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Friday notes: Visits, the hall, losses, and more

Jul 9, 2010, 2:31 PM EDT

There’s been a lot of interest in yesterday’s topic of ranking Irish players, and I’m thinking about digging into that evaluation this weekend. While Mel Kiper and Todd McShay call talent evaluators and watch “game film,” I’ll rely on a couple cold ones, a scratch notebook, my DVR from last year’s games, and a lot of guessing. (Always an under-credited source.)

In other news, did you hear that LeBron James decided to go to Miami? (Think that solves anybody’s question on whether or not LeBron was an alpha-dog…)

On with the notes…

If you’re following the recruiting ins and outs of the Irish, this should be a pretty important month for the Irish. According to IrishSportsDaily.com, Notre Dame has some prominent blue-chip prospects coming to town in the next month, including WR Kasen Williams, OT Antonio Richardson, DE Anthony Rabasa, and DE Ishaq Williams. According to Steve Wiltfong, both RB Justice Hayes and OLB/Freak Christian French are hoping to get to town this weekend as well.

Every one of these guys hold Irish offers and each would be big-time gets for the current coaching staff, who are having a good week with the news that Aaron Lynch is still calling the Irish his number-one team after some waffling between Florida State, and that DE/TE Troy Niklas, a prototype giant for the Irish defense at end, is down to Stanford and Notre Dame, and he hasn’t even met the current coaching staff, which he plans to do when he gets to campus sometime in the next month.

If you want to get more in-depth about recruiting, there are certainly better places to go, but these are the types of guys that the Irish can chase hard after now, with 12 recruits already committed and the class probably staying around 18-20 recruits.  As they say, coffee is for closers, but if you’re an Irish fan, you’ve got to feel good that Tony Alford’s middle name might as well be Folgers. (Working on my stand-up routine, bear with me…)

*****

Former Notre Dame great Tim Brown will return to South Bend to be enshrined in the College Football Hall of Fame next week, a fitting award to one of the great players in Irish history. Brown was a two-time All-American for the Irish, won the Walter Camp Award as a senior, and was the first wide receiver to win the Heisman Trophy.

Said Lou Holtz of his prized player back in 1988, “I can’t imagine that there’s anyone else who can have such a major aeffect on a football game in as many ways as Tim Brown can.”

Here’s the 2010 Hall of Fame enshrinement class from D-IA players:

     Pervis Atkins — HB, New Mexico State
     Tim Brown — WR, Notre Dame
     Chuck Cecil — DB, Arizona
     Ed Dyas — FB, Auburn
     Major Harris — QB, West Virginia
     Gordon Hudson — TE, Brigham Young
     William Lewis — C, Harvard
     Woodrow Lowe — LB, Alabama
     Ken Margerum — WR, Stanford
     Steve McMichael — DT, Texas
     Chris Spielman — LB, Ohio State
     Larry Station — LB, Iowa
     Pat Swilling — DE, Georgia Tech
     Gino Torretta — QB, Miami
     Curt Warner — RB, Penn State
     Grant Wistrom — DE, Nebraska

I’m happy to see Chuck Cecil, the human heat-seeking missile, get inducted, he was always a favorite of mine growing up.

*****

Earlier this week, Notre Dame lost a great man in former assistant coach Tom Pagna, who died at 77 of heart failure.

Pagna was a trusted assistant of Ara Parseghian, and an offensive coach that was part of two national championship teams, developing many Irish greats, and having a deeper impact on the lives of many of his former players with his oversized personality.

I’ve never met Pagna, but those that had, knew him as a true Notre Dame legend, and someone that stayed in the community, working on Irish football broadcasts as well as becoming head of the Notre Dame Alumni Association, which is a rare feat, as WNDU’s Jeff Jeffers points out, for a graduate of Miami of Ohio.

Visitation is today from 2 to 8 p.m. at Welsheimer North Funeral Home in South Bend, with the funeral Saturday at 11 a.m. at Christ the King Church.

*****

Finally, it looks like the Jack Swarbrick has decided on a replacement for coach Dave Schrage, who was “not retained” after four mediocre seasons helming the Irish baseball program. Just about every media outlet has named Boston College’s Mike Aoki as Schrage’s successor, and the South Bend Tribune reports that Aoki has already told his team that he’s heading to South Bend.

