Sept. 9, 2002
The following is a partial excerpt from the Notre Dame football release. To view the complete release, please see the PDF version.
(#20 AP/#21 ESPN/USA Today) Notre Dame Fighting Irish (2-0)
vs. (#7 AP/#6 ESPN/USA Today) Michigan Wolverines (2-0)
The Date and Time: Saturday, Sept. 14, 2002, at 1:30 p.m. EST.
The Site: Notre Dame Stadium (80,795/Natural Grass) in Notre Dame, Ind.
The Tickets: They’re all sold — with this marking the 163rd consecutive sellout in Notre Dame Stadium (the first 130 coming at the old 59,075 capacity). The Michigan game marks the 211th home sellout in the last 212 games (dating back to 1964) and the 140th sellout in the last 163 games involving Notre Dame.
The TV Plans: NBC Sports national telecast with Tom Hammond (play-by-play), Pat Haden (analysis), Lewis Johnson (sideline), Ed Feibischoff (producer) and John Gonzalez (director).
The Radio Plans: For the 35th consecutive season, all Notre Dame football games are broadcast on nearly 200 stations nationwide by Westwood One with Tony Roberts (play-by-play), former Irish running back Allen Pinkett (analysis), former Irish split end Derrick Mayes (sideline) and Paul Hornung (pregame/halftime analysis). A live broadcast from the Notre Dame student station, WVFI, also is available through the Notre Dame athletic department web site at www.und.com. All Notre Dame football games are heard on WNDV-AM (1490) and WNDV-FM (92.9) in South Bend with on-site pre- and post-game analysis from Notre Dame Stadium featuring Sean Stires, Taylor Richards, Jack Nolan and Larry Williams. All Irish games also are carried live in the Chicago market on ESPN Radio 1000 (except for the Michigan game which will be on AM 1300 WRDZ).
Real-Time Stats: Live in-game statistics are available for the Michigan game, via the Notre Dame (www.und.com) athletics website.
Websites: Notre Dame (www.und.com), Michigan (www.mgoblue.com).
HEAD COACH TYRONE WILLINGHAM
A veteran with 25 seasons of coaching experience at the collegiate and professional levels, Tyrone Willingham is in his first season as head football coach at the University of Notre Dame, owning a 2-0 record with the Irish and a 46-36-1 (.560) mark overall. He was introduced as the new Irish mentor on Jan. 1, 2002, following seven seasons as the head coach at Stanford University. 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. Most recently in 2001, he piloted the Cardinal to a 9-3 record, a berth in the Seattle Bowl, and final regular-season rankings of ninth in the Bowl Championship Series poll and 11th in both the Associated Press and ESPN/USA Today polls. 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 at North Carolina State (1983-85) and Rice (1986-88).
The Injury Update (as of Sept. 8)
Senior CB Jason Beckstrom Arm injury, out indefinitely
Sophomore DT Jeff Thompson Ankle injury, out indefinitely
Senior LB Courtney Watson viral infection, DNP vs. Maryland & Purdue, probable vs. Michigan
NOTRE DAME-MICHIGAN SERIES NOTES
- Following a two-year hiatus, Notre Dame and Michigan renew their storied rivalry Saturday with the 30th meeting in their series. The Wolverines lead the all-time series by a 17-11-1 count.
- Notre Dame and Michigan are the two winningest programs in NCAA Division I-A football history. The Irish have the top winning percentage of all-time (.750, 783-247-42), followed closely by the Wolverines (.746, 815-265-36). Michigan holds the edge over Notre Dame in career victories (815 to 783), although the Wolverines have played nine more seasons than the Irish.
- The two schools have combined to win 20 national championships, with Notre Dame earning 11 titles and Michigan claiming nine crowns.
- Notre Dame played its first-ever varsity football game against Michigan on Nov. 23, 1887, in South Bend. The Wolverines won by an 8-0 score.
- Notre Dame is 6-4-1 in its last 11 meetings with the Wolverines, although Michigan has won three of the last four games in the series. In the last 10 games, seven were decided by a touchdown or less, and seven of the last eight games at Notre Dame Stadium have been won by a combined total of 17 points (2.4 points per game).
- At least one of the two combatants has been ranked in every Notre Dame-Michigan matchup since the inception of the Associated Press poll in 1936. Including Saturday’s game, both teams will have been ranked entering 18 of the last 21 contests. In addition, one of the teams will be ranked in the top 10 for the 13th consecutive meeting.
IF NOTRE DAME WINS …
- Notre Dame will earn its first victory against a top-10 opponent since a 36-20 win over No. 5 Michigan on Sept. 5, 1998 at Notre Dame Stadium (the last time the Wolverines played at Notre Dame).
- The Irish will open the season 3-0 for the first time since they won three in a row to start the 1996 campaign.
- The lower-ranked team will have won four of the last six games in the series.
- Notre Dame will improve to 34-14-1 (.704) in its last 49 games against Big Ten Conference opposition, and record two wins over Big Ten opponents in the same season for the first time since 1998 (victories over Michigan and Purdue).
- The Irish will chalk up their third consecutive victory over a Big Ten team, its longest winning streak over the conference since a 10-game unbeaten string (9-0-1) from Sept. 5, 1992-Sept. 3, 1994.
- Notre Dame will register its fourth consecutive victory (dating back to the 2001 season finale vs. Purdue), its longest winning streak since a seven-game string from Oct. 7-Nov. 25, 2000.
- Notre Dame will move to 6-2-1 (.722) in its last nine home games vs. Michigan dating back to 1980.
IF MICHIGAN WINS …
- The Wolverines will notch their fourth win in the last five meetings with Notre Dame.
- Michigan will pick up its first victory at Notre Dame Stadium since a 26-24 triumph on Sept. 10, 1994. The Wolverines also will even the series record at 5-5-1 when playing at Notre Dame Stadium.
NOTRE DAME-MICHIGAN SERIES HISTORY
- Michigan leads the series, 17-11, with one tie in 1992 at Notre Dame Stadium. The Irish have won six of the last 11 meetings with the Wolverines since 1987.
- The series dates back to 1887, when Notre Dame played its first-ever varsity football game against Michigan (an 8-0 Wolverine victory). That game marked the first of nine meetings between the schools from 1887-1909, with Michigan winning the first eight and Notre Dame claiming its first victory in ’09.
- The teams played just twice over the next 68 years, with Michigan winning 32-20 in 1942, and Notre Dame returning the favor by a 35-12 score in 1943.
- The series picked up again in 1978 and has been almost continuous since then, with the exception of two-year breaks in 1983-84, 1995-96 and 2000-01.
- The last 13 games in the series (including 2002) have featured at least one team ranked in the national top 10. However, lower-ranked teams have won three of the last five games in the series and, since 1942, the lower-ranked team holds a 10-9-1 edge in the series. The recent wins in the series by the lower-ranked team: No. 11 Notre Dame over No. 3 Michigan in ’93 (27-23), No. 6 Michigan over No. 3 Notre Dame in ’94 (26-24) and No. 22 Notre Dame over No. 5 Michigan in ’98 (36-20).
