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Friday notes: Plenty to talk about

Jun 11, 2010, 5:38 PM EST

The 2010 Notre Dame Fantasy Football Camp has concluded, and even though United Airlines, Chicago traffic, the O’Hare Airport Hilton and a slow-moving taxi driver conspired against me, I’m back home a mere ten hours late and finally back on my usual schedule.

The camp was an amazing experience and something I’ll never forget, but man — could I have picked a worse week to unplug?

Here are a few notes that I’ve been meaning to touch on, as this was quite a week.

*****

News broke today that the Associated Press will not strip USC of their national title, but if there’s any one story that encapsulates my feelings on the NCAA verdict rendered against the Trojans’, it’s Bill Plaschke’s column from today’s Los Angeles Times, which cites the extreme arrogance that permeates from the Trojan athletic department.

As suspected, the only thing that could truly stop Los Angeles’ most
powerful football program was its own heady belief in that power. It was
no surprise, then, that the USC football dynasty has been whittled to
dust by the only opponent equally big and just as bold.

They were whacked by their ego. They were steamrolled by their
self-importance. They were sanctioned by themselves.

The NCAA didn’t barge through the Heritage Hall doors Thursday, it was
invited inside by a Trojans football program that cultivated a daringly
headstrong culture permeating everything from the Coliseum field to the
coaches’ offices.

The two-year bowl suspension, the 30 lost scholarships, the 14 vacated
wins, the possibly forfeited national championship and Heisman Trophy,
this giant of defeats was created by the same Trojans attitude that once
caused them to lose in little places like Corvallis and Eugene.

There’s no better word to describe the Trojans’ reign over college football than arrogance. Like Plaschke said, it was arrogance that allowed the Trojans to steam-roll national opponents like Penn State, Oklahoma, (and Notre Dame) but it was that same arrogance that led to their losses against teams like Oregon State and and Stanford when they were six touchdown favorites.

Southern Cal’s vehement denial of serious wrongdoing and their steadfast belief that they had no control over the situation encapsulates the institutional arrogance that allowed them to get into this mess to begin with. How else to you explain a program that complaints about how difficult it is to keep agents and managers away from their players, while allowing them to wander the sidelines unmonitored during daily practices? From top to bottom, everybody at the university had a role in the lack of institutional control, but the bulls-eye should be on athletic director Mike Garrett.  

*****

Notre Dame released jersey numbers for the upcoming season, and there were a few interesting tidbits to come out of it. First, here are the freshman numbers:

     Austin Collinsworth  28
     Bruce Heggie  93
     Andrew Hendrix  12
     Bennett Jackson  86
     Christian Lombard  74
     Luke Massa  14
     Kendall Moore  8
     Tate Nichols  64
     Louis Nix  67
     Derek Roback  49
     Cameron Roberson  31
     Kona Schwenke  96
     Prince Shembo  34
     Daniel Smith  87
     Danny Spond  13
     Justin Utupo  53
     Alex Welch  82

Austin Collinsworth inheriting safety Kyle McCarthy’s jersey number might also mean Collinsworth will inherit his position, as the depth chart at safety is much thinner than that at wide receiver, and Collinsworth might have the skills to make it as a free safety quickly. The trio of Andrew Hendrix, Danny Spond, and Luke Massa at 12, 13, and 14 respectively makes you wonder if Spond will get a shot at quarterback, but it’s highly unlikely that the Irish will roll with five true quarterbacks, with Tommy Rees already enrolled.

Here are the jersey changes for returning players:

     Alex Bullard  68 to 72
     Bobby Burger  86 to 41
     Lane Clelland  96 to 73
     Theo Riddick  32 to 84
     Brandon Walker  14 to 96

Riddick leaving the 30s for the 80s means the change to wide receiver is far from temporary and Walker giving his 14 to Luke Massa means the senior scholarship kicker should be happy that Notre Dame is still paying him to get his degree. Lane Clelland’s switch back to offense, where he could see time at guard or tackle means he’s back in his #73 jersey. Burger’s jersey switch to 41 means he’ll likely see more time in the backfield or detached from the line of scrimmage, a better fit at 6-foot-2, 245 pounds.

