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Weekend Notes: Recruiting, Freshmen, Schedules and odds

Jun 15, 2012, 3:50 PM EDT

Paul Longo

As mentioned yesterday, it’s a recruiting reunion on campus this weekend for the class of ’13. With a group of promising 2014 recruits as well as a handful of uncommitted prospects in this recruiting cycle, South Bend (local weather high-80s and sunny as we speak) is getting the once over from top prospects Mackensie Alexander and Alex Anzalone, as a large group of committed players do their best to grow their recruiting class.

For the first time, that committed group includes Jaylon Smith. As one of the nation’s top players, Smith will carry a little bit of clout this weekend, and plans to make his own sales pitch to Alexander and Anzalone, according to Trent Adams of

“I’ve been talking to Alex Anzalone a lot and I know he’s really looking forward to this visit, hopefully I can convince him to line up next to me for the next four years,” Smith told ISD. “I know that MacKensie Alexander also decided to visit and he could be a big-time player for us at cornerback. I know we already have a solid foundation on defense in this class, but these two guys could really help us solidify ourselves as one of the top defensive classes in the nation.”

News will likely trickle out of campus until reporters can catch up with prospects after they leave, but it’s a big weekend on campus for the future of the Irish football program.


The weekend also marks the beginning for the Irish freshman class. While Gunner Kiel and Sheldon Day got an early semester on their classmates, 14 true freshmen will arrive this weekend to get a jump start on school while getting their first taste of Notre Dame football with strength and conditioning coach Paul Longo.

It’s easy to focus on players like Chris Brown and Davonte Neal, two newcomers that might have a chance to break into the mix at wide receiver. But Austin Collinsworth‘s injury has made the safety position one to watch as well, with CJ Prosise, Elijah Shumate, and John Turner all getting a shot to get into the mix. Also worth watching will be Chris Badger, who spent a spring with the Irish two years ago before missing time on his Mormon mission. Even after walking away from the game for two seasons, Badger will likely have a jump start physically.

One freshman that’s ready for the grind is running back Will Mahone. While the depth chart won’t likely include the Ohio native near the top, Mahone’s ready for the scrutiny that comes with playing for Notre Dame and head coach Brian Kelly.

As ESPN’s Matt Fortuna found out, so is Mahone’s mother Celia.

“I can’t wait till he gets in William’s face,” Celia Mahone told ESPN. “I said, ‘What are you going to do?’ He said, ‘Nothing.’ I said, ‘That’s right.'”

Last year, Troy Niklas was a freshman that surprised early and found his way into the early mix. There will likely be someone that flies below the radar and does the same thing this year.


Notre Dame usually keeps their future schedules on lock down until the entire slate is ready to announce. While most of the attention has been on BCS meetings taking place in Chicago, Brian Hamilton of the Chicago Tribune caught up with Jack Swarbrick, who added a little clarity to the future Irish schedules.

“I think 2013 is done, but I’m not sure,” Swarbrick told Hamilton. “I know I’ve got a hole in one year, but I don’t know if it’s ’13 or ’14 or ’15. But we’re in really good shape. Right now, we have three holes through ’17.”

Let’s help Swarbrick out, who is currently dedicating most of his hard drive to navigating the tricky postseason equation.

In 2013, all 12 games appear to be accounted for, with the Irish likely still nailing down a date in Colorado Springs to play Air Force. The 2014 slate looks like it has a hole in it, with Arizona State and Northwestern on the schedule, as well as Rice, Temple and a potential neutral site game with Syracuse in the Meadowlands. In 2015 and 2016 the Irish are set to open the season with Texas, a formidable opener that’ll likely be one of the country’s premier games. Depending on how the Irish use their announced games against fellow independent BYU, the 2016 schedule is full with 2015 looking one short and 2017 as well.

The news that Army and Notre Dame were looking to slot something for the near future wasn’t surprising, and it’ll likely fill one of the holes Swarbrick was talking about. But when Irish fans wonder why Notre Dame has trouble fitting in a game with a Big Ten opponent like Wisconsin, consider how far out this kind of thing gets done, and then realize that limited non-conference slots in the Badgers’ schedule makes finding a match difficult.


