That's just about enough out of you, Tom Reynolds

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So… the billboard. (Sigh.)

Here’s where we left off. A mysterious billboard popped up earlier in the week, strategically placed above the popular bar, The ‘Backer. The billboard featured a pretty decent (actually good, but I’m not really willing to give the guy credit after learning the backstory) zinger at Charlie Weis, replacing the word “tenure” with “internship.”

At first the billboard company played mum, not willing to comment on the purchaser of the controversial advertisement that rests in the shadow of Notre Dame stadium. But it didn’t take long for Tom Reynolds to come forward and stake his claim as the man behind the billboard.

Then we got to find out more about Tom Reynolds. Not only was he not a fan of Michigan or Southern Cal or Boston College or somewhere you’d think would, you know, take a potshot at the head coach of Notre Dame. He was a former Notre Dame football player and someone who spent time on the faculty of the university as well.

That alone is treason, right?

But Reynolds then had to get all uppity. He had to flash his vocabulary, speak cringe inducing words like “my university,” “thus,” and quote an unabridged dictionary. Or basically reinforce about a thousand different negative stereotypes that get leveled daily when ripping Notre Dame people.

Tom, we already make it hard enough on ourselves with Touchdown Jesus, Rudy, Lou Holtz, and the tradition that we might sometimes flaunt. Now we’ve got you trying to prove a point about the team that you allegedly care about?

But now the story gets even more interesting.

Thursday evening, a new billboard replaced Reynolds’ pulpit. This one promoted the U.S. Marine Corps. Like a true idealist, Tom Reynolds wasn’t worried about his money (I’m sure he’ll tell us he’s got plenty). He decided to go all founding fathers on us.

“What Burkhart Advertising took away from me is far more valuable,” Reynolds told the South Bend Tribune. “They took away my freedom of speech. And Notre Dame pressured them to do it.

Reynolds will not be stopped. He still plans on marketing and selling t-shirts with his Linebacker Alumni comments, hoping to create a groundswell of support.

“We’d like to have a sea of green,” Reynolds said.

(Probably won’t be hard, considering green is a pretty popular color among Irish fans, Tom.)

Apparently Reynolds met with Burkhart executives Thursday morning, who urged him to volunteer to take the billboard down.

“I told them that I’d think about it,” Reynolds told the Tribune. “But before I had a chance to think about it, they called me back and told me they were taking it down. I can tell you the university is behind this. And it’s hypocritical. It was a light-hearted message. The university should be bigger than that.”

Reynolds was indignant.

“All I’ll say… is this isn’t the end of this.”

Tom, we’re in the middle of a recession. The nation’s trying to figure out health care. We’re fighting wars overseas, we’ve got people all around the globe dying of hunger, disease, and genocide, and to top it off the polar ice caps are melting, and you’re fighting the fight for your billboard?

If Notre Dame flexed their muscles? Good. That’s what they should do. Flex your muscles when someone who supposedly loves his university tries to lecture the masses with his superior intellect, and parade his opinion above all of us for 12 straight weeks of alumni, students, recruits, and fans visiting campus. And if Burkhart media caved to some pressure? Smart move. I can tell you what, the University of Notre Dame and it’s multi-billion dollar endowment will be buying more outdoor advertising than Tom Reynolds could ever dream of, and there is no way to build good will in a community that’s 95% behind Notre Dame than to be complicit with a yahoo like Reynolds.

Everybody is entitled to their own opinion. Here’s hoping that we don’t have to hear Tom Reynolds’ anymore.

Report: Tarean Folston won’t return for fifth year

Franklin American Mortgage Music City Bowl
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Tarean Folston will declare for the NFL Draft. The senior running back, who has a fifth-year of eligibility available after a medical redshirt in 2014, will instead turn his focus to preparing for the professional ranks. Irish Sports Daily’s Matt Freeman broke the news, confirming the decision with Folston.

The departure wasn’t totally unexpected, though Folston was also a candidate for a graduate transfer. But after running for 1,712 yards over four years, the 214-pound back will hope an NFL team takes a shot on him, likely looking at tape of Folston the underclassmen to make their evaluation.

The Cocoa, Florida native burst onto the scene as a freshman against Navy when he ran for 140 yards on 18 carries in the Irish’s 38-34 win. He was Notre Dame’s leading rusher in 2014, running for 889 yards and 5.1 yards per carry  and six scores in 2014.

Expected to do big things in 2015, Folston’s season lasted just three carries, a torn ACL suffered against Texas in the season opener. After Josh Adams emerged that season, Folston fell behind him in the depth chart, getting just 77 carries in 2016.

The move clarifies a depth chart that looked to be unchanged heading into next season. But with Folston’s exit, rising sophomore Tony Jones will join Adams and Dexter Williams in the rotation. Fellow sophomore Deon Macintosh and incoming freshman C.J. Holmes will also compete for playing time.

