September 30, 2009

1. The Central Collegiate Hockey Association Tuesday announced its 2009-10 preseason all-conference team as selected by the league’s coaches – and Notre Dame was represented on the two teams by four players. Junior defenseman Ian Cole was selected to the first team. Named to the second team were senior defenseman Kyle Lawson and forwards Billy Maday and Calle Ridderwall. The fifth Irish player honored was senior right wing Ryan Thang who was an honorable mention pick. In all, six teams were represented on the CCHA Preseason team with Notre Dame leading the way with four players selected.

2. Senior Ryan Thang will serve as the Notre Dame hockey team’s captain and will be joined by three alternate captains – seniors Kevin Deeth and Kyle Lawson, who will be joined by junior Teddy Ruth. Thang and Lawson served as alternate captains last season while Deeth and Ruth will be in their first season as captains with the Irish.

3. New York Islanders’ General Manager Garth Snow will be the guest speaker at Notre Dame hockey’s annual “Drop The Puck” season-opening function. This year’s “Drop The Puck” will be held at 7:00 p.m. EDT, Tuesday, Oct. 6, at the Joyce Center Field House. Fans can meet the 2009-10 Notre Dame hockey team’s players and staff — with the event free and open to the public as long as space is available. Please RSVP to attend the event by calling 574-631-7356 or email ndpromos.edu by Friday (Oct. 2) at 5:00 p.m. Bonefish Grill and Outback Steakhouse will serve as co-sponsors of the 2009 “Drop The Puck” event.

4. On the back page of the current issue (Sept. 28) of Sports Illustrated, Phil Taylor writes about the professional manner in which former Notre Dame standout pitcher Brad Lidge has handled a tough season as the Philadelphia Phillies’ closer – especially compared to his near-perfect 2008 season when he was 48 for 48 on save opportunities. Taylor compliments the way in which Lidge has dealt with the media and otherwise maintained his composure in less than ideal personal circumstances.

5. Notre Dame Friday football luncheon speakers this week are FB James Aldridge and DB Mike Anello – with Aldridge, Anello, DE Kerry Neal and assistant coach Brian Polian speaking at the Rally on the Green on Friday night.

6. Check out the Notre Dame athletics web site at und.com for a new section on Academic All-Americans that just went live. Go to und.com and under the pulldown menu for Inside Athletics click on the Academic All-Americans slot for a complete list of offerings in this area. The Academic All-America program is organized annually by the College Sports Information Directors of America (CoSIDA), and it has been sponsored by various corporate partners. ESPN The Magazine currently serves as the title sponsor of the Academic All-America program. Notre Dame has had 210 Academic All-Americans and ranks second behind Nebraska’s total of 268 since the program’s inception in 1952. Over the course of the past decade, Notre Dame leads the nation with 84 Academic All-America selections. In seven different sport categories, Notre Dame ranks in the top 10 in the nation for all-time Academic All-America selections – baseball (first), women’s soccer (first), football (third), men’s at-large (third), men’s cross country/track & field (tied for fourth), softball (tied for seventh) and women’s at-large (tied for 10th). Notre Dame’s Academic All-Americans in 2008-09 included: Mike Anello (football; second team), Matt Besler (men’s soccer; first team), Brittany Bock (women’s soccer; first team), Lauren Buck (women’s at-large; third team), Erik Condra (men’s at-large/hockey; second team), Jordan Pearce (men’s at-large/hockey; first team), Patrick Smyth (men’s cross country/track & field; first team) and Elise Weber (women’s soccer; second team). To be eligible for Academic All-America status, a student-athlete must be a varsity starter or key reserve, maintain a minimum cumulative grade point average of 3.30 on a scale of 4.00, have received sophomore athletic and academic standing at his/her current institution and be nominated by his/her sports information director.

7. Tickets for the NCAA Hockey Midwest Regional to be held Sat.-Sun., March 27-28, 2010, at the Allen County War Memorial Coliseum in Fort Wayne, Ind., will go on sale at 10:00 a.m. EDT tomorrow (Oct. 1). Tickets for the regional are available in three-game packages and are $85 and $75 for youth under the age of 18. They can be purchased by phone at 800-745-3000, online at www.ticketmaster.com or in person at the Allen County War Memorial Coliseum box office. All four NCAA regionals will sell tickets in three-game packages only. It is anticipated that the regional sites will sell out, but if any of the four are not sold out by March 21, tickets will be available for individual sessions at an increased ticket price.

September 29, 2009

1. The Notre Dame hockey team — coming off a 2008-09 season that featured a 31-6-3 overall record, the CCHA regular season and postseason championship and a third straight NCAA Championships appearance — opens the 2009-10 campaign ranked fifth in the USA Today/U.S. Hockey preseason poll released Monday. The Irish, 21-4-3-3 in the CCHA a year ago, were ranked behind Miami, Denver, Boston University and Michigan in the opening poll. The RedHawks, who lost in the 2009 NCAA title game to Boston University, received four of 34 first-place votes and received 457 points. Denver received 13 first-place votes and had two fewer points than Miami with 455. Boston University had 12 first-place votes and 438 points, while Michigan had no first-place votes and 384 points. The Irish received the final five first-place ballots and finished with 370 points. Notre Dame opens its season Oct. 9-10 with two home games against Alabama-Huntsville.

2. Notre Dame senior forward/defender Lauren Fowlkes and sophomore defender/midfielder Jessica Schuveiller picked up BIG EAST awards Monday. Fowlkes earned BIG EAST Offensive Player of the Week honors after totaling four points (on two goals) in two wins last weekend for the Irish. Fowlkes scored the game-tying goal with 12:46 left in a 2-1 win Friday at Cincinnati. The junior also posted the game-winner in the 50th minute of a 1-0 victory Sunday over Louisville. Schuveiller garnered BIG EAST Defensive Player of the Week accolades following a 2-0-0 week that included a shutout for the Irish. The sophomore also helped Notre Dame limit its opponents to 10 shots and just three shots on goal in the two wins. In the 2-1 win at Cincinnati, Schuveiller also scored an unassisted game-winner with 8:08 left in regulation. Then today Schuveiller was tapped for a place on the Soccer America National Team of the Week, while Fowlkes is appearing on the new Top Drawer Soccer National Team of the Week.

3. An update (actually, a correction) from yesterday’s item on programs remaining that have never scheduled a game against a team from the NCAA Football Championship Subdivision (I-AA) – that list is now down to four (Notre Dame, USC, UCLA, Washington) after Michigan State opened the ’09 season with Montana State.

4. The four-team United Football League opens its first season Oct. 8 (the league will play games on Thursdays and Fridays) with two names familiar to Notre Dame fans. Maurice Crum, a former Irish linebacker and 2008 captain, is on the California Redwoods roster, while former Irish assistant Earle Mosley (he coached Notre Dame running backs from 1992-96) is the running backs coach for the New York Sentinels.

5. So how do the tea leaves read this weekend based on playing football on Oct. 3? Notre Dame is 11-3 all-time when playing on that date (8-2 at home, 4-2 at Notre Dame Stadium, with the only losses coming in ’92 to Stanford and ’42 to Georgia Tech).

6. And what happens next when the Irish come in at 3-1? Notre Dame is 29-8-1 when coming into football games with a 3-1 mark, including 16-5-1 at home and 11-4-1 at Notre Dame Stadium. One of those previous Notre Dame Stadium successes at 3-1 came in ’96 when the #11 Irish defeated #16 Washington 54-20 to move to 4-1. Charlie Weis is 3-0 when he brings teams in at 3-1 – with wins in ’05, ’06 and ’08.

7. Notre Dame men’s swimming head coach Tim Welsh has been named president of the American Swimming Coaches Association. The ASCA works closely with the other swimming-related organizations, including the National Interscholastic Swimming Coaches Association (NISCA), College Swimming Coaches Association of America (CSCAA), USA Swimming, YMCA and the NCAA. Welsh was honored in May with the CSCAA’s Distinguished Service Award for his 35 years of service in college coaching and is the organization’s Division I men’s representative on its Board of Directors. A 1966 graduate of Providence College, Welsh has served as a head coach in the collegiate ranks for the past 32 seasons — Johns Hopkins (eight years) and Notre Dame (24 years) — after previously serving as an assistant coach at Syracuse. He has accumulated a 416-250-1 (.624) record, including a 294-160 (.648) mark since joining the Irish in 1985. For the first 10 seasons at Notre Dame, Welsh served as both men’s and women’s coach, before heading up just the men’s program in 1996. He had a 93-51 (.646) record as the women’s head coach and has compiled a 201-109 (.648) mark as head coach of the Irish men.

