Junior Rhema McKnight had eight catches for 98 yards in last season's matchup with BYU in Notre Dame Stadium.

Football BYU Game Week Notes Package

Aug. 30, 2004

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Game No. 1 Notre Dame Fighting Irish (0-0) at BYU Cougars(0-0) The Date and Time: Saturday, Sept. 4, 2004 at 7:15 p.m. MDT (8:15 p.m. EST in South Bend). The Site: LaVell Edwards Stadium (64,045/Natural Grass) in Provo, Utah. The Tickets: As of Monday morning, approximately 1,000 tickets remain — should the BYU game sell out, it will mark the 162nd sellout in the last 186 Irish games and the 26th in the last 27 games involving Notre Dame (only last year’s game at Stanford was not a sellout). The TV Plans: ESPN national telecast with Dave Barnett (play-by-play), Bill Curry and David Norrie (analysis), Alex Flanagan (sideline), John McDonough (director) and Brian Zwolinski (assoc. director) The Radio Plans: For the 37th consecutive season, all Notre Dame football games are broadcast on more than 300 stations in all 50 states by Westwood One with Tony Roberts (play-by-play), former Irish running back Allen Pinkett (analysis), Larry Michael (pregame/halftime) and Al Smith (producer). A live broadcast from the Notre Dame student station, WVFI, also is available via the Notre Dame athletics web site at www.und.com. All Notre Dame football games may be heard in South Bend on WDND-AM (1580) and WNDV-FM (92.9) with pre- and post-game analysis featuring Sean Stires, Shawn Lewallen, Jack Nolan, Mirko Jurkovic, Reggie Brooks and Vince DeDario. All Irish games also are carried live in the Chicago market on ESPN Radio 1000. Real-Time Stats: Live in-game statistics will be made available for the BYU game, via the Notre Dame (www.und.com) and BYU (www.byucougars.com) athletics web sites. Web Sites: Notre Dame (www.und.com), BYU (www.byucougars.com). NOTRE DAME OPENS 2004 SEASON ON THE ROAD SATURDAY NIGHT AT BYU The 116th season of Notre Dame football will kick off Saturday at 7:15 p.m. (MDT) when the Irish travel to Provo, Utah, for a matchup with BYU at LaVell Edwards Stadium. The game will be televised live to a nationwide audience on ESPN. Notre Dame opens this season looking to bounce back from a 5-7 campaign in 2003. The Irish underwent some growing pains early in the year, but recovered well down the stretch, winning three of their final four games and averaging 39 points in those victories. Notre Dame also had two losses come by six points or less, giving reason to believe that with some minor adjustments, the Irish will be well prepared for a breakthrough season in 2004. Lending additional support to this outlook is the return of eight starters on offense, including four of the five offensive linemen. Sophomore quarterback Brady Quinn, a preseason Davey O’Brien Award candidate, also gained valuable experience last year, starting nine games as a freshman and setting new Irish rookie records for pass completions, attempts and yardage (157 of 332 for 1,831 yards). His main target is back as well — junior wideout Rhema McKnight led the team in receiving last year with 47 catches for 600 yards and three scores. Senior running back Ryan Grant provides another solid weapon for Notre Dame, having rushed for more than 1,000 yards in 2002. On defense, the Irish have six starters returning, led by preseason third-team All-America defensive end Justin Tuck, who was sixth in the country with a school-record 13.5 sacks last season. The Notre Dame linebacking corps is especially experienced with 48 combined starts between the trio of Derek Curry, Mike Goolsby and Brandon Hoyte. The Irish secondary has speed and a physical presence that will be vital to Notre Dame’s success this season. Like the Irish, BYU opens its 2004 campaign Saturday night. The Cougars are coming off a 4-8 season last year that was marred by losses in five of their final six games. However, BYU has 10 starters back in the fold, including six on offense, and will be seeking to avenge last year’s 33-14 loss to Notre Dame in South Bend. The Irish lead the all-time series with the Cougars, 3-1, but will be making just their second all-time visit to Provo, following a 45-20 win in 1993. NOTRE DAME’S PROBABLE STARTING OFFENSE Pos. No. Player Notes WR 21 Maurice Stovall Finished third on team with 22 catches, 421 yards in 2003 LT 70 Ryan Harris Freshman All-American who made eight starts at RT last year LG 76 Bob Morton Slides over to guard after starting 11 games at center in ’03 C 78 John Sullivan Aggressive force steps in at center after not playing in 2003 RG 74 Dan Stevenson Has played both guard and tackle for Irish, starting 11 times RT 73 Mark LeVoir Imposing figure (6-7, 310) who started all 12 games last year TE 85 Billy Palmer Veteran leader who has appeared in 26 games (10 starts) WR 5 Rhema McKnight Led Irish in receiving last year with 47 rec., 600 yards, 3 TD QB 10 Brady Quinn Was one of six true freshmen in nation to start at QB in ’03 FB 16 Rashon Powers-Neal Had strong spring season (59-yard TD rec. in Blue-Gold Game) RB 4 Ryan Grant Looking to regain form of his 1,000-yard season in 2002 NOTRE DAME’S PROBABLE STARTING DEFENSE Pos. No. Player Notes LE 44 Justin Tuck Preseason third-team All-American; sixth in nation in sacks in ’03 DT 98 Trevor Laws Former high school wrestler with good leverage; DNP in 2003 DT 77 Greg Pauly Provides veteran presence on the line with 24 games played RE 92 Kyle Budinscak Another veteran back for fifth year with 22 starts to his name ILB 39 Brandon Hoyte Begins third year in LB rotation; second with 74 stops in ’03 ILB 41 Mike Goolsby Returns to lineup after