Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Tis The Season of Charlie Tuna

As I do almost every morning, I run on campus for a good hour before I start the work day. Since I practically live a hop, skip, and a jump from the Dome, I ran by the Gug this morning to see how big of a line Coach Weis' first annual Christmas signing went.

For those who didn't know, Coach Weis sent an email to Notre Dame, Saint Mary’s and Holy Cross Students, Faculty and Staff that he would sign autographs at 8 a.m. Friday morning in the Guglielmino Auditorium.

Here's what Coach Weis sent:
“There have been numerous inquiries regarding whether I’d be available to sign potential Christmas gifts for people this year,” said Weis. “As opposed to having people try to catch me early in the morning or late in the evening outside the Gug, I thought it would be best to set up an organized signing period. Therefore, I’ll get off the road from recruiting Thursday night and will sign for everyone who shows up Friday morning.”

I don't think a 3-9 season put a dampen on the Irish faithful, as there was a good line waiting outside the Gug at 7:30. So much for all folks saying that Weis is a scrooge or anything like his mentors, Bill Parcells (Tuna) or Bill Bill Belichick.

For my family members who are reading this, the answer is yes, I did see you know who waiting in line to get something autographed. I wonder who the lucky two people are? It will definitely be a Merry Christmas for those two for sure!

Sunday, November 7, 2010

22 + 2 = # 1

The late push for recruits is down to its final days, as many schools, including the Irish, anticipate 11th hour visits this weekend. Two in particular, Keith Wells, the 6-5, 211 pound defensive end from Gainesville, Georgia, and speedster, Milton Knox of Lake Balboa, California, have made arrangements to visit South Bend this weekend. Wells' visit is still pending because a decision might be made as early as tomorrow; but I still feel that he will be in South Bend on Saturday.

According to Rivals, getting Wells to visit the Irish is a huge step.
Notre Dame has a long way to go with Keith Wells, but getting the three-star defender to schedule an official visit is a start. The Irish got that done. Now it's a matter of overtaking Tennessee and Ohio State.[

Coaching visits by all three staffs has already taken place this week, as Wells' makes one of his biggest decisions of his life so far. The Irish will definitely be in the mix to the end, but I have a gut feeling that he will end up staying close to home and being a Volunteer. Hopefully my gut is wrong and Charlie and Co. lure Wells to South Bend. Even though he is a three-star recruit, Wells has five-star potential. He has only played organized football for only a few years, but has wreaked havoc on opposing offenses. Wells reminds me of a Justin Tuck. Let's keep our fingers crossed we can secure him to the Irish.

Out of the two recruits, Milton Knox is the most likely to be Irish. According to ESPN's recruiting briefs:
Running back Milton Knox to visit the Fighting Irish

UCLA recruit Milton Knox is slated to travel to South Bend, Ind. this week for an official visit with Notre Dame, the Los Angeles Daily News reports. Irish quarterback pledge Dayne Crist (Canoga Park, Calif./Notre Dame Sherman Oaks) is one of Knox's childhood friends. He said, "Am I recruiting Milton Knox? You'd be crazy to think I'm not. But this really goes past recruiting because he is one of my best friends."

Knox currently is a silent verbal to the Bruins, but word on the street is that he is did not get a good first impression of new UCLA head coach Rick Neuheisel. With the recent articles coming out about Neuheisel's past at Colorado and Washington, I sure wouldn't want my kid playing under him.

Hopefully friendship will trump proximity! So whatever happens these next few days, the Irish still will have a solid recruiting class. With these additions, it could solidify a #1 recruiting class. Even one of the two might push it over the edge. If not, it will be a wait and see come Wednesday.

Here's to our 22 future Irish, with hopes of two more. The bag is not full yet Keith and Milton, so jump on board to what will be a reawakening of a national power!

Friday, November 5, 2010

Blogger Awards

It is that time again for the College Football Blogger Awards. Since I'm still fairly new to the blogging scene, I don't expect to get much mention. However if you feel the need to nominate Irish Band of Brothers, click on the title. From there, there's a nomination form where you can submit your favorite blog for the certain category.

There are a lot of great blogs out there, so nominate for your favorites!

As always, GO IRISH!

