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Jul 31, 2010

Aaron Lynch's Irish Quartet

At a Saturday morning press conference, star defensive end Aaron Lynch picked Notre Dame and extended a remarkable recruiting sequence with four public commitments in under 24 hours. The previous three are great pickups, but Lynch is the gem of not just the weekend but the year to date.

His junior tape from Preps Report is the best film—not to mention the most entertaining—of any of his fellow ND verbals. The seven minutes are repetitive for all the right reasons: 6-6, 266 Lynch is too big, fast, and strong for any takers in the Ft. Myers area. To compliment his physical gifts, Lynch shows skill in breaking up passes. For Lynch, the tendency to go for deflections is a double-edged sword at times when QBs use a pump fake, although at the 1:07 mark he recovered for the sack anyway.

Impressive against the run, Lynch has sufficient lateral speed to contain a back in the flat and force him to the sideline. He doesn’t take himself out of plays and he’s a consistent terror on every down. Lynch sometimes rushes as stand-up blitzer, so he’ll need to get comfortable playing each snap in a down position. He’s agile enough to develop DE moves and he can chase down skill guys from the line of scrimmage. He can refine these traits and gain muscle mass, but unlike most freshmen on the line, it won't happen during a redshirt year. Lynch looks physically ready to get a little PT for the Irish in 2010 let alone 2011.

While nose guard Louis Nix is comparable in terms of prototypical fit for the scheme, no ND defensive lineman matches Lynch’s upside. His sack numbers as a freshman in 2011 will be similar to Ethan Johnson’s ’08 pace. While Lynch isn’t the first defender in ND’s 2011 group who garnered offers from the SEC’s best teams, he’s probably the first of the caliber who would actually beast at those schools. Lynch is a perfect 3-4 DE and the cornerstone of Kelly’s recruiting class. Soon enough, he’ll also be the centerpiece of Diaco’s defense and maybe, just maybe, Notre Dame’s next national championship.

Jalen Brown and the recruiting floodgates

Notre Dame went almost five weeks without a new public commit before Friday, when ND fans got three commitments in roughly five-hour increments on a single day. 6-0, 180 three-star corner Jalen Brown is the latest, according to ISD. Brown’s commitment slotted the monogram ND into three of the top four recruiting news stories on ESPN’s recruiting sidebar:

ESPN also has junior film showcasing Brown in mostly man-to-man coverage. Watch him deck the WR in the play that starts at the :50 mark. In other segments, Brown shows hops (1:37), closing speed (:32), and run support (2:22). His film makes it obvious that Brown’s coaches in a football-crazed state have done well with him. With a complete corner skill set and great size to boot, Brown is a candidate to play early even before factoring in our thin CB depth chart. This commitment gives Notre Dame flexibility to fulfill needs in the defensive backfield. Although Brown is similar to 2008 signee and DB utility man Jamoris Slaughter, the Irish should keep Brown at CB and instead use Eilar Hardy at safety, his most natural position. ND’s three current scholarship players from Texas are all starters, and Jalen Brown will continue this legacy in due time.

Jul 30, 2010

Anthony Rabasa & The Daily Double

Defensive end and soon-to-be linebacker Anthony Rabasa is ND’s second verbal commitment of the day, as first reported by his hometown Miami Herald.

A lightning-fast first step makes Rabasa a sack master in Florida’s largest classification, some of the best competition in the country. Because he isn’t able to physically overpower linemen, an early understanding of hand placement is a sort of silver lining for the glaring weakness that Rabasa can’t do anything to improve: height. His listed 6-3 frame dictates a move to outside linebacker in ND’s 3-4 defense. Catching a speedster from behind at the 4:36 mark of his junior highlights is reason to believe Rabasa can adjust to linebacker duties:

ND now prefers longer arms even of its outside backers, and it’s hard to tell if Rabasa's frame can hold much more weight. His game will take a similar transition to that of fellow commit Clay Burton, also a pass-rushing specialist but without Rabasa’s unreal explosiveness. Although Rabasa is unproven in moving laterally and reading running lanes and backs, speed alone makes him the favorite to succeed Darius Fleming as the starting CAT backer in 2012.

Film Review: Justice Hayes

Four-star running back and new commit Justice Hayes is quicker than he is fast, using agile footwork to overcome average height (5-10) and lack of breakaway speed (though Rivals lists a 4.44). Top-shelf acceleration and a self-reported 35-inch vert are his best traits athletically. Hayes shows fundamentals by moving the ball to his outside hand when necessary, but he also has serious moves, such as the nasty stop-and-start at the 1:52 mark of his junior tape.

Please note to turn off sound if you're at work:

Hayes needs to work on pass blocking and following blocks, especially when collegiate defenders marginalize his quickness. He looks comfortable running in a spread offense, and he will probably play RB at Notre Dame. His ability to catch passes out of the backfield will help his cause either as a back or moonlighting as an inside receiver. He has the talent to take some carries away from probable future starter Cierre Wood. Even if or when Hayes isn't the featured back, his moves and pass-catching ability will earn him touches in some capacity.

Jul 28, 2010

BIG D to the MLB

In an exclusive report, Irish Creed has learned that Notre Dame pitcher Evan Danieli will forego his senior season with the Irish and sign a contract with the Atlanta Braves, who drafted him in the 24th round of the 2010 Amateur Draft.

One of the top pitching high school prospects in the country, Evan was selected in the 2007 draft by the Minnesota Twins albeit his strong commitment to play at Notre Dame. Despite a college career that was hampered by injuries, including rehabilitation following Tommy John elbow surgery that caused him to miss the 2010 season, the Braves clearly were impressed by his 90+mph fastball that reportedly topped out at 97 in previous summers in the Cape Cod League, a commanding curve ball, and overall ability to pitch.

Evan’s outgoing and fun-loving personality will be sorely missed this year in Alumni Hall, around campus, and on the baseball team. But, we are excited to know that he departs to an organization with an outstanding reputation for grooming star MLB pitchers.

Don’t forget all those great Dawg Pizzas we’ve made you big guy, and get us tickets to your pitching duel when you take down fellow Seton Hall Prep star Rick Porcello. Best of luck as you begin your MLB career.

