Thursday, January 12, 2012

Hawaii Five-O Pt. 2: The Don Ho Edition

This is the second part of our in depth look at the Hawaii Warriors 2008 campaign. The last time we left off, the Warriors were standing at 1-1 with their home opening win over FCS foe Weber State. But unfortunately for Hawaii, things would get worse before they got any better.

Game three included a trip out to Corvallis, against a good Oregon State team which beat up on the Warriors 45-7. In this contest, Hawaii had less total yards than any game in the last ten years (211 yards). Tyler Graunke got the start, which made him the third quarterback to play for the Warriors this season. The Beavers racked up a lot of rushing yards against Hawaii which was not atypical because Oregon State pounded the ball on almost everyone they faced this season.

So this was not the same Hawaii club we saw the previous year under June Jones and Colt Brennan as they were struggling early and dropped to 1-2 on the year.

The next week the Warriors faced WAC foe San Jose State. This was a real big surprise, because Hawaii generally plays great at Aloha Stadium and the Spartans are not that great, but lost to San Jose St. 20-17. And this showed they were a struggling football team. Losing to San Jose St. was, I'm sure; something Greg McMackin had not planned on at the beginning of the year.

Hawaii had six turnovers against the Spartans. They did a decent job defensively in holding San Jose St., but four interceptions and two fumbles was just too much to overcome. This was the Warriors second, six turnover performance of the season (Florida). That obviously was an early season problem the Warriors had to correct to right their ship.

One of the reasons why Hawaii turned it around was the play of quarterback Alexander. I'm not sure why it took so long for the Warriors to settle on him to be their quarterback. He started the first game, and then didn't get the not till the end of the year.

These were two very interesting games but this team does not look anything like games three and four. They made those changes at QB with Alexander as they finished up 7-6. The Warriors played very competitively against Cincinnati, which shows that they're a quality team that can play with anybody.

For the Fighting Irish, it's going to be very tough to win because the Warriors play extremely tough at Aloha Stadium and will be traveling quite a ways for the Christmas Eve showdown. It doesn't mean here's no reason why the Irish can't play the way they're capable of, unlike the second half of the season.

Last week, Tom Lemming said Notre Dame is definitely more talented than Hawaii, but then again, the Irish are more talented than 11 of the other teams they faced this season. At some point the talent will have to show up on the field. A good start would be 12/24/08!

Tomorrow will look back at Hawaii's contest with Fresno State and Louisiana Tech.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Haywood Update

It now looks like Mike Haywood could be going back home to Texas. With Art Briles leaving for the Baylor job, Houston officials have begun contacting possible candidates, which includes former Texas QB, now Alabama Offensive Coordinator Major Applewhite and Haywood.

Haywood, a Houston native, still has family in the area and has expressed some interest in the Cougars job.

It hasn't been confirmed nor denied from sources in the ND Athletic Department that Kevin White was contacted by both Jim Phillips (AD, NIU) and Dave Maggard (AD, Houston) to speak with Haywood for their coaching vacancies.

If Haywood is on the way out, look for Minnesota Running Backs Coach Thomas Hammock to be one of the first mentioned. Hammock is the older brother of future Irish recruit TyQuann Hammock of Ft. Wayne, IN (Bishop Lures).

More updates on Haywood or other coaching matters will be provided once I hear from my sources.

Irish Lacrosse Look to Surprise This Year

The season has started off with a bang for the Fighting Irish lacrosse team. First it was All-American Wil Yeatman indefinitely suspended from action after being arrested for DUI, and then beating nemesis # 17 Loyola (MD) 7-6 in Baltimore last Saturday. Notre Dame, one of the preseason Great Western Lacrosse League (GWLL) favorites, looks to make some noise on the national scene despite the loss of Yeatman.

Inside Lacrosse staff writers think Notre Dame will be among the nation's elite and possibly surprise come May in the NCAA Tournament. Here's an early look at what the writers are saying about the Irish:

Geoff Shannon

Except for Princeton, most of the southern and western teams are placed in the lower bracket while the Northern teams face off in upper bracket.

Of the four brackets, I think Notre Dame has the best chance, in this scenario, to break through to Championship Weekend. It all depends on Duke, and I'll trust them to be dominant once I see what they can do this spring.

John Jiloty

I don't see Ohio State getting in. I think the Buckeyes are much-improved this year from last season, but there's too many good dark horse teams ahead of OSU. And the GWLL will come down to Notre Dame and Denver. If the GWLL gets two teams in, the Pioneers will snag the second spot.

The Irish are considered one of the best defensive teams in the nation. According to Inside Lacrosse Magazine, "Notre Dame Goalie Joey Kemp is one of the best, as are seniors Sean Dougherty and Ross Zimmerman. They are the 8th best in Division I, hands down!"

