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Weekend notes: Swarbrick, Watch Lists, Life after Floyd, and more

Jul 13, 2012, 3:43 PM EDT


You can’t blame Jack Swarbrick for taking a vacation. With his work helping to put together a college football playoff done, Swarbrick and his family took a much needed vacation. But that didn’t stop word getting out that Notre Dame was in discussions with the ACC about in-roads to the Orange Bowl.

Earlier in the week, Notre Dame’s John Heisler confirmed discussions.

“Since the development of the new plan for post-season football, the ACC and Notre Dame have had discussions relating to the Orange Bowl,” Heisler said. “While presidents have been consulted, the discussions have been between ACC conference staff and Jack.”

With the bowl system obviously in the midst of a shake-up after the playoff is instituted during the 2014 season, Notre Dame is deadset on correcting a situation that has the Irish awfully scarce on bowl opportunities outside of the BCS.

Yet reports that Notre Dame has set out to commandeer the bowl game as partners with the ACC might be a little far fetched, as Jack Swarbrick acknowledged earlier this week, during an interview with local NBC affiliate WNDU.

“I think there’s been a little bit of misunderstanding with all of that,” Swarbrick told Jeff Jeffers. “It’s been portrayed as a Notre Dame discussion or somebody else’s discussion but it’s much more a collective effort to structure something that has a solution for the other side of the Orange Bowl. “So a lot of us are engaged in that,” Swarbrick continued. “It isn’t limited to Notre Dame. We’re making progress but there’s more work to be done.”

Regardless, it’s a proactive step in the right direction for Notre Dame, who already used their exemption into the Champs Sports Bowl and have limited bowl options right now for years they don’t qualify for the BCS.


It’s that time of year again. Watch List time, where dozens of good players are included on a list trying to anticipate postseason awards. It’s a bit silly, but certainly a nice honor for some of the better football players in the country.

Let’s run the list of Irish players getting mentioned:

Manti Te’o – Lott Trophy, Bednarik Award, Nagurski Award,
Braxston Cave – Rimington Trophy, Outland Trophy,
Tyler Eifert – Mackey Award, Maxwell Award
Zack Martin – Outland Trophy,
Kapron Lewis-Moore – Nagurski Award,
Cierre Wood – Maxwell Award

The list for the Lombardi, Butkus, Biletnikoff, Davey O’Brien, Doak Walker, and Walter Camp awards have yet to be released, but this should get you up to speed.

It’s worth noting that Eifert is the only tight end on the list for the Maxwell Award.


As the Irish offense tries to figure out how to live life after Michael Floyd, Blue & Gold’s Lou Somogyi did a great job pointing out that the Irish have a pretty good track record of rebounding after losing a key offensive player.

Here’s Lou’s top three examples over the past 25 years:

1. How Now Without Brown?
Senior Tim Brown won the Heisman Trophy during an 8-4 season and was the No. 6 pick in the NFL Draft.
1988: Although no one on the 1988 team caught more than 16 passes, the Irish improved to 12-0 to win the national title.

2. Backfield In Motion
1992 :
The star-studded backfield for the 10-1-1 team featured No. 2 NFL pick Rick Mirer at quarterback, 5th-place Heisman finisher Reggie Brooks at tailback, and junior fullback Jerome “The Bus” Bettis went pro early as the No. 10 pick.
1993: The unheralded trio of quarterback Kevin McDougal, tailback Lee Becton and fullback Ray Zellars emerged superbly while the Irish finished 11-1 and No. 2.

3. Action Even Without Jackson
QB Jarious Jackson broke Joe Theismann’s 29-year school record for most passing yards in a season (2,753) and was the second leading rusher with 464 yards. Alas, the Irish also committed 30 turnovers and finished 5-7.
2000: When freshman QB Matt LoVecchio was thrown into the fire, Notre Dame averaged 74 yards less per game than with Jackson — but it committed an NCAA record low eight turnovers to finish 9-2 and earn a BCS bid. The efficiency, resourcefulness and team play of 2000 is a good template for the 2012 Irish to follow after the 2011 unit averaged 413 yards per game (similar to 1999) but committed 29 turnovers (similar to 1999).

