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Early exits to NFL present new challenges for Irish

Jan 16, 2014, 3:48 PM EDT

Troy Niklas Getty Images

When Stephon Tuitt and Troy Niklas decided to leave Notre Dame after three seasons and head to the NFL, it presented another minor crisis for Brian Kelly. Yet the biggest dilemma won’t be how Kelly and the Irish replace two frontline players, both likely to be off the board in the draft’s first two rounds. But rather the Irish’s three-and-out players present a minor crack in the foundation of what the program is selling, the ability to play elite college football while also graduating from one of the country’s premiere universities. 

Kelly and the Irish staff have poster children for that narrative, with pin-ups like early draft picks Tyler Eifert, Manti Te’o, Michael Floyd and now Louis Nix. In Nix’s case, you’ll see a player whose injury-plagued final season won’t hamper what NFL teams see, with Nix still projected by most to be a first round pick.

While situations like George Atkinson will happen, it’s hard not to understand why Kelly and his staff would be disappointed by the decisions by Tuitt and Niklas to leave, especially a player like Niklas, who is only scratching the surface of what’s to come.

Kelly talked about his thought process in a radio interview with Bill King on SiriusXM early this week.

“It just depends on how you look at it. I feel like when you come to Notre Dame, you don’t leave your degree on the table,” Kelly told King. “I just feel like it is the best 401k that is out there, the best insurance policy. You then are playing with the house money, so to speak, relative to your NFL career. You don’t have any concerns because you have that degree.”

It’s interesting to think back to the last time an underclassman at tight end decided to head to the NFL early. Kyle Rudolph wasn’t recruited to Notre Dame by Kelly and also suffered an injury that came as he tried to play through hamstring troubles. But when the feedback from the NFL came, Kelly supported the decision in part because Rudolph was the top tight end on the board.

As you listen to Kelly’s rationale, both in his radio interview and in what Niklas has already publicly discussed, the fact that Niklas could’ve been a first round player and the top tight end in next year’s draft is what bothers him the most.

“I also felt like the way the draft was unfolding with all the juniors coming out, that he could have been the top guy,” Kelly said of Niklas’ prospects in 2015. “But Troy felt like he was ready. We wish him the very best and hope that it turns out to be a good business decision, because when you whittle this all down, this becomes a real big business decision. We hope that it works out for him.”

That business decision is something Alabama coach Nick Saban knows well. As he’s built up the Crimson Tide program into a powerhouse, he’s also had to deal with the inevitable talent drain that’s come along with it. This year, Saban said goodbye to four juniors, and he discussed his rationale for approving those decisions.

“If you stay three years and you’re going to be a first-round draft pick, that guy should probably go because it’s a significant amount of money and a business decision,” Saban said. “All these other guys that are second-day … 53 percent of the guys that get second-round grades don’t even get drafted. It’s all about what kind of career you have.

“Even the second-round pick or third-round pick, your average signing bonus is $700,000. If you can go from being a third-round pick to a guy that’s the 25th pick, you make $7 million. That’s 10 times more.”

Compare that with what Niklas’ father Don said about the numbers the Niklas family crunched.

“Money wasn’t the focal point, but it was certainly a point,” Don Niklas told Irish Illustrated. “He got a consensus grade of being as high as a second round pick and typically teams are conservative.

“There are very few tight ends who have gone in the draft in the Top 10 and the Top 10 is where the money is. If you take the Top 10 out of the salary calculation, then going 21st in the draft isn’t terribly different than going in the second round at No. 34. We crunched the numbers.”

Saban’s stats put into context what the NFL’s Advisory Committee’s success rate is. While the Irish players that are departing have called the projections traditionally conservative, tell that to the guys that go undrafted (like Darius Walker or Cierre Wood), which happens every year.

Ultimately, leaving early grants you access to a living and salary that everyone — not just college football players — dream of making. But it also leverages your future, putting the onus of completing a Notre Dame degree on Niklas and Tuitt, two guys that have pledged to do so.

In many ways, NFL departures is a champagne problem for Notre Dame, with a draft class that’ll likely be the strongest the Irish have produced in decades. But how things fare for Tuitt and Niklas will ultimately be determined down the line.

