Friday Mailbag: Michigan

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Live from 30,000 feet, on an internet connection envious of the old AOL dial-up days, let’s get into the mailbag. But before, let’s address a quick item: 1) A few people have taken issue with my comments “assigning blame” to the five student-athletes off the field. Let’s just agree to disagree, but I’ll make one point: After listening to Jim Harbaugh this week cite the constitution and due process, let’s remember these guys aren’t in a court of law. This is Notre Dame’s process, for better or worse.

Do I think this should move quicker? Yes. Do I want to reach a conclusion, so we aren’t still talking about students “withheld from football activities?” Definitely. But it was summer school. Don’t put yourself into a situation that requires alerting the NCAA, an academic investigation by the university’s general counsel, or an Honor Code hearing.

On to the mailbag:

@NJMetsBlogger:Is Michigan’s defense really as good as they’re saying? Also is Jabrill Peppers healthy for the game?

We will certainly see. But I don’t know that we can draw many conclusions from the Appalachian State game, a first-year Sun Belt member who was a 4-8 FCS team last year, so hardly the world-beaters that shocked Michigan in 2007. But Greg Mattison is an excellent defensive coordinator, so he puts a lot of pressure on a quarterback, and did a number on Golson in 2012.

As for Peppers, if you put a boot on an ankle sprain at halftime of a game, I’m hesitant to believe that we’re going to see the freshman phenom at full strength. But Brady Hoke’s not talking about injuries, and the last thing we heard from him on Monday was that Peppers was going to play.

 

domerboyirish: In terms of our running backs and the offense, why don’t we ever employ a two back set or even send a guy in motion? It seems like our offense always comes out of the huddle into a formation and never adjusts, shifts, or motions. What is the philosophy behind this? 

We are one game into the season and likely saw as vanilla of an offensive attack as you could expect against Rice. But while I agree a two-back set with Tarean Folston and Greg Bryant could be really interesting, who do you take off the field?

Also, I don’t know if you’re watching close enough. Notre Dame did a ton of shifting and motion last year, utilizing their tight ends and formational shifts to create matchup issues. But I’ll keep an eye on presnap movement tomorrow and check back in.

 

 

dmacirish: do you view this game as being decided in the trenches? if so should we anticipate to see a “breakout” of tight end pass and catching?

I don’t know if we’re in for a breakout game for Ben Koyack, but I do think Notre Dame has an opportunity to win this game in the trenches. I’m skeptical of the Wolverine’s offensive line, a truly mediocre unit last year, and that was with first-rounder Taylor Lewan and third-round pick Michael Schofield.

Hoke is keeping his line rotation secret, too. Slow-playing the return of suspending center Graham Glasgow. But realistically, even the Irish’s young defensive line — and especially tackles Sheldon Day and Jarron Jones — should expect to have big games.

As for Harry Hiestand’s troops, both Steve Elmer and Ronnie Stanley were beat by speed moves last week against Rice, but the interior held up very well against Christian Covington. That’s a nice reminder that Christian Lombard is a pretty good player when he’s healthy. Notre Dame needs to dictate terms at the line of scrimmage and establish the ground game to help set up the deep passing game.

 

Mattymill: I’m 37 yrs old, but still revert to a 10 yr old when watching the Irish. My wife allows me that 4 hr window each week to be immature. My question is this: how long prior to kick-off should I take my dose of Pepto Bismol?

After this week, I’m impressed you made it to the weekend. Maybe mix a nice whisky in with that Pepto and your problems will be solved.

 

nducsb: How much do you think Corey’s hand is really limiting him? He was supposed to be one of the breakout players and we barely saw him last week.

That’s a good question. You’ve got to think that a fractured thumb doesn’t make for the easiest situation for a wide receiver. Then again, this offense isn’t going to be a feed the ball to one guy passing game. So while Robinson is going to have a big season, it’s not necessarily the thumb that kept him to one catch, especially considering Golson only completed 14 passes.

 

glowplugv: All the game predictions I’ve seen (CBS, Blue and Gold, etc) all predict the offense being able to play at the same level and above that they did in the Rice game and outscoring MI. Scary that there were no major penalties, no turnovers and the special teams became special in the Rice game. Was it just the competition or are the Irish that good?

They certainly played Kelly’s cleanest opener yet. But I don’t expect Notre Dame to rack up 567 yards against Michigan. That was the third-highest output of the Kelly era, so let’s lower the bar a little bit. And against a talented Wolverines secondary, you can’t expect to see receivers running wide open 50 yards down the field. But Notre Dame believes — and for good reason — that they’ll be able to throw the ball.

