Sunday, June 12, 2011
One of the great tragedies of college football unfolded yesterday. No it wasn't the whole Les Miles going to Michigan fiasco, instead, it was the announcement of the last All-America squad. No where listed on either the First, Second, or Third Team was Notre Dame's MVP Trevor Laws. Not only did Trevor lead the Irish in tackles with 112, but he was the nation leader in that statistic among defensive linemen.
The AP writers listed LSU's Glen Dorsey and USC's Sedrick Ellis, first team selections. The Second Team All-America's were Cincinnati's Terrill Byrd and Kansas' James McClinton, and rounding out the Third Team were Georgia Tech's Vance Walker and Texas' Frank Okam.
The other All-America Teams, Walter Camp, AFCA Coaches, Rivals, and CBS Sportsline.com, just have one team. What's also bogus is that along the defensive front of their repective teams is that there is only ONE true defensive linemen (Dorsey). Those teams put three defensive ends along the line with Dorsey: George Selvie (South Florida), Chris Long (Virginia), and Greg Middleton (Indiana). So you're telling me, each of these All-America Teams can mix and match their lineups any which way they want. Now that's a crock.
I don't have any problem with Dorsey making the First Team, because, let's face it, Big Baby was a monster. In fact, he was a consensus first team pick for every All-America Team out there. As for the others, it seemed like the sports writers and coaches chose players from bowl teams with above average records. Is that fair, probably not. Do you think they chose the best players, absolutely NOT! Here are the facts on each of the All-America recipients.
AP All-America First Team Defensive Linemen
Glen Dorsey (Sr.) LSU: 64 tackles, 6 sacks, 4 passes broken up, and 4 QB hurries
Sedrick Ellis (Sr.) USC: 56 tackles, 8.5 sacks, 6 PBU, 1 QBH, and 2 fumble recoveries
AP All-America Second Team Defensive Linemen
Terrill Byrd (Jr.) Cincinnati: 47 tackles, 6 sacks, and 5 QBH
James McClinton (Sr.) Kansas: 38 tackles, 2.5 sacks, 1 INT, and 5 QBH
AP All-America Third Team Defensive Linemen
Vance Walker (Jr.) Georgia Tech: 43 tackles, 8.5 sacks, 2 FR, and 3 forced fumbles
Frank Okam (Sr.) Texas: 49 tackles, 5 sacks, 4 PBU, 16 QBH, 1 FR, and 1 FF
The average for all six of the All-Americans were 49.5 tackles, 6 sacks, 2 PBU, 4 QBH, 0.8 FR, and 0.67 FF, and 0.17 INT's. How does Laws' stats compare to these so-called All-America's? Well let these numbers sink into your register: 112 tackles, 4sacks, 5 PBU, 7 QBH, 2 FR, and 3 Blocked Kicks. Those number overwhelm the competition. And speaking of competition, let me rehash what each team faced this year.
Georgia Tech (Emerald Bowl), 7-5, 6 bowl teams, 1-5
USC (Rose Bowl), 10-2, 5 bowl teams, 4-1
LSU (BCS Championship), 11-2, 7 bowl teams, 5-2
Kansas (Fiesta Bowl), 11-1, 5 bowl teams, 4-1
Texas (Holiday Bowl), 9-3, 6 bowl teams, 4-2
Cincinnati (Papa John's Bowl), 9-3, 5 bowl teams, 4-1
Notre Dame, 3-9, 10 bowl teams, 1-9
Notre Dame's 12 opponents finished 2007 with a combined 85-60 record, with 10 of them earning bowl eligibility. Those teams listed above don't come close. ND faced one of the toughest schedules and Laws dominated against those teams. I guess I just don't understand what these coaches and sportswriters are thinking. That's it, they are not thinking whatsoever!