Notre Dame has also one of the best face off specialists and teams in the country as well.
"Taylor Clagett (57%) is extremely athletic, which has impressed Irish coach Kevin Corrigan.

He does things I've never seen other people do," Corrigan said. "He'll forward roll to get the ball out forward and come up running into the ball he pushed out. So he's very creative. That kind of thing makes you not only a tough match-up but an unpredictable one as well."

The DeMatha (Hyattsville, MD) graduate has become a student of the face-off. If he can stay healthy (he's had two shoulder surgeries while at Notre Dame) the Irish should be able to control 60% of their draws.

Their top wing players are midfielders Michael Podgajny, Davey Leach, Kelly McKenna and poles Sean Dougherty and Mike Creighton."

Notre Dame also has some top individuals that will help the Irish garner more national attention. Here are a few Irish players that are near the top at their respected positions.

Top Division I Defensemen:
9. Sean Dougherty, Notre Dame

Dougherty had a good showing down the stretch last season and the buzz is that he’ll ick up right where he left off in ’08.

20. Ross Zimmerman, Notre Dame

The junior has started since arriving on campus in South Bend and is poised for a breakout season in 2008.

Top 20 Freshmen:
16. Zach Brenneman, M, Notre Dame

The Irish are talented at the midfeild, but Brenneman is precisely the kind of player that becomes integral in providing depth down the stretch of the season.

Top 20 Middies:
6. Mike Podgajny, Notre Dame

Another viable offensive weapon, Podgajny shoots with velocity and brings a vital outside dodging element to the Irish attack.

Top 15 Goalies:
2. Joey Kemp, Notre Dame

What happens when a highly touted high school recruit sees a boatload of time as a starter and then becomes a senior? He is one of the best goalies in the country.

Top 20 Attackmen:
9. Will Yeatman, Notre Dame

Not quite the LeBron James of college lacrosse for the hype he had to live up to, Yeatman’s versatility impressed everyone as he kicked off his career in fine fashion.

11. Ryan Hoff, Notre Dame

Every source contacted loves his ability to score around the net and wondered why he didn’t get more press.

The #10th ranked Irish will try and make it two in a row when they host #23 Penn State at 1:00 on Sunday at the Loftus Indoor Field.

Nike/Inside Lacrosse Men's DI Media Poll
(Records through February 17, 2008)
---- --- ---
1. JOHNS HOPKINS (11) (0-0) 258 1
2. DUKE (2) (1-0) 247 2
3. VIRGINIA (1-0) 232 3
4. GEORGETOWN (0-0) 218 4
5. PRINCETON (0-0) 196 5
6. CORNELL (0-0) 192 6
7. MARYLAND (0-0) 184 7
8. SYRACUSE (1-0) 167 9
9. NORTH CAROLINA (0-0) 162 8
10. (tie) NOTRE DAME (1-0) 132 10
10. (tie) NAVY (2-0) 132 11
12. ALBANY (0-0) 126 12
13. DELAWARE (2-0) 113 13
14. TOWSON (0-0) 81 13
15. HOFSTRA (0-0) 72 15
16. DENVER (1-0) 62 NR
17. LOYOLA MD (0-1) 41 17
18. DREXEL (0-1) 38 19
19. UMBC (0-1) 17 18

Draft Day Looms Large for Irish Quad

With the upcoming NFL Draft just 11 days away, several Notre Dame Players have been visiting teams for that right fit. According to numerous draft experts, Trevor Laws, John Carlson, Tom Zbikowski, and John Sullivan, are in the top five of their respective positions.

Laws (4th best DE)
Carlson (3rd best TE)
Zibikowski (4th best SS)
Sullivan (3rd best C)

Overall, Laws is the highest rated Fighting Irish Player in the Draft at 45, while Carlson is 70, Zibikowski 91, and Sullivan 98. Trevor is a lock for the 2nd round, while the others could go as high as the 3rd round, but are more looking towards the middle rounds of the second day of the draft.

According to Scott Wright, editor of NFL Draft Countdown sees both Laws (42nd, Broncos) and Carlson (56th, Packers) going in the 2nd round. Below are Wright’s evaluations of the four major Notre Dame draftees:

Trevor Laws according to Wright: “The type who will never be a star and projects as more of a backup in the NFL but could play in the league for a long time and coaches will adore him.”

Has a non-stop motor…Great strength…Technically sound and really understands leverage…Is real quick and a decent athlete…Outstanding tackler…Can penetrate and make plays in the backfield…Versatile and has played multiple positions in two different schemes…Has a ton of experience against top competition…Really smart and hard worker…Active hands…Productive…Great senior year…A LEADER.