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Tiny Bubbles: Irish Prepare for Hawaii Bowl Against the Warriors

With the travel plans already set in stone, the Fighting Irish are setting their sights on their Hawaii Bowl game with the hometown Rainbows. Even though this is not what many Irish fans had hoped for, this game is a good alternative on many levels.

First of all this a pretty good option considering that the other bowls like Shreveport was not a marquee destination that you want to send your team or fans to. To perfectly, honest, I believe the Irish have a good chance to win this ball game even though you are playing in Hawaii's backyard. The alternative would have been a dangerous 9-3 Rice squad that is loaded on the offensive side of the ball. Definitely a shootout that Notre Dame wouldn't have wanted to be a part of.

What I don't understand is why all the negativity of going to the Hawaii Bowl? It's a snobbish, elitist thing to do if they didn't go; and worst yet, the media and all the ND haters would have thought the same too. I'm perfectly happy with this game on many levels:

1.) Playing in front of their top target. Notre Dame didn't do a good sales pitch the first time Manti Teo saw the Irish against Syracuse. Now he has two huge weeks of Notre Dame infomercials throughout his state of the Irish playing in the bowl game.

2.) Keeping up with the Joneses. With all the extra practice time, Notre Dame can stay on par with the other 60+ schools that will be playing in the postseason. If the Irish don't go, then they are well behind the other programs that are benefiting from the 15 extra practices. Better yet, Nevada is going to a bowl and will have this time to get other ready for spring ball and next season.

3.) Stresses fundamentals. These extra practices the Irish get for Hawaii Bowl preparations is great for the younger players. It helps them get up to speed on technique and a leg up for spring ball.

4.) Stop the streak. Simply put, if you don't play, the streak continues for another year. What do they have to lose, really? Is there much difference between 6-6 and 6-7? With a win, it won't erase the entire 2008 season, but it will definitely build some momentum heading into the 2009 campaign.

So leading up to the Christmas Eve showdown, their are a lot of questions that still need to be answered.

Q. How are the Irish health-wise?

A. They are going to be fairly healthy and full go with most of their players. Brian Smith and Michael Floyd are the two most Irish fans are concerned about. If everything goes well with them this week, they should be on the practice field on Friday before they chart the plane to Hawaii. So they'll get in a few practices before they head into the Aloha state.

The Irish are only practicing 10 times total before the game, and both Smith and Floyd have already missed practices one and two. The both of them are pretty much good to go on Friday unless there is a snag in the plans.

Armando Allen is also scheduled to be back on Friday as well. His return will give Notre Dame some more added depth at the running back position.

Robert Hughes, who was originally thought to have been suspended for the first half of the bowl game, instead will miss the first half of the Nevada game. Per NCAA rule, a player must sit out a half of a regular season game. They do not punish a student-athlete during a bowl game.

Terrail Lamber, who missed the last three games, is back practicing at full speed.

Mike Anello will not be playing against the Warriors due to a cracked fibula, and will miss two to four months to heal. Basically he'll miss spring ball. And yes, he's right at the top of the list of 5th-year returners.

Lastly, Robby Parris had a knee sprain and missed the USC game. If he does come back for practices it won't be until the Irish arrive in Hawaii on Dec. 20. So you're probably not going to see Parris in action at all during the bowl game.

Q. Any Possible Transfers Looming?

A. This is definitely the time of the season for it, and you're probably not going to hear any talk until after the bowl game. There's not going to be as many like last season, but I've already heard rumblings of one player. He's not a surprise by any means if he does decide to transfer; and he would be leaving on good terms, which wasn't the case for some players last season.

We'll have to wait and see how it plays out this week. You're not going to see a mass exodus with hard feelings like last year, that's for sure.

Q. Did Notre Dame have many bowl options, and is the best option for the Irish?

A. After hearing the players talk on Monday, I do believe this is the best situation for them. They were pretty excited about going to Hawaii and breaking the bowl skid. Had it been Shreveport or Detroit, I would have said it would have been a real downer. You're 6-6 and being rewarded with the Independence Bowl against Louisiana Tech, Yee-Haw! I don't mean to bad mouth Shreveport, but I've spent almost two years down there and it felt like forever. It's not a fun place to go for a bowl game.

