Rock's House | Cartier Field | Back Room | Political | Career | The Pit | Alumni Events | McGraw's Bench | Jake's Field | Jackson's Rink | Olympic | Fantasy Sports | Chat

Is ND a school, a conference or a nation?

Sometimes, we need an outsider to give us perspective on ourselves. This post from wearesc.com does just that.

Bob Griese used this question of Keith Jackson's on College Football Live last week ,and I've been thinking about it ever since. It looks like ND has renewed their series with Michigan this week and that's good news for college football.

Last Friday on CFL they asked the viewers to answer the question, " Is Notre Dame still an elite program?" Who would ever think that question would arise?

I was born in 1947. ND at that time was the powerhouse of college football. Frank Leahy, who coached from '41-43 and '46-53 was 87-11 with a .863 winning % second only to Knute Rockne all time. This leaves an impression on you when you're young.

You could not imagine how good ND was from 1918 when Knute Rockne took over as coach until Frank Leahy retired. They won NCs in '24, 29, 30, 43, 46,47, and 49. ND was 9-0-1 in '53 and first in every rating except AP and UPI where 10-1 Maryland was #1. They won the NC in '66, 73, 77, and 89.

Is ND a school, a conference or a nation? They are all three. There are only two division 1 catholic schools with a football team. So ND will continue to hold the hearts of fans accross the nation.

Rockne and ND tried for years to gain admission into the Big 10 but Michigan's head coach Fielding Yost (1901-1926) kept the door shut. Rockne, forced to play on the road, because ND didn't have an adequate stadium, became the first college football team with a national schedule.

ND played in Yankee stadium, Soldiers field, and the LA coliseum in front of huge crowds. And they won.

So in a real sense ND became all three. It's a school, it's a conference and a nation. They even have their own national network. It's call NBC.

John McKay stated in his autobiography written in 1973 that he had often thought about USC as an independent. He didn't like sharing USC's bowl money with anyone and at that time USC was playing in some small stadiums in Pullman, Corvallis and Eugene.

He wanted to expand their national schedule. USC is even more limited now with a 9 game conference schedule. McKay felt there was a lot of money out there and that the Trojans might have a chance to go get it as an independent.

USC could certainly thrive in football as a school and be it's own conference in football. But ND is in a unique position being a catholic university and because of their history to be a nation.

And ND won't keep losing bowls forever. They have so much going for them. Sooner or later things will turn around. They always do. But I hope it happens after my lifetime.

Intertwined Destinies

After some posturing, much speculation and apparently behind the scenes negotiating, the two winningest programs in college football history (we won't compare national championships) will be seeing each other for a very long time. Michigan and Notre Dame signed a deal that will take their series through 2031. Here's the AP story on the re-up:
The two storied programs agreed to a 20-year contract extension Monday that will have them playing annually through 2031. The series was set to expire after the 2011 season.

"The Notre Dame-Michigan game has been a red-letter date on the football schedule for a long time, so it made perfect sense to make certain the rivalry continues annually long into the future," Notre Dame athletic director Kevin White said.

The schools are 1-2 in wins and winning percentage in college football. Michigan is 860-282-36 with a .745 winning percentage, while Notre Dame is 821-269-42 with a .744 winning percentage. Michigan leads the all-time series 19-14-1. The Fighting Irish and Wolverines played which only twice from 1909-77, but their early season meeting has become a staple of the college football season over the last two decades.

"It is a game our players and alumni, and every college football fan, deserves," Michigan coach Lloyd Carr said. "I am ecstatic they were able to come to an agreement."

The rivalry dates back to 1877, when some Michigan students taught the game to Notre Dame students. There was so much bad blood between the two schools, though, they stopped playing after the Irish earned their first victory in 1909 after eight straight losses.

The schools played again in 1942 and 1943, splitting the games, before resuming the series in 1978. Since then, they have met in all but six years.

Notre Dame coach Charlie Weis, who never saw the Irish play the Wolverines while he was a student at Notre Dame, called the announcement great news.

"This rivalry is good for both schools and college football," he said.
This will make for an interesting 2012-13 slate when ND is scheduled to play Oklahoma and USC, now in addition to Michigan. Earlier in the week ND reached a deal in principle with the Sooners.
The University of Oklahoma and Notre Dame are planning on playing a home-and-home series in football in 2012 and 2013.

Kenny Mossman, Oklahoma's sports information director, said the schools are in discussions but have not signed a contract. Notre Dame sports information director John Heisler said his school "has reached a deal with OU" to play the two games. Notre Dame athletic director Kevin White previously announced that Oklahoma would replace Michigan for two years after the current contract between Notre Dame and Michigan expires in 2011.

