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Friday notes: The calm before the storm edition

Jan 29, 2010, 7:30 AM EDT

If most Irish fans are a little stir-crazy waiting for recruiting to shake out, I can only imagine what the coach staff must feel like. Given a slate of recruits that have schools all over the country still chasing after their players, Kelly and company have to be given credit for trying to salvage relationships with the potential commitments, while honoring the former coaching staff’s offers and still adding players that fit Kelly’s philosophy.

While we’ll talk a little recruiting here, let’s clean out the bookmarks:

* Earlier in the week, news broke that the Irish and the Maryland Terps were looking to play a 2011 neutral site game in the Redskins’ FedEx Field.  If you’re following the Irish, you probably heard about this, but if you are just following me, those are pretty much all the details anyone has for now.

This seems to be a decent fit, as it would match the Irish with a legit college football program and allow them to play in front of a geographical area that is filled with Notre Dame fans. Both Maryland officials and Notre Dame officials have denied that anything is official, but I expect this to be announced sometime soon. While Maryland football took a step back, this is precisely the kind of game that the Irish should schedule for these 7-4-1 games. The division of the crowd should be pretty interesting, as this is essentially a home game for the Terps.

* Tom Coyne of the AP had a nice article about Bob Diaco last weekend and the job that’s ahead of him. A specific quote from Diaco drew more than a bit of attention on ND message boards this week:

“There’s kind of a mix in each position of different size players,
which you typically wouldn’t want,” Diaco said. “You’d like as the
positions walk out on the field, you’d like those positions to be a
particular size, for those players to look representative of the jobs
they’re asked to do.”

It’s an interesting observation, and something I thought of as well when I watched the Irish last year struggle to get any kind of pass-rush from its front four and any type of consistent run-stuff against the ground game. Notre Dame’s lack of run-stuffing defensive tackles and edge-rushing defensive ends drove me nuts. The Irish didn’t have guys that were big enough to dictate terms nor quick enough to get to the passer. While a shift to a 3-4 might help guys like Ethan Johnson stay at defensive end, it also means that the training regime strength coach Paul Longo implements will likely result in some serious body transformations for the big guys on the defensive side of the ball.

(Also interesting was how Coyne compared Diaco’s personality to his predecessor, Jon Tenuta. Watching press sessions with Tenuta where Coyne asked questions and Tenuta growled answers always had me shaking my head. Good for Coyne for getting that one off his chest.)

* The South Bend Tribune’s Al Lesar profiled offensive coordinator Charley Molnar earlier this week. Here’s a sampling:

“Think of Charley Molnar as a mechanic who keeps the machine running. Brian Kelly sets the protocol, sort of like the foreman of the Notre Dame football team’s offense. It’s up to the offensive coordinator, Molnar, to see that the execution is effective and efficient. He’s in charge of the tweaks and twists; the bells and whistles.”

Lesar did his best to give us a barrage of blue-collar imagery, but he also pointed to the fact that Molnar’s seemingly at home with transition. This is his 12th stop in 26 years of coaching.

He’s coached at his alma mater Lock Haven, was a graduate assistant at Virginia, then went on to coach at Western Carolina, Illinois State, Kent State, Eastern Illinois, Eastern Michigan, Western Michigan, Indiana State, Central Michigan, Cincinnati, and finally Notre Dame.

(Talk about touring the Midwest…)

Two things are quite clear: First, Notre Dame is in a different stratosphere than the previous jobs on Molnar’s resume. Second, I hope he’s been renting instead of buying.

* I’ll end with a quick recruiting note on everybody’s favorite target, Seantrel Henderson. The past week brought just about every coach in the running for the left tackle’s signature to Cretin-Derham Hall, and word from a source at the school says Henderson was particularly impressed by the trio of Ed Orgeron, Monty and Lane Kiffin. While you’d think that the head coach or the legendary defensive coordinator were the starring attraction, Orgeron — and his starring turn in The Blind Side — got CDH students buzzing.

(Kids these days…)

Even though Henderson is traveling to Miami this weekend, Hurricanes head coach Randy Shannon was in St. Paul yesterday along with Ohio State coach assistant Dick Tressel. While the family sounded legitimately impressed by Kelly and the Irish’s presentation, I’d be fairly surprised if he didn’t head to either Ohio State or USC, with the hometown Gophers a dark horse candidate. Not the news many of you wanted to hear, but you never know until Wednesday.

