Dec 7, 2012, 8:04 PM EDT
If you didn’t have a chance to catch last night’s college football awards show, you missed two-plus hours of honoring Notre Dame. With Brian Kelly winning the coach of the year, Lou Holtz presenting Ara Parseghian with a lifetime achievement award, and Manti Te’o pulling in even more hardware, Notre Dame’s resurgence was on full display on ESPN, a network that’s enjoyed touting both the highs and lows of recent years.
From one awards show to the next, Notre Dame will hold their annual football awards show Friday night, a celebration that’ll certainly be more joyous as the Irish commemorate an undefeated regular season, instead of back-to-back eight-win years. Tune in for offensive and defensive players of the year, newcomer of the year, scout team players of the year, and guardian of the year. (There might even be some added awards… that’s part of the fun!)
The banquet — streamed live on UND.com — will also be part of a huge recruiting weekend for Notre Dame. A large contingency of the 2013 recruiting class will be in town, many taking their official visits. But the biggest recruit in town will be the lone uncommitted prospect: Five-star running back Greg Bryant.
Bryant will get his first look at South Bend this weekend, taking in the banquet surrounded by close to a dozen committed recruits in his class. He’s already built a fast friendship with position coach Tony Alford, and will walk onto campus with the ability to earn immediate playing time, with Theo Riddick and Cierre Wood both seniors, and Wood looking as if he’ll join Riddick in the NFL next year.
Bryant is the top running back prospect the Irish have been close to landing since James Aldridge, and the powerful back looks like he’s ready-made to step onto a college campus and contribute.
If you missed last night’s ESPN broadcast, you missed Ara Parseghian‘s emotional acceptance speech after earning an achievement award for his enduring work long after his retirement from coaching football. As someone too young to truly understand Parseghian’s role in Notre Dame’s lore, it was a tremendous look at a man still incredibly vibrant at the age of 89.
With his family joining him in the front row, Parseghian wowed the crowd with a speech that would’ve had just about every locker room ready for battle. With ESPN’s Tom Rinaldi holding the microphone, it was Parseghian that controlled the conversation with ESPN’s king of schmaltz, addressing the players and crowd with passion as he talked about the battle of his lifetime: finding a cure for Niemann-Pick Type C, a genetic, neurodegenerative disorder that claimed the lives of three of his grandchildren.
Parseghian had the chance to be a true great of the coaching profession, guiding the Irish to multiple national championships before walking away from coaching at the age of 51. In an era where coaches are often hailed as great men for the work they do with their teams on the field, Parseghian appears to be one of the last fine men to be rightfully defined by both his greatness as an on-field tactician, as well as for his philanthropic efforts, raising more than $40 million in research towards finding a cure for an incredibly cruel disorder that cut short the lives of his grandchildren.
Parseghian will likely stay in the headlines for the next month, as football fans look back at his historic 24-23 victory over Bear Bryant’s Alabama team in 1973, a national championship win the year before Parseghian beat Bryant in the Orange Bowl before walking away from the game.
But his work fighting one of life’s truly unfair diseases, and his willingness to walk away from the spotlight of the sidelines to do more with his life is one of the truly great stories associated with Notre Dame.
“One of the most difficult things is when you know the child’s got a terminal disease and you’re trying to find a cure, you’re looking for a silver bullet, and you know each day they’re deteriorating,” Parseghian told Gannett News Services’ Mike Lopresti. “To watch that happen is an agonizing experience. In our lives, nothing compares to that, even the euphoria of a national championship.”
Talking the subject back to recruiting, it’s interesting to note that after years of hearing Notre Dame fans complain about Rivals.com routinely downgrading the Irish’s recruiting class, this year’s group has actually gotten better with time.
As rankings usually ebb and flow throughout the “evaluation process,” the common complaint was that Notre Dame recruits often times would see their stock downgraded as things got closer and closer to national signing day.
Looking at Notre Dame’s record the last few years, you certainly can’t blame Rivals for downgrading the talent that ultimately underperformed in South Bend for the past decade. Yet this recruiting class, not a group that started super star heavy, has actually seen its stock rise over the past few months.
Lastly, Notre Dame athletic director Jack Swarbrick was interviewed by Jack Nolan on UND.com and talked about the Irish’s achievement of being No. 1 in the BCS and No. 1 in the Graduation Success Rate (GSR), one of the NCAA’s guiding academic indicators.
It’s a tremendous achievement, and Swarbrick’s position on it was incredibly interesting.
“It’s the way we always wanted to get there,” Swarbrick told Nolan. “I talk often of proof of concept, and we always wanted to prove that when we restored the football program that the cost of doing that wasn’t a lessening of our commitment to education. And we have statistical evidence of that this year.
“To be able to say we’re No. 1 in the BCS and we are No. 1 in the Graduation Success Rate at the same time, and no one has ever done that, and it’s going to be very hard for someone else to do that in the future, is a real milestone.”
