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Pot of Gold pushes Notre Dame recruiting to the forefront

Dec 19, 2013, 3:46 PM EDT

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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.

  1. joeblk10 - Dec 19, 2013 at 4:29 PM

    I dig it

    • dickasman - Dec 19, 2013 at 9:34 PM

      They should just mail them pot sans of gold. We iz be número uno recruiting, fa sho!

  2. runners00 - Dec 19, 2013 at 5:11 PM

    It’s not over the top.

    The SEC has won how many titles in a row? It’s largely because of recruiting. If this helps us get the kinds of recruits — numbers, skills, etc. — that we need to compete with the SEC schools, so be it.

    Let’s Go Irish!

  3. aceinthehole12 - Dec 19, 2013 at 5:39 PM

    I know if I were a 16-17 year old kid and I got this I’d love it haha.

    • dickasman - Dec 19, 2013 at 9:34 PM

      Fa sho nekka fa sho!

  4. irish13pa - Dec 19, 2013 at 6:32 PM

    Id dig it too, but imagine getting those letters from an SEC school each filled with a fiddy or 2…

    • chadwalters425 - Dec 19, 2013 at 9:30 PM

      I would bet that a lot of Elam’s UK letters were full of misspellings and grammar disasters.


    • chadwalters425 - Dec 19, 2013 at 9:31 PM

      The pile of UK letters to Elam could be called his Pot of Coal.

    • dickasman - Dec 19, 2013 at 9:35 PM

      I heard they sent his sisters underwear.

    • dickasman - Dec 19, 2013 at 9:37 PM

      I meant under armour…dam iphone autocorrect!

    • dickasman - Dec 19, 2013 at 9:38 PM

      Well guess doesn’t matter they both mean the same, oh well stupid English. Imma stick to my obamanish.

  5. irishaggie - Dec 19, 2013 at 6:38 PM

    Dalton – “they had to send it in a freaking bin” haha

  6. kansasirish - Dec 19, 2013 at 6:53 PM

    Apparently it did work on Elam….ND has been eliminated. It’s Bama or UK….Boo!!

    • 1historian - Dec 20, 2013 at 11:40 AM

      6’5″ 370 lbs. in H.S. You’d want to get him down at least to 350 or so to play. Add Irishdodger’s 10:11 post in re. academics and that’s a stay-away for sure.

  7. kiopta1 - Dec 19, 2013 at 7:24 PM


    • dickasman - Dec 19, 2013 at 9:42 PM

      No brainer there.

  8. futilephish - Dec 19, 2013 at 7:32 PM

    Dude that’s brilliant
    But on the other hand the 5 star recruits they need don’t know what a letter is
    Kids only like the frigging phones

  9. goirishgo - Dec 19, 2013 at 8:50 PM

    I’m a little conflicted. On one hand it’s clearly a move that separates ND from the pack of schools recruiting these young men. On the other, it rubs me the wrong way that such excessive pandering is what honest college recruiting has come to. Happy if it gets good players to ND but, man, I just couldn’t kiss a kid’s ass like that.

    I have officially turned into my father.

    • dickasman - Dec 19, 2013 at 9:41 PM

      They should send before(dingleberry at Carwash) and after(Knute Rockne, uhhh help me out guys. Who’s a hotshot filthy rich ND grad?

    • 1historian - Dec 20, 2013 at 11:42 AM

      May we assume that’s a good thing?

      • goirishgo - Dec 20, 2013 at 4:54 PM

        Yep. He was the man.

  10. irishdodger - Dec 19, 2013 at 10:11 PM

    Elam was always a long shot. The coaches had given him guidance on what classes to take to be eligible for ND but I don’t think he followed through. My guess is he planned to use ND as an “academic prop” at his hat selection in front of the cameras. That way he can say a prestigious academic school like ND wanted his commitment, but he chose otherwise. Happens at least once during live commitments.

    • onward2victory - Dec 19, 2013 at 11:52 PM

      I think you’re spot on with using ND as hat prop. My guess is he’s doing the same with Bama. What could be a bigger ego boost than rejecting Notre Dame and Alabama at the same time? I bet he’s known that he’s going to UK for a long time now, but just like the attention and prestige that comes with being recruited by ND and Bama.

