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Leftovers & Links: What if Twitter had commented on Notre Dame football in ’07? ’06? ’05? … December of 2001?

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Twitter is a unique beast, with college football Twitter its own monster and the Notre Dame subsection a terror all its own. The overreactions, hot takes and incessant hand-wringing create an ecosystem unlike any other throughout fall’s Saturdays. The gifs, memes and intentional misspellings of “FIGTHING IRISH” develop a language at best English-adjacent. The on-field highs become greater peaks and each lost fumble craters into a never-ending abyss as far as the proverbial feed is concerned.

As it was first known, twttr officially launched in March of 2006 and gained steam in 2007, but it only found momentum in 2008 and became main-stream somewhere between 2009 and 2010. Personally, it was a slow day in The South Bend Tribune’s newsroom during LeBron James’ first free agency that spurred signing up. (July 4, 2010, to be exact.) Notre Dame football reaches back much, much further than that. More than a century so.

Relatively speaking, the moments of the last decade have largely been muted, considering just how much Twitter overreacts to trivial moments and nearly-combusts on big occasions. For every South Florida rainstorm, a Kick-Six stands out as a true demonstration of college football Twitter’s reach. A national championship game blowout quickly turns into an hour-long Irish roast followed by two hours of boredom.

Thus, the pointless-but-for-entertainment question becomes …

What Notre Dame football events from the pre-Twitter era would have been best suited for the platform’s hyperbolic reaction, universal enjoyment and continuous feedback?

A few categories of replies emerge.

The years immediately preceding Twitter’s takeover offered numerous days of hysteria, obviously halted by 2007’s 3-9 disaster, a season in which Twitter’s barroom snark may have provided some needed company for the miserable, company which could have included Michigan fans to open the season, courtesy of that legendary Appalachian State upset.

A simple peak came with Brady Quinn finding Jeff Samardzija for a 45-yard touchdown pass in the final minute to beat UCLA in 2006. Weeks before that, though, both the Irish comeback at Michigan State and the reaction to it would have been ripe for the picking.

Scoring 19 straight points to win 40-37 at a rival’s venue is about as sweet as it gets in college football. Eliciting an uninterrupted, 15-minute meltdown from the rival’s radio jockey is another brand of delight. The longest breath ever taken by Mike Valenti, of 97.1 “The Ticket” in Detroit, is hardly remembered today, but imagine if Twitter had sunk its teeth into the rolling and roiling takedown of everything associated with Drew Henson and Mark Dantonio.

It begins nicely enough, repeatedly deeming the loss a “choke job.” Valenti touches on football concepts familiar to Notre Dame fans remembering 2016, “You’re asking Drew Stanton to run the option in Hurricane Katrina.” Valenti’s voice halts, cracks and nearly gives out. “God forbid if they had tripped over themselves and gained 20 yards, they wouldn’t have even gotten a field goal off. The unit wasn’t ready.”

And in a moment of resignation perfectly designed for Twitter’s character limits, “I’m tired. I’m hurt. I’m emotional. I’m shot. I’ve got nothing left.”

Before 2006’s dramatics, there was 2005’s “Bush Push.” Not much else needs to be said. Irish fans would have conjured up thrice the conspiracy theories they already have if Twitter and gifs had been there to aid the bargaining fans. In time, they would have found some comfort in the inevitable memes of Matt Leinart and Reggie Bush crying. For an hour that afternoon, before all dreams were dashed, Tom Zbikowski’s punt return for a touchdown and a 21-14 halftime lead would have delivered Notre Dame fans quite the social media hubris, counteracting the expected public cries of despair at the sight of green jerseys before the game, justifiably so given their production in 2003 against Boston College.

Two nominees jump to mind, both dealing with the state directly north of campus. Twitter would have wrung itself into an incoherent, morally-outraged mess following the 10-10 tie between the No. 1 Irish and No. 2 Michigan State in 1966. How could Ara not try to win? Why play the game? How weak!! Valid strategy or not, Notre Dame holding the ball for the final 70 seconds of a tie game would have sparked backlash so strong it then would have induced its own backlash which would, presumably, lead to backlash to the backlash of the initial backlash.