With this deal Kevin White has ensured that Notre Dame will have two top opponents to until Chelsea Clinton battles Jenna Bush for the '32 presidency (that's for you ndoldtown.) We should remind you that we won't be using Big N refs for away games anymore, one of those small, but significant changes Kevin White was able to make that should increase Notre Dame's chances of getting a fair shake.

~ The Rock

Everyone is going to be known for something...

I completely understand why some think we're beating scheduling and shoe deal issues to death, but they matter because they affect every other choice Notre Dame makes from here out. And here we are, driven by small dollars and small concepts when we should be defined by so much more. I, for one, initially dismissed scheduling as not that important, but others have brought me around to a different mindset. What really set me off was the PR move to manipulate the barnstorming legacy to justify a money grab. You can't convince me that playing Wazzu in San Antonio is barnstorming. It's exhibitionism for cash, it's the Globetrotters, it's the American Idol tour, it's justification for another home take at the gate.... it's anything but barnstorming in the legacy of Rockne. That's shameful.

Hipster had a great take:
I would have a lot more respect for this plan if we had higher ideals behind it than money.

If we scheduled BC in Sao Paulo Brazil and played before 150,000 and donated the profit to the orphanages or if we played Grambling in Capetown before 140,000 and donated the profit to support human rights causes or basic medical care for the poor.

That would be at least worth considering. But Kevin decides to use our place in the world to bully patsies into giving us their lunch money.

You do know that this is what its all about folks, right? Seven home games is the most he can get away with in his mind, so the answer to increasing revenue is to find some program who will submit to giving away the most of the gate and splitting the homefield advantage. All to grab more money.

We'd make more money in the long run and be wealthier in the eyes of God if we let our ideals determine our decisions rather than kidding ourselves that we can pursue our ideals by whoring more revenue.

Al Capone, Sonny Barger and Jeff Fort built playgrounds, churches and supported good community causes. They are not known for those things because it was a facade.

We will not be known by our words. We will be known by what we do. I don't want to be known by what Kevin White is doing.

And therein lies the rub. Are we letting the quest for small change drive our decisions when a having a higher purpose would generate more money in the end? Our weekend polling revealed that fans rated scheduling the issue that could create the most damage (I didn't rate it in the top three, btw.) That's probably partly an issue of the topic being such a hot one. Here are the poll results to date.

The O'Leary Resume Fiasco
554 (22%)
The Willingham $5 Million Buy-Out Contract
676 (27%)
The 'Stamp Your Feet and Hold Your Breath Tantrum' to Prevent the Firing of Willingham
616 (25%)
Allowing ND to Twist in the Wind Post Willingham (and fueling the fire)
694 (28%)
The BCS Negotiation Capitulation
982 (40%)
Gold Flanks and Green Jerseys
187 (7%)
The Disneyfication of Notre Dame
535 (21%)
The Jumbotron Revenue Scheme
677 (27%)
The Red Sea Corporate Tent Debacle
259 (10%)
The Adidas ShoeGate Embarrassment
384 (15%)
The Lack of Any Meaningful Pro-ND PR for Half a Decade
620 (25%)
The Dumbing Down of Future Schedules and Manipulating the Barnstorming Legacy for Cash
1286 (52%)
Condoning and Rationalizing Football Mediocrity (recruiting, schedule, parity)
998 (40%)

Change your vote

Around The Nation

If you have a Notre Dame related event that you need to publicize, email me on the link to the right and I'll post them weekly.

The Notre Dame Club of Schuylkill County will be raffling off two sets of tickets for this years game at Penn State, the two winners will also receive $100.00. Chances are 3 for $5 and the winners will be drawn on Sunday, August 12th. If interested please email Bill Kern at williamnkern@comcast.net with the number of tickets and your mailing address and I will mail them out with a self addressed stamped envelope. Cash or checks are acceptable, checks should be made payable to the Notre Dame Club of Schuylkill County. All proceeds go to our endowment account with Notre Dame in support of our students.

Young Alumni Pub Crawl
August 4
6:30pm - 1:00am

Join your fellow ND young alums on the annual pub crawl down the Southport Corridor. If you can't make the entire crawl feel free to join anywhere. All bars will have specials for ND alums.

- Justin's 3358 N Southport Ave 5 - 6:30
- Mystic Celt 3443 N Southport Ave 6:45 - 8:00
- Hye Bar 3707 N Southport Ave 8:15 - 9:30
- Blue Bayou 3734 N Southport Ave 9:45 - 11:00
- Cullen's 3741 N Southport Ave 11:15 - close

Specials include:
Justin's Buckets of Bud products for $16
Mystic Celt $4.25 well drinks $3 domestic bottles $3.50 Blue Moon $3.50 Fat Tire
Hye Bar $3.50 Miller Lite Drafts
Blue Bayou $4 Abita Turbo Dogs $5 Vodka Cranberries
Cullen's $3 Harp $3.50 Guinness $3 Ketel One and Lemonade

Impossible is Nothing, So Fix This

Baylor in Arlington, Wazzu in San Antonio and now possibly Duke in Orlando. Can't wait to book those travel plans. Notre Dame has managed to turn Rockne's barnstorming legacy into a Harlem Globetrotteresque traveling football exhibition. Are we going to have the bucket of confetti trick? A skills show at half-time? I'm only half-kidding here, if you've been to an ND basketball game you know that cheese and class don't get in the way of marketing.