Post-Fire Grotto

"I came here as a young man and founded a university which I named after the Mother of God. Now she had to burn it to the ground to show me I dreamed too small a dream. Tomorrow we will build it bigger and, when it is built, we will put a gold dome on top with a golden statue of the Mother of God so that everyone who comes this way will know to whom we owe whatever great future this place has."
~ Father Sorin

Jul 27, 2010

Irish Blogger Gathering: Let's Get Offensive

Irish Creed is pumped up to participate for the first time in the Irish Blogger Gathering, a feature in which ND blogs respond to the same set of prompts. It's like an essay test for a Mendoza student, only harder. The six-question format works perfectly for us to split the responses evenly among our three resident writers. Thanks to Matt from We Never Graduate for writing the questions this round to get our brains working just in time for August camp. Did we nail this exam?


1. First, before officially shifting focus to what matters most, let's take a moment to offer a way too early evaluation of Team Kelly's recruiting efforts. They've got verbals from some highly touted prospects (Hegarty, Koyack, Prestwood) and are in the hunt for quite a few more (Aaron Lynch, George Atkinson, Justice Hayes), but it seems like this class lacks the flair and star power of Charlie Weis's classes. We're not even in the hunt for a Rivals five-star rated prospect and we've already taken as many three-stars as the '07 and '08 classes combined. Sure, Kelly can transform two-stars into seven-stars, but the numbers of the last ten years don't lie--championships are won with teams chock full of four and five star talent. Are you at least a little worried at this point or still in the RKG Honeymoon period?

The reason the honeymoon is alive in my mind is that our commits almost all hit on their position-respective “profile” for size and speed that Kelly likes so much that he dropped the word six times last signing day. Hegarty and Prestwood are perfect spread tackles with an emphasis on agility over bulk. At 6-4, Grace matches the inside backer profile. 6-6 defensive ends Springmann and Carrico might not be as good overall, but they at least meet the profile height that that you can’t teach.

The disappointing lack of Rivals five stars isn’t as bad as it seems because they’ve only named 11 fives so far. It’ll finish around 30, which might include now-No. 32 Matthew Hegarty. The bigger picture problem with the new recruiting is potential de-emphasizing California. While Florida recruiting has picked up, it looks like ND is now involved with only three Californians: the Atkinson twins and Niklas. Nonetheless, this class is on pace to finish strong in addition to current commits potentially moving up the national boards. The staff should probably offer the next tier at safety in order to not get shut out of a position of need, but ND is otherwise getting “profile” players to transition schemes with sound scholarship distribution and a couple of underrated commits to boot.

2. The Irish switch from a pro-style offense to the spread this season. We saw it unveiled in the spring game and it is (understandably) a work in progress. That being said the Irish have a veritable bevy of talent, size, and speed at the skill positions. In general, what's your take on the switch to the spread and how high or low should expectations for the offense be going into the year?

Expectations should be moderately high for the offense because of—not despite—the new scheme. Upon installing the spread in his first season at CMU and UC, Kelly oversaw increases in total offense and scoring offense from the previous season at each school, including a huge jump in UC scoring offense (No. 82 to No. 16 nationally). These stats show that he can turn players recruited for another system into quality producers in the spread.

While Kelly plans to run extensively to help the new QB, using arguably the nation’s top WR and TE as a crutch can also ease the scheme into form. His public criticism of the offense’s work rate and struggle to practice at hyper speeds reduced my expectations slightly, but there’s enough perimeter speed to spark the spread. Kelly’s first-year output probably won’t match the yardage of the ’09 Irish. Nonetheless, he’ll push the right buttons to finish with a comparable points-per-game average in the top third nationally in 2010.


3. Three-year starting quarterback Jimmy Clausen has loaded his mom, dad, and free-loading brothers into the family stretch Hummer and taken off for the greener pastures of professional football. Dayne Crist is tasked with stepping into the big, 28 TD, 7:1 TD to INT ratio shoes Jimmy leaves behind. How are you feeling about him taking the reins to Kelly's vaunted spread offense? Do you see there being a significant drop-off with the Great Dayne at the helm or is he going to come out guns a-blazin' a la Brady Quinn in '05?

I have no doubt that DC will eventually prove that Crist is King at Notre Dame. He has a great head on his shoulders and he understands what it means to be the starting quarterback at Notre Dame. He recently talked with ESPN’s Bruce Feldman about leaving a positive legacy behind him, and I believe that when his reign is over he will be remembered as a great role model for future leaders of the Fighting Irish to follow.

During the few chances we have gotten to see him play, Crist has already shown us glimpses of greatness. More importantly, he has exhibited the type of toughness and willingness to do whatever it takes to help the team win that the Fighting Irish are going to need from their leader in 2010. He put both of these traits on display in his often overlooked but crucial performance during the 2nd quarter against Purdont in 2009 when he took over for an injured Clausen. Without hesitation, he stepped right up and led the Fighting Irish on two straight touchdown drives to take a 17-7 lead into halftime. Without that heroic effort, Rudy never would have caught his famous game-winning touchdown from Clausen as the final seconds ticked off the clock.

I probably speak for most of the Fighting Irish Faithful when I say that I felt like I got kicked in the stomach when I watched his knee buckle on the turf of the Alamodome. He has shown nothing but resolute optimism since then, however, and I am more than excited to watch him become our leader. Beyond his athleticism and his familiarity with a spread offense which he ran in high school, I think the qualities that make him a good person and a good leader will stand out the most as the main reasons #10 will once again become the best selling jersey at the bookstore.

4. When a new coach takes over there tend to be a couple of players that haven't seen any significant playing time (or at least haven't made an impact) that unexpectedly emerge as major contributors (see: Samardzija, Jeff in '05). There are plenty of candidates on the offensive side of the ball, but you're only allowed to pick one horse in this derby. Who's it going to be?

I like the horse analogy, because my pick for 2010 Breakout Player of the Year definitely runs with the stride of a stallion. I have a good feeling that lanky 6’3” WR #81 Johnny Goodman will become a fan favorite in the near future. Coupled with his freakish athletic ability, all of the receiving threats lining up around him in Kelly’s spread offense will give him plenty of chances to make big plays.

Goody took advantage of the few opportunities he had to shine during his sophomore season, gaining 104 yards on just 6 catches. You might remember the first touchdown catch of his college career, which he hauled in from Dayne Crist in the Alamodome. Ironically, it was his first touchdown catch and Crist’s first touchdown pass since the duo connected on the very same field in the 2008 U.S. Army All-American Bowl.