Quenton Nelson will return for his senior season

SOUTH BEND, IN - OCTOBER 17: Quenton Nelson #56 of the Notre Dame Fighting Irish celebrates after a 10-yard touchdown reception by Corey Robinson against the USC Trojans in the fourth quarter of the game at Notre Dame Stadium on October 17, 2015 in South Bend, Indiana. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)
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Brian Kelly’s talked about the rare 6-star recruit: Harrison Smith, Manti Te’o, Michael Floyd, Zack Martin. Well, add Quenton Nelson to the list. Notre Dame’s starting left guard has made it official that he’ll return for his senior season.

The New Jersey native adds another key building block to the Irish offensive line, returning with Mike McGlinchey to anchor Harry Hiestand’s unit. Like McGlinchey, Nelson had an option to be selected high in next year’s NFL Draft, staying in school even after receiving a second-round grade from the NFL’s Advisory Board, per Irish Illustrated.

Nelson took to social media to make the news public, with the NFL’s declaration deadline set for January 16.

“Excited for this team to grow every day this offseason by putting in nothing but hard work and grinding together. When we reach our full potential, look out. I’m right behind you Coach.”

Nelson was named a team captain for 2017 at the year-end Echoes Awards Show. He earned second-team All-American honors from Sports Illustrated and was rated by ESPN’s Mel Kiper as the No. 1 offensive guard in the 2017 draft class, a grade he’ll likely carry into next season.

Clark Lea formally named Linebackers Coach

clark-lea
UND.com
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Notre Dame formally introduced new linebackers coach Clark Lea on Thursday. The press release for the 35-year-old  included the following quote from the new assistant who has worked at Bowling Green, UCLA and Wake Forest, and rejoins Mike Elko in South Bend.

“I’m humbled to be a part of the Notre Dame football program,” Lea said in a statement. “It’s an honor to represent such a prestigious academic institution, and to be a part of this program’s rich tradition of athletic excellence. I’d like to thank Jack Swarbrick and coach Kelly for this tremendous opportunity. I’m excited to get to work building relationships with our players, and do my part in helping coach Kelly execute his vision for the program.”

That work has already begun, with Lea on the prowl as the recruiting dead period ended and the rebuilt Irish staff hit the road. Yesterday, Lea was with defensive coordinator Mike Elko visiting commit David Adams, a key piece of the Irish puzzle on the defensive side of the ball. That starts a mad rush that’ll keep Lea’s belongs in boxes until after the first Wednesday in February, as Elko and his reshuffled defensive staff open their recruiting board, finding replacements for a handful of de-commitments and pieces that’ll fit Elko’s scheme.

If there’s any reason for optimism after a tough few weeks in recruiting, it’s the young staff that Kelly has assembled. The youth movement includes not just Lea, but the 39-year-old Elko. New offensive coordinator Chip Long is just 33, moving to Notre Dame after one season at Memphis. Running backs coach Autry Denson just turned 40 while special teams coordinator Brian Polian is practically long in the tooth at 42. (All that comes before the expected announcement of 25-year-old Tommy Rees.)

Lea’s pedigree is rock solid, earning kudos in 2012 for his work as Linebackers coach at Bowling Green, Football Scoop’s Linebackers Coach of the Year.

“Clark is a wonderful addition to our staff,” Kelly said in the release. “Obviously, he brings a substantial amount of knowledge about coach Elko’s defensive system — having worked with Mike at both Bowling Green and Wake Forest. Clark has demonstrated throughout his career an ability to not only identify unique talent in the recruiting process, but also develop that talent into high-production linebackers. As a former student-athlete, he will relate exceptionally well with our kids and provide tremendous mentorship throughout their careers at Notre Dame.”

 

 

 

Reports: Lea, Alexander added to Irish coaching staff

delvaughn
ASU Sports Information
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Brian Kelly is adding to his rebuilt coaching staff, reportedly finalizing deals with Wake Forest linebackers coach Clark Lea and Arizona State assistant DelVaughn Alexander. Lea will reunite with Mike Elko and coach linebackers and Alexander will coach wide receivers. While both hires are still going through formal university vetting, the Lea hire has long been rumored before being reported by SI’s Pete Thamel. FootballScoop.com broke the news on Alexander, before multiple outlets confirmed the report.

In Lea, Elko brings a piece of his coaching staff with him to South Bend. The 35-year-old spent last season working in Winston-Salem and spent three seasons at Syracuse before that. He worked with Elko and Demon Deacons head coach Dave Clawson at Bowling Green and has spent time as an assistant at UCLA as well. He earned three letters at Vanderbilt, a 2004 graduate.

Alexander is a veteran presence to help replace Mike Denbrock and fill his void coaching receivers. He’s also a coach with first-hand knowledge of new coordinator Chip Long, having worked alongside him in Tempe under Mike Norvell. The move also comes in time for the reopen of the recruiting season’s home stretch, bringing a capable West Coast recruiter to the staff at a time when Notre Dame’s 2017 class is leaking a bit of oil.

Alexander played wide receiver at USC, playing for Larry Smith and John Robinson, before breaking into the coaching ranks there as a graduate assistant. He’s also had stops at UNLV, coached for Jim Harbaugh at San Diego, and spent significant time at Wisconsin and Arizona State where he coached multiple positions, taking over tight ends after Long left for Memphis.