The days are likely over of a team winning a national championship with no receiver catching more than 16 balls, but an optimist could make a good argument that losing Floyd will help keep the Irish offensive attack more balanced.

Notre Dame will still have its instant mismatch, with Tyler Eifert moving all around the field. But the Irish’s reliance on Floyd last season might have handicapped a quick strike, vertically driven offense Irish fans have been expecting to see since Brian Kelly came from Cincinnati.


A few final tidbits on recent Irish commitment Justin Brent, who is set to sign in the ’14 class. We’ll find out how good Brent is during his junior season, a breakthrough year for most high school players.

Even if we don’t know just how high Brent’s ceiling is yet, a year ago football was almost an afterthought for the Indianapolis athlete. Focused on his basketball career, Brent almost gave up on football completely, with the 6-foot-3 point guard drawing interesting from heavyweights like Indiana, Purdue, Georgetown, Marquette, and others.

“I’ve been playing basketball my whole life and I’ve also played football my whole life, but I think basketball is where it’s at,” Brent told last July. “With football, I was contemplating not even playing this year, but I guess a lot of coaches like an athlete that play two sports and plus I just like it a lot to play. But I was always nervous about the fact that I could receive an injury. But I’m going to stay with it. College wise, I’ve gotten one letter from Texas A & M and it was just a questionnaire, but that’s the only thing I’ve gotten for football. I don’t think I see myself playing football in college, I think it’s basketball.”

Good thing for all involved that Brent decided to stick with football during his sophomore season. The athleticism that had college basketball coaches taking notice will undoubtedly help Brent on the gridiron.





  1. smurphdoggy29 - Jul 13, 2012 at 3:56 PM

    Just a mere observation on the Michael Floyd statement above.
    It did handicap the offense, though a nice handicap to have, our Quarterback position immediately and without fail defaulted to Floyd whenever there was a whiff of trouble. Then when the defense took him away on plays, the circus came to town, and learned helplessness blinded the Quarterback position to anyone else on the field, resulting in a desperation heave to Eifert or TE position, and/or utterly nothing.

    Now, and I did offer this opinion up earlier this year, the overall pass catching group has a chance to (and in my opinion of course) explode with the force unto foreseen in the past.

    Keith hope your Summer is going well, hope all the folks on here are doing okay, hope the Coaching Staff has tried to relax some, and kudos to Swarbrick for consistently moving forward.

    GO Irish
    See you in Dublin
    Have some water !

    • Jennifer - Jul 13, 2012 at 8:54 PM

      Very well said, smurphdoggy29. I echo your sentiments from the first sentence to the last. And, oh, how I wish I could be in Dublin! Lucky you! Go Irish!

  2. gtizzo - Jul 13, 2012 at 4:08 PM

    Hey Keith

    Your list of award winners is nice. I would figure most media outlets would hand Eifert the award right now instead of waiting.

  3. jerseyshorendfan1 - Jul 13, 2012 at 4:14 PM

    Keith, You are banging out some stellar stuff lately! Regarding our bowl opportunities outside of the BCS, I don’t understand why they’d be scarce. I think most of those secondary bowls would love to host ND with the national fan base that we have. We’re probably the one team that could sell out a bowl no matter the opponent or the location. The question is, would we want to play if its the Meinecke Car Care Bowl that comes calling? Lastly, I like smurph’s optimism regarding our receiving corps. I too think that they will have a breakout year. Get ready its coming. Go Irish!

  4. godcountrynotredame - Jul 13, 2012 at 7:44 PM

    Reblogged this on God Country Notre Dame.

