Friday, July 31, 2009

The Calm Before the Storm

Clashmore Mike, Domer Sports Report

Notre Dame Football

It is the last week of July. For football fans, this is the deep breath before the plunge. All across the country training camps are getting ready to open...soon, but not just yet. The Irish report in 10 days.

I was on the Notre Dame campus this past week. It was a beautiful early evening in high summer. Despite the peace and stillness, the echos were there, stirring, getting ready to wake up in just a few short weeks. Summer students coming and going. A few football fans shopping in the bookstore. The faithful praying in the Basilica, or in the sacred space of the Grotto. It served to remind me what we really play for. Domers understand it, but many of our opponents never will.

We ND bloggers have spent a long summer analyzing the team, the schedule, the new coaches, and predicting how the coming season will play out. Some of us have also spent time answering an unending stream of animosity from those that hate the Fighting Irish. (If I read one more article about why ND needs to join a conference I'll be sick...) But this is all just marking time.

Soon, the speculation will end. Our lads will strap on the gold helmets, the band will play the Fight Song, we'll tee it up, and a new chapter in the History of Notre Dame Football will be written. Has the team turned the corner? Will Coach Weis take us to a BCS bowl? Will the Irish regain their historic position in college football?

We'll know soon. The wait is unbearable! Go Irish!

Thursday, July 23, 2009

ND Fans Want Championships, Not Necessarily High GPAs

The Staff, Domer Sports Report

Notre Dame Sports

Recently, Domer Sports Report posed a poll question. The question was what would you rather see from ND sports programs? An overall team gpa (grade point average) of over 3.0 or a winning, National Championship program, but a gpa of under 3.0?

The results were astounding, given the outward, permeating attitude from within (the administration) and, maybe, from without (fans, observers, media and detractors) Notre Dame. A whopping 66% responded that they would prefer to have a National Championship program, while 33% preferred to have a team gpa of over 3.0.

What does all of this mean? Well, most of it is subjective. It is open for interpretation. But, here is how the staff of Domer Sports Report sees it:

Nick Shepkowski:

To me there its not even a question anymore on if the University of Notre Dame should slightly lower academic standards and not have as "classroom smart" of a football team if they can get that much closer to a national title on the football field. There are certain things that get under my skin as a Notre Dame fan and this one may take the cake on my list. Sure Notre Dame has tougher academic standards than other schools but when it comes to football players, the difference really is minimal.

Notre Dame does not hold its student athletes to as tough as standards to get into the school as they do their everyday students. If you can catch or throw a football well, or even tackle or block well then your chances of getting into Notre Dame go up an incredible amount. Year in and year out there is an extremely large percentage of future football players who are allowed admittance to the University of Notre Dame, only because of their athletic ability.

I would not be bothered if the University was to slightly lower standards and allow more potential players into Notre Dame. The majority of football players already get an exception when it comes to test scores and GPA's, why shouldn't all of them?

The only problem I would potentially have with lowering academic standards is if Notre Dame turned into a "Thug-U" like Miami of Florida did in the 1980's and early 90's. If the coaching staffs got to know the kids they were recruiting it would be simple to eliminate these problems before they were ever admitted to the University of Notre Dame.

Once again, I do not care what the team GPA of the Fighting Irish is. This magical number of 3.0, I would have finished below the mark in my four years of college. Does it mean I'm an idiot? Getting multiple jobs offers in my field before graduation from college would imply otherwise. I don't care about how smart someone is in a classroom, just like in sports there is life beyond that as well.

If a potential athlete seems to have a promising enough future where they would likely be seen as a "productive member of society" and not have a past of battery or abuse or any problems with that, why not admit them to the University? I don't care if someone has an ACT score of 19, does that make them a bad kid? No, what does is how they act as a person. Talking to teachers, principals, coaches, and even
those in the neighborhood would quickly get an answer to if someone has the proper fit to be allowed to attend the University of Notre Dame, even if it does end up making the Fighting Irish a less "classroom smart" team.