What you might not know about Goody is that he was actually called upon to do quite a bit last year. He showed his willingness to help the team in any way possible not only as a WR but on special teams and even as a QB from the wild-cat formation. The talented product of Bishop Dwenger in Fort Wayne, Indiana, did it all in high school as well, winning awards as a WR before switching to QB as a senior to lead one of the best teams in the state. In fact, he barely left the field during his senior season as he proved to be a skilled punt returner, kick returner, and defensive back as well.

Last season, Dayne Crist told the South Bend Tribune that Goody could out-throw every quarterback on the 2009 Notre Dame roster (including both Crist and Clausen). He now enters the 2010 season focused on refining his athletic abilities and becoming a big-time threat at WR. Look for him to take advantage of any and every opportunity he gets. Before long, the #10 to #81 connection might just become as familiar as the #10 to #83 connection was a few years ago.


5. It's preseason which means it's appropriate for all college football fans to bathe in Kool-Aid and allow themselves to dream of invading Glendale, Arizona this January en route to claiming a national championship. Tears of joy will be shed, flights will be missed, and days--if not weeks--of "sick" leave from work will be utilized. I want that more than that weird, fat lady in Napoleon Dynamite wanted that model ship. What needs to happen this season on the offensive side of the ball for this dream to become reality?

As Brian Kelley said in his interview this weekend, we really need to hope that “the new QB has a break out year.” Dayne-O needs to light it up and everyone needs to be on the same page as him. As we saw in the spring game, our new fast-pace style of play really allows our offense to get a lot of plays off quickly. That means keeping the defense on their heels and unprepared for what’s coming at them, with our quick, speedy wide receivers getting open on short pass plays. That will open the field up for Armando and Cierre to have game-breaking, explosive runs that Cincinnati’s opponents were quite familiar with last season as UC averaged 4.99 yards per carry.

The deep pass won’t be used as often as it was under Weis, but that might make it more effective. After a series of 5-15 yard pass plays, defensive backs won't be prepared for Mike Floyd or TJ Jones to take off and burn past them toward the end zone, allowing Dayne to float one right into their hands. And when everyone’s covered, Dayne needs to be able to tuck it and run for a few yards… no gain is not an option in this offense, and as Connecticut knows: Brian Kelly will put up over 700 yards on you. I am looking for speed guys like Goodman and Toma to come in under the radar and make some catches in the open field and take it to the house.

For the first time I have been watching another team's highlights (Cincinnati’s) to get amped for this season, and I can totally see our guys flourishing in this offense. If we can avoid three and outs and red zone stalls, there's no reason we can't reach Glendale for the title game. Let’s go now Irish!

6. ***BONUS*** The arrival of college football means the arrival of perhaps the greatest American pastime: Tailgating. The assumption is that you're going to be heading to at least one game in the Bend this year which means you'll have at least one opportunity to tailgate your face off. What home games are you planning on attending, where do you normally tailgate when you're out for a game, what's your typical tailgate like (we talking a great spread and a selection of imported beverages or a pack of Bubba burgers and about 20 30-racks of Natty?), and are you inviting your loyal readers?

I am definitely on the offensive during my tailgating. I will be at every home and away game with the grill going, the bar fully stacked, and completely decked out in green. I tailgate wherever I get a spot in the football lot (normally by the row of port-a-johns across from Gate C) and we have chili dogs, sandwiches, wings, Chick-fil-A bites and whatever else I’m in the mood to cook up… I’m going to give breakfast a shot this year. Bloody Marys are a must, along with Molson and Moosehead. Irish Creed readers are always welcome as long as they are prepared to be greeted with a shot. We will tweet our location.

Jul 26, 2010

The Other Brian Kelley

A week after his Hall of Fame inception, Irish Creed had the chance to sit down with Brian Kelley, who was inducted as a result of his outstanding performance at linebacker while at Cal Lutheran during the late 60's and early 70's. Mr. Kelley was also a standout for the New York Giants and a member of the "Crunch Bunch." Mr. Kelley was kind enough to take some time out of his day to talk about his weekend in South Bend, Tim Brown, his college career, and a little bit about the Fighting Irish.

IC: Mr. Kelley, congratulations on your induction into the College Football Hall of Fame. How did you enjoy the weekend and the events set up for you and your fellow honorees?

BK: The weekend was fantastic the people from the HOF were great and the events they set up were fun. They did a great job keeping the families busy also.

IC: Did you know Tim Brown before the weekend? If so, what is your opinion on him as a representative of Notre Dame?

BK: I did not know Tim prior to this weekend. Tim was a class act and I don't think there could be anybody better than him to represent ND.

IC: How was Tim Brown's reception at the Hall of Fame?

BK: Playing for ND and the HOF being in South Bend he was the hit of the town but at no time did he try make himself more visible then the other HOFamers.

IC: You won a Division 2 national championship as a junior at Cal Lutheran. What do you believe led to your team's success on the field?

BK: I believe what led us to the national champs were the guys we had on our team especially our seniors. They where good leaders and were extremely dedicated to the game. They had worked together for 4 years to get to the national championship game and a few of us juniors help them achieve that goal.

IC: According to a Sports Illustrated article in April, ND's Brian Kelly 'still refers to himself as a Division II coach.' With your own background as a D-II star, how do you think Kelly's 13 years in Division II will serve him in his new role?

BK: It doesn't matter what level you are coaching at you gain valuable experience. I think one thing that will help him is being able to adjust to situations quicker on the field. When you coach at a small college this is something you do quite a bit because you don't have the personnel sitting on the bench as you do at a major college.

IC: Do you have any knowledge of the ND team? If so, what does that other Brian Kelly need to do to get back on the National Championship radar?

BK: I don't have a lot of knowledge of the ND team but like any other major college you have to be able to recruit good players. Then you have to have those players believe in you and your system. Coach Kelly has that ability because he has done it his whole coaching career.

IC: Do you have any predictions for break out players or guys to keep our eyes on in the future?

BK: I really don't know the players at ND but you should be hoping the new QB has a break out year.

I want to thank Brian Kelley again for sitting down with Irish Creed to talk about his Hall of Fame experience. We encourage all of our readers to check back for more exclusive interviews throughout the season. Go Irish!