      • windycityirish - Dec 20, 2013 at 12:18 PM

        that attention and prestige leaves quickly when your playing for a team that loses to Western Kentucky, Louisville and the entire SEC.

        You want attention? Play for a team that has every single game on national television.

  11. oldschoollyons - Dec 19, 2013 at 10:38 PM

    You are right, Irishdodger. I’ve noticed quite a few recruits doing that. Typically they list a couple of bozo schools (or sometimes four) and Notre Dame. The clue is that the other schools are very unlike ND or all are in some distant region (LIke four Texas schools and ND. A kid like that often turns out to have ND as his “image” school but goes elsewhere).

    There are a couple of problems with the 477 letters. First, 11 recruits got them. That will likely diminish how special any particular recruit will feel getting that much attention. After all, he is only one of 11.

    Second, it’s hard to imagine how such a cheesy tactic could work. The tight end from Utah who made a video about the mail seemed to think it was absurd. This tactic comes close to the line between innovative recruiting and setting the school up for derision.

    It’s all well and good that ND now has a recruiting consultant who had similar jobs at Alabama and Tennessee. Is someone like that a person that we want putting ND’s image before the public or before recruits? Based on this small-time tactic, I’d say not.

    • irishpuma - Dec 19, 2013 at 11:53 PM

      Give the guy a break it was much easier recruiting at Alabama because he was actually allowed to send the recruits an actual pot of gold!! This was his only other option as we would not let him pay them.

  12. onward2victory - Dec 19, 2013 at 11:28 PM

    I would have loved for the Irish to get Elam because of his body type/potential. But I never thought he seemed like a guy that was a good fit for ND (RKG). He seems to be really into the attention of being recruited, and I just don’t know if he would have jelled with the team all that well. I guess we’ll never know.

    And I kinda feel the same about this Shultz kid after watching that video. 4 minutes to explain that you got a bunch of mail? Something just seems narcissistic about that, making me question if he would bring a diva-like attitude with him. Not that all personalities have to be the same, but I just can’t see Fasano, Rudolph, Eifert, or Niklas recording themselves for 4 minutes.

  13. onward2victory - Dec 19, 2013 at 11:40 PM

    You guys wanna see some awful ESPN announcing? This “recruiting expert” says:

    1) That Notre Dame’s production dropped off at the TE position this year, implying that “Tile” Luatua is going to come in here and unseat Niklas and Koyak.

    2) Niles “Skies” is the new LB commit

    3) Pretty sure he pronounced Kolin Hill’s name wrong too for he hat trick.

    • dsharp86 - Dec 20, 2013 at 12:08 AM

      Very funny. Three strikes and he’s out. I noticed both Rivals and Scout actually have Nic Weishar, who had an excellent senior season, ranked several spots ahead of Luatua (for what their rankings are worth). With Heuerman and Smythe a class ahead (both with 4 years of eligibility left) we look well stocked after Niklas and Koyack leave. Hard to imagine pot of gold recipient Schultz, who is at the top of the rankings, would join also with these numbers, but who knows. Nothing is final until signing day, Vanderdoes not withstanding.

  14. kiopta1 - Dec 20, 2013 at 9:01 AM

    Dick…you are like that one loud drunk guy everyone just ignores and hopes stumbles by while they continue to enjoy themselves. Lol.

    • ndoneill - Dec 20, 2013 at 9:54 AM

      He tries too hard — kind of like a Ryan Howard. It’s a three-pitch strike out (all those n-words he’s throwing around) or a home run (the auto-correct comment was admittedly funny). Nothing in between.

      • elkona - Dec 20, 2013 at 11:32 AM

        I only check Keith’s blog to read dickasman’s comments. Mostly he is hilarious and the blog needs his humor to balance out all the douchebag friendly fire between fanboys trying to one up each other over how much they like/hate Tommy Rees or why some 5 star kid they never met isn’t playing.

    • onward2victory - Dec 20, 2013 at 11:31 AM

      I’m afraid that’s not an analogy. Just a fact.

  15. gmenfan1982 - Dec 20, 2013 at 7:33 PM

    I think this idea is just AWESOME. I read about it a few days ago and loved it!

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