Steve Addazio

BC hires Addazio as coaching carousel gets crazy

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Boston College indeed hired a coach with Notre Dame roots.

But with Irish fans on red alert as they feared their top defensive assistant was headed to Boston, new Eagles athletic director Brad Bates reached past past current defensive coordinator Bob Diaco for former Irish assistant Steve Addazio, who traded his Temple head coaching job for the one in Chestnut Hill.

“I am proud to announce Steve Addazio as the new head coach at Boston College,” Bates tweeted. “We are excited to have Steve Addazio leading BC football and look forward to an extraordinary future.”

With that, Notre Dame players, coaches, and fans all likely breath a sigh of relief. But with the coaching carousel spinning wildly today, the Irish might not be out of the woods just yet. Multiple reports point to Purdue hiring Darrell Hazell of Kent State to be their next head coach. But with Brett Bielema‘s shocking departure from Wisconsin to Arkansas, former Irish defensive coordinator and current Wisconsin athletic director Barry Alvarez gets to take a look at candidates all across the country, and could zero in on Diaco as well.

If Alvarez does indeed look to South Bend, he’ll be seeing a defensive coordinator that looks an awful lot like a younger version of himself. Both East Coast born, Alvarez and Diaco each headed to the heartland for their college football, with Alvarez playing at Nebraska while Diaco starred at Iowa. Each spearheaded a Notre Dame resurgence as defensive coordinators, with Alvarez the right hand of Lou Holtz during the 1988 championship run. Like Alvarez, Diaco was given more leadership responsibilities during the title run season, promoted to assistant head coach in the offseason, similar to Holtz’s year-long tutorial with Alvarez before he took over the Wisconsin program.

Of course, Alvarez took over a moribund Badger football team that was an afterthought in a NFL-crazed state. He built one of the Big Ten’s flagship programs and governed over a seamless transition to Bielema, who built on Alvarez’s foundation, with Alvarez taking over the Wisconsin athletic department. Entrusting the Big Ten’s representative in the last three Rose Bowls to a first time head coach could be a risky move.

Whether Alvarez looks towards Diaco, or chooses from a pretty rich talent pool with Badger ties — Seahawks defensive coordinator Darrell Bevell, former Vikings head coach Brad Childress, Pitt head coach Paul Chryst, or Jaguars defensive coordinator Mel Tucker among the early names floating around — remains to be seen.

So while Diaco was awarded the prestigious Broyles Award as college football’s best assistant, any ascent to the head coaching ranks will have to wait.

How long? Well, we will find out as the coaching carousel continues to spin.

 

Five Irish players sign UFA contracts

Matthias Farley
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Notre Dame had seven players selected in the 2016 NFL Draft, trailing only Ohio State, Clemson and UCLA on the weekend tally. But after the draft finished, the Irish had five more players get their shot at playing on Sundays.

Chris Brown signed with the Dallas Cowboys. Romeo Okwara will begin his career with the New York Giants. Matthias Farley and Amir Carlisle signed contracts with the Arizona Cardinal. Elijah Shumate agreed to a contract with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

After missing two seasons, Ishaq Williams will be at Giants rookie camp next weekend as well, working as a tryout player. Expect Jarrett Grace to receive similar opportunities.

Count me among those that thought both Brown and Okwara would hear their names called. Brown’s senior season, not to mention his intriguing measureables, had some projecting him as early as the fifth round.

Okwara, still 20 years old and fresh off leading Notre Dame in sacks in back-to-back seasons, intrigued a lot of teams with his ability to play both defensive end and outside linebacker. He’ll get a chance to make the Giants—the team didn’t draft a defensive end after selecting just one last year, and they’re in desperate need of pass rushers.

Both Shumate and Farley feel like contenders to earn a spot on rosters, both because of their versatility and special teams skills. Shumate played nickel back as a freshman and improved greatly at safety during 2015. Farley bounced around everywhere and was Notre Dame’s special teams captain.