  1. dudeacow - Jan 16, 2014 at 4:00 PM

    For all of guys out there that hate Kelly, ever notice how each year more and more players from ND are getting drafted? He’s done a great job a developing talent.

    • irishfan4life - Jan 16, 2014 at 4:19 PM

      You’re right. It would have been a better headline next year to see Niklas and Tuitt be top players picked at their respective positions. Instead Tuitt may be the 3 or 4th DE off the board and Niklas could fall to the late second, early third. Another season of progress with Koyack and ND could have had 2 TEs go in first three rounds. Talk about TightEndU.

      • tedlinko - Jan 22, 2014 at 3:27 PM

        Tuitt always seemed likely to go — despite his mid-season comments about staying. That said, I think he would have benefited from a final season at ND that may have made him a first rounder (and helped land ND in the playoff at the same time).

        For me, the stunner was Niklas. I don’t disagree with some commenters on this board who wrote previously that, in some ways he looks more ready than Tuitt to play on Sundays. But he too may have had first round potential a year from now.

        In any case, I wish them both well and hope they both follow through and get those ND degrees.

        That’s one thing I’ll say about Jimmy Clausen, While I was never much for his attitude and thought leaving early was a mistake, at least he did come back and get his degree –which was a good choice given what a catastrophe his NFL career turned out to be.

  2. fnc111 - Jan 16, 2014 at 4:34 PM

    With such a strong draft class, how did this team go 8-4? Oh yea, Tommy Rees and the Kelly head scratching play calling.

    If ND is going to become a big player in the draft it’s best to have a great season on the field or all of this is pointless.

    • ndoneill - Jan 16, 2014 at 5:01 PM

      Regarding Rees, what did you want? Hendrix was terrible and it’s not like you can just go out and sign a free agent in college football. As far as Rees goes, you have to accept that he was the best guy on the roster. Not saying he was great, but just the best QB on the team due to a convergence of circumstances.

      You can, and by all rights should, pin the poor play calling on coaching. But that Rees was the best QB we had is no fault of Kelly’s. Golson cheating and Kiel transferring were not decisions Kelly made. And considering the production Kelly got out of Zack Collaros and Tony Pike, don’t try and tell me Hendrix being bad was Kelly’s fault too.

    • bjc378 - Jan 16, 2014 at 5:53 PM

      Didn’t think Kelly called plays this year.

    • getsome99 - Jan 16, 2014 at 6:11 PM

      Great point! To put that into context, these guys went 20-4 the past (2) seasons with a bowl win and a national championship game to go with it. Consistent success like that will inevitably produce pro players.

    • ndfaithful - Jan 16, 2014 at 7:33 PM

      Talk about pointless? How’s this for pointless: asking your own dumb question and then coming up with your own nonsense answer.

      How the Irish ended up 8-4 is well chronicled. And since you weren’t watching, Kelly didn’t call the plays.

      Whether or not ND is a ‘big player’ in the draft isn’t up for debate. They already are. So your whole supposition of “If ND is going to become a big player in the draft” is pointless also.

      Keep it rolling…

      Hey – just wondered? are you a Kelly fan? I can’t tell.

      • c4evr - Jan 17, 2014 at 9:04 AM

        When I think of NDfaithful and how he approaches fellow fans, this joke comes to mind:

        Once I saw this guy on a bridge about to jump. I said, “Don’t do it!” He said, “Nobody loves me.” I said, “God loves you. Do you believe in God?”

        He said, “Yes.” I said, “Are you a Christian or a Jew?” He said, “A Christian.” I said, “Me, too! Protestant or Catholic?” He said, “Protestant.” I said, “Me, too! What franchise?” He said, “Baptist.” I said, “Me, too! Northern Baptist or Southern Baptist?” He said, “Northern Baptist.” I said, “Me, too! Northern Conservative Baptist or Northern Liberal Baptist?”

        He said, “Northern Conservative Baptist.” I said, “Me, too! Northern Conservative Baptist Great Lakes Region, or Northern Conservative Baptist Eastern Region?” He said, “Northern Conservative Baptist Great Lakes Region.” I said, “Me, too!”