  5. joeschu - Jul 14, 2012 at 8:41 AM

    I think there’s a lot to be said for “the year after” theory. I think the spotlight gets more spread around, expectations drop, and real leaders emerge. That ’93 defense was fantastic, and McDougal was the perfect guy to lead that quiet, unassuming team that played hard, played smart and were one let-down game (and some stupid pro-Bowden sentiment) from winning it all.

  6. 1historian - Jul 14, 2012 at 10:51 AM

    Notre Dame lost the national title in 1993 because they could not defend their home turf against an unranked team that they had beaten 54-7 IN SOUTH BEND the year before.

    Can the argument be made that it was a ‘let-down’ game for Notre Dame? Yes.
    Does that make any difference? No.

    That same day Florida State beat Florida – a ranked team – AT Florida.

    THAT is why Florida State won the National Championship in 1993 – they EARNED it.

    • paiten34 - Jul 20, 2012 at 5:57 AM

      Well Boston College was ranked that game. I’m sure their rank was number 17. That BC team was a solid team that could play defense and score on offense. They had a 17 point lead over ND in the fourth. ND came out flat playing a team that was PISSED about how they felt ND ran up the score the previous season. I think ND WOULD have beaten any other team on that Saturday. It is just dam hard to get a team ready to play VS a team following an emotional game the previous week.

  7. 1historian - Jul 14, 2012 at 10:53 AM

    I forgot to say – GO IRISH!!!

    • bernhtp - Jul 14, 2012 at 3:49 PM

      Too late. Any genuine Irish fan would recognize the 1993 championship award as the greatest travesty of justice in world history.

    • nudeman - Jul 14, 2012 at 8:39 PM

      1 historian speaks the truth
      And people here pound him with thumbs down because he’s not a kool aid drinker

      • bernhtp - Jul 14, 2012 at 9:43 PM

        The truth is not always needed or appreciated. Those of us that lived through 1993 have our sorrow mitigated by the anger of injustice. You can’t take that away from us.

      • nudeman - Jul 15, 2012 at 11:23 AM

        I feel your pain.

  8. chadwalters425 - Jul 14, 2012 at 1:07 PM

    Hey Keith, to whom is that quote from Justin Brent attributed? I’d like to see that article or where you found that quote. Thanks!

  9. nudeman - Jul 14, 2012 at 1:34 PM

    A few semi related thoughts on this steamy Sat in AZ:
    1) Yes, “steamy”. Humidity approaching 40%
    2) I loved McDougal. Guy sat on the bench for 3 years, worked hard in practice and had one hell of a year when he finally got his shot. The TD drive he led against BC late in the game was nothing short of Montana-esque.
    3) Last time I was in Ireland (golf trip & relatives)our final stop was in Dublin and stayed at the Shelbourne. Stood next to Liam Neeson at the bar as he was there making (I think) the movie “Michael Collins”.
    4) Exactly when does practice start?
    5) Tee Shepard is tweeting that he’s trying to come back to ND. The 4HL was ablaze over this the other day. He can try all he wants, maybe even make some progress, but the odds are decidedly against this happening. His acumen for the books is sorely lacking and he hasn’t played football now in 2 years. Missed his sr. year.
    6) Why have we gone the better part of a week now without signing a high profile 4 star LB?? Come on; let’s get on it!! As Lombardi would say:

  10. bearcatirishfan - Jul 14, 2012 at 6:47 PM

    That game in 1993 was my first game ever in nd stadium I was 13. Point of order to historian I’m pretty sure BC was ranked somewhere around 15.

  11. don74 - Jul 14, 2012 at 11:53 PM

    I didn’t reboot this any where else.

    • don74 - Jul 15, 2012 at 9:11 AM

      I meant to say ….I didn’t reblog this anywhere else…..Can’t even blame it on too much correct on the phone

    • nudeman - Jul 15, 2012 at 11:24 AM

      Nor did I

  12. ndgoldandblue - Jul 15, 2012 at 6:35 PM

    I know that this is sort of off-topic, but I was just reading the posts in Rock’s House, and I gotta say that I’m appalled by some of the things those guys say over there. These are people who are supposedly fans of Notre Dame football. Many of them are alumni. The vitriol that these guys are spewing is stuff that is normally reserved for rival teams. It’s almost as if they hate the team that they support. Whether it’s the coach, the quarterback, or anything else, many of the comments are of the vindictive variety.