- Home field has not played a major role in the history of the Notre Dame-Michigan series, as the home team has won just over half of the games (14-13-1, with one neutral site game).
- Five of the last six games in the series have been decided by a total of 17 points (3.4 points per game), with Michigan winning three times, Notre Dame twice and one tie. The series has been even tighter when the scene shifts to Notre Dame Stadium, where seven of the last eight meetings have been won by a total of 17 points (2.4 ppg.), with Notre Dame winning four times, Michigan twice and one tie.
- Notre Dame defensive line coach/recruiting coordinator Greg Mattison was an assistant coach at Michigan from 1992-96, serving as defensive line coach and defensive coordinator for the Wolverines. He spent his final two seasons in Ann Arbor working under current Michigan head coach Lloyd Carr.
- Mattison and Michigan associate head coach/defensive line coach Brady Hoke served on the same staff at Western Michigan from 1984-86.
- Mattison also worked with Michigan assistant head coach/running backs coach Fred Jackson at Navy in 1987.
- Michigan linebackers coach/recruiting coordinator Bill Sheridan joined the Wolverine staff this season after serving as Notre Dame’s safeties/special teams coach in 2001.
FRIEND OR FOE?
- Notre Dame freshman RB Jeff Jenkins is a native of Ann Arbor, Mich., and was the all-time leading rusher in Ann Arbor history (3,970 yards, 60 TD) while attending Huron High School from 1998-2001. One of Jenkins’ teammates at Huron was Michigan freshman WR Carl Tabb, who was a three-year letterwinner at the school.
- Notre Dame senior walk-on RB Tim O’Neill and Michigan redshirt freshman TE Matt Studenski both are natives of Troy, Mich. – O’Neill graduated from Athens High School, while Studenski attended Brother Rice High School.
- Irish freshman NG Derek Landri and Michigan freshman QB Matt Gutierrez were teammates at De La Salle High School in Concord, Calif., helping the Spartans improve their overall winning streak to a national high school record 125 consecutive games by the end of the 2001 season.
- Notre Dame junior ILB Mike Goolsby and Michigan freshman TE Mike Kolodziej both attended Joliet (Ill.) Catholic Academy.
- Irish freshman DB Jake Carney and Wolverine redshirt sophomore LS Ross Mann both are products of Lexington (Ky.) Catholic High School.
- Notre Dame senior ILB Courtney Watson and Michigan redshirt sophomore OL David Baas both graduated from Riverview High School in Sarasota, Fla.
- Michigan redshirt sophomore WR Ross Kesler was a 2000 graduate of Warsaw (Ind.) High School.
- Seven of the last 10 Notre Dame-Michigan games have been decided by five points or less while only three of the last 17 games have been won by more than 10 points: Michigan’s 25-7 home win in 1981, Notre Dame’s 26-7 victory at Michigan in 1987 and Notre Dame’s 36-20 triumph at home in 1998.
- Since the Notre Dame-Michigan series resumed in 1978, the average margin has been just 6.9 points over the span of 18 games, with the Irish holding a slim 9-8-1 edge.
- The combined scores of the series’ last six games are Notre Dame 140, Michigan 133, thanks to a tie, a four-point Irish win, a two-point Michigan win, Michigan’s seven-point victory in 1997, Notre Dame’s 16-point triumph in 1998, and Michigan’s four-point win in 1999. The combined scores for the last 10 games are Notre Dame 225, Michigan 217, with the average margin in those games being just 5.4 points.
- Five of the last 16 games in the series have seen the winning points come in the final two minutes (1980, ’88, ’90, ’94 and ’99), including two that were decided in the final seconds (’80 and ’94).
IRISH, WOLVERINES RANK AT TOP OF MOST LISTS
- Notre Dame has won 11 national championships, while Michigan has won nine titles. Coming into Saturday’s game, Notre Dame ranks first all-time in NCAA Division I-A winning percentage at .750 (783-247-42), with Michigan second at .746 (815-265-36).
- Notre Dame currently has 783 career Division I-A victories (second all-time), while Michigan leads with 815 career wins, although the Wolverines have played nine more seasons than the Irish.
- Notre Dame also ranks first in NCAA history with 77 consensus All-Americans, outpacing second-place Michigan, which has had 57 consensus All-Americans.
- Michigan holds the record for times ranked in the Associated Press poll (663), followed closely by Notre Dame, which made its 650th AP poll appearance this week.
- The following performances are tied for first in the Irish record book and came in games against Michigan: two kickoff returns for touchdowns (Raghib Ismail, 1989); and 26 tackles by a linebacker (Bob Golic, 1978, also third-most ever by a Michigan opponent).
- The following performances rank second in the Irish record book and are tied for second all-time by a Michigan opponent (all on four attempts): four field goals by Chuck Male (1979), John Carney (1985) and Reggie Ho (1988).
- Raghib Ismail’s 192 kick return yards in 1989 rank second in Irish history and are the second-most by a Michigan opponent. Ismail holds the Michigan opponent record with 64.0 yards per kick return in 1989, while his 92-yard runback in that game is the fifth-longest by a Michigan opponent.
- Harry Oliver’s game-winning 51-yard field goal versus Michigan in 1980 is tied for the second-longest kick in Irish history, while Ricky Watters’ 81-yard punt return against the Wolverines in 1988 ranks 11th all-time at Notre Dame (Watters’ 105 punt return yards in 1988 are the fourth-most ever by a Michigan opponent).
- Creighton Miller’s 15.9 yards/rush in 1943 (10 carries for 159 yards) ranks second all-time by a Michigan opponent, while Kevin Smith’s three sacks in 1982 are tied for the Wolverine opponent record.
- Angelo Bertelli’s five PAT (in five attempts) in 1943 are tied for third all-time by a Michigan opponent.
- Notre Dame’s all-time opponent records do not include any by Michigan (both team and individual).
NOTRE DAME VS. THE BIG TEN CONFERENCE
- Notre Dame has played more than three times as many games against Big Ten Conference opponents (322) as any other league. The Pacific-10 (107) and BIG EAST (105) are the only other conferences against whom the Irish have played at least 100 games.
- Notre Dame has won more than 66 percent of its games versus Big Ten Conference opponents, with a record of .500 or better against 10 of the 11 Big Ten teams. The Irish have an overall mark of 207-100-15 (.666) in 322 games against Big Ten schools, with more than 52 percent of those games (168) coming versus Purdue (49-23-2), Michigan State (41-23-1) and Michigan (11-17-1), all of whom are on Notre Dame’s 2002 schedule.
- The 2002 season marks the first time since 1999 that Notre Dame is facing three Big Ten opponents in one season. That year, the Irish played the same three Big Ten foes they will meet in ’02 – Purdue, Michigan and Michigan State.
THE LAST TIME NOTRE DAME AND MICHIGAN MET
On Sept. 4, 1999, 16th-ranked Notre Dame and No. 7 Michigan squared off before a (then) NCAA-record crowd of 111,523 at Michigan Stadium, with the Wolverines edging the Irish, 26-22, in a battle decided only by the expiration of time.