Jul 23, 2010

ND-MIA: Take It To The House

The Irish and Hurricanes series extension is now official, complete with the dates listed in a University of Miami announcement Thursday afternoon:

October 6, 2012, Soldier Field
October 8, 2016, Notre Dame Stadium
November 25, 2017, Sun Life Stadium

Many Notre Dame freshmen and sophomores weren't alive in 1990, the last time we played "The U." Based on my observations as a student the past few years, current ND kids recall two things about the legendary series:

1. The Catholics vs. Convicts nickname and shirt
2. Rocket Ismail's involvement and recent discussion of the games

While the '88 pre-game fight and even Holtz's "Save Jimmy Johnson for me!" line are remembered, too, the continuity of student section shirt unity and Rocket's on-campus presence make these two factors stand out. Today's students will remember Rocket's fire at pep rallies, and his recollection of the '88 Miami game is also a current favorite:

Notre Dame's players and students—especially of the future—have a great series on the horizon. Something for the future, yes, but also a responsibility to uphold our 15-7-1 series lead.

Two other sidebars about the games: The 2012 date, which continues ND's history at Soldier Field, means a heavy October '12 for the Irish, including the reportedly unsigned but likely game at Oklahoma.

The 2017 date at Miami is Thanksgiving Saturday in an odd year, the biannual weekend when ND typically plays at Stanford. The Miami '17 game represents another strong sign that Notre Dame is moving away from the Stanford series, which is already scheduled to end after the 2011 season.

While the oddly scheduled Miami dates do not constitute a replacement for Stanford, the home-road-neutral trifecta with a name program is a huge coup for Swarbrick and other administrators who control football scheduling. ND's ability to place the neutral game in Chicago is a favorable bonus to this already-sweet deal.

ESPN.com July 23, 2010

Jul 22, 2010

Behind Enemy Lines: Cal Southern

A recent recon mission for Irish Creed brought me to the south central LA campus of Cal Southern in order to check in on our long time rivals and see what I could dig up in the aftermath of recent NCAA sanctions.

It’s common knowledge by now that Cal Southern was hit hard by sanctions resulting from the “lack of institutional control” exhibited by their athletic department, specifically regarding illegal benefits taken by athletes Reggie Bush and O.J. Mayo.  These sanctions went beyond the punishments placed upon the football team.  They led to the eventual firing of running backs coach Todd McNair, athletic director Mike Garrett, and they also forced head coach Pete Carroll to jump ship just before everything came crashing down.  Several players have already taken advantage of the "get out of jail free cards" issued to them by the NCAA by transferring to play for other programs.  Others are expected to follow in their wake.  Most importantly, it seems as though a once prideful legacy will forever be sullied in the eyes of honest men.

Most recently, Cal Southern President Steven Sample announced his decision to remove all jerseys, trophies, and depictions of Reggie Bush and O.J. Mayo from campus in an attempt to “disassociate” the school from said offenders.  By a stroke of luck, I was able to sneak past the watchful eyes of Tommy Trojan and gain access into Heritage Hall just days before Reggie’s Heisman was taken down from its proud position alongside fellow upstanding Cal Southern alum O.J. Simpson. 

As you can see by my smile, I thoroughly enjoyed my first visit to Cal Southern.   Even so, I began to question myself while strolling their campus decked out in Fighting Irish gear and enjoying the plentitude of death stares being thrown my way.  I had to ask myself one important question: Is it acceptable for Loyal Sons and Daughters of Notre Dame to take joy in the collective misery of all those at Cal Southern?

There’s an old Irish toast that says, “Here’s to the health of our enemies’ enemies!”  Should we raise our glasses to the NCAA for sticking it to our mighty foes after we failed to do so on the gridiron over the past 8 years?  Should we kick back as happy spectators to watch the Fall of Troy commence?  Should we answer every call of “Fight on!” with jeers of “Cheat on!”?  My answer is a resounding YES, but only if we do so for the right reasons.

As a witness of three brutal defeats during my first three years as a Notre Dame student, I may be am definitely bitter about the recent embarrassment that my beloved Fighting Irish have been handed by Cal Southern.  Then last year we came so close to making an epic comeback inside Notre Dame Stadium, with one second left on the clock and one yard to go, only to be slighted by our destiny as we failed to tie the game.  Yes, some of the sting fades away when I see the same football player who torched our defense so many times publicly embarrass himself and become an exile at the very school that once sang his praises.  I feel guilty for doing so, though.  It can’t be right to gloat and be so happy for this reason.

After all, Notre Dame v Cal Southern is arguably one of the greatest rivalries in all of sports.  The two schools began playing each other annually in 1926 with the Fighting Irish now holding a 42-33 edge in wins, and “The Greatest Intersectional Rivalry” has produced countless legendary moments.  It takes two to tango, and I respect our rivalry too much to take joy in watching our opponent crumble beyond the point of recognition.  In the same vein, the recent happenings at Cal Southern bring me joy precisely because I respect the rivalry so much.

The longstanding tradition of excellence at Cal Southern has recently become overshadowed by the circus surrounding their athletic department.  It was clearly getting out of control with constant celebrity appearances at games and practices and the overall promotion of a Hollywood image encouraging student athletes to focus more on living lavishly than on being either students or athletes.  Those in charge could only turn a blind eye for so long, and when the level of absurdity peaked with Reggie Bush and O.J. Mayo something had to give.

It will be interesting to compare post-sanction Cal Southern to pre-sanction Cal Southern after the Hollywood image that drew so many athletes seeking fame and fortune gets replaced by a far less sexy  “culture of compliance.”  Changes are already starting to take place, hence recent hirings and firings along with these flyers that I found posted at every entrance to Heritage Hall:

I sincerely hope the new compliance programs work, and I look forward to November 27th when Notre Dame resumes a fair and balanced rivalry with Cal Southern.  So rather than saying "slainte" to our enemies’ enemies for the wrong reasons, I’d like to propose a toast in hopes that everyone at Cal Southern learns from their mistakes, our storied rivalry regains its true integrity, and college football lives on powerfully in its purist form.

I can’t wait to visit Cal Southern again in November.  Next time the scenery will look a little different with fewer trophies and jerseys on display, and I'll be happy to know that an army of Fighting Irish Faithful have my back.  As per true Irish custom, I left them with a parting gift to enjoy until we meet again.  A small Irish charm now resides somewhere on their campus and along with it lives the dreaded curse of the Leprechaun.  I have a feeling that everyone in the Coliseum on November 27th will witness some newfound good fortune for the Fighting Irish.

