Rumors fly about Texas-Notre Dame series


While these certainly aren’t the first rumors about a proposed series between two of college football’s premiere football programs, word broke yesterday from writer Chip Brown that Texas and Notre Dame are close to finalizing a contract on a home-and-home series starting in 2015.

Brown, who was out in front of the Texas/Big 12 realignment story for much of the offseason (and has been accused of being a Deloss Dodds puppet by some), first reported the news via Twitter, though hasn’t provided much more information other than a message board post restricted by a pay wall.

That said, the Austin American-Statesman’s Kirl Bohls shed more light on the situation yesterday evening, pointing to more than just a two game affair:

Texas is working hard to finalize a four-year, home-and-home football
series with Notre Dame, starting in 2015, a school official said
Tuesday, but the agreement has not been completed.

“It’s not a done deal,” the official said.

Texas administrators told the American-Statesman in June that they
were trying to put together a series with the Irish but were trying to
keep the arrangement quiet until the details were finalized.

The series would be played in 2015, 2016, 2019 and 2020. The sites for the games still have not been decided.

Longhorns head football coach Mack Brown said at Big 12 media days in
Irving last Wednesday that he was interested in scheduling “Ohio
State-type” non-conference games early in the season to bolster Texas’
strength of schedule rating in the computer and voter polls, once
Nebraska and Colorado pull out of the Big 12 in the next year or two.

Texas most recently made scheduling news when it announced that it was no longer playing its scheduled two-game series against Minnesota slated for 2015 and 2016 after the two schools failed to reach a contractual agreement.

Minnesota athletic director (and Notre Dame graduate) Joel Maturi had this to say when asked about the breakdown:

“The Texas game is no longer on our schedule due to a contract impasse
concerning video rights,” Maturi, who negotiated with the Longhorns “for
months,” said Tuesday via e-mail. “… We had an agreement.
Unfortunately, with our commitments to the BTN [Big Ten Network], there
were issues we could not come to agreement on.”

It’s interesting that Maturi mentioned the Gophers commitment to the Big Ten Network as a detriment, because if we learned anything this offseason, it was that the Big Ten Network was nothing but rainbows and unicorns.* Instead, it’s likely that Dodds and the Longhorns balked at playing a “high-profile” non-conference game on a premium channel that most people in the state of Texas won’t pay to watch.

The falling out of the game likely opened the door for renewed negotiations between Dodds and Jack Swarbrick, who spent plenty of time this offseason giving each other counsel. While nothing is finalized yet, this would give the Irish another marquee non-conference game to go along with the home-and-home that restarts with Miami in 2016 after the 2012 game in Solider Field.  

*Hat-tip to KGB for the wonderful descriptor

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.