missing ’03 season with shoulder injury OLB 49 Derek Curry Has started 24 of last 25 games for Irish; 66 tackles last year LCB 24 Dwight Ellick Made six starts last year; also all-BIG EAST honoree in track FS 8 Quentin Burrell Had four interceptions and two fumble recoveries last year SS 2 Freddie Parish IV Played primarily in nickel and dime packages as freshman RCB 15 Preston Jackson Most experienced DB with 36 games played (seven starts) NOTRE DAME’S PROBABLE SPECIALISTS Pos. No. Player Notes K/KO 19 D.J. Fitzpatrick Converted his last eight field goals in 2003 (12-of-17 overall) P 19 D.J. Fitzpatrick Owned a 36.8-yard average on 44 punts last season or 17 Geoffrey Price Averaged 45.8 yards on six punts at 2004 Blue-Gold Game HLD 82 Matt Shelton Speedy wideout takes over holding duties this season SNP 64 Casey Dunn Senior walk-on begins second season as Irish snapper PR/KR 6 Carlos Campbell Reserve cornerback also was a former wide receiver 23 Chase Anastasio Quick sophomore receiver looks to make impact in return game NOTRE DAME-BYU SERIES NOTES • Notre Dame leads the abbreviated series with BYU by a 3-1 count, with three of the four meetings coming in a three-year stretch from 1992-94. The Irish defeated the Cougars 33-14 last season (Nov. 15) in Notre Dame Stadium. Notre Dame won the first two games in the series (42-16 in 1992 at Notre Dame Stadium and 45-20 in 1993 in Provo) before the Cougars claimed their first win in 1994 (21-14 at Notre Dame Stadium). • Notre Dame has a 24-6 (.800) all-time record against current members of the Mountain West Conference, with the vast majority of those games (26) coming against Air Force. The .800 Irish winning percentage vs. the MWC is the third-best in school history against a major Division I-A conference, topped only by the .842 mark Notre Dame has posted against the Western Athletic Conference and an .831 percentage against Conference USA. Ironically, all eight current Mountain West members formerly were affilated with the WAC. • This year’s game is just the fourth for the Irish against a team representing the Mountain West since that league began play in 1999. The other two meetings for Notre Dame with MWC opponents came against Air Force in 2000 (a 34-31 overtime win) and 2002 (a 21-14 win) along with last season’s matchup with BYU. • Notre Dame has averaged 33.5 points in four series games against BYU, while the Cougars have scored 17.8 points per game on average vs. the Irish. Notre Dame also has scored 30 or more points in all three of its wins over BYU, averaging 40.0 points per game in those contests. In addition, the Irish won those three games by an average margin of 23.3 points. • Saturday’s game will mark just the second visit to Provo and LaVell Edwards Stadium for Notre Dame. The Irish defeated BYU, 45-20 in Provo while ranked third in the nation during the 1993 season. That game also marked the only other time Notre Dame has played a game in the state of Utah and it set a stadium attendance record with 66,247 fans on hand. • BYU is slated to return to Notre Dame Stadium in 2005. IF NOTRE DAME WINS … • Notre Dame will win its third consecutive season opener and all three under head coach Tyrone Willingham. The Irish defeated Maryand (22-0) in 2002 and Washington State (29-26, OT) in 2003. • Notre Dame will raise its all-time record in season openers to 98-13-5 (.866) and win its season debut for the 16th time in the last 18 years. • The Irish will jump to 29-6-2 (.811) all-time when opening the season away from home, including a 24- 5-2 (.806) mark on an opponent’s home field. In addition, Notre Dame will win its season opener at an opponent’s stadium for the 11th time in 13 games dating back to 1964. • Notre Dame will see its record under the lights move to 41-22-2 (.646), including a 4-1 (.800) tally in the three-year tenure of head coach Tyrone Willingham. • The Irish will improve to 4-1 (.800) all-time against BYU and improve to 2-0 in LaVell Edwards Stadium. • Notre Dame will move its career record against the Mountain West Conference to 25-6 (.806), including a 13-2 (.750) record on the road (11-2 at Air Force, 2-0 at BYU). IF BYU WINS … • The Cougars will earn their first victory over the Irish in LaVell Edwards Stadium and move the all-time series mark to 3-2. • BYU will be the first team in four tries to defeat Notre Dame as a representative of the Mountain West Conference (previously Air Force was 0-2 and BYU was 0-1). Overall, current MWC teams will improve to 7-24 (.226) all-time against the Irish. MAKING CONNECTIONS • Notre Dame running backs/special teams coach Buzz Preston and BYU tight ends coach/recruiting coordinator Mike Empey worked on the same coaching staff at UNLV in 1998. • Irish offensive coordinator/quarterbacks coach Bill Diedrick and BYU linebackers coach Barry Lamb worked side-by-side at Idaho from 1986-88. Diedrick was the Vandals’ offensive coordinator, while Lamb served as UI’s defensive coordinator, and the pair helped Idaho advance to the NCAA Division IAA playoffs all three seasons, reaching the semifinals in 1988. • Notre Dame defensive coordinator Kent Baer is a native of Logan, Utah, and was a standout linebacker at Utah State from 1969-72. He later returned as an assistant coach at USU from 1977-85. UTAH NATIVES RARE ON NOTRE DAME ROSTER Entering the 2004 season, a total of 2,589 Notre Dame football players have played at least one second in at least one regular-season varsity contest. That total represents players from all 50 states and the District of Columbia, as well as two Canadian provinces (British Columbia and Ontario) and Mexico. However, of those 