Neither side led by more than five points all afternoon before Anthony Thomas scored on a one-yard run with 1:38 left to put the Wolverines in front. Notre Dame promptly marched down to the Michigan 12-yard line in the closing seconds, but the Irish were out of timeouts and the clock expired before they could get another play off. It was a bitter pill for Notre Dame, which had taken a 22-19 lead with 4:08 remaining on Jarious Jackson’s 20-yard TD pass to Jabari Holloway and Jackson’s two-point conversion pass to Bobby Brown.
The loss overshadowed a stellar performance from Jackson, who completed 18 of 29 passes for 302 yards and a touchdown. Six different Irish receivers had at least two receptions in the game, led by Raki Nelson, who had five catches for 91 yards. Michigan was paced by Thomas, who rushed for 138 yards on 32 carries, and Jeff Del Verne, who kicked four field goals for the hosts.
THE LAST TIME NOTRE DAME AND MICHIGAN MET AT NOTRE DAME STADIUM
On Sept. 5, 1998, No. 22 Notre Dame stunned defending national champion and fifth-ranked Michigan, 36-20, in the season opener for both teams at Notre Dame Stadium. The Irish produced a spirited second-half effort that rang up 262 yards of total offense. Jarious Jackson directed Notre Dame to 17 third-quarter points, highlighted by a 35-yard touchdown pass to Raki Nelson. Autry Denson rushed for a career-high 162 yards – the most by a Michigan player in 28 games – including a career-long gain of 58 yards in the first quarter and two clinching TDs in the fourth period. Jim Sanson connected on all three of his field goal attempts (32, 27, 32 yards), while Dan O’Leary caught his first career touchdown pass, a four-yard strike from Jackson midway through the third quarter. Notre Dame’s 280 rushing yards were the most against Michigan in 125 (since Minnesota piled up 280 in 1987).
The 1998 opening win ranks among the top upsets – based upon rankings – as there were just three previous games in which an Irish team that was not ranked in the AP top 20 beat a team in the top five (since 1936). With the victory, Notre Dame vaulted to 10th in the following week’s AP poll, marking the biggest one-week improvement in that poll for the Irish in 39 years. Prior to 1998, the ’59 Irish squad was not ranked in the Sept. 21 AP top 20 poll, but rose to No. 8 a week later after a 28-8 win over North Carolina in its season opener.
NOTRE DAME TO HONOR 1977 NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP TEAM AT MICHIGAN GAME
Members of Notre Dame’s 1977 national championship team will be honored in a ceremony at halftime of Saturday’s game vs. Michigan. This year marks the 25th anniversary of that team’s rise to glory, led by All-America LB Bob Golic, All-America TE Ken McAfee and two-time consensus All-America DE Ross Browner, winner of the 1976 Outland Trophy. That season also marked the start of the legend of “The Comeback Kid,” QB Joe Montana, who led Notre Dame to heart-stopping come-from-behind wins at Purdue and Clemson. Coached by Dan Devine, the Irish rolled to an 11-1 record, capped by a 38-10 rout of previously-unbeaten Texas in the Cotton Bowl. The end result was Notre Dame’s 10th national championship and second in five years.
NOTRE DAME TO RECOGNIZE 2002 COLLEGE WORLD SERIES TEAM AT MICHIGAN GAME
On Saturday, Notre Dame will officially honor the 2002 Irish baseball team, which made the school’s first appearance in the College World Series since 1957. In a pregame ceremony to be held at 11 a.m. (EST) at Eck Stadium, Notre Dame will unveil the 2002 CWS flag which will fly above the right field fence, and the members of that team will receive their championship rings. The first 2,000 fans in attendance at the 45-minute ceremony will receive commemorative CWS flags. The team also will be recognized on the field at the end of the first quarter of Saturday’s Notre Dame-Michigan football game at Notre Dame Stadium.
NOTRE DAME ALUMNI ASSOCIATION TO PRESENT AWARDS DURING MICHIGAN GAME
The Notre Dame Alumni Association will present the Harvey G. Foster Award to Martin J. Allen, Jr., at the first timeout of the first quarter of Saturday’s Michigan game. The Foster Award is conferred on an alumnus/alumna (living or deceased), some of whom are athletes or in athletic endeavors, who have distinguished themselves through civic or University activities. Allen is a former student manager with the Irish football team and a former president of the Notre Dame National Monogram Club (1997-99). Last year’s recipient of the Foster Award was former Notre Dame linebacker/defensive tackle (and current San Francisco 49er) Jim Flanigan (’94).
At the second timeout of the opening period, the Alumni Association will present the Rev. John J. Cavanaugh, C.S.C., Award to Philip Lee Russo. The Cavanaugh Award is conferred on an alumnus/alumna (living or deceased) who is or has performed outstanding service in the field of government, patriotism, public service, local, state or national politics.
DOING IT WITH DEFENSE
The Irish defense has been one of the driving forces behind Notre Dame’s first 2-0 start since 1996. The Irish rank in the top 30 in the nation in each of the major defensive categories – pass efficiency defense (10th, 68.02), scoring defense (11th, 8.5 points/game), total defense (17th, 225.5 yards/game), rushing defense (25th, 81.5 yards/game) and pass defense (26th, 144.0 yards/game). Notre Dame also shut out its opponents over the first five quarters of the 2002 season, its longest scoreless string on defense since Oct. 2-16, 1993, when it blanked Stanford (fourth quarter), Pittsburgh (all four quarters) and BYU (first quarter).
Notre Dame’s defensive acumen started with a stellar effort against Maryland in the Kickoff Classic, as the Irish held the defending ACC champion Terrapins to no points, eight first downs, 16 yards rushing and 133 yards of total offense. Maryland’s offensive production was the lowest by an Irish opponent since Rutgers managed just six first downs, minus-6 yards rushing and 43 yards of total offense on Nov. 23, 1996.
One of the standouts on that defensive unit was senior CB Shane Walton, who set a Kickoff Classic record and tied the Notre Dame record with three interceptions against Maryland. Walton is the 13th Irish player to register three thefts in one game, and the first to turn the trick since Dave Duerson against Navy on Oct. 30, 1982.
IRISH DEFENSIVE BACKS SHOULDER SCORING LOAD
Through the first two games of 2002, Notre Dame has found an unlikely source for its scoring punch – the defensive secondary. The Irish defensive backs have accounted for all four touchdowns Notre Dame has scored this season. Junior CB Vontez Duff returned a punt for a TD vs. Maryland and added a 33-yard interception return for the game-winning score against Purdue. Senior SS Gerome Sapp notched his second defensive score in as many home games, scooping up a Purdue fumble and returning it 54 yards for a touchdown. The fourth Irish score this season came from sophomore CB Lionel Bolen, who found the end zone for the first time in his career while on special teams, returning a fumbled kickoff four yards for a touchdown against Purdue.