We’ll see. As they say, that’s why you play the game.

 

@ontario_bill: Is it possible that BK has a verdict on who’s in out of the 5, and he’s not announcing as a surprise?

No. Although it’d be a pretty cool move.

 

heisenbyrg: Two part question: Let’s imagine a hypothetical scenario in which Golson suffers a concussion in the first quarter and is out for the remainder of the game. Zaire comes in and plays well until he breaks his collarbone scrambling midway through the third quarter. Notre Dame is down by three points and has the ball when Zaire goes down. Question 1) Who takes the next snap at quarterback? Question 2) How does the live blog react?

Get ready to meet a fine young man by the name of Montgomery VanGorder. Or for the apocalypse. I think I might prefer the latter, just for the reaction of the live blog. Otherwise, I’d just cut the connection, a la Ed Harris in Truman Show.

 

irishinmich: As the season unfolds, will Kelly stick with his “We need to figure out how to get them all touches” approach with the running back trio?…..or will one back emerge as a clear #1?

Great question. I think getting them all touches will continue to happen, but I don’t suspect that they’ll be as evenly distributed. I was happy with the explosiveness that Cam showed last week, as I thought he got a little bulky and slow last season. He’s just not a natural enough talent to steal carries unless he’s capable of breaking one, which I think he showed with some added burst. (No, it’s not like Bryant or Folston, but it’s there.)

I don’t know if a featured back will ever happen, but I expect some separation to reveal itself, maybe even Saturday night.

 

sfnd: Nearly everyone would agree that BK has improved the program in nearly all aspects. But why has BK not achieved consistent success against Michigan (a program that has not been at its peak in recent seasons)?

Well, let’s go through the games. In 2010, Irish march down the field for an early touchdown. And Dayne Crist gets “blurred vision.” Nightmare scenario ensues, true freshman quarterback throws an interception on his first passing attempt. Walk-on named Montana doesn’t play much better. Crist comes back in, Irish take a late lead but get gutted in the end by Denard.

In 2011, Irish outplay Michigan for most of game until fourth quarter defensive implosion takes place. Offense does it’s best to do the same with red zone mistakes and five turnovers. ND won 2012 and then in 2013 the defense gives up 41 points when they get torched in somewhat exotic coverage schemes and Irish throw two interceptions.

In short: Notre Dame averaged three turnovers a game against Michigan in Kelly’s four years. That can’t happen. They also played bad defense against some very mobile quarterbacks. The reasons? Oh, we could write books.

 

johngaltisspeaking: Why will Michigan win by 18 points when we are favored to win?

If Notre Dame wins, do you promise not to write comments any more?

 

goirishgo: It sounds like the UM defense may be susceptible to the inside run game. To what extent is ND willing to commit to the run?

I think this is one of the key factors of the game. I’d like to see Notre Dame run the football, and do it at pace. If the Irish can do that, they’ll keep the Wolverines D on their heels, and it’ll open up some passing opportunities.

 

don74: When I watched the Rice game I thought Schmidt played a good game. Watched Kelly’s presser on Tuesday and he thought Schmidt played a great game. Now I read many of the ND sites making Schmidt seem like he played the Rice game like Brian Bosworth trying to stop Bo Jackson.

People have a hard time forgetting that Schmidt wasn’t a four-star recruit, but rather a recruited walk-on (the horror!) Nevermind that Michigan’s top tackler the past few seasons had been Jordan Kovacs, a former walk-on who the NFL didn’t shun because he lacked impressive scholarship offers as a 16-year-old, and is now a member of the Miami Dolphins.

If you’re looking to poke holes in Notre Dame’s defense, that Schmidt is the unlikely man in the middle leads you there. I tend to think he was very productive and will continue to be in this system.

 

danirish: Have the days of a few “star” receivers come and gone? Or will the year be one of many receivers catching a few balls here and there?

I think from what we saw against Rice, by the end of the year, all wr’s will have decent stats. None by design will be the Michael Floyd or Derrick Mayes type.

Dan, when Notre Dame gets another receiver like Floyd, be assured that Kelly will feed him the ball. But when they have guys that can do certain things really well, they’ll utilize those skills. That, and I think there’s more depth playing for the Irish at receiver, unlike the guys that surrounded Floyd early in the BK era.