I realize this is a business trip, but when you're 18, 19, or 20 year's old, you want to enjoy this moment. And from that stand point it was a good decision.

Plus there are a few benefits from going which I didn't state from above. Besides being in Teo's face for a few weeks, if we land him to South Bend, he'll be the biggest victory for the Irish this season. He's that good of a player.

Secondly, this bowl game gets Notre Dame away from the negative residue that is still bubbling around the team's recent struggles and Charlie Weis. If the Irish are going to have a lot of media following them around on this trip, which there won't be too many, it's not going to be bash on ND week. So you won't see and read stories of an Irish meltdown or train wreck.

So basically you're going to see the media legitimately cover the Irish in a professional manner. So no Jeff Carroll hate on the Irish pieces. Thank God!

If fans weren't happy about this game, the alternative would have been worse - Rice in Houston at the Texas Bowl. The Owls have a dynamic offense with a good quarterback and an All-America receiver in Jarret Dilliard. Once again Notre Dame would have been playing in an opponents backyard. Plus how many fans have the NFL network?

I'll take paradise over a bad loss any day. And yes, I'll explain why I believe the Irish will beat Hawaii in the coming days.

Q. How often does a long snapper get a scholarship?

A. How many teenagers are willing to clean their rooms without any complaining? that's how often it happens in college football. Jordan does come from a great high school that produced Sam Young and Dan Wenger, and also next year's punter Ben Turk.

Maybe Charlie is looking back at the bad snap in the Syracuse game. We do criticize him for not taking special teams seriously. But by getting a guy who's only going to be doing this for four years, and doing it well is definitely worth the scholarship. He's one of the best in the country at long snapping, so this one is justified.

Maybe this is something new we haven't seen before, but ND usually can get someone like a J.J. Jansen to do this job. Charlie, unlike some other coaches, doesn't like to use other position players as long snappers. So if Weis is serious about special teams, he's putting his money where his mouth is.

Q. Scholarship Availability: Are they OK to give one to a long snapper?

A. It's okay because the Irish are not chasing many players. I think if there was a coaching change, you would have seen Notre Dame go after a quarterback. Right now, all they are mostly looking at is defensive linemen and linebackers for their remaining scholarships.

When you start looking at some of the positions, the Irish are building some depth. There's pretty good depth at running back as long as nobody leaves. They've got the two recruits, Cierre Wood and Theo Riddick, as well as this year's freshmen Jonas Gray. At the receiver positions, ND is awfully deep, and at tight end they'll be back to being deep next season.

It's really the front seven of the defense they are focusing on, with the two top targets at linebacker in Teo and Jelani Jenkins. Both are the top linebackers in the country and chances are the Irish are not going to land both, if any at all. So it is justified to give a scholarship to Cowart.

Charlie hasn't used his 85 scholarship limit either. ND is not going to get involved in anyone new that is looking at non-BCS conferences.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Recruiting Rant

The time is almost here. 21 Days, 10 hours, 44 minutes, and 33 seconds to be exact, for National Signing Day. The latest player rankings, star status, and team rankings have just come out again, and one thing is pretty much constant. Notre Dame is # 1 without a doubt, unless you are ESPN (surprise, surprise!).

According to Rivals.com and Scout.com, Notre Dame has the top recruiting class assesembled. SEC foes, Georgia and Alabama, are both two and three in both rankings. Below is a more detailed description of the rankings:

Rivals Rankings
1.) Notre Dame 3 (5*), 15 (4*), 3.86 (star avg.)
2.) Georgia 3 (5*), 13 (4*), 3.72
3.) Alabama 2 (5*), 15 (4*), 3.65
4.) Florida St. 2 (5*), 11 (4*), 3.75
5.) Miami 2 (5*), 11 (4*), 3.26
6.) Texas 0 (5*), 14 (4*), 3.59
7.) Florida 3 (5*), 9 (4*), 3.72
8.) UCLA 0 (5*), 13 (4*), 3.62
9.) LSU 1 (5*), 11 (4*), 3.57
10.) Ohio St. 2 (5*), 10 (4*), 3.67