LIGHTNING IN A BOTTLE
Notre Dame quickly turned fortunes in its favor against Purdue with a pair of touchdowns just 11 seconds apart in the second quarter. Senior SS Gerome Sapp returned a fumble 54 yards for a TD with 13:47 left in the period. Then, on the ensuing kickoff, the Boilermakers fumbled and sophomore CB Lionel Bolen returned the loose ball four yards for his first career score at the 13:36 mark. It represented the quickest two-touchdown burst in school history, one second faster than the previous mark. The Irish had scored two TDs in 12 seconds against Vanderbilt in 1995 – Autry Denson had a five-yard touchdown run at 6:39 of the second quarter, and Jarvis Edison had an eight-yard fumble return for a TD on the next kickoff at the 6:27 mark of the second period.
Notre Dame has jumped out to a 2-0 start this season, thanks in part to its ability to take care of the ball. The Irish own a +6 turnover margin (3.0/game), which is good enough for eighth in the nation in 2002. Notre Dame picked off three passes in the season opener vs. Maryland, with those three turnovers leading to nine Irish points. Last weekend against Purdue, Notre Dame recovered three Boiler fumbles (two of which went for touchdowns) and junior CB Vontez Duff returned an interception 33 yards for the game-winning score in the fourth quarter.
Thanks to its new offensive scheme, Notre Dame already has seen its receivers have success far beyond anything they had amassed in their careers to date.
Among the pass-catching options on the Notre Dame roster this season are three former Irish quarterbacks who elected to change positions. Senior WR Arnaz Battle was Notre Dame’s starting signal-caller in 2000, but a broken wrist in the second game of the season against No. 1 Nebraska sidelined him and led to his eventual move to wideout in time for the 2001 season. This year, Battle has caught four passes for 68 yards, after logging five receptions for 40 yards in ’01.
With Battle’s injury, up stepped senior TE Gary Godsey, who was Battle’s understudy in 2000. Godsey promptly engineered Notre Dame’s last-second 23-21 win over Purdue on Sept. 16, 2000. However, Godsey had played tight end in high school, and his size made his return to the position a natural one. He registered a career-high four receptions for 30 yards in last week’s win over Purdue.
The third former Irish quarterback now in the receiving corps is junior TE Jared Clark. The Sarasota, Fla., native is the latest Notre Dame QB to switch positions, electing to do so during spring practice in 2002. He notched his first collegiate catch for 17yards in the season-opening win over Maryland at the Kickoff Classic.
DUFF HAS BEEN THE STUFF FOR NOTRE DAME
Junior Vontez Duff has proven to be a multi-dimensional talent for Notre Dame. A preseason honorable mention All-America pick at cornerback by Street & Smith’s, Duff lived up to that billing against Purdue, returning an interception 33 yards for the game-winning touchdown. His efforts have helped the Irish defense rank among the top 30 in the nation in every major statistical category.
However, the Copperas Cove, Texas, native is not only a defensive threat. He also is a weapon on special teams as a kick returner. He proved that in Notre Dame’s win over No. 21/20 Maryland in the Kickoff Classic, returned a Terrapin punt 76 yards for a score. That came on the heels of his final game in 2001, when he returned a kickoff 96 yards for a TD against Purdue, helping the Irish to a 24-18 win.
Duff’s touchdowns in three consecutive games also earned him a place in Notre Dame history. No defensive player had ever recorded touchdowns, whether on defense or special teams, in three straight games prior to Duff’s hat trick.
SETTA PICKS UP WHERE HE LEFT OFF
Senior PK Nicholas Setta, a 2001 Lou Groza Award semifinalist and an ’02 Groza Award candidate, has been one of Notre Dame’s top offensive weapons over the last three seasons, thanks to his accuracy from various distances. He has two active streaks which highlight his value to the Irish – he has made 59 consecutive extra points dating back to a win over Stanford in 2000 (the third-longest PAT streak in school history), and he has made a field goal in Notre Dame’s last 15 regular-season games, breaking John Carney’s record for the longest streak in school history.
Both of those streaks continued in a big way in Notre Dame’s season-opening win over No. 21/20 Maryland in the Kickoff Classic. Setta set a Classic record by kicking five field goals, tying the school record set by Craig Hentrich against Miami in 1990. One of Setta’s kicks came from 51 yards out, setting a new Kickoff Classic mark and personal high for the Lockport, Ill., native. Along with his one PAT, Setta scored 16 points on the night, good enough to earn him Kickoff Classic MVP honors and recognition as the USATODAY.com National Player of the Week.
Setta now needs to make his next four PAT to pass Bob Thomas for the second-longest streak of consecutive PAT made in school history. Thomas made 62 straight extra points from Nov. 6, 1971 to Oct. 20, 1973. Hentrich holds the school record by converting 136 consecutive PAT from Sept. 30, 1989 to Sept. 26, 1992.
In addition, Setta’s streak of 15 consecutive regular-season games with at least one field goal is just four shy of the NCAA record. Oklahoma’s Larry Roach (1983-84) and Miami-Ohio’s Gary Gussman (1986-87) each kicked a field goal in 19 consecutive games.
Setta has been especially effective from long range of late, converting 11 of his last 13 field goal attempts from 40 yards or longer. His lone misses during that stretch are a 56-yard try against Maryland and a 42-yard miss against Purdue this season.
HILDBOLD KICKING UP A STORM
Senior P Joey Hildbold, a three-time Ray Guy Award candidate and 2000 finalist, has once again shown his importance to the Notre Dame effort in the first two weeks of the 2002 season. The third-year mainstay from Centreville, Va., is averaging 42 yards per punt (12 kicks, 504 yards), good for 36th in the nation, and he has dropped six of his 12 punts inside the opponent’s 20-yard line.
Hildbold’s three-year average of 40.89 yards per punt (7,770 yards on 190 punts) puts him in third place on the Notre Dame career list, just ahead of Vince Phelan, who averaged 40.88 yards per punt in 1987.
IRISH PLAYERS RANK HIGH IN LINDY’S AND THE SPORTING NEWS
Senior Jeff Faine was tabbed the fifth-best center in the country by Lindy’s and The Sporting News, while senior Gerome Sapp was rated the fifth-best strong safety in the land by The Sporting News. Senior cornerback Shane Walton was ranked 12th in the nation by The Sporting News, while senior Nicholas Setta was placed fifth among kickers by Lindy’s and 13th by The Sporting News. Senior Courtney Watson was rated 17th among the nation’s middle linebackers by The Sporting News, while senior Tom Lopienski was charted 18th among fullbacks by the same publication.
JEFF FAINE EARNS QUARTET OF PRESEASON ALL-AMERICA HONORS
Senior center Jeff Faine was a first-team preseason All-America selection by Street & Smith’s, a second-team preseason All-America choice by Athlon, a third-team preseason All-America designee by Football News and a preseason All-America pick by the Football Writers Association of America (no individual teams were selected by the FWAA). Faine is seeking to become Notre Dame’s first All-America center since Tim Ruddy in 1993.