Basically, Laws was penalized for playing on a bad team. Where's the justice? I thought to myself, how could this be. Then I saw who the voting panel was. Here's the AP All-America voting panel: Alex Abrams, The Morning New of Northwest Arkansas; Jimmy Burch, Fort Worth Star-Telegram; Mike Dearmond, The Kansas City Star; Doug Doughty, The Roanoke Times; Eric Hansen, The South Bend Tribune; Kirk Herbstreit, WBNA.
I emailed Eric Hansen of the South Bend Tribune today to see if he voted for Laws, and if there is even an honorable mention list as well. So far, I haven't received any response. Once I do, I'll post his response.
A crime was done yesterday. Sadly enough it was against an athlete who is probably going to be a better professional than those listed as All-Americans. Post season awards are now becoming more of a joke than they were before. Before I thought Rocket Ismail's Heisman Trophy runner-up finish to Ty Detmer was ridiculous, but this one definitely ranks up there.
Everyone in Irishland knows that Trevor Laws is a true All-American selection! Unfortunately, our votes do not count.
Saturday, June 11, 2011
THE NIGHT BEFORE NSD
'Twas the night before National Signing Day, when all through the Dome
Not a Poacher was stirring, not even Urban the Gnome;
The letters of intent were delivered by fax with care,
In hopes that a Top recruiting class will soon be there;
The Irish fans were restless all in their beds,
While visions of Michael Floyd touchdowns danced in their heads;
And Kyle Rudolph on top of his perch, and Braxston Cave with his cap,
Had just reawaken a slumbering giant from its long nap,
When out at the GUG there arose such a clatter,
Irish faithful sprang from their offices to see what was the chatter.
Away to the TV and computer us fans flew like a flash,
Tore open the remote and keyboard like a computer hack.
The glare on the Dome of the new-fallen snow
Gave the lustre of a Top recruiting class below,
When, what to our wondering eyes should appear,
But a slew of LOI faxes, with 24 names that appear,
With a genius old coach, so lively and concise,
I knew in a moment it must be St. Weis.
More rapid than eagles his coursers they came,
And he whistled, and shouted, and called them by name;
"Now, Blanton! now, Cave! now, Clelland, Crist, Cwynar, Fauria, Filer, and Fleming!
On, Floyd! on Golic! on, Goodman, Gray, Johnson, Knox, Lewis-Moore, McCarthy, McDonald, Newman, Posluszny, and Robinson!
On Rudolph! on Slaughter, Walker, and Williams!
To the top of the Golden Dome! to the top of the Notre Dame Stadium walls!
Now Play Like a Champion Today! Play Like a Champion Today! Play Like a Champion all!"
As dry leaves that before the wild hurricane fly,
When they meet with an obstacle, mount to the sky,
So up to the GUG the coursers they flew,
With copies of LOIs, and St. Weis too.
And then, in a twinkling, we heard each name,
The dominance and dedication will be known from this recruiting classes fame.
As we watched on tv, and knew he could turn this ship around,
Down the GUG steps St. Weis came with a bound.
He was dressed all in Blue and Gold, from his head to his foot,
And his clothes were all Adidas with a new jacket to boot;
A bundle of recruits he had flung on his back,
And he looked like a genius just opening his pack.
His eyes -- how they twinkled! his dimples how merry!
His cheeks were like roses, screw you Urban, you ferry!
His droll little mouth was drawn up like a bow,
As his recruiting coup will be best in show;
The accolades of each recruit he held tight in his teeth,
And the trials and tribulations it encircled his head like a wreath;
He had playmakers and defensive stalwarts that will dominate,
Make opponents cringe, when they will dole out their fate.
He was brash and nasty, our kind of coach,
And we could see that, in spite of Mark may, that huge Oaf!
A wink of his eye and a twist of his head,
Soon gave us to know we had nothing to dread;
He spoke not a word, but went straight to his work,
And filled all the Irish fans’ wishes; then laughed at the haters, those jerks;
And laying his finger aside of his nose,
And giving a nod, up to the office he rose;
He sprang to his car, to his team gave a reason,
And away they prepare for one hell of a season! .