Scout Rankings
1.) Notre Dame 7 (Top 100), 4 (5*), 14 (4*), 4.00 (star avg.)
2.) Alabama 3 (Top 100), 2 (5*), 14 (4*), 3.62
3.) Georgia 4 (Top 100), 3 (5*), 11 (4*), 3.71
4.) LSU 2 (Top 100), 1 (5*), 10 (4*), 3.52
5.) Texas A&M 0 (Top 100), 0 (5*), 9 (4*), 3.27
6.) Miami 5 (Top 100), 3 (5*), 4 (4*), 3.15
7.) Texas 5 (Top 100), 2 (5*), 11 (4*), 3.70
8.) Washington 2 (Top 100), 1 (5*), 7 (4*), 3.16
9.) Ohio St. 8 (Top 100), 5 (5*), 6 (4*), 3.83
10.) UCLA 3 (Top 100), 1 (5*), 9 (4*), 3.55

ESPN has the Irish in the Top 5 of their recruiting rankings, but it is with a twist. Teams that have the most ESPN 150 players and the most student-athletes that participated in the ESPNU Under Armor All-Star Game are ranked by that criteria. Don't get me wrong, the Irish are well represented in the ESPN 150. BUT, the player rankings are very interesting to say the least. I'll list the Rivals and Scout player rankings first, then compare that to the ESPN 150. I'll let you see for yourself, that Todd Lugenbill and ESPNU is once again a full of shit.

Rivals 100 Player Rankings
20. Kyle Rudolph
25. Dayne Crist
27. Michael Floyd
32. Ethan Johnson
37. Trevor Robinson
72. Jonas Gray
89. Darius Fleming

Scout Player Rankings
16. Michael Floyd
21. Kyle Rudolph
45. Dayne Crist
49. Ethan Johnson
56. Darius Fleming
58. Deion Walker
72. Steven Filer

ESPN 150
22. Dayne Crist
29. Michael Floyd
82. Ethan Johnson
86. Jamoris Slaughter
89. Jonas Gray
94. Darius Fleming
103. Deion Walker
105. Kyle Rudolph
115. Steven Filer
125. Braxston Cave

Crist's and Floyd's player rankings are pretty much the same across the board, but 5 star recruits Ethan Johnson and Kyle Rudolph at number 82 and 105? You have to be kidding me. Yes, we all know that Johnson was injured this year, but Rudolph did not hinder his ranking, whatsoever at the US Army All-American Game. I find it rather amusing that Rudolph, who is the # 1 Tight End recruit throughout all the recruiting services, except for ESPN. ESPN has someone who played in the Under Armor All-Star game as their #1 Tight End prospect.

Since Cyrus Gray verbally committed to Texas A&M yesterday, look for the Irish to get either linebacker Will Compton or offensive lineman Kenneth Page to come on board in the next few days. I wouldn't be surpised if Notre Dame lands both, as well as, Kapron Lewis-Moore, Mike Martin, or Datone Jones to the impressive list.

As the countdown gets closer and closer to NSD, rumblings of recruits bolting will become more and more prevelant. One thing that is for sure is the commitment each and every one of those 22 recruits have made bleeds Blue and Gold.

Hawaii Five-O Pt. 5: The Brady Bunch Tiki Idol Edition

Today's installment of the Warriors 2008 football season centers around games nine and ten.

As bad as many Irish fans felt when they lost 24-23 to Syracuse, Hawaii fans felt just as bad when the Warriors suffered one of its most disappointed losses of the season, falling to Utah State, 30-14. Once again, Hawaii had a tough time away from the friendly confines of Aloha Stadium.

This was a game of missed opportunities for the Warriors who out-gained Utah State (374-368), but failed to score on three first-and-goal opportunities and had a field goal blocked by the Aggie defense.

Greg Alexander, making his first start since the season-opener at Florida, finished 13-of-27 for 186 yards and one touchdown for the Warriors. The junior quarterback also added 57 yards of rushing, including a 9-yard touchdown run.

Michael Lane led the Warrior receivers with seven catches for 77 yards, while Daniel Libre rushed for 59 yards on seven carries.

The lingering effects of the loss to Utah State didn't last long as the Warriors won their second game on the mainland, this time defeating New Mexico State 42-30. Hawaii rebounded by exploding for a season-high in points (49) and yards (447). The Warriors also got its second defensive touchdown of the season.