Doesn’t have the height that you look for…Can be too aggressive at times…Is not overly stout at the point of attack…Has a limited pass rush repertoire and basically relies on hustle…Not very powerful…Bit of a ‘tweener…Doesn’t have much upside.

Ok, I had to laugh a little bit because Wright says that Trevor has great strength, but is not very powerful, and then goes on to say that he doesn’t have much of an upside, yet he’s very versatile and has played multiple positions in two different schemes. Really Scott?

One would think you would consider a person who doesn’t have an upside to regress during your collegiate career. As for Laws, he pretty much doubled his output every season:
2004 17 tackles, 2 TFL, 1 sack
2005 33 tackles, 3 TFL, 1.5 sacks
2006 62 tackles, 9 TFL, 3.5 sacks
2007 112 tackles, 8 TFL, 4 sacks

Yeah, no upside to Laws whatsoever!

John Carlson according to Wright: “Will not be confused for Antonio Gates any time soon but he is a great all-around tight end who should be a NFL starter.

Terrific natural athlete…Has very good size and a big frame with long arms…Runs excellent routes and know how to get open…Has soft, reliable hands…Has shown the ability to stretch the field vertically…Runs well after the catch…Good ball skills and body control…Above average blocker…Very smart…A hard worker and LEADER.

Timed speed is relatively average and he lacks a burst…Needs to get stronger…Is not overly elusive or much of a big play threat…Could stand to show more power and use better leverage as a blocker…Is coming off of a sub par senior campaign.

So how is it Scott that Carlson runs excellent routes, gets open, has reliable hands, runs well after the catch, and can stretch the field vertically, but is not elusive or much a big play threat? He had a sub par senior year, wow, thanks for the very observant eye! If Mr. Wright didn’t figure out why Carlson was used mainly as an extra blocker for a sieve offensive line, than I don’t know what to tell him. John’s number tailed off yes, but he still had 40 receptions and three touchdown receptions after coming back from a knee injury.

John Sullivan according to Scott Wright: “Does not have all the physical tools but he gets the job done…A potential starter if he can regain the form he showed earlier in his career.”

Adequate size and bulk…Really understands leverage and positioning…Excellent strength…Stout at the point…Smart with decent awareness…Intense and a hard worker with a non-stop motor…Tons of experience…A LEADER with top intangibles.

Weaknesses: Isn’t a great athlete…Poor balance…Is not a natural knee bender…Needs to do a better job of finishing his blocks…Not very mobile…Doesn’t get a great push…Had some issues with the shotgun snap…Is not very powerful…Struggled as a senior.

How can a person have excellent strength, but not be very powerful? Is Scott Wright just trying to fill in some lines for his site? I don’t know either. If there was one Notre Dame Player that’s going to be punished for a 3-9 season, it was going to be Sullivan. You can explain the horrible offensive production, but when it comes to bad snaps and missed blocks, that’s all on you Sully!

Tom Zbikowski according to Scott Wright: “Probably a little overrated and is certainly not the pro prospect his press clippings would lead you to believe but he should at the very least be a good backup and special teamer.”

Hard worker and team LEADER with excellent intangibles…Very strong is tough as nails…Smart and has terrific instincts…Does a great job versus the run…Good hands and ball skills…Quick with a burst…Likes to hit and is a reliable tackler…Well built with a very solid frame…A playmaker who can make something happen when he gets the ball…Fiery and intense…Has extensive experience as a punt returner.

Shorter than you would prefer…Does not have great timed speed…Is not a great athlete…Can be too aggressive at times…Does not have fluid hips and could be a liability in coverage…Is prone to biting on fakes…Will need to work on his tackling fundamentals…Might be one dimensional in-the-box type…Has a limited upside.

This one made me laugh a lot. Zibby is a reliable tackler, but needs to work on his tackling fundamentals; I can see that. “Is not a great athlete”, wait a minute; stop the presses on this one. Here are a few things that will contradict that statement, 1) Tommy is a nationally-ranked boxer with a 60-13 overall amateur record and 3-Time Silver Gloves national finalist, 2) A highly regarded option quarterback out of high school that was recruited heavily by Nebraska, and 3) Some of the best athletes on the team are returners, period! Maybe Scott and Mario Manningham have been hanging out together? Whatever the case, Scott needs to lay off the wacky tobacky; it’s clouding his mind and thought process.

One consistent that Wright has about these four Irish standouts is that they are all LEADERS. You can knock their talents and weaknesses, but in the end, no one can take away one’s heart and desire. That’s a true testament of a leader and a Notre Dame man!

IBB Weekly Motivator: Week 5

Not too much to say about John David Booty Scratcher except for congrats on that fabulous Wonderlic Score and your 5th round selection to the Vikings!