    Now, here’s a hypothetical. What if (and this is a huge “what if”) this team pulls off the impossible and wins it all this year. I know that it’s highly unlikely, but stranger things have happened. Just look at recent history. Auburn came out of nowhere to win the national championship. No one could have thought that Ohio State could beat Miami, but they did. Heck, even Holtz thought that his 1988 team was one year away from fulfilling their full potential. I’m not saying that it’s going to happen this year. Frankly, I think I have a greater chance of getting struck by lightning. But…it wouldn’t be outside the realm of possibility. There’s a lot of talent on both sides of the ball (quarterback included), and teams with less have gone on to the BCS or the national championship and won.

    My question is, what will these guys say then? Heck, let’s lower the standards a little. What if this Notre Dame team, with it’s incredibly challenging schedule and questions at the quarterback and cornerback positions, goes on to a 10-2 year and earns a BCS berth? Moreover, what if they get a BCS invite and they go on to win the game? What will these “supporters” over at Rock’s House say about this team, or this coach, or our players? Will they pull a 180 and start singing their praises? Or, will they find something else to nitpick? Look, there are plenty of things I don’t like (and haven’t liked) about the Fighting Irish football program over the last 15 years, but I will never talk about them in the same manner as I would for Michigan or USC. That wouldn’t make me a supporter. All that would make me is nothing.

    That’s why I love this blog. Indeed, we have spirited discussions, but those discussions never cross the line. It never gets to the point where we are mocking our coach, our players, and out team. A jab here and there is one thing, but complete mockery? Nope, I could never support that. Sorry for the rant fellas, but I’m just glad that you guys have more class than those jerks over at Rock’s House.

    • c4evr - Jul 15, 2012 at 6:55 PM

      Just a theory, but when you’re over-invested in something, it tends to take hold of your life. I understand it’s been a LONG drought, but it’s important to keep some perspective. That being said, I hope I don’t find myself rooting for Wake Forest come November 17th the way I did for UConn back in CW’s last year.

      • ndgoldandblue - Jul 16, 2012 at 9:22 AM

        I’m not over-invested, and my interest in Notre Dame football hasn’t taken hold of my life. In fact, between my job, my son, and my bills, I already have enough to keep my mind occupied. But we all need outlets, escapes. Notre Dame football is that outlet for me. Bear in mind, it’s an outlet that I can escape to for 5, maybe 10 minutes a day. That’s why you don’t see many posts coming from me. Whether it’s a screaming baby or a demanding boss, I have other things keeping me from over-investing myself. I just like to check these sites out whenever I have a free minute. That’s why, when I do, I’d like to see some thoughtful insights as opposed to 3rd-grade jokes that I might hear on the Bob and Tom show. That’s all I was saying.

        I’m not drinking any Kool-aid, and I certainly have tons of perspective regarding this upcoming year. In all honesty, I think this Irish team is more likely to have a losing season than an undefeated one. However, neither of those outcomes would surprise me.

    • pjm79nd - Jul 16, 2012 at 9:05 AM

      Most of the people on Rock’s House and Cartier field are so full of themselves, it’s pathetic. Cynicism, profanity, and rudeness are the main elements of those sites. And the board administrators are stupid and capricious.

  13. pjm79nd - Jul 16, 2012 at 8:55 AM


    I am curious: how do you or anyone not directly affiliated with the university of the football team know anything about Tee Shepard’s scholastic aptitude? Given our lack of access to official documents or records, can any of us comment knowledgeably and fairly about this young man’s situation? Perhaps it’s better to write nothing more about him.

    • pjm79nd - Jul 16, 2012 at 8:57 AM

      Meant to write “…university OR the football team…” not OF the football team.

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