* Okay, I lied, here’s the final note — courtesy of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, regarding new USC defensive coordinator Monte Kiffin, and his dogged pursuit of defensive back Nickell Robey.

“He’s not answering phone calls or returning messages right now,”
Loveless said. “He had a visit from West Virginia this morning to
follow up on his visit up there. Skip Holtz was here last week and is trying to get him to
come down there. He’s planning to visit Southern Cal next week. Monte Kiffin has been very persistent. He’s probably been in here more than is legal. Of course they don’t pay attention to the rules.”

Those quotes courtesy of Frostproof High athletic director Chuck Loveless, who would probably know if a coach is visiting too much. Combine that with already “progressive” efforts of the head coach of the Trojans and its pretty clear that its business as usual in Troy.   


  1. sharkey - Jan 29, 2010 at 6:24 PM

    Kiffin ignoring NCAA rules?!?!? Shocked! Shocked I am that he is not running the “squeaky clean” program that he promised when he took the job at USC!!!

  2. Jake - Jan 30, 2010 at 11:26 AM

    This guy is a walking, talking rules violation. I’ll never understand why SC hired this character. He’s got a lousy record and aside of fitting the Southern Cal image of a pretty boy he’s got nothing.

  3. Jan - Jan 30, 2010 at 2:30 PM

    More importantly, I want to see if the NCAA has the balls to do something about the violations.

  4. scuba fins - Jan 30, 2010 at 3:07 PM

    I attempted making an argument like this one time, but I did not get a very good reply. I hope your thoughts on this topic turns out better than mine did. Keep up the excellent work.

  5. kejji - Jan 31, 2010 at 10:45 AM

    Your fixation on Kiffin is amusing, meanwhile ‘SC continues to pick up one blue chip recruit after another.
    Never hurts to throw a little reality into the mix.
    This from the Bleacher Report concerning Kiffin and his program:
    “Is this actually a program that is going renegade? Let’s begin with secondary recruiting violations. Most of the articles written about Lane Kiffin reference the fact the his program his already committed SIX secondary recruiting violations, citing it as an example of his rampant rule-breaking. In 2008, the NCAA received 2972 self-reported secondary violations from 331 member schools. Thats is an average of nine secondary violations per school”.
    Tennessee had six.
    They were actually well below average, yet their six violations, instead of being cited to show how clean the program is, is usually cited without any other statistics, often insinuating that the number is disturbingly high.

  6. Jan - Jan 31, 2010 at 11:18 AM

    No surprise that you’d find the interest in the behavior of USC coaches and administration amusing. Just as I find the fixation of SOT, perhaps yourself, and other USC fans on alleged “bar fights”, underaged drinking, he said-he said = liar statements of incoming coaches, etc. to be amusing to me. Especially when said fixation is accompanied by demands for suspending the involved players – and before the facts are substantiated.
    I believe the point is that people are looking for evidence that the NCAA is enforcing rules to have all teams play on a level field – with student athletes actually attending classes representative of the academic standards of their institutions (and USC has praise worthy standards for most of its student body), participating as amateur athletes – ie. without financial compensation beyond the awarded scholarships, and with uniformly enforced rules by objective officials.
    I don’t expect “blue chip” recruits to suddenly ignore the opportunity presented by USC in helping them develop & showcase their talents for future life endeavors. I personally want the NCAA to explicitly state and enforce the agreed upon parameters for collegiate competition. While abiding by these agreed upon parameters (in spirit as well as in practice), each university is free to present it’s unique selling proposition to targeted student athletes. That’s part of the competive landscape.
    If wholehearted compliance with agreed upon rules is not part of collegiate competition, why not just start a semi-pro league for athletes that don’t wish to pursue the academic side of college? The “farm” system works for baseball….why not for football?

  7. kejji - Jan 31, 2010 at 11:45 AM

    If you really are interested in finding out the truth on these types of NCAA rules violations read the following report
    specifically page 71, and I quote: “It is likely that, to a greater or less extent, these violations are found at virtually every major college sports program. Selective enforcement of these violations–such as when an NCAA investigation focuses on a given institution–is likely to result in programs being punished for something everyone does. Moreover, as suggested, these violations may not be fully controllable, regardless of institutional oversight.”
    I am not making light of any rules violations, but you take the violations of Kiffin out of context…acting as if it is something that he alone is doing.
    I have not done the research, but is it true that Notre Dame football has not committed any secondary rules violations?
    If not..good for them! they would be in the extreme minority…if they have, lighten up on Kiffin.

