Last week we learned that Urban Meyer is “all in on the Notre Dame bandwagon”. Over the weekend, we learned that it looks like ESPN’s Lee Corso is as well. During the first College Gameday broadcast of the season, Corso made some bold predictions for both Notre Dame and quarterback Ian Book.
Not only did Corso predict that Notre Dame would go to the Playoffs in 2020, but he took it a step further and predicted that Notre Dame quarterback Ian Book would also win the Heisman Trophy this year.
Predicting Notre Dame in the Playoffs this year is not that bold at this point with the Big Ten and Pac 12 sitting out the season – at least for now. Notre Dame is ranked 10th in the preseason AP top 25, returns its starting quarterback and its entire offensive line, and for the most part, has coaching continuity. Technically the Irish have a new offensive coordinator in Tommy Rees, but the promoted quarterbacks coach wasn’t an outside hire who will be completely revamping the offense.
Now, predicting that Ian Book will win the Heisman, on the other hand, is a rather bold prediction when most feel like Book is only the second-best quarterback in his own conference this year. Clemson’s Trevor Lawrence was almost a unanimous selection for preseason ACC player of the year just last week.
Book, like almost every Notre Dame quarterback for the last 30 years, is a bit polarizing. Some fans look at his 34 touchdowns, 6 interception performance from a year ago and see a superstar. Others look at Book’s performances against Georgia and Michigan and claim that Book isn’t a big game quarterback and that Notre Dame’s offense has a lower ceiling on it than it should with him at the helm.
There were some off-season rumblings, however, that the relationship between Book (and others) and Chip Long was part of the reason Long was unceremoniously dumped by Notre Dame before its bowl game. Allegedly, Long was not very well-liked by the Irish players at the end of his tenure and his departure was greeted with cheers. When, how, and why his relationship deteriorated with the players, however, has never been revealed.
Regardless, it is very possible that we have not yet seen the best of Ian Book and that Tommy Rees, a coach that is universally loved by the entire Irish roster and most Irish fans (outside of a few curmudgeons), can take Book’s game to a new level. In the one game in which Rees got his live audition for the OC job, the Camping World Bowl, Book was 20 of 28 (71.4%) for 247 yards and a touchdown with another 30 yards rushing. The only game in which Book had a higher completion percentage in 2019 was Bowling Green.
It feels almost weird to have major college football pundits heaping so much praise on Notre Dame at this point, but it might just be time for Notre Dame fans to admit that the Irish just might be really, really good this year.