Brian Dascenzo:

I don't think there is a huge issue if the team doesn't have a 3.0 GPA. Everyone knows that Notre Dame is a tough school academically. The National Championship on the other hand is a huge deal and changes the program infinitely. I don't know that we need to lower the standard that much if at all. It is harder to get great athletes that are also smart but we know that it isn't impossible to recruit smart football players to Notre Dame.

If players can't handle the courses at Notre Dame (with or without all the help they get) the issue arises of them transferring or taking semesters off and missing football season. Being smart is necessary in South Bend and having smart players shouldn't be detrimental to winning, it should help. The National Championship is something that should be thought of consistently at Notre Dame while "no one" cares if the team GPA slips to the 2.5-2.9 area. Winning solves a lot of things but Charlie and the Weisettes were able to recruit even during the two year debacle they just dealt with.

Ryan Williams:

I, personally was surprised at the results of the poll. Myself and most of the Notre Dame fans, alumni, and overall supporters of the University that I know realize that Notre Dame is a first rate educational institution first and foremost. The athlete can never come before the student at Notre Dame. Now, am I saying that the bar must be a 3.0 GPA? That is the tricky part of the question. I almost think a different number should be used. Maybe team graduation %. A guy may struggle in a couple courses here and there, which would bring his GPA down, but if he buckled down and put the work into it needed to graduate in four years I would call his education a success even if he didn't maintain a 3.0 GPA. Would I be mad if Notre Dame won a National Championship but finished with a team average 2.8 GPA? No I wouldn't. Would I be mad if Notre Dame won a National Championship and only graduated 80% of the players on that team? Yes. Notre Dame is the only college out there who has been on the elite end of both the academic and athletic spectrum. And the only program that has done both at the same time. In 1988 Notre Dame won the football National Championship and was also awarded The Academic Achievement Award which is given to the Div. 1-A school that records the highest graduation rate of that years class.

So, in closing, do I believe that the line in the sand must be a 3.0 GPA? No I don't. But Notre Dame must never sacrifice education for athletic accomplishments.

Clashmore Mike:

What this poll says to me is the decade of mediocrity is weighing heavy on the Irish faithful. One of the distinguishing characteristics of Notre Dame sports is taking the concept of "student athlete" seriously, weighing the first word in that phrase as heavy — or heavier — than the second one. This simply can't change. To do so would undercut the very nature of the university.

But, you might say, 78% would lower the academic bar to get a championship, so why not? Because it isn't necessary. For years, scores of commentators — Paul Hornung himself to ESPN "experts" to anonymous bloggers have said ND needs to lower its academic standards to attract better athletes. This was particularly frequent during Coach Willingham's tenure. (Unfortunately, the real problem was simply Ty was a lousy recruiter...) The two most recent recruiting classes by Weis show that top athletes can and will come to Notre Dame. And when talent comes, so do wins. And eventually, so do championships.

Mark Allen:

Recently, Mike Brey wrote on his Twitter site that Notre Dame's basketball team had achieved a 3.1 team gpa for the last semester and were over 3.0 for the year. He punctuated it with an exclamation point. Does Mike Brey "get" Notre Dame? Well, in my opinion, that depends on the point of view. From the current and recent past administration at Notre Dame, as well as the academics, he gets it. From the Notre Dame fans' point of view, as well as the "subway alumni" he does not.

There is a difference between reality and what the academics would like. Let's be honest, Zach Hillesland's high grade point average is nice. But, is it the main course or the side dish? I maintain that it is the side dish.

The reputation of Notre Dame is two-fold: high academic standards and athletic success. But, which came first? It is obvious that athletic success came first. Academics, while admirable, is the gravy.

Notre Dame is fun to root for. Most of the time, they do it right. They admit students of high moral character who also have good academic backgrounds. I am not advocating lowering standards to allow more athletic success. Success can be achieved, in my opinion, both, academically and athletically.

Ask yourself this question. Which numbers are remembered more? The 2008-09 men's basketball team gpa or 1966, 1977 and 1988 (football National Championship seasons). Enough said?

Friday, July 17, 2009

Commitment #13, Spencer Boyd!