        Northern Conservative Baptist Great Lakes Region Council of 1879, or Northern Conservative Baptist Great Lakes Region Council of 1912?” He said, “Northern Conservative Baptist Great Lakes Region Council of 1912.” I said, “Die, heretic!” And I pushed him over.

      • nudeman - Jan 17, 2014 at 11:52 AM

        I’d have pushed him when he said “Baptist”
        But that’s just me

  3. fnc111 - Jan 16, 2014 at 4:42 PM

    dudeacow,

    Great point. BUT, why does he struggle at ND to have big seasons with all that developed talent? 15 losses with all that talent.

    He had one miracle year hit to basically bail him out. That 12-1 year all came to fruition because of a Te’o led defense. Heck the Kelly offense almost lost to michigan in 2012 after the defense forced seven turnovers that night. Lucky breaks against BYU, Pitt, and Stanford don’t make him a special coach on Saturdays. 15 losses is a ton of losses with all the talent he is sending to the NFL. Something doesn’t add up. I’m glad he is developing talent but it’s year five now. Let’s start winning if we are going to brag about ND draft day.

    • irishwilliamsport - Jan 16, 2014 at 4:52 PM

      Isn’t it obvious ? The problem 3 out of 4 years was there was no answer at QB. Golson played well for a year and the rest is history. We just did not have a BCS level QB for those 3 years.

      • ndoneill - Jan 16, 2014 at 5:06 PM

        That’s exactly it. Weis left the team with Cryst, Rees, Montana, and whoever that dude with an “M” last name who moved to WR was. That’s a circumstance you can’t just fix. Kelly brought in Golson and he succeeded. Gunner transferred. Now we have Zaire and Kizer. If ND is still just an AP 20-25 team after they work through the system, then you can complain.

      • c4evr - Jan 17, 2014 at 8:05 AM

        Clearly, most of you have forgotten how poorly Golson played at times in ’12 and had to have a relief pitcher save his behind. Without Rees that year, the team probably goes 9-3 and maybe a win in the Pinstripe bowl.

      • c4evr - Jan 17, 2014 at 8:58 AM

        And that was with a stout defense, which was absent this past season.

      • ndoneill - Jan 17, 2014 at 2:01 PM

        @c4ever: No doubt Golson struggled at times, but he was also a redshirt freshman. You expect the shakiness at the start. But his legs made a difference picking up first downs against Oklahoma, and he was one of the few people who played well against Alabama. This offense is clearly more dynamic when you a have a QB who can run and throw.

        Sidebar: Rees can’t run, which makes me wonder why ND still called so many empty-backfield sets in third down situations. It makes sense if you’ve got a guy who can run back there, but if not, it seems like you’re limiting yourself and making it easier on the defense by eliminating a whole aspect of the game for them to worry about.

    • ndoneill - Jan 16, 2014 at 5:12 PM

      “12-1 was a fluke” is such a laugh line. It’s no different from MSNBC or Fox pundits rejecting the evidence that contradicts their claims and uncritically trumpeting the evidence that supports them.

      “I think Kelly is awful. I want a coach that can get us double-digit wins! But he went 12-1, the best record since Holtz in 1989. Does not compute. I know, just invent excuses to discredit any positive evidence that Kelly can succeed at Notre Dame.”

      • ndgoldandblue - Jan 17, 2014 at 3:27 PM

        I’m with ya’ on the MSNBC and Fox analogies. I’m a CNN guy–just the facts, ma’am. Same thing with the Irish. They were 12-1 in 2012. Some might say that they were a worse team than the record indicated. Bollocks! They got 12 wins. I take it as it is. Same thing with this last year. They finished the season at 9-4. Not bad. Not great by any means, but not bad either. Other folks will say that the team was better than the 9-4 record indicates. I’m not buying that either. I always say that there’s a reason you lose four games, so don’t give me the “better than/worse than their record indicates” garbage. It is what it is.

        Same thing with the QB’s in 2014 and beyond. I don’t want to hear the excuses of rust or inexperience or whatever. The results will speak for themselves.