  8. Jan - Jan 31, 2010 at 1:46 PM

    Thank you for the reference….I will do my best to research the violations.
    I would/did not claim that ND and/or its suporters has never been accused or “guilty” of any rules violations. I recall hearing stories about this. I don’t know what qualifies for secondary or primary.
    In regards to “lighten up on Kiffin”, fair enough – IF ND detractors are willing to lighten up on Coach Kelly. Likewise, for the public “trials” in the media, blogs, etc. of all student athletes (ND, USC, other) for actions alleged but not even formally charged or substantiated. Let coaches and players be assumed innocent until proven guilty.
    Fair enough?

  9. TLNDMA - Jan 31, 2010 at 1:53 PM

    Seems to me your argument is “everyone else is doing it”. Notre Dame has, on occasion, been involved with violations. When they are divulged, EVERYONE knows. Believe it or not fans of ND feel shame when it happens. We know most are doing it, that doesn’t make it acceptable here. Call us naive.
    As far as Kiffin, where can you go in sports reporting these days and not read some negative opinions of the guy? Even some SC sights were negative about the guy, when he was hired. Don’t you think he should tread lightly until the NCAA goes away? Do you think “everyone else is doing it” will fly with the NCAA? Do you worry at all, that they might want to make an example of a high profile program, to keep “everyone else from doing it”?

  10. kejji - Jan 31, 2010 at 3:06 PM

    Jan–fair enough, I agree.
    TLNDMA–the ‘everyone else is doing it’ comment was not mine but came directly from the report, that report was sanctioned by the NCAA.
    Whether it will fly with the NCAA is any-body’s guess, the NCAA paid good money for these experts to make this report so I’m going to assume it carried some weight.
    I also agree that it is not acceptable and also that Kiffin needs to lay low because of the unusual media attention he draws…but the media always needs a bad guy, and he is the flavor of the month.
    But wouldn’t you agree that if the report is true; and ‘virtually every major college sports program’ is guilty of these types of violations (the reports words..not mine) then for the media to only focus on Kiffin is unfair?
    Monte Kiffin said, and I paraphrase.. that if his son did all the things, and was the type of person, that the media accused him of, he would slap him upside the head and that he would still love him because he is his son but he would not work with him.

  11. TLNDMA - Jan 31, 2010 at 3:22 PM

    Lane Kiffin reminds me of an old an old friend mine who once said to me, “I’d rather have people talking bad of me, than saying nothing at all”. He went into politics. I think Kiffin feels any publicity is good publicity. He makes it pretty easy for the media to come up with stories about him.

  12. sharkey - Jan 31, 2010 at 3:40 PM

    The good newa about KIffin is, he will eventually hang himself with all the extra rope USC will give him. Unless he does a 180 on how he operates, he will hurt, not help USC football. I’m a firm believer in “you reap what you sow.”

  13. Jan - Jan 31, 2010 at 5:17 PM

    Actually my beef is more with the NCAA than with any one (or many) institution(s) that is violating agreed upon “rules of engagement”.
    Directly from the NCAA website:
    “..The National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) is a voluntary organization through which the nation’s colleges and universities govern their athletics programs. It is comprised of institutions, conferences, organizations and individuals committed to the best interests, education and athletics participation of student-athletes…”
    Since the NCAA espouses itself to be the governing body (complete with an operating revenue of approximately $660,000,000), I believe that it’s only reasonable to hold the organization accountable for enforcing the accepted code of conduct. Ideally, the universities that voluntarily join the NCAA will self monitor and regulate behavior….ideally financial advisors like Maddoff would do the same. However, when violations are substantiated, it seems reasonable to enforce meaningful (those that significantly hit the pocketbook) penalties that will make future violations far too risky to chance.
    For starters, I’d like to see all officiating crews be governed by the NCAA and not by individual conferences…..

  14. grandpashyena - Feb 1, 2010 at 12:21 PM

    @ Jan, good idea about the NCAA governing the refs but I think, In ALL fairness, that the refs should report to robertg who knows everything about everything.

  15. Jan - Feb 1, 2010 at 9:59 PM

    Ha Ha….it will be an improvement. I don’t agree with the form and substance of all that robertg posts; but I believe his intent is supportive. Be kind.

  16. vinyl siding institute - Feb 6, 2010 at 10:47 PM

    Are you going to do a follow up post?

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