Not to worry: If Kelly and company land a five-star WR, they’ll feed him the football just like they did Floyd.

 

coachtemp: Did not see much “press” coverage by our CB’s? I’m sure losing KR hurt but did his absence cause a drastic departure from the game plan or do you think that BK was simply disguising that coverage for Michigan?

I think it’s tough to play press man coverage against a mobile quarterback. Leaves you pretty vulnerable to scramble yards. But I also think losing KeiVarae Russell doesn’t help.

Both defenses have talked up playing aggressive, press man coverage. It’s certainly a gamble and something with a razor-thin margin for error. We’ll see if that was more talk or if we end up seeing some coverage blends.

 

jommy995: Other than landing the Michigan job when the team was at an all time low, what has Brady Hoke ever done to be considered a good coach?

Say what you want about Hoke, but the guy earned his way to Michigan. He did a great job at Ball State and had a nice run in San Diego. That he wasn’t Michigan’s first choice for the job isn’t surprising, but let’s not get crazy here.

wisner74: Keith, what percentage of those of us more senior ND fans/alums — say 55+ years old — would you think don’t view Michigan as an actual rival?

What percentage of the same group would be perfectly happy if ND never plays Michigan again?

I’m guessing about 90% in both cases.

Kind of a cool question. This “actual rival” thing feels a lot like the “True Yankee” debates you hear when dealing with another insufferable fanbase — a group I lump both ND and UM fans into. Have the two teams played as often as many suspected? No. And the reason behind that is a rather vile and intolerable truth that most Michigan fans don’t want to hear about.

But I’ll say this: Notre Dame and Michigan should be playing each other. Notre Dame and Michigan pretty much hate each other. And that’s awesome — especially in a college sports world that gets so pumped up for battles like that.

That Dave Brandon and the Wolverines tried to make the Irish look bad for trying to get a grip on their scheduling after the ACC agreement blew it up, is likely the biggest cause for this delay. Not to mention bush-league moves like playing the “Chicken Dance.”

But this is a profitable football game for all parties. And an important one. That’s the biggest reason why we’ll hear something sooner than later I’m sure. Or at least I hope.

@EmptyQueue: I noticed that our kick returners wear jersey Nos. 1,2 & 3. Is that how you’d rank them? Who wears #4?

Man, good question. But let’s get the bad part done first: Eilar Hardy wears No. 4, and we don’t know when he’s going to wear his jersey next.

My ranking is very incomplete, especially with only seeing one game. But I liked what Cody Riggs did in the punt return game, and I’m a sucker for guys that don’t call fair catches… as long as they catch the ball. (I’m talking to you, Earl Thomas!)

I also thought Carlisle did a great job hitting the hole with speed on kickoff return. George Atkinson may have been one of the fastest guys in college football, but if you’re tip-toeing, it doesn’t matter.

 

@jimboch02: did you break the news that Rees is going to be a GA next year?

Rees said he’ll be applying for GA jobs, likely to begin in January. He didn’t say whether that’d be at Notre Dame, though Brian Kelly has said he’d welcome Rees back into the fold with open arms.

 

@manninti: Worried about the defensive ends. Tell me I shouldn’t be worried about freshman being able to get pressure and/or keep contain.

Can’t tell you that, sorry. Remember Bob Diaco made both Aaron Lynch and Stephon Tuitt healthy scratches against Denard Robinson as freshmen, just because he was worried they wouldn’t play assignment correct football.

But I think the young pups played pretty good football last week. And they’re going up against an offensive line just as inexperienced as they are. They’ll have more on their plates, but at this point, you’ve gotta love the ones your with.

 

newmexicoirish: Keith, knowing that we were going to be fairly thin and inexperienced at linebacker, I have been following with great interest Jarrett Grace’s recovery. At this point I’m getting a bit concerned. For the last month and a half it seems we keep hearing that he is making great progress ( and believe me I hope he is) but there doesn’t seem to be a target date for his return. I realize that a multiple tib/fib fracture is very dicy when It comes to full recovery, but it’s been almost a year.

NM, I am just glad that Grace’s football career is continuing. That’s how serious the injury was, and multiple breaks and multiple surgeries usually are going to take some time to heal. For as advanced as medicine has gotten on things like ACLs, these are bones.

Grace suffered his injury on the last day of October. If he makes it back on the field before the calendar year, I think it’ll have been a great success.

