Irish turn page on the loss


it’s been nearly three days since the Brian Kelly era received its first blemish, and we can now officially say that the Notre Dame football season starts. Gone is the unbridled optimism, the belief that maybe the Irish will actually win — quite literally — now.

That’s not to say that this football season is sunk or the lofty aspirations the Irish had for the season are gone. But for the first time since Kelly’s opening press conference, there’s plenty of aggravation out there if you’re looking for it, on message boards, websites, talking heads, and sports-talk radio. Is Kelly surprised that many people think the sky is falling?

“I’m not surprised by it at all,” Kelly said. “There will be plenty of room on the bandwagon when we start winning, too. Those are the expectations that you’re going to have each and every day. I don’t spend much time dwelling on that, other than we have to play the game better. That’s what my focus is on.”

The blame game was pretty prevalent this week, with the usual suspects that have been surrounding this program for the past five years rearing their ugly heads. A defense that couldn’t get a stop or a turnover when they really needed it. The miserable luck of losing the one irreplaceable player on the team after the game’s opening drive. A questionable coaching decision to go for a touchdown instead of a chip-shot field goal. That’s football, folks.

Brian Kelly and the Irish say they’ve turned the page, now it’ll be up to the Notre Dame faithful to prove they’ve done the same. And while the Nate Montana pass that sailed out of bounds might still eat at those Irish fans that are plagued by the clarity of hindsight, it’s nothing that’s weighing Brian Kelly down.

“I never gave it a thought to kick the field goal,” Kelly said this afternoon. “Maybe that’s my problem. If there was hindsight 20/20, I would’ve called a different play. Because that one didn’t work. Field goal or no field goal, that never entered my mind.”


This note from the NBC PR department:

Last Saturday’s Michigan-Notre Dame game was the most-watched Notre Dame game on NBC in five years, and the most watched rivalry game between the two teams in 16 years. It was the highest-rated game of two unranked teams in NBC’s history and the third-most watched Michigan-Notre Dame game ever.

The last time as many eyeballs tuned in for a football game on NBC was the classic 2005 battle between Charlie Weis’ Irish and Pete Carroll’s USC Trojans, where Matt Leinart and Reggie Bush escaped with a last-second victory.

(A victory that USC is no longer allowed to claim…)

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.