Tag: Aaron Lynch


Lynch prepares for football (finally) after Notre Dame


It’s been a long time since we’ve seen defensive end Aaron Lynch on the football field. After a freshman All-American season for the Irish, Lynch left South Bend in the middle of spring practice and headed home to South Florida.

The soap opera surrounding the decision to transfer, which included social media pleas to stay by his mother, New York Giants All-Pro Justin Tuck, a young fiance in South Florida, and a firm line held by Irish head coach Brian Kelly, ended with Lynch enrolling at South Florida after finishing his spring semester at Notre Dame.

Lynch expected to play for USF head coach Skip Holtz. But after a disappointing 2012 season where the Bulls staggered to a 3-9 record, Holtz was relieved of his duties and South Florida hired Willie Taggart to run the program.

After a nice run at Western Kentucky, Taggart has energized the Bulls program. And while the media has raved about the work Taggart has done since taking over, the best recruit Taggert landed was the transfer student he inherited.

CBS Sports’ Bruce Feldman caught up with Taggart, who had some interesting things to say about Lynch’s maturation and preparation while discussing the state of his football team. The whole interview is worth a read, but here’s a snippet that really caught my attention.

Q: (Aaron Lynch) was this five-star recruit and a freshman All-American at Notre Dame. How was he compared to what your expectations of him were once you get him out on the field?

Taggart: He was even more. Some of things he does. He just has a natural feel for the game. He plays with fanatical effort. He just goes. I know if he continues to play with that fanatical effort, the sky is the limit for him.

He is really good with his hands. He’s quick and really long. And the other thing that was impressive was he was doing things with knee braces on. I make all of our linemen practice with knee braces, and he was still getting it done.

Q: I noticed you guys list him at 244 (pounds). Did he lose a lot of weight when he got there?

Taggart. Yes, he did. He played at 270 at ND. In the year that he had off, he wasn’t really motivated to do anything, from what I was told and heard from everyone. He’d tell you that he wasn’t really locked in, knowing that he couldn’t play. Now, doing what he’s doing and hearing some of that noise about how he can be this or be that, he’s really taking pride in trying to be the best football player he can be.

Q: Do you want to see him back up in the 260s?

Taggart: I’d like him in the 250-260 range. He’s well put together. When he walked in the door the first time I saw him, I was like, ‘Wow!’ Without even watching him on film, you could see what everybody’s talking about. Then you watch him on film — Jeez!

He’s built like Jevon Kearse. He’s long and lean and athletic but he can put on the weight. In the spring he actually played at like 235. I think he’s at 245 now.

He has not been an issue at all. He sees the future in front of him and knows that he has a really bright future if he keeps his head on straight. He goes in the weight room and he works.

It’s probably not a surprise to Notre Dame fans that Lynch dropped 35 pounds during his self imposed sabbatical. That Taggart would openly say that Lynch, “wasn’t really motivated to do anything, from what I was told and heard from everyone,” is some pretty open candor about a player that never seemed the most disciplined to begin with, and points to a pretty inactive year off, after playing at a still-room-to-grow 270 pounds as a freshman.

What’s also no surprise are the rave reviews Lynch gets from the USF staff. Taggart talked about the lessons he’s been giving Lynch since he arrived in Tampa, especially with Lynch now a young married man with a future that’s very much in his hands.

The new USF coach probably puts it best when he tells Feldman, “I don’t talk about football much with him. I don’t think he’d fail at football. It’d either be something either academically or socially that could get in his way. In football, he’s a beast out there, so you just try to make sure he has everything else in perspective and help make sure that he’s a great husband because that’s something that is important to me. We talk about that constantly.”

Lynch’s on-field development took a major detour last season. It’s hard to imagine that he’d still be worried about adding bulk — Taggart wants him playing in the 260 range — if he had stayed in the Irish development cycle.

Yet after all the drama that’s surrounded Lynch and his departure from Notre Dame, it’ll be fun to get a chance to finally play football again, even if it isn’t for the team Irish fans hoped.


Lynch applying for hardship waiver at USF

Lynch USF

As you’d expect, Notre Dame transfer Aaron Lynch is hoping to receive immediate eligibility at South Florida. The former freshman All-American provided the biggest news of the offseason when he walked away from the Irish in the middle of spring practice, quitting the team. He finished out the semester before enrolling at South Florida over the summer.

Greg Auman of the Tampa Bay Times has more from USF head coach Skip Holtz:

“They’re compiling everything and putting it together. Once it’s submitted, it will be ruled on rather quickly,” Holtz told the Times. “Just trying to get all the letters in place and everything else. You have to remember he started here four weeks ago. I would imagine that would be done probably here within the next week.”

Lynch’s departure from Notre Dame, and the ensuing soap opera, has been well chronicled, which might actually be to the detriment of Lynch’s eligibility case.

Defining the hardship waiver is the first piece of the puzzle. John Infante, author of the NCAA’s Bylaw Blog, defines the hardship waiver as something for “student-athletes who are compelled to transfer because of financial hardship or an injury or illness to the student-athlete or a member of their family.”