But I heard him exclaim, ere he drove out of sight,
"Happy NSD to all, and to all a good-night."
Wednesday, June 8, 2011
The University of Washington had a 11th hour change of heart when it came to Ty Losingham. During the end of the year press conference, UW president, Mark Emmert, announced Willingham will be on as the Husky coach, despite speculation that he considered whether to fire Willingham.
Emmert was quoted saying, "I believe Tyrone Willingham has the talent, character and drive to reach the level of success we all want for our football program," Emmert said in a statement. "He and I have discussed the need to evaluate all aspects of the program, determine what changes need to be made to strengthen it, and set in motion those changes to point the program in the right direction." If a 11-25 record gives you belief that he is succeeding, than more power to you guys!
Here is what I believe happened the last few days for Willingham to keep his job. Emmert and Washington AD sit down with Willingham to hammer out some specifics for him to do or he is bye, bye: 1) Fire some assistant coaches (deja vu? Guess who is considered to be out the door? I'll give you on guess....KENT BAER!); 2) Have a winning record and get to a bowl game; 3) Both the administration and Ty knew what type of ramifications would happen if he does get canned (over $3 million shelled to him by UW and ND); and 4) Win the Apple Cup or a meaningful game (USC or Notre Dame). Good luck with that Washington, because you'll need it. I don't care if you have a multi-talented quarterback in Jake Lockert. Ty had a great one in Brady Quinn and look what he did with him. Better yet, look what he did with Jeff Samardzija.
Willingham is the first Huskies coach with three consecutive losing seasons. How Ty is keeping his job is beyond me. He cannot coach a lick and his loyalty to his crappy staff is sickening.
Ty declined to talk with reporters after a Tuesday night team meeting, and never wavered from the belief he would return for his fourth season.
I'm not sure if many folks remember this basketball tradition or not, but I think the Leprechaun Legion needs to bring back the Toilet Paper Toss after ND's first basket of each game. After seeing this video of the 1987 ND-UNC contest, which brings back wonderful memories, I thought to myself, why did it ever stop? If any current student is reading this, please pass it along and re-start the tradition!
Just like the marshmallow fight at every last home football game, the Toilet Paper Toss is a classic. It's your time to make it happen Leprechaun Legion!
Tonight's matchup against the Pittsburgh Panthers will be the first of three important contests for the Irish's hope of winning the Big East regular season. The Irish have won 17 of their last 20 games and are off to a 19-5 start through 24 contests of the season which also matches the best start by an Irish team under head coach Mike Brey. So there is a lot on the line tonight, both individually and team-wise.
Besides extending the current school record and third longest home court winning streak, Mike Brey is nearing a milestone as well. A victory against the Panthers this evening would give him his fifth 20-win season in eight campaigns along the Irish sidelines as he would become only the second coach in school history to register five 20-win campaigns in his first eight seasons. Digger Phelps was the only other coach to post five 20-win campaigns in the first eight years of his 20-year tenure at Notre Dame.
Pittsburgh head Coach Jamie Dixon is also one win away from another 20-win season. A win vs. Notre Dame would give Pitt its school record seventh consecutive 20-win season. Unfortunately for the Panthers, they'll have to wait another game.
The friendly confines of the JACC will energize the Irish out of their shooting funk, as will the near sellout crowd. Look for Tory Jackson to pick up where he has left off the past couple of games against the Panthers. Currently Jackson owns a season-best, three-game double-figure scoring streak and has netted double figures in eight contests. Over the last seven games, he is averaging 12.5 points, 6.2 rebounds, 7.2 assists and 2.1 steals. His numbers will be vital to help neutralize the three-headed guard lineup of Ronald Ramon (8.0 ppg), Keith Benjamin (9.1 ppg), and Gilbert Brown (6.1 ppg). If Jackson gets hot, the Irish will be able to get easy looks down low to their big men.