But even as I contemplate the scheduling debacle, I'm trying to figure out who's the biggest stooge in Shoegate:Adidas for giving Michigan this deal and letting him blab about it or ND for signing a deal without it. Regardless, ND needs to bring Adidas to the table Michigan's AD for blabbing about his most favored nation status with Adidas, ASAFP. This is an abhorrent way to treat a strategic partner and points out that either Adidas is doesn't value Notre Dame as its top partner or Adidas doesn't respect Notre Dame's leadership.

Here's an excerpt from the Ann Arbor News with Bill Martin talking about his new deal with Adidas:
So, here's Nike with an offer they say would be the highest contract they have in college sports, and I'm still concerned, because these are long-term deals. How ever I set this up is going to impact this place for a long, long time. The long and short of it is, we were very fortunate with our timing. Adidas was hungry to have a major college brand and they laser focused on us. If you look at their strategy, they take one or two schools in every conference, and that's it, whereas Nike tries to saturate the country with all schools. (Adidas) has Tennessee, Notre Dame, UCLA and Wisconsin. Everybody has said Notre Dame has the richest Adidas contract, but you can't get it, because it's a private institution. I know this contract exceeds it.

I'll name some of the unique features in this contract. There is a $6.5 million signing bonus. There is never a signing bonus. We're going to get it in two weeks. What am I going to use it for? I have to finish up this facility stuff and get Crisler going. If I had any spare bucks, it'd go into endowing scholarships. It's pretty simple.

We've got an annual (Con
sumer Price Index) escalator. Annual.

We got a most favored program clause. There's never going to be an Adidas school that gets a nickel more than us, either in product or money.

Q: How important was the favored program clause?

Martin: Very important, if they raise the cap. They may say, hey, no problem, we're not going to pay anybody else any more than this. I don't know. But over an 8-year period, there's a chance that will happen. I couldn't get that from Nike. I
wanted it, and they said they would guarantee we'd have the highest contract at the time the contract was signed.

Q: It's interesting to me how much that particular clause has meant to your fans. It's gotten a lot of buzz.

Martin: Did it? That's a pride factor. Nobody is going to be better than us. I'm glad they recognize that, because it was important to me. It makes me feel li
ke I did my job.

The other thing we received is that ... you know, markets go in cycles. Eight years from now, who knows what the situation is going to be economically. The market may be way below where it is now. I've seen that happen in my business career. Well, guess what? We have the option to extend. It's no lose. If the market's gone up, we negotiate a new deal. If the market's go
ne down, we say we like this deal and we'll keep it another five years.
Now again, that this happened is bad, but fixable. However if Adidas is going to force us to do stunts like wear green jerseys to generate revenue and then give Michigan an advantage over the Irish at the table, it's time to demand immediate action.

Here's what Adidas said when they signed Notre Dame:
"Notre Dame is unmatched in its history and legacy in
the world of college athletics," said Martyn Brewer, director of sports
marketing for adidas.

Apparently, Notre Dame has been matched. I mean, here's the revenue we're looking for. Negotiate better deals and this foolishness over jumbotrons and away games and jersey stunts never need enter the conversation. Negotiating with a new company now is an option, White did it before at ASU. Here's an account of White's negotiations while at Arizona State. A couple of passages allow some insight into White's philosophy:
The best way to promote the school to young athletes, White says, is to allow Nike or another company to market ASU sports apparel.

"That raises the level of awareness of your program in the marketplace in a way that you can't do as an institution."

White says many high school athletes prefer Nike apparel. "The kids today are driven by brand identification, and it's only going to become more and more prevalent in that regard, in our view," says White.

And negotiating history. When he came on at ASU he immediately started behind the scenes strategery with Nike, which backfired:

Soon after White took the helm at ASU, he and Miller began discussing an all-school sponsorship from Nike. The talks evolved into a detailed plan that told ASU how it should prepare its formal request for proposals (RFPs). According to state contracting law, RFPs must be provided to all potential vendors.

The RFP was drafted to effectively exclude the dozen or so athletic supply companies that currently provide equipment and apparel to various ASU athletic teams, and none of those vendors responded to the proposal.