2,589 players, only three have been from the state of Utah. The first Utah product ever to play for the Irish was fullback George Melinkovich, who came to Notre Dame from Tooele, Utah. He was a three-time monogram winner and regular starter during the 1931, ’32 and ’34 seasons, missing the 1933 campaign with an illness. It would be 21 seasons before another Utah resident suited up for Notre Dame. Dick Shulsen, a native of Salt Lake City, played guard for the Irish and head coach in 1955, ’56 and ’58, earning monograms during the latter two seasons. The most recent Utah native to play for Notre Dame was offensive tackle Pete Rokich, who saw time on the Irish line from 1984-86. Rokich, who grew up in Magna, Utah, was a monogram winner at Notre Dame during the 1985 season. The Irish coaching staff boasts a Utah native, defensive coordinator Kent Baer. Born in Logan, Utah, Baer was a standout linebacker at Utah State (1969-72) – including posting 116 tackles in the ’72 season. Baer also coached a Utah State from 1977-1985. THE LAST TIME NOTRE DAME AND BYU MET Notre Dame capped off its 2003 home schedule with a 33-14 victory over BYU on Nov 15, putting togeher possibly the best all around offensive team performance of the season. Julius Jones rushed for 161 yards and three touchdowns, while Brady Quinn was an efficient 15-of-30 for 156 yards. The Irish defense also enjoyed the matchup with the Cougars, forcing a season-high four turnovers and holding BYU to just 53 rushing yards. The scoring began after a Greg Pauly fumble recovery, which allowed D.J. Fitzpatrick to hit the first of his career-best four field goals from 27 yards. BYU quickly grabbed the lead with a 46-yard pass from Matt Berry to Justin Jory, which set up an 18-yard TD run by Rey Brathwaite. Two more Fitzpatrick field goals (one keyed by a Derek Curry interception) put the Irish back in front and Jones scored his first touchdown of the day to make the score 16-7 at halftime. Jones’ second touchdown followed just four minutes into the third quarter, a 23-yard jaunt. After a Fitzpatrick field goal and a BYU touchdown drive, Jones capped his Notre Dame home career with a 13-yard touchdown run directly toward the student section with 47 seconds to play. THE LAST TIME NOTRE DAME AND BYU MET IN PROVO No. 3 Notre Dame scored the first 31 points of the game and never looked back, rolling to a 45-20 win over BYU on Oct. 16, 1993, in front of a record crowd of 66,247 at Cougar Stadium (now LaVell Edwards Stadium) in Provo, Utah. The Irish piled up 535 yards of total offense in the victory, neatly balancing 307 rushing yards with 228 yards through the air. Lee Becton paced the Notre Dame ground game with 122 yards on 18 carries, while Ray Zellars added 72 yards on eight rushes and Marc Edwards scored twice on short touchdown runs. Kevin McDougal directed an efficient passing game, completing 10 of 16 passes for 177 yards and one touchdown, while Mike Miller caught three passes for 117 yards and two scores. It took less than three minutes for Notre Dame to find the end zone following a short BYU punt. On the second Irish play from scrimmage, Zellars turned the corner on the right side and went 29 yards to put his team in front. After a Kevin Pendergast field goal, Notre Dame scored again as Becton capped a six-play, 47-yard drive with a seven-yard TD run, giving the Irish a 17-0 lead after one quarter. Miller and McDougal then hooked up on a 66-yard touchdown early in the second period and Edwards followed up with a five-yard scoring burst as Notre Dame took a commanding 31-point lead with two minutes left in the first half. Edwards chalked up his second score on a one-yard dive in the third quarter, and Miller closed out the Irish scoring by hauling in a 35-yard touchdown pass from Paul Failla in the fourth quarter. REMEMBER THE NAMES? A quick look back at some of the memorable players and performances in the Notre Dame – BYU series between 1992-94: • 1992 (ND 42, BYU 16): `Thunder and Lighting’ for Notre Dame – Jerome Bettis (113 yds, 2 TD) and Reggie Brooks (113 yds), Rick Mirer (12-17, 151 yds, 2 TD), Ray Griggs (3 rec, 78 yds, TD), Devon McDonald (2 sacks) and Jeff Burris (two interceptions). For BYU in 1992 – Ryan Hancock (28-56, 339 yds, 1 TD), Tim Nowatzke (4 rec, 68 yds, TD) and Derwin Gray (15 tackles). • 1993 (ND 45, BYU 20): Kevin McDougal (10-16, 177 yds, TD), Mike Miller (3 rec, 117 yds, 2 TD), Paul Failla (2-2, 51 yds, TD), Lee Becton (122 yds, TD) and . For BYU in 1993 – Eric Drage (7 rec, 55 yds, TD) and Todd Herget (12 tackles). • 1994 (BYU 21, ND 14): Randy Kinder (96 yds, TD) and Derrick Mayes (3 rec, 73 yds, TD). For BYU in 1994 – Jamal Willis (159 yards total offense, 2 TD), John Walsh (17-30, 216 yds, TD). NOTRE DAME VS. THE MOUNTAIN WEST CONFERENCE • Notre Dame has won 80 percent of its games (24-6) vs. teams that currently make up the Mountain West Conference, with 26 of those 30 games coming against Air Force. • Notre Dame’s .800 winning percentage against the Mountain West is the third-best against a major Division I-A conference in school history, topped only by its mark against the Western Athletic Conference (.842) and Conference USA (.831). In an interesting twist, all of the current members of the Mountain West were formerly part of the WAC. • Saturday’s game marks the fourth for the Irish against a team representing the Mountain West Conference — now in its sixth year of existence. • The Irish have never faced any of the other six Mountain West schools (Colorado State, New Mexico, San Diego State, Utah, UNLV and Wyoming) on the gridiron. FOR OPENERS Notre Dame has compiled a