As was widely speculated, Spencer Boyd gave his verbal commitment to the University of Notre Dame on Friday afternoon, choosing the Fighting Irish over Michigan and Georgia. Boyd becomes the 13th commitment for the Domers and third that will make up Notre Dame's defensive backfield in the future.

Boyd is listed as a three star recruit from Cape Coral, Florida. It was there that he compiled 30 tackles and one interception as a junior in 2008. He also carried the ball 102 times for 620 yards and 6 scores but will be used only on defensive by head coach Charlie Weis.

Tight Ends coach Bernie Parmalee was responsible for the recruiting of Boyd as he continues to show his strength in recruiting the most southeastern state in the nation. Parmalee has also successfully recruited the likes of Armando Allen, Emeka Nwankwo, Ian Williams, Zeke Motta, and Jordan Cowart to the University of Notre Dame. Parmalee continues to have four more targets from the Sunshine State listed in his name on, all four having a four star ranking.
Back to Boyd, he brings a tad bit more size to the Irish secondary as he currently weighs 18 more pounds than counterpart Lo Wood. Although I can't guarantee it, with Boyd having a slightly quicker 40 yard dash time, I suspect the strength of Boyd is a hair greater than Wood's as well.

Boyd's commitment moves the Irish into 10th place overall in the current rankings of the class of 2010. Stanford remains the only regular on the schedule ahead of Notre Dame, coming in at 8th overall. Once again, its tough to make a whole lot of sense of where teams are ranked in these type of things until more of the "elite prospects" make their announcements.

Enjoy Spencer Boyd's highlight video from his junior season at Cape Coral High School. From all of us at Domer Sports Report, welcome to Notre Dame, Spencer!

Article Written By:
Nick Shepkowski
Bleacher Report
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Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Why I Don't Want Urban

Brian Dascenzo, Domer Sports Report

Notre Dame Football

This has nothing to do with Urban Meyer as a coach, that would be stupid. This has to do with where Notre Dame football is right now and what would be best for it. It has to do with the last two years and most of the years between Holtz and Weis. It has to do with not wanting a do-over on rebuilding and not wanting to lose underclassmen who bolt because of a system change again, although this time they might be pushed out by Urban instead of leaving of their own accord.

I want Notre Dame to be successful under every coach, I get sick and tired of losing, I get fed up with not being competitive with USC or Michigan and not being able to beat Michigan State. I want Charlie to succeed, I need Charlie to succeed. The last two years have to mean something to this program other then a waste.

The turning of inexperience to dominant is what I want to see. This is the programs last chance with who is in place, I believe Swarbrick would have made the change last year if Charlie couldn't talk a good game. I need to see it in action rather than just hear about it.

The offense will probably be a pass dominant issue again, whether it's because of Armando Allen and Robert Hughes not being able to carry the load or Michael Floyd, Golden Tate and Kyle Rudolph (among others) just exploding for 150 yard games each consistently and that would seem to fit Weis' gameplan.

Notre Dame has to succeed next year because this is what we have been waiting for. As fans we are willing to look past the last two years (kind of) if this year means great success. As a fan who has seen the teams Notre Dame has lost too in person get worse and worse (from the Dowdell led Spartans to Air Force during the 3-9 debacle to Syracuse last year I personally have hit rock bottom) it has to be for something.

I have a belief in Notre Dame football that is insane, there is little reason to believe in Charlie. Sure, he's had some great recruiting classes and he turned a 6-7 team into back-to-back BCS teams, but there are questions about all of it.

Winning with Ty's players (wish Ty would have brought in players his last one and a half classes like he did the first two) or not being able to develop the players that came in during his first one and a half classes (one of those shared with Ty).

This is the show me year, Custer's last stand as you will or else we are looking at starting over again, and the cupboard won't be bare. Instead, people will be looking for Urban immediately but his contract isn't up until 2013 so the next coach will have Urban watch even worse then Charlie does. Tommy Tubberville could probably withstand that and build a program but could a less experienced coach like Brian Kelly? I don't know and the I don't know future could be worse then the Charlie past/present. Here's to hoping Urban isn't necessary to fix the last 12 and that the answer is right beneath our noses.