Once again Greg Alexander led the Warrior offense by completing 26-of-32 passes for 288 yards and two touchdowns. The junior quarterback also ran for a score, the second straight week that has happened. After sitting out last week, Kealoha Pilares returned with 99 yards of total offense on 10 catches and two runs.

Hawaii won the total yardage battle as well, out gaining New Mexico State 447 to 400. Despite giving up 394 yards through the air, the Warriors intercepted two passes, including one returned 91 yards by DB Ryan Mouton for a game changing touchdown.

With this win, Hawaii evened it's overall record to 5-5 on the season and are putting together some cohesiveness on offense with Alexander under center.

Tomorrow we'll concluded our look at the Hawaii Warriors 2008 season with their three remaining contests against Idaho, Washington State, and Cincinnati.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Rankings, Schmankings! Irish Rate High in Recruiting

As I digest all the sites, rumblings, rumors, and heresays of National Signing Day, I can come away feeling good as an Alumnus of Notre Dame. Coach Weis addressed the needed "problem" areas and added raw talent to what is billed his best class to date. All 23 signees gave the Irish some very good ratings by the recruiting services, with most of them ranking Notre Dame #2 behind Alabama. That pretty much was everyone's sentiments, except for our favorite subsidiary of the Disney Company.

ESPN must be in their glory, because today is the start of the Chinese New Year. The Worldwide Leader of ___________ (you fill in the blank) is embracing the Year of the RAT! Those pesky varmints from Mark May and all the way down the line to Colin Cowturd will do anything to bash Notre Dame. I guess they need to make a buck someway, right? Well the biggest rat of them all, recruiting-wise, Todd Luginbill had the honor of slipping the Irish all the way down to the 9th best class! Yes, 9th!

Here’s what old Loogie had to say about the Irish’s class,

“After an abysmal 2007 season, Charlie Weis bounced back with a top-10 recruiting class. While some programs might boast more elite prospects, top to bottom this class holds some of the best overall quality and finally some defensive help is on the way. Elite receivers Michael Floyd (Saint Paul, Minn./Cretin-Derham) and Deion Walker (Christchurch, Va.) should have Irish fans smiling after watching an anemic offensive performance last fall while tight end Kyle Rudolph (Cincinnati/Elder) also has excellent receiving skills. No. 2 quarterback prospect Dayne Christ (Canoga Park, Calif./Notre Dame) has the arm strength to challenge Jimmy Clausen early in his career for reps. Center and defensive end were key areas of need and filled with good quality.”

Before I discuss ESPN's rankings, I just want to point out that Rivals.com, Scout.com, and CSTV.com, had the same # 1 and #2, Alabama and Notre Dame. They also gave much love to the class as well:

“The Irish needed an influx of young talent. Charlie Weis and his staff brought in players from all over and look to have upgraded team speed.”~ Bobby Burton (Rivals)

“Charlie Weis and Notre Dame showed that he has a lot of power by checking in with the No. 2 recruiting class in the country, even though he had a 3-9 team this past season. He corralled the players he wanted and was able to keep all but one, with DL Omar Hunter (No. 41) who went to Florida.

Currently 11 Top 100 players in class, this is the group that adds to the Irish's pieces already in place and brings them back to their winning ways. Well-balanced group with Michael Floyd the most immediate potential superstar.

Its best class in 18 years. Helped themselves at every position, with 15 All-Americans coming in.” ~ Tom Lemming (CSTV)

“This was the class the Irish dramatically needed right now if Charlie Weis is to re-establish the Irish as a power. It's a superbly balanced effort featuring elite athletes such as TE Kyle Rudolph, WR Michael Floyd, DE Ethan Johnson and LB Steven Filer. Weis lost DT Omar Hunter to Florida but he was otherwise very successful in restocking the offensive and defensive trenches.” ~ Allen Wallace (Scout)

Alabama, by far, had the most signees with 33 players. Hopefully good old Nick Saban will be around long enough for half of these kids to earn their degrees! I guess teams down South just sign as many kids as they want and hope for the best, because you know damn well that most of won't qualify by Prop 48 standards. I say good luck with that.

