Notre Dame Fans, The Tide Has Turned

Everett Golson - 2013 Blue Gold Game
Notre Dame quarterback Everett Golson (5) in action during the 2013 84th Annual Notre Dame Blue-Gold Spring Game at Notre Dame Stadium, in Notre Dame, IN. (Photo: Robin Alam / IconSMI)

Notre Dame starting quarterback Everett Golson stood in the pocket, ball in hand, and examined his options. After consideration short in time but long in mind, Golson began his throwing motion, planted his foot and completed his pass to the open arms of a defender. It would be one of the few completions Golson would make on the day.

Fighting Irish running back and underdog hero of last year’s Shamrock Series against the Miami Hurricanes, Cam McDaniel, took a handoff and was immediately engulfed by a horde of defenders.

Desperate to find any semblance of offensive rhythm, and to counter stifling defensive pressure, Notre Dame’s offense attempted a reverse, only to be downed behind the line of scrimmage by waiting defender, Ishaq Williams. Such was the norm for the Fighting Irish offense at the 84th annual Spring Game, causing many Irish fans to only find relief from the bottom of a brown paper bag after repeated inhalations.

Relax. Make plans for your upcoming Memorial Day weekend. Dust off your grill, and if you live in the Midwest, study pictures of the sun now so you remember what it looks like when it finally reappears.  Brian Kelly has cemented himself as one of the elite coaches in college football, and the Fighting Irish are on the cusp of true stability, something South Bend hasn’t seen since Lou Holtz roamed the sidelines.

One look around message boards and fan sites and it becomes apparent Notre Dame fans seem to have an obsession with panicking. If the sky isn’t falling, Irish fans are unhappy It’s almost as if Brian Kelly’s winning has ruined a recent tradition of ND fans centered on grumbling and assuming the worst, forcing an identity crisis.

“If Notre Dame isn’t out of contention by October, which they have been for two decades, what else can I complain about?”

Fresh off signing the best Fighting Irish recruiting class in decades, Notre Dame fans have begun jumping off ledges in droves regarding the recruiting class of 2014. “But we’re not in the mix with enough big names,” they say, never mind the fact that at this point last season three of Notre Dame’s eventual 5-star signees were either committed to different universities or had shown no interest in the Fighting Irish. To make matters worse, it’s not even an accurate statement.

Notre Dame currently ranks 12th in national recruiting rankings, though the ranking doesn’t paint the most accurate picture. The best way to measure recruiting success involves averaging out star rankings, a method which minimizes any distortion that comes from one program signing more players than another. Notre Dame possesses an average star ranking of 3.67, with only one other university in the top 12 ranking higher: Michigan at 3.8. Notre Dame is tied with Florida, LSU and Miami, which is pretty good company for any program, let alone one whose fan base thinks it’s struggling in the recruiting department.

But why look deeper for facts when blanket assumptions and worry are so much easier to reach?  Notre Dame rushed for 1,659 yards and 9 touchdowns last season, and while graduations and an early departure have removed a good many players responsible for that production, there’s no reason to assume Notre Dame will be unable to run the ball in 2013. Yet, when Notre Dame averaged 0.4 yards per carry in the Spring Game, fans panicked. Does Atkinson have what it takes? Is the offensive line going to be able to recover from the losses of Mike Golic Jr. and Braxston Cave? With fear taking hold, there was no reason to consider the fact Notre Dame offensive lineman, Chris Watt, woke up the morning of the Spring Game with a sore back, so Brian Kelly withheld him from the game, moving freshman Ronnie Stanley to offensive guard to take his place, a position he had never played. But of course Notre Dame’s rushing attack would thrive with a true freshman playing out of position against the likes of senior All-American candidate and 340 pound monster, Louis Nix, right?

The same could be said for Irish signal caller, Everett Golson. Notre Dame head coach Brian Kelly raved about Golson’s progress during Spring practices, and Golson himself told ESPN in March his goal was to become a Heisman candidate. Yet when Golson went a measly 6/13 for 98 yards and 1 interception in the Spring Game, fans worried whether his breakout truly was imminent, forgetting he was one of the lone bright spots against the Crimson Tide, putting up 270 yards in the air against one of the best defensives in the nation. Will Golson break out and place his name in the Heisman mix? Maybe, and maybe not. But it’s a very safe bet Golson is closer to being in the Heisman race than he is to the numbers he posted during the Spring Game.