*****

I’ll get into it more later, but I’d be absolutely shocked if the Irish joined the Big Ten now, as it’s becoming more and more clear that the Big East will survive, the Big Ten will cap expansion at one team for now, and the Big 12 is the only conference that could see itself in big trouble.
 
After spending the weekend in South Bend with coaches, administrators and support staff, it’s clear they’re just as curious about what might happen as those of us who write about this stuff. What’ll be interesting for the Pac-10 is what happens if they do add Texas, Texas A&M, Texas Tech, Oklahoma, and Oklahoma State to the conference. Could you imagine how much travel costs will go up for sports like baseball and women’s basketball?

Kirk Bohls of the Austin American-Statesman reports that all the Big 12 teams are in, but the Aggies are “sitting on the fence.” (Does Texas A&M really think it has the sway to join anyone else?) Either way, let’s just assume they’re all coming. If the league does add six schools, I expect the conference to split into two, eight-team divisions, with the California schools joining Oregon, Oregon State, Washington and Washington State as the Coastal Division and Arizona and Arizona State joining the Big 12 teams to form the Arid Division. (Couldn’t think of anything better, desert sounded too harsh.) That’s got to be the only way for non-revenue generating sports and basketball to logistically handle the rigors of midweek travel, because while people may have forgotten the last few weeks, these are students playing the games.

*****

One final thought: Had the pleasure to throw around both the old Notre Dame game balls, the Wilson 1001, and the new ball, the Wilson GST 1003. I thought the 1003 was a much better feeling ball and you could immediately tell the difference in the leather and the tackiness of the grip. It’s a little bit lighter colored leather, has seams that are black instead of white, so it might not be as aesthetically traditional, but I think wide outs, quarterbacks and running backs will all like the change.  
  1. zach - Jun 12, 2010 at 11:25 AM

    Keith,
    I want to see pics or video of the fantasy game, you have to post them!

  2. Dave - Jun 12, 2010 at 12:51 PM

    The Big East with Georgetown, DePaul, Marquette, Vilanova, St. John’s, etc. still sounds more Notre Dame-ish than Wisconsin, Iowa, Illinois. A conference is much more than just football and letting football pick and choose its Big Ten opponents makes more sense than having all the ND sports teams competing with huge state universities in the Big Ten.

  3. ugetwutuask4 - Jun 12, 2010 at 7:16 PM

    Hey Keith can you start a petition on this sight to convince ND nation that a move to the Big East makes a lot more sense as opposed to joining the Big Ten and having them turn us into a door mat for there conference. I’d love to stick it to the Big Ten and stir things up by being a leader and not a follower.
    It would be nice if we could get Boston College to come back to the Big East along with the Hurricanes which would really solidify it as a conference. That Big East sagarin rating of 2nd place behind the SEC sounds great compared to the Big Ten’s rating of sixth which is bound to drop with Nebraska joining and the fact that Michigan is sinking a slow ship up in Ann Arbor.
    I’d hate to join a conference but if I had a choice I’d much rather be with other Catholic schools and teams that have respect for us than being stuck in the Big sTench whereas teams would much rather stick it to us if they had the chance to!

  4. TLNDMA - Jun 13, 2010 at 10:37 AM

    Keith you are correct in reporting that AP will not strip U$C of theit title but, the BCS has. With that, any claims U$C makes on that title in signage, programs, etc., must be removed. Also, I think we can rest assured that the DAC will take away Bush’s Heisman.
    With U$C claiming they will appeal, some of this may take some time, but it will happen. The question may be “will the Appeal results be finshed, before Garrett and Kiffin create more violations?”
    The people in charge out there had better wake up. It’s obvious that the NCAA has tired of U$C’s antics.

  5. Patrick dolphin - Jun 13, 2010 at 11:53 AM

    Hey Keith
    as someone that caught some nice balls from you last week, I agree that i like the new balls. Definitely had a better feel and were easier to catch than the old balls. I do prefer the look of the old balls–both the color and laces
    Thought the new unis with the ND on the sleeve were sharp and reminded me of the the glory days of the late ’80s and early ’90s
    Next year we hook up for a touchdown to defend our Gold victory this year
    Dolphin

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