As for the poster, no explanation needed!

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

The Night the Lights Went Out in Georgia

Ok folks, it's not time to hit the panic button just yet with our verbal commitments. Yes all the rumors swirling around about Omar Hunter are spreading like wildfire on every internet chat board. I guess we have heard it all from the Atlanta Journal Constitution and, yes, our favorite one of them all, ESPN. The latter got a quip from Omar's high school coach. Here's what was said by Jess Simpson via ESPN:

Irish defensive tackle pledge Omar Hunter shopping around
According to ESPN's Craig Haubert and the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Under Armour All-American Omar Hunter is seriously looking at Florida and USC.
His high school coach, Jess Simpson, went as far to call Florida, "a more likely alternative to Notre Dame," in the Journal-Constitution's article.
Simpson added, "I don't think it was so much the season they [Notre Dame] had. I think he's just starting to reconsider where he's going to school and how far away it is and the weather and the climate, and how easy it is for his family to come see him."

First off, you would think Omar will easily scratch off USC, because Los Angeles is a lot farther than South Bend from Georgia. Secondly, I don't recall Hunter complaining about the weather and the climate when he visited for the Air Force game. The drive up to South Bend is not that hard if you're driving up from the South. Let's see, I recall such parents, like Bert Berry's mom making the drive from Texas to watch her son play. She never once talked about the difficulty of making it to watch her future Pro Bowler every home game.

Now let's backtrack a little bit after the Stanford game to piece together why this situation might be looking the way it is right now. After the Irish's win over the Cardinal, Charlie Weis and Co., took to the road visiting most of their verbal commits and some of their potential targets.

First let me list all the 22 verbal commitments that we have as of today:
QB - Dayne Crist (Sherman Oaks, CA)
RB - Jonas Gray (Beverly Hills, MI)
WR - Michael Floyd (St. Paul, MN)
WR - John Goodman (Ft. Wayne, IN)
TE - Joseph Fauria (Encino, CA)
TE - Kyle Rudolph (Cincinnati, OH)
OL - Braxston Cave (Mishawaka, IN)
OL - Lane Clelland (Owings Mills, MD)
OL - Mike Golic, Jr. (West Hartford, CT)
OL - Trevor Robinson (Elkhorn, NE)
DE - Sean Cwynar (McHenry, IL)
DE - Ethan Johnson (Portland, OR)
DT - Omar Hunter (Buford, GA)
DT - Brandon Newman (Louisville, KY)
DT - Hafis Williams (Elizabeth, NJ)
LB - Steven Filer (Dolton, IL)
LB - Darius Fleming (Chicago, IL)
LB - Anthony McDonald (Sherman Oaks, CA)
LB - David Posluszny (Aliquippa, PA)
CB - Robert Blanton (Matthews, NC)
CB - Jamoris Slaughter (Stone Mountain, GA)
S - Dan McCarthy (Youngstown, OH)

Now here is where it gets a little interesting. Weis and some of his assistants went out across the country for three weeks, starting Nov. 25 through December 15, right before the dead period in recruiting begins; which was this past Monday, December 17. Below I will list recruiting visits by week:

Week One (November 25 - December 1)
Joseph Fauria (visited by Weis on Sunday, Nov. 25)
Dayne Crist and Anthony McDonald (visited by Weis on Monday, Nov. 26)
Kenneth Page (visiting by John Latina and Bill Lewis on Monday, Nov. 26)
Brandon Newman (visited by Corwin Brown on Tuesday, Nov. 27)
Hafis Williams (visited by Latina on Tuesday, Nov. 27)
Robert Blanton (visited by Lewis on Tuesday, Nov. 27)
Ethan Johnson (visited by Weis on Wednesday, Nov. 28)
Jamoris Slaughter (visited by Brown and Lewis on Wednesday, Nov. 28)
John Goodman (visited by Brown on Thursday, Nov. 29)
Gerell Robinson (visited by Weis on Thursday, Nov. 29)
Dan McCarthy (visited by Brian Polian on Saturday, Dec. 1)
Datone Jones (visited by Weis and Polian)*
Cyrus Gray (visited by Rob Ianello)*
Steve Filer (visited by Ianello)*
Sean Cwynar (visited by Ianello)*
Darius Fleming (visited by Ianello)*
John Goodman (visited by Ianello)*

Week Two (December 2 - December 6)
Brandon Newman (visited by Jappy Oliver on Monday, Dec. 3)
Datone Jones (visited by Brown on Monday, Dec. 3)
Gerell Robinson (visited by Ianello on Tuesday, Dec. 4)
Milton Knox (visited by Polian on Tuesday, Dec. 4)
Kenneth Page (visited by Weis on Tuesday, Dec. 4)
Robert Blanton (visited by Weis on Wednesday, Dec. 5)
Deion Walker (visited by Weis and Ron Powlus on Thursday, Dec. 6)
Michael Floyd (visited by Ianello on Thursday, Dec. 6)
Steve Filer (visited by Brown)*
Darius Fleming (visited by Brown)*
Sean Cwynar (visited by Brown)*