Well here is the rundown of recruiting rankings:

1. Alabama 6 (Top 100), 3 (5*), 17 (4*), 10 (3*), 3.61 (avg.)
2. Notre Dame 7 (Top 100), 4 (5*), 14 (4*), 5 (5*), 3.96 (avg.)
3. Miami 7 (Top 100), 4 (5*), 7 (4*), 18 (3*), 3.33 (avg.)
4. Georgia 4 (Top 100), 3 (5*), 10 (4*), 10 (3*), 3.70 (avg.)
5. Florida St. 3 (Top 100), 3 (5*), 10 (4*), 11 (3*), 3.29 (avg.)
6. LSU 2 (Top 100), 1 (5*), 11 (4*), 14 (3*), 3.50 (avg.)
7. Ohio St. 8 (Top 100), 5 (5*), 7 (4*), 6 (3*), 3.84 (avg.)
8. Michigan 4 (Top 100), 1 (5*), 13 (4*), 8 (3*)), 3.54 (avg.)
9. USC 8 (Top 100), 4 (5*), 9 (4*), 5 (3*), 3.84 (avg.)
10. UCLA 4 (Top 100), 2 (5*), 11 (4*), 10 (3*), 3.65 (avg.)

1. Alabama 3 (5*), 19 (4*), 8 (3*), 3.72 (avg.)
2. Notre Dame 3 (5*), 16 (4*), 4 (3*), 3.96 (avg.)
3. Florida 4 (5*), 12 (4*), 4 (3*), 3.82 (avg.)
4. Miami 2 (5*), 15 (4*), 8 (3*), 3.33 (avg.)
5. Oklahoma 3 (5*), 12 (4*), 5 (3*), 3.81 (avg.)
6. Georgia 2 (5*), 13 (4*), 8 (3*), 3.67 (avg.)
7. USC 2 (5*), 13 (4*), 4 (3*), 3.89 (avg.)
8. Florida St. 2 (5*), 13 (4*), 8 (3*), 3.33 (avg.)
9. Ohio St. 3 (5*), 9 (4*), 7 (3*), 3.79 (avg.)
10. Michigan 0 (5*), 17 (4*), 5 (3*), 3.63 (avg.)

1. Alabama 6 (Top 100)
2. Notre Dame 11 (Top 100)
3. Florida 6 (Top 100)
4. Ohio St. 8 (Top 100)
5. Oklahoma 7 (Top 100)
6. Georgia 4(Top 100)
7. Texas 3 (Top 100)
8. USC 7 (Top 100)
9. Miami 5 (Top 100)
10. Clemson 3 (Top 100)

1. Miami 12 (Top 150)
2. Clemson 10 (Top 150)
3. Alabama 6 (Top 150)
4. Florida 11 (Top 150)
5. Georgia 7 (Top 150)
6. USC 8 (Top 150)
7. Ohio St. 7 (Top 150)
8. Oklahoma 8 (Top 150)
9. Notre Dame 10 (Top 150)
10. Texas 9 (Top 150)

So what the heck is Luginbill talking about when he said that other schools might have more elite players? According to his Top 150, Notre Dame is tied for the third most. Doesn't make much sense to me either.

When you average it out all together, Notre Dame actually has the better star power overall with 3.96 (star average) and 9.3 (Top 150/100 player average). And when you average in all four of those recruiting rankings, the Irish are a solid # 2! Below is the overall combined average of all the recruiting services:

1. Alabama 1.5 avg.
2. Notre Dame 3.75 avg.
3. Miami 4.25 avg.
4. Georgia 5.25 avg.
5. Ohio St. 6.75 avg.
6. USC 7.5 avg.
7. Oklahoma 7.75 avg.
8. Clemson 8.75 avg.
9. Florida St. 9.0 avg.
10. LSU 10.25 avg.
11. Michigan 10.75 avg.
12. UCLA 13.5 avg.

When it is all said and done, the Irish got what they wanted, and it shows. A great class, with great athletes, and lots of great memories and moments to be had in the next four or five years from these Fighting Irish! It's definitely good to be an Irish fan, that's for sure.

Sorry, but we're not taking any reservations for the Notre Dame bandwagon just yet.