SIX EARN PRESEASON HONORABLE MENTION ALL-AMERICA HONORS
Street & Smith’s cited six Irish players as preseason honorable mention All-America selections. Senior Jordan Black was listed among offensive linemen, senior Shane Walton and junior Vontez Duff among defensive backs, senior Courtney Watson among linebackers, senior Joey Hildbold among punters and senior Nicholas Setta among kickers.
JEFF FAINE NAMED TO OUTLAND AND RIMINGTON TROPHY, LOMBARDI AWARD WATCH LISTS
Senior C Jeff Faine has been named to a trio of watch lists for top offensive linemen. Faine is under early consideration for the Outland Trophy, which is awarded annually to the nation’s top interior lineman by the Football Writers Association of America. Faine also has been selected to the watch list for the Rimington Award, presented annually to the nation’s top center. In addition, for the second consecutive season, Faine has been named to the Rotary Lombardi Award watch list. The Lombardi Award is given annually to the nation’s top lineman by the Rotary Club of Houston.
COURTNEY WATSON NAMED TO BUTKUS AWARD WATCH LIST
Senior ILB Courtney Watson has been named to the watch list for the Butkus Award, presented annually to the nation’s best linebacker. The award is given by the Downtown Athletic Club of Orlando.
NICHOLAS SETTA NAMED TO LOU GROZA AWARD WATCH LIST
Senior PK Nicholas Setta has been named to the Lou Groza Award watch list. The Groza Award is given annually to the nation’s top placekicker by the Palm Beach County (Fla.) Sports Commission.
JOEY HILDBOLD NAMED TO RAY GUY AWARD WATCH LIST
For the third consecutive season, senior P Joey Hildbold has been named to the Ray Guy Award watch list. The Ray Guy Award is given annually to the nation’s top punter by the Greater Augusta (Ga.) Sports Council.
FAINE, SETTA NAMED TO STREET & SMITH’S AWARD WATCH LISTS
Street & Smith’s tapped senior center Jeff Faine for a spot on its Outland Trophy and Lombardi Award watch lists. In addition, senior kicker Nicholas Setta earned a place on the publication’s Lou Groza Award watch list.
NINE PLAYERS SELECTED TO FOOTBALL NEWS PRESEASON ALL-INDEPENDENT TEAM
Football News named nine Notre Dame players to its 2002 preseason all-independent team. Sophomore RB Ryan Grant, senior TE Gary Godsey, senior OT Jordan Black and senior C Jeff Faine were chosen from the offensive side of the ball. Senior DT Darrell Campbell, senior LB Courtney Watson, senior CB Shane Walton and junior CB Vontez Duff were tapped on the defensive end. Senior PK Nicholas Setta represented the Irish special teams units on the squad.
SCOUTING THE IRISH OFFENSE
Line — The Irish have an extremely talented and experienced crew up front on the offensive line this season. Four starters – senior tackles Jordan Black and Brennan Curtin, senior guard Sean Mahan and senior center Jeff Faine – all return this season and are legitimate contenders for postseason awards. Black has been a staple on the Notre Dame offensive line, beginning his fourth season as a starter at tackle, playing in 33 regular-season games and amassing more than 800 minutes of playing time. Faine, a preseason first-team All-American and candidate for the Lombardi Award, Outland Trophy and Rimington Trophy, is in his third season as the everyday Irish center, having started 24 consecutive regular-season games and leading the team in playing time (314:17) a year ago. Mahan and Curtin are in their second seasons as starters at left guard and right tackle, respectively. Mahan has appeared in 30 games, starting all 11 contests last season, while Curtin made six starts and played over 200 minutes in ’01, alternating between right tackle and right guard. This season, he moves into the right tackle position vacated by the graduation of Kurt Vollers.
With Vollers’ departure and Curtin’s move back to tackle, senior Sean Milligan returned to the starting lineup at right guard in the 2002 opener vs. Maryland, just as he did in ’01 at Nebraska. However, as was the case last season, an injury has limited his effectiveness and senior Ryan Scarola stepped into the starting right guard spot against Purdue. Seniors Ryan Gillis and Jim Molinaro also saw playing time in reserve roles vs. Purdue at guard and tackle, respectively
Backs — Junior Carlyle Holiday took over as the starting quarterback for the Irish in the third week of the 2001 season and kept a firm grip on his job throughout the campaign. Thriving in Notre Dame’s option offense, Holiday finished second on the team in rushing (666 yards) and completed 73 of 144 passes for 784 yards last season. His numbers are expected to soar in 2002 as he adjusts to the new offensive philosophy installed by head coach Tyrone Willingham and offensive coordinator Bill Diedrick. Through two games in 2002, Holiday has completed 24 of 49 passes for 276 yards, including a career-high 226 yards in the Kickoff Classic victory over Maryland. Sophomore Pat Dillingham, a former walk-on, serves as Holiday’s primary backup in ’02. Dillingham opened some eyes during Notre Dame’s Blue-Gold spring game, connecting on his only pass, a 26-yard strike to Arnaz Battle. Freshman Chris Olsen starts the season as the No. 3 QB, but also could see significant playing time as the year progresses.
Sophomore Ryan Grant (44-162) leads a youthful corps of Irish running backs who should benefit not only from Notre Dame’s new offensive style, but also from its veteran offensive line. Grant carried 21 times for a career-high 96 yards in the Irish win over Purdue. Sophomores Marcus Wilson (2-4) and Rashon Powers-Neal (15-76), as well as senior Chris Yura, also will see action out of the backfield.
Senior Tom Lopienski (5-10) returns as the starting fullback for the Irish. Lopienski has made 18 career starts, serving mainly as a blocking back. However, his role is expected to be expanded in the new Irish offensive scheme. Senior Mike McNair has fought through injuries during his career, but he could be ready to make a major contribution for Notre Dame in 2002.
Receivers — The Irish receiving corps may be the most closely-examined unit on the roster this season, as the new offensive program shifts its focus to a balanced attack. Experience is limited at the position, with only two returning monogram winners from a year ago. After catching five passes for 40 yards all of 2001, senior Arnaz Battle had four catches for 68 yards, including a 29-yard grab in the Kickoff Classic against Maryland. Sophomore Omar Jenkins (6-96) showed flashes of brilliance last season, registering seven catches for 111 yards and a touchdown. He got the starting nod against Maryland in the 2002 opener and didn’t disappoint, leading the team with a career-high five receptions for 87 yards. Junior Ronnie Rodamer and sophomore Carlos Campbell (3-26) each played just over 14 minutes last season, but could be ready to step into the starting lineup this season. However, they will be challenged by a pair of speedy freshman wideouts, Rhema McKnight (2-9) and Maurice Stovall (1-16), who are anxious to make their mark at the college level and made their first career catches in the win over Maryland.