8. Of the 32 overtime football games in 2008, Notre Dame’s four-overtime affair with Pittsburgh was easily the longest. No other OT contest went more than two OTs.

9. Notre Dame Stadium now ranks as the 18th largest facility in the country based on its 80,795 capacity.

10. The best of Charlie Weis from his Tuesday media briefing included:

  • On Washington’s offense: “You can see the signs this offense is getting better in a hurry. Part of that is (Jake) Locker being back. The kid’s a playmaker.”
  • On Washington’s red zone defense: Weis said he had noted only six TDs had been scored on 16 red-zone trips by Washington opponents.
  • On Jimmy Clausen and Armando Allen injuries: “They’re ready to go today.”
  • On recent results: “You have to learn how to win close games. The lesson learned last week was how to win a close game on the road. That was vital.”
  • On the Washington-USC result: “Them beating USC definitely was an attention-getter.”
  • On Irish DL coach Randy Hart: “Sign me up at any time the rest of my life to have his energy.”
  • On Notre Dame’s use of the wildcat offense: “It was a staff project in the offseason.”
  • On Robert Hughes: “He’s listed as the starting fullback but, trust me, he wants running back reps. And he’s earned the right to fight for those reps.”
  • On Darius Fleming: “He’s most comfortable when he’s turned loose to get after the quarterback.”
  • On changing punters: “The only facet of special teams we were disappointed with last week was our punt team. … So we figured we’d give the freshman (Ben Turk) a chance.”
  • On Clausen’s pro potential: “If you move yourself up so high n the draft that it’s an offer you can’t refuse, then you have to seriously consider it. But you never want to walk away from a Notre Dame education.”
  • On Dayne Crist: “I think it (the Purdue game) is probably a turning point for him. This was him running the offense with a game in jeopardy and leading us to a couple of scores. It was invaluable.”
  • On the wildcat offense: “It’s not much different than the single wing. Snap it to the guy and go. I’m more surprised at the number of teams on Sunday using it.”
  • On the injury loss of Michael Floyd: “It forces you to do more game-planning. You have to be more creative. Before you created them by seven (Clausen) dropping back and throwing it to three (Floyd).”
  • On his team’s 3-1 start: “I’d like to be 4-0. But when you play three games where you come down to the final minutes and you win two and lose one, that’s probably about what you deserve.”

11. How rare is it to have three straight football games decided by a combined 10 points (as the Irish have the past three weeks)? Actually, you only have to go back five years in the Notre Dame record book – to 2004 when a late-season sequence saw the Irish lose 24-23 to Boston College, defeat #9 Tennessee 17-14, then lose 41-38 to Pittsburgh (combined seven points). Before that, you have to go back to 1990 when Notre Dame lost 24-21 to #18 Penn State, defeated #18 USC 10-6, then lost 10-9 to #1 Colorado in the Orange Bowl.

12. Notre Dame stands sixth in the nation in possession time this fall, averaging 33:30 per game, and has won the possession time battle in all four games.

13. The Irish have only three turnovers combined in four games and only four teams in the country have fewer.

14. If you’re interested in whether or not printed college athletic media guides will survive, the NCAA web site this morning reported on these developments coming out of the Division I Recruiting Cabinet: “The cabinet also decided to support Proposal No. 2009-42, a Southeastern Conference proposal that would prohibit distribution of media guides to recruits. … The cabinet took no position on a competing proposal from the Pac-10, No. 2009-41, which would prohibit the production of printed media guides. The group decided that the elimination of media guides altogether was a decision that was outside its purview. Sponsors have described both proposals as cost-containment proposals.”

15. Here’s the fall schedule for Irish women’s lacrosse: Sept. 30–Ohio State (at Loftus Center); Oct. 9–at Virginia; Oct. 11–at Maryland with Loyola (Md.); Oct. 14–Northwestern (site TBD); Oct. 17–Alumni Game (at Arlotta Stadium).

16. A 4-1 win over Cameroon today improved the United States soccer team’s record to 1-1 at the 2009 FIFA Under-20 World Cup. Notre Dame freshman midfielder Dillon Powers came on in the 73rd minute and completed the match for the United States. Powers started the first match of group competition, a 3-0 loss Saturday to Germany, and played the entire first half. Irish sophomore defender Aaron Maund has yet to see match time in the tournament. The U.S. will conclude group play against Korea Republic on Friday (live on ESPN2 at 12:45 p.m. EDT). All three of the USA’s group matches are being played at the brand new Mubarak Stadium in Suez.

September 28, 2009

1. Notre Dame ranks 10th this week in NCAA football statistics in passing efficiency (165.27), 13th in turnover margin (plus-1.25), 14th in passing offense (297 yards per game) and 15th in total offense (455 yards per game). On an individual basis, Jimmy Clausen is fourth in passing efficiency (at 172.86, with Hawaii’s Greg Alexander first at 178.76).

2. Through games of last weekend, Notre Dame ranks 53rd on the NCAA’s toughest football schedule list – with past Irish opponents standing 4-6 and future opposition 17-12 for a combined 21-18 mark (.538). Those numbers do not include any games involving Notre Dame. By comparison, top-rated Florida stands 50th at 19-15 (.558), #2 Texas is 28th (19-12 for .612) and #3 Alabama is 18th (21-12 for .636). The top three teams are all from the SEC – Mississippi State at .774 (24-7), Georgia at .741 (23-8) and Arkansas at .722 (26-10). This week’s Notre Dame opponent, Washington, is #5 on the list at .710 (27-11).

3. Andy Katz wrote a lengthy assessment last week for espn.com on the now-vacant Army men’s basketball head coaching situation and mentioned three individuals with Notre Dame ties as possible candidates – former Matt Doherty assistants David Cason (now at Tulsa) and Fred Quartlebaum (now at St. John’s, and a former Navy assistant)) as well as Notre Dame graduate Kevin Kuwik (now at Butler and previously at Ohio University). Kuwik served two missions in Iraq. Katz wrote that, according to his sources, Cason met with Army AD Kevin Anderson last Thursday in Chicago.

4. Former Notre Dame assistant coach Trent Miles was featured Thursday in a USA Today column by Mike Lopresti. Miles (he was Irish receiver coach from 2002-04 under Tyrone Willingham) is now head coach at Indiana State, whose football program has lost 31 straight games (fourth-longest losing streak in NCAA Division I history) and 55 of its last 56 games. Born in Terre Haute, Ind., Miles is a 1987 Indiana State graduate.

5. The Hannah and Friends Farm, a residential community for individuals with special needs, welcomed its first residents today with a 5:00 p.m. ribbon-cutting ceremony, with Maura Weis playing host to the event. Four women officially moved into the Peter Schivarelli and Chicago Home, named after the rock band and its business manager (Schivarelli played football for the Irish in 1969-70). Hannah and Friends was founded by Irish football coach Charlie Weis and his wife Maura in honor of their daughter.

6. There are five football programs remaining that have never scheduled a game against a team from the NCAA Football Championship Subdivision (I-AA) since 1978 when Division I split up – Notre Dame, USC, UCLA, Michigan State and Washington.

7. Notre Dame had 28 of its former football players on 2009 NFL opening-day rosters. That tied for ninth (with Florida State). LSU and Miami (Fla.) led the list with 41 each.

8. If you’re headed for South Bend this weekend for the Notre Dame-Washington football game, here’s what else you can see while you’re in town:

  • CROSS COUNTRY: Notre Dame Invitational (Women 4:15 p.m., Men 5:00 p.m., Friday at Notre Dame Golf Course)
  • WOMEN’S SWIMMING: Intrasquad Meet (4:15 p.m. Friday, Rolfs Aquatic Center)
  • ROCKNE DEDICATION: Rockne Sculpture Dedication (4:45 p.m. Friday, Notre Dame Stadium)
  • MEN’S SOCCER: vs. Seton Hall (7:00 p.m. Friday, Alumni Stadium)
  • VOLLEYBALL: vs. Villanova (2:00 p.m. Sunday, Joyce Center Fieldhouse)

9. Recently-retired longtime Notre Dame athlete, coach and administrator Brian Boulac will be honored in conjunction with the Oct. 24 Notre Dame-Boston College football weekend.