record of 97-13-5 (.865) in season-opening games, including winning 15 of their last 17 games (only losses coming to Northwestern in 1995 and at Nebraska in 2001). Last year, the Irish rallied from a 19-point second-quarter deficit to defeat Washington State, 29-26 in overtime at Notre Dame Stadium. Nicholas Setta tied a school record with five field goals, the last coming from 40 yards out to give Notre Dame the second overtime victory in school history. This season, the Irish open on the road at BYU in a game that was originally scheduled to take place Oct. 30. However, the schedule was changed this summer, moving the contest to the start of the season against an opponent in the Mountain or Pacific Time Zone for the first time since 1965 (a 48-6 win at California) and only the second time in 116 seasons of Notre Dame football. THE SKINNY ON ROAD OPENERS In the first 115 seasons of Notre Dame football, the Irish have played only 36 season openers on the road, standing 28-6-2 (.806) away from South Bend, including a 23-5-2 (.800) mark in season lidlifters on an opponent’s home field. The BYU game will mark Notre Dame’s first season opener at an opponent’s site since a 27-10 loss at Nebraska in 2001. Dating back to 1964, Notre Dame has gone 10-2 when kicking off the season on an opponent’s turf. UNDER THE LIGHTS The Irish will open the 2004 season at night against BYU this weekend. Notre Dame has won nearly 65 percent of its all-time night games (40-22-2), with a large chunk of those contests coming on the road versus Miami (Fla.) (6-2-1). Notre Dame’s lifetime record under the lights includes a 27-16-2 record on opponent fields and 7-5 at neutral sites. Last season, the Irish were 2-0 in night games, winning on the road at Pittsburgh (20-14) and Stanford (57-7). In fact, Notre Dame is 3-1 under the lights during Tyrone Willingham’s two-year tenure, having also won at Air Force (21-14) in 2002. THE FIVE-FINGER DISCOUNT Notre Dame recorded 28 takeaways (15 FUM, 13 INT) in 2003, coming up with three turnovers in seven outings (Washington State, Michigan, Michigan State, Florida State, BYU, Stanford and Syracuse) and averaging more than two takeaways per game. However, that shouldn’t come as any surprise to recent followers of Irish football. Over the past three seasons (2001-03) Notre Dame has forced two or more turnovers in 26 of its 36 games, including 21 contests where they came up with at least three takeaways. The Irish forced a season-high four turnovers vs. BYU and Syracuse, matching their best performance in Tyrone Willingham’s two seasons at Notre Dame (also achieved in 2002 vs. Purdue, Michigan and Florida State). THE IRISH IN PRESEASON MAGAZINE RANKINGS The Sporting News college football preview magazine ranks Notre Dame senior defensive end Justin Tuck as the No. 5 defensive end in college football, in addition to tabbing the 2004 Irish schedule as the nation’s fifth-toughest entering the season. Tuck earned third-team All-America mention by The Sporting News, Street & Smith’s and Athlon. Meanwhile, the Notre Dame offensive line, which returns starters from 2003 at four of five positions, is ranked as the nation’s ninth-best o-line unit by The Sporting News in its preseason unit rankings. Notre Dame players appearing in The Sporting News’ player rankings were: WR Rhema McKnight (No. 17 receiver), OT Mark LeVoir (No. 12 tackle), DE Justin Tuck (No. 5 end) and LB Brandon Hoyte (No. 9 inside linebacker). TUCK NAMED TO HENDRICKS AWARD PRESEASON WATCH LIST Senior defensive end Justin Tuck was named to the 2004 Hendricks Award Preseason Watch List announced in June by the Hendricks Foundation. Tuck, who set a school record for quarterback sacks in a season with 13.5 in 2003, enters his senior campaign widely regarded as one of the nation’s elite pass rushers. The Kellyton, Ala., native and a graduate of Central Coosa County High School, also led the team in tackles for loss (19 for 117 yards) while finishing third in total tackles (73) last season. Tuck was named a third-team freshman All-American by The Sporting News in 2002 when he moved from linebacker to defensive end. QUINN TAPPED FOR O’BRIEN AWARD PRESEASON WATCH LIST Sophomore quarterback Brady Quinn is one of 42 candidates listed on the preseason watch list for the 2004 Davey O’Brien National Quarterback Award, given annually to the nation’s top college QB, the Davey O’Brien Foundation announced in July. Quinn enters the 2004 season coming off an excellent rookie campaign for the Irish in 2003 when he was one of only six first-year players in the country to start at quarterback. He completed 157 of a school-record 332 passes for 1,831 yards and nine touchdowns with 15 interceptions. His completions, attempts and passing yards were the most by a Notre Dame quarterback in his freshman season since 1951, topping the previous marks held by Steve Beuerlein in 1983 (75 of 145 for 1,061 yards). Quinn’s nine passing TDs also ended up second only to Matt LoVecchio’s 11 scoring tosses in 2000 and Quinn’s 157 completions were the third-highest in school history. FASANO NAMED TO MACKEY AWARD PRESEASON WATCH LIST Junior tight end Anthony Fasano has been named to the 2004 John Mackey Award Preseason Watch List. The 26 candidates for the award, which is given annually to the nation’s top Division I-A tight end, were announced in July by the Nassau County (N.Y.) Sports Commission. The 6-4, 249-pound Fasano, a native of Verona, N.J., played in 11 games for the Irish last year, starting three times. He led all Notre Dame tight ends and ranked fourth on the team in both receptions and receiving yardage with 18 catches