Fast forward 13 years and the football purists would have again had their fingers clattering in anger after Bob Crable leapt off the Michigan center’s back to block a game-winning field goal. History looks favorably upon those theoretical outcries. Crable’s technique led to the NCAA eventually banning the use of snappers as elevation utensils.

One is well-known for its preservation of the eventual 43-year Irish winning streak against Navy.

The memes of “Rossum saving …” would have been a catalyst for Notre Dame football Twitter for some time to come.

That pales in comparison to the thoughts of the freshmen in the student body in 1996, when Rossum returned the opening kickoff 99 yards for a touchdown against Purdue. Every single one of those freshmen would have tweeted exactly what they thought, “Holy *$#%, we’re going to go 48-0!”

Narrator: They did not go 48-0.

There are a number of off-field debacles that would top each of these in-game highlights. The video of Lou Holtz cutting loose at a pep rally could have enraged entire opposing stadiums. Every moment of Jimmy Clausen’s time in South Bend likely lent itself to mockery from afar.

Yet nothing, nothing whatsoever (with the possible exception of the in-the-heart-of-the-Twitter-era Manti Te’o dating debacle), not all of these thoughts combined, would have topped Twitter’s euphoria for five days in December of 2001.

George O’Leary’s padded résumé would have shut down much of the internet by crashing the servers of every online college football outlet

Instead, NYU-Stony Brook University is a figment of the imagination long forgotten.

— At least one Notre Dame alum remembers the Valenti rant quite well. In his friend group, it is a piece of legend: He had the audio file on his phone, listening to the phone on shuffle on a road trip with his girlfriend, a Michigan State alum. The Valenti outburst came on. The Irish fan let it play in its 15-minute entirety. The remaining 90 minutes of the ride were uncomfortably silent. Worry not. They will be married less than a month from now.

— There would have been universal social media joy following the Appalachian State topping of Michigan in Ann Arbor. Not just because of what happened at the Big House, but also because of the events at Appalachian State’s stadium, where the students broke in, tore down the goalposts and walked them a mile to the chancellor’s lawn.

— In its own way already proven, the late ‘80s matchups with Miami would have been ideal social media material, verified by how well Twitter received ESPN’s “30 for 30” on the rivalry.

It has already blown over. Hard as that may be to believe, given Wednesday’s likely end to the Notre Dame recruitment of three-star receiver TJ Sheffield (Independence High School; Thompson’s Station, Tenn.). Sheffield committed on July 6, described his pledge as “100 percent” two days later, and then announced the Irish coaching staff had withdrawn the offer on July 11.

(Why bring up this old news now? One, to emphasize how it has already left most concerns. Two, only about 20 percent of U.S. adults use Twitter and many may have missed the ins and outs of this odd recruitment.)

TJ Sheffield (

“After establishing a long-term relationship with Coach Alexander the Receiver’s Coach for Notre Dame, I called him on the morning of the 6th of July and stated to him my intensions to commit [sic],” Sheffield posted to Twitter. “Coach Alexander then congratulated me on committing and he spoke with my parents as well stating that he looked forward to coaching me. Today I received a call from Coach Alexander stating that Notre Dame was not going to honor my commitment due to a change of plans. Coach Alexander stated that he should have let me know on the 6th of July that Notre Dame had different plans.”

Such as it goes, unfortunate as it is for this situation to have come to light at all. Sheffield will be better off learning of this shift now rather than closer to a signing date, the most likely outcome otherwise. That said, Alexander certainly made a public mistake in a public fashion.

To summarize how this miscommunication presumably occurred: All scholarship offers and subsequent commitments are mutually non-binding. Thus, not all scholarship offers are true offers. They are conditional on these grades or that other player or general timing. Sheffield did not have the same read of his conditions as the Irish coaching staff did. Simple as that, although yet embarrassing.

Compare it to a redhead behind the bar. If she gives the customer her number, she has not agreed to a date. She has simply put the option on the table pending timing, interests and textual manners.

The five-day life cycle of Sheffield’s commitment is nothing more than some mud on Notre Dame’s face that will wash off quickly, if it has not already.