September 27, 2009

1. Here are notes from Charlie Weis’ Sunday update (held much later than normal at 8:00 p.m. due to the very late arrival home from the Purdue game and the adjusted Sunday schedule):

  • On QB Jimmy Clausen’s turf toe: “He’s a lot better today than last week at this time. We’ll get through this week’s game and then hold him during the bye week.”
  • On TB Armando Allen’s status: “He surprised me how close he looked (to being able to play) in pregame warmups. I think he’ll be ready to go Tuesday (in practice) with no limitations.” Weis said Golden Tate’s wildcat package was a compensation for the absence of Allen, in order to get some added quickness out of the backfield.
  • On the rushing defense against Purdue: “It was dramatically improved. We made significant progress in one facet of the defense.”
  • On the last-minute endings: “Last week was the turning point when Kyle (McCarthy) made that interception (against Michigan State). Our guys started to believe something good could happen at the end of the game.”
  • On the last drive against Purdue: “It’s a good thing when your team has confidence in your quarterback having the ball in his hands a the end of the game.”
  • On the TD throw from Clausen to TE Kyle Rudolph: “Kyle was either going to catch it or have a hole in his chest. There was some heat on that ball.”
  • On whether or not he has confidence in Clausen’s ability to do what he did in the last series at Purdue: “You bet I do.”
  • On the Tate package: “He loved it. I told him if they rolled up on him (in coverage) he wasn’t going to get many touches. I told him we got to find a way to get the ball in your hands.”
  • On three straight last-second finishes: “It’s not exactly utopia. But the most important thing is you’re 3-1 for a reason. We’ve had back-to-back wins, one at home, one on the road, one on a play by the defense, one on a play by the offense. It bodes well for this team.”
  • On Clausen’s final drive: “It was his guttiest performance. I got a number of text messages from NFL people – and they were impressed.”

2. Notre Dame QB coach Ron Powlus had to appreciate the late Irish comeback win at Purdue – because it was Notre Dame’s latest and most noteworthy since Powlus was playing QB in ’97 when Scott Cengia’s field goal with five seconds remaining gave the Irish a 23-22 victory at Hawaii to finish the regular season.

3. Notre Dame’s 72-yard drive to win the game at Purdue marked its longest in history to provide the game-winning points in the final 25 seconds. Overall the Irish now have won 16 games in the final 25 seconds.

4. Clausen had participated in only 24 plays before returning to the lineup with 7:34 remaining in the game at Purdue.

5. Dayne Crist led the Irish on second-period TD drives of 73 and 62 yards without a completed pass in either drive. Can you remember the last time that happened?

6. Notre Dame outrushed Purdue 167-74 and that makes the Irish 18-0 under Charlie Weis while outgaining the other team on the ground.

7. The Irish women’s soccer team (now 7-3) recorded a pair of BIG EAST wins over the weekend, defeating Cincinnati 2-1 Friday night, then Louisville 1-0 today. The men’s soccer team (4-4-1) vanquished ninth-ranked Louisville 4-0 Friday night (all four goals coming in the second half), before falling 1-0 today to Cincinnati. The volleyball team (now 8-4) notched road wins at Connecticut Friday and St. John’s today. Men’s golf took fifth at the Mason Rudolph Invitational – and women’s golf ended up third at the Bettie Lou Evans Invitational.

8. Sporting News recently took a poll to find the 100 best NFL players – and former Irish standout Justin Tuck of the New York Giants was listed 46th.

September 25, 2009

1. In participation with an AFCA (American Football Coaches Association)-sponsored program, Notre Dame coaches at the Irish-Purdue football game will be wearing patches on their shirtsleeves for the Coach to Cure MD program in the fight against muscular dystrophy.

2. Former Notre Dame football captain David Givens has sued the Tennessee Titans for $25 million, alleging the NFL team kept medical information from him and permitted him to play despite medical opinions that suggested his knee would not hold up. After four seasons with the New England Patriots, Givens signed a five-year deal with the Titans that began in 2006. However, a serious knee injury late in that season, followed by subsequent surgeries, apparently ended his NFL career.

3. Former Irish men’s basketball players now competing professionally overseas are Luke Zeller (Japan), Kyle McAlarney (Israel), Chris Thomas (Spain), Rock Cornett (France) and Torin Francis (Greece). Ryan Ayers is a candidate to join a team in Spain.

4. Former Irish football/baseball star Jeff Samardzija made his second career pitching start Wednesday for the Chicago Cubs against Milwaukee and was tagged for the 3-2 loss. Samardzija pitched five full innings (two batters into the sixth) and gave up three runs on five hits with three strikeouts. Samardzija also led off the sixth inning with a home run, his first major-league hit. Said Cub manager Lou Piniella, “I thought he was much improved. He’s starting to look like a major league pitcher, and he sure as (heck) looked like a major league hitter.”

5. If you want tickets to a Notre Dame football home game in 2009, there are still some remaining for the Washington (Oct. 3) and Connecticut (Nov. 21) games based on visiting team returns.

6. Irish TE Kyle Rudolph had his best career day against Michigan State (six catches, 95 yards) — and that earned him a national honor as the John Mackey Tight End of the Week.

7. Irish QB Jimmy Clausen is likely to play Saturday at Purdue despite his turf toe, while RB Armando Allen is a game-time decision due to an ankle injury from Michigan State.

8. The Irish men’s lacrosse team will play two fall games – Oct. 1 in Buffalo against the Canadian National Team, then Oct. 16 at the new Arlotta Stadium against the Iroquois National Team.

9. Former South Bend Tribune writer and columnist David Haugh is the new sports columnist for the Chicago Tribune’s longtime “In the Wake of the News” column. Haugh has been with the Chicago Tribune since 2003.

10. Just about all the bells and whistles at the new Alumni Stadium for Irish soccer are now complete as of today – and that coincides with tonight’s televised men’s soccer matchup with Louisville on ESPNU.

11. The United States Under-20 Men’s National Team, which features Notre Dame’s Aaron Maund and Dillon Powers, will begin U-20 World Cup play versus Germany Saturday in Suez, Egypt. The match is slated for a 4:00 p.m. local time (10:00 a.m. EDT) start and can be seen live on ESPN Classic and ESPN360.com. Maund is one of six defenders on the U.S. U-20 roster. Powers, a freshman midfielder, is one of nine midfielders. Notre Dame and UCLA are the only two schools with multiple representatives on the U-20 team.

Joining the U.S. and Germany in Group C is Cameroon and Korea Republic. The U.S. will face Cameroon on Tuesday, Sept. 29 (12:45 p.m. EDT) before completing group play against Korea Republic on Friday, Oct. 2 (12:45 p.m. EDT). All three of the USA’s group matches will be played at the brand new Mubarak Stadium in Suez. The top two teams from each of the six four-team groups along with the top four remaining squads will advance to The Round of 16, which will take place Oct. 5-7. The quarterfinals are set for Oct. 9-10, with the semifinals to follow on Oct. 13. The championship match and third-place game are scheduled for Oct. 16. Every game of the 2009 FIFA U-20 World Cup will be shown live on the ESPN family of networks. The United States U-20s played two exhibition matches in Cyprus prior to departing for Egypt (the U.S. captured 2-0 wins over Australia and Trinidad & Tobago). Maund and Powers left the Irish following the match against New Mexico on Sept. 13. They are slated to rejoin their Notre Dame teammates for the contest at Georgetown on Oct. 21. The duo may return to the Irish sooner if the U.S. squad is eliminated before reaching the finals.

