the Notre Dame football player or players who played the best when it mattered the most. Suffice it to say that the primary criterion is a consistently high level of play, with significant bonus points awarded for exceeding expectations. Injuries have taken many of the pre-season favorites for this prestigious award out of the running. Who is your nominee for this award, and why?
The offense has been too inconsistent and injured this year for the award to reside on that side of the ball so I’ll turn my attention to defense where I see three candidates – Manti Te’o, Gary Gray, and Harrison Smith. Te’o is the most obvious choice because of his tackle totals and his big hits, but Gray and Smith both deserve some serious consideration. Gray has been as close to a shutdown corner as Notre Dame has had in years. He doesn’t have a lot of interceptions because teams just have not been targeting him in the passing game.
Harrison Smith meanwhile might be the most improved player on the team. Smith is tied for the team lead in interceptions with 3 and ranks second on the team in tackles behind Te’o. He’s a completely different player than the one we’ve seen bounced around between linebacker and safety the last two years and he’s just starting to play his best football.
At the end of the day, I’d give it to Te’o, but with Gray and Smith both back for the Irish next year, the secondary should be in fine shape.
Side note – If Ian Williams had stayed healthy all season, he’d be the hands down winner here.
3. With a delicate flavor similar to beef, though slightly sweeter than other meats, horse meat can be used to replace beef, pork, mutton, and any other meat in virtually any recipe, though most aficionados prefer it in marinated or spicy dishes. Nutritionally, horse meat has around 40 percent fewer calories than the leanest beef, while supplying 50 percent more protein and as much as 30 percent more iron; and horse fat is considered an excellent health-conscious deep-frying alternative, especially for delicately-flavored foods that are easily overpowered by heavier oils. What is your favorite horse meat recipe?
Ummm…. I got nothing here.
4. Do you miss Pat Haden, who left the Notre Dame television broadcasts to become athletic director at USC?
I don’t miss Haden in the booth at all. Mayock has been a much better color commentator because of his understanding of the game. I could have done with him saying “Bobby Diaco” as many times as he has all season, but he’s been much easier to listen to than Haden.
Now, if only there was something we could do about getting the guy sitting next to Mayock replaced.
5. USC is the Notre Dame rival I love to hate. What Notre Dame rival do you most despise, and why?
Until the Pete Carroll Era at USC, I never had many ill feelings towards USC since the Trojans were Notre Dame’s oldest rival. The Carroll Era changed that, but mainly because of the beatings his squads dealt out to the Irish over the last 8 years. With Lane Kiffin’s polarizing personality roaming the Southern Cal sidelines now, it’s probably going to be even easier to hate the Trojans.
All of that said, Michigan is still the Notre Dame rival I despise the most. Many people tend to forget that Michigan and Fielding Yost went out of their way to try and derail the Notre Dame football program before it ever got off the ground. Back in the early days of Notre Dame football, Michigan was also instrumental in keeping the Irish out of the Western Conference (now the Big 10). Throw in Bo Schembechler’s “to hell with Notre Dame” and it’s a lot easier to hate Michigan than USC.
6. Reggie Bush got a car, his parents a house. Rumors of Cam Newton’s dad seeking money for his sons services aren’t going away. Can Notre Dame compete for athletic recruits in this environment? Or do you believe these incidents are the exceptions to an otherwise clean recruiting landscape?
Of course Notre Dame can complete for recruits in this environment. As recently as three years ago Notre Dame had the 2nd best recruiting class in the country according to most recruiting services after one of the worst seasons in Notre Dame history. While Charlie Weis’s recruiting classes had some glaring holes in them from year to year (usually along the defensive line and defensive backfield), he showed that Notre Dame can compete for elite prospects with all of the other major powers in college football.
Notre Dame’s biggest problem in recruiting has had less to do with the weather in South Bend, the academic standards at Notre Dame, or any improprieties at other universities and more to do with the product on the field. Until Notre Dame starts playing consistently well on both sides of the ball, there will be struggles in recruiting in some form or another. Even when Weis was signing top 10 classes, the holes that existed came in areas where Notre Dame struggled. It was no coincidence that the Irish had little trouble signing quarterbacks and wide receivers with Weis in charge but struggled landing elite defensive prospects.
If Brian Kelly can right the ship and point the Irish in the right direction, recruiting will take care of itself. Kelly and staff have shown that they can recruit with the big boys already. If they back it up with W’s, Notre Dame will just fine in recruiting.
Side note – one of the old staff’s biggest problems in recruiting was relying on stars and rankings and not focusing on getting great athletes. Oregon doesn’t make a lot of waves in recruiting, but they have great athletes and coach them up. If Kelly can do that as well while backing it up with wins, the Irish will not have some of the talent ad depth issues that have been a problem in the past.
ESPN/ABC released the coverage map for this weekend’s game against USC and from the looks of it, a lot of Notre Dame fans are going to be watching the game online or shelling out $24 for ESPN’s Gameplan for the weekend.
Here’s the map with Notre Dame vs. USC in teal.
UPDATE (11/24/10 12:15 PM): As of Wednesday afternoon, Philadelphia, New York, and Pittsburgh ABC affiliates will be carrying the Notre Dame-USC game. Alternatives for viewing in areas still carrying the Oklahoma-Oklahoma State game outlined below are still applicable.
As you can, most of the country will be getting Oklahoma and Oklahoma State outside of the west coast and parts of the Midwest including Chicago, Indiana, and Michigan.
Luckily, the game will be available on ESPN3.com for free for users whose internet service provider makes the service available to them. If you are not lucky enough to have access to ESPN3, the game can be purchased as part of ESPN’s Gameplan. The weekend pass runs $24 and is available through most cable providers.
There is also a chance that the map changes slightly by the end of the week. In years past, some local ABC affiliates have changed their games when Notre Dame was not originally slated to be on their stations.
Never thought I’d see the day when a Notre Dame-USC game takes a backseat to Oklahoma-Oklahoma State, but this is what happens when the two teams come into the game with a combined a combined 9 losses are combining for 10 losses a season ago.
“I had a better relationship with the Michigan coaches and wanted to stick closer to home,” Hayes said. “When I went (to Notre Dame) two weeks ago for the Utah game, I had no intention of decommitting at that time. I just wanted to go there to see how my team was doing and watch the game. Something happened with the coaching staff. Nothing bad, but I just noticed I didn’t get the attention I was looking for. Me and my family felt very uncomfortable.”
Hayes marks the fourth decommitment for Notre Dame joining Clay Burton, Justice Hayes, and Jordan Prestwood. Luckily for the Irish, there are still some options for them at running to compensate for the loss of Hayes.
Savon Huggins, one of the most dynamic players in the country, has been on Notre Dame’s radar throughout Hayes commitment and he remains interested in Notre Dame. Amir Carlisle, a Stanford commitment, is also still on Notre Dame’s radar and Texas native Cam McDaniel is also a possibility.
While decommitments are never a good thing, the one encouraging aspect of these decommits is the fact that the Irish coaching staff has contingency plans in place and is in a position to be able to withstand the losses.
Think back to where Notre Dame was when Omar Hunter decommitted a few years ago. The only backup plan at the time was going after Mike Martin – a Michigan native who grew up a Michigan fan. Martin has turned in to a heck of a football player for the Wolverines but not having any other contingency plans back then proved costly.
For now, it at least appears as though that won’t be the case this year with highly touted prospects still interested in the Irish at the positions where the decommitments have come.
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