Jul 11, 2014, 12:00 PM EDT
Matt Hegarty’s football career almost ended when a stroke suffered during a November practice in 2012 revealed two small holes in his heart. Healthy again and a key contributor late in 2013, our next stop on the Irish A-to-Z train takes a look at the New Mexico native and his road back onto the playing field.
Jul 11, 2014, 8:59 AM EDT
Watch List week continues with more Irish veterans recognized for their potential 2014 season. In addition to Everett Golson, KeiVarae Russell and Jaylon Smith, four more Irish players found their names on awards lists, with Kyle Brindza, Sheldon Day, Ben Koyack and Nick Martin being tabbed.
Jul 10, 2014, 9:47 AM EDT
A new time-lapse video released by Fighting Irish Digital Media and UND.com gives us an update on the FieldTurf installation going inside Notre Dame Stadium.
Jul 10, 2014, 9:26 AM EDT
Notre Dame scoured the country for recruits as they prepared for life after Louis Nix and Stephon Tuitt. Our next A-to-Z installment looks at Jay Hayes, the incoming freshman defensive lineman looking to replace them.
Jul 10, 2014, 8:17 AM EDT
Entering his junior season, offensive lineman Mark Harrell has yet to make his way onto the field for the Irish. Our next installment in Irish A-to-Z takes a closer look at the Charlotte native and what he needs to do to see the field.
Jul 9, 2014, 11:30 AM EDT
Our Irish A-to-Z tour continues with safety Eilar Hardy. A knee injury derailed his freshman season. A suspension before the Stanford game did the same after earning two late-season starts in 2013. What does 2014 have in store for the veteran?
Jul 9, 2014, 8:48 AM EDT
With some of the top recruits in the country at The Opening, Notre Dame commitment C.J. Sanders put on a show. Making the SPARQ testing finals, Sanders dazzled as he showed elite speed and explosiveness.
Jul 8, 2014, 6:00 PM EDT
When Notre Dame offered legacy lineman Conor Hanratty, many raised an eyebrow. With sons of former stars like Tregg Duerson and Jake Golic doing little with the full ride many perceived as a nod to their famous predecessors, Hanratty had the profile of a player whose best attribute was his father, former Irish quarterback Terry Hanratty.
Jul 8, 2014, 10:00 AM EDT
A career-threatening leg injury has put Jarrett Grace’s status up in the air. Our latest Irish A-to-Z takes a closer look at the future of Notre Dame’s middle linebacker.
Jul 8, 2014, 8:39 AM EDT
A trio of Notre Dame football players find themselves on the watch list for some very impressive postseason awards. Quarterback Everett Golson is on the Maxwell Award’s watch list while junior cornerback KeiVarae Russell and sophomore linebacker Jaylon Smith were both selected to the Bednarik’s watch list.
Jul 7, 2014, 11:11 PM EDT
A few weeks after being suspended indefinitely from the football team, Irish wide receiver Will Mahone is no longer enrolled at Notre Dame.
Jul 7, 2014, 1:17 PM EDT
No game means more to Notre Dame fans than the annual battle with USC. As we finish our post-spring viewing of the Irish’s 2014 opponents, let’s take a closer look at college football’s greatest intersectional rivalry.
Jul 4, 2014, 9:00 AM EDT
For all the thousands of words dedicated to Everett Golson’s comeback, few have talked about the fact that he’s still very much a quarterback in progress. Our next stop on Irish A-to-Z looks at the most important player in the program.
Jul 2, 2014, 11:36 PM EDT
Notre Dame may have missed out on Jashon Cornell and Justin Hilliard on Wednesday, but they won the commitment of jumbo receiver Miles Boykin. The Illinois native chose Notre Dame over Michigan State, Michigan, Ohio State, Florida and a slew of other offers.
Jul 2, 2014, 1:00 PM EDT
Will Fuller served as Notre Dame’s human go route during his freshman season. As we continue our Irish A-to-Z, expect Fuller’s duties — and production — to expand greatly in 2014.
Jul 2, 2014, 10:20 AM EDT
Notre Dame ended up bridesmaids in their recruitment of Jashon Cornell and Justin Hilliard, two elite defensive prospects in the Midwest. The defensive end and linebacker made joint announcements, both deciding to attend Ohio State and play for Urban Meyer.
Jul 2, 2014, 9:30 AM EDT
While most people expected a freshman running back to burst onto the scene in 2013, few thought it’d be Tarean Folston. Our next installment of Irish A-to-Z takes a look at a potential star-in-the-making.
Jul 1, 2014, 9:03 PM EDT
The recruiting train continues for Notre Dame, with Washington D.C. area defensive back Ashton White pledging his commitment to the Irish on Tuesday evening.
Jul 1, 2014, 10:58 AM EDT
As the calendar turns to July, Notre Dame athletics has officially become the flagship program for Under Armour apparel. Twitter gave us our first look at the new gear.
Jul 1, 2014, 9:30 AM EDT
After stepping into a key role during 2012, many expected Matthias Farley to be the next big thing at safety for the Irish. But an up-and-down season in 2013 has Farley changing positions again, heading to cornerback. Our latest in the Irish A-to-Z.