 

rocket1988: Where do you think ND should be ranked? We saw a lot of movement this week. After week one who is you way too early top ten? Also, can our crowd take a staND and make UofM call a timeout?

Beauty of this question: It doesn’t matter. I haven’t looked at a poll for more than 30 seconds, because it’s completely meaningless. The only votes that matter are those from the new CFB Playoff Committee, and if ND keeps winning, they’ll be just fine.

 

Lengthy Texas cornerback joins Notre Dame class of 2024

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Maybe Benjamin Morrison and Jaden Mickey will be anomalies, but if they are precedent-setters, then Notre Dame may have snagged another unheralded but promising cornerback with the Saturday afternoon commitment of consensus three-star Leonard Moore (Round Rock High School; Texas).

Moore also holds scholarship offers from Oregon, TCU and Vanderbilt, to name a few. In total, he has offers from six schools in the Pac-12, three in the Big 12, two in the SEC and one in the ACC, an intriguing widespread array from someone not yet lighting recruiting rankings on fire.

At 6-foot-2, Moore should have the length to become a physical cornerback, one perhaps more in the mold of current Notre Dame fifth-year cornerback Cam Hart than the rising sophomore Morrison.

Moore’s highlight reel starts with a few interceptions, naturally, and a punt return. Pass breakups are not necessarily the most enthralling of film. But then he sheds a block to force a fumble and soon defends a back-shoulder throw with ease. Moore is clearly a playmaker, particularly given no level of Texas football should be scoffed at. He intercepted three passes, forced two fumbles and broke up four passes in 2022 as a junior.

He readily anticipates routes and when needed funnels his man as the defensive design demands.

Moore runs track, as well, with decent 200-meter times in the low 23-second range.

The eighth commitment in the class of 2024, Moore is the second defensive back, joining consensus three-star cornerback Karson Hobbs (Archbishop Moeller; Cincinnati). While team recruiting rankings are thoroughly premature more than 10 months before anyone can officially sign, thoroughness demands mentioning that Notre Dame’s class is currently ranked No. 2 in the country behind only Georgia with 10 commitments.

RELATED READING: An early look at Notre Dame’s seven commits in the class of 2024, including QB CJ Carr

A cursory look at the depth chart suggests Moore could have an avenue to early playing time in South Bend. Hart likely will move on to the NFL after the 2023 season, a shoulder injury tipping the scales toward returning this offseason. Aside from him, the only cornerbacks with experience on the Irish roster are Morrison and Mickey and rising senior Clarence Lewis. Any of the four young cornerbacks that do make an impression in 2023 will effectively be on equal footing with Moore.

Reports: Tommy Rees heads to Alabama after 10 total years at Notre Dame

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: APR 23 Notre Dame Spring Game
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If you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em.

Tommy Rees will leave Notre Dame to do just that, heading to be the offensive coordinator at Alabama, according to reports Friday afternoon. Nick Saban and the Tide denied Rees a national championship as a player in 2012 and a title game appearance as an offensive coordinator in 2020.

The South Bend Tribune‘s Mike Berardino first reported Rees’s decision, coming a day after reports initially surfaced that Rees was Alabama’s preferred choice for the gig, and he had flown to Tuscaloosa to consider the position.

Those unbeaten regular seasons, along with one in 2018 as the Irish quarterbacks coach, were the high points of Rees’ total of a decade with the Notre Dame football program. Like his former head coach, he will now head to the SEC chasing a higher peak.

Of course, Rees spurned Brian Kelly’s invite to join him at LSU last winter, instead memorably telling the Irish offensive players, “I’m [bleepin’] staying,” setting the tone for the first week of Marcus Freeman‘s tenure as Notre dame head coach.

RELATED READING: Tommy Rees turns down Brian Kelly’s LSU overture and will remain at Notre Dame
Jack Swarbrick, Marcus Freeman and Tommy Rees brought stability to Notre Dame long before and obviously after Brian Kelly sowed chaos

Alabama made an offer Rees could not refuse, even if a year ago he said, “I love this place (Notre Dame). I believe that we can win a national championship here, and I’m committed to doing everything we can to get to that point.”

Going to Tuscaloosa does not render those words empty. Rees is going to work for the greatest college football coach in history in a role that has repeatedly springboarded coaches to better opportunities. Since Saban arrived at Alabama in 2007, his offensive coordinators have gone on to be, in chronological order, the assistant head coach at Texas (Major Applewhite), head coach at Colorado State (Jim McElwain), offensive coordinator at Michigan (Doug Nussmeier), head coach at Florida Atlantic (Lane Kiffin), head coach at Texas (Steve Sarkisian) and offensive coordinator for the New England Patriots (Bill O’Brien).

