April 24, 2003
The Date and Time: Saturday, April 26, 2003, at 1:30 p.m. EST.
The Site: Notre Dame Stadium (80,795/natural grass) in Notre Dame, Ind.
The Tickets: In advance, $8 for adults and $6 for youths 16-and-under. Fans also could purchase special ticket packages to this year’s game. The “Pre-Game with The Irish” package includes pre-game brunch with Irish players and coaches Saturday at 9:30 a.m., and sideline access and preferred seating during the scrimmage, while the “View from the Top” package features press box seating for Saturday’s scrimmage. Tickets for both the “Pre-Game with the Irish” (1,000 seats) and the “View From the Top” (200 seats) package are sold out. Ticket prices the day of the game are $10 for adults and $8 for children 16-and-under.
The Radio Plans: The Blue-Gold scrimmage will be broadcast live on radio by South Bend’s ESPN Radio 1620 AM (Jeff Jeffers and Andy Budzinski) and a live broadcast from the Notre Dame student radio station, WVFI, is available through the Notre Dame athletic department web site at www.und.com.
This is the 74th annual Blue-Gold football event, Notre Dame’s final controlled scrimmage of the 2003 spring season.
THE PROCEEDS OF THE GAME
Proceeds from the Blue-Gold scrimmage benefit the scholarship fund of the Notre Dame Club of St. Joseph Valley, which is sponsoring Saturday’s game.
Much of the Blue-Gold crowd typically has been of the walk-up variety on gameday. The attendance when the game has been played at Notre Dame Stadium has been routinely at least 20,000 fans — with highs of 35,675 in ’81, 32,071 in ’86 and 29,541 in ’90. Last year’s game drew a crowd of 17,025 despite extremely poor weather conditions. In 1997, Notre Dame conducted a pair of Blue-Gold scrimmages at Moose Krause Stadium (capacity 9,700), drawing crowds of 8,240 and 9,241. Those spring games were moved to the smaller Krause Stadium while the expansion of Notre Dame Stadium was being completed.
THE PRE-GAME FESTIVITIES
The Blue-Gold Spring Football Festival begins at 9:30 a.m (EST) with the pre-game brunch with Notre Dame players and coaches (tickets only). An interactive fan festival in the Joyce Center south parking lot will begin at 10:00 a.m. and the Notre Dame Stadium gates will open at 11:30 a.m. for the alumni flag football game. At noon, a group of former Irish football players will participate in a flag football game.
Players returning for the flag football game include: Brad Alge*, Brian Baker*, Bernie Bauer*, Kurt Belisle, Pat Boggs*, Luther Bradley*, Bobby Brown, Al Bucci, Jim Carroll*, Joe Carroll, Phil Carter, Dan Corsaro*, Tony Driver*, Dan Farrell, D’Juan Francisco, Joe Freebery*, Paul Grimm, Kris Haines, Ted Horansky, David Humenik, Jack Landry, Charles Lauck, Brian Lewallen, Tim Lynch, Joe Maxim*, Bob McBride*, Kevin McShane, Bernie (Bud) Meter*, John Meyer*, Kory Minor, Brendan O’Connor, Mark Rule, Jeremy Sample, Matt Sarb, Tim Scannell*, John Shingler*, Jack Simon*, Stan Smagala, Chris Smith, Bill Snyder, Pat Steenberge, Ralph Stepaniak*, Cliff Stroud*, Pete Sullivan, Mike Tribe, Larry Williams*, Greg Williamson, Jerry Wisne*, Shawn Wooden* and Kurt Zackrison (* – indicates those who will not play).
Beginning at 10:30 a.m. EST Saturday, Irish players will appear on the concourse area for a one-hour autograph session. Players will be stationed at various gate entrances around Notre Dame Stadium. The autograph session will take place, rain or shine.
THE SCRIMMAGE FORMAT
The Blue-Gold scrimmage will feature a matchup of teams selected by the Irish coaching staff prior to the contest. Some players also may change teams during the course of the game.
There will be four, 12-minute quarters with the clock running continuously, except for the final two minutes of each half, when conventional clock stoppage rules will apply (incomplete passes, out of bounds, first downs, penalties, etc.). All of the Notre Dame coaches will be on the field during the course of the game.
Several presentations will take place at halftime of Saturday’s game including the Chevrolet Player of the Game Awards from the 2002 season; the William Reynolds Award; and the Notre Dame Club of St. Joseph Valley Scholarship Awards.
Eight current Irish players will be changing numbers for the 2003 season. Sophomore FS/SS Quentin Burrell will now wear No. 8, junior CB Dwight Ellick will don No. 24, sophomore OL Brian Mattes will wear No. 79, senior TE Patrick Nally will sport No. 88, junior FB/TB Rashon Powers-Neal now wears No. 16, senior FB Mike Profeta is in No. 38, sophomore LB Anthony Salvador will wear No. 43 and junior C Jeff Thompson has changed to No. 72.
Eight walk-on Irish players also have been added to the spring roster. Freshman PK Craig Cardillo (Hauppauge, N.Y./Hauppauge H.S.) will wear No. 91, freshman NG Dan Chervanick (Leesport, Pa./Holy Name H.S.) will don No. 59, freshman CB Matt Mitchell (Memphis, Tenn./Christian Brothers H.S.) will sport No. 37, sophomore WR Adam Rieck (Menard, Texas/Menard H.S.) will wear No. 38, junior LB Christopher Seponski (Phoenixville, Pa./Phoenixville Area H.S.) will don No. 53, sophomore DE Justin Stetz (Parma, Ohio/Cleveland St. Ignatius H.S.) will sport No. 94, junior SS Brian Thomas (Shoreview, Minn./Mounds View H.S.) will wear No. 37 and sophomore LB Ray Webber (North Royalton, Ohio/St. Edward H.S.) will don No. 40.
