2012 Dublin game set for Aviva Stadium


Details on the highly-anticipated Navy-Notre Dame game set for Sept 1, 2012 in Dublin were announced today. The game will be played in the recently completed Aviva Stadium, Naval Academy Director of Athletics Chet Gladchuk announced.

Here’s more from the official release:

“To see this stadium is to believe it has to be one of the finest
venues in the world,” said Gladchuk. “Although modest in capacity, few
stadiums anywhere have attended to the detail, aesthetics and fan
comfort found at Aviva. I guarantee those who travel to Ireland and
attend this event will enjoy an experience that will be awesome and a
memory not to be forgotten. Navy is very much looking forward to our
visit and the wonderful experience we expect our coaches, players, fans
and friends will enjoy.”

“We are all delighted that Navy has chosen Aviva Stadium for its
game against Notre Dame in 2012,” said Murphy. “We fully realize just
how important this game is in the U.S. sporting calendar and we are
looking forward to hosting what will undoubtedly be a fantastic event.
The selection of Aviva Stadium for this game is a huge endorsement of
the stadium and it is a terrific boost for Irish tourism as I have no
doubt the teams’ fans will travel in great numbers. We are confident
they will have a memorable time in Ireland.”

The $410 million four level state-of-the art facility opened in May
and has a seating capacity of 50,000 with all seats under cover. The
stadium consists of continuous curvilinear shaped stands enclosing all
four sides of the ground. The South, East and West stands have four
tiers of seating for spectators, while the bottom and top tiers provide
the main volume of seats. The second tier of the stadium consists of
10,000 club seats and the third tier houses 36 luxury suites.

The stadium was designed by Populous (formerly HOK Sport
Architecture) in conjunction with local Dublin-based Scott Tallon
Walker. Populous, one of the world’s leading sports architecture firms,
had previously been involved in projects such as Reliant Stadium, Heinz
Field, Yankee Stadium, Camden Yards and the Sydney Olympic Stadium.
Currently they are working on a number of the facilities for the 2012
Olympic Games in London.

If there’s one game that’s on my “bucket list” of football games I’d like to see in person, I’ve got to put the Dublin game at the top.*

You can see photos of the new stadium here, and it looks absolutely incredible.

*A complete aside, but talk about a great conversation topic. I spent
an hour or so discussing future Notre Dame games that we’d like to see
with a few buddies during a tailgate last season and most of us decided
that it’d be at a BCS Championship Game, or in the Rose Bowl on January
1st, but this is definitely the best destination game we could think

Even amidst chaos, Kelly expecting USC’s best

JuJu Smith-Schuster, Rocky Hayes, Blaise Taylor

USC head coach Steve Sarkisian was fired on Monday, with interim head coach Clay Helton taking the reins of the Trojan program during tumultuous times. Helton will be the fourth different USC head coach to face Notre Dame in as many years, illustrative of the chaos that’s shaken up Heritage Hall in the years since Pete Carroll left for the NFL.

All eyes are on the SC program, with heat on athletic director Pat Haden and the ensuing media circus that only Los Angeles can provide. But Brian Kelly doesn’t expect anything but their best when USC boards a plane to take on the Irish in South Bend.

While the majority of Notre Dame’s focus will be inward this week, Kelly did take the time on Sunday and Monday to talk with his team about the changes atop the Trojan program, and how they’ll likely impact the battle for the Jeweled Shillelagh.

“We talked about there would be an interim coach, and what that means,” Kelly said. “Teams come together under those circumstances and they’re going to play their very best. And I just reminded them of that.”

While nobody on this Notre Dame roster has experienced a coaching change, they’ve seen their share of scrutiny. The Irish managed to spring an upset not many saw coming against LSU last year in the Music City Bowl after a humiliating defeat against the Trojans and amidst the chaos of a quarterbacking controversy. And just last week, we saw Charlie Strong’s team spring an upset against arch rival Oklahoma when just about everybody left the Longhorns for dead.

“I think you look at the way Texas responded this past weekend with a lot of media scrutiny,” Kelly said Tuesday. “I expect USC to respond the same way, so we’re going to have to play extremely well.”

Outside of the head coaching departure, it’s difficult to know if there’ll be any significant difference between a team lead by Sarkisian or the one that Helton will lead into battle. The offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach has been at USC for six years, and has already held the title of interim head coach when he led the Trojans to a 2013 Las Vegas Bowl title after Lane Kiffin was fired and Ed Orgeron left the program after he wasn’t given the full time position.

Helton will likely call plays, a role he partially handled even when Sarkisian was on the sideline. The defense will still be run by Justin Wilcox. And more importantly, the game plan will be executed by a group of players that are among the most talented in the country.

“They have some of the finest athletes in the country. I’ve recruited a lot of them, and they have an immense amount of pride for their program and personal pride,” Kelly said. “So they will come out with that here at Notre Dame, there is no question about that.”

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.