The two-time defending champions, the Alabama Crimson Tide, had 9 turnovers in their Spring Game.  Michigan State used a converted linebacker at running back. Spring games are nothing but glorified practices offering an opportunity for fans to pack their stadiums one last time before summer finally takes hold.

If you’re a Notre Dame fan and you like to panic, it might be time to find a new sport to follow. Brian Kelly’s got this.

Scott Janssen is a blogger for the Huffington Post and has authored several nationally-featured articles as well as co-founded a nationally-featured non-profit organization. In his spare time he takes his NCAA Football ’13 online dynasty way too seriously and alienates those around him by discussing football 24 hours a day. Scott can be reached at [email protected].

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  1. Brady Hoke is a big, fat, joke. (repeat over & over) But as the article mentions, (sc)UM has a higher avg-star-value per-recruit than ND. But so what? (sc)UM-recruits aren’t NDRKG’s. What am I digging so much about the new recruits? ASSIMILATION. BK is recruiting NDRKG’s who are assimilating, apparently, with relative ease? “Relative” to what/whom? Well, relative to the 2 (+?) recruits who have already left. (names escape me) While that seems like an obvious notion, what it really means is that players who are NOT champion-calibur (NDRKG’s) are not occupying roster-space…which allows for more NDRKG’s.
    We’ve got some real momentum.
    Go Irish!

  2. Yeah, we certainly do have past reasons to be suspect of decisions made by past administrations regarding the football program. That even extends to Kelly regarding some things he did with his decision making (season 1 Tulsa game and the whole Eagles thing during a time he should have been focusing elsewhere, like his team’s involvement n the NC game). Needless to say, it’s a bit premature to let the sky fall after a spring practice game. I think things are overall heading in the right direction. I can’t say I felt that way since Holtz was here.

    Go Iish

  3. As far as the infamous 5th paragraph goes, I have to take exception the the statement of:

    “It’s almost as if Brian Kelly’s winning has ruined a recent tradition of ND fans centered on grumbling and assuming the worst, forcing an identity crisis.”

    The words “recent” and “Forcing” here is highly misleading. It impiles that ND fans had no right to be in the least disgruntaled with the past preformance of their administration, coaches, and teams.

    Since Lou Holtz left in 1996 here is some history of the coaches and the programs they lead.

    1997-2001. Bob Davie 35-25
    2001 – . George O’Leary 0-0
    2002-2004. Ty Willingham 21-15
    2004- . Kent Baer 0-1
    2005-2009. Charlie Weis 35-27

    Bowl games from 1997 – 2007. 7 bowl games. Record 0-7

    That’s hardly “Recent” and if ND fans tend to grumble and fear the worst it’s only because the past administrations forced them to because they failed miserably in upholding the ND standards, virtues, and traditions we have all come to know and exspect from this fine institution, as well as our perception of “excellence in every thing we do” associated with the school and it’s athletic programs.

    That’s hardly the entire fault of the fans.

    Are the fan exspectations askewed at times? Sure.

    But there also are few college football programs that have a more dedicated fan base through thick or thin, than the Fighting Irish of Notre Dame.

  4. Of course in your world the 5th paragraph is spot on. Too bad they have computers these days in nursing homes. Interesting holier-than-thou, however, your salvation is certainly only in your hands.

    Since you pride yourself in being an absolute extremist, I knew you would come stomping with your usual pomp and grandeur. Most author’s like yourself are prima donna’s with a gasbag agenda for life: “Don’t ever disagree with me or you are indeed my enemy forever!”

    I made that mistake once with you! Albeit, I was indeed man enough to apologize to you on this site. You on the other hand, have no soul to accept an apology.

    Furthermore, your not the only one on this site loyal to BK after 12 wins. So, keep your nose glued to the mirror and carry on.

    “Fault finding is the most common unskilled labor”
    South Bend Tribune – Unknown Author

    Yeah, most narcissistic author’s can dish it out! Hahaha!

  5. i believe some fans just don’t get it. notre dame football is coming back and the question is “ARE YOU READY CAUSE HERE COME THE IRISH”.If all your going to do is see the bad in everything the team does, then go pick another team.we’ve got the right staff and were getting the right players to have a chance to be an elite team. time and patience makes great fans. are we going to make mistakes sure, but you pick yourself right back up and play HARDER.The future looks bright for us nd fans, so root for the 2013 irishmen.GO GET’EM IRISH. notre dame baby, yes,yes,yes.