  4. NotreDan - Jan 16, 2014 at 4:44 PM

    My take (same as many others) is that this comes with the territory of being (or at least being on the cusp of being) an elite team in today’s NCAA/NFL environment.

    So while it presents challenges to ND traditions, I’d rather see those and win versus not.

  5. fnc111 - Jan 16, 2014 at 4:49 PM

    I think Niklas made a big mistake. Koyack will have a good season though. He’ll probably be a fourth rounder next year. I hope Carlson doesn’t retire from the NFL because this is going to get insane very soon on how much Tight End talent ND is sending to the NFL.

    If I’m a smart TE recruit the only schools I’m looking at: Notre Dame and Stanford.

  6. North of Denver - Jan 16, 2014 at 4:58 PM

    The “stay and you’ll get a degree from ND that will set you up for life” pitch is a tough sell since many players are allowed to come back during spring season to finish their degree (e.g., Jerome Bettis and others).

    • bearcatirishfan - Jan 16, 2014 at 5:03 PM

      Do these guys really have enough time to come back and take classes with all the ota’s off season workouts etc. I know they are not required to do these, but they are required. A lot of these contract even have workout bonuses for attending said workouts. Especially for y guys that haven’t established themselves yet.

  7. nicenirish - Jan 16, 2014 at 7:41 PM

    What’s being missed here, is we aren’t just losing talent to the NFL. Since Kelley arrived we have been losing talent to other CFB programs via transfer and lost commitments. I’m not entirely sure a lot of our problems aren’t self inflicted.

    • irish4006 - Jan 17, 2014 at 5:32 PM

      And, what’s being missed from your understanding is that, we aren’t just losing talent to other CFB programs via transfer and lost commitments. Since Kelly arrived, we have been able to first get some of those talents and commitments to come to ND. Before Kelly, we didn’t have a Tuitt or Lynch or Tee or Jaylon even commit to ND – only exception was Te’o and he was probably swayed in the last minute by the combo offer (Toma).

  8. paulhargis53 - Jan 16, 2014 at 7:42 PM

    Notredan: Take off your rose colored glasses. The recruiting is built to make this team 8-4 at best every year.

    You’ll have your abberation year now and again, but your team is a Poinssettia bowl team year in and year out..

    You cannot compete with the big boys, its been proven over and over, just accept it.

    • nudeman - Jan 16, 2014 at 8:18 PM

      Paul,
      Some of what you say is right, bit it’s more complicated than that.
      The team is not “built” to be 8-4. Not intentionally anyway.
      ND fans, ND players, ND everything remember the glory days of being a perennial power and see no reason ND can’t get back to that level.

      Having said that, there are 2 BIG things that work against ND: Academics and schedule
      And there are also smaller things like being a small Catholic school in northern Indiana with minimal babes. That doesn’t exactly appeal to everyone.

      Academics will never change. Nothing wrong with insisting kids take their education seriously, but it automatically rules out at least 50% of the elite players. Maybe more.
      Not sure scheduling will ever really change either. While Alabama, Ohio State, etc etc can get away with playing Clown State and Lower Intestine U, ND is a national brand. So ND plays several games every year against the likes of Oklahoma, Michigan, Texas, USC, Florida State, Miami, Stanford and other big programs. As a fan, it’s kind of cool.

      CAN ND get back to the elite level, year after year? Yes, they CAN.
      WILL it happen? I’m not so sure.

      There is so much money in CFB these days and so many schools that admit anyone, don’t make players go to class, have people write papers for them, etc etc … it’s getting harder every year for ND to win their way. Not easier.

      Someone mentioned here a while back the possibility of it getting to the point that ND says “the hell with it” and just joins an academic conference with the Ivy League schools, Duke, Northwestern, Vandy, et al.

      I can see that happening before I can see ND selling out. And I’d be cool with it.

      • mayesdays - Jan 16, 2014 at 9:12 PM

        I agree with some of that; however, I don’t believe this years’s BCS Championship teams were far superior than ND. In fact, I believe ‘Bama 2012 would have dominated those two teams the same way they did the Irish. I guess my point is Notre Dame has bridged the gap considerably. When Kelly took this job he always said its a long process, and I believe they are getting close. The number of NFL draft picks this year and the coaching moves help prove that.

