Weekend links: Barely football edition


I’m not sure my sanity could handle digging into other Irish sports like I do football. But with Notre Dame beginning spring break and football in a bit of a lull before spring practice gets underway, here are a few interesting articles I thought were worth your time on this more-than-pleasant March afternoon.

Matt Fortuna over at had a nice Q&A with incoming long-snapper Scott Daly. It’s heavy on the art of long-snapping, which is one of those positions where it’s better to not know what’s happening and just be happy it worked out. Here’s a nice tidbit from Daly on his relationship with long-snapping guru Chris Rubio, and when it dawned on him that he’d get a free education from chucking footballs between his legs.

Imagine that.

“It didn’t really cross my mind until I started going to college camps and getting myself out there and being proactive about getting myself out there, being recruited by these schools. The camp I went to at Northwestern, the coaches really started approaching me and telling me that they were very interested in me and possibly talking about recruiting me and then possibly offering me a scholarship later. And it was just such a shock to me. I never thought that I’d be getting scholarships. And hearing from Chris Rubio that only a few guys at first, the top couple guys, would get scholarships.”

Fortuna also had a good interview with incoming safety Nick Baratti, that’s worth checking out too. I’ve got a feeling that Baratti could be a player for the Irish, although it might not happen until 2013.


With the Irish basketball team winning an overtime “thriller” last night, I don’t want to completely curse the basketball team by mentioning them too much. But one article that I found fascinating was former Irish basketball player Zach Hillesland taking a closer look at Irish head coach Mike Brey on the New York Times‘ Quad blog. Brey, who has seen his star rise quite a bit this season after leading an undermanned Irish basketball team to the No. 3 seed in the Big East tournament, has done one of the best jobs in the country this season. It didn’t look that way after what looked like a lost season after Tim Abromaitis tore his ACL.

Hillesland does a nice job of reminding Notre Dame fans that not all of the head coaches beneath the golden dome are dunderheads, as some folks are prone to believe. In a particularly interesting section (to me, at least) Hillesland noted — like so many of us do after our careers are over –that his head coach was trying to help him both on the court and in life, even if he didn’t realize it.

After I graduated, I tried to get a graduate assistant’s position (something Notre Dame does not have) with the team, not because that was my dream, but because I was an 18-year-old trapped in a 22-year-old body, and I didn’t know which way was up. I was in a dark place.

When I went into the meeting with Coach, he said: “You have the kind of personality that can either heat the building … or burn it down.” What went through my head was, Yeah, well, if I don’t find some kind of life direction or employment, I won’t be able to pay for heat, let alone rent, and I’ll most likely end up burning the apartment complex down — whoa. How did you do that? How did you know?”

It would have been an entirely wrong decision to prop me up at that point in my life. It would have been mutually destructive. And he knew that, and told me as smoothly and thoughtfully as possible.

One of the first things Coach ever said to me turned out to be one of the most significant. It was during my first year, one of the very first practices, and I had forced up a terrible attempt at a 3-point shot. He pulled me aside later and said, “You don’t need to reinvent yourself.”

It took me seven years to figure out that he was not talking about on-court skills. He was talking about personality. And therein lies the rub. Don’t reinvent yourself. The guys who try to reinvent themselves falter. He is not saying, “Don’t improve,” he is saying, “Understand who you are, and translate that to the court.”

Immature players do not thrive in his system. Make yourself a man and you will have an open seat at the table. And that is not saying you cannot be a kid or that you cannot make mistakes, but when you step on the court and put that jersey on, you better take accountability for yourself and you better at least resemble a grownup.

A very nice piece of writing by Hillesland, who is doing a nice job covering hoops for a pretty impressive newspaper.


If Irish fans thought reeling in Gunner Kiel or Davonte Neal was impressive, the womens golf team just signed themselves a six-star recruit. Incoming freshman golfer Lindsey Weaver turned the Apache Course at Desert Mountain in Scottsdale, Arizona into her own personal Golden Tee machine.

Weaver finished up her round with a ridiculous birdie, birdie, birdie, eagle finish to shoot a magical round of 59 in a PING junior tournament.

What an accomplishment, not to mention a clutch finish.


Lastly, ESPN brought point guard Skylar Diggins into the Sports Science lab to take a closer look at her freakish athleticism. The most popular Irish athlete on the internet, Diggins put on an impressive performance.




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.