Mailbag: Finding the right 85 guys

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With less than two weeks to go before Signing Day, recruiting is the focus for the Irish coaching staff. But as we crack open the mailbag, we cover a bit more ground than the usual will-he or won’t-he that comes along with the first Wednesday in February.

Instead of turning the mailbag into an opus, we’ll roll these out a few at a time, covering some ground this weekend as well.

Let’s get to it.

 

@Hank1st: Any reason to be concerned about the ESPN suit against ND? I can’t handle yet another offseason of controversy.

I don’t think so. (And me, neither!) In case you missed it, there’s a legal battle brewing over the status of police and incident reports of the Notre Dame Security Police force. ESPN and The South Bend Tribune believe they should be public records. Notre Dame, a private university, believes that they shouldn’t be.

Indiana Public Access Counselor Luke Britt believes they should be (not a surprise), Notre Dame countered with their own opinion.

“Our practices are in full accord with the Access to Public Records Act and consistent with multiple advisory opinions that have addressed this matter over the past 12 years. We are confident that our position will be affirmed in court,” Notre Dame spokesman Dennis Brown said.

This doesn’t necessarily appear to be a football issue, nor connected to any yet-to-be-unearthed event. But of course, it’s worth watching, though I can’t imagine any legal swashbuckling will be complete any time quickly.

 

simmel65: Can you give us a breakdown on how big a class ND can sign and what that means in terms of 5th years? Seems like this recruiting class might get large and we may have to lose some key 5th years?

mediocrebob: Any insight on the number for this years class? I’ve read 25, 26 and then read that Notre Dame would “make room for this kid if he wants to committ”. If they take more than predicted, does that mean less seniors asked to come back for 5th years?

Every college program gets 85 scholarships. And right now, my rough math shows 14 seniors eligible for a fifth year of competition. So if you’re doing the math (22 (for now)+23+22+12+14), it’s pretty clear that not all 14 are returning for a final season at Notre Dame.

Here’s another thing that’s clear: This shouldn’t be the worry that we all tend to make it each offseason. Before the 2013 season, there were people honestly wondering/arguing that Kelly might not bring back Dan Fox or Carlo Calabrese. They’ll likely do the same this year, arguing that Amir Carlisle or Matt Hegarty shouldn’t return, because even though they are starters, you’ve got to make room for 4-star X or 5-star Y…

Brian Kelly has shown his loyalty — and preference for — upperclassmen. And nobody builds a program by running key contributors out as veterans. I expect a large group to return for their final year of eligibility.

But we already know a few moves: No Davaris Daniels. Eilar Hardy is also likely gone. If you were forcing me to guess, I’m also thinking Chase Hounshell, Anthony Rabasa, Jalen Brown,  and Josh Atkinson are also looking for a new home for a fifth year (if they want it), with Conor Hanratty potentially done because of concussions.

Between other injury questions (Jarrett Grace, Nicky Baratti) and some potential transfers that I’m sure the staff is more up to speed on than any beat reporter out there, Kelly and the Irish coaching staff wouldn’t be taking recruits if they didn’t have a spot for them on the roster.

So fear not. A plan is in place.

 

@DrewBrennan77: Does Brian Kelly lose his job as head football coach at ND with a 9-4 record in 2015?

I don’t think so. While that record would be really disappointing, I don’t think it’s enough to get Kelly fired. And as we saw this offseason, outside of Jim Harbaugh was there a head coaching hire that blew people away? So if you are going to make a move and change coaches is there a guy that you’re convinced will do a better job in South Bend than Kelly?

I have great expectations for next season. And I really don’t want to be around these parts if that’s how next fall goes. So if somebody has a crystal ball, let me know a few winning lotto numbers and I’ll be on a plane to some tropical island with no internet access before the DeLorean and Doc Brown can catch me.