During my escape I decided to send Traveler to the glue factory as well.

Jul 17, 2010

Thank You from Irish Creed

Irish Creed would like to thank all of our readers for supporting us throughout our first month of existence.  Since we launched our blog, we have reached out to nearly 6,000 of you across the U.S. and the world.  You've read our blog from 42 foreign countries and 49 states within the U.S. (Where's the love, Wyoming?)

We would also like to give special thanks to the top five states that have supported Irish Creed the most so far:  California, Illinois, Indiana, New York, and Pennsylvania.  Finally, a hearty "Go raibh maith agat!" goes out to our first two Irish readers in Dublin and Wexford.  All of you have truly reminded us that Notre Dame is a nation that knows no boundaries.

We encourage all of you to spread the word about Irish Creed and come back often, as we plan on keeping our material fresh with constant updates.  Feel free to leave us feedback by commenting on our posts, voting in our polls, or visitng our Twitter and Facebook pages.  You can also email us at The.Irish.Creed@gmail.com.

Finally, if you have questions/comments/concerns or ideas about material you would like to see from Irish Creed, don't be afraid to make yourself heard in the comments section of this post.

Thank you all once again, and GO IRISH!

Jul 16, 2010

Today in Notre Dame History

On July 16, 1980 the Chicago Bears organization contacted the University of Notre Dame to ask permission to use The House that Rock Built for their home games during the 1980 season. The Bears were in a contract disagreement with Soldier Field, and they didn't want to play their games anywhere else but South Bend.

Soldier Field is very special to the Notre Dame Football program because it was there in 1927 and 1928 that the Fighting Irish played 2 contests to fund-raise for their new football stadium. Knute Rockne called the 1927 match up the greatest game that he had ever seen, with the Irish edging out the USC Trojans 7-6. It is estimated that 120,000 people were in attendance, however, there were no official records (The 1929 Notre Dame USC showdown at Soldier Field, which the Irish won 13-12 is the largest recorded crowd in College football history with 112,912 in attendance).

The 1928 battle between the two great schools who wear blue and gold again drew an estimated crowd of 120,000 people, and Notre Dame again barely beat their opponent with a score of 7-0. Perhaps the switch to green motivated Her Loyal Sons, as noted in the Scholastic Football Review:

"Mr. K. K. Rockne may, or may not, be a psychologist. But, he did array his Fighting Irish in bright green jerseys for their battle with the United States Naval Academy. Mr. Rockne evidently surmised that garbing a band of native and adopted Irish in their native color is somewhat akin to showing a bull the Russian flag.''

There have been many great Notre Dame games in Soldier Field, and the future is sure to hold more. The Fighting Irish are set to return to the Chicago stadium to play the Miami Hurricanes in 2012.

Jul 15, 2010

A Decade Gone By at Notre Dame

“As I talked to Coach K and others, players on those teams, I've come to realize that Mike Brey played a pretty darn significant role in some of that wonderful success that happened down there.”

A Decade Gone By at Notre Dame

A decade ago yesterday, Notre Dame athletic director Kevin White named Mike Brey as the 17th head coach of the Fighting Irish Men’s Basketball Team. In his tenure, Brey has been the peer of five football coaches, two athletic directors, two University Presidents, and has the 5th highest winning percentage in the Big East during that time period. Brey has over 200 wins with Notre Dame.

Brey has had a successful career with the Fighting Irish

From 2006-2008 the Fighting Irish were undefeated at home in front of the Leprechaun Legion. This was the first time that a Big East team made it two consecutive seasons without losing a conference game on their home court; Brey won back to back Big East Coach of the Year honors for this accomplishment. Unfortunately, the Irish got upset in the first round of the NCAA Tournament in 2007 and the second round in 2008, and we have not returned to the Sweet Sixteen since 2003. Getting upset in this year’s first round after a late season surge was a real down moment for the Notre Dame Basketball program, adding to the trend of successful regular season squads under Brey that fizzle during the post season. Notre Dame’s tendency to “live-or-die” by the 3 coupled with a notoriously soft defense makes the Irish an easy upset target as smart coaches know how to hit the Irish hard and early. Although Brey showed some upside with the use of the “burn” offense that sparked Notre Dame’s late-season run, he failed to change his strategy against an Old Dominion squad that Notre Dame needed to come out attacking from the opening tip. These trends need to be addressed immediately as the Irish are fielding their best squad since Troy Murphy captained the team.

Goals heading into the next decade

The Irish need to make themselves a perennial Big East top 5, finishing in the top 3 at least once every three years (as the team cycles and becomes dominated by upper classmen again). We also need to make it to the Sweet-16 every 3 years as well. FINISHING is the biggest goal for Mike Brey over the next decade.

This is one of Brey’s strongest recruiting classes at Notre Dame and he is really getting after it for next year’s class as well. Having a good recruiting class every year is something Brey must do to ensure that the Fighting Irish can remain competitive year in and year out.

Channeling his inner Mike Krzyzewski

Prior to his five-year stint at Delaware and coming to Notre Dame, Mike Brey was an assistant at Duke under Mike Krzyzewski. The Duke Blue Devils were very similar to the Irish before Krzyzewski arrived in 1980. They had a previous coaching regime that would consistently get the team into the tournament, but they could never bring home the hardware. And although it doesn’t seem like Brey has laid the tracks for a powerhouse like Krzyzewski, it did take Krzyzewski 11 years at Duke before he won his first title (with Mike Brey on the sideline)… Who knows, this decade could have unforeseen surprises for Fighting Irish fans.

Like Brian Kelly, Notre Dame was Mike Brey’s dream job and everything else just a stepping stone until there. His goal was to turn Notre Dame around like Krzyzewski did with Duke, recruiting the smartest players with the best personalities, and turning them into outstanding ball players. Brey was familiar with the academic standards a coach faces at Notre Dame, as they were very similar when he arrived at Duke. But he was confident he could establish a “national recruiting network (like he) developed at Duke… here at Notre Dame.” Although Notre Dame hasn’t had consistent recruiting, Mike Brey seems to know this as he has really hit the ground running these past two seasons. For Notre Dame to have perennial success and for Brey to get another contract extension, getting top notch players in and developing them every year is a must.

