Spotlighting the transition

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It might be the understatement of the year to say that this coaching change has got people interested in the Fighting Irish. There’s been plenty of good stuff coming out of the ND writing community, and I figured I’d take a second and share a few you might have missed:

* Pete Sampson over at Irish Illustrated took a look back at the last transition to highlight the leadership provided by players.

Pete looked back at the leadership provided by linebacker Brandon Hoyte during the turmoil following Ty Willingham’s dismissal and how it was a catalyst for change.

“Going in there, the biggest thing was we have to be real and true to
who we are,” Hoyte said in an interview this week. “Everyone was
saying, ‘let’s be real.’ You have to remember we were losing games,
losing by big margins. We had to forget everything, dedicate ourselves
and put in the extra effort.”

The catchphrase that off-season
became “Man Up” and players shouted it in the weight room that
December, through spring practice and into summer workouts. That team
turned the emotion of watching its head coach get fired into the
foundation for a BCS season.

Now it’s on Notre Dame’s current team to do the same.

It’ll be interesting to see which juniors take leadership positions, especially with players like Golden Tate and Jimmy Clausen weighing the options of taking their game to the next level.

* Jim Lefebvre the excellent Notre Dame historian, checked in with five inane talking points that have been driving him crazy. Among them, the fact that Notre Dame’s independence is holding them back.

Notre Dame is a national university, with a national alumni base, and a national following of a team recruited nationally. Its history and tradition – literally from its founding – speak to being a national
entity. In terms of football, I like to put it this way:  Who gets to
make the call to a player’s parent in California and say, “Uh, Mrs.
Smith, forget that talk about a national
schedule…the further west we can play this year is Iowa.”

While Notre Dame would probably benefit from the ability to win a conference with two losses like someone in the Big Ten, ACC, or Pac-10 could do and still go to a BCS bowl, going at it alone as the sole big-time independent only seems to rankle Notre Dame haters.

* Pat at Blue-Gray Sky took a look at the transition time between fires and hires and connected a few dots. Here’s a quick look at the coaching vacancies that got filled ASAP.

0 Days – Oklahoma State: L. Miles(1/3/05) to M. Gundy(1/3/05)
0 Days – Wisconsin: B. Alvarez(8/9/05) to B. Bielema(8/9/05)
0 Days – Boise State: D. Hawkins(12/16/05) to C. Petersen(12/16/05)
0 Days – Army: B. Ross(1/29/07) to S. Brock(1/29/07)
0 Days – Indiana: T. Hoeppner(6/18/07) to (B. Lynch 6/18/07)
0 Days – Purdue: J. Tiller(1/11/08) to (D. Hope 1/11/08)
1 Days – South Carolina: L. Holtz(11/22/04) to (S. Spurrier 11/23/04)
1 Days – Navy: P. Johnson(12/7/07) to K. Niumatalolo 12/8/07)
2 Days – Idaho: T. Cable(2/6/06) to D. Erickson(2/8/06)
2 Days – Louisville:
B. Petrino(1/7/2007) to S. Kragthorpe 1/9/07)

On the other hand, here are some that took quite a bit longer:

37 DaysBuffalo: J. Hofher(11/8/05) to T. Gill(12/15/05)
37 DaysAlabama: M. Shula(11/27/06) to N. Saban(1/3/07)
38 DaysSan Jose State: F. Hill(11/22/04) to D. Tomey(12/30/04)
39 Days Washington: T. Willingham 10/28/2008 S. Sarkisian(12/6/08)
40 DaysFlorida: R. Zook(10/25/04) to U. Meyer(12/4/04)
41 DaysWashington: K. Gilbertson(11/1/04) to T. Willingham(12/12/04)
49 DaysClemson: T. Bowden(10/13/08) to D. Swinney(12/1/08)
57 DaysTemple: B. Wallace(10/10/05) to A. Golden(12/6/05)
70 DaysUNLV: J. Robinson(9/26/04) to M. Sanford(12/5/04)
71 DaysSMU:
P. Bennett(10/28/07) to J. Jones(1/7/08)

The mighty brain power over at BGS even put together a complete listing of every coaching search from 2004 to 2009 to do an analytical breakdown of the numbers. A special thanks to them for the great work with spreadsheets, because there was a zero percent chance I’d have been able to come up with something that cool.

* Finally, The Biscuit over at Her Loyal Sons took the time to remind us all how irrelevant Notre Dame has become in the college football landscape.

Well played, good sir. 

Kizer named MVP at annual ECHOES awards

echoes
@NDFootball Twitter
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DeShone Kizer was named the Monogram Club’s Most Valuable Player for the 2016 season at the 96th annual Notre Dame football awards banquet. Kizer was voted team MVP by his teammates, after throwing for 2,925 yards and 26 touchdowns and rushing for 472 yards and eight scores.