Week Three (December 9 - December 15)
Gerell Robinson (visited by Oliver and Mike Haywood on Monday, Dec. 10)
Jonas Gray (visited by Weis on Tuesday, Dec. 11)
Trevor Robinson (visited by Weis on Thursday, Dec. 13)
(* = Date of visit is not known)

So out of the 22 verbal commitments, six were not visited during that three week stretch (Kyle Rudolph, Braxston Cave, Lane Clelland, Mike Golic, Jr., David Posluszny, and Omar Hunter). What makes this more intriguing is the fact that during that three week period, none of the coaches made visits to other Tight Ends (Rudolph) or Linebackers (Posluszny). They did make trips for more offensive linemen, which was a given and eventually got Trevor Robinson to come aboard last week. One thing that does stick out is that the Irish coaches did visit some possible replacements for the defensive line (Datone Jones, twice). Kapron Lewis-Moore wasn't visited, to my knowledge, but was frequently contacted by Irish coaches during that time.

So is there something during that time frame that made Irish coaches not visit Hunter? Or is there a reason why they are on the recruiting trail for another defensive lineman? Who knows? I'm trying not to speculate too much about this, but it makes you wonder. What I do know is that Charlie is firmly standing still on his policy of, if you're looking, we're looking too! Eventually, according to the Atlanta Journal Constitution, Weis did, IN FACT, make a visit to Hunter's practice on Dec. 11 before Buford played in the State Championship game. Just in time before the dead period began. Unfortunately for that visit, Weis didn't get too much ground with Hunter. Omar kinda of blew off Charlie a little bit. During that day, he was in Detroit meeting Jonas and assuring his pledge to the Irish. That's when word broke out about a certain university's visit to Buford and that Omar sought out his attention. Charlie then went down to Buford to make a surprise visit. Which now brings me to my next point.

During that three week stretch, around that first week of recruiting visits, Florida Associate Head Coach John "Doc" Holliday went up to Buford, Georgia, to seek out T.J. Pridemore, a current 3 star fullback, linebacker. During that visit, it has been RUMORED, yes RUMORED, that Omar Hunter sought out Holliday about the University of Florida. Whether this visit was ordered by the Poacher to lure Hunter away from the Irish is not known, I wouldn't put it past him (i.e.; Justin Trattou).

Florida is looking at Pridemore at fullback, but T.J. is deadset on playing linebacker at the next level. His hopes of playing in the NFL, he believes, is on the defensive side. There has been more RUMORS, that Omar is seeking out Florida to help out his buddy. Yeah, wishful thinking!

Now, we come to the present. Omar Hunter is still verbally committed to the Irish. He plans on visiting Gainesville around January 11 or 12, after his All-Star game; where he will be rooming with current verbal commit, Braxston Cave. Hopefully Braxston can sway Hunter's focus back to the Irish. These are young kids that are not only making a big decision for education, but they are making decisions that will impact them for the rest of their lives!

Lastly, I was watching the movie, The Sandlot, last night and heard a quote that I felt was quite relevant to the Irish recruiting. "Heroes get remembered, but LEGENDS never DIE! Follow your heart kid, and you'll never go wrong". Omar could be a hero at Florida, but here, at Notre Dame, he'll be a LEGEND!

Follow your heart Omar. You're very much needed and wanted here in South Bend; that's for sure!

As for my loyal readers, have a safe and Happy Holiday Season. I'll be going on a little hiatus until after the New Year, unless there is some major news to report on. Merry Christmas and always, GO IRISH!

Kelly Announcement to be Made Next Week

During the Senior Day Fiasco up in the Notre Dame pressbox, it was revealed to me and a few of my sources that Cincinnati's Brian Kelly will indeed be the next head coach of the Fighting Irish next season. Paqui Kelly, Brian's wife, was in Culver, Indiana on Wednesday and Thursday, looking at Culver Military Academy for their two boys (Patrick and Kenzel).

An announcement will be made sometime next week, and after Sunday's press conference of Coach Weis' firing.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Michigan Copycating Off of ND's "The Shirt"

The more the University of Michigan wants to be like us, the more lame they get. In their latest installment of being the Notre Dame of the North, Michigan unveiled their verison of "The Shirt" today (pictured above). First it is bad enough that they switched apparel from Nike and to Adidas; but now stealing our project and revealing it today when the University and Mike Golic are doing the same later.

