Sharpley opens up about Weis, Clausen, etc.


Tim Prister over at has a pretty in-depth Q&A with former quarterback and current minor-league baseball player Evan Sharpley about his five years in the Notre Dame football program. Evan opened up about the former coaching staff, his fellow quarterback Jimmy Clausen, and what may have gone wrong during those five years.

This is one of the more revealing looks into the Weis regime, and Sharpley was there for just about all of it. While most of the article is behind a pay-wall, here are a few interesting tidbits.

* Sharpley was honest about his relationship with Charlie Weis:

“At the beginning when he came in, the attitude he was trying to instill was one in which he felt he needed
to assert himself with power. His style is well documented. At that
point, it wasn’t really possible to have a relationship with him per se.
But towards the end of my career, it was different. He was good at
helping me figure out my baseball-football schedule. As a team, we had respect for him, all of our coaches, and our game plan.”

* His relationship with fellow quarterback Jimmy Clausen was understandably complex:

“On the field and in the classroom, it was good. We were both there for
the same reason. Obviously, we wanted the program to win. But off the
field, it wasn’t like we were going out to lunch or spending a lot of
time together. That was one of the hard things my junior year… We are definitely two different people, and I think that’s one of the
reasons we didn’t communicate much off the field.”

On Clausen as a teammate and why he came to Notre Dame:

“At times, and definitely early in his career, he had a lot of growing up
to do. We gave him some kudos as a quarterback group as he matured a
little bit. At times I think he maybe came off as he wasn’t there for
the right reasons. That’s something obviously he can answer… You can see from this past year that he used it to catapult him into the

* One of the more interesting tidbits revealed was the game plan for the 2007 season offensively. From Sharpley’s description, it seems like the change to a spread attack similar to the one Rich Rodriguez employed at West Virginia was an offense the team planned on playing for much of the season, not simply for the opening game with Demetrius Jones.

“That three-win season, we definitely should have won more than that. We
came into that season with kind of a new offense, similar to West
Virginia’s. The only problem was that we didn’t have Pat White or Steve
Slaton running it. Once that didn’t work, we didn’t – at least in my
opinion – have a lot of options to go to. In a lot of those games, I
thought we had great game plans and personally, I wish I would have been
able to play more.”


Some very insightful stuff from Sharpley, who is a good reminder of the type of great student-athletes Notre Dame can develop, even if their playing career doesn’t go as planned. Sharpley expressed his wishes to come back and work with the program or pursue a Master’s degree, and the relationship he developed with Coach Kelly, who recruited him to Central Michigan might help make that a reality.

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.