September 22, 2009

1. Here are the arguably juiciest tidbits from Charlie Weis’ Tuesday media session:

  • On QB Jimmy Clausen – Clausen’s MRI was negative “other than turf toe.” He won’t practice today while having a plate put into his shoe to relieve pressure. Clausen will receive some reps Wednesday and all of them Thursday.
  • On Armando Allen – Weis says he has “a little bit of an ankle” and will be on the same schedule as Clausen, but the Irish coach said he expects both to play versus Purdue.
  • On James Aldridge – Weis said he (Aldridge) “feels fine” but that he is leaning toward holding him out this week and next to have him ready after the bye weekend.
  • On the Irish defense – Weis said his Irish have “good young talent” but that the “number one thing is playing with confidence. You give up yards and plays and you lose confidence in your own play-making ability.”
  • On replacing Michael Floyd – Weis said he expects both Duval Kamara and Robby Parris to have “increased roles and hopefully production” at that position. Including Shaq Evans and Deion Walker, Weis added, “They all know they’re not the show team any more.”
  • More on Floyd – “He thinks he’s a coach now. He’s in the training room getting on everybody. He’ll be a great asset for us because he’s into the game.”
  • On OL coach Frank Verducci – “Most O-line coaches are worried about sacks and run production. Frank understands the big picture.”
  • On the Michigan State onside kick – Weis said he stood and listened to Brian Polian say right before the play, “Heads up for the onside kick.”
  • On Floyd returning for a potential bowl game – “I’d let him make the call. But I would think he would be playing.”
  • On Floyd’s future in general – “If you told me he’d be here two more full seasons, I’d sign up for that.”
  • On Duval Kamara – “He’s the best blocking receiver we have – it’s not even close.”
  • On the Irish record – “I’m with you. We’re one play away from 3-0 and one play away from 1-2.”
  • On Golden Tate – “We can move him around, which I’m ready to do, so he’s not in the same place all the time.”
  • On whether Clausen is close to “earning his degree in football” – “He’s well on his way.”
  • On Clausen’s improvement in the pocket – “He’s not perfect, but he’s very, very good.”

2. The Irish Green drew around 14,000 fans last week for the Michigan State game – around 8,000 on Friday and about 5,000 for the pep rally.

3. Another game day addition for 2009 is the assignment by the athletics department of individuals to work with the visiting team athletics director and the visiting team football operations director to deal with any questions or problems they encounter.

4. Based in great part on the late kickoff, the Irish football team will travel later this week and not arrive in Lafayette until about 7:30 p.m. Friday.

5. Former Irish football All-America defensive back Tony Carey from 1964 will be inducted into the Chicagoland Sports Hall of Fame on Thursday. At that same event, University trustee Andy McKenna will receive a lifetime achievement award for his contributions to sports in Chicago.

6. Stay tuned for news on next week’s Knute Rockne sculpture dedication.

7. Notre Dame plays host to Louisville in men’s soccer on Friday night (5:00 p.m. on ESPNU) and all phases of the new Alumni Stadium are expected to be finished, including locker rooms, restrooms and concession stands. Much of the landscaping on the west side has been finished this week. Meanwhile, the artificial turf is being put down at the new Arlotta Lacrosse Stadium.

8. If you are driving to West Lafayette this weekend for the Notre Dame-Purdue game, watch out for heavy construction on Route 25 around Lafayette.

September 21, 2009

1. Notre Dame men’s basketball coach Mike Brey heads to Washington, D.C., tonight and then Tuesday will take part in the American Cancer Society’s (ACS) Cancer Action Network (CAN) Leadership Summit & Lobby Day. A Coaches vs. Cancer (CVC) press event focusing on health care reform relative to the fight against cancer will include Minnesota Senators Al Franken and Amy Klobuchar, plus Health and Human Services (HHS) secretary Kathleen Sebelius. Brey, a member of the CVC national board, will join fellow coaches Tubby Smith of Minnesota; cancer survivor Ed DeChellis of Penn State; Oliver Purnell of Clemson; and John Thompson III of Georgetown (whose wife is a cancer survivor) as those slated to address members of Congress who will be in attendance. In addition to Senators Franken and Klobuchar and HHS secretary Sebelius, Dr. John Seffrin (CEO of ACS CAN) also is slated to speak.

2. The Dish today enjoyed a quickie tour of the new (but still to be completed) Purcell Pavilion at the Joyce Center. It’s much brighter in the concourse areas — with walls and new flooring a light shade of ivory. The upper concourses feature theming/imaging on the backs of the upper seating sections, still allowing for much more room than there was before as you walk the upper hallway areas. Speaking of concourses, there’s no longer a division between what used to be the lower arena and the bleachers – so as you enter the arena seating it’s simply a matter of whether your go up or down to find your row. At this juncture, about two-thirds of the seating in what used to be the bleacher areas remains to be installed. The portable floor is the same one that’s been used in the past, but the graphics have been redone – with a huge shamrock at center court.

3. Check out all of Notre Dame’s official publications in full color on und.com. While the NCAA restricts the interiors of printed media guides to black and white, there are no restrictions on how the guides are offered online. So Issuu digital software assists the availability of full-color versions accessed off the front page of each Irish sport (currently football, men’s and women’s soccer, and volleyball are posted). Notre Dame game programs for football also are available via Issuu on the football gameweek front page. If you still want the printed publications, you can find them over the counter at the Notre Dame Bookstore and Varsity Shops as well as through the und.com publication store. There’s a printed form to order game programs by mail available on the bottom of the front page on und.com.

4. The Notre Dame women’s basketball program will play three Monday night contests on the ESPN networks, including a pair of games as part of the “Big Monday” women’s college basketball package:

  • A week prior to the debut of “Big Monday,” Notre Dame will be featured in that same prime time slot, as the Irish travel to West Lafayette, Ind., on Jan. 4 for a 7 p.m. (ET) matchup with in-state rival Purdue on ESPN. It will be one of at least two games this season that Notre Dame will play on ESPN.
  • On Jan. 16 at 9 p.m. (ET), the Fighting Irish will venture to Storrs, Conn., to take on defending national champion Connecticut in a nationally-televised BIG EAST Conference contest as part of the first-ever ESPN College GameDay broadcast held in conjunction with a women’s basketball game.
  • On Feb. 1, Notre Dame will make its “Big Monday” debut, when it heads to Piscataway, N.J., for a 7:30 p.m. (ET) encounter with BIG EAST rival Rutgers.
  • One month later on March 1, the Fighting Irish will close out the 2009-10 regular season by playing host to Connecticut at 7 p.m. (ET) at Purcell Pavilion at the Joyce Center. Both “Big Monday” games will be broadcast live on ESPN2, ESPN2HD and ESPN360.com.
  • It also was announced last week that Notre Dame’s Nov. 19 non-conference road game at Michigan State will be televised live by the Big Ten Network and will tip off at 6 p.m. (ET) from East Lansing, Mich.
September 20, 2009

1. Among Saturday sideline visitors at the Notre Dame-Michigan State game was actor Vince Vaughn, who made his acting debut in 1993 in Rudy (he played Jamie O’Hara). He stands 6-5 and looks like he could play on the Irish line. Also spotted were former Irish players Alvin Miller, Jon Autry and John Mosley. Mosley helps arrange non-baseball events for Yankee Stadium and was in town to begin making arrangements for Notre Dame’s trip to the New York Yankees’ new facility next November to play Army.

2. Tim Brown spent the weekend in South Bend as Notre Dame’s guest as the most recent Irish selection to the College Football Hall of Fame. Brown was a guest at the Friday kickoff luncheon where he talked about working with the NFL to deal with professional players who are nowhere near their college degrees. He also kidded that after so many years of playing in the NFL Pro Bowl, his kids wish he would go back and play because they miss their annual trips to Hawaii. Brown attended a Monogram Club reception Friday evening, then was honored at halftime of the football game, joined by Notre Dame athletics director Jack Swarbrick and College Hall of Fame executive director Lisa Klunder. Brown is also eligible for the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2010 — so he could have a busy summer in ’10 since he’ll be in South Bend next July for the College Hall of Fame enshrinement.

3. The Michigan and Michigan State games mark the first time in Notre Dame history the Irish have played back-to-back games with both teams scoring 30 (or more) points in both games.

4. Michael Floyd may decide the right corner of the end zone to the right of the Notre Dame bench is an unlucky place to spend his time. Last week at Michigan in that neighborhood he needed 15 stitches to close a gash in his knee after going up for a pass. Yesterday against Michigan State in virtually the same spot he suffered a broken collarbone that puts him out for the season (and on top of that he missed out on what was awfully close to a second touchdown reception).

5. Hard to imagine Jimmy Clausen playing much better than he is right now. He’s second in the nation in passing efficiency (188.55, behind only Arkansas’ Ryan Mallett at 193.49) and helps Notre Dame as a team lead the nation in that category (186.14). He’s had back-to-back-to-back 300-yard passing games (four if you include the Hawai’i Bowl – and that’s never happened at Notre Dame). Only Texas Tech’s Taylor Potts (with 12) has more TD passes than his nine. Potts has 116 completions to 62 for Clausen.