Only three companies--Nike, Reebok and Adidas--were capable of meeting the RFP's broad requirements to provide sports apparel ranging from football jerseys to women's volleyball shoes.

Of these three companies, Nike clearly had the advantage of having the RFP written to meet its requirements.

ASU records indicate that White carefully followed Miller's instructions, modeling ASU's RFP after a deal Nike had struck with the University of Virginia.

White laid out the ASU-Nike game plan in a March 17, 1997, letter to Kit Morris, Nike's NCAA relations director.

"Quite frankly, as you know, Steve [Miller] forwarded ASU the University of Virginia proposal which we were instructed to emulate," White wrote.

(In a taped interview with New Times, White denied ever reading the Virginia proposal and said, "I don't even know where it came from.")

White wrote that Miller "shared with me a Nike [office] computer printout" that showed Nike was paying from $700,000 to $1.4 million annually for all-school sponsorships.

White also wrote that "ASU was coached to pursue a financial package at approximately the mean ($1M) . . ."

Records show ASU issued its RFP on January 24, 1997.

The results of the RFP were not what White and ASU expected.

Champion Products, which supplies apparel to the football team, complained bitterly about the RFP--Champion believed it infringed on the company's existing contract with ASU.

"I would like to further express Champion's disappointment that as a long-term supporter and partner of Arizona State University that we were not given the courtesy of any verbal or written notice prior to receiving this proposal," Jeff Johnson of Champion wrote.

Only one manufacturer, Riddell All American, responded by ASU's February 13, 1997, deadline--and its response failed to meet ASU's goal of providing apparel for all its athletic teams and was rejected.

More significant, ASU administrators were shocked that Nike failed to respond to the RFP, which ASU had so carefully tailored to meet Nike's requirements.

White blamed Nike's inaction on the company's rapid growth, which he said made it difficult for anyone to make decisions.

(I'm cutting some out here, please read the full story above.)

Nevertheless, Jensen acknowledges that
ASU is venturing into uncharted territory by continuing to negotiate with Nike after the company had failed to respond to the RFP.

"The [procurement] code is silent in terms of where we go from here," Jensen says.

Where ASU went was to Nike, on bended knee.

In his March 17 letter to Nike's Kit Morris, White made a generous offer.

"In order to further justify (from the Nike perspective) the enhanced relationship, ASU will consider several inordinately large (mammoth) and well-placed venue signage opportunities, i.e., the roof of the University Activity Center and on the respective straight-aways on our new track . . ."

White also reiterated previous pledges that ASU would be a strong "political" friend of Nike's.

White's groveling strengthened Nike's hand.

Nike knew it had no competition, that neither Reebok nor Adidas had responded to ASU's RFP.

Instead of the $1 million-a-year deal ASU expected when it prepared the RFP under Nike's instructions, Nike offered a $565,000-a-year annual package for five years.

ASU countered, seeking $700,000 a year in products for all teams and cash for three men's coaches.

The negotiations stalled in March after Miller, who was still in the loop from his new post in Japan, became upset over White's aggressive approach with Nike.

White wrote Miller a three-page letter of apology on March 27, 1997, and offered to cease seeking an all-school agreement.

White also sent Nike chairman Phil Knight a kachina figurine to smooth ruffled corporate feathers. The apology and gift apparently worked.

By June, a tentative nine-year deal beginning in 1999 was hammered out; it called for ASU to receive $608,000 in apparel and cash a year during the first three years; $685,000 in years four through six; and $718,000 during the final three years. The contract also called for bonus payments of up to $50,000 for winning the national football or basketball championship.

In exchange, ASU athletes would wear Nike products and participate in certain promotional events. (The blueprint contained no mention of giant Swooshes on the Activity Center or track; ASU officials say those inducements no longer are being offered.)

ASU president Lattie Coor gave ASU formal approval to sign a contract with Nike on August 8, and ASU sent Nike a redlined copy of the proposed contract.

But negotiations stalled again.

Nike agreed in November to increase cash payments to ASU football coach Bruce Snyder from $7,500 a year to $30,000 annually. But there has been no formal action taken on the contract by ASU or Nike. Snyder said he preferred not to comment on ongoing negotiations.

Nike forwarded ASU another draft contract in late December that showed ASU receiving $140,000 in cash in addition to the $30,000 payment to Snyder. White says he expects $125,000 will go to the ASU basketball coach and $15,000 to the baseball coach.

The $125,000 earmarked for basketball is the same sum former basketball coach Bill Frieder got from Nike, and is much less than the $500,000 a year Utah's Majerus reportedly gets from Reebok.

The amount of cash Nike would provide down the road, however, steadily increases, according to the draft contract. The sum available for the basketball and baseball coaches would rise to $190,000 from 2000 through 2003 and to $250,000 from 2003 through 2008. The ASU athletic department would retain the right to allocate the money to coaches as it chooses, making it possible that a new basketball coach could receive all the money.

While White insists that the Nike negotiations are separate from ASU's search for a permanent head basketball coach, he acknowledges that Nike is a basketball-driven company.

White says that even with the successful team it fielded this year under Newman's direction, ASU's basketball program is in no position to squeeze more money out of Nike.

"We are not in a position to barter up," White says.

But that doesn't mean a topflight coach like Majerus, whose teams are consistently in the top 10, wouldn't increase ASU's leverage.

Whether ASU will ever sign an all-school contract with Nike remains to be seen.

So, at this point ASU has rigged the system to target Nike and in the process ostracized the other vendors and Nike had yet to offer a deal near where expected. ASU is the girl at the dance left leaning against the wall and hiking up her skirt to coax the jock who flirted with her once into coming over.
White remains optimistic that ASU will sign such a deal with Nike soon.

"My job is to keep them interested, to keep on selling, to keep them believing we are a future stock," White says. "I think they have really come to appreciate the growth that is going on in this Valley," where Nike's Knight is apart owner of the Arizona Diamondbacks.

"We have become one of the more serious sports hubs in America," White says.

And serious sports hubs command attention.

Even from Nike.

And you thought I was sarcastic.

Let's take a moment to debrief this because the BCS negotiations - shoegate - jumbotron - corporate tent situations now make sense. White targeted Nike because he believed their marketing machine would enhance school reputation and because he had a personal relationship there.

Note the two drivers of the deal and how that fits into the "define who you are" argument. He was so focused on this target (engaging in questionable tactics in the process,) that he gave away all possible negotiating leverage with other suitors without locking in a commitment from Nike. And when Nike hemmed and hawed (okay, they didn't do anything,) Notre Dame... I mean ASU was forced to grovel for a deal. You've all seen the article on The Selling of ASU Football by now, right?

Okay, now let's fast forward knowing these lessons learned.

ND has left tens of millions on the BCS table, is still spending more on Willingham than on Weis because of an absurd buyout deal, paid out Davie and O'Leary and now is made to look rather foolish by this new Adidas deal with Michigan.

And I offer a simple equation to give some perspective on what we're talking about: BCS ($10 Million + per year lost starting last year) + Willingham/Davie/O'Leary Contracts ($10 Million or somewhere in there) + Shoe Deal (no signing bonus $6 Million, $1.5 Million per year) = $25 Million + left on the table already, plus $10 Million + per year for every BCS game made and $1.5 Million per year of the shoe contract.

That's a lot of dough.

Yet we're told Notre Dame HAS to consider jumbotrons, scheduling, etc. to stay competitive.

You do the math.

What needs to happen now: Adidas should upgrade ND to most favored nation status ASAP (lie and tell us Adidas had already started renegotiation talks when the Michigan deal was made) and then ND needs to drive hard bargain at the BCS table.

The take home: If you take care of business on the big deals, Notre Dame won't be forced to turn tricks for relative small-time cash, tart up the brand and, in the process, devalue our ability to make big deals in the future which would preclude us from having to pimp out jerseys for cash, "explore" jumbotrons and rejigger scheduling for small comparative dollars.

The really interesting thing about the Michigan/Adidas deal is that Martin acted to protect Michigan's image by negotiating a sideline apparel clause.

Protecting their image at the possible expense of marketing dollars lost, but still getting more marketing dollars in the end. Funny how that works.

That's the power of branding and defining who you are.

Not to point out the obvious, but this is what we should be doing.

Trust me, I wanted to talk football as much as you did.

~ The Rock

All You Need to Know About Scheduling Priorities

is that the best interest of Notre Dame has nothing to do with current scheduling practices.

Arizona State and Washington State are showing up on Notre Dame's calendar because of the personal relationships of Kevin White and for revenue generation, not because they're the best available match-ups for Notre Dame or in the long-term interest of the football program.

White worked with Wazzu's Sterk in Tulane and he was the AD at ASU.

Wazzu in San Antonio? What the hell? Are we going to energize the ND fan bases in Pullman and fire flames in Tempe?

And worse, this San Antonio game is being disingenuously labeled as a return to Notre Dame's barnstorming roots (back when Notre Dame undertook to play the best teams around the country.)

Warning, you've now entered the spin zone.

This "return to barnstorming roots spin" is all about selling and packaging a rather unattractive package to make it sound as if actions are being taken in accordance with Notre Dame tradition.

They're not. This is spin doctoring and slightly sleazy spin doctoring at that. It's White using the criticism against him to re frame what's going on.

Once again, the problem is simply defining what the purpose is. If it's barnstorming to raise Notre Dame's profile, this doesn't quite fit.

If it's to get ND to play in Texas, well, schedule Texas or A&M. Once again, the problem is that the real reasons we're playing in these games isn't being spelled out, it's being spun.

We don't need a huckster selling changes. Just tell us what the real intention is: This is about sneaking in another "home game" for ND that will be televised on NBC. I'm really not opposed to the game, it's the slick "watch how we spin this one" job that has been the hallmark of the past few years that bothers me - you can almost hear the "this is how we'll sell it" conversation. It's reminiscent of the "we need to move into the 21st century" jumbotron line.


Everyone knows there are hard decisions to make, but don't misrepresent what's going on.

If we fought for our proper share of BCS revenue, didn't let the program slide and signed an apparel deal like Michigan did, this type of fiddling for dollars wouldn't be necessary. It's like losing the battle at the line of scrimmage and having to resort to trick plays.

An athletic director's first job at Notre Dame is to first, do no harm. Instead, we seem to have an AD who wants to leave his mark at ND while not having to listen to those pesky alumni.
We've all seen the marks that have been left at other schools. No thanks.

We don't need "nifty" strategery, we need to win hard fought meaningful negotiations so that
such "creativity" isn't necessary.

The Push II

While the 'Bush Push' will go down in infamy, the current talent push will go down in lore. What's happening right now at Notre Dame (pardon the 'New Age' lingo) is transformational. You can feel it swelling up from underneath like (no I'm not going to use a Haughistic-teeth-gnasher here,) but the effects will begin to be felt this year and will be markedly clear next year. Talent is back at Notre Dame, it might just take a little while to affect on the field performance.

The thing about schools with a constant talent pipeline is that: there's no time to relax for starters. They constantly have to improve. Nothing motivates like a punk about to take your spot and Notre Dame just hasn't had that in awhile. It was evidenced last year with key players running out of bounds and looking, often times, unmotivated.

That won't be happening much anymore.

Notre Dame's talent spigot is wide open and if the upperclassmen don't perform they know damn well the kids coming up underneath them can. Having players like Duval Kamara, Armando Allen and Robert Hughes, means that George West, Travis Thomas and James Aldridge can't afford to have a bad practice.

In the past Notre Dame's had some good players on the front lines, but the good - bad - good - bad - bad recruiting classes of the Davingham era meant that there was never "a burning platform" to improve for the best players. They were the best players and they weren't pushed.

That's why having back to back to back top recruiting classes was so important for Weis.

Having top front line players can make you good, but you don't get great until the the guy behind the guy could be better than the guy.

Isn't Vince Vaughn an Irish fan?

Of course, just as important in my eyes is the fact that we're finally going to have a coaching staff that trusts and respects each other. Didn't someone predict all of this a few months ago?

And before I leave, kudos to my cohort in crime for his opus on scheduling. If the admin put this kind of thought into scheduling... (his article started a great thread on Rock's House.)

~ The Rock

Florida State is #1?

They are in talent. I re-scored schools based on the number of 4 and 5 star players on the roster (data used from HeismanPundit) and weighted the numbers to the Junior, Senior and 5th year classes. The result was a surprise. FSU has the most talent in the upper classes followed by USC, Miami, Oklahoma and Michigan. Not surprisingly, ND isn't even in the talent running this year.

Florida State 9.7
USC 9.2
Miami 8.3
Oklahoma 8.0
Michigan 7.7
LSU 7.6
Georgia 7.4
Texas 7.1
Florida 6.6
Ohio State 6.2

McCarthy is Irish

Notre Dame won the battle against midwest rivals Ohio State and Michigan (I lost track of how many recruiting battles we've won over Michigan this year) for standout four-star safety Dan McCarthy (brother of Kyle McCarthy.) The 6'2" 190 pound safety (Scout Bio) is a natural athlete who plays quarterback, but plays it like a safety - see his latest video here.

pic is from a free article on IE.

Scheduling a Legacy

As Jay pointed out in the Blue-Gray Sky blog, words are not matching actions in the Notre Dame Athletic Department.
"I think over time we've really begun to behave like a wannabe conference member," White said. "I think it was real important for us to go back to our roots and behave more like an independent -- go back to the coach Rockne barnstorming era if you will."
But that's not what's happening. The new 7-4-1 mandate strikes many who follow Notre Dame football as absurd, because it begs the questions "whose mandate is it and whose interest is this mandate in?"

Is it in the interest of the fans? Decidedly no. Unless you think just getting more people in the door to watch crappy games is in the interest of fans. This is the "we're giving more people a chance to have the Disney, I mean, Notre Dame experience" argument.

Is it in the interest of the Notre Dame legacy? Decidedly no.

Is it in the interest of the pursuit of the national championship? That's an open question. Could help, could hurt depending upon how things unfold. It will make for less losses, but also more ridicule.

Is it in the interest of generating money? Decidedly yes.

Where exactly did this mandate originate and what went into the decision? Was it because Notre Dame negotiated away millions at the BCS bargaining table and now has to recoup those losses? They're questions that deserve thoughtful answers before this agenda is pushed forward because the repercussions affect much more than just arranging a schedule.

Now we're dismissing overtures from Alabama because it doesn't fit with "the mandate?" When mandate means Notre Dame must exclude one of the few schools that carry a similar tradition, something's wrong with the equation and it's normal and necessary to ask questions.

Some alums think this is a battle worth going to war over with calls mounting for a campaign now directed at the AD himself.

Remember, it wasn't too many years ago that fans were selling their tickets to anyone because there was so little interest in Notre Dame football.

At the very least what we have here is a disconnect between the fan base and the Athletic Department -- which happens when unilateral mandates are installed without some sort of open communication with alumni. It's important to know that if major changes are underway these decisions are being made for the right reasons.

It's not that I'm assuming this is a bad idea, it's just that no one's explained why it's a good idea.

The Early Lines On ND

No, I'm not condoning or encouraging betting. But it's interesting to see what Vegas thinks (these are from the Golden Nugget) about ND. We're touchdown dawgs to Michigan and USC. BTW, if you are going to bet, I think the early lines(which are set a lot by perceived strength) is where the odds are in your favor. FTR, I don't bet. ND is in green below.

SAT 9/1

  • GEO TECH @ NOTRE DAME -9.5 (has since moved to -7.5)
  • TENNESSEE @ CALIFORNIA -6.5 (has since moved to -5.5)




  • NOTRE DAME @ MICHIGAN -7.5 (has since moved to -9)
  • USC -17.5 @ NEBRASKA (has since moved to -12)

THU 9/20

  • TEXAS A&M @ MIAMI -7.5 (has since moved to -6)

SAT 9/22

  • GEORGIA @ ALABAMA -5 (has since moved to -2.5)

SAT 9/29

  • ALABAMA @ FLORIDA STATE -9 (has since moved to -8)
  • AUBURN @ FLORIDA -7 (has since moved to -9)

SAT 10/6

  • OKLAHOMA -2 @ TEXAS (has since moved to PK)
  • FLORIDA @ LSU -7.5 (has since moved to -6.5)

THU 10/11

  • FLORIDA STATE -9.5 @ WAKE FOREST (has since moved to -8)

SAT 10/13

  • WISCONSIN -6 @ PENN STATE (has since moved to -2)

SAT 10/20

  • TENNESSEE @ ALABAMA -1 (has since moved to PK)
  • USC -14 @ NOTRE DAME
  • AUBURN @ LSU -14 (has since moved to -11)
  • BOSTON COLLEGE @ VIRGINIA TECH -17.5 (has since moved to -14)

SAT 10/27

  • NEBRASKA @ TEXAS -7 (has since moved to -10)
  • FLORIDA -6 @ GEORGIA (has since moved to -3)

THU 11/1

  • VIRGINIA TECH -10 @ GEORGIA TECH (has since moved to -7.5)

SAT 11/3

  • WISCONSIN -2 @ OHIO STATE (has since moved to OHIO STATE -3)
  • LSU -13.5 @ ALABAMA (has since moved to -6.5)

THU 11/8


SAT 11/10

  • AUBURN @ GEORGIA PK (has since moved to GEORGIA -6)
  • MICHIGAN @ WISCONSIN -7.5 (has since moved to -2.5)
  • USC -15 @ CAL (has since moved to -9.5)

SAT 11/17

  • OHIO STATE @ MICHIGAN -3 (has since moved to -6)

FRI 11/23

  • TEXAS -1 @ TEXAS A&M (has since moved to -2.5)

SAT 11/24

  • FLORIDA STATE @ FLORIDA -4 (has since moved to -5.5)
  • GEORGIA -4 @ GEORGIA TECH (has since moved to -2)
  • ALABAMA @ AUBURN -4 (has since moved to -3)

THU 11/29


SAT 12/1

  • UCLA @ USC -13

Recruiting Snapshot from FunkDoctorSpock

This is one (updated) estimation of who is left on the board and how they are currently ranked by Rivals and Scout. This will of course change over the coming months, and I don't currently have the time to add cohorts (which is indeed the best indication of a recruits skill level) but nonetheless it is one measure of how things look for the Irish:

  • Steve Filer, LB: #34 on Rivals, #28 on Scout. 5/4 star player.
  • Mike Floyd, WR: #52 on Rivals, #30 on Scout. 5/4 star player.
  • Ryan Williams, RB: #55 on Rivals. 4 star player.
  • Trevor Robinson, OL: #86 on Rivals, #86 on Scout. 4 star player
  • Kapron Lewis-Moore, DE: 4 star player
  • Arthur Brown, LB: #15 on Rivals, #1 on Scout. 5 star player
  • Art Forst, OT: 4 star player
  • Dan McCarthy, DB: 4 star player
  • Marcus Forston, DT: #29 on Rivals, #19 on Scout. 5 star player.
  • Jonathan Baldwin, WR: #28 on Rivals, #76 on Scout. 5/4 star player.
  • Chancey Agheyere, DL: #21 on Rivals, #39 on Scout. 5 star player.
  • Carlton Thomas, RB: 4/3 star player.
  • Brice Butler, WR: #66 on Rivals, #36 on Scout. 5/4 star player.
  • Etienne Sabino, LB: #76 on Rivals, #62 on Scout. 4 star player.
  • Jeremy Brown, DB/WR: 4/3 star player.
  • Matt Patchan, OL: #33 on Rivals, #34 on Scout. 5 star player.
  • Kenneth Page, OL: 4 star player.

I didn't include guys like Terrelle Pryor, Brenden Beal, TJ Bryant, etc because it's just my opinion that ND is no longer in the running for them.

Here is where the current commits stack up:

  • Kyle Rudolph, TE: #22 on Rivals, #40 on Scout. 5 star player.
  • Ethan Johnson, DL: #48 on Rivals, #24 on Scout. 5/4 star player
  • Dayne Crist, QB: #63 on Rivals, #51 on Scout. 4 star player.
  • Lane Clelland, OT: #93 on Rivals, #66 on Scout. 4 star player.
  • Robert Blanton, DB: #100 on Rivals. 4 star player.
  • Anthony McDonald, LB: #75 on Scout. 4 star player.
  • Darius Fleming, LB: #89 on Scout. 4 star player.
  • Jamoris Slaughter, DB: 4 star player.
  • John Goodman, WR: 4 star player.
  • Sean Cwynar, DT: 4 star player.
  • Omar Hunter, DT: 4 star player.
  • Joseph Fauria, TE: 4 star player.
  • Brandon Newman, DT: 4/3 star player.
  • Hafis Williams, DT: 3 star player
  • Braxton Cave, OL: 3 star player.
  • David Pozluzny, LB: 3 star player.
  • Mike Golic Jr, OL: 3 star player.

And finally, what last years class looked like in comparison:

  • Jimmy Clausen, QB: #1 on Rivals, #4 on Scout. 5 star player.
  • Duval Kamara , WR: #34 on Rivals, #63 on Scout. 4 star player.
  • Armando Allen, RB: #52 on Rivals. 4 star player.
  • Robert Hughes, RB: #74 on Rivals, #72 on Scout. 4 star player.
  • Gary Gray, WR: #78 on Rivals, #73 on Scout. 4 star player.
  • Mike Ragone, TE: #83 on Rivals, #55 on Scout. 4 star player.
  • Matt Romine, OT: #55 on Rivals. 4 star player.
  • Harrison Smith, DB: 4 star player.
  • Kerry Neal, LB: 4 star player.
  • Golden Tate, WR: 4 star player.
  • Taylor Dever: 4/3 star player.
  • Emeka Nawankwo: 4/3 star player.
  • Andrew Nuss: 4/3 star player.
  • Brian Smith: 4/3 star player.
  • Steve Paskorz: 4/3 star player.
  • Ian Williams: 3 star player.
  • Aaron Nagel: 3 star player.
  • Brandon Walker, K: He's a kicker so who cares?

Uphill Battle II

I've been fiddling with the weighting slightly, but the overall picture looks exactly the same. Here I've replaced Texas with Michigan to see how we stack up. As you can see, we've still got a long ways to go to catch SC and Florida. On the good side, last year is as bad as the talent disparity is going to get with Michigan. On the bad side, Michigan's talent base this year is at the same level of Texas's talent base when they won the title two years ago. Note that we'll be on equal footing with Michigan by next year and likely be better in 2009. Also note that in 2009, we're going to have base recruited talent approaching Florida's of last year.

Of course, with Corwin Brown selling for Notre Dame, it's only a matter of time until we're back in our rightful place on the defensive side of the ball. I love this quote from J. Slaughter on Brown:

"Brown) said if he would have gotten offered by Notre Dame," Slaughter said, "he would have gone to Notre Dame."

Warms the cockles, doesn't it?

The Uphill Battle

Here are the weighted number of four and five star players by team using the average between rivals and scout. Strangely, we're looking at an uptick this year due to the sophomore class and the fifth year class. Next year we'll be within' spittin' distance of Texas and closer to USC than we were two years ago. Of note, Notre Dame will have upper classes equal to Texas when they won the NC.