On Phil Steele’s expectations for Notre Dame
No. 15 Phil Jurkovec, consensus four-star quarterback, incoming freshman
No. 14 Devin Studstill, safety
No. 13 Lawrence Keys, receiver, incoming freshman
No. 13 Paul Moala, local safety, incoming freshman
No. 12 DJ Brown, cornerback, incoming freshman
No. 12 Ian Book, quarterback

WR recruit T.J. Sheffield no longer in Notre Dame’s 2019 class
The top position groups Florida State will face during the 2018 season
The 15 most important assistant coaching hires of the offseason: No. 5 Ed Warinner, Michigan
Bruce Feldman’s 2018 college football Freaks List ($)
Single-game Irish tickets available July 26
The economics of a Las Vegas Summer League invite

Leftovers & Links: On Phil Steele’s expectations for Notre Dame

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It begins innocently enough with a question from a dinner companion, “How good could Notre Dame be this year?”

“I don’t know, I haven’t started my deep dive yet, but I do think the defense could be pretty special.”

A few days later, the friend waiting on the cashier with you reaches for a conversational topic, “That Michigan game could be a fun one, huh?” Would any reasonable college football devotee reply negatively? Rather, attendance was encouraged; it should be a fun atmosphere.

A day or two after that, the mailbox is filled with college football preview magazines. Sure, Phil Steele’s annual brick arrived a few weeks ago, but its spine broke only this last week. The rest await that fate now.

If there is such a thing as a football offseason — and when discussing the Irish there is an easy argument against such a concept — those doldrums are quickly reaching their close. That became clear when Steele excited Notre Dame fans by declaring the Irish his “No. 1 surprise team” this season, essentially his preferred dark-horse title contender.

That may be a bit of a leap for a team considered 40:1 to win the national championship, but Steele cites nine returning defensive starters and a “stout” offensive line as enough when combined with a deceptively-favorable schedule.

Again, it is still only the second week of July. This scribe’s annual summer deep dive on every college football possibility with a focus on Notre Dame and its opponents does not commence for another week or two. That is a measure taken to preserve sanity. It is desperately needed.

Nonetheless, Steele’s broad strokes make sense, even if his finer points appear to contradict each other. His Irish pick hinges on its defense, already acknowledged as something to await with hope, but he considers the Notre Dame defensive line only the No. 21 up-front grouping in the country. Even if senior Te’von Coney and fifth-year Drue Tranquill are two of the top draft-eligible linebackers in the country, per Steele, the Irish linebacker unit rates as the No. 13 nationally, while the secondary is at No. 17. The first two of those ratings feel underrated, while Notre Dame’s unknowns at safety make that No. 17 spot feel a tad high.

If that defensive set is enough to drive a team into national title contention, one should really take notice of Michigan, Steele’s No. 4 surprise team and with a roster holding the No. 6 defensive line unit, the No. 12 set of linebackers and the top secondary.

That “stout” Irish offensive line Steele expects to drive Notre Dame will not keep it from a massive drop-off in the running game, per his computers. To some degree, that makes sense. The Irish could have a solid ground attack but still not come close to matching last year’s numbers. After all, Notre Dame did lose two offensive linemen to the NFL draft’s top-10 and a Heisman thought at running back to the Philadelphia Eagles.

A final piece to ponder as these conversations gain steam: Steele thinks Notre Dame “will have the most potent offense in [Irish head coach Brian] Kelly’s eight years.”

Such a possibility has not come up at dinner, at a cash register or in hours of mindless mental meandering. At least, not yet.

On Friday, three-star receiver TJ Sheffield (Independence High School; Thompson’s Station, Tenn.) committed to Notre Dame … with a disclaimer: “My plans are to officially visit several colleges to confirm my decision and leave no regrets.”

In every way, that sounded like Sheffield was keeping his recruitment open, throwing doubt onto his understanding of the definition of commitment, although also a prudent strategy when making a life-changing decision. By Sunday evening Sheffield had changed his tune.

“After committing to the University of Notre Dame, I have decided to forego all of my recruitment/official visits with the exception of the one I spend with [Notre Dame],” he posted to Twitter. “Thanks again to all who have participated in my recruitment. #allin100%.”

December remains five full months away, but it appears Sheffield is on board with the Irish at this point.