6. A group of Frank Leahy-era Notre Dame football players from the late 1940s (when the Irish went 36-0-2 from `46 through ’49) were honored at the Irish-Spartan game. Among those were John Lujack, the ’47 Heisman winner and ’49 All-America quarterback Bob Williams. Among those who lettered all four years they played who were back were center Walt Grothaus (he also spoke at the Friday kickoff luncheon) and tackle Ralph McGehee. Former Notre Dame Bengal Bouter Andy Panelli, son of fullback John Panelli from that era, is working on a video documentary on those teams.

7. The Irish women’s swimming team was honored at a timeout yesterday – not just for its BIG EAST record 13th straight conference swimming crown in 2009, but also for its combined 686 hours of community service this past year to 12 local non-profit organizations (most notably teaching local youth to swim as part of the Irish Aquatics program).

8. Also recognized at the football game were the Irish fencing teams who combined for an NCAA runner-up finish (their second straight) in 2009.

9. Sadly, Michael Floyd’s 2009 season is probably over already (unless he were to come back for a bowl game). And history will record that in his first two seasons, injury prevented him from playing in a potential 12 of Notre Dame’s possible 26 games. Still, Floyd already has 12 career TD receptions, which matches the career total of ’87 Heisman winner Tim Brown who was on the sidelines Saturday to watch Floyd tie him.

10. Outgoing Notre Dame Monogram Club executive director Jim Fraleigh was surprised Friday night at a Monogram Club reception by congratulatory remarks from outgoing Monogram Club president Marc Kelly and presentation of an ND shadow box recognizing his Monogram Club contributions. Fraleigh has been promoted to associate athletics director for corporate relations — and Beth Hunter is the new executive director of the Monogram Club.

11. The last time a Notre Dame team scored at least 33 points in three games to open the season was the ’43 national championships season that began with 41-0 vs. Pittsburgh, 55-13 vs. Georgia Tech and 35-12 vs. #2 Michigan.

12. Charlie Weis observations from his media session today:

  • Michael Floyd had surgery at 10 a.m. today to repair his fractured collarbone. Weis said he expects Floyd to miss the “rest of he regular season” but indicated there might be a choice on whether or not to play him in a potential bowl game. Because Floyd’s injury came in the first four games of the regular season (the NCAA rule says first 30 percent of the season and rounds up in terms of math), Floyd could be eligible for a medical hardship should he not play at all the rest of the year and eventually opt to apply for it.
  • On Jimmy Clausen – He said Clausen’s injury would require an MRI later today and was something “between turf toe and an arch” injury. Weis suggested, “He’ll do all he can do to play” this week against Purdue.
  • On penalties – Weis said he was disappointed by the “volume and the type,” especially the false start and the late hit at the end of the game.
  • On the end of the game similarities to a week ago in Ann Arbor – “The difference was somebody making a play. This week we made a play.”
  • On the suggestion the Irish are going to be in 35-34 games on a regular basis – “That’s not the way we want to play the game. I don’t want to feel like we have to score in the 30s or 40s to win.”
  • On impact of Floyd being out – “You never really replace that caliber of player, an A-type player. But we’ll put others in a position to pick up that responsibility.” He suggested Irish fans would see a “heck of a lot more” of freshman Shaq Evans.
  • On Armando Allen – Weis said he “can’t be any more pleased” with his effort and production.
  • On why tight end Kyle Rudolph is especially important -“We can’t let defenses just roll into Golden Tate.”
  • On reaction from pro scouts to safety Kyle McCarthy -“They all ask about him. They look at tape and they say, `I kinda like this 28.’ He may not be a household name but he gained a few fans yesterday.”
  • On Golden Tate’s excursion into the Michigan State band after his game-winning TD catch — “I saw it late last night. I would tell him it was the wrong band.”
  • On special teams – “It was a tale of two halves. The first half was not very productive, the second half was.” Weis said Nick Tausch’s 46-yard field goal, coming after the earlier PAT miss, “did wonders for his confidence.”
  • On use of more second-line personnel at lots of positions in general on defense – “That’s the way we gotta go.”
  • More on the game plan without Floyd – He suggested the Irish would “move some people around to get the best people on the field.”
  • On the defense – He noted Michigan State had only 29 second-half rushing yards but also suggested “when the quarterback throws for 350 there are breakdowns across the board.”

13. Here’s your preview of coming attractions. When the Irish head to West Lafayette on Saturday, they’ll face the 22nd-best rushing attack in the nation (Purdue at 210.67 per game), led by the second-anted running back in the country (Ralph Bolden at 140.33 yards per game). Meanwhile, Notre Dame’s Armando Allen ranks 15th at 108.67 per contest.

14. History says it’s seldom easy in West Lafayette. In the history of Irish football, Notre Dame has lost more games in the Los Angeles Coliseum (21) than any other road venue. Next up are Ross-Ade Stadium in West Lafayette and Spartan Stadium in East Lansing, Mich., at 12 each (actually 14 overall losses in both West Lafayette and East Lansing based on earlier facilities).

15. Former Irish football player Pete Schivarelli is featured in the book Never Put Ketchup on a Hot Dog as the former owner of Demon Dogs near the DePaul campus (Fullerton and Sheffield, right under the “L” tracks) in Chicago. Schivarelli, a lineman under Ara Parseghian in ’69 and `70 (and now business manager of the musical group Chicago), owned the popular Demon Dogs for 25 years until it recently disappeared to make room for a new CTA train station on that site.

September 16, 2009

1. Check out the 1949 Notre Dame football information guide (pages back then were typed by hand on a manual typewriter) and you’ll find a complete listing of officials assigned to each Irish game. When Notre Dame played at Michigan State, 60 years prior to the Irish-Spartan clash this week, the referee for that contest happened to be Jay Berwanger, who happened to be the very first Heisman Trophy winner (from the University of Chicago in 1935).

2. Notre Dame fencer Ted Hodges, a junior member of the Irish squad in 2009 and originally from Salina, Kan., received a heart transplant this morning at St. Luke’s Hospital in Kansas City. Hodges had been hospitalized since June 5 at the Mid America Heart Institute at St. Luke’s, suffering from viral myocarditis, an infection that affected his heart. He had two heart pumps installed back in June and has been awaiting a transplant since then. Hodges, who competes in foil, earned monograms in 2008 and 2009.

September 15, 2009 (Update 2)

1. Tidbits from Charlie Weis’ Tuesday press conference:

  • On Michigan State’s six straight wins over the Irish in Notre Dame Stadium – “It’s well-documented. I’m well aware of it.” Will you bring it up with your team? “Yes I will.”
  • On WR Michael Floyd and the 15 stitches in his knee – “He’s from Minnesota so we’re using the hockey analogy. In hockey, if you get 15 stitches you’re back in there in about 15 minutes.”
  • On RB Armando Allen – “I can’t think of one play we’d run when I wouldn’t want him on the field.”
  • On LB Brian Smith – “You don’t ever have to worry about him not playing with passion.”
  • On the Michigan State rivalry – “These teams like to play each other. They (Michigan State) always show up. You never have to worry about Michigan State not showing up.”
  • On safety Kyle McCarthy being under the radar – “Maybe it’s because he doesn’t make very many mistakes. He was like that last year, too.”
  • On defensive adjustments his team might make coming out of loss at Michigan – “There’s definitely a plan in place, but I can’t elaborate too much on it.”

2. Overnight rating on the Notre Dame-Michigan game on ABC was a 5.20 (that compares with a 7.33 for the USC-Ohio State ABC primetime game).

3. Notre Dame men’s lacrosse goalie Scott Rodgers is on the cover of the October issue of Inside Lacrosse as part of the magazine’s preview of the first season of BIG EAST Conference men’s lacrosse. Rodgers led the nation in save percentage and goals-against average last year.