Follow me on twitter @dascenzo and see my thoughts on sports that don't involve UND at my blog.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Moore Makes it a Dirty-Dozen!

Notre Dame's recruiting class of 2010 grew by one more on Saturday as linebacker Kendall Moore gave word of his verbal commitment. Moore is the twelfth prospect to commit to the growing class but only the fifth to come in with a ranking greater than three stars by ( ranks Moore as a 3-star prospect).

Moore comes from Raleigh, NC where he is getting for his third and final season on the varsity roster at Southeast Raleigh High School. In his two previous seasons he has a combined 230 tackles and six sacks. He also caught thirty passes last season, good for seven touchdowns but he will be used exclusively on defense at Notre Dame.

Moore is listed at 6'3''/232 lbs with a forty time around 4.6 seconds. He has also squatted 500 pounds and bench pressed 320. Room to grow but a great starting point in his strength.

Moore chose the University of Notre Dame over several southeastern schools but Florida State and North Carolina State sound like they were the closest competitors for his commitment. As of now it is not certain whether Moore will play on the inside or outside but he will remain a linebacker when he makes his way on campus.

Notre Dame now has 12 commitments and is currently ranked as the 9th best class in the nation according to There is still a lot of time left on the recruiting trail for the class of 2010 and the Irish remain a player in the game for several top ranked recruits. Keep it locked on DomerSportsReport as we will break it all down for you along the way.

Welcome to Notre Dame, Kendall Moore!

Article Written By:
Nick Shepkowski
Bleacher Report
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Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Irish Gain 10th and 11th Commitments

Notre Dame has received their tenth commitment in a growing class as Justin Utupo has given his word to the Fighting Irish staff. Utupo doesn't come to South Bend with a ton of praise from the national recruiting sources but he did choose the Fighting Irish after getting offers from all over the land, including Oregon State, Oklahoma State, Utah, Colorado, and BYU.

Utupo becomes the third defensive end in the class, joining Chris Martin and Blake Leuders. He stands 6'2'' and weighs 240 lbs. Of the three commitments at defensive end, Utupo comes in as the lowest rated by the national sources.

Utupo may offer something that most other commitments/recruits are not able to do before they take a class at Notre Dame. Utupo is the high school teammate of both blue-chip quarterback Jesse Scroggins and 4-Star safety Dion Bailey at Lakewood HS in California.

Scroggins seems to be headed to the SEC in the form of a Gator, Vol, or to Southern Cal. Bailey on the other hand lists Notre Dame high on his list with USC, Tennessee, Washington State, and Southern Methodist all also included on that short list. I'm not saying its going to happen but it sure would be nice to see.

Utupo picked up six sacks as a junior at Lakewood High while also being responsible for 70 tackles on the year. He joins the growing list of 3-star commits for the 2010 class of Fighting Irish.

Welcome to Notre Dame, Justin Utupo!

The Fighting Irish of Notre Dame can now add an eleventh name to the list of 2010 commitments as Tommy Rees of Lake Forest, Illinois gave his word to head coach Charlie Weis this week. Rees becomes the eleventh commitment as well as the second at the quarterback position for the class of 2010, joining Andrew Hendrix of Ohio.

Rees was not a highly touted recruit nationally but did receive offers from Tennessee, Stanford, Bowling Green, Central Michigan, and Miami (Ohio). As he gave his verbal commitment he stands 6'3'' while weighing in at 192 pounds.

I have doubts that Rees is ever going to be the "next great thing" amongst Irish quarterbacks. Per rivals rankings, this is the seventh of eleven verbal commitments to have a ranking of three stars. It is starting to seem that this class of new Fighting Irish may not have the same star rolls in the future but are used more to add depth to a team that loses likely 24 scholarship positions after January.

Even if Rees is able to simulate what the oposition is going to do by running scout team in the future it is good to add to the class. Don't expect him to compete for a Heisman like most quarterbacks that commit to ND but still...

Welcome to Notre Dame, Tommy Rees!