Take the U.S. Postal Service, add to it Notre Dame football and the holiday season, and you expect a punchline.
But this week, the Irish football program has received a lot of attention on the internet for its “Pot of Gold,” a recruiting tactic that has seen the Notre Dame football office presumably blow through their postage budget in a few short weeks.
The Irish’s first Pot of Gold was sent to blue-chip defensive tackle Matt Elam, one of the targets to fill Louis Nix’s shoes on the interior of the Irish defensive line. It’s rumored that as many as 11 others have gone out, with now Irish commit Kolin Hill receiving one, as well as linebacker target Nyles Morgan and tight end Dalton Schultz, who chronicled it on his YouTube channel.
For those still not sure what exactly a Pot of Gold is, the Irish recruiting office essentially mail-bombs a recruit, sending hundreds of letters timed to arrive on the same day. While it might sound ridiculous to those of us not picking between dozens of college scholarships, here’s Elam’s reaction:
And here’s Schultz’s YouTube response, which has gotten over 28,000 viewings in less than 48 hours:
The new recruiting initiative is the collective work of the Irish support and coaching staff, with J.R. Sandlin, the first-year recruiting analyst hired by Brian Kelly and Dave Peloquin, Notre Dame’s director of player personnel, spearheading the process. Sandlin cut his teeth in college football in the SEC, leaving a job as Tennessee’s recruiting coordinator to join the Irish staff. Before that he spent three seasons running the day-to-day operations of the Alabama recruiting office, seeing behind the curtain of Nick Saban’s juggernaut.
The Irish coaching staff has bought all in on the #PotofGold, using a hashtag on Twitter to push the idea viral. Kelly has mentioned it on his Twitter feed. So has co-defensive coordinator Kerry Cooks and recruiting coordinator Tony Alford.
While it feels a little over-the-top to some ND football traditionalists, this is the era of football that we live in. Kevin Sumlin created a stir taking a helicopter to high school football games, creating a buzz with a showtime arrival. Other schools have showed up in limos, announcing their presence that way. That Notre Dame was able to create a national buzz during a recruiting quiet period, keeping momentum up as the home stretch approaches, was impressive.
As the Irish try to finish out their recruiting class with an elite group of national targets, drawing buzz for the amount of attention you throw at a recruit isn’t the worst idea in the world. And the early returns from the recruiting targets — the only measurement that counts — are impressive.