Pittsburgh's lack of height will be at a huge disadvantage, as their freshman center, DeJuan Blair (11.6 ppg, 9.4 rpg) is only 6-7. They are 1-5 on the season when they have been outrebounded. That does not bode well for the Panthers whatsoever, even though they have one of the best rebounding margins in the nation. Pitt has not faced a scrappy bunch like the Irish this season!
Watch for Luke Harangody to score at will, while senior Rob Kurz will have back-to-back strong performances. The X-factor for the Irish will be the all around game of Zach Hillesland and the outside shooting of Ryan Ayers. If either one or both score in double figures, the Irish could be positioning itself for a great seed next month in the NCAA Tournament.
Kyle McAlarney could have one of those nights again where anything he shoots goes through the hoop. If Pitt uses a 2-3 zone against the Irish, it could be lights out from behind the arc. But in this series, expect the unexpected. Notre Dame has not really faired well since joining the league against Pittsburgh. But the Panthers really haven't faced a lethal inside-outside combo that the Irish will throw at them.
Prediction: Notre Dame 81 Pitt 74
~ For the first time in his career, sophomore guard Tory Jackson was named to the BIG EAST Weekly Honor Roll after averaging 15.0 points, 8.5 rebounds, 7.0 assists, and 2-0 steals in Notre Dame’s two contests. In Notre Dame’s loss at Connecticut, he finished with 13 points and matched his career-high in addition to dishing off four assists and making two steals. In the win over Rutgers, he led all scorers with 17 points (a season-high) and dished off 10 assists for his second career double double. He also grabbed eight rebounds and made two steals.
~ The Irish are 2-3 versus ranked opponents this season.
~ Pitt enters the game without a national ranking for the first time in over two years and 43 consecutive polls. Prior to this week, Pitt was ranked in 109 of the last 118 national polls. The Panthers are currently listed in the “Also Receiving Votes” category in both polls.
~ Notre Dame’s 9-3 start in BIG EAST play matches the best start ever by an Irish team in league play. The 2000-01 Irish squad went 9-3 through the first 12 contests en route to winning the BIG EAST West Division title (with an 11-5 record) and were 11-3 (after 14 games) before suffering their fourth loss of the season in the 15th conference game.
Saturday, June 4, 2011
The College Basketball season is definitely in full swing and many like myself have been wondering, where the heck is Dick Vitale. Well today, I learned that Dickie V. has been sidelined with a throat problem. He has lesions on his left vocal cord and will be having them surgically removed in the near future. His Doctor's goal is to have Vitale back sitting at courtside in early February.
As a huge supporter of Notre Dame athletics, with having three former Irish student-athletes in his family (daughters Sherry and Terry played tennis, while son-in-law Tom Krug was an ND quarterback), Vitale has been a staple to college basketball for well over 29 years. Here's to a quick and speedy recovery Dickie V.!
Vitale did have something he wanted to say to all his friends and fans across the country. His message is something that not only hits the hearts of many, but definitely hit close to my home as well:
"If you want to lend me a helping hand, go to dickvitaleonline.com and during this holiday season, help me assist kids that are battling cancer by making a donation to the V Foundation in memory of Payton Wright. You can send a check in care of the V Foundation and mail it to Tandem Enterprises, 7810 Mathern Court, Lakewood Ranch, FL 34202. Or you can call (800) 4-JIMMYV and please indicate that your donation is in memory of Payton Wright.
My goal is to raise $1 million for the Payton Wright research grant to help kids battling cancer."
To see the entire Vitale letter, click on the title.
Friday, June 3, 2011
Tom Zbikowski and Jeff Samardzija will be teaming up one more time, and this time it's during the Super Bowl. While Justin Tuck and Jerome Collins will be actually playing for a Super Bowl ring for the New York Giants, Zibby and the Shark will be making their television debut during a 60 second Under Armour commerical.
