As we close out 2012, we take a look back at the top stories that we’ve had here on UHND over the course of the last 12 months based on which stories had the most page views. Scroll through the list of stories we had this year to see how far Notre Dame has come from the spring transfer of Aaron Lynch to our top story from 2012.
12. Aaron Lynch to Transfer from Notre Dame
Originally April 13, 2012 – The recruitment of Aaron Lynch was one of the most unique, drama filled recruitments we’ve seen since we began covering Notre Dame recruiting in 1997. The saga continued on Friday when Brian Kelly announced the rising star defensive end will be transferring from Notre Dame.
“Aaron recently approached me about his desire to leave Notre Dame and return to Florida,” Kelly said on Friday before adding, “I’ve always known and appreciated the affinity Aaron has for his home in Florida, however, the stark reality is you can’t make it at Notre Dame if your head and heart are not here.” Kelly also went on to say, “I am proud of the effort Aaron made in the classroom and on the field at Notre Dame. I wish him all the best in the future.”
11. Notre Dame Ranked #1
Originally published November 19, 2012 – It’s been 19 years. 19 long, sometimes very rough, years since the last time Notre Dame was ranked #1 in the polls, but Sunday afternoon when the AP and Coaches Polls were released, the Irish found themselves alone at the top with the rest of the college football world looking up at them.
After taking care of business on Senior Day with a 38-0 beating of Wake Forest – just Notre Dame’s second shutout in the last 10 years – Notre Dame was the beneficiary of upsets to both former #1 Kansas State and former #2 Oregon vaulting them into the top position for the first time since Lou Holtz led the Irish to a #1 ranking after beating Florida State in 1993′s epic showdown.
10. Unfamiliar No More
Originally published November 27, 2012 – Notre Dame head coach Brian Kelly hugged an assistant coach and Irish players stormed the field in celebration over ND’s 22-13 victory against USC, cementing a spot in the national title game in Miami. I watched the scene transpire in silence. I would say I had envisioned a more animated response upon the realization the Fighting Irish would be playing for a national championship, but that would imply I had entertained the notion previously. I hadn’t. Instead, I watched in a shock that has yet to dissipate.
Heading into USC weekend, anxiety was high. I believed in the 2012 Notre Dame squad and knew the Irish’s rise to 11-0 was no fluke or one-hit wonder, but there was still ample room for concern. Could ND truly sneak by two demons – a 24 year title game drought and a decade-long pummeling by the Trojans – in just one game?
9. Duranko’s Digest: Deja vu (all over again) “Southern speed will bury ND in the bowl!”
Originally published December 7, 2012 – And a stroll down bowl memory lane. Background: Ernie Nevers, who played for Pop Warner, yep the guy they named youth football after ran for Warner at Stanford in the Rose Bowl after the ’24 Season, played in 1925….. Of course the Irish had Knute Rockne as coach and Harry Death, Elmer War, Don Pestilence and Sleepy Jim Famine in the backfield and won 27-10
It would be 44 autumns , a depression, World War II, FDR’s three terms, the atom bomb and JFK’s assassination that would pass before the Irish would play in a bowl again.
8. Jaylon Smith – New Notre Dame Linebacker
Originally published December 8, 2012 – It was inevitable, the man who has anchored the Irish defense with such emotion and pride has come to the end of his journey at Notre Dame. Although the Irish still have the most important game of the year left to play, the BCS National Championship game, it doesn’t mean it’s too early to start looking at who will be replacing Manti Te’o on the 2013 squad. If you listen to most fans and experts, you need look no further than 2013 commit outside linebacker Jaylon Smith from Bishop Luers in Ft. Wayne ,In.
7. Wake Up the Echoes – Manti Te’o for Heisman Edition
Originally published September 28, 2012 – Notre Dame is on the bye this week and without an opponent to get hyped up for, I decided what better way to dedicate the weekly Wake Up the Echoes post than with a little Heisman hype for Notre Dame’s star linebacker Manti Te’o fresh off being placed on the Sports Illustrated cover this week for the first time in his career.
