Swarbrick named biggest winner of conference realignment

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Over at The Sporting News, columnists Matt Hayes and Dave Curtis named their 10 biggest winners in the whole conference realignment shake-up.

Nobody ranked higher on Hayes’ list than Notre Dame athletic director Jack Swarbrick:

From Hayes:

The Irish kept their independent status, the Big East stayed intact for
ND’s non-football sports and the
program is right back where it is every year: winning cures everything.
If ND wins and goes to BCS bowls and plays for a national championship
more times than not under new coach Brian Kelly, the bidding war from
network television for Irish games will be astronomical — dwarfing
anything any other team in any other conference can generate. Now,
getting there is another story. Just ask Bob Davie, Tyrone Willingham
and Charlie Weis.

Rounding out the Top Ten for Hayes is Texas AD DeLoss Dodds, Nebraska AD Tom Osbourne, Utah coach Kyle Whittingham, Kansas basketball coach Bill Self, Texas A&M coach Mike Sherman, Mountain West commissioner Craig Thompson, SEC commissioner Mike Slive, Big Ten czar Jim Delany, and Senator Orrin Hatch.

Curtis’ list also had Swarbrick near the top with Notre Dame’s AD listed at third.

Here’s Curtis’ explanation:

From the beginning, the Irish brain trust wanted to maintain the
school’s football independence. Swarbrick got it done; now he will be
judged on his football coach.

Tough to disagree with this assessment. Curtis had a top ten of Dodds, Big 12 commissioner Dan Beebe, Swarbrick, Texas A&M regent Gene Stallings, Delany, Boise State president Bob Kustra, Orangebloods.com reporter Chip Brown, Big East commish John Marinatto, Whittingham, and Big Ten Network president Mark Silverman.

Some pretty interesting opinions from two national writers that are very plugged in. Especially like the inclusion of Bill Self and Gene Stallings, two guys that might not have been talked about too much lately, but certainly did well for themselves the past few weeks.

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.