Mike Brey as a Notre Dame man

Coaching qualifications aside, Mike Brey is the ideal “face” of a Notre Dame program. Coach is always e-mailing the student body, asking them for their support at upcoming basketball games, and thanking them afterwards win or lose. When tendomer, myself, and other students camped out for basketball games it was almost a given that Brey would come out with an order of pizza pies to hold us over and help us stay nourished/energized to cheer on the Irish. He can be frequently seen in the dining hall or around campus, talking to students and actually engaging in conversation outside of basketball. During preseason dorm talks, Brey always precedes a student’s question by asking them their name, home town, and major. If a detached onlooker were to see this they would think he was a professor, not the head basketball coach! There isn’t a high-profile coach in the country more reachable, and he is truly an asset to the university. Let’s hope that he can continue to bring in strong recruiting classes like this past one, and lead the Irish to the NCAA tournament year after year like he did upon his arrival a decade ago.

Jul 12, 2010


Notre Dame recently lost one of her greatest loyal sons as Tom Pagna passed on last week.  Coach Pagna will be remembered as one of the greatest offensive coaches in Notre Dame Football history, having coached with Ara Parseghian for 11 years, helping the Fighting Irish win 95 games over that span including 2 Consensus National Championships and 5 Bowl victories in his final 6 seasons.  His offense was consistently ranked as one of the best in the nation, and he had a tremendous influence on several great quarterbacks including the ’64 Heisman winner John Huarte, as well as Terry Hanratty, Joe Theismann, and Tom Clements. Clearly, Notre Dame Football would not have been the same without Coach Pagna.

Even more importantly, Coach Pagna will be remembered as an inspiring leader, mentor, and friend to many.  A phenomenal writer and captivating speaker, he made countless contributions to the Notre Dame family, the surrounding community, and all those he came into contact with throughout his lifetime.

I was fortunate enough to meet Coach Pagna at the Notre Dame bookstore prior to a home game as he and Coach Parseghian signed several of their books while taking the time to meet and share stories with fans.  We only spoke briefly, but he was friendly and energetic with a kind smile that reflected a life well lived.  I hope his profound influence will continue at Notre Dame through his legacy which should serve as an example for future generations to live by.

To a great Notre Dame Man, we bid Coach Tom Pagna farewell and God bless.

Kelly Against Ranked Teams

Brian Kelly beat 10 of the 13 ranked teams he faced at Cincinnati. Looking at the stats from this sample, one area stands out: rush defense.

Other factors, such as game site and turnover margin, were unreliable predictors of success. In three losses, Cincinnati split those categories: home, away, neutral once each; won, lost, and drew the turnover margin once each. Aerial strength carried the Bearcats through most games against ranked teams, but out-throwing WVU in ‘07 and VT in ‘08 mattered little. The culprit? Rush defense. Not coincidentally, three of the four largest rushing allowances resulted in UC losses.

On the positive side, Cincinnati held five ranked teams under 100 yards on the ground and, not surprisingly, won each time.

In six games against teams that finished the final AP Top 25, UC went 3-3 and allowed an average 207.2 rushing yards. Due to this poor defensive performance, Cincinnati only once out-rushed the opponent in this 6-game subset (WVU, 2009). The two times UC triumphed despite the rushing margin, it needed a +2 turnover margin on one occasion and 256 Mardy Gilyard kick return yards on the other.

These statistics are relevant because they evoke similarities to ND's previous coaching staff. Weis-led ND teams never lost when out-rushing the opponent (20-0). Under BK, UC lost once when out-rushing the opponent (Louisville, 2007). However, for Weis, the problem was generally both poor rush offense and poor rush defense. The weakness for Kelly, on the other hand, is mostly with rush defense only.

To be clear, this comparison does not predict Kelly’s failure at Notre Dame. In fact, Kelly’s rush defense, with inferior talent, averaged 35.4 yards better than Notre Dame against five common opponents over the past three seasons. Nonetheless, Kelly’s Irish teams will need to do better stopping top offenses in the vein of ’07 WVU and ’08 Oklahoma to achieve ND’s national championship aspirations.

Jul 10, 2010

Guest Post: Introducing NDSaintsHornets

Hello Family, Friends, and Fans of ND and its former Leprechaun,

As a new contributing writer for Irish Creed, I figured I should introduce myself. I graduated from Our Lady’s University in May along with the aforementioned Leprechaun and I will be attending law school at Vanderbilt beginning in the fall. Hopefully, my distance from ND (literally) will allow me to write with a different perspective about the state of our football program than my colleagues. I’m originally from Baton Rouge and I’m a massive sports junkie. I’ve been asked to write about recruiting among other things but to be honest I’m pretty much gonna write about whatever interests me from one week to the next (I’ll send it to our fearless Irish leader and if he likes it you get to read it). I’m hoping to be the site’s game picking source with weekly calls against the spread for major college games, but hopefully I can give you a sense of my football perspective with a quick discussion of recruiting and coaching at ND.

For Kelly’s first class after ND’s previous regime went 16-21 over the past three years, he’s recruiting very well. However, Weis proved that recruiting on a major scale was possible at ND in his tenure, but a lack of player development led to his downfall. Players often left the ND program under Weis just as raw as when they walked in. This was particularly evident along the offensive line, and at a variety of positions on defense. While Coach Kelly clearly recognized this problem in his first press conference where he emphasized that player development would play a major role under his regime, he still has to show that this is in fact the case. As someone who was convinced, like many other ND fans, that Charlie Weis was the answer, I am reticent to put all of my faith in our new leader. I’m trying to approach our new regime like a girl who’s recently gone through a bad breakup. I’m a little guarded and I don’t want to give it up on the first date. Hopefully, this time it’s different and I won’t fall for the same BS again. Like I said before, I am going to try to be objective and check my good friend’s enthusiasm. At the same time, my history as a fan of other teams has led me to believe that the right coach/architect can change any team’s fortune.

I grew up a fan of LSU sports and the New Orleans Saints. On both the professional and collegiate levels I have seen a team that was generally considered to be crappy turn itself around with the right coaching hire. I saw Nick Saban take a team that was 3-8 before he got there and lead them to an SEC championship in 2 years and a BCS championship in 4. Sean Payton took over my New Orleans Saints in 2006 and along with Drew Brees lead them to a NFC championship game in his first year and a Super Bowl victory in his fourth. The right coach changes everything, particularly in college football. If Brian Kelly is that coach, we will know. So here’s to hoping that Brian Kelly is that man, and that I will occasionally write something worth reading.