        Now, I do agree with what you said about other schools being more relaxed about standards and what not. Relaxed is probably an understatement. I don’t know if the NCAA will ever have the balls to challenge big money schools, but someday you would think something might have to give. However, things may get worse before they get better.

      • domerboyirish - Jan 17, 2014 at 8:39 AM

        Are you knocking my masters degree from LIU?

      • danirish - Jan 17, 2014 at 10:25 AM

        I wonder what LIU’s mascot is? I shiver to think of it!

      • nudeman - Jan 17, 2014 at 11:55 AM

        I’m guessing it’s Mr. Whipple from the Charmin commercials

      • domerboyirish - Jan 17, 2014 at 1:54 PM

        Nice Nude! Much better than the Fighting Colons…

      • domerboyirish - Jan 17, 2014 at 6:20 PM

        Danirish,

        LIU mascot = Mr. Hankey from South Park

  9. paulhargis53 - Jan 16, 2014 at 8:42 PM

    nude, that’s what I’ve been saying all along, although you put it in nicer terms.

    I don’t see them ever getting back to what they were, its not the 80s anymore and unfortunately for you ND fans, playing for the school doesn’t mean what it used too to these kids.
    Tradition means nothing to them and neither does history.

    • nudeman - Jan 16, 2014 at 9:12 PM

      Well there’s probably some truth to that.
      Most kids today don’t know who won WWII.

      • idratherbeinsouthbend - Jan 16, 2014 at 11:14 PM

        “Most kids today don’t know who won WWII”

        Nude, it’s spelled Wii, not WWII :)

  10. fnc111 - Jan 16, 2014 at 9:09 PM

    Some people are so thick. I WANT coach KELLY to recruit a QB!!!!!!!!! That’s what i want bro!!!!!!!!!! Anyone who brings up,”oh what did you want, Hendrix?” The other case of lack of development at that position. Get a QB coach and build some depth. Going into year five and all we’ve really been shown is Tommy Rees. Makes me vomit his bad if job Kelly has done at recruiting the quarterback position.

    • nudeman - Jan 16, 2014 at 9:13 PM

      Drink much?

      • NotreDan - Jan 16, 2014 at 10:04 PM

        At least I’m funny when I’m cocked

      • idratherbeinsouthbend - Jan 16, 2014 at 11:15 PM

        “At least I’m funny when I’m cocked”

        …said every drunk guy ever

      • nudeman - Jan 17, 2014 at 9:53 AM

        Gotta’ agree with NotreDan
        He gave us one of the great moments here, ever
        You just won’t find the word “vulva” on many other ND boards

    • danirish - Jan 17, 2014 at 10:27 AM

      You are the thick one – we, especially I, have taken great pleasure in explaining how wrong you are when it comes to recruiting qb’s.

      You’re like Baghdad Bob during the Iraq war saying Iraq is winning and all is well while US forces take over!

      • nudeman - Jan 17, 2014 at 7:08 PM

        Was he worse than Cheney who STILL insists Saddam was the 9/11 guy?

  11. ndnphx - Jan 16, 2014 at 9:12 PM

    The 80s/90s are history, every bit as much as the early 50s, 40s and 20s are. Still, we were in the National Championship game just last year, so our “run” is up to nine decades now. Match that, anybody.

    That said, this isn’t your dad’s college football landscape anymore. Don’t see us as a top ten team annually, that’s just not the reality. But tell me, who is? USC, FSU, The U, Ohio State, and any number of other programs crashed and burned after their “runs” at the top. So did we post Holtz. So will Alabama post Saban, count on it.

    We’ll climb our way back up there at some point too, schedule, talent, academic demands, and whatever else be damned. It’s in our program’s genes, just like it’s in those other program’s genes.

    Just not every year.

  12. NotreDan - Jan 16, 2014 at 10:17 PM

    Step 1: pauly boy attempts to be abrasive

    Step 2: my bro nudie steps in and makes pauly think he agrees with him

    Step 3: pauly boy says nude was saying what he meant all along when there is actually almost no resemblance

    Step 4: pour me some more red stag

    Step 5: further solidify plans for beef brisket in South Bend on September 6, 2014

    Step 6: what the $%*& is a hargis?