4. Preseason cross country rankings list Notre Dame men 27th and women 29th.

5. The Notre Dame women’s basketball team will play 14 regular-season games against NCAA Championship qualifiers (including four against participants in last year’s NCAA Women’s Final Four) as part of a demanding 2009-10 schedule released today. In addition, the Fighting Irish have 15 regular-season home games lined up for the newly-renovated Purcell Pavilion at the Joyce Center, with Notre Dame also slated to serve as one of 16 host sites for first- and second-round games in the 2010 NCAA Women’s Basketball Championship (March 21 and 23). Among the marquee matchups on this year’s Irish schedule are a home-and-home series with BIG EAST Conference rival and defending national champion Connecticut (Jan. 16 in Storrs, Conn; March 1 at Notre Dame), a trip to 2009 national runner-up Louisville (Jan. 19) and a neutral-site contest with ’09 Final Four combatant and reigning Big 12 Conference regular-season champion Oklahoma (Nov. 28 at the Paradise Jam in the U.S. Virgin Islands). The Irish also will welcome ’09 NCAA Sweet 16 participants Vanderbilt (Dec. 31) and Pittsburgh (Feb. 6), as well as defending WNIT champion South Florida (Jan. 12) to Purcell Pavilion this season. The Fighting Irish already know they will make at least one national TV appearance in ’09-`10, with the Jan. 16 contest at Connecticut airing live on ESPN (9 p.m. ET) as the culmination of the first-ever ESPN College GameDay broadcast to be held in conjunction with a women’s basketball game.

6. If you’re headed to South Bend for the football game against Michigan State, you can also see the National Catholic Invitational in cross country at 3:30 p.m. Friday, a women’s soccer game against DePaul at 7:30 p.m. Friday and another women’s soccer contest against Northwestern at 1:00 p.m. Sunday.

7. Expected guests at the Friday kickoff luncheon are ’87 Heisman Trophy winner Tim Brown, authors Tim McCarthy and Mike Collins (they collaborated on a new book), Walt Grothaus (’49 starting center representing that national championship team), current Irish captains Eric Olsen and Scott Smith and head coach Charlie Weis.

September 15, 2009

1. Leftovers from Charlie Weis’ Sunday media briefing:

  • Weis said he routinely sends video of officials’ calls the Irish coaches disagree with to conference officials. “I don’t make formal complaints. I just send in plays and ask for an explanation.”
  • Michael Floyd needed 15 stitches to close the knee gash suffered late in the game, but he’s expected to be ready for Michigan State. Weis said Floyd returned to the sidelines during Michigan’s last possession and already was lobbying to return to the field if the Irish got the ball back.
  • Weis said he sat down Sunday morning with Jon Tenuta to look at the pros and cons of Notre Dame’s defensive performers off two games.
  • He said he had looked at the called-back Armando Allen TD catch 100 times and still did not see evidence Allen stepped out of bounds.
  • On Allen – “He’s making some tough yards now. He had a heck of a game (against Michigan). On third and three I’m not afraid to run the ball because I think he’ll get four.”

2. Expect more offense in this week’s Notre Dame-Michigan State contest – since the matchup features two of the top six passers in the country based on passing efficiency ratings (Jimmy Clausen third at 196.31 and Michigan State’s Kirk Cousins sixth at 186.71). You’ll also be watching two highly-rated receivers – with Michael Floyd ranking second in receiving yards per game at 160 and Michigan State’s Blair White rating third in that same category at 133.5. The names above Clausen on the passing efficiency chart? Arkansas’ Ryan Mallett (210.25) and Florida’s Tim Tebow (197.95).

3. Seen around the team hotel in Ann Arbor: former Gerry Faust era teammates Mike Golic and Chris Smith (both with sons on the current Irish squad) exchanging notes. Golic also traded stories with ABC’s Sean McDonough (they used to work together on ESPN Friday night college games).

4. Tough weekend for Notre Dame soccer. The women went to California and were shut out twice by 2-0 counts – first by tournament host Santa Clara, then by unbeaten Stanford. Meanwhile, the men fell in overtime to New Mexico 2-1 in the title game of the Mike Berticelli Memorial event on the Notre Dame campus.

5. Seattle Seahawk fans must also have been Notre Dame football fans on Sunday. In Seattle’s 28-0 win over St. Louis, Julius Jones ran for 117 yards and one TD (a 62-yard run) and John Carlson caught TD passes of one and 33 yards.

6. Tim Brown, the ’87 Heisman Trophy winner and Notre Dame’s most recent selection to the College Football Hall of Fame, returns to campus this weekend. He’ll be honored at halftime of the Notre Dame-Michigan State game. It was 22 years ago that Brown brought back two punt returns for TDs against Michigan State in prime time.

7. Also returning this weekend are 25 members of the late 1940s Irish football teams that never lost from ’46 through ’49 while winning three national titles. They’ll be introduced at the first timeout of the Notre Dame-Michigan State contest.

8. Notre Dame hasn’t beaten Michigan State in Notre Dame Stadium since 1993 – the eighth year of the Lou Holtz era. Since then the Spartans are 9-4 against Notre Dame.

9. Jimmy Clausen already has thrown seven TD passes this season. The only player in the country (FBS) with more is Texas Tech’s Taylor Potts (he has nine).

10. While most of the national college football correspondents headed for Columbus last weekend for the USC-Ohio State game, among those who came to Ann Arbor to see Notre Dame and Michigan were Yahoo! Sports’ Dan Wetzel, Sporting News’ Matt Hayes, espn.com’s Ivan Maisel and Sports Illustrated’s Austin Murphy.

11. The Big Ten announced Monday that the Notre Dame-Purdue football game Sept. 26 will be carried on ESPN.

12. Jimmy Clausen is the fastest Notre Dame quarterback ever to reach the 5,000-yard mark in passing. He did it in 25 games (Brady Quinn did it in 27).

13. Notre Dame put up an even 1,000 yards of offense in its first two games combined in 2009. That hasn’t happened for the Irish since 1974.

September 10, 2009

1. Check out the cover of one of Lindy’s college basketball preview magazines and you’ll find Luke Harangody. He’s rated #2 on Lindy’s list of post men, behind only Kansas’ Cole Aldrich. Notre Dame is ranked 37th overall and fifth in the BIG EAST predictions. Under the category of “Successful Transference” Notre Dame’s Ben Hansbrough and Scott Martin are rated second (as a joint entry) of the 10 on the list. Lindy’s predicts its field of 65 for the NCAAs and has the Irish one of six BIG EAST entrants. The BIG EAST preview lists Harangody as a projected first-team all-BIG EAST player as well as the league’s top rebounder. The Lindy’s women’s top 25 lists Notre Dame #5 (ahead of the Irish are UConn, Stanford, Ohio State and Tennessee).

2. Notre Dame’s men’s basketball schedule became official today and includes some interesting items:

  • 20 home games at the new Purcell Pavilion, plus two preseason games, giving you 22 opportunities to watch Luke Harangody, Tory Jackson and Co.
  • A brutal five-game stretch to end the regular season: at Louisville, Pittsburgh (home), at Georgetown, Connecticut (home) and at Marquette.
  • A league game between Christmas and New Year’s Day – this year a home date Dec. 30 vs. Providence.
  • Seven dates in December, all of them at Purcell Pavilion, including Dec. 19 vs. UCLA.
  • Two games on CBS (UCLA and the road game at Georgetown), three on ESPN (Syracuse, at Villanova, Connecticut), three more on ESPN2 (at Rutgers, at Louisville, Pittsburgh) and one more that will be on either ESPN or ESPN2 (Cincinnati).

The Irish play in the Chicago Invitational Challenge, an event that will involve two home games (Liberty and Kennesaw State), then two games Nov. 27-28 vs. Northwestern and then either Iowa State or Saint Louis at the UIC Pavilion. Those two games in Chicago are the lone Irish road dates until Jan. 2 at Connecticut.

3. Former Irish men’s lacrosse standout Ryan Hoff yesterday was a third-round pick of the Rochester Nighthawks of the National Lacrosse League in its entry draft (34th overall pick).

4. Any other school producing football kickers and punters with the NFL longevity of those from Notre Dame? Consider that heading into the NFL opening weekend, Notre Dame alumni on active rosters include New Orleans kicker John Carney (22 previous NFL seasons, 10 different stints including two each with New Orleans and San Diego, 460 career field goals, 575 career PATs), Tennessee punter Craig Hentrich (16 seasons, 1,141 career punts for 42.8 average) and Washington punter Hunter Smith (10 seasons, 577 career punts for 43.4 average).

September 9, 2009

1. Look for a feature on Notre Dame QB Jimmy Clausen Saturday morning on ESPN’s College GameDay. Wendi Nix of ESPN was in town today with a crew to shoot that segment.

2. Irish center Eric Olsen did a photo shoot with the Chicago Tribune today for a Friday story on the Staten Island, N.Y., native’s connections with 9/11, including a tattoo that memorializes the event.