You'd think that the fine folks in Ann Arbor would be smarter than that. I guess they truly are the "VICTORS" of being completely and utterly stupid!

Friday, January 6, 2012

Water Cooler Rumblings

As the weekend nears, the more details are coming to a head on several key topics surrounding Notre Dame Athletics. Yesterday word broke out about Artistic Media Partners, which had broadcast Irish athletics since 1998 on WNDV-FM (92.9) and WDND-AM (1490), had agreed with the university to end their deal. This deal included the offical pregame and postgame shows for football, as well as, all the football game broadcasts by Westwood One. Well since ISP is the new voice of Notre Dame Football broadcasts, folks in the Michiana area are wondering how are they going to listen to the Fighting Irish on Saturday's?

Well it looks like everyone will be satisfied soon enough, as an annoucement will be made as soon as next week. Word from the JACC is that the Schruz Communications' 101.5 fm and 960 am will be the new home for Notre Dame athletics. As for Fighting Irish Football games go, this could be a good thing for local fans. GameDay SportsBeat, a long time pre-game and post-game call in show, would start the day off with 3 hours before kickoff, and then have ISP's national coverage, and then ending with the wrap-up and call in show.

More details of this deal and local coverage will be made available when it becomes known.

As for the search for the new Athletic Director goes, make sure and get familiar with this name: Joe Castiglione. Currently Castiglione is the AD at Oklahoma and could be a darkhorse candidate for the vacant position.

First and foremost, Fr. Jenkins will be looking at the best possible fit for the university. With that said, it will most likely be within the Notre Dame family. But from what others have been saying around campus, Castiglione and Jeremy Foley of Florida are definitely on the Board of Trustees and Jenkins' radar.

Castiglione does not come without great credentials:
In October 2004, the Bobby Dodd Foundation named him Athletics Director of the Year. In 2003, he was inducted into the National Association of Collegiate Marketing Administrators Hall of Fame. In June 2001, he received the General Robert R. Neyland Athletic Director Award for lifetime achievement from the All-American Football Foundation. The National Association of Collegiate Directors of Athletics (NACDA) named him Central Region AD of the Year in 2000.

Castiglione has celebrated six national team championships and numerous conference team titles; record numbers of graduating student-athletes and record-setting grade point averages for Sooner teams; dramatically increased donor giving; huge increases in ticket sales for all sports; major facility improvements, and development and construction of new facilities. And, as aggressive as the push to improve, expand and excel has been, he has produced a balanced budget in every year of his tenure, a first since the early 1980s.

• A total of 25 OU teams that have ranked among the top 10 in season-ending polls.

• A school-record and Big 12-best graduation rate of 74% in 2003.

• Three appearances in the BCS National Championship Game and the college football national championship in 2000.

• Appearances by the men's and women's basketball teams in their respective Final Fours in 2002.

• A Division I record of 74 combined victories produced by the football team and both basketball squads in the 2001-02 school year.

• An average of more than 17 out of 20 OU teams per year represented in postseason play.

If Notre Dame decides to go outside the family, Castiglione would not be a bad second choice because of his ties with the BCS in football.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Happy 20th Anniversary Tim

It was 20 years to the date on December 5th (Yes, I was a day late because I was away on business) that Notre Dame had its 7th Heisman Trophy winner in Tim Brown. In fact, Tim was the first, true wide receiver to win the award. He graduated a year too soon before the Irish won their last National Championship in 1988.

The single attribute that sets the great football player apart from the merely good one is the ability to turn a game around on one play. More than any other college star of the 1987 season, Tim Brown possessed this rare talent, and it is for this reason that he was the 53rd winner of college football's most coveted individual award, The Heisman Trophy. Brown, who did everything on a football field except sell tickets, is the seventh Trophy recipient from Notre Dame, which is tied with USC for the most Heisman winners. He caught passes, ran back punts and kickoffs, rushed when necessary, and drove any defense to distraction just by being on the field. At 6 feet and 195 pounds, Brown is not huge by football standards. But he possessed great speed, elusiveness in the open field, sure hands and a fine grasp of the strategy and tactics of what is in reality a complex game. "He is," says Lou Holtz, "the most intelligent player I've ever been around." As a measure of Brown's versatility, consider these statistics through the first nine games of the season: 32 pass receptions for 729 yards and 3 touchdowns; 29 rushes for 133 yards and a touchdown; and three touchdowns. Tim was drafted by the Oakland Raiders as their number one pick in the 1988 NFL Draft.

Congrats Tim on what was truly a wonderful football career!

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

South Dakota Game Preview

Game 7: South Dakota (3-4) at #7 Notre Dame (5-1)
Date: Tuesday, December 2nd
Time: 7:30 p.m. (EST)

Despite not having the services of Luke Harangody for the second straight contest, Notre Dame should not have too much trouble with first year Division I foe South Dakota.