“We are losing a good guy,” BC catcher Garret Smith told the Tribune. “Coach Aoki is a real competitive guy. He puts you in an environment where you can achieve.”

Aoki went 114-104-1 in his four seasons at BC, not particularly an inspired record at first sight, but considering that the Eagles play in the ACC and are the only cold-weather team in the league, it should be a good hire.

(Only worry is the following tweet from ESPN’s Keith Law: “Looks like BC baseball coach Mik Aoki is going to Notre Dame, where he can carry on their fine tradition of blowing out arms.”)

  1. Mike G - Jul 9, 2010 at 5:06 PM

    Hi Keith,
    Enjoyed your column. I just want to point out that Tim Brown wasn’t the first wide receiver to win the Heisman. Nebraska wide receiver/punt returner/all purpose back Johnny Rodgers won the Heisman Trophy 15 years before Tim Brown did. Like Brown, Rodgers lined up at both running back and receiver for Nebraska.
    What probably won both Brown and Rodgers the Heisman was not their pass catching, but rather their punt returning ability. Rodgers brought (I think) 7 punts back for TDs in his career, including the famous run back against Oklahoma in the Game of the Century, v. 1971. And I think a few Spartans are still chasing Brown down the 1987 ND Stadium sidelines.

  2. Art Vandelay - Jul 9, 2010 at 5:07 PM

    I would love to see French turn Irish.

  3. TLNDMA - Jul 9, 2010 at 5:08 PM

    It seems as though recruiting is going well on both sides of the ball. Most positions have multiple players that are seriously considering ND. Many are planning visits to campus, always a good sign. Defensive back though does not seem to have as many possibilities at this time. It is a position of need and we have to hope the coaching staff can close strong with the few players on their list.
    Keith, all the players you mentioned would be great gets. Two others that would look great with a gold helmet on are, George Atkinson, athlete CA. and Stephon Tuitt , DE GA. Tuitt’s film, on ESPN’s recruiting site, is impressive. 6’5″ and 255lbs. and he runs down every ballcarrier. I bet there are RBs in Georgia right now that are already having nightmares of the coming season.
    I never met Coach Pagna, but I looked forward to reading his column in each issue of B&G Ill. He seemed to me to be a coach who understood that the journey is as important as the destination. He was a man who refused not to be true to his core values. His love for Notre Dame effusive. Rest in peace Coach.

  4. TLNDMA - Jul 9, 2010 at 5:16 PM

    Rodgers was a wing back, I guess you could call that a tweener in this discussion. In today’s game they might call that a “slot” receiver but, back then it was more of a running back. I suppose opposing coaches refered to him as a nightmare.

  5. Chucket - Jul 9, 2010 at 6:40 PM

    Great news all around! Thanks for your substantial energy searching and wtiting! To have an effect on the game of football is written as Effect (not Affect). Please quote coach Holtz correctly, and at the same time, write with the same pride as all the fabulous work you do publishing the news. Don’t get the same bad-grammar flu running amok over the country, whose education is getting increasingly poorer…even at college level, as seen in journals covering Notre Dame. Is it about education, or winning games?

  6. Keith Arnold - Jul 9, 2010 at 6:48 PM

    Chucket – Not sure if that started with a compliment, but I’m blaming the quote on the official CF HOF release that came to me. They used the A instead of an E for effect.
    (Although I’m not sure Dr. Lou knows the difference either…)
    Will make the change though, thanks.

  7. TLNDMA - Jul 9, 2010 at 10:59 PM

    Try not to sweat the small stuff, you might hurt yourself.

  8. Sean '82 - Jul 10, 2010 at 7:51 AM

    Rest in peace, Coach Pagna. We will continue with the efforts to protect Our Lady, through http://www.ProjectSycamore.com

  9. jeremy - Jul 10, 2010 at 8:46 AM

    Keith, you’re a Bill Simmons fan, aren’t you? Thanks for the great posts. Keep ‘em coming.

  10. jarious - Jul 12, 2010 at 6:37 PM

    Irish Sports Daily is reporting that Chris Badger is going on a two year Mormon mission, starting this August. Good for him, but a little surprised by the timing. Regardless, thin just got ‘thinner’.
    http://www.irishsportsdaily.com/football/2799-chris-badger-to-go-on-mission

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