Carlisle might fit a similar mold. He played running back, receiver and returned kicks and punts throughout his college career. With a 4.4 during Notre Dame’s Pro Day, he likely showed the Cardinals enough to take a shot, and now he’ll join an offense with Michael Floyd and Troy Niklas.

 

Robertson picks Cal over Notre Dame, UGA

Demetris Robertson
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Demetris Robertson‘s decision wasn’t trending in Notre Dame’s direction. But those that expected the Savannah star athlete to pick the in-state Bulldogs were in for a surprise when Robertson chose Cal on Sunday afternoon.

Notre Dame’s pursuit of the five-star athlete, recruited to play outside receiver and hopefully replace Will Fuller, likely ended Sunday afternoon with Robertson making the surprise decision to take his substantial talents to Berkeley. And give credit to Robertson for doing what he said all along—picking a school that’ll give him the chance to earn an exceptional education and likely contribute from Day One.

“I am excited to take my talents to the University of California, Berkeley. The first reason is that the education was a big part of my decision. I wanted to keep that foundation,” Robertson said, per CFT. “When I went there, it felt like home. Me and the coaching staff have a great relationship. That’s where I felt were the best of all things for me.”

Adding one final twist in all of this is that Robertson has no letter-of-intent to sign. Because he’s blown three months through Signing Day, Robertson merely enrolls at a college when the time comes. That means until then, Kirby Smart and the Georgia staff will continue to sell Robertson on staying home and helping the Dawgs rebuild. Smart visited with Robertson Saturday night and had multiple assistant coaches at his track meet this weekend.

Summer school begins in June for Notre Dame. Their freshman receiving class looks complete with early enrollee Kevin Stepherson and soon-to-arrive pass-catchers Javon McKinley and Chase Claypool.

Sheldon Day drafted in 4th round by Jaguars

North Carolina v Notre Dame
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Former Notre Dame captain Sheldon Day didn’t have to wait long on Saturday to hear his name called. The Indianapolis native, All-American, and the Irish’s two-time defensive lineman of the year was pick number 103, the fourth pick of the fourth round on Saturday afternoon.

Day was the seventh Irish player drafted, following first rounders Ronnie Stanley and Will Fuller, second round selections Jaylon Smith and Nick Martin, and third rounders KeiVarae Russell and C.J. Prosise.

Day has a chance to contribute as he joins the 24th-ranked defense in the league. Joining a draft class heavy on defensive players—Jalen Ramsey, Myles Jack and Yannick Ngakoue already picked ahead of him—the front seven will also include last year’s No. 3 overall pick Dante Fowler, who missed the entire season with a knee injury.

Scouted by the Jaguars at the Senior Bowl, Day doesn’t necessarily have the size to be a traditional defensive tackle. But under Gus Bradley’s attacking system (Bradley coordinated the Seahawks defense for four seasons), Day will find a niche and a role in a young defense that’s seen a heavy investment the past two years.

Smith, Martin, Russell and Prosise all drafted Friday night

INDIANAPOLIS, IN - SEPTEMBER 13: William Fuller #7 of the Notre Dame Fighting Irish and Nick Martin #72 of the Notre Dame Fighting Irish celebrate a touchdown during the game against the Purdue Boilermakers at Lucas Oil Stadium on September 13, 2014 in Indianapolis, Indiana.  (Photo by Michael Hickey/Getty Images)
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Jaylon Smith, Nick Martin, KeiVarae Russell and C.J. Prosise were all selected on Friday, with four Irish teammates taken on the second night of the NFL Draft. As mentioned, Smith came off the board at pick 34, with the Cowboys gambling on the injured knee of the Butkus Award winner. Nick Martin was selected at pick 50, joining former teammate Will Fuller in Houston.

The third round saw Russell and Prosise come off the board, with Kansas City jumping on the confident cornerback and the Seahawks taking Notre Dame’s breakout running back. It capped off a huge night for the Irish with Sheldon Day, one of the more productive football players in college football, still on the board for teams to pick.

Here’s a smattering of instant reactions from the immediate aftermath.