As was the case on Sunday against Furman, the Fighting Irish will have to rough it for at least one more night as Harangody is still battling the effects of pneumonia. It showed during the first 14 minutes of the contest before Kyle McAlarney started heating up where he left off in Hawaii. The senior guard almost broke his 3-point FG mark as he connecting on nine in 28 minutes of action. He finished the game with 32 points.

South Dakota like to play an uptempo game as they average 74.7 points a contest, which plays into the hands of the Irish. Unfortunately for the Coyotes, they can not hold their opponents either. They are giving up 72.7 points, 42.8 FG%, and 38.5 3FG, a night to their opposition.

Notre Dame, meanwhile, is playing at midseason form behind the sharp shooting of McAlarney, the toughness of Harangody and Zach Hillesland, and the steady play of guard Tory Jackson.

Currently the Irish rank high nationally in several categories:
1st Assist-to-Turnover Ratio (1.9)
6th Turnovers (9.8)
15th Assists (18.7)
17th Scoring (84.7)
27th 3pt. FG (40.4%)

This one should be over very quickly as Coach Mike Brey will empty his bench and give quality minutes for guys like Tim Abromitis, Tyrone Nash, and Carleton Scott. Anything less than a 30-point victory will be disappointing.

South Dakota Coyotes
Head Coach: Dave Boots (538-226), 21st season

Last Season: 22-7 in Division II

The Coyotes do have a strong nucleus back from their 22-7 squad of a season ago. South Dakota starts three seniors, a junior and one freshmen.

Junior forward Tyler Cain provides the scoring and muscle for the Coyotes. He has three double-doubles so far this season and had 16 last season for South Dakota.

Entering their first season of Division I basketball, South Dakota is going to experience a few bumps and bruises. The talent level will be quite noticeable when they face bigger squads.

Projected Starters

South Dakota
C Steve Smith 8.3 ppg, 4.7 rpg
F Tyle Cain 16.1 ppg, 11.1 rpg
F Dylan Grimsley 11.6 ppg, 6.0 rpg
G Jesse Becker 12.6 ppg, 3.6 apg
G Louie Krogman 15.1 ppg, 4.4 rpg

Notre Dame
F Zach Hillesland 6.7 ppg, 6.7 rpg
F Luke Zeller 7.8 ppg, 5.7 rpg
G Ryan Ayers 10.0 ppg, 2.8 rpg
G Tory Jackson 14.3 ppg, 5.7 apg
G Kyle McAlarney 19.7 ppg, 3.8 apg

Monday, January 2, 2012

Patience is a Virtue

Axl Rose and Guns N Roses were very wise men. All we need is a little patience, ooh, oh, yeah! Patience! After the Irish lost last Saturday to Marquette, fans on the message boards and on sports talk radio were saying that Notre Dame is not good and blah, blah, blah. People questioning the heart of the Irish, as well as, Coach Brey was ridiculous. It was one game. Yes, one BAD game. That's all.

Then we come to last night's contest. Home court is very nice indeed to the Irish, as they extended their winning streak to 31 contests. In the first half, however, it didn't look like very good. Luke Harangody only had one point and was in foul trouble with two personals. The shots weren't falling and Cincinnati, winners of two straight coming into last night's contest, was on a roll. But back to the Guns N Roses theme; a little patience.

During intermission, Brey let his boys talk it out and work out what was not going right in the first half. It must have worked because they came out smoking. In a tale of two halves, the Irish let it rain, as they shot 69% from the floor, including 6-of-9 from 3 pt. range, to improve to 13-3 overall and 3-1 in Big East action. Harangody got on track, as well as, Kyle McAlarney, as they both finished with 25 and 22 points, respectively.

So the morale of the story is this. Have some patience with this team and they'll surprise ya. An Irish squad that is fourth and seventh in the nation in assists and rebound margin is not a fluke. The Irish have team chemistry and the desire to beat anybody in the country. I'm not saying that what happened in Milwaukee can happen again. It's a possibility, but highly doubt it will happen again, at least this season.

Georgetown is next at the Irish friendly MCI Arena in Washington. Luke Harangody is large enough to tussle with Roy Hibbert and that alone is worth watching. But the Irish hustle and knock down shots, watch out! But all we need is a little patience, because good things will happen.

Tenuta Will Supply Impact with a Punch

New assistant head coach John Tenuta has been a mastermind of defenses for a long time. When Charlie Weis met up with Tenuta to discuss the possibilities of him roaming the Irish sidelines next season, it seemed too good to be true. But once the agreement was made, Notre Dame Football changed for the better defensively.