for 169 yards. FITZPATRICK, GIOIA AND SCHMIDT AWARDED SCHOLARSHIPS Senior placekicker/punter D.J. Fitzpatrick, sophomore placekicker/punter Carl Gioia, and senior fullback Josh Schmidt all have been awarded scholarships for the 2004-05 school year at Notre Dame after serving the team as non-scholarship players, Irish head football coach Tyrone Willingham announced Aug. 26. Fitzpatrick (Granger, Ind.) enters the 2004 season battling for the starting position at both placekicker and punter after serving in both roles in 2003. The senior played in all 11 games last season, starting eight as the placekicker and punter, and made 12 of 17 field-goal attempts (70.6 percent), including a long of 50 yards against Syracuse. Against Navy, Fitzpatrick kicked the winning field goal on the game’s final play in a 27-24 Notre Dame victory. Fitzpatrick also averaged 36.8 yards per punt on 44 attempts, downing seven punts inside the opponent’s 20-yard line and posting a season-long punt of 50 yards. Gioia (Valparaiso, Ind.) is competing for a role in placements and as a punter this fall. He did not see game action as a freshman in 2003 after choosing to attend Notre Dame following an outstanding prep career in which he was a three-time all-state selection by the Indiana Football Coaches Association at Valparaiso High School. Schmidt (Germantown, Tenn.) is a veteran fullback who emerged as a receiving threat out of the backfield in 2003. The recipient of the 2003 Knute Rockne Student-Athlete Award as the team’s top academic performer, Schmidt caught 13 passes for 125 yards last season while playing in all 12 games, including a starting assignment against Brigham Young. In addition to his duties at fullback, Schmidt has been a special-teams stalwart the last two seasons. IRISH HEAD COACH TYRONE WILLINGHAM A veteran with 27 years of coaching experience at the collegiate and professional levels, Tyrone Willingham begins his third season as head football coach at the University of Notre Dame in 2004. Willingham has a record of 15-10 (.600) in two seasons with the Irish, leading Notre Dame to a 10-3 record and a trip to the Gator Bowl in 2002 before a 5-7 campaign in 2003. In 2002, Willingham became the first Irish head coach ever to win 10 games in his first season, was named the ESPN/Home Depot College Coach of the Year, the Scripps College Coach of the Year, the Black Coaches Association Male Coach of the Year and received the George Munger Award College Coach of the Year by the Maxwell Football Club of Philadelphia. In addition, he made history in 2002 as the first college football coach ever to earn The Sporting News Sportsman of the Year award. In nine years as a college head coach, Willingham has compiled a solid 59-46-1 (.561) record and has guided his teams to bowl games on five occasions. Willingham was introduced as the new Irish mentor on Jan. 1, 2002, following seven seasons as the head coach at Stanford. He compiled a 44-36-1 (.549) record during his tenure at Stanford, guiding the Cardinal to four bowl games, including the Rose Bowl following the 1999 season. Willingham was a two-time Pacific-10 Conference Coach of the Year (1995 and 1999), the only Stanford coach to earn that award more than once, and he was a finalist for national coach-of-the-year honors in ’95 and ’99. All told, Willingham spent 10 years at Stanford, initially serving as running backs coach from 1989-91. Between his stints with the Cardinal, Willingham coached in the professional ranks for three seasons (1992-94) with the Minnesota Vikings, helping his team win a pair of NFC Central Division championships and reach the playoffs all three years. Willingham began his coaching career as a graduate assistant at his alma mater, Michigan State, in 1977, before moving to Central Michigan as the defensive secondary coach for two years (1978-79). He returned to MSU from 1980-82, working with the secondary and special teams units, and also served on the coaching staffs at North Carolina State (1983-85) and Rice (1986-88). THE 2004 SCHEDULE Notre Dame’s rugged 2003 schedule featured nine teams that advanced to bowl games, including three participants in Bowl Championship Series (BCS) contests. The 2004 slate figures to be just as formidable, although the Irish will benefit from playing four of their first six contests within the friendly confines of Notre Dame Stadium. In all, eight bowl qualifiers from 2003 dot the Irish schedule — Michigan (Rose Bowl), Michigan State (Alamo Bowl), Purdue (Capital One Bowl), Navy (Houston Bowl), Boston College (San Francisco Bowl), Tennessee (Peach Bowl), Pittsburgh (Continental Tire Bowl) and USC (Rose Bowl). This season, Notre Dame also will take on three Big Ten Conference schools — Michigan, Michigan State and Purdue — as well as three Pacific-10 Conference institutions — Washington, Stanford and USC. Other conferences represented on this year’s docket include the Mountain West (BYU), Southeastern (Tennessee) and BIG EAST (Boston College and Pittsburgh). Last year’s Notre Dame ledger was ranked third in the nation according to the final NCAA statistical reports, marking the 22nd time in 27 seasons that the Irish have had their schedule ranked in the top 30 in the country. In addition to nine ’03 opponents advancing to bowl games, four of Notre Dame’s first eight foes last year were ranked among the nation’s top 25 at season’s end. BIG CROWDS Notre Dame has played in front of sellout crowds in 161 of its previous 185 games, including 25 of its last 26 games (the ’03 Stanford game was not a sellout). At Michigan in 2003, the Irish and Wolverines helped bring in the largest