Another converted quarterback, senior Gary Godsey gets the starting nod at tight end. The 6-6, 250-pound Godsey is a formidable target for Irish quarterbacks, and he already ranks second on the team with five receptions for 37 yards, following a career-best four-catch day vs. Purdue. Godsey also is a talented blocker and gives the Irish a sizeable advantage on the offensive line. Junior Billy Palmer serves as Godsey’s understudy, along with junior Jared Clark (1-17), who moved from QB to TE in the spring.
SCOUTING THE IRISH DEFENSE
Line — The Irish defensive line is anchored by senior defensive tackle Darrell Campbell (26 tackles, seven for loss, three sacks in ’01) and senior nose guard Cedric Hilliard (five tackles, one for loss, one sack). Both players weigh better than 290 pounds and provide a formidable obstacle for opponents in the middle of the line. Hilliard already has made is presence felt, picking up three tackles and a sack in the Kickoff Classic victory over Maryland. They are surrounded by fifth-year senior right end Ryan Roberts (seven tackles, two for loss, two sacks) and junior left end Kyle Budinscak (two tackles, one for loss) who has made four career starts and is the only other veteran returning on the Irish defensive line. Roberts was a key force in Notre Dame’s win over Purdue, registering a pair of sacks. Assistance could come in the form of sophomore end Justin Tuck, a pass-rushing specialist and converted linebacker, as well as junior end Jason Sapp and junior defensive tackle Greg Pauly.
Linebackers — Senior ILB Courtney Watson is the lone returning linebacker for the Irish. He ranked second on the team with 76 tackles last season, including 13 for loss, and already is a 2002 Butkus Award candidate, although he missed the Maryland and Purdue games with a viral infection. Also, Notre Dame has been faced with the tall task of replacing honorable mention All-American Tyreo Harrison (97 tackles, 11 tackles for loss) and Rocky Boiman (41 tackles, 10 tackles for loss, four sacks), who were first and sixth on the team in tackles in ’01, respectively. Sophomore Mike Goolsby (team-high 19 tackles, five for loss, one sack) has stepped into the starting lineup at one inside linebacker position, ringing up a career-high 11 tackles, including three for losses, against Purdue. Senior Carlos Pierre-Antoine serves as Goolsby’s understudy at that inside linebacker spot, while junior Derek Curry (five tackles, one for loss, one fumble recovery) has the most experience of the outside linebackers. He came up with a critical fourth-quarter fumble recovery vs. Purdue. Sophomore Brandon Hoyte (17 tackles, one for loss, one sack) moved in to fill the void left by Watson’s illness and recorded a career-high nine tackles in the win over Purdue, one week after notching his first career sack in his first career appearance against Maryland. Sophomore Corey Mays also might see time at the inside position, while junior Jerome Collins lends support on the outside.
Backs — The Irish secondary should be particularly strong in 2002, with three starters back in the fold. Senior Shane Walton (eight tackles, one for loss) started all 11 games at cornerback in ’01, recording 43 tackles and breaking up a team-high eight passes. The San Diego native wasted little time in continuing his strong coverage skills, setting a Kickoff Classic record and tying a school standard with three interceptions against Maryland. Meanwhile, junior Vontez Duff (10 tackles) gets the starting call at the other cornerback position after taking over the position in the final eight games last season, registering a team-high three interceptions and logging 25 tackles and six pass break-ups. Duff was the hero against Purdue, returning an interception 33 yards for the game-winning touchdown with just over five minutes to play. Senior strong safety Gerome Sapp (14 tackles, one for loss) was ranked fifth in the nation among SS by The Sporting News and returned a fumble 54 yards for a TD in the first quarter of Notre Dame’s win over Purdue. Senior Glenn Earl (15 tackles, one for loss) started three games at free safety in ’01 and he tied Goolsby and Hoyte for team-high honors with eight tackles vs. Maryland. The reserve secondary unit is headed by junior Preston Jackson (two tackles) and sophomore Dwight Ellick (two tackles) at cornerback, and junior Garron Bible (one tackle) and sophomore Lionel Bolen at safety. Bolen scored the first touchdown of his career on special teams against Purdue, scooping up a Boilermaker fumble and scurrying four yards for a second-quarter score.
SCOUTING THE IRISH KICKING GAME
For the third consecutive season, senior P Joey Hildbold and senior PK Nicholas Setta return, giving the Irish one of the finest kicking tandems in the nation. Hildbold, a three-time Ray Guy Award candidate and a finalist for the award in 2000, ranks third on Notre Dame’s career punting average list (40.89) and he currently ranks 36th in the nation at 42 yards per kick. Setta, a 2001 Lou Groza Award semifinalist and an ’02 Groza Award candidate, has made 58 straight PAT attempts and holds a Notre Dame record with at least one field goal in 15 consecutive games, just four shy of the NCAA record. He set a Kickoff Classic record and tying the school mark with five field goals, including a Classic-record 51-yard boot, to earn game MVP honors. Setta also could see time as a reserve punter for the Irish after averaging 40 yards on four kicks at Boston College in 2000. Hildbold and Setta join veteran long snapper John Crowther (24 appearances) and kick returner Vontez Duff in giving Notre Dame a potent special teams unit. Duff ranks ninth in the nation in punt return yardage, averaging 25 yards per return, and he already has a 76-yard punt return for a TD vs. Maryland to his credit. Meanwhile, Arnaz Battle ranks eighth in the country in kickoff return yardage, averaging 29.67 yards per runback, while Shane Walton (two punt returns for 21 yards) also is set to help return kicks.
Notre Dame’s freshman practices included 17 scholarship players and four walkons: OL James Bent (6-2, 260, Mishawaka, Ind./Mishawaka) wears No. 59, OL David Fitzgerald (6-4, 270, Godfrey, Ill./Marquette Catholic) shares No. 54 with DL Jason Halvorson, WR Mike O’Hara (5-10, 175, Bellevue, Wash./Newport) sports No. 84, and ILB Anthony Salvador (6-2, 195, Concord, Calif./De La Salle) wears No. 81.
Notre Dame has four athletes who are two-sport standouts with the Irish:
- Senior CB Shane Walton is less than three years removed from earning all-BIG EAST Conference honors as a freshman forward on the ’98 Irish men’s soccer team. Walton has started 22 of the last 23 regular-season games for the Irish, dating back to the start of the 2000 season, earning preseason honorable mention All-America honors this year from Street & Smith’s. Walton joined the Irish football squad in the spring of ’99 and saw action in three games in the secondary during the ’99 season. He played in nine games overall with 61 appearances on special teams, earning his second Notre Dame monogram in as many years and in as many sports.
- Senior SS and special teams player Chad DeBolt has made 156 special teams appearances over the last three seasons and was one of just four walkons on the usual travel list during that time. In 2000, he recovered a blocked punt vs. Rutgers and blocked a punt vs. USC – both of which led to Irish TDs.
DeBolt also was a four-year monogram winner for the Notre Dame men’s lacrosse team which advanced to the NCAA Final Four in 2001. The Waterloo, N.Y., native served as team captain in ’02, handling the majority of the faceoff duties for the Irish. He won better than 56 percent of his draws and scooping up a team-high 51 ground balls in ’02. DeBolt missed just one contest during his 57-game career, scoring four goals and collecting 168 ground balls.