3. In town for the Nevada football game last weekend was 90-year-old Jim Harper, son of Jesse Harper who coached Notre Dame football from 1913-17. Jim and his son attended the Friday kickoff luncheon as well and were introduced there.

4. The ABC Sports broadcast crew for Notre Dame-Michigan — Sean McDonough, Matt Millen, Holly Rowe and Co. — spoke with three of the Irish captains today by phone — and they will meet with Charlie Weis Friday after the team arrives in Ann Arbor.

5. The BIG EAST is very close to having final basketball schedules. In fact, the ESPN Big Monday games were announced today on the men’s side – and one of those is Jan. 18 at Notre Dame, with the Irish facing Syracuse.

6. Notre Dame’s season-opening win vs. Nevada enabled the Irish to go from 23rd in the opening Associated Press poll to 18th this week. That’s the biggest first-week jump (five slots) in the AP poll for the Irish since 1998 when they started 22nd, then moved to 10th after beating defending national champion Michigan 36-20 on opening day in Notre Dame Stadium.

7. Multiple media reports suggest former Irish QB Brady Quinn will start for the Cleveland Browns Sunday against Minnesota – though head coach Eric Mangini plans no formal announcement.

September 8, 2009

1. Tidbits from Charlie Weis’ Tuesday press conference:

  • Irish FB James Aldridge will not play this week vs. Michigan due to a shoulder injury from the Nevada game – and Weis says Aldridge probably will be listed as questionable to doubtful next week for Michigan State. Robert Hughes will fill his spot.
  • On rookie LB Manti Te’o – “He’s one week closer to being on the field on a regular basis. He’s another guy the sky’s the limit on.”
  • Weis said he’s not much worried about previous games from previous seasons, including previous trips to Ann Arbor: “We’re working on a very small timeframe. We’re not spending any time talking about last week, much less last year.”
  • Weis said Michigan QB Tate Forcier attended Notre Dame`s football camp and Weis got to know both Forcier and his family.
  • Weis noted he and Patriot QB Tom Brady have traded texts about the game this week.
  • One of Michigan’s snappers is Tom Pomarico, son of Frank Pomarico, who played on Notre Dame’s offensive line from 1971-73.

2. NBC Sports Friday night launched its iPhone app based on Notre Dame home football games. You can watch the games live, as well as access other shoulder programming. CBS Interactive is working on an iPhone app based on all the contents from Notre Dame’s athletic web site (und.com) – and it’s expected to launch later this month.

3. University photographer Matt Cashore took a 360-degree photo in Notre Dame Stadium just prior to kickoff Saturday versus Nevada. It took him all of nine seconds to record the image. You can see it at gameday.nd.edu.

4. Former Notre Dame basketball star Troy Murphy set an NBA record last season. He became the first player in league history to finish in the top five in rebounds (11.8 per game, second to Dwight Howard) and three-point shooting percentage (third at .450).

5. If NBC Sports’ telecast of the Notre Dame-Nevada game looked different it might be because in the truck were a new producer (Rob Hyland) and a new director (David Michaels). The Notre Dame-Nevada game required a speedy 2:53 to play.

6. The Notre Dame band will travel to Ann Arbor Saturday morning for the Irish-Wolverine football game.

September 7, 2009

1. Former Notre Dame hockey player Mike Collins (he played center and earned monograms from ’68 through ’70), now an orthopedic surgeon in Hinsdale, Ill., has written a second book about his experiences as a doctor. His first was titled “Cold Steel and Hot Lights” – and this one is titled “Blue Lights and Blue Scrubs.” Collins is the father of 12 children.

2. In case you didn’t notice, new Chicago Blackhawks general manager Stan Bowman is a 1996 Notre Dame graduate. Stan’s father Scotty is a current Blackhawks consultant and a longtime NHL Stanley Cup-winning coach. Scotty also happens to be the East Amherst, N.Y., neighbor of former Irish two-time All-American Jack Brownschidle.

3. ESPN analyst Kirk Herbstreit presented his preseason Herbie Awards (ninth annual) and mentions a handful of Irish players. Herbstreit put Golden Tate ninth among top wide receivers, Kyle Rudolph third among tight ends, Jimmy Clausen third among quarterbacks with pocket presence, Manti Te’o second among top true freshmen, Notre Dame second on list of teams “Movin’ On Up,” Corwin Brown third among up and coming assistants and coordinators, Sam Young at tackle on “All-Uni Team: What A College Team Should Look Like,” and Notre Dame seventh among best student sections.

4. New books connected to Notre Dame football this fall include: “Resurrection: The Miracle Season That Saved Notre Dame” by Jim Dent (about Ara Parseghian’s first season turnaround in 1964), “Forgotten Four: Notre Dame’s Greatest Backfield and the 1953 Undefeated Season” by Mark Hubbard and Don Hubbard (about John Lattner, Neil Worden, Joe Heap, Ralph Guglielmi) and “May I Have Your Attention Please” by Mike Collins and Tim McCarthy (a collaboration between Notre Dame Stadium’s PA announcer and the former Indiana State Police Sergeant).

5. On the heels of Notre Dame’s most lopsided victory under Charlie Weis, QB Jimmy Clausen and WR Michael Floyd received national accolades for each of their performances. Clausen is one of four nominees for the AT&T All-America Player of the Week award following his 15 of 18 for 315 yards and four-touchdown performance against the Wolf Pack. Floyd caught four passes for career highs of 189 receiving yards and three touchdowns. His receiving total was best among Football Bowl Subdivision players in week one. Floyd was named National Performer of the Week by College Football Performance Awards.

6. Notre Dame officials head to Yankee Stadium Wednesday to begin making arrangements for next season’s off-site home game versus Army.

7. After one weekend of football, Notre Dame leads the country on a team basis in passing efficiency (290.44 rating points) and Jimmy Clausen leads on an individual basis (303.67). Michael Floyd leads the nation in receiving yards per game (189). On a team basis, Notre Dame is also number one in scoring defense and sacks allowed.

September 6, 2009

Some choice tidbits from Charlie Weis’ Sunday media session earlier today wrapping up the Notre Dame-Nevada game:

  • Weis said he scripted the first 18 plays of the game.
  • Asked to compare Brady Quinn and Jimmy Clausen at this point in their third seasons, he said it’s “at least comparable if not the arrow pointing up,” referring to Clausen.
  • Weis suggested an MRI is likely for James Aldridge’s injured right shoulder.
  • In praising his defense beyond the shutout, he pointed to Nevada’s two-for-11 numbers on third down, no points in the red zone on three Nevada attempts and three Nevada turnovers.
  • Weis liked the 4.2 hang time rookie Nick Tausch achieved on two of his six kickoffs.
  • He noted that 18 Irish players played in their first college game yesterday, including 10 sophomores who didn’t see the field a year ago.
  • Weis suggested that the players’ ability to carry over momentum from the Hawai’i game in December through the Nevada game was “almost uncanny.”
  • On Michael Floyd – “He wants to be great and he has a chance of accomplishing that.”
  • Asked if Floyd might end up the best receiver ever to come through Notre Dame, Weis said, “Golden (Tate) would argue with you.”
  • Despite all the offensive successes, Weis pointed to missed opportunities on fourth and one, third and three, and third and two in the second half.

2. Among former Irish players spotted at the Nevada game included Tim Brown, Jerome Bettis, Pat Terrell, Kevin McDougal, Lee Becton, Jon Autry, Joe Brockington, Pat Kuntz, David Grimes, Steve Quinn and Mike Turkovich.

3. Weis stopped short of suggesting T-shirts would be produced, but he did indicate that his team is following the lead of Teddy Roosevelt in terms of taking the “speak softly and carry a big stick” approach.

4. Of all the new elements in the gameday hospitality package, maybe the most popular was the chance for fans to walk down the Notre Dame Stadium tunnel to the field to take photos and look around. From 10 a.m. through 3:30 p.m. Friday, more than 3,400 fans took advantage of that opportunity.

5. Eighteen players who helped the Notre Dame alumni Irish Legends football team win in Tokyo in July returned for a reunion Saturday. They took part in Scott Cengia’s pregame tailgate, were introduced on the field at the first timeout, then later met at the home of team doctor Mike Yergler to finish the day.

6. Speaking of Cengia (who lives in Cincinnati), he’s still confident enough in his kicking abilities that he contacted the Bengals recently after injuries decimated the placekicking roster for the Cincinnati NFL team.