Go Irish,

Jul 8, 2010

IRISH ROOTS: Matthew Hegarty

Dia duit!  I’d like to introduce you all to the first of many “Irish Roots” posts which I plan on writing every now and then when I feel like making use of my education as an Irish Studies minor in the Keough Naughton Institute for Irish Studies at Notre Dame, the top program of its kind in the U.S.

Notre Dame is far more intricately connected to the Irish than just through our nickname, our leprechaun mascot, or the abundance of students with surnames beginning with either O’ or Mc. (Take a look through our yearbook, it's astonishing) 

While the meaning of the words “Fighting Irish” at Notre Dame no longer share direct links with Ireland as they once did, every now and then a glimmer of those connections manages to shine through.

If you consider yourself a serious follower of college football recruiting (which I am not) you have most likely heard of Matthew Hegarty, the 6’5” 265 lb offensive tackle who plays for Aztec High in New Mexico.   You have also probably heard that Matthew recently committed to play for the Fighting Irish, accepting a scholarship offer from Notre Dame over Texas, Stanford, Florida State, and Cal Southern, among others.  What you probably didn’t know, however, is that Matthew was connected to the Fighting Irish far before he made his promise to take the field for Our Lady’s University.

Matthew’s grandfather immigrated to the United States from County Cork, Ireland (shout out to my fam in Drimoleague, West Cork!) when he was just a child.  As a newly American Irish Catholic, he naturally grew fond of the nation’s premier Catholic university.  For this man with a direct link to “The Rebel County” (as Cork is known due to its renown for breeding brave fighters and its fierce resistance against English tyranny) becoming a fan of the Fighting Irish was as natural as eating cabbage with corned beef.

Fast forward to the present, where young Matthew prepares for his future as a Fighting Irishman.  He may not realize the significance of his story yet, but maybe he will discover his role as the link that brings his family full circle from the Fighting Irish of Cork to the Fighting Irish of Notre Dame.

When asked why he chose Notre Dame, Matthew claimed that he “fell in love with it” and was now “totally sold” after visiting campus and taking in the beauty of our tradition and the tangible football atmosphere that permeates the air in South Bend.  Maybe his choice also has something to do with the personality of Coach Kelly, who never misses an opportunity to tell of his upbringing as an Irish Catholic in the great Irish-American city of Boston.  Kelly’s Irish “gift of gab” most certainly helped bring Matthew to Notre Dame, where his grandfather’s influence may have been awakened somewhere in the back of his mind as he came to feel at home.  No matter the reason, I’m glad to see an Irish family reconnect with their roots through Notre Dame (and as if Matthew's story wasn’t good enough, the dude looks like he is straight out of central casting for the Fightin’ Irish).

A hearty CÉAD MÍLE FÁILTE AGUS ADH MOR to the Hegarty family

Jul 7, 2010

Stepping Up From The Minors

Former Backup College baseball coach Mik Aoki has accepted the head baseball coaching position at Notre Dame according to The College Baseball Blog.

Aoki posted a 114-104-1 record as the head coach of the Eagles, and has a career record of 201-248-1. Although these numbers seem low when looking to find leadership for a team that has struggled since the departure of all-star coach Paul Mainieri, Aoki has an excellent track record and has earned a lot of respect in the college baseball world. He led the BC program that has no emphasis and poor baseball facilities to the NCAA tournament in 2009; this was the Eagles’ first NCAA regional appearance in 42 years.

Prior to coaching at Boston College, Aoki took over a struggling Columbia Lions baseball program that hadn’t had a 20-win season since 1987. From 2001-2003, Aoki’s final 3 seasons as the Lions’ skipper, Columbia posted three straight 20-plus win records.

Aoki started off his baseball career as a player for the Davidson Wildcats, setting up behind the plate, at 3rd, and at 2nd during his four-year career. Aoki is in the top ten for career batting average and slugging average for the Wildcats, as well as having top-five single-season records in home runs and doubles.

Despite having a similar record to Schrage’s, Aoki coached a team in a far more competitive conference than the Big East (ACC) as well as inheriting much less. BC has terrible baseball facilities and did not have the same caliber of players that Mainieri left Schrage with at ND.

Mike Belfiore, a pitcher for the South Bend Silverhawks, touted Aoki as a good player developer, stating "He'll always point out things that you need to work on. He always wants you to be better."

Although less proven than our football coach, Aoki could be a Brian Kelly-like hire doing “more with less” until he can get his recruits to South Bend. Here’s to hoping that Aoki can transition well from BC to Notre Dame like a famous football coach did long ago.

Jul 6, 2010


I’m not going to lie, I didn’t want Luke on the floor at the end of this season. I knew that he was our best player in seasons past but after the team came together during his injury I didn’t want someone who needed to change his game for NBA scouts to interrupt the confident hot streak our team was running on.

But I forgot that Luke was Notre Dame. One of the nicest guys I had ever seen around campus, always working hard and wanting to win for the Irish. He was the most underrated All American of all time and will be remembered as a Notre Dame legend, despite not ending on the highest note.

In his first NBA summer league game, Luke Harangody was wet from behind the arc as if he was back at Freedom Hall in 2008, the site of his first collegiate three-pointers. Gody posted a respectable 23 points and 4 rebounds including 4 of 6 on threes, earning himself the number 2 spot on the NBA rookie ladder.

In his second game against the Philadelphia 76ers, Luke struggled from the field but made all 6 of his free throw attempts and added a team-high 12 boards to give himself his first double-double with the Celtics, albeit in summer league.

Was Luke’s three point percentage in the first game a fluke or will Gody be able to solidify himself as a shooter in the NBA?

Analysis so far: Luke looked a lot like he did at the end of the season on Tuesday night, missing a handful of open shots including four contested layups. He needs to show his strength in finishing those attempts. Despite his attempt at re-imaging himself as a shooter in the NBA, Luke still has his unique shooting form that Notre Dame fans have grown to know well. If he can continue to perform as he did in his first game, fans and commentators will respect his unorthodox style; if not, he is sure to encounter a lot of criticism.

Luke has shown a lot of highs and lows, from good hustle and defense, to poor boxing out and allowing an alley-oop in his face. Then again, against the Sixers he was going against 6-10 Marreese Speights, who has averaged over 16 minutes per game in his first two years in the NBA.