- Sophomore CB Dwight Ellick earned a monogram last winter while competing for Irish head coach Joe Piane and the Notre Dame track and field team. Ellick garnered all-BIG EAST honors after placing third in both the 60-meter and 200-meter dashes at the 2002 BIG EAST Indoor Track an Field Championships. He was a two-time state champion in the 100 meters in high school, winning the New York crown in 1999, before moving to Florida and winning the Sunshine State title in 2000.
- Senior PK Nicholas Setta, who finished sixth at the Illinois state track and field meet in the high jump and was the top hurdler in the state, has competed for Piane and the Irish track and field program the last two years. Setta ran middle distance for the Irish and participated in the 2001 and 2002 BIG EAST Indoor Track and Field Championships.
- Other Notre Dame football players who also ran track for the Irish include senior CB Jason Beckstrom, senior FB Mike McNair and sophomore WR Matt Shelton.
THE 2002 CAPTAINS
For only the second time in the 114-year history of football at Notre Dame, the Irish are designating captains on a game-by-game basis this season. In 1946, legendary head coach Frank Leahy elected to choose captains for each game .- the result was an 8-0-1 record and the fifth of Notre Dame’s 11 consensus national championships. The 2002 captains have been as follows:
Maryland: WR Arnaz Battle, C Jeff Faine, DE Ryan Roberts, CB Shane Walton
Purdue: TE Gary Godsey, NG Cedric Hilliard, SS Gerome Sapp, PK Nicholas Setta
THE 2002 SCHEDULE
Once again, Notre Dame faces one of the nation’s toughest schedules, as the Irish play four teams that currently are ranked in both the Associated Press and ESPN/USA Today polls (No. 5/5 Florida State, No. 7/6 Michigan, No. 15/15 Michigan State and No. 17/16 USC). In addition, four other Notre Dame opponents – Air Force, Boston College, Maryland and Purdue – are receiving votes in one or both polls. Nine of the 12 foes on this year’s Notre Dame’s schedule went to bowl games last season, highlighted by Maryland’s Orange Bowl berth, Michigan’s spot in the Citrus Bowl and Stanford’s trip to the Seattle Bowl. All of this comes on the heels of the 2001 Irish schedule, which was ranked 22nd most difficult in the nation and featured nine opponents that appeared in bowl games – Notre Dame was the only school in the country to play nine bowl-bound teams last season.
Demand for tickets to two of Notre Dame’s six home games in 2002 ranks among the top five in the history of Notre Dame Stadium. The Notre Dame ticket office received 55,482 ticket requests for the Nov. 2 game vs. Boston College, making it the third-highest requested Irish home game in history. In addition, Saturday’s Notre Dame-Michigan game garnered 50,883 requests, placing it fourth on the all-time list. That falls in line with the Wolverines’ last visit to Notre Dame Stadium, which generated 47,233 requests, the eighth-highest total ever.
The Notre Dame Stadium record of 59,368 ticket requests was set last season when the Irish took on West Virginia on Oct. 13. Demand for that game, like this year’s Boston College contest, 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.
Including Saturday’s game vs. Michigan, the Irish have posted 163 consecutive sellouts at Notre Dame Stadium and the 211 in their last 212 home games dating back to 1966 (only non-sellout was the 1973 Thanksgiving Day game with Air Force, which was changed to the holiday to accommodate television and was played with students absent from campus).
Notre Dame has played in front of sellout crowds in 139 of its previous 163 games, including the 2002 season opener vs. Maryland in the Kickoff Classic and last week’s home opener vs. Purdue. In 2001, not only were 10 of the 11 Irish games designated sellouts (only Stanford was not), but eight came in front of stadium-record crowds. The Irish played before 78,118 fans at Nebraska, welcomed Notre Dame Stadium-record crowds of 80,795 for the Michigan State, Pittsburgh, West Virginia, USC, Tennessee and Navy games, and took the field before 87,206 fans at Texas A&M, setting a Kyle Field, Big XII Conference and state of Texas record in the process. In fact, since 1998, Notre Dame has played before sellout crowds in 43 of the last 49 games – the only non-sellouts in that time were the ’98 and 2000 games at USC, the ’99 and 2001 games at Stanford, and neutral site games vs. Georgia Tech (’99 Gator Bowl at Jacksonville) and Navy (2000 at Orlando’s Citrus Bowl).
NOTRE DAME ON THE SMALL SCREEN
With Saturday’s game against Michigan slated to be televised nationally by NBC, the Irish will extend their streak of appearances on one of four major networks (NBC, ABC, CBS or ESPN) to 114 straight games. That’s a streak that includes nine full seasons (1993-2001), and it will continue at least through the first three games of 2002, all of which are slated to be televised as well. The last time the Irish didn’t appear on one of those four networks was Oct. 31, 1992, when Notre Dame downed Navy, 38-7, at Giants Stadium in East Rutherford, N.J. That game was shown locally in the South Bend area on WNDU-TV.
NOTRE DAME HOME GAMES TO AIR ON ARMED FORCES TELEVISION
All Notre Dame home games this season are being televised to American troops stationed overseas.The Armed Forces Radio and Television Service, in conjunction with NBC, is broadcasting Irish football to the nearly 800,000 U.S. Armed Forces stationed in 177 countries and aboard U.S. Navy ships-at-sea.
WILLINGHAM NAMED HEAD COACH FOR 2003 EAST-WEST SHRINE GAME
Notre Dame mentor Tyrone Willingham has been named a head coach for the 78th East-West Shrine Game, to be played Saturday, Jan. 11, 2003, at Pacific Bell Park in San Francisco.
Willingham will pilot the East squad, while Washington State skipper Mike Price will lead the West team. Both men previously served as assistant coaches at the Shrine Game – Willingham worked with the West squad in 1998, while Price was a West assistant in 1996.
The Shrine Game showcases the talents of many of the nation’s top college senior players, while raising funds for thousands of children who receive medical care, at no cost, from the 22 Shriners’ Hospitals for Children throughout North America. In the 2002 NFL draft, 33 players from the 2002 Shrine Game were selected, including the third overall pick, Joey Harrington of Oregon.
1947 NOTRE DAME TEAM SELECTED FOR “TOSTITOS TOURNAMENT OF CHAMPIONS”
In conjunction with ESPN.com, Tostitos is asking fans to vote for the greatest national championship team of all time. A group of 16 teams have been selected by an ESPN and ABC panel of football experts. Among those squads chosen is the 1947 Notre Dame team led by legendary head coach Frank Leahy. That Irish unit went a perfect 9-0 behind the play of consensus All-American and Heisman Trophy winner John Lujack, as well as fellow consensus All-Americans George Connor and Bill (Moose) Fischer. The Irish averaged better than 32 points per game while holding opponents to less than six points per outing that season. However, perhaps the most impressive statistic about the ’47 squad is that it sent 42 players to professional football and six of its members were later inducted into the National Football Foundation Hall of Fame.