Thus, Rees is bettering both his chances at a national title in the short term and his presumed path to whatever gig he wants next in the long term.

He leaves Notre Dame after three seasons as the Irish offensive coordinator, which came after three years as the quarterbacks coach. The Irish have ranked No. 41, No. 19 and No. 30 in scoring offense the last three seasons, peaking with 35.2 points per game in 2021, the second-highest total in Brian Kelly’s tenure.

But perhaps Rees’s finest moment as a Notre Dame assistant came when he finessed a mid-season quarterback switch to Ian Book from Brandon Wimbush despite the Irish remaining unbeaten throughout 2018. In some respects, Rees threaded a similar needle in 2021, incorporating Wisconsin graduate transfer Jack Coan, then-freshman Tyler Buchner and spot-reliever Drew Pyne; each quarterback could be credited as responsible for at least one win as the Irish made a Playoff push.

Then this past season, Rees responded to Buchner’s shoulder sprain that cost him 10 games by working with Pyne to piecemeal an offense.

From December of 2021:

Rees has considered leaving his alma mater before, reportedly interviewing to be Miami’s offensive coordinator in recent years, not to mention weighing Kelly’s offer from LSU 14 months ago, as well as a previous brief dalliance with Alabama a few years ago.

After leading Notre Dame’s offense in one way or another for 10 of the last 13 years, Rees has finally opted to do so elsewhere. It just so happens to be as part of the team that twice turned back the Irish and now faces Kelly every fall.

Opportunities abound for Tommy Rees, earned recognition after a decade at Notre Dame

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A lot of people go to college for seven years. For Tommy Rees, it has been 10 years at Notre Dame, so to speak.

Whether or not Rees leaves his alma mater this week, as multiple Thursday reports indicated Rees is the frontrunner to be Alabama’s next offensive coordinator, there is no bad choice in front of him. Either Rees returns as the Irish offensive coordinator for a fourth season, continues his pursuit of winning a national championship at Notre Dame after three postseason trips already in his career, or he learns under the best college football coach in history in a position that has springboarded coaches to greener pastures for about a decade now.

Irish fans may spend most of their falls criticizing Rees’s play calls, but he is clearly someone well-respected in the coaching community. Seen as a future coach when he was a player and then navigating multiple delicate quarterback situations at Notre Dame, this is not the first time Nick Saban has chased Rees. He reportedly did so following the 2019 season, when Rees had not even spent a day as an offensive coordinator.

Instead, Rees took over that gig in South Bend, losing to Alabama in the 2020 College Football Playoff, albeit a more competitive showing than when Rees and the Irish fell to the Tide in the 2012 title game. Miami sought Rees in recent years, and whispers of vague NFL interest have popped up more offseasons than not.

If most of those people who go to college for seven years are called doctors, then Rees has put together a doctorate-level intellect evidenced by who wants to hire him. Alabama publicly sending a branded plane to South Bend to ferry Rees for a visit on Thursday underscored that reputation.

Set aside the forced references to “Tommy Boy” — though the similarities do go past the first name and to a Catholic university in the Midwest — and realize Rees will leave Notre Dame at some point, probably sooner than later.

Maybe he joins Saban this weekend. Alabama needs to navigate a first-year starter at quarterback next year in a conference that quickly seemed to catch up to the Tide last season, with both LSU and Tennessee staking claims as competitors with Georgia already clearly out in front and Mississippi in the mix. Competing with former Irish head coach Brian Kelly every year would make for juicy headlines, but what speaks louder to Rees’s credit is that this is the time Saban wants to snag him, when Alabama’s footing may be less secure than at any point since the ‘00s.

Maybe Rees returns to Notre Dame, teams with Wake Forest graduate transfer quarterback Sam Hartman to ready for three top-10 matchups in 2023, and gets the Irish into the College Football Playoff for a third time in six years with the only constant quite literally being Rees.

Oh, and both scenarios should come with plenty of money.

Rees has no bad choice in front of him. That is a credit to him, even if fans would rather lampoon him than step back and acknowledge the intricacies of playcalling.