crowd in NCAA history (111,726), marking the third time in the history of that series that an NCAA attendance record has been set. It also represented the sixth time in the last three seasons that Notre Dame has been a part of establishing a new stadium attendance record (at Nebraska and Texas A&M in 2001; at Air Force and Florida State, home vs. Boston College in 2002). TICKET UPDATE The Notre Dame ticket office received 52,179 ticket requests for the Oct. 2 game vs. Purdue, making it the fifth-highest requested Irish home game in history. The Notre Dame Stadium record of 59,368 ticket requests was set in ’01 when the Irish took on West Virginia. Demand for that game was based on parents of current Notre Dame students being guaranteed four tickets for that contest — plus contributing alumni having the opportunity to apply for four tickets instead of the usual two, based on its designation as an alumni family game. The Irish have posted 173 consecutive sellouts at Notre Dame Stadium and 221 in their last 222 home games. Here are the top 10 games in terms of alumni ticket demand at Notre Dame Stadium: 1. West Virginia 2001 59,368 2. USC 1997 57,048 3. Boston College 2002 55,482 4. USC 2003 54,244 5. Purdue 2004 52,179 6. Florida State 2003 51,051 7. Michigan 2002 50,883 8. Michigan State 2001 48,404 9. Nebraska 2000 47,865 10. Michigan State 1997 47,681 IRISH REACH TELEVISION MILESTONES IN 2003 Last year’s Notre Dame-Florida State game was broadcast nationally by NBC, marking the 250th national television appearance for the Irish in their history. Notre Dame is 166-84-3 (.662) all-time when it is playing in front of a nationwide audience. The 2003 game at Michigan was another milestone for the Irish program — it was the 300th time a Notre Dame football game appeared on national or regional television. During their 115-year history, the Irish have posted a combined 194-111-4 (.634) record in these TV games, beginning with a 27-21 victory over No. 4 Oklahoma on Nov. 8, 1952 in a game that was shown nationwide on ABC. Here’s a breakdown of Notre Dame’s success over the years when appearing on each of the various networks on both a national and regional basis (the current Irish win/loss streak on the four major networks is listed in parentheses): NATIONAL TELEVISION NBC (won 2) ……………………….. 63-24-1 (.722) ABC (lost 3) …………………………. 44-36-2 (.549) CBS (won 6) ………………………… 22-11-0 (.667) ESPN/ESPN2 (won 2) ………….. 19-10-0 (.655) WGN ……………………………………. 10-2-0 (.833) SportsChannel ………………………… 4-1-0 (.800) Raycom ………………………………… 2-0-0 (1.000) TBS ……………………………………… 1-0-0 (1.000) Katz ……………………………………… 1-0-0 (1.000) Totals ………………………………. 166-84-3 (.662) REGIONAL TELEVISION ABC (lost 2) …………………………. 23-24-1 (.490) CBS (won 1) ……………………………. 4-2-0 (.667) TBS ……………………………………… 1-0-0 (1.000) Big Ten Syndication …………………. 0-1-0 (.000) Totals ………………………………… 28-27-1 (.509) NOTRE DAME FEATURED PROMINENTLY ON TELEVISION THIS YEAR In addition to continuing its streak of consecutive games played on one of the four major television networks (NBC, ABC, CBS or ESPN), Notre Dame will be spotlighted on the small screen in several other ways during the 2004 season. Here’s a thumbnail look at each of the individual TV projects which are featuring the Irish this year: • ESPN College GameDay is celebrating its 11th season of live remotes from college football’s top games. The weekly pregame show will originate live from the Notre Dame campus on Sept. 11 as the Irish open their home schedule against Michigan. • College Sports Television (CSTV), the 24-hour cable channel devoted exclusively to college sports, once again will highlight Irish athletics during a two-hour block on Sunday nights called “Notre Dame Primetime.” The show, which will be co-hosted by former Irish split end Derrick Mayes, focuses on all 26 Notre Dame sports and the continuing growth of Irish athletics. • Besides these features, Notre Dame is now in the 14th season of its unique relationship with NBC. All Irish home football games since 1991 have been televised on the network, with the current agreement slated to continue through 2010. Tom Hammond (play-by-play) and Pat Haden (analysis) are set to begin their fourth full season broadcasting the action for NBC in ’04. THE 2004 NFL DRAFT Five former Notre Dame players were selected in the 2004 National Football League Draft. Leading the way was running back Julius Jones, who went to the Dallas Cowboys in the second round (43rd pick overall). Jones was joined by linebacker Courtney Watson, who was taken 17 picks later in the second round (60th overall) by the New Orleans Saints. Safety Glenn Earl was chosen in the fourth round (122nd overall) by the Houston Texans, while fellow defensive back Vontez Duff joined him as a Texan when Houston tapped him in the sixth round (170th overall). Offensive tackle Jim Molinaro was the final Irish player taken, selected by the Washington Redskins in the seventh round (180th overall). NOTRE DAME IS AMERICA’S FAVORITE COLLEGE FOOTBALL PROGRAM According to an ESPN Sports Poll of nearly 7,000 college sports fans ages 12 and older taken from Jannuary to December 2003, Notre Dame is the nation’s favorite college football team, garnering 6.1 percent of the popular vote. Furthermore, the Irish were the only team to finish in the top 10 in all four regions of the country where the ESPN Sports Poll was conducted. Ohio State was the only other school to earn at least four percent of the vote, finishing at 5.3 percent. MAKING THE GRADE The first two seasons of the Tyrone Willingham era have produced some impressive semesters in the classroom for the Notre Dame football