Obviously, that doesn’t seem to be the case with Lynch. Then again, it didn’t seem to be the case with running back Amir Carlisle, who was granted immediate eligibility after his family uprooted to Indiana after his father took over as the head of Purdue’s strength department.

Eamonn Brennan of ESPN has a breakdown of undergraduate transfer waivers and how often they are granted in college football, and the numbers show that it’s pretty much a 50/50 proposition:


Graduate student transfer waivers:
81 approved
3 denied

Undergraduate transfer waivers:
85 approved
86 denied

The graduate student transfer waiver is allowing Dayne Crist, Mike Ragone, Anthony McDonald, Brandon Newman, Deion Walker, and Hafis Williams to continue their careers, playing out their eligibility after graduating from Notre Dame. Lynch’s case is an entirely different story.

Lynch returning home to South Florida seems to be a data-point that would seemingly support his chances of gaining immediate eligibility. Yet the fact that his mother adamantly disagreed with the decision makes that a tougher angle to pursue.

Pushed for clarification on the rule, the NCAA’s Cameron Schuh didn’t have any clear-cut answer for how the NCAA reaches its decisions.

“There are a number of factors that are considered with the criteria, some of which include the relationship of the individual to the student-athlete and proximity from transferring institution to where the individual lives/is being treated, to name a couple,” Schuh said in an email to ESPN. “Each case is reviewed and determined based on its own merits, so it would not be accurate for me to say if any one factor is weighted more than another nor if cases that look similar on the surface have different outcomes.”

From a football perspective, having Lynch available this fall for duty would be a huge lift to the USF program. It’d also represent a somewhat dangerous precedent, with the morphing of a hardship to include a student-athlete seemingly going against their parent’s wishes to play closer to his girlfriend and friends back home.

Lynch most certainly has the right to play football wherever he wants. Unfortunately for Lynch, the Bulls and Skip Holtz, it might not be until 2013.

With Lynch leaving Notre Dame, USF pursuing eligibility waiver

Aaron Lynch Blue Gold

As expected, South Florida is pursuing a waiver to let former Irish defensive end Aaron Lynch played in 2012. Bulls head coach Skip Holtz, while hosting an interactive Google+ Hangout, mentioned the process of getting Lynch integrated into the South Florida football program. (Fast-forward to around minute 17 for the Lynch talk.)

“Right now, the NCAA rule is if you transfer from D-I to D-I, you have to sit for a year unless there’s some extenuating circumstances,” Holz said during the fan chat. “And there are some things there that we’ll look at to see if that’s a possibility. Right now, looking at Aaron Lynch, he would have to sit for a year and then after that year, he would have three years of eligibility unless the waiver with the NCAA is heard and approved, then he would be granted permission. But at this point, that would be way too early and would put the cart before the horse.”

Lynch’s case has been well documented. After a freshman season that earned rookie All-American kudos for leading the Irish in sacks, Lynch walked away from the Irish football program in the middle of spring practice. After talking with his family and returning to campus, Lynch made the unilateral decision to leave South Bend and move closer to his girlfriend and his roots back in Florida.

What the NCAA will rule is anybody’s guess. Notre Dame was the recent beneficiary of one waiver, with Amir Carlisle granted immediate eligibility after leaving Southern Cal and coming to the Irish football program after his father’s new job with Purdue moved the entire family to Indiana. Just today, Michigan State announced that DeAnthony Arnett, a freshman wide receiver that played last season for Tennessee, would be eligible immediately to play for his home-state Spartans. Arnett wanted to return to Michigan to help his family as his father’s health started to fail, and what ensued was a lot of egg on Vols coach Derek Dooley’s face.

Yet Lynch’s case might most closely resemble that of former Oklahoma Sooner Justin McCay. McCay transferred to home-state Kansas and was denied his request for immediate eligibility by the NCAA. Head coach Charlie Weis disagreed with the ruling, commenting to the Kansas City Star that the NCAA denied the request because “there wasn’t that one catastrophic event evident to rule in his favor.”

(Weis, as you’d expect, had even more to say: “I’m extremely disappointed that common sense did not prevail,” Weis said in a statement. “I have read all of the information on this case and it is a shame that this case resulted in a rejection. I cannot release all of the details of Justin’s case as it would be an invasion of his privacy.

“I can only say that the University of Kansas felt the evidence was overwhelmingly in his favor. I also do not understand why the NCAA had us appeal this case to the subcommittee only to have received the same answer with the same rationale.”)

With Lynch’s mother and siblings relocated to Ohio, it’s hard to say there’s a “catastrophic event” that will allow Lynch to play immediately. Homesickness, and a girlfriend that’s at a nearby college most likely won’t be enough to have the NCAA grant a waiver, especially with the decision being against the wishes of Lynch’s mother, who picked her son up from school this week with no plans of returning to South Bend.

Lynch is scheduled to enroll in the second session of summer school at USF.