“Fight On*”
Dan, the taskmaster mentioned in the “Leftovers” post of last week, signed an email with that farewell a few days later. A Notre Dame alum with an Irish football-loving father, it certainly stood out as unexpected, but that asterisk pointed to a footnote.

“*I use the stolen USC battle cry throughout the year after we beat them. Man, I hate when we lose to those guys; I become relegated to mundane and prosaic closings such as ‘Sincerely’ and ‘Regards’.”

You do you, Dan. It is a bold strategy, that’s for sure.

A Notre Dame mailbag highlighted by an apology
Notre Dame lands both a QB and a WR commit on Fourth of July
Speedy Tenn. WR TJ Sheffield chooses Notre Dame over Ohio State
No. 20, Shaun Crawford, nickelback, senior
No. 20 C’Bo Flemister, running back, incoming freshman
No. 19 Justin Yoon, placekicker, senior
No. 19 Justin Ademilola, defensive end, incoming freshman
No. 18 Joe Wilkins, cornerback, incoming freshman
No. 17 Isaiah Robertson, safety-turned-rover, sophomore
No. 16 Noah Boykin, cornerback, incoming freshman
No. 15 D.J. Morgan, safety-turned-linebacker, junior

Maryland athlete Cam Hart picks Notre Dame: It’s all about fit
Notre Dame’s practice facility construction continues
Notre Dame vs. Michigan: What’s on the line in opener?
The 15 most important assistant coaching hires of the 2018 season … No. 10: Clark Lea, Notre Dame
Notre Dame invites Garth Brooks to play first-ever concert in legendary stadium
CJ Holmes finds second chance at Penn State

Monday’s Leftovers & Links: A Notre Dame mailbag highlighted by an apology

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I am sorry, Dan.

No, not for having to ask a mutual friend what your name was fewer than 24 hours after meeting. That should be expected protocol following a wedding reception, especially one featuring a Notre Dame alum.

Rather, this apology is for letting Dan down last Monday. I will blame my computer, but men like Dan don’t want excuses. They want Monday morning distractions.

I met Dan innocently enough.

“Hey Douglas, come here.”

The voice belonged to the brother of the groom, and though he may not know me well, he knows me well enough to know when I am in a groomsman’s tuxedo and have an empty glass in my hand, I have one destination in mind. I figured he was about to ask me to grab him a one-eyed beer. He had a two-year-old Nacho (that is his son’s name, not a decrepit plate of appetizers) to deal with, anyway.

“I want you to meet Dan.”

A family friend of the groom’s, apparently Dan had seen a name in the wedding program and asked why such a fool was listed. He then explained how dependent he was upon this space to get through a Monday morning. There is no glamor or even praise in that comment, just an acknowledgement of the natural human condition of despising Monday mornings, especially when Saturday night included a wedding reception in a fire station.

Of course, that weekend preceded the week in which these “Monday’s Leftovers” failed to appear. Do not blame the wedding’s lingering effects. Instead, fault a sluggish piece of ASUS hardware. The appearance of Ovie Oghoufo’s 99-to-2 entry was a minor 3 a.m. miracle.

By the time wiring began conducting correctly and each paragraph typed no longer elicited a 45-second technological pause, it was Thursday mid-morning and a mental white flag had long been waved. Belgium was a few hours from beating England and a Belgian felt more appropriate than a “Thursday Afternoon’s Spoiled Leftovers.”

Dan, if last week was a tough one for you because of this absence, I wish I had planned ahead better. It was a pleasure meeting last weekend and if that photo of you, me and my nth “Rye Not Try It” ever sees the light of day, I will conspire to block all of Maryland from viewing this page forevermore.

You did ask what horrendously unbelievable opinion I would propagate this fall. You’ll have to wait a few more weeks for that reveal, whatever it may be. As for some other questions …

“I’m always trying to identify the top guys that will ‘ascend’ every year. What I mean by that is the guys that either come out-of-the-blue or guys that played last year and underwhelmed but this year make a huge leap. No established top-end guys. Who are your top few defensive and offensive breakouts?” — Mark H.