  6. Actually, Scott Jansen’s 5th paragraph is spot on.

    I trust Brian Kelly. He coached my school to an unbeaten regular season.
    kelly brought me 12 wins.

    Most posters bring me agita. They resemble princesses on peas, and find the weirdest things to complain about: grass/turf, uniforms, helmets, music at ball games, they major in minors. They are ND fans in name only
    and undercut the coach and program to make themselves seem more important.

    Kelly brings me joy and pleasure on Saturday afternoons, and they act, walk and play like Notre Dame men should.

    I once sat in a lawyer’s office in Washington DC. He had been involved with the SEC staff in prosecuing a securities law case against a firm
    represented by Roy Cohn, that Cohn, the hateful, virulent pederast who got defenestrated as a hatemonger in the McCarthy hearings. He had written my friend Mike a scathing letter in which he said that the SEC staff had abused due process, the usual detritus from the pen and mouth on that pederast Cohn. It was very visible when you sat at Mike’s desk. And right next to it, he had a plaque engraved with the following statement from John Kennedy:

    “You can tell a lot about a man from the nature of his enemies.”

    Kelly is great. He has enemies, people who hate and undercut and cheapshot and chopblock him.

    Kelly is my coach.
    His enemies are my enemies.

    I trust Kelly and his knowledge about football more than I trust my own.

  7. Scott a word of advise for you too:

    You also do a good job of alienating ND fans. Your whole 5th paragraph deserves the delete button. We, alums and fans don’t worry about other messinging boards. You definately need to enroll in Frank’s CE program how to report ND Football without a baseball ball. Frank’s leadership on this board is impeccable.

    Bashing ND fans as you do, it might be time for you to choose a new sport to follow.

  8. I’ve said this once before and I’ll say it again, if you are like me, as an ND fan, your expectations are probably nothing short of making it to the NC game again, and winning it!!! When I speak of being worried about our offensive personnel, it’s because I’m thinking of what it is going to take to make it back to the NC game. Right now, we have a good, but not great offense. It was similar last year. I think the defense is going to be outstanding once again. But the panic comes from the offensive side of the ball, seeing what we lost, and not even close to the same caliber filling those roles we lost. We’ll see…

  9. The 2013 College Football Head Coach Rankings just came out.

    Here’s your top five college head football coaches ranked by Sporting News and Athlon Sports:


    1. Nick Saban / Alabama
    2. Urban Meyer / Ohio State
    3. Chris Petersen / Boise State
    4. Bob Stoops / Oklahoma
    5. Brian Kelly / Notre Dame.

    Athlon Sports:

    1. Nick Saban / Alabama
    2. Urban Meyer / Ohio State
    3. Bill Snyder / Kansas State
    4. Brian Kelly / Notre Dame
    5. Steve Spurrier / South Carolina

    I would seem logical that any Head coach ranked in the top 5 should be considered as “elite”

    BJ… Are you paying attention?

  10. I smell a Michigan fan. Can’t really complain about Kelly if you have been a Notre Dame fan the last 20 years.

  11. Old school: If you feel watching one practice equates to a head coach watching thirteen or more practices, well, you’re quite the confident man.

  12. There is no question that Golson will show his stuff. But what stuff will he show?

    As for Kelly being an “elite” coach, we know he can organize and lead the program and recruit. He would be very good if he could game plan, design an innovative offense, put together adequate special teams or prepare the team for a major bowl game.

    But you are right that ND fans should not worry, Scott. After all, what should they believe — what Kelly and others tell them about the team and its quarterback or their own lying eyes?

    1. I believe it was Descartes that put forth the argument that our senses lie to us every day, so why should we ever trust them? So, in reply to your useless, smart a$$ comment, yes, trust Kelly over your lying eyes.

    2. old school has what is commonly known as a “cranio-rectal inversion.” He has his head up his butt.

  13. My wife and I were at the Spring game The defense was far superior to the offense as I would have expected. Their big test will be the second game of the season. The offense is always behind the defense in development – not to panic. Mr. Golson will show his stuff in September as we all except him to do.

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