Lastly, if you want to start losing money on Notre Dame football early, our friends at One Foot Down have you covered. The Golden Nugget released 111 college football lines this week, and here are the Irish games that are taking action:

Navy vs. Notre Dame (-13.5)

Notre Dame at Michigan State (-3)

Michigan at Notre Dame (-1)

Miami vs. Notre Dame (-9.5)

Stanford at Notre Dame (-5)

BYU at Notre Dame (-9)

Notre Dame at Oklahoma (-11)

Pittsburgh at Notre Dame (-12.5)

Notre Dame at Boston College (+12)

Notre Dame at USC (-13)




  1. brazilianirish - Jun 15, 2012 at 7:03 PM

    As I said yesterday, think Coach Kelly is not done in recruiting Chans Cox (committed to Arizona State) and Jordan Mastrogiovanni (to Oklahoma, but from Dallas). Well, ahead in the schedule, we’ll play Arizona State and Texas (twice). My bet is our recruiters will naturally use that… But I still prefer Anzalone here. It’s just a feeling about recruiting in Diaco’s days…

  2. yaketyyacc - Jun 16, 2012 at 7:26 AM

    keith, thanks for the camus tour, and keeping us in tune with who is who and where the recruitment stands and is going. it is obvious that while we are contemplating cookouts, coach Brian Kelly and his staff are in full mode. thanks again.

  3. bernhtp - Jun 16, 2012 at 8:59 AM

    I hope that at least one of them commits by next week. If they walk away just saying “Notre Dame is great and one of my top picks,” I think the outcome is very doubtful or, at minimum, highly conditional on the performance in the fall.

  4. seanb20124 - Jun 16, 2012 at 2:12 PM

    The lines make no sense.

    • papadec - Jun 16, 2012 at 6:05 PM

      seanb – makes you wonder what they think they know, that nobody else does. If nothing else, it could be fun to write them down, and see how good they end up being. But, what the hell – I had my son put $20 on the IRISH @ 18-1 to take the BCS Title this year, when he went to Vegas on Spring break. I imagine it’s pretty much the same thing – throw some lines out there for the tourists to drop some money on. I like that usc line.

    • idratherbeinsouthbend - Jun 17, 2012 at 12:03 AM

      The early lines are kinda used as a feeler…you have to remember that the +/- number doesn’t really have anything to do with the score. You and the rest of the world view it as the point spread, but Las Vegas doesn’t.

      That number is mathematical calculation created for one specific purpose….to create even betting on both teams. Generally speaking, the spread in Notre Dame games is a little skewed because of the heavy betting that occurs compared to other programs. The same thing occurs with the Yankees, and the Lakers and all teams Lebron related.

      It’s really a fascinating process from the inside and you would sh!t your pants if you saw how accurate the odds makers are.

      For example, we (myself and a couple of other math nerds) tracked the over/under for hockey games across two seasons just to see if there is an edge in better the over or the under every time. Across 2,460 games, the “over” bet won 1,228 times and the under bet won 1,232 times.

      We’ve looked at the odds for a ridiculous number of sports and the only slight advantage we could find was in betting on NBA road teams who were getting +10 or more.

      …and THAT is when i stopped playing the numbers. The odds makers are TOO good to beat.

  5. mtflsmitty - Jun 16, 2012 at 11:11 PM

    I’ve been stopping in a couple times a day since Friday without any new update on how things are going in South Bend this weekend. In a world where if a talented 17 yo breaks wind in one direction or another and losers like us assume it must mean one thing or another, I’m a bit embarrassed to find myself reading too closely between the lines. However, the “update” at the bottom of this story may suggest young Anzalone had a good visit to SB.

  6. 9irish - Jun 17, 2012 at 6:45 AM

    All of that +/- odds stuff is mind blowing (good info, Idratherbeinsouthbend). Thankfully, ONE vice that I don’t have!
    They should work something out with Army/Air Force, maybe alternate years or something. Lot’s of history there. Scheduling must be very difficult now with the fluidity of the conferences and everything, nobody really knows what the hell they’re doing right now.
    I would like to see them play Ohio State again. When they did in the 90s we didn’t play Michigan, so that’s a complication. We owe them a beat down.

  7. irishdodger - Jun 17, 2012 at 11:57 AM

    Notre Dame has to be one of the worst cover bets in CFB. Like others before me said, these odds are set to attract bettors. ND fans love to blindly bet on their Irish evidently b/c I’m always amazed at the point spreads. If ND covers every game or at least wins the ones they’re favored too, they will be the surprise team of the year.

    • bernhtp - Jun 17, 2012 at 2:16 PM

      I’m not a gambler. While I think that the popularity of Notre Dame gets some emotional bets on their side, markets tend to be fairly efficient and thus any consistent trend of ND not covering would draw in a lot of money on the other side. Thus, I doubt this is happening, at least not outside the “juice” range. Thankfully, it is an empirical question: what is the winning percentage of a pro-ND bet?

    • idratherbeinsouthbend - Jun 18, 2012 at 1:08 AM

      You’re actually right in your assumption when you base it on the Charlie Weis and Brian Kelly era. Notre Dame is a TERRIBLE cover. Last year, the managed to cover 5 of 13 spreads. So, i guess if you want to make some money, you can bet the same amount every week against the irish and if that trend continues, you’ll profit.