    • NotreDan - Jan 16, 2014 at 10:19 PM

      …and Paul, while I appreciate your attempt to engage someone other than Bob, since that has become so entertaining, Nude’s tolerance of you is enough for me, so… cast your line elsewhere, or… engage is some real conversation. “Your choice bitches!”

    • danirish - Jan 17, 2014 at 10:28 AM

      I thought nude and paulhargis were the same person? They are, aren’t they?

      • nudeman - Jan 17, 2014 at 11:58 AM

        Categorically, no.
        I just get a kick out of provocateurs and Paul is one of the best.
        Right up there with HarvUpdyke.
        They keep us from taking this stuff too seriously (until Tommy throws another pick)

  13. irishpuma - Jan 16, 2014 at 11:27 PM

    great article Keith.

  14. paulhargis53 - Jan 17, 2014 at 9:22 AM

    NotreDan: Please try to follow along. I’ve been saying what Nude said in more antagonistic terms, sine I started posting here. Nude does not unilaterally agree with me.

    Reading comprehension….look into it.

    As for me being abrasive. Are you new?!

    A Hargis is your intellectual superior.

    You’ve already posted to me twice, I think you’ve been engaged already.

  15. danirish - Jan 17, 2014 at 10:33 AM

    I’ve read on other sites and here that players going early and coaches taking promotional coaching jobs is a sign of a program doing well.

    The characteristic I believe ND is not doing well in is replacing some aspects or putting a whole team together.

    It seems we have a great D-Line but soft secondary, then a great secondary but that great d-line is gone.

    We have a strong kicker but can’t stop a grandma from LIU returning 4 kicks across the 50.

    Elite programs don’t blink (that much) when their star leaves b/c of a replacement. Here we are freaking about Tuitt and Nix leaving, ah who knows?

    2012, IMHO, was the closest we’ve been in a long time to having a complete team.

    GO IRISH!

    • nudeman - Jan 17, 2014 at 12:02 PM

      This LIU thing seems to be gaining steam
      I’ll bet it makes Paul want to go drop another deuce or 5

  16. paulhargis53 - Jan 17, 2014 at 1:49 PM

    One thing I’ve never done is the Cleveland steamer. I performed a Hot Carl, but that was purely an accident.

    I was going to include saluitng the kernel, but we have all done that once or twice.

    Other than that, I have no thoughts on LIU.

  17. runners00 - Jan 17, 2014 at 3:19 PM

    Wow — I think that Saban is right. I mean, if the choice is between Saban or Niklas’ father, I will take Saban. They both have conflicts, right? I mean, Niklas has the kid who stands to make real money. Saban’s livelihood depends on kids like Niklas.

    But on balance, Saban’s got the better point: if you’re three years into big-time football and you’re going to be one of the first 30 kids selected, you should leave. The money is good and there is a chance you could get an injury as a senior that could inhibit your livelihood. But if you’re not in the first 30 kids, you’re taking a real risk because you’re career may shift as a result of your choice to leave early (i.e. the $7 mm signer is likely to get more opportunity than you).

    I’ve said this many times: it’s hard to fault a kid who thinks he is going to get signed in the first or second round. If you make a team, you will get a signing bonus and a minimum salary of around $425,000. But if you go like Cierre Wood and you’re on the practice squad and another year goes by without a college degree, things can kind of turn on you. You’re not making enough money to save anything at a time when you have to bankroll for when you’re 35 or 50 or whatever.

    We all have some conflict of interest. The players all think that they’re first-round talent. The college coaches want the player to stay until their elibility expires because the players are talented. The fans — we love the great players who will play in the NFL because they make our team better.

    But one thing is very true: a degree from the University of Notre Dame truly stands out. Where candidates did their undergraduate work matters — for all positions but especially for entry-level and high-level positions. You shouldn’t leave your dgree on the table. It’s free if you’re a football player at Notre Dame — and it takes away some of the pressure that will mount if something happens and you’re not able to play football in your 20s.