He was one of 15 players honored with an award at the “ECHOES,” with the following accolades being given:

Equanimeous St. Brown, Offensive Player of the Year.
James Onwualu, Defensive Player of the Year
Greer Martini, Next Man In award
Drue Tranquill, Rockne Student-Athlete Award
Cole Luke, Nick Pietrosante Award
Isaac Rochell, Lineman of the Year
Quenton Nelson, Offensive Lineman of the Year
Scott Daly, Special Teams Player of the Year
Alex Bars, Newcomer of the Year, Offense
Nyles Morgan, Newcomer of the Year, Defense
Ben Stuttman, Scout Team Player of the Year, Offense
Jonathan Jones, Scout Team Player of the Year, Defense
Mark Harrell, Father Lange Iron Cross
Tyler Newsome, Irish Around the Bend

 

 

Notre Dame names 7 captains for 2017 team

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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Notre Dame named seven captains for the 2017 season, the most to wear the ‘C’ in school history. Quarterback DeShone Kizer, linebackers Greer Martini and Nyles Morgan, offensive linemen Mike McGlinchey and Quenton Nelson, safety Drue Tranquill and walk-on receiver Austin Webster were all given the honor.

McGlinchey returns in the role, the 22nd different two-time captain in the program’s history. New to the job are the rest, including Kizer, who has yet to make a decision on if he’ll return for 2017 yet.

After worries about the team’s leadership heading into the 2016, the naming of captains in the immediate aftermath of the season is a change—Brian Kelly not naming his team’s official leaders into August training camp last year. It’s not an unprecedented move for Kelly (he named Harrison Smith and Michael Floyd team captains at the banquet following the 2010 season), though it points to some changes—some subtle, others not—that’ll likely take hold after a four-loss season.

Webster, a rising senior reserve wide receiver from California who has yet to register a stat in a Notre Dame uniform, made his debut as a sophomore in 2015 against UMass, is the first active walk-on to receive the honor.

 

Irish land blue-chip OL Aaron Banks

aaron-banks
Tom Loy, Irish 247
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Notre Dame received the commitment of 4-star offensive tackle Aaron Banks on Friday afternoon. Picking the Irish over a national offer list that included Michigan, Tennessee, and local programs USC and UCLA, the 6-foot-7, 335-pound Banks reminded all that even if the Irish only won four games this season, Harry Hiestand is still one of the premier offensive line coaches in the country.

Banks made the commitment from a ceremony at his high school in El Cerrito, California. And when he picked the Irish, he added to Notre Dame’s impressive offensive line haul, joining Dillan Gibbons, Joshua Lugg and Robert Hainsey — a key piece of the puzzle moving forward.

Banks is a consensus 4-star recruit and a Top 200 prospect. He took an official visit to Michigan in November, but has been a long-time target of Hiestand’s, visiting South Bend in September and welcoming Brian Kelly and Hiestand into his home after the USC game.

As a big recruiting weekend gets started at Notre Dame, the annual Echoes Awards will serve as the beginning of an important home stretch for a program without a bowl game. As Kelly still looks to lock in a defensive coordinator, not to mention other staff changes still in the air, Banks takes back some of the lost momentum, a key commitment heading into a holiday dead period before a furious finish leading into the first Wednesday in February.

Banks is No. 18 in the Irish recruiting class. He’s an early-enrollee, ready to hit campus within weeks and compete on the interior of the offensive line during spring ball.

Zaire says thank you to Notre Dame

CHARLOTTESVILLE, VA - SEPTEMBER 12: Quarterback Malik Zaire #8 of the Notre Dame Fighting Irish rushes past defensive end Mike Moore #32 of the Virginia Cavaliers in the third quarter at Scott Stadium on September 12, 2015 in Charlottesville, Virginia. The Notre Dame Fighting Irish won, 34-27. (Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images)
Getty
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Big week for The Observer. Not just for its advertising revenues, but for the classy gesture that outgoing senior quarterback Malik Zaire made this week.

Thursday’s edition included a letter to the editor from Zaire, who took to the student newspaper not to make headlines around the internet, but rather to thank the university for his experience in South Bend.

While Zaire’s time at Notre Dame is drawing to a close, he will leave as a proud alum. So while he’ll play football next season at another university, Zaire wrote the following in Thursday’s issue:

Dear Notre Dame students and staff,

My life changed for the better the moment I stepped onto the University of Notre Dame’s beautiful campus. The one goal I had set in my mind to achieve was to become a better man, a Notre Dame man. After growing through many trials and triumphs, the thing I’ve learned most from my experience was that if you don’t believe in yourself first, then no one else will. I believed in becoming a better man and succeeding through any circumstance, and I can say that I’ve truly accomplished that. I often refer to the famous quote from the movie “Catch Me If You Can” that was well put by Frank Abagnale:

“Two little mice fell in a bucket of cream. The first mouse quickly gave up and drowned. The second mouse wouldn’t quit. He struggled so hard that eventually he churned that cream into butter and crawled out.”

I’ve put my heart, soul and passion into the University, the football program, the South Bend community and the Irish community worldwide. I have the unbelievable honor to represent this University to the fullest as a student and soon-to-be alumni. Thank you to the amazing students and staff that I’ve met through the years for helping me grow into the person I’ve always wanted to be. I love the Irish and will always be an Irish alum no matter where I go! I look forward to keeping in touch. Let’s change the world!

Go Irish!

Malik Zaire

Senior
Dec. 7

Zaire is expected to compete for a starting quarterback job next year as a graduate transfer. He’s reportedly taken a visit to Wisconsin and plans to visit North Carolina as well, just two of several programs on the radar as Zaire looks to step in and win a starting Power 5 job.