      If you placed a $10 bet AGAINST Notre Dame on every game last year, you’d be rich! At normal payout rates, you would have won a little over twenty dollars!!!! Of course, you’d have to live with the shame of betting against the irish :)

      Me though, i’m too much of an Irish optimist to bet against them. Last year alone, the USC and Stanford games were the only two i thought we MIGHT lose…50/50 in my warped brain.

  8. ndtay - Jun 18, 2012 at 12:27 AM

    Ugh… Graduated a month ago and I miss it already. Keith, I had a thought about the QB position this season. Having to go against Barkley,Landry Jones, Denard etc could make this a tough season for the Irish (I know, have faith). But, with a poor season meaning BK on the hotseat, isn’t the best move to go with a guy like Golson to buy a year? Golson could show flashes of that word “potential” which keeps the hotseat relatively cool and gives guys a year to develop. Not to mention we would play USC, Oklahoma and Michigan in 2013 without their Heisman caliber QB’s. Give the kid a full year so he has a heads up the following year. It buys a year and keeps the hope alive. Not to mention, it might not have the negative impact on recruiting like last seasons. Just my two cents

    • 1historian - Jun 18, 2012 at 7:15 AM

      You are being unduly pessimistic. Yes we are going up against some fine teams, programs and players but they are going up against Notre Dame. IMO the signature game is coming up – the TURNAROUND game. Stanford would be nice.

      • ndtay - Jun 18, 2012 at 12:14 PM

        Worry about Sparty and Michigan before you look ahead to Stanford

    • bernhtp - Jun 18, 2012 at 11:46 AM

      Here’s my take. I don’t think who Kelly names as starter for Navy is terribly important; he will likely use two QBs, at least for the first two (easiest) games. Play on the field will largely determine the QB for the rest of the season.

      I bet that Tommy sits for those first two games for the obvious reason. That leaves Hendrix and Golson, with Kiel being redshirted unless something very bad happens. One of the two will be named the Navy starter, but not the starter for the rest of the season. If there is a blowout or the starter has difficulty, expect a QB switch. There might be some back and forth, but there will be at least one QB switch unless the starter is doing very well, but we still have a close game going into the fourth.

      If neither QB distinguishes themselves, expect TR to come out of suspension as starter. People can pontificate all they want on who the starter should be, but I think this is largely moot,

      • irish4006 - Jun 18, 2012 at 12:12 PM

        I have to agree, bern. I just hope that these 2 get enough opportunities to show what they have to offer and not pulled in favor of “the chosen one” since he is the known quantity. Everyone knows what his limitations are and he has proven to be ‘good enough’ to win 8 games, as long as Michael Floyd was there to pull in those improbable, poorly thrown catches. With Eifert playing MMF role, he may just be able to win 8 games again this year. I will likely not be watching if TR is playing QB again unless he becomes Brady Quinn all of a sudden, but there is some probability (I would want it to be close to zero, but it is not) that he will come back to start. 😦 😦

  9. ndtay - Jun 18, 2012 at 12:16 PM

    Which is why BK goes young. Last season’s 8-4 was sort of a disappointment when you look at preseason hype and expectation. And that disappointment carried over into recruiting decommitments and lynch transferring. This season already starts on a low note. Go young and build momentum/potential

  10. sullyp18 - Jun 18, 2012 at 3:58 PM

    Does anyone have any info on how the weekend went with the recruits? I have been looking for something and cannot find anything.

    • idratherbeinsouthbend - Jun 18, 2012 at 9:33 PM

      Every one of them committed verbally to liking Notre Dame and admitted that they could see themselves playing for the Irish, but their moms and dads want them to make a huge production of their respective announcements at the last possible minute because that is the first opportunity for them to gain their 15 minutes of fame.

      Also, each recruit noted that the compensation package at other institutions is paid out during their first few years instead of like Notre Dame’s compensation package which pays out over the remainder of your life AFTER you graduate. So, many noted that they had to way the advantages of getting multiple tatoos in the next few years for free or having a lifetime of success in whatever career path they take after they graduate.

      Ultimately, every recruit is leaning towards Notre Dame…

      The ones who will eventually commit to Notre Dame have stated their odds of coming to Notre Dame at 60/40 in favor of Notre Dame.

      The ones who will eventually commit to other schools have stated the odds of coming to Notre Dame are 60/50 in favor of Notre Dame

  11. seamus0317 - Jun 19, 2012 at 2:48 PM

    I would love to see the Irish and Badgers in Soldier Field!!!!

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