team. In fact, the Irish are coming off a 2004 spring semester in semester GPA on record (dating back to 1992). The Notre Dame football program’s top six semester GPAs since ’92 all have been posted during the past seven semesters (prior to the fall of ’04), including the first three semesters of Willingham’s tenure (2.84 in the fall of ’02, 2.79 in the spring of ’03 and 2.82 in the fall of ’03). The football program’s second-best semester GPA of the past 12 years came in the spring of 2002 (2.90), followed by a 2.80 in the spring of 2001 and a 2.69 in the fall of ’01. Upon closer examination, the 2004 spring semester saw 11 Irish football players post a Dean’s List GPA (sliding scale, based on major) while 21 turned in a semester GPA of 3.4-plus and more than half (53) had a GPA of 3.0 or better. In addition, two players — current fifth-year DE Kyle Budinscak and senior LB Brandon Hoyte — received Academic All-District V honors in 2003, marking Budinscak’s third selection and Hoyte’s second to the prestigious squad. NOTRE DAME EXCELS IN THE CLASSROOM AS WELL AS ON THE FIELD The American Football Coaches Association (AFCA) annually honors the school with the highest graduation rate based on a particular entering freshman football class — and Notre Dame has won the award six times, most recently in 2001 with its 100-percent graduation rate (22 of 22 entering freshmen from 1996 earned their degrees within five years). The 2001 award followed Notre Dame’s previous honors in 1982, ’83, ’84, ’88 and ’91. Notre Dame also holds the distinction of producing the first 100-percent rate in a single years after 24 of 24 student-athletes earned their degrees within a five-year period out of the entering class of 1982 (and 16 of those 24 did so within four years). Only eight other times has a school registered a 100-percent graduation rate. The 1988 award had special meaning, as it marked the first time a school won the national championship on the football field — as Notre Dame did, finishing 12-0 after a Fiesta Bowl triumph over unbeaten West Virginia — and in the classroom. Including the special mention category, Notre Dame has received some sort of recognition in 23 of 24 years the award has been presented — with Duke next at 21. TAKING ACADEMIC SUCCESS TO THE NEXT LEVEL The high graduation rate of the Notre Dame football program extends to the elite group of former players who have moved on to play in the National Football League. Notre Dame has seen 88 of its former players appear on NFL opening-day rosters during the past eight seasons (1996-2003) and 93.1 percent of those players (82) have earned their degrees from the University. In fact, Notre Dame’s own institutional research shows that 99 percent of scholarship football players who have entered the University since 1962 have received their degrees (896 of 905, based only on individuals who remained at the school at least four years). Those figures do not include players who transferred or withdrew before completing four or more years at Notre Dame. The 93.1 percent graduation rate for NFL participants ranks even higher than Notre Dame’s most recent NCAA graduation rates for all student-athletes (87 percent), male student-athletes (85), female student-athletes (92), football student-athletes (81) and African-American student-athletes (78). Those numbers, released last fall, comprised all student-athletes entering Notre Dame from 1993-96. KEVIN WHITE APPOINTED NACDA THIRD VICE PRESIDENT FOR 2004-05 Notre Dame athletics director Kevin White has been chosen to serve as third vice president of the National Association of Collegiate Directors of Athletics (NACDA) for 2004-05. White was elected during NACDA’s 39th Annual Convention, held June 11-13 in Dallas, Texas. Appointed Notre Dame’s athletics director on March 13, 2000, White has guided the Notre Dame athletic department to unprecedented across-the-board success during his tenure. He oversaw the department’s unconditional recertification by the NCAA Division I Committee on Athletics Certification that was announced in May 2004. A career educator and one of the most respected athletic administrators in the nation, White previously had been athletic director at Arizona State, Tulane, Maine and Loras College. Also elected to serve NACDA for the 2004-05 team were president Gene DeFilippo, director of athletics at Boston College; first vice president Tim Curley, director of athletics at Penn State; second vice president Lee McElroy, director of athletics at Albany; and Greg Feris, director of athletics at Wayland Baptist, to the first year of a five-year term as secretary. Executive Committee members selected include athletics director Andy Geiger of Ohio State as a University Division representative. New At-Large representatives are Bridget Belgiovine, director of Division III at the NCAA; Marcy Girton, associate athletics director at Texas Christian; Jody Mooradian, associate athletics director at Boston College; and Carol Sprague, senior associate athletics director at Pittsburgh. NACDA, which is celebrating its 40th anniversary, serves as the professional and educational association for more than 6,100 college athletics directors, associates, assistants and conference commissioners at more than 1,600 institutions throughout the United States, Canada and Mexico. NACDA offers numerous educational and networking opportunities to its members. Additionally, NACDA administers the United States Sports Academy Directors’ Cup program, which honors the all-sports champion in each of the NCAA Divisions I, II and III and the NAIA. NACDA also publishes Athletics Administration, an