The Notre Dame duo are two of 27 athletes featured in an ad for Under Armour's The New Prototype performance footwear. The one-minute spot will run during the first quarter of the Super Bowl. Zbikowski will be easily recognized as he will be sporting a Mohawk hairdo.
"Zbikowski, with that Mohawk, definitely jumps out at you," said Steve Battista, vice president of marketing for Under Armour. "It's hard to believe he came to the set with a full head of hair.
Zbikowski, after a strong performance at the Senior Bowl, is gearing up for next month's NFL Draft Combine in Indianapolis, while Samardzija is in Arizona getting ready for the upcoming baseball season. Here's a little blurb from Jeff's blog today (1/29/08):
Well I am finally out here in AZ doing my thing and getting ready. Can't beat this beautiful weather. One of these days I'm going to hit up the links and see how the game has held up over the winter. It'll probably be a little ugly...
This will definitely be a Super Sunday for Irish fans! CLICK-CLACK
Besides Collins and Tuck, Marcus Freeman (practice squad) is on the Giants roster, and Mike Richardson (injured reserve) is on New England's.
Thursday, June 2, 2011
The rock band ACDC’s song “TNT” is dynamite. ND’s version of TNT is Tory, No Turnover, which equals huge win for the Fighting Irish against Pittsburgh, 82-70. Jackson finished with 16 points and a career-high 13 rebounds as Notre Dame overcame an 11-point deficit in the second half to keep pace with the frontrunners for the top spot in the Big East. What was even more impressive was the fact that he had no turnovers in 37 minutes of action. That’s right, zero, zip, zilch, nada!
On a night where Notre Dame was honoring one of their all-time greats in Austin Carr, Jackson put on quite a show. One play in particular in the second half changed the momentum the Irish’s way, and turned the crowd into a frenzy. Jackson was dribbling toward the basket when his foot hit a Pittsburgh player's foot near the free throw line and he appeared to lose control of the ball. Suddenly he pulled it in, squeezed between two defenders and went in for a layup that cut the lead to three points.
Jackson’s classmate Luke Harangody also had another spectacular outing with a game-high 23 points and 12 rebounds. Harangody also had two steals, with one resulting in a thunderous dunk during the Irish’s 21-10 run.
Notre Dame handed Pittsburgh their first, back-to-back loses this season. In fact this is only the sixth time in Jamie Dixon’s career that the Panthers have dropped two straight contests. The last time they lost two in a row was December of 2006. Good defense down the stretch and a re-energized JACC crowd impeded the Panthers path to victory. Pittsburgh went nearly 5 minutes without a field goal over the final 6:30, while the Irish were hitting big time 3pt. field goals and making their free throws.
The Irish made 18-of-20 free throws, while Pitt continued to show why they are one of the worst in the country by making only 61.1% (11-of-18). Notre Dame also won the battle of the boards 41-35.
Kyle McAlarney hit two key 3pt. baskets down the stretch as he had a rough night shooting. Despite making only 4-of-12 from the floor, McAlarney ended the night with 15 points. Senior captain Rob Kurz made it two straight key performances with 14 points and 5 rebounds. But this night belonged to Jackson.
"He's got just a will about him and heart," Brey said. "He's a winner. He really is a winner, and I think he gives his teammates confidence with the will he has." That could be deadly for Irish opponents, as he is peaking at the right time for a huge championship run. So here’s a warning to the rest of the Big East Conference: Tory Jackson got his groove back!
In the spirit of March Madness I have decided to start the inaugural IBB Tournament Pick 'Em Contest. Through Yahoo sports, I have created the Irish Band of Brothers group for my fellow posters. All you have to do is copy and paste the url below and sign up. The password for the group is: goirish
The winner of the contest will have bragging rights for the year and win some Notre Dame memorabilia.
Good Luck and as always, GO IRISH!