Tommy Rees, Amir Carlisle

Irish turn the page to Purdue


It might not be as easy for fans, but with a football game this Saturday night in another hostile road environment, Brian Kelly and the Irish have turned the page on the loss to Michigan.

The Irish, who slid to No. 21 in the polls while Michigan jumped to No. 11, will prepare for Darrell Hazell’s Purdue squad, a team that took the Irish to the brink last year in a squeaky early season victory that required Tommy Rees to come on in relief.

Kelly spoke with the gathered media today, answering more questions about the Michigan game than what lies ahead, but did give clarity to a few burning questions Irish fans had. As we discussed yesterday, Kelly got into the particulars of the offensive play-calling, talking about the decision to throw the ball nearly three-quarters of the time last Saturday.

“There’s eight guys on the line of scrimmage. If the box is plus‑one and plus‑two, there’s not much of a running game,” Kelly explained. “When we had two‑shell and we had the ability to run the ball, we ran the ball effectively. And then we got behind. We were down two scores.  We had to speed the game up and throw the football.”

Falling behind was a product of a lack of execution on both sides of the football. And while this loss aggravated some of the Kelly detractors who have gone back to their bedrock argument of running the football and focusing on old-school (and somewhat archaic) fundamentals, Kelly was candid about how he wants to play the game.

“I want balance just like everybody else in America wants balance,” Kelly said. “But look, we have to throw the ball effectively when we are called upon to throw the ball and we have to run the ball effectively when we are called upon to run effectively.

“Balance is this panacea that everyone looks for, but you need to win football games and whatever it takes to win football games, we’d better be good at it.  We’d better be good at scoring points running the ball, and we’d better be good at throwing the ball when the situations call for it.”


Irish add commitment from CB Donte Vaughn

Donte Vaughn

Notre Dame’s recruiting class grew on Monday. And in adding 6-foot-3 Memphis cornerback Donte Vaughn, it grew considerably.

The Irish added another jumbo-sized skill player in Vaughn, beating out a slew of SEC offers for the intriguing cover man. Vaughn picked Notre Dame over offers from Auburn, LSU, Miami, Ole Miss, Mississippi State, Tennessee and Texas A&M among others.

He made the announcement on Monday, his 18th birthday:

It remains to be seen if Vaughn can run like a true cornerback. But his length certainly gives him a skill-set that doesn’t currently exist on the Notre Dame roster.

Interestingly enough, Vaughn’s commitment comes a cycle after Brian VanGorder made news by going after out-of-profile coverman Shaun Crawford, immediately offering the 5-foot-9 cornerback after taking over for Bob Diaco, who passed because of Crawford’s size. An ACL injury cut short Crawford’s freshman season before it got started, but not before Crawford already proved he’ll be a valuable piece of the Irish secondary for years to come.

Vaughn is another freaky athlete in a class that already features British Columbia’s Chase Claypool. With a safety depth chart that’s likely turning over quite a bit in the next two seasons, Vaughn can clearly shift over if that’s needed, though Notre Dame adding length like Vaughn clearly points to some of the shifting trends after Richard Sherman went from an average wide receiver to one of the best cornerbacks in football, and Vaughn will be asked to play on the outside.

Vaughn is the 15th member of Notre Dame’s 2016 signing class. He is the fifth defensive back, joining safeties D.J. Morgan, Jalen Elliott and Spencer Perry along with cornerback Julian Love. The Irish project to take one more.

With Notre Dame expecting another huge recruiting weekend with USC coming to town, it’ll be very interesting to see how the Irish staff close out this recruiting class.




Days before facing Notre Dame, USC coach Steve Sarkisian to take leave of absence


When Notre Dame takes on rival USC on Saturday, they’ll be facing a Trojans team without a head coach. USC athletic director Pat Haden announced today that effective immediately, head coach Steve Sarkisian will be taking an indefinite leave of absence. Offensive coordinator Clay Helton will be interim head coach.

While the details are still coming into focus, multiple reports point to another incident with alcohol. Haden himself said that he made the decision after speaking with Sarkisian.

“I called Steve and talked to him. It was very clear to me that he is not healthy. I asked him to take an indefinite leave of absence,” Haden said, according to multiple Los Angeles media reports.

Sarkisian’s decision-making and alcohol use came into the spotlight this August when the head coach made inappropriate statements at a large booster event. Sarkisian addressed the media after the incident, acknowledged mixing medication with alcohol, and vowed to seek help and not to make the same mistake again.

Today’s incident appears to be a relapse, and one that requires immediate attention. Helton ran the team’s practice today and steps back into an interim head coaching role, a job he handled after the Trojans fired Lane Kiffin and Ed Orgeron left after not being awarded the permanent job.

“Fortunately or unfortunately, I have been in this situation before,” Helton said. “Once again, I’m very fortunate to have a group of first-class kids that are extremely talented and want to do something special here.”

This is the second major sports persona to leave his season to seek treatment in recent weeks. New York Yankees pitcher CC Sabathia left the team to seek treatment for alcohol issues. The Trojans are coming off an upset loss to Washington on Thursday night, losing 17-12 as a 17-point favorite.