If reading this morning’s 99-to-2 submission carefully, junior safety Jalen Elliott probably qualifies as someone who underwhelmed in the past but could be in position to make a positive impression this season. He was only a sophomore, starting for the first time, and burdened with quite the set of responsibilities in former Irish defensive coordinator Mike Elko’s scheme. With another year in both the playbook and the weight room, Elliott should be ready to shine. If nothing else, his first career interception will be met with sarcastic applause that should instead be genuine, just as his pick in the Blue-Gold Game was.

Junior defensive end Khalid Kareem is another obvious answer. Jumping from third-team reps to the starter’s role is not unheard of, but it usually occurs out of force. In this instance, Kareem moved past fifth-year end Jay Hayes, in part leading to Hayes’ transfer to Georgia. Kareem will have both the opportunity and the role to make 40-plus tackles with half a dozen sacks. If one of those sacks includes a forced fumble in prime field position, that alone might establish Kareem as a “defensive breakout.”

Offensively is a bit cloudier. Is it cheating to simply say one of the two freshman running backs (C’Bo Flemister and/or Jahmir Smith) and sophomore tight end Cole Kmet? It’s not? Great. That’s the answer.

“With the new redshirt rule of playing four games and preserving a year, could that apply to Jamir Jones as a true junior? In other words, he doesn’t play until the last four games of the year and then still has two years left to play?” — nebraskairish

No, it could not. The rule applies to only freshmen. For that matter, that is not something that would happen even if it technically could. Upperclassmen want to play. If told they are outright not going to, they are more likely to transfer somewhere with a clearer path in years to come. The net outcome on eligibility would be the same.

The applicable aspects of the new NCAA rule are tough to pinpoint, as Notre Dame could, and presumably will, take a few strategies with the freshmen:
— Use bowl preparations as something of a freshmen showcase, creating an entirely new reason to watch each of the 65 bowl games this winter. (Yes, that figure is exaggerated, slightly.)
— Burgeon special teams depth, rotating freshmen four games at a time rather than sapping the legs of the likes of Elliott. This would make the most sense for reserve defensive backs such as Tariq Bracy, Joe Wilkins and Paul Moala.
— Develop a player throughout September and October to use in November to add late-season depth. The three defensive linemen would be prime candidates for this if they are not called upon all season, anyway.
— Give a player extensive playing time in select occasions, namely quarterback Phil Jurkovec (pictured to left) in blowouts.

That last usage will garner the most attention, but it is the prospect of a few more available defensive linemen that will affect the most teams and seasons.

Consider recent Irish history. When a seemingly-endless string of defensive line injuries removed any semblance of depth in 2014, freshman Jay Hayes had to step in for three games, burning a year of eligibility. Head coach Brian Kelly justified the decision by pointing out how rarely elite defensive linemen stay for a fifth year, anyway. Doing so would necessitate passing up the NFL draft twice, after all.

That logic makes sense, and as a heralded recruit, the hope was Hayes would become an elite defensive linemen. In a quick shift, though, Kelly put a hole in that logic by sitting Hayes in 2015 to preserve a year of eligibility. That did not sit well with Hayes.

It should not be insinuated those decisions led to Hayes’ transfer, not at all. (More on that in a minute.) It is to say the entire situation would have been avoided entirely if this new NCAA rule was in place.

Even Kareem could have relished this shift. His freshman season evades most notice when discussing lost years of eligibility, since he played in three of the first five games of 2016, but then he did not appear again except once more, against Virginia Tech in the season’s penultimate contest. A fifth year is far from a certainty as something Kareem may someday inconsequentially wish for, but this rule change would have provided it without altering his career trajectory one bit.

Alas, before you ask, the NCAA is not applying the eligibility change retroactively.

“This spring we heavily over-signed new recruits, and we lost multiple graduate transfers who would have been valuable contributors. Are we forcing these players out because they are the only ones we can force out without a violation of team rules? Should we give up trying to guess attrition and leave over-signing to the programs that will more ruthlessly cut or find medical reasons to deactivate the underclassmen who don’t show much potential to ever become contributors?” — Joseph B.

Notre Dame lost two fifth-year second-string defenders already bypassed in the depth chart this spring by juniors. When cornerback Nick Watkins and defensive end Jay Hayes opted to transfer, it was because they didn’t opt for a fifth year only to spend it on the bench. Their decisions made sense, as did Irish defensive coordinator Clark Lea and Kelly leaning toward cornerback Troy Pride and defensive end Khalid Kareem.

