May 6, 2013, 8:00 AM EDT
Putting the 2012 season into context will be easier the farther away it gets. Notre Dame’s unlikely run to the BCS Championship game is incredible for so many different reasons. Even if the end result was a one-sided Alabama victory, the fact that the Irish found themselves at the apex of the mountain is one of the most fascinating stories in sports.
It’s hard to look at a flagship program like Notre Dame and see an underdog story. Yet the fact that the Irish found themselves playing against Nick Saban’s Alabama program in college football’s final game, is wonderful validation for not just the head coach, but the university’s athletic mission.
At the Notre Dame club of Dallas luncheon last week, Brian Kelly spoke about last season and what it did for both the university and his football team. Our friends at Her Loyal Sons, and their editor-in-chief NDTex, did a tremendous job sharing Kelly’s thoughts.
Do yourself a favor and head over to HLS and read the whole thing, but this portion really struck me:
“2012 for Notre Dame Football was a great year. I like to call it ‘Faith Restored.’ There’s faith restored back into the principles that you can graduate all of your players and you can play the game of football the right way and you can do it to being number one in football on the field and number one in football off the field.
“That’s why I took the job at Notre Dame. I believe that you can do it. We saw that you can do it.
“Because all the things that you know about Notre Dame, they’re still occurring on a day to day basis. We haven’t changed our academic standards. We haven’t changed who we are and what our distinctions are…We can recruit young men, not having to apologize for who we are and what we stand for.
“As it relates to faith — everybody first thinks about religion, but I will tell you that there is more going on at Notre Dame than just going to church. There’s more going on because, when we talk about faith, and you can feel it when you are on campus, it’s about restoring faith in the human spirit. That faith that you can trust somebody and not be cynical or think that there’s an agenda. And that is an environment that’s energizing.
“So, just so you know, winning twelve games on the football field is still in lock-step with who we are in our identity at the University of Notre Dame and that’ll never change. I don’t want to be the football coach at Notre Dame that begins selling out on academics, taking kids that don’t want and understand the value of a Notre Dame degree. So when we’re in a home and we’re recruiting a young man, they’ve got to recognize those things.
“At Notre Dame, those principles will not change.”
For those that worry that Brian Kelly might not know what Notre Dame is about, this should answer any of those questions. Just as important, Kelly’s understanding that the marriage of winning and winning the right way is critical in this evolution.
Nobody wants to hear about Notre Dame being different and special if they lose five games a season. Teams like that belong in the Ivy or Patriot League. But the fact that Notre Dame was the first team in the modern era of college football to be both the No. 1 team on the field and the No. 1 team in Graduation Success Rate is a story that can’t be written about enough. And while it’s a lost cause to hope that this story gets even a fraction of the attention of a cat-fishing scam or a NFL job interview, that’s the world that we live in.
But whether it’s on the field, the recruiting trail, or in the NFL Draft, we’re seeing the process Kelly and athletic director Jack Swarbrick laid out take shape. And while the football team has put 2012 in the rear-view mirror, it’s the kind of bedrock that restores a program.
Jul 30, 2015, 1:47 PM EDT
Notre Dame opens the season ranked No. 11 in the preseason USA Today Amway Coaches Poll. The Irish, who finished last season 8-5, return the majority of their starting lineup, providing some context for the bullish expectations. Only Gus Malzahn’s Auburn team is ranked higher among teams that finished with five losses in 2014.
Jul 30, 2015, 12:45 PM EDT
Last year, we saw what a talented freshman linebacker in over his head looked like. His name was Nyles Morgan, and the blue-chip recruit personified the second-half defensive collapse that flushed the Irish season down the drain. Want the good part? Stick around, as Irish A-to-Z continues.
Jul 30, 2015, 10:00 AM EDT
When Brian Kelly plucked offensive lineman John Montelus from his hometown of Everett, Massachusetts, the Irish looked to be adding another mauler to the interior of Harry Hiestand’s offensive line. And after two seasons of reshaping his body and learning the ropes, Montelus is in a competitive two-deep, still looking for a role in this offense.
Jul 29, 2015, 4:30 PM EDT
It didn’t take long for Notre Dame’s coaching staff to know they wanted to offer Peter Mokwuah. After getting a glimpse of the big-bodied defensive tackle, Brian VanGorder and Brian Kelly went to Staten Island and left with a key piece to the depth chart.
Jul 29, 2015, 2:11 PM EDT
We are a little more than a week away from the start of the 2015 football season. Notre Dame released their training camp schedule on Wednesday, highlighting the key dates leading up to the season opener against Texas.