    • ndfenian - Jan 17, 2014 at 5:42 PM

      As a side note, Cierre Wood REALLY blew a great opportunity this year as the Texans’ 3rd string guy. The Texans had lost their two starting backs for the Chiefs game, and Wood would have been the starter for most of the game had he not smoked weed (or “violated team rules”) in the hotel room the night before. He didn’t expect to play in that game, but then he got cut by the Texans, and later cut by the Patriots for whatever reason.

  18. ndfenian - Jan 17, 2014 at 5:37 PM

    The early departures of Tuitt and Niklas are concerning, IMO. Did these guys not see the team competing for a playoff spot next year? Is the thought of another mediocre season a deterrent to completing their ND journey? This is especially concerning in Niklas’ case, who could have really bolstered his draft stock with another season, while emblazoning his name in Irish lore.

    • papadec - Jan 17, 2014 at 8:37 PM

      They apparently became brainwashed by our resident King of the Trolls (ph53) & his court jester (fnc), and don’t see a winning season in the ’14 campaign. 10 of our 12 opponents finished the ’13 season with winning records & 5 of them in the AP top 25 rankings, with FSU @ #1. It’s gonna be a grind & I can understand where our detractors can see 8-4 (at best). However, I think we have an outstanding chance for 11-1 & being one of the four. My glasses aren’t rose colored – they’re ND tumblers & hold a nice cold brewski quite nicely, thank you. Do I really need to say it? GO IRISH!!!!

  19. paulhargis53 - Jan 18, 2014 at 8:50 AM

    papa, I’m sorry to tell you that your crystal ball is cracked. 11-1 is a pipe dream.

    You sound like a Packers fan looking at the schedule when it comes out and predicting greatness, totally overvaluing the team.
    I really hope that ND is on the outside looking in with the proposed super conference stuff they are talking about.
    It would complete the irrelevance of this outdated institution.

  20. yllibnosredna - Jan 18, 2014 at 2:24 PM

    @c4ever,

    Great Emo Phillips reference. Along with Jack Handey, Mr. Phillips has got to be one of the two best joke writers in modern day America. Really nice guys by the way.

  21. yllibnosredna - Jan 18, 2014 at 2:24 PM

    @c4ever,

    Great Emo Phillips reference. Along with Jack Handey, Mr. Phillips has got to be one of the two best joke writers in modern day America. Really nice guy by the way.

  22. Rbmat - Jan 18, 2014 at 6:06 PM

    As we continue to see a referendum on past QB play and BK as a coach, I commend those of you that are willing to stay close to the topic that Keith has raised.

    If you are a 3-5 star recruit, whether you have played every down or just marginally in your time in college, you dream
    of the NFL. And given that you have been told for goodness knows how long, that with a little more hard work, a little bit of luck and patience your time will come. So with clouded dreams some kids make questionable decisions looking at a sparkling horizon, when the rationale and realistic choice is to stay the path.

    Did anyone see Ryan Grant as a solid NFL running back when he left? While he didn’t leave early, he certainly had stats that were marginal at best, but with that hazy word of “potential” attached to his name. So for every 10 kids that leave early with similar circumstances, are 1-2 that make it go, at least long enough to influence way too many, in my opinion.

    As far as the ND degree goes, for goodness sake, with 3 summer sessions included how does a kid that is looking to leave early not have his degree all but wrapped up?

  23. fitz79 - Jan 18, 2014 at 8:17 PM

    I just need to throw it out there, I think Stephan and Troy are making selfish decisions. To be a part of Notre Dame football is to be a part of something bigger than yourself. Notre Dame is an institution that prides itself on student athletes who are actual “students.” We want the kind of kids who want to commit to 4 years and see it through. “Commit” is a rare term these days. And as for George leaving early for the draft, seriously? Leaving after 3 years when you’re projected to not even be drafted? Have fun playing in the CFL George. Bundle up, it’s cold up there.

    • c4evr - Jan 19, 2014 at 8:04 AM

      ‘Commitment’ vs. ‘Involvement’ can best be summed up in an eggs and ham breakfast… The chicken was involved, the pig was committed.

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