Pride’s and Kareem’s ceilings are much higher than Watkins’ and Hayes’. Giving those first-team reps to the veterans simply to preserve their pride would have short-circuited the development of the juniors. That would have been to the detriment of all four players, not to mention the program as a whole.

In the end, the hubbub about Notre Dame signing 27 recruits in this class and peaking at 89 expected scholarships was all for naught. The Irish roster now has 85 players, and it will not be surprising at all to see that drop to 83 before Michigan arrives Sept. 1. This should absolutely be kept in mind in years to come when the roster undoubtedly again rises above 85 players in the offseason.

More mailbag questions?
As always, send them to What’s the worst that happens? They get ignored. Or worse yet, answered in a tardy mailbag a week after a chance encounter between specialty drinks at a wedding reception.

Consensus four-star guard gives Notre Dame four OL commits
Notre Dame’s recruiting class gets an offensive skill player, consensus three-star RB Kyren Williams
Medical issues force out LB David Adams, bringing Notre Dame to 85 scholarships
No. 40 Drew White, linebacker, sophomore
No. 39 Jonathan Doerer, kickoff specialist, sophomore
No. 34 Jahmir Smith, early-enrolled freshman running back
No 31 Jack Lamb, linebacker, early-enrolled freshman
No. 30 Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah, rover, sophomore
No. 29 Ovie Oghoufo, linebacker, early-enrolled freshman
No. 28 Nicco Fertitta, safety, senior
No. 27 Julian Love, cornerback, second-team All-American, junior
No. 25 Braden Lenzy, consensus four-star receiver, incoming freshman
No. 24 Nick Coleman, safety and perhaps nickelback, senior
No. 23 Drue Tranquill, linebacker and two-time captain
No. 22 Asmar Bilal, first-year starting rover, senior
No. 21 Jalen Elliott, safety, junior

Te’von Coney enters plea agreement for marijuana possession
Te’von Coney had clarified his status with Notre Dame long before courts did
“My Journey” by Braden Lenzy
Don’t question toughness of David Adams
What should Florida State in Willie Taggart’s first year? How good will Stanford’s offense be? ($)
Wake Forest’s Greg Dortch’s freshman year viewed through a national lens

Monday’s Leftovers & Links: Consensus four-star guard gives Notre Dame four OL commits

Notre Dame hosted a promising group of recruits over the weekend, and the effort has already paid a handsome dividend. Consensus four-star offensive guard Zeke Correll (Anderson High School; Cincinnati) cut short his selection process with a Monday morning commitment to the Irish.

Correll had been expected to visit Ohio State this coming weekend and make his decision after that. Instead, Correll chose Notre Dame over the Buckeyes, Stanford and Clemson, becoming the 14th commit in the Irish class and fourth offensive lineman. rates Correll the No. 11 recruit in Ohio and No. 14 guard in the country.

Three of those four linemen are four-star prospects, including Correll, as are all four of the pledged defensive line recruits. If iron sharpens iron, then those practice sessions in the trenches should lead to many sparks flying the next few years.

That is especially true of the offensive quartet, as the practice work may be the vast majority of work they see for a couple seasons. Current Notre Dame junior Tommy Kraemer should remain a starting guard through 2021, and the freshman and sophomore classes have a few guard possibilities, as well, in the likes of sophomores Josh Lugg and Dillan Gibbons and freshman John Dirksen.

At 6-foot-4 and 275 pounds already, Correll has the muscular frame wanted on the inside of the offensive line, and his discipline in blocks sets him apart from most high schoolers.