6. Duranko’s Digest: Notre Dame – Alabama Preview
Originally published December 13, 2012 – We’ll get into matchup elements below, but let’s first examine four significant data trends that will, largely, be ignored by the sports entertainment hype industry wearing the “journalism” mask.
(1) An Inconvenient Tide Truth-The 2012 Bama defense is much more vulnerable than 2011′s.
We will compare the three “big” games in each season. In 2011 Bama, with an easy SEC East rotation, looked to two divisional challengers in the SEC West, LSU and Arkansas. Now the Razorbacks had played in the 2011 Sugar Bowl. They had Tyler Wilson at quarterback, and were coached by Bobby Petrino, before, apparently, he read Pirsig’s “Zen and the Art of Motorcyle Maintenance” and Nabokov’s “Lolita.”
5. Greg Bryant Commits to Notre Dame
Originally published December 9, 2012 – Notre Dame’s on the field success in 2012 continued to pay dividends on the recruiting trail on Sunday when Brian Kelly and the Fighting Irish secured a commitment from 5-star running back Greg Bryant filling a potentail void in the backfield for next season.
With Theo Riddick set to graduate after a fantastic senior season and whispers of Cierre Wood possibly heading to the NFL instead of returning for a 5th year, Notre Dame was in need of a running back in this year’s class like Bryant – especially with rumors of fellow Notre Dame commitment Jamel James leaning towards taking visits elsewhere right now.
4. 2012 Blue Gold Game Highlights
Originally published April 24, 2012 – Notre Dame completed spring practice for 2012 over the weekend with the annual Blue-Gold game and while there is plenty to dissect from the game over the next few days and weeks, here are some highlights from the game.
We’ll get more into the impressive performances of Everett Golson, George Atkinson, and others over the next few days.
3. Gunner Kiel to Enroll at Notre Dame?
Originally published January 17, 2012 – After a few weeks without much positive news on the recruiting front for Notre Dame, the Irish may have pulled off the coup of the recruiting year. According to multiple reports, Rivals.com’s #1 rated quarterback, Gunner Kiel, is set to enroll at Notre Dame tomorrow after being committed to LSU since December.
Kiel originally committed to Indiana over the summer, but opened up his recruiting in the fall and was thought to be leaning towards Notre Dame as recently as November before selecting the Tigers in December.
2. A Post Spring Look at the Quarterback Battle
Originally published June 16, 2012 – The 83rdannual Blue Gold game culminated spring practice for the 2012 season. The game helped shed light on the much talked about battle for the starting quarterback job. Inconsistent play and turnovers plagued the position last season, which has led to an open competition this spring, between candidates Tommy Rees, Andrew Hendrix, Everett Golson, and Gunner Kiel.
Rees was the starter for the Irish last season and presents the only experienced option at quarterback. Rees started every game for the Irish last season with the exception of the season opener versus USF. Rees holds a 12-4 career record as a starter with wins over programs such as USC, Miami, and Michigan State. However, Rees is turnover prone and inconsistent. Last season Rees recorded 2871 yards passing and 20 touchdowns, but also threw 14 interceptions. Rees also lacks the ability to extend plays with his feet, which is essential in a spread offense. Rees was sacked 13 times last season and had a season long run of only eight yards.
1. Manti Te’o, Sports Illustrated Coverboy
Notre Dame senior linebacker and recent recipient of the Lott Impact and Chuck Bednarik Player of the Week Awards, Manti Te’o, added another accolade to a growing list of honors for this season – his first Sports Illustrated cover.
Te’o is having a special season already. The kind of season that we all envisioned Te’o would have when he committed to Notre Dame 4 years ago in a move that surprised the recruiting world. Four years later, Te’o has developed into the most dominant Notre Dame linebacker in the last 20 years highlighted by back to back performances that will go down in Irish lore for years to come.