If he heads to Alabama, the annual matchups with LSU will become delightful fodder from afar. His Notre Dame legacy will include “Call duo until you can’t speak,” his emphatic play call when he left the coaches’ booth early as the Irish upset Clemson this past November, and “I’m [bleepin’] staying,” Rees’s declaration to the offensive players last December amid a week of tumult.

If he stays in South Bend, the next matchup with anyone in the SEC, most likely a 2023 bowl game, will drip with an on-field chance at validation. That legacy will include spurning college football’s best not once, but twice.

For a quarterback who lost his starting job at Notre Dame not once (2011 preseason), but twice (2012 preseason), some pride has been earned. Saban’s stamp of approval carries all the weight needed in college football to assure someone of their professional standing.

It may have taken a decade, but Rees can now know he belongs with the best, no matter what decision he makes this weekend.

The lull of National Signing Day underscores need to move the early signing period

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The early-morning chaos of today’s National Signing Day did not disappear with the implementation of the December “early” signing period in the 2018 recruiting cycle. It just moved six weeks earlier.

In 2014, waking up at 6:45 a.m. ET to be logged on and publishing at 7 a.m. led to noticing one expected recruit had not yet signed with Notre Dame by 8 a.m. Pointing that out and reminding the world Michigan State was making a late push led to an Irish media relations staffer reaching out to quietly say something to the extent of, “Just letting the young man have his moment at school.”

In 2017, less than two weeks after taking over this gig, waking up at 3 a.m. CT to churn through 2,000 words before signings could begin becoming official eventually led to napping through Brian Kelly’s Signing Day press conference.

Nothing changed 10 months later. That December, the afternoon of Dec. 22, the Friday before Christmas, was spent waiting for receiver Braden Lenzy to officially choose Notre Dame over Oregon. Sitting at your parents’ kitchen table not helping your niece make a gingerbread house because recruiting-obsessed fans harassed a player through two de-commitments is not a strong way to conjure up holiday spirit.

Coaches across the country advocated for the earlier signing period, claiming it would allow high-school seniors to make their collegiate decisions official earlier on in their senior years, particularly when the prospects had already made up their minds on where to play football at the next level. That was all optics, if even that.

These high schoolers now make their decision official just six weeks earlier. In the preps football calendar, those six weeks are meaningless. Both the December signing period and today, the traditional National Signing Day, come well after the high-school seasons have ended.

The truth was, coaches across the country did not want to tend to their solid commitments over Christmas and New Year’s, particularly not amid bowl prep. It was self-serving at best and short-sighted at worst.

First of all, when the December signing period became reality in 2017, one-time transfers were not yet allowed without losing eligibility the following season. Secondly, no one predicted the early signing period would lead to the coaching carousel beginning earlier and earlier in the season. September firings used to be the result of only off-field scandals, not outright expected from half a dozen programs each fall. Athletic directors now want that headstart on hiring a new coach so he can have time before the December signing period commences.

Exhibit A: Notre Dame may have ended up with Marcus Freeman as its head coach after Brian Kelly’s abrupt departure following the 2021 season, but if the primary signing date had not been lingering just a few weeks away, Kelly likely would not have jumped to LSU before the College Football Playoff field was set, and Irish director of athletics Jack Swarbrick would have taken more time in choosing his next head coach, more than the 48 hours he used last December. After all, Swarbrick took 10 days in hiring Kelly in 2009.

Lastly, with a 12-team Playoff coming in 2025, December will become only more hectic.

Those head coaches who wanted a little less stress over the holidays will then have to deal with, in chronological order:

— Keeping their own jobs.
— Securing their recruiting classes in the days immediately preceding Christmas.
— Preparing their teams for bowl games.
— Preparing their teams for up to four games if in the Playoff.
— Re-recruiting any players considering entering the transfer portal before the winter window closes.
— Winning a bowl game.
— Retaining their coaching staffs.
— Oh, and celebrate the holidays with their families, as was their want when they hollered for the early signing period.

Most of those tasks are immutable and inherent to the sport.

But one can move. It already has once.

The logic is too clear. Nothing was gained in moving up the primary signing date by six weeks. And sanity was lost.

This is, of course, a sport that prefers to ignore logic, but usually that is charming. A mustard bottle on the field is quirky; lacking a worthwhile voice of authority is stubbornly stupid.

So the early signing period may not move as soon as it should (now), but it will move. There are no anti-trust worries tied to it, fortunately.

And aside from the logic, cramming more content into December costs the media, too. Spreading out that context through the vacuum of mid-January to mid-March will be much appreciated.