October 31, 2009

1. The Notre Dame cheerleaders spent an hour and a half Friday afternoon visiting with wounded soldiers at Brooke Army Medical Center in San Antonio. One hundred of those soldiers will attