The 85-scholarship limit the NCAA imposes sometimes leads to more than its fair share of brinksmanship. Players chose to leave for whatever reason, recruits do or don’t make their grades, spring football results in injuries, etc. etc. No matter what happens, when the whistle blows this fall, you only can have 85 football players signed for scholarships.
When you’re currently at 89 players, as Notre Dame was earlier this week, that means four guys who had scholarships last year won’t have them next year, and arrangements must needs be made. Players with eligibility remaining won’t be able to return. Some are ready to move on, others may not be, but regardless of motivation, the number must be reached.
Earlier this week, senior defensive end Jay Hayes decided to become a graduate transfer.
Thank You! It’s been real! ?? pic.twitter.com/pZSEAgBaQy
— Jay Hayes (@JayHayesNY) April 6, 2018
On the numbers, it’s a choice that makes sense. Hayes was competing with juniors-to-be Khalid Kareem and Ade Ogundeji at RDE going into the spring, and talented frosh Justin Ademilola would be arriving this summer. With Hayes receiving his degree and starting a family and only one season left to showcase himself for NFL scouts, one could logically see the desire for a clearer path to starting. That’s what the graduate transfer program was meant for, and Hayes is making good use of it. You don’t want to see experienced players leave, but there’s a reasonable explanation here. The sensible response would be to thank him for everything he did for the ND program and wish him well.
That would be the sensible thing. So of course, that’s not what Brian Kelly did:
“Jay understands the standards that we have here and he just felt like a change would be better for him,” coach Brian Kelly said Saturday after practice. “We gave him the opportunity to come back if he could meet the standards that we set here.”
Are you kidding me? Are you f#@$ing kidding me?? You have a kid at a position of quality depth deciding to transfer for his graduate season. He’s helping himself without hurting you too much, but rather than move on with some platitudes, you have to remind the universe he must be leaving because he doesn’t meet the Brian Kelly Standard. It’s not enough to thank the kid. You can’t do that, because he gave you the slightest of perceived slights, and God forbid you let that go without addressing it.
I don’t know anything about Jay Hayes other than what I’ve seen on the field. I have no evidence as to what kind of player or teammate or person he is. And neither do 99 percent of the other people in the college football universe. All we know is a Notre Dame player decided he’d be better served elsewhere, and while that’s generally not optimal, the readily-available evidence shows a decision that will work out for everyone involved. All other things equal, no blood no foul.
So why dump all over that pontificating about “standards”? Are these the the same “standards” that led to an entire season’s worth of vacated wins, Brian? Is the coach with the most losses in Notre Dame football history really going to play the “standards” card while denigrating a kid who isn’t hurting him at all?
A lot of people get on my (and NDNation’s) case because I(we) give Brian Kelly a hard time. We’re not fair to him, they say, we’ve been against him from the start, we haven’t given him a fair shake. He’s doing the best he can, and he’s the best we can hope for, they say.
My answer is in that quote above, because that’s the whole issue in a nutshell. Brian couldn’t resist the chance to throw yet another player who he thought embarrassed him under the bus. If it comes to choosing sides, I’ll chose a soon-to-be fellow ND alumnus who’s doing us no harm than the guy who’s been bitching and moaning since he got here and whose lack of oversight cost us the all-time winning percentage lead for the foreseeable future.
I can’t wait for one of them to be gone. Guess which one.