Several Notre Dame players have changed positions for the Irish during the offseason, most notably Jeff Thompson, who has gone from defensive tackle to center. Others playing new positions include: Rashon Powers-Neal who will split time between halfback and fullback, Carlos Campbell who has gone from receiver to cornerback and could switch to safety by fall practice, Brian Mattes who is now a member of the offensive line, and Nate Schiccatano who will share time between halfback and fullback. Some other players will be sharing time between positions, including senior Darrell Campbell (DT and DE) and senior Derek Curry (OLB and ILB).
Notre Dame has three new faces on its coaching staff for the 2003 season. D.J. Durkin and Chad Klunder have come aboard as graduate assistants, while Jimmy Gonzales has been hired as director of personnel development.
Durkin will work on the defensive side of the ball, assisting with all aspects of the defense and working specifically with defensive line coach Greg Mattison. A native of Youngstown, Ohio, Durkin comes to Notre Dame after serving as the defensive ends coach and a graduate assistant coach at Bowling Green State University the past two seasons. He worked specifically with the defensive ends and assisted with all aspects of special teams.
Klunder will work with the offense, and specifically with offensive coordinator Bill Diedrick, in his position. From Waverly, Iowa, Klunder comes to Notre Dame after serving as the running backs coach and coordinator of football operations at Harvard University since 1998. He was responsible for all running back unit meetings, practice organization and position evaluations.
Gonzales will work with recruiting and player development among other things. He comes to Notre Dame after serving as the director of football operations and recruiting coordinator at Army since 1999. In that role, Gonzales handled the administrative operations of the football program, aided in recruiting weekends and team travel and assisted in community service projects and community events.
2003 NOTRE DAME OPPONENT UPDATE
Notre Dame once again played one of the nation’s toughest schedules in 2002, as it faced eight teams that appeared in bowl games (Maryland, Purdue, Michigan, Pittsburgh, Air Force, Florida State, Boston College and USC). The Irish also played six teams that were ranked in the Associated Press poll at kickoff, winning four times to tie eventual national champion Ohio State for the most victories against Top 25 opponents last season.
This season could prove to be just as tough as the Irish face three Bowl Championship Series teams (Washington State, USC and Florida State) and seven teams that went to bowl games in 2002. Notre Dame also will play five teams that finished in the AP Top 25, including Washington State, Michigan, Pittsburgh, USC and Florida State. Notre Dame 2003 Opponents’ Combined Record in 2002: 82-68 (.547)
THEISMANN SELECTED FOR 2003 COLLEGE FOOTBALL HALL OF FAME CLASS
Former Notre Dame All-America quarterback Joe Theismann was one of 11 former college players and two coaches named March 24 to the National Football Foundation’s 2003 College Football Hall of Fame Division I-A class by Jon F. Hanson, chairman of the National Football Foundation.
The 2003 College Football Hall of Fame class will be inducted at the 46th Annual Awards Dinner on Dec. 9, 2003, at the Waldorf-Astoria in New York City. The players and coaches will be officially enshrined at the Hall of Fame in South Bend in August 2004.
Theismann launched an attack on the Irish passing record books, setting 19 school marks while leading the team to its first bowl appearance in 45 years in 1969 and a 10-1 record capped by a Cotton Bowl victory in 1970 over top-rated and unbeaten Texas.
A first-team All-America selection as a senior by Associated Press, Theismann was the runner-up in the Heisman Trophy voting in 1970. A participant in the 1970 Hula Bowl, Theismann set school records for passing yards in a game (526), yards in a season (2,429) and touchdowns in a season (16) among others. He ranked second in the nation in total offense as a senior at 291.3 yards per game – and that year he helped the Irish as a team average 510.5 total yards per game and 252.7 passing yards per game, two marks that remain all-time Notre Dame bests.
In three seasons, Theismann led the Fighting Irish to a 20-3-2 record while completing 290 passes on 509 attempts for 4,411 yards, a mark that still ranks fifth in school history. Honored for his classroom prowess, he earned Academic All-America? honors in 1970 and was later named to the GTE Academic All-America? Hall of Fame.
Following graduation, Theismann embarked on a 15-year professional career, his final 12 years in the NFL as a member of the Washington Redskins. Upon retirement, he became a highly successful businessman as well as a prominent television sports analyst for ESPN. Theismann continues to support such charitable interests as the United Way, March of Dimes, American Heart Association, Cystic Fibrosis, Special Olympics, Boy Scouts of America and the Fellowship of Christian Athletes.
Originally from South River, N.J., Theismann becomes the 40th Notre Dame player to be chosen for the Hall of Fame since inductions began in 1951. Five former Irish coaches also have been selected. No other school has produced more than those 45 enshrinees, the most recent being Ralph Guglielmi in 2001. Theismann also becomes the eighth Notre Dame quarterback selected to the Hall of Fame, joining Frank Carideo in 1954, Harry Stuhldreher in 1958, John Lujack in 1960, Angelo Bertelli in 1972, Paul Hornung in 1985, Bob Williams in 1988 and Guglielmi in 2001.