Notre Dame fills 2010 slate with Western Michigan and Tulsa


Well, any hope that Irish athletic director Jack Swarbrick was using his high-level negotiating skills to wheel and deal an exciting home game for next season has officially gone out the window. That’s because Notre Dame and Western Michigan  signed on the dotted line and agreed to play next season on October 16th. Joining the 2010 slate is the long rumored matchup with Tulsa, another head scratching addition to the Notre Dame schedule.

I’m not ready to hammer away at Swarbrick for the Tulsa game. They’re an up and coming team that has put a nice little run together, even with a loss to UTEP on Wednesday night. Yet combining the Tulsa tilt with the  “historic” game against Western Michigan does nothing except prove that Swarbrick is stuck trying to fix a gigantic hole in the scheduling puzzle with only corner pieces. Former athletic director Kevin White’s 7-4-1 scheduling philosophy comes and rears its ugly head, and the product is a schedule with Tulsa, Western Michigan, and Army on it, and nearly as many neutral site games as away ones. For the most part, Swarbrick is trying to say all the right things.

“We had one opening left on our 2010 schedule, and Western Michigan was able to move some things and get it done. We’re thrilled because there is great value in having teams play here that are coming from close by. The fans from Western Michigan will make this a difficult ticket, and there’s always energy in the stadium when you play someone from not far away,” commented Notre Dame athletic director Jack Swarbrick.

Ugh. When you’re touting geographic location as one of the main virtues of an opponent, you know that it’s tough to stomach this one. This completes one of the more odd Notre Dame schedules ever, with 7 home games at Notre Dame Stadium, three true road games, and two neutral site matchups, one at Yankee Stadium and the other in the Meadowlands.

It’s not hard to hear the bellyaching of Irish detractors already starting when Notre Dame is being touted in preseason polls next season. Here’s the official schedule for the 2010 Irish.

Sept. 4 PURDUE (NBC)
Sept. 18 at Michigan State
Oct. 2 at Boston College
Oct. 23 vs. Navy — at the Meadowlands
Oct. 30 TULSA (NBC)
Nov. 13 UTAH (NBC)
Nov. 20 vs. Army (NBC) — at Yankee Stadium
Nov. 27 at Southern California

Irish add commitment from CB Donte Vaughn

Donte Vaughn

Notre Dame’s recruiting class grew on Monday. And in adding 6-foot-3 Memphis cornerback Donte Vaughn, it grew considerably.

The Irish added another jumbo-sized skill player in Vaughn, beating out a slew of SEC offers for the intriguing cover man. Vaughn picked Notre Dame over offers from Auburn, LSU, Miami, Ole Miss, Mississippi State, Tennessee and Texas A&M among others.

He made the announcement on Monday, his 18th birthday:

It remains to be seen if Vaughn can run like a true cornerback. But his length certainly gives him a skill-set that doesn’t currently exist on the Notre Dame roster.

Interestingly enough, Vaughn’s commitment comes a cycle after Brian VanGorder made news by going after out-of-profile coverman Shaun Crawford, immediately offering the 5-foot-9 cornerback after taking over for Bob Diaco, who passed because of Crawford’s size. An ACL injury cut short Crawford’s freshman season before it got started, but not before Crawford already proved he’ll be a valuable piece of the Irish secondary for years to come.

Vaughn is another freaky athlete in a class that already features British Columbia’s Chase Claypool. With a safety depth chart that’s likely turning over quite a bit in the next two seasons, Vaughn can clearly shift over if that’s needed, though Notre Dame adding length like Vaughn clearly points to some of the shifting trends after Richard Sherman went from an average wide receiver to one of the best cornerbacks in football, and Vaughn will be asked to play on the outside.

Vaughn is the 15th member of Notre Dame’s 2016 signing class. He is the fifth defensive back, joining safeties D.J. Morgan, Jalen Elliott and Spencer Perry along with cornerback Julian Love. The Irish project to take one more.

With Notre Dame expecting another huge recruiting weekend with USC coming to town, it’ll be very interesting to see how the Irish staff close out this recruiting class.




Days before facing Notre Dame, USC coach Steve Sarkisian to take leave of absence


When Notre Dame takes on rival USC on Saturday, they’ll be facing a Trojans team without a head coach. USC athletic director Pat Haden announced today that effective immediately, head coach Steve Sarkisian will be taking an indefinite leave of absence. Offensive coordinator Clay Helton will be interim head coach.

While the details are still coming into focus, multiple reports point to another incident with alcohol. Haden himself said that he made the decision after speaking with Sarkisian.

“I called Steve and talked to him. It was very clear to me that he is not healthy. I asked him to take an indefinite leave of absence,” Haden said, according to multiple Los Angeles media reports.

Sarkisian’s decision-making and alcohol use came into the spotlight this August when the head coach made inappropriate statements at a large booster event. Sarkisian addressed the media after the incident, acknowledged mixing medication with alcohol, and vowed to seek help and not to make the same mistake again.

Today’s incident appears to be a relapse, and one that requires immediate attention. Helton ran the team’s practice today and steps back into an interim head coaching role, a job he handled after the Trojans fired Lane Kiffin and Ed Orgeron left after not being awarded the permanent job.

“Fortunately or unfortunately, I have been in this situation before,” Helton said. “Once again, I’m very fortunate to have a group of first-class kids that are extremely talented and want to do something special here.”

This is the second major sports persona to leave his season to seek treatment in recent weeks. New York Yankees pitcher CC Sabathia left the team to seek treatment for alcohol issues. The Trojans are coming off an upset loss to Washington on Thursday night, losing 17-12 as a 17-point favorite.