Jul 29, 2015, 1:30 PM EDT
Last preseason, Mike McGlinchey was the odd-man out along the offensive line, losing out on the opportunity to be the team’s starting right tackle. Entering 2015, he’s one of the key X factors that’ll determine whether or not Harry Hiestand’s offensive line is one of the best in the country.
Jul 29, 2015, 11:45 AM EDT
With Notre Dame’s defense falling apart, second-year player Jacob Matuska was thrown into the fire, earning playing time after the first (and most of the second) line of defense went down. Let’s check on the rising junior as Irish A-to-Z rolls on.
Jul 28, 2015, 4:00 PM EDT
The first recruit to join the 2014 recruiting class, Greer Martini may have been envisioned as a 3-4 linebacker in Bob Diaco’s scheme, but he very quickly showed he could play anywhere the rebooted Irish defense needed him. Irish A-to-Z keeps on keepin’ on.
Jul 28, 2015, 12:44 PM EDT
While discussing Notre Dame’s “rivals” usually turns into some type of screaming hot-take opportunity, it’s undeniable that the Irish’s date with Boston College in Fenway Park is a wonderful place to renew a “rivalry” that’s gotten a lot less regular.
Jul 28, 2015, 10:00 AM EDT
In his first season without his brother on campus, Nick Martin looked to make a name for himself. But 2014 was a battle for Martin, not just to escape the shadows of his All-Pro brother, but to regain his health after a lingering knee injury and a multitude of other ailments made the entire season a grind.
Jul 27, 2015, 3:02 PM EDT
Ready or not, Cole Luke was thrown into the deep end in 2014, forced into a starting role after KeiVarae Russell’s August suspension. Paired with Cody Riggs as the team’s field cornerback, Luke more than held his own as a sophomore starter, taking on one of the most challenging schedules in college football, with elite receivers testing the Irish secondary nearly every week.
Jul 27, 2015, 11:52 AM EDT
Looking for a sledgehammer in an offense that sometimes gets branded finesse? Look no further than tight end Tyler Luatua. The big-bodied thumper may not look like the rest of the tight end depth chart, but certainly will come in handy as the Irish do their best to transform into a run-to-win team in 2015.
Jul 26, 2015, 9:00 AM EDT
The big news of the spring was supposed to be DeShone Kizer ascending to the job of holder on field goals and PATs. Instead, Kizer is one snap away from being Notre Dame’s starting quarterback, his development kick-started with Everett Golson’s decision to transfer.
Jul 24, 2015, 2:00 PM EDT
After Jim Grobe presided over the Wake Forest football program for 13 seasons, the school made a change bringing in coach Dave Clawson after five consecutive losing seasons. What followed was ugly, an understandable bottoming out—and a three-win season that may have been one of the least impressive in any Power Five conference.
Jul 24, 2015, 9:00 AM EDT
After struggling to find his way in the program as a defensive end, Jarron Jones saw a lightbulb come on after filling in for Louis Nix at nose guard. With no other options available, the Irish defensive staff called on Jones to fill Nix’s sizeable void, and Jones responded—turning the trajectory of his career around in the process.
Jul 23, 2015, 1:15 PM EDT
Notre Dame won a long recruiting battle for Alizé Jones, landing one of the best tight ends in the country over UCLA. To the victor goes one of the most ready-made pass catching tight ends in the country, and Notre Dame gets a potential difference maker from the moment Jones takes the field.
Jul 23, 2015, 9:00 AM EDT
After a long recovery following a gruesome non-contact injury at the U.S. Army All-American Bowl, Torii Hunter Jr. fought his way back to the field in 2014. Now comes the hard part—playing up to the potential that had many so excited before the broken femur.
Jul 22, 2015, 1:00 PM EDT
The fact that Chase Hounshell is still a part of Notre Dame’s football program is noteworthy. After shoulder surgeries essentially derailed the defensive lineman’s career, Hounshell was given the opportunity to reinvent himself this spring, serving as a tight end when many expected him to be done with the program.
Jul 22, 2015, 8:00 AM EDT
Notre Dame finally got back into Florida high school powerhouse St. Thomas Aquinas when they landed Corey Holmes. After establishing in roads with Sam Young and holding court with specialists Ben Turk and Jordan Cowart, landing an elite receiver out of one of the country’s best programs was the handy work of Tony Alford.
Jul 21, 2015, 2:00 PM EDT
Harry Hiestand finally recruited a true center in early-enrollee freshman Tristen Hoge. Now it’s up to the two-time Idaho state player of the year to earn the opportunity to replace Nick Martin at the heart of the Irish offensive line.