Weekend notes: Still reeling from Freekbass

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I took yesterday off from the blog, because I was so befuddled by the new “We Are ND” video that I couldn’t form words. Just when you think you’re out of the woods from that ridiculous video of dancing Irish tailgaters, Notre Dame has to deal with the self-inflicted gun shot wound that is Freekbass and his sidekick, who looks just like Paul Dano. I know and respect the people behind the video, truly appreciate the ideas that were behind it, but man — I don’t know how we can hide from this one. 

* Moving on to even more enjoyable topics, the rumblings of conference realignment sound more and more real, and now it seems that the Big East — or at least some of their football coaches — are asking the conference to give Notre Dame an ultimatum: Get in for football or get out for your other sports.

That’s the gist of a juicy snippet from Marc Allard’s column in the Norwich Bulletin, where he noted that Randy Edsall has been asking the conference to deliver an ultimatum to the Irish to come into the football conference for the past two seasons.

“I think that’s something the powers that be are discussing in terms of the strategies that they’re looking at to be proactive rather than reactive,” Edsall said.

I wonder what Edsall would be saying if his name was hand-picked by Jack Swarbrick and not Brian Kelly to replace Charlie Weis as head coach. As much as the Big East has been good for Notre Dame’s other sports, there’s little chance something like this is going to happen, especially considering the economics of the situation.

* Jimmy Clausen’s arrival in Carolina was chronicled nicely by the AP’s Mark Cranston, who noted that Jimmy arrived in Charlotte with a 12-pack of Cactus Cooler, the favorite soda of star receiver Steve Smith. A smart move by a young quarterback who is trying to start things on the right foot after minicamp practice number one.

“I’m just trying to be one of the guys,” Clausen said. “Today was a good day, came out here and it was back to football. I had a good time, have a lot of learning to do and all the quarterbacks are helping me out. It’s going well.”

While Jimmy’s going to feel it in the wallet, landing at a team where the most experienced quarterback has started only eight NFL games couldn’t be better.

* Andy Staples, one of the very best guys covering college football for SI.com, made a great argument for thousands of college football fans to cheer, cheer for old Notre Dame.

From Staples:

If you believe eventual conference reorganization is the natural
progression of rational actors acting rationally in a free market
system, feel free to retain your current level of love or hate for the
Fighting Irish. But if you fall into one of the following categories,
you’d better begin to cheer, cheer for old Notre Dame.

• You
don’t want to see the current conference alignment reshaped in a massive
cash grab.

• Your alma mater is among the schools — hello,
Cincinnati, West Virginia, Louisville, South Florida — that stand to
lose big in the case of radical realignment.

Make no mistake,
the Big Ten can expand without Notre Dame and still make a fortune. But
if circumstances force Notre Dame to cast its lot with the league, the
resulting union would make the Big Ten so powerful that the other
conferences would be forced to grow. For his part, SEC commissioner Mike Slive essentially promised last week that his league would act to
protect its status as a premier conference. The ensuing shift would
result in an entirely new alignment of schools throughout the country.

That’s why the groups mentioned above should find the nearest
Golden Domer and give him a hug. Notre Dame can stop the most radical
realignment. In fact, that would be Notre Dame’s preference. We’ll let
Professor Swarbrick, Notre Dame class of 1976, explain why football
independence is so important to the folks in South Bend.

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.