Rees Calabrese Mug Shot

Rees, Calabrese face uncertainty after off-campus arrest


Tommy Rees and Carlo Calabrese were arrested by South Bend police after an off-campus party was broken up just after midnight. Calabrese, who is 21, faces disorderly conduct charges, and has been bonded out of jail for $150. Rees, who is only 20, faces more serious charges, including public intoxication, resisting law enforcement, minor consumption, and battery to an officer, which is a felony charge.

Multiple news outlets are reporting that Rees ran from the scene of the party, and was taken to the ground by a police officer. Rees allegedly kneed the officer in the stomach, leading to the felony charge, before he was pepper sprayed. Calabrese argued loudly with police, unwilling to stay on a sidewalk while he watched his friend arrested, leading to his arrest.

Wednesday marked the final day of classes at Notre Dame. The late night arrest also marks another offseason storyline that’ll likely loom large until the Irish head to Dublin. For Calabrese, the stakes aren’t likely as high, and you can expect him back in an Irish uniform on opening day. But for Rees, the Irish’s starting quarterback whose job is already under fire after an open competition this spring, the future isn’t as clear, especially with a felony charge looming. (A felony charge that might not last until 1 p.m. ET, when Rees is formally arraigned.)

The rush to define this story is already in full swing, with news leaking late last night and an avalanche of information already taking over social media and the college football web-world today. (Adam Jacobi, a well-respected writer now working at the Bleacher Report has already taken the reins on the “Expel Tommy Rees or Notre Dame has lost its principles story,” with his original source being an anonymous message board poster.)

Even with the most serious charge dropped, it was a bone-headed decision by Rees, choosing to run when South Bend police arrived at a party because of a noise complaint. With early reports of Rees kicking a police office turning into a potentially accidental knee to the abdomen, the early rumors of what happened have quickly turned into something far less sensational. “It wasn’t terribly violent, but it was enough to be considered resisting,” South Bend police Captain Phil Trent told the Chicago Tribune, while also saying that a police office “had the wind knocked out of him” while trying to stop the group running away.

The arrest of two Notre Dame football players at an off-campus party is certainly newsworthy, but you can’t help but wonder what the reaction would be like if the player facing the most serious charges wasn’t the quarterback almost universally reviled by a fan base that’s put last season’s disappointment almost squarely on his shoulders. People will immediately look at Michael Floyd‘s DUI arrest as the easiest comparison for the Rees case, but if you’re looking for precedent, look back two off seasons to tight end Mike Ragone‘s arrest on the Indiana Toll Road for marijuana possession. Ragone, leaving South Bend after the spring semester ended, was arrested and booked for possession, an incident that had many thinking it was the end of the road for the star-crossed tight end.

At the time, the response out of South Bend was this: “Coach Kelly is aware of the situation and feels it is a serious matter,” Notre Dame’s Brian Hardin said. “He has spoken with Mike, but any team-related action that may be forthcoming would be handled internally.”

Today, Notre Dame also released a statement after the arrests of Calabrese and Rees:

“The University is aware of this incident and is confident that it will be handled in a prompt and professional manner through the criminal justice system. Internal discipline is handled privately in accord with our own policies and federal law.”

It’s clear there’ll be internal discipline from Notre Dame, both from the University and the football program. If Rees’ felony stays in play, there’s also a real chance that he’s played his last down for the Irish. While it may be fun to be first, or to have the strongest opinion, incidents like this often take more than a few hours to play out. And if we’ve learned anything in these two years since Brian Kelly took over the football program, they rarely play out in public.

We know for sure Tommy Rees and Carlo Calabrese made a bad decision last night. What comes next, we’ll have to wait and see.

UPDATED: 3:06 p.m. ET — Head coach Brian Kelly has released a statement through Notre Dame:

“I am aware of last night’s incident involving two of our football players. I am of course very concerned given the nature of the allegations, but I am still gathering information. I’ll withhold judgment until I can collect all the facts and speak with both Carlo and Tommy.”

SECOND UPDATE — Rees was released on $250 bond and felony charges have been dropped. He still faces four misdemeanor charges.

Evaluating VanGorder’s scheme against the option

ANNAPOLIS, MD - SEPTEMBER 19:  Keenan Reynolds #19 of the Navy Midshipmen rushes for his fifth touchdown in the fourth quarter against the East Carolina Pirates during their 45-21 win on September 19, 2015 in Annapolis, Maryland.  (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)

Notre Dame’s ability to slow down Georgia Tech’s vaunted option attack served as one of the high points to the Irish’s early season success. After spending a considerable amount of offseason energy towards attacking the option and learning more, watching the Irish hold the Yellow Jackets in check was a huge victory for Brian VanGorder, Bob Elliott and the rest of Notre Dame’s staff.

But it was only half the battle.