7. Notre Dame’s women’s tennis team was recognized at the Nevada football game Saturday. Not only did the Irish advance to the NCAA team semifinals in May, but they also produced the best GPAs of any Notre Dame team in both the 2008 spring and fall semesters (both times above the 3.5 mark).

8. Former Irish hockey player Mark Eaton was honored at halftime of the Nevada game. Eaton helped the Pittsburgh Penguins win the 2009 Stanley Cup, becoming the fourth former Irish player to accomplish that (Bill Nyrop and Donny Jackson each did it three times; Brett Lebda did it in ’08 with Detroit). Eaton, who attended the game with his wife Dorrie, was presented with a framed Irish hockey jersey with his name on the back. Athletic director Jack Swarbrick joined the ceremony along with Jeff Jackson and his entire current Notre Dame hockey team.

9. Also honored at halftime were Eric Poms and Jack Seiler from the FedEx Orange Bowl based on the 75th anniversary of the Orange Bowl in 2009. Swarbrick presented them with a framed #75 football jersey that said Orange Bowl, as well as a collage of Orange Bowl moments involving the Irish. Notre Dame has played in five Orange Bowls, defeating #1 ranked Alabama to cap the ’74 season and doing the same versus #1 Colorado to end the ’89 campaign. Orange Bowl Hall of Fame members include Raghib Ismail, Lou Holtz, Ara Parseghian, Dan Devine and Gene Corrigan. Poms is the chief executive officer of the bowl, while Seiler’s grandfather Earnie was the Orange Bowl founder. An ’85 Notre Dame grad, Seiler is mayor of Fort Lauderdale, Fla. Also attending the game representing the Fiesta Bowl was ’93 Notre Dame grad Anthony Aguilar.

10. UND.com had 349,000 video views in the month of August – easily the highest figure ever in that category.

11. Count on Notre Dame basketball tickets to be hot items in 2009-10. The women’s schedule essentially is sold out on a season-ticket basis, and the men’s agenda is expected to be as well when those sales are finished.

12. Expect the BIG EAST men’s and women’s basketball schedules to be finalized and published this week.

13. Former Notre Dame basketball player Bill Laimbeer has joined the staff of head coach Kurt Rambis with the NBA Minnesota Timberwolves. Laimbeer spent seven years as the WNBA Detroit Shock head coach.

14. Former Notre Dame Monogram Club president Marty Allen was honored Aug. 28 with the Gerald R. Ford Award from the Michigan Sports Hall of Fame. A contingent of Notre Dame administrators traveled to Grand Rapids for the event.

15. Notre Dame volleyball coach Debbie Brown was part of an NBC Nightly News piece following the death of Ted Kennedy – with Brown speaking about Title IX.

16. Notre Dame has three former football players currently competing in the Canadian Football League. Darrell Campbell is a backup defensive tackle for the Montreal Alouettes. Nicholas Setta handles kicking and punting chores for the Hamilton Tiger-Cats. And Jarious Jackson plays quarterback for the British Columbia Lions. Jackson came off the bench in Toronto to lead BC from a 19-7 halftime deficit to a 36-28 win, thanks to a 21-of-31 throwing effort for 254 yards and three TDs. Jackson did the same thing the previous week against Edmonton, coming off the bench to throw four TD passes in a 40-22 win. That moved Jackson into the starting slot for the Lions. This past Friday night, Jackson helped BC defeat Montreal 19-12 by throwing a four-yard TD pass in the final minutes.

17. Four Notre Dame teams took foreign trips during the summer. An alumni football squad played in Tokyo, Japan. The women’s basketball team competed in France and Italy. The women’s golf squad played for a week in Ireland. The volleyball team traveled to Italy.

18. When Joe Montana was in town in August for a College Football Hall of Fame luncheon, he said he would have liked to have played both football and basketball at Notre Dame: “I said yes, a higher power said no.” Montana said when he came to Notre Dame as a freshman, there were seven freshman scholarship quarterbacks. He said with a laugh, “By the end of the year I’d worked my way up to number seven.” Montana said one summer at Notre Dame he spent dragging baseball infields for the South Bend Park Department. That same summer he played in a softball league and in one game competed against Larry Bird. On Charlie Weis, Montana said, “He was good friends with a couple of our running backs, but I had no idea he wanted to be a coach. We were playing the Giants once and I ran into him and he told me he was coaching and I said `Get out of here.’ He’s been here and he understands the nature of Notre Dame. I think that’s good for Notre Dame.”

19. Notre Dame and St. John’s (currently the #1 team in the nation) were the choices of the BIG EAST coaches to win their respective divisions in 2009. Notre Dame’s Bright Dike was preseason pick as league offensive player of the year.

20. Sporting News recently ranked its top 50 coaches of all-time and rated Knute Rockne 10th and Ara Parseghian 44th.

21. Notre Dame alumnus Don Ohlmeyer is now writing a monthly ombudsman column for espn.com. Ohlmeyer is a former NBC and ABC sports and entertainment producer and programmer.

22. Sporting News listed its top 25 college football players for 2009 and put Golden Tate #21.

23. The Athlon college basketball preview has Luke Harangody on its regional cover (with Illinois’ Mike Davis). Harangody rates one of three exclusive one-on-one interviews. The magazine lists Notre Dame’s Ben Hansbrough and Scott Martin as two of 20 “impact transfers.” Harangody is rated #3 among post men (behind Kansas’ Cole Aldrich and Kentucky’s Patrick Patterson). The magazine’s projected bracket has the Irish as a #8 NCAA seed, defeating #9 Florida State in a first-round game, then falling to Michigan State in the second round (Michigan State is predicted to be the NCAA runner-up). Harangody is selected as a first-team All-American, as well as the #1 player overall in the college fantasy basketball listings. In the BIG EAST, the Irish are selected seventh and Harangody is predicted to be the league player of the year. Athlon picks its college basketball team of the 2000s and puts Troy Murphy on the third team. Among players who spent three years in college, Murphy is a first-team pick. The women’s top 25 for 2009-10 lists Notre Dame 12th (although it erroneously states that the Irish are losing a key player from last season, obviously not realizing that all 12 players from the ’08-09 roster are returning, including first-team all-BIG EAST guard Lindsay Schrader, who was granted a fifth season after missing the 2006-07 campaign with a knee injury).

24. Sporting News hockey preview magazine includes a college section and puts Notre Dame fifth in its preseason poll (among CCHA teams Miami is #2, Michigan #3, Northern Michigan #15, Ohio State #17). Notre Dame’s Ian Cole is a first-team preseason All-America selection on defense – and in the team preview Michigan State coach Rick Comley suggests Notre Dame’s top three defensemen (also including Kyle Lawson and Teddy Ruth) are “as good as any in the country.”

25. Notre Dame opened its new Alumni Stadium for soccer last Tuesday on a beautiful evening in South Bend as the men defeated Michigan 5-0 on Bright Dike’s hat trick. Then, the women played there for the first time Friday night in a 6-0 loss to #1 North Carolina. The Irish women recorded their first win in their new home today by beating Wisconsin-Milwaukee 3-0. It was standing room only for the Carolina game, and the Michigan contest Tuesday drew a near-capacity crowd. While the grandstands and the field were ready for business, the locker rooms, press box and other stadium underpinnings remain under construction. In fact, a special permit had to be obtained to admit 10 people into the still-to-be-completed press box area. Alumni Stadium is not expected to be dedicated until next spring. Meanwhile, Arlotta Stadium for lacrosse is expected to be dedicated the weekend of the Notre Dame-USC football game.

26. Notre Dame’s 35-0 football win over Nevada marked the first Irish shutout victory since a 42-0 home win versus Rutgers in 2002. The 35-point margin was the best ever in the Charlie Weis era. Notre Dame’s 8.36 yards per play marked the best in any game under Weis.

27. Notre Dame’s five TD drives Saturday averaged a remarkable 80.6 yards each.

28. Jimmy Clausen had an off-the-chart 303.67 pass efficiency rating in the game. That compares to Oklahoma’s Sam Bradford, who led the nation in that category in 2008 with a 180.84 mark over 14 games.

29. The 88-yard Clausen-to-Michael Floyd TD play marked the third longest pass play in Irish history and the longest since 1981.

30. Floyd broke the Notre Dame average-yards-per-catch record that stood for 54 years. Jim Morse averaged 41.6 yards on five catches vs. USC in 1955 – Floyd averaged 47.3 on his four catches.