According to Sports Illustrated's Stewart Mandel, Tenuta is considered one of top assistant coaches in the nation that will have an immediate impact of his respective school. He was rated # 2 behind Texas' Wil Muschamp. Here's what Mandel had to say,
"One of the biggest surprises of the off-season was that Tenuta -- one of the nation's most respected defensive coordinators at Georgia Tech, who was, at one point, rumored to be following Les Miles to Michigan -- wound up taking a non-coordinator job.

However, while Corwin Brown remains Notre Dame's coordinator, it's clear Charlie Weis went out of his way find a spot for Tenuta (secondary coach Bill Lewis was moved to an administrative post), whose blitz-heavy defenses he's faced first-hand past two seasons. And Tenuta will almost certainly play a significant role. There's no question the Irish's long-struggling defense could use his type of spark."

Tenuta's help with the linebackers and the defense as a whole with Coordinator Corwin Brown, will give the Irish a mean streak that hasn't been around South Bend, since the late 80's, early 90's.

Our first glimpse of Notre Dame's new look defense will be displayed April 19th, during the Blue and Gold game. Tenuta and Brown will bring back the fight in the Fighting Irish!

Bracket, Schmacket: Irish a Solid #4 Seed

The madness has begun: Which team is in, which is out? Who's on the bubble? What's their RPI? What was their record over their last ten games? For Notre Dame that will be simple - Yes, 19 RPI, and 8-2. For others that might not be that simple.

During the latest installments of Bracketology and whatnot, the 52 brackets that are currently available have the Irish sitting comfortably at a #4 seed. Playing in one of the best conferences in the nation, the Big East has a solid seven teams in, with a possible eight. Here are what the current bracket averages are for each of the conference members:

2 seed - Georgetown
3 seed - Louisville
4 seed - Notre Dame and Connecticut
6 seed - Marquette
7 seed - Pittsburgh
9 seed - West Virginia
12 seed - Syracuse

Possible opponents the Irish could be look at are Virginia Commonwealth, George Mason, Oral Roberts, and Stephen F. Austin.

As the week goes on, Notre Dame's projected seed will not go any lower than a 4. With a win or two, the Fighting Irish could sneak into a three seed. Whatever the case may be, Notre Dame is going to be on quite a few bracket pools for a Sweet 16 appearance!

Irish Greats Headline Nominee List for College Football Hall of Fame

The National Football Foundation (NFF) announced today the names of 75 players and eight coaches who comprise the 2008 Football Bowl Subdivision Ballot (formerly Division I-A) for induction into the College Football Hall of Fame. The list of who’s who had some Irish flavor with three greats from way back and one of the best coaches ever to grace Notre Dame.

Among the 75 player candidates were offensive greats, Tim Brown (1984-87), Dave Casper (1971-73), and Jim Seymour (1966-68), while Lou Holtz (1986-96) was one of the eight nominees for the Hall of Fame coaches.

The FBS Hall of Fame Class will be announced live on ESPNEWS at a press conference in New York City's prestigious Waldorf Astoria on May 1 and inducted at The National Football Foundation's Annual Awards Dinner on December 9, 2008 also at the Waldorf Astoria. They will be officially enshrined at the Hall in South Bend in the summer of 2009.

Notre Dame was one of eight schools to have three players nominated for the Hall of Fame, while Arizona State, Michigan State, Nebraska, Purdue, Tennessee, Southern California, and UCLA, round out the other.

Tim Brown, Notre Dame-Wide Receiver-Two- time First Team All-America (1986-87) - unanimous in 1987 and won 1987 Heisman Trophy... 1987 Walter Camp Player of the Year... Set 19 school records during his four-year career.

Dave Casper, Notre Dame-Tight End-Named 1973 consensus First Team All-America... Played on 1973 National Championship Team... 1973 ND Offensive MVP and recorded 21 receptions for 335 yards and four touchdowns in career .

Jim Seymour, Notre Dame-Wide Receiver- Two-time First Team All-America selection (1967- 68)... Led the team in receiving from 1966-68... Holds Notre Dame's receiving record for pass receptions in a game (13) and receiving yards in a game (276).

Lou Holtz- William & Mary (1969-71), NC State (1972-75), Arkansas (1977-83), Minnesota (1984-85), Notre Dame (1986-96), South Carolina (1999-2004) -Ranked eighth among all-time coaches in career wins (249)... Only coach in NCAA history to lead six different programs to bowl games and four different programs to final Top 20 rankings... Led Notre Dame to 1988 national championship.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

IBB Weekly Motivator: Week 8

Wouldn't be something if Bob Davie was calling this game on ABC? ND's last three Head Coaches in Seattle battling it out. Does anyone want to place their bets on this happening?