informative national magazine considered the voice of college athletics administration, six times a year. “THE SHIRT” NOW AVAILABLE FOR 2004 SEASON For the 15th consecutive year, Notre Dame Student Activities and Government are sponsoring a T-shirt that benefits scholarship funds, student groups and service projects. In each of the past two years, the initial run of nearly 50,000 shirts sold out prior to the start of the season. In 2002, a record-setting total of 130,000 shirts were sold, with that initial run of 44,000 selling out within six weeks of its debut (at the time, it was one of the earliest sellouts in the history of the project). As a result, Irish head coach Tyrone Willingham began labelling the Shirt-clad crowd as the “sea of green.” Over the past 14 years, the venture has more than $2.5 million in net profit for worthy causes and serves the dual purpose of promoting spirit and raising funds. Some of the proceeds supported students and employees who have incurred catastrophic accidents, while others benefitted endowment funds and additional monies were given to support service projects for student groups on campus. “The Shirt 2004” is kelly green for an unprecendented third consecutive year, reminiscent of the original 1990 Shirt, and features this season’s motto, “Onward To Victory.” The short-sleeve shirt is traditionally worn by Notre Dame students and fans at the first home game of each football season. The cost of this year’s shirt is $15 and it is available on campus to the University community and the general public at the Hammes Bookstore, the information desk at the LaFortune Student Center, the Varsity Shop at the Joyce Center and the Alumni Association at the Eck Center. Orders also may be placed by telephone (1-800-647-4641) or on-line through the official Notre Dame athletics web site (www.und.com). TICKETS AVAILABLE FOR 2004 FOOTBALL KICKOFF LUNCHEONS Tickets are now on sale for the 2004 Notre Dame Kickoff Luncheons held the Friday prior to each Irish home football game. The luncheons feature Notre Dame head coach Tyrone Willingham, Irish players and assistant coaches, plus special guests and other attractions. Tickets are $18 each, with a handling fee of $3 (payment may be made with one check for more than one luncheon). There are 10 seats per table — and if you wish to sit as a group at the same table with other guests, please return all reservations in one envelope. Checks should be made payable to “University of Notre Dame” and mailed to: Athletics Business Office, 112 Joyce Center, Notre Dame, IN 46556. Telephone and credit card reservations are not accepted. A printed reservation form also is available on Notre Dame’s athletics web site at www.und.com. The luncheons are held in the Joyce Center fieldhouse (north dome) on the Notre Dame campus, with a noon (EST) start. Be aware that advance reservations are required for tickets, and tickets are not routinely available at the door. This year’s luncheon dates are: Sept. 10 (Michigan), Sept. 24 (Washington), Oct. 1 (Purdue), Oct. 8 (Stanford), Oct. 22 (Boston College) and Nov. 12 (Pittsburgh). PEP RALLIES All 2004 pep rallies will be held in the Joyce Center Arena (south dome) on Fridays before Saturday home games, beginning at 6 p.m. (EST). The Irish squad enters the arena at 6:30 p.m. “NOTRE DAME EXPERIENCE” RETURNS FOR 2004 SEASON For years, the Joyce Center Fieldhouse has been the “pregame meeting place” for several thousand Notre Dame alumni. In an effort to add to this tradition, the Notre Dame Athletics Department is providing an interactive fan experience for each of the 2004 home football games. For the third consecutive season, the “Notre Dame Experience” will combine the Notre Dame Alumni Association Hospitality Center with interactive inflatables, photo booths, autograph sessions, Notre Dame football trivia and stage activities. Gates open three hours prior to kickoff and will stay open until one hour after the game. Admission is free for all “Notre Dame Experience” events. ORDER THE 2004 NOTRE DAME FOOTBALL PREVIEW MAGAZINE TODAY This season marks the 11th edition of the Notre Dame Football Preview Magazine — an official publication by the University of Notre Dame athletic department. The 1994, ’95, ’96, ’97 and ’98 and 2000 editions were voted best in the nation in the special publications competition sponsored by the College Sports Information Directors of America. The preview magazine, published by Ave Maria Press, numbers nearly 100 pages, including game action shots of returning Irish players and coaches, position-by-position breakdowns and a feature on head coach Tyrone Willingham. It’s a collectors item perfect for autographs — with an emphasis on outstanding color photography unavailable in any other publication. The yearbook is priced at $10 (plus $5 for postage and handling) and can be ordered by calling 1-800- 647-4641. NEXT WEEK: #8/7 MICHIGAN The rivalry between college football’s two winningest programs resumes when Notre Dame plays host to No. 8/7 Michigan on Sept. 11 at 2:30 p.m. (EST) at Notre Dame Stadium in a game that will be televised nationally by NBC. Like the Irish, the Wolverines open their season on Saturday, taking on Miami (Ohio) in Ann Arbor. Notre Dame and Michigan have split their last four meetings, with each side successfully defending its home field. The Irish beat the Wolverines in South Bend in 1998 (36-20) and 2002 (25-23), while UM came away on top in Ann Arbor in 1999 (26-22) and 2003 (38-0). One note to keep an eye on in this matchup — the lower-ranked team is 11-10-1 since 1942, including wins in four of the last seven games.