This weekend, Keenan Reynolds and Navy’s veteran offense come to town looking to wreak some havoc on a defense that’s struggled to slow it down. And after getting a look at some of the new tricks the Irish had in store for Paul Johnson, Ken Niumatalolo and his offensive coaches have likely started plotting their counterpunches days in advance.

How did Notre Dame’s defense slow down Georgia Tech? Brian Kelly credited an aggressive game plan and continually changing looks. So while some were quick to wonder whether Notre Dame’s scheme changes were the biggest piece of the puzzle, it’s interesting to see how the Irish’s strategic decisions looked from the perspective of an option expert.

Over at “The Birddog” blog, Michael James utilizes his spread option expertise and takes a look at how the Irish defended Georgia Tech. His conclusion:

Did the Irish finally figure out the magic formula that will kill this gimmick high school offense for good?

Not exactly.

The Irish played a fairly standard 4-3 for a large chunk of the game. James thought Notre Dame’s move to a 3-5-3 was unique, though certainly not the first time anybody’s used that alignment.

But what stood out wasn’t necessarily the Xs and Os, but rather how much better Notre Dame’s personnel reacted to what they were facing.

Again, from the Birddog Blog:

The real story here, and what stood out to me when watching Notre Dame play Georgia Tech, was how much faster the Irish played compared to past years. I don’t mean that they are more athletic, although this is considered to be the best Notre Dame team in years. I mean that they reacted far more quickly to what they saw compared to what they’ve done in the past.

Usually, when a team plays a spread option offense, one of the biggest challenges that defensive coordinators talk about is replicating the offense’s speed and precision. It’s common to hear them say that it takes a series or two to adjust. That was most certainly not the case here.

James referenced our Media Day observations and seemed impressed by the decision to bring in walk-on Rob Regan to captain what’s now known as the SWAG team. And while VanGorder’s reputation as a mad scientist had many Irish fans wondering if the veteran coordinator cooked something up that hadn’t been seen, it was more a trait usually associated with Kelly that seems to have made the biggest difference.

“It wasn’t that the game plan was so amazing (although it was admittedly more complex and aggressive than we’ve seen out of other Notre Dame teams),” James wrote. “It was plain ol’ coachin’ ’em up.

“Notre Dame’s players were individually more prepared for what they’d see. Notre Dame is already extremely talented, but talented and prepared? You can’t adjust for that. That’s more challenging for Navy than any game plan.”

Irish prepared to take on the best Navy team in years


Brian Kelly opens every Tuesday press conference with compliments for an opponent. But this week, it was easy to see that his kind words for Navy were hardly lip service.

Ken Niumatalolo will bring his most veteran—and probably his most talented—group of Midshipmen into Notre Dame Stadium, looking to hand the Irish their first loss in the series since Kelly’s debut season in South Bend.

“Ken Niumatalolo has done an incredible job in developing his program and currently carrying an eight-game winning streak,” Kelly said. “I voted for them in USA Today Top 25 as a top-25 team. I think they’ve earned that. But their defense as well has developed. It’s played the kind of defense that I think a top 25 team plays.”

With nine months of option preparation, Notre Dame needs to feel confident about their efforts against Georgia Tech. Then again, the Midshipmen saw that game plan and likely have a few tricks in store.

As much as the Irish have focused their efforts on stopping Keenan Reynolds and the triple-option, Navy’s much-improved defense is still looking for a way to slow down a team that’s averaged a shade over 48 points a game against them the last four seasons.

Niumatalolo talked about that when asked about slowing down Will Fuller and Notre Dame’s skill players, an offense that’s averaged over 48 points a game during this four-game win streak.

“We’ve got to try our best to keep [Fuller] in front of us, that’s easier said than done,” Niumatalolo said. “We’ve got to play as close as we can without their guys running past us. I’ve been here a long time and we’re still trying to figure out how to do that.”


Navy heads to South Bend unbeaten, defeating former Irish defensive coordinator Bob Diaco‘s team just two Saturdays ago. And while Diaco raised a few eyebrows when he said Navy would be the team’s toughest test of the year (they already played a ranked Missouri team), the head of the UConn program couldn’t have been more effusive in his praise.

“I have been competing against Navy for some time and this is the best Navy team I have seen for, let’s say the last half-dozen years,” UConn coach Bob Diaco told the New Haven Register. “I could click on footage from three years ago and see a lion’s share of players who are playing right now in the game as freshmen and sophomores. They have a veteran group, a strong group, a talented group and they look like the stiffest competition among our first four opponents.”

As usual, there will be those who look at this game as the breather between Clemson and USC. That won’t be anybody inside The Gug. So as the Irish try to get back to their winning ways in front of a home crowd, a complete team effort is needed.

“I’ll take a win by one,” Kelly said Tuesday. “That would be fine with me.”