Continued mailbag request
A litany of reader questions were received in the last week. A handful were set to be answered this morning, but Correll’s commitment bumped those thoughts down the editorial calendar a bit. In the meantime, any more criticisms, questions or meanderings are welcome at

— If Notre Dame is 33-to-1 for the title, what does that actually mean?
No. 52 Bo Bauer, four-star linebacker, early-enrolled freshman
Indiana LB stays close to home with commitment to Notre Dame
No. 33 Shayne Simon, four-star linebacker, incoming freshman
No. 47 Kofi Wardlow, defensive end
Notre Dame adds commitment of four-star linebacker Ekwonu to stellar defensive line haul
No. 45 Jonathan Jones, linebacker
No. 44 Jamir Jones, linebacker-turned-defensive end
No. 42 Julian Okwara, defensive end
No. 41 Kurt Hinish, defensive tackle

Notre Dame reels in Rivals250 LB Osita Ekwonu
Can Notre Dame contend for the national championship? ($)
D1 football to offer more participation opportunities
‘Bull Durham’ at 30

Monday’s Leftovers & Links: If Notre Dame is 33-to-1 for the title, what does that actually mean?

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It was a simple enough conversation with a sports fan, albeit a hockey nut who only occasionally devotes time to football and is staunchly against gambling. Engaged to a Notre Dame alum, the question was, do the Irish have an actual chance at winning the national championship this year?

Rather than respond with an inaccurate “No” or an imprecise “Yes,” the odds were offered.

“Well, Vegas has Notre Dame at 33-to-1,” I said from memory, pulling up the rest of the listings to offer a more thorough answer. “That’s tied with LSU and Michigan State, behind 12 other teams.”

To a casual football fan devoid of wagering knowledge, that nonsense was most useless of all. The improvised search for ground to stand on led to an entertaining rabbit hole of finding other 33-to-1 scenarios, providing them as parallels.

“Here, we’re in southern California, the Angels have 33-to-1 odds of winning the World Series, even with Shohei Ohtani likely out for the year.” Note: Ohtani’s injury is one of the most-disappointing sports stories of 2018, perhaps our current frontrunner. More pertinent note: The Angels are currently 4.5 games out of a playoff spot.

“The World Cup is coming up, and you know soccer better than I do,” a statement true of the majority of the world. “Croatia is listed at 33-to-1, just behind Uruguay at 28-to-1.” That tidbit actually resonated, casting the Irish as akin to a pipe dream. It also led to a discussion which resulted in one more fan for Belgium this World Cup cycle devoid of the United States. The Red Devils are far from a traditional power, is clad in argyle fashion and hails from a country known for producing some enjoyable beverages. What more could a fan want?

“What about the NFL? You follow that more closely, especially as a Dallas Cowboys fan.” We’ll abandon the ensuing direct quotes to preserve a PG-rating, but suffice it to say the receiver-less Cowboys, the quarterback-less Denver Broncos and the running back-less Oakland Raiders are all listed at 33-to-1 to win the Super Bowl this season.

Of course, being 2018, with gambling on the rise and politics always on the conversational horizon, it was also mentioned Oprah Winfrey is listed at 33-to-1 to win the 2020 presidential election.

All this gives better color and context to how sportsbooks see Notre Dame in 2018. It may be within reason the Irish win the national title, but it is considerably more unlikely than the simple numbers may make it seem.

It also serves as an entryway and excuse to now provide your weekly reading …

But before that, consider this a humble request for any mailbag questions that may provide the hook for next week’s “Leftovers & Links,” or perhaps even lead to a specific article. Send them to Of course, entering them in the comments below is always an option, but those often get lost in time, if not also discussed in comment responses long before addressed with a headline.

Thanks in advance.

Notre Dame lands a punter; adds (another) late kickoff
No. 69 Aaron Banks, offensive tackle
No. 57 Trevor Ruhland, offensive lineman
No. 57 Jayson Ademilola, defensive tackle, consensus four-star incoming freshman
No. 55 Jonathan Bonner, nose tackle
No. 54 John Shannon, long snapper
No. 53 Khalid Kareem, defensive end
No. 53 Sam Mustipher, center and captain

Irish make the grade, but Brian Kelly hedges on Dexter Williams’ status for Notre Dame
Deon McIntosh set to transfer to East Mississippi junior college
Virginia Tech QB Josh Jackson’s future eligibility uncertain
Notre Dame WR C.J. Sanders transferring to SMU
Houston adds fifth Power Five grad transfer in Notre Dame’s Nick Watkins
Alabama punter Jay Bramblett commits to Notre Dame
What will it take for USC to be a powerhouse again ($)
C.J. Prosise is on the roster bubble in Seattle