Beginning Aug. 23 and continuing through Dec. 6, those 16 teams are being paired head-to-head in a bracket tournament, with the team receiving the largest number of fan votes advancing to the next round. The 1947 Notre Dame club is slated to face the ’48 Michigan crew in the opening round of the tournament on Sept. 20, with the winner of that contest to meet either the ’71 Nebraska squad or the ’45 Army unit in the quarterfinals on Nov. 1. The semifinals are scheduled for Nov. 22, with the title contest set for Nov. 29. The announcement of the “greatest national championship team of all-time” is set for Dec. 8 during the Bowl Championship Series selection show on ABC.
THE 2002 NFL DRAFT
Six former Irish players were selected in the 2002 NFL entry draft, while five other players signed free agent contracts. Anthony Weaver (second round, Baltimore Ravens) was the first Notre Dame player chosen. Rocky Boiman (fourth round, Tennessee Titans) was next, followed by John Owens (fifth round, Detroit Lions), Tyreo Harrison (sixth round, Philadelphia Eagles), Javin Hunter (sixth round, Baltimore Ravens) and David Givens (seventh round, New England Patriots). Tony Fisher (Green Bay Packers), Grant Irons (Buffalo Bills), Ron Israel (Washington Redskins), Jason Murray (Cincinnati Bengals) and Kurt Vollers (Indianapolis Colts) all signed free agent deals. Of these 11 players, eight made the final 53-man roster with their respective teams (all six draftees plus Fisher and Irons). In addition, Vollers was re-signed to the Colts’ practice squad.
MAKING THE GRADE
The Notre Dame football squad recently had two of the most successful semesters in the classroom in the history of the program, based on final grades from the 2001 fall semester and the 2002 spring semester. In the fall of 2001, the Irish team finished with its second-highest combined grade-point average on record (2.685) since statistics were kept beginning in 1992. A total of 12 players earned Dean’s List recognition and 38 players posted a “B” average or higher last fall. Then, in the spring of 2002, the Irish topped that mark with a record-setting 2.911 combined team GPA, with 13 players making the Dean’s List and another 47 averaging a “B” or better.
NOTRE DAME EXCELS IN THE CLASSROOM AS WELL AS ON THE FIELD
The Notre Dame football team has earned American Football Coaches Association Academic Achievement Award special mention honors announced in August. To earn the award, a team must have a graduation rate of over 70 percent. Northwestern won the 2002 overall award with a perfect 100 percent graduation rate. Notre Dame joined distinct company as it was one of eight schools to graduate over 90 percent of its players from the freshman class of 1996-97. The Irish joined Boston College, Duke, Nebraska, Penn State, Rice, Vanderbilt and Western Michigan in the elite group. Sixteen other schools graduated 70 percent of their athletes or better in earning special mention status as well.
Notre Dame has been recognized 21 of 22 years the award has been presented, the most of any school in the nation. Notre Dame has won the overall award six times with the most recent coming in 2001 as the Irish posted a perfect 100 percent graduation rate, becoming only the eighth school in history to graduate everyone in the class during the reporting period. Notre Dame also won the overall award in 1982, 1983, 1984, 1988 and 1991. In 1988, Notre Dame became the only school to win the Academic Achievement Award and the National Championship in the same year.
FORMER IRISH GREAT DAVE DUERSON
Former Notre Dame football All-American Dave Duerson is still extremely involved with the University in a number of capacities. A former team captain, Duerson was named to the Notre Dame Board of Trustees in 2001, and was the winner of the 2001 Rev. Edward F. Sorin, C.S.C., Award from the Notre Dame Alumni Association. The Sorin Award is presented annually to a graduate who has embodied “the values of Our Lady’s University” in his service to the community. Earlier this year, Duerson founded his own company, Duerson Foods, after serving as president of Fair Oaks Farms, Inc., a Wisconsin-based international meat supplier that in 1999 was ranked 64th among Black Enterprise 100 companies. In addition, Duerson was a member of the advisory council for the University’s Mendoza College of Business and currently is first vice president of the Notre Dame National Monogram Club (he will serve as president from June 2003-June 2005). He also is a member of the athletic department’s student development mentoring program.
FRIDAY FOOTBALL KICKOFF LUNCHEONS
Tickets are available for the 2002 Notre Dame Football Kickoff Luncheons, “ND Football Live,” with the next slated to be held at noon (EST) on Sept. 13 in the Joyce Center Fieldhouse (north dome). The luncheons will be held the same day and time before every Irish home football game this season. The 2002 Notre Dame Football Luncheons are sponsored by the Notre Dame Athletic Department and the speaking program each week includes a combination of special guests, head coach Tyrone Willingham, members of the coaching staff and members of the Irish squad, with Bob Nagle hosting the television talk-show format. Tickets are $18 each (plus $3 handling charge per order) and are available by calling (574) 272-2870.
All 2002 pep rallies will be held in the Joyce Center Arena (south dome) on Fridays before Saturday home games, with new start times of 6 p.m. (EST). The Irish squad enters the arena at 6:30 p.m.
“NOTRE DAME EXPERIENCE” MAKES ITS DEBUT IN 2002
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 2002 home football games. 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 YOUR MEDIA GUIDES AND FOOTBALL PREVIEW MAGAZINES TODAY
This season marks the ninth 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 (CoSIDA). The preview magazine, published by Host Communications, numbers nearly 100 pages, including game action shots of returning Irish players and coaches, position-by-position breakdowns and a feature on new 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 $8 (plus $4 for postage and handling) and can be ordered by calling 1-800-313-4678 or by writing to: Notre Dame Programs, 904 N. Broadway, Lexington, KY 40505.
Notre Dame’s award-winning football media guide, which was voted best in the nation by CoSIDA for the 10th time in the last 20 years in 2001, features more than 450 pages of information and statistics on the 2002 Irish squad, as well as a complete record book and history of Notre Dame football. The media guide is priced at $10 (plus $6 for postage and handling) and can be ordered by calling 1-800-647-4641 or by visiting the Hammes Bookstore on the Notre Dame campus.
IN OTHER NOTRE DAME SPORTS ACTION THIS WEEKEND …
The seventh-ranked Notre Dame women’s soccer team will participate in the Maryland/FILA Invitational, facing Hartford (Friday at 5 p.m. EDT) and Maryland (Sunday at 2:30 p.m. EDT). The 11th-ranked Irish men’s soccer team plays host to the Mike Berticelli Memorial Tournament, facing Cornell Friday at 7:30 p.m. EST, and Furman Sunday at 1:30 p.m. EST, with both matches slated for Alumni Field. The Notre Dame volleyball team will conduct the Golden Dome Invitational, taking on Northwestern (Friday at 4 p.m. EST), Loyola-Maryland (Saturday at 10 a.m. EST) and Pepperdine (Saturday at 7 p.m. EST) at the Joyce Center. Lastly, the Irish men’s tennis team opens the fall portion of its schedule in Williamsburg, Va., at the William & Mary Invitational, which begins Thursday and runs through Sunday.