It will be interesting to see how Luke will emerge in the coming weeks and if he will make the regular season roster come summer’s end. Check back with Irish Creed for future Gody updates as we track his summer league play for you. We wish him the best of luck as he plays for another one of Erin’s teams, even if it happens to be in Satan’s city.

Jul 4, 2010

From Humble Beginnings

Independence Day is a great time to reflect on our humble beginnings and our forefathers before us, not only for our country but for Our Lady's University as well. This article from the New Zealand Tablet on July 4, 1879, recalls Notre Dame as a "treasure to the West" and the "most flourishing Catholic educational institution in the United States." This shows how we were always a national, if not international University, important not only to Catholics but to America as well.

Today is also the 75th anniversary of Frank Leahy's wedding. So keep him in your thoughts, and remember the glory days of national championships soon to be restored. Happy iNDependence Day!

Jul 1, 2010

The Future of Fighting Irish Football: Predictions

Brian Kelly displayed some real Fightin' Irish swagger today by predicting that his football team would win "more than one" National Championship during his time at Notre Dame. You have to love that kind of certainty if you are a Fighting Irish fan. Hopefully Kelly's confidence will mobilize his current and future players to adopt the type of single-minded determination that is required of a championship caliber team.

How long will it take for Kelly's prophecy to become reality? Our latest poll asked "How many games will Notre Dame Football win in 2010?" Here are the results:

Thanks to everyone who voted. You can find our predictions for the 2010 season below. Feel free to post your own predictions in the comments section, and check out our new poll at the bottom of the page.

TheNDleprechaun: 9-4

While a former Leprechaun may be expected to predict a perfect season every year, I am going to have to temper the enthusiasm of my co-authors a bit with what I deem to be a realistic and cautiously optimistic prediction for the 2010 Fighting Irish. I have no doubt that Crist will emerge as a tremendous leader, but he has a lot to prove as he enters the season with little experience. The arsenal of highly talented weapons at his disposal should help, and I am expecting big things from the likes of Floyd, Rudolph, Allen, and Riddick. I'm looking for the combination of redshirt freshman Cierre Wood and true freshman Tai-ler Jones to provide an extra spark to the offense as well. Defensively, I am banking on a vastly improved defensive line with Ethan Johnson and Kapron Lewis-Moore wreaking havoc on opposing backfields. Our secondary is still suspect due to little depth at safety, but I can feel a breakout year coming from Dan McCarthy as he steps in for his older brother.

Most importantly, the Fighting Irish will have a new leader in Coach Kelly who will make them believe and instill them with a new sense of drive. If the 2010 team can take Kelly's "Irish Creed" to heart, they will do well.

All that being said, first 6 games on our schedule present us with a gauntlet that even the most elite team would have difficulty coming out of unscathed. I am predicting a 3-3 start for the Fighting Irish, who will then go on a tear and finish the regular season at 8-4 before extending the bowl winning streak to 2.

tendomer: 10-3

ND’s front-loaded schedule makes 2010 a challenge, but this team’s talent—as measured by not just recruiting evaluations but preseason All-American and related watch lists—exceeds that of any group this staff has previously coached. The personnel upgrade far outweighs the tougher schedule, especially in a year when ND’s second-best opponent on paper, Pitt, is a team that Kelly defeated twice in three years at UC. Three of BK’s six Cincinnati losses came against ranked opponents. Kelly won ten in his first season with UC, and he’ll do it again at Notre Dame.

FightinIrish1313: 12-1

As Kelly said on 97.1 FM in Columbus this morning, “Without a doubt the strength of our football team will be the depth.” Kelly has more talent on this roster than he probably has had on all of his previous teams combined, and a lot of bodies to compete for starting spots. Kelly and Longo create an environment in which every player knows he has a shot to break through the depth charts. There are no guaranteed starters, no players who are more important than the team as a whole, and that will lead to the hungriest, hardest-working starting 11 on both sides of the ball.

Despite having one of the toughest, front-loaded schedules in college football, this team is due to pull it off. These players are extremely familiar with their competition, having beaten or barely lost to eight of the teams on the schedule just last season. While these teams might also have improved over the off season, so have we, and in ways they have not (the addition of the Brian Kelly’s intangibles/conditioning/mental toughness... not just skill development).

Our players have already bought into Kelly’s ‘team first’ program and are thirsty for a championship. They have a quarterback whose strength is his leadership skills, and a defense that has silently been maturing and getting ready for their outbreak season. This talented group of Irishmen has underperformed for too long, and the fans, players, and coaches will not tolerate another season of not playing to their full potential.

A touchdown loss in the national championship game will cap Brian Kelly’s inaugural season and show the underclassmen that they are ready to take it home next season.

Kelly is a natural born-competitor and he will stop at nothing to prove himself. He knows that “you've got to win right away in college football. There are no three- or five-year plans anymore." Willingham and Weis went 10-3 and 9-3 in their first Irish seasons, respectively. You can be certain that Kelly will outperform his predecessors.

Here’s to hoping that 13% of you were right, and the Fighting Irish prove all three of us wrong by bringing home the hardware in 2010.

2012 Notre Dame Football Schedule

2012 Notre Dame Football Schedule
DateOpponent / EventLocationTime / Result
09/01/12vs. Navy Dublin, IrelandW, 50-10
09/08/12vs. PurdontNotre Dame, Ind.W, 20-17
09/15/12at SpartyEast Lansing, Mich.W, 20-3
09/22/12vs. SkunkbearsNotre Dame, Ind.W, 13-6
Shamrock Series
10/06/12vs. Da UChicago, Ill.W, 41-3
10/13/12vs. TreesNotre Dame, Ind.W, 20-13 (OT)
10/20/12vs. BYU Notre Dame, Ind.W, 17-14
10/27/12at Oklahoma Norman, Okla.W, 30-13
11/03/12vs. Pittsburgh Notre Dame, Ind.W, 29-26 (3OT)
11/10/12at Backup College Chestnut Hill, Mass.W, 21-6
11/17/12vs. Fake Worest Notre Dame, Ind.W, 38-0
11/24/12at U$C Los Angeles, Calif.W, 22-13
1/7/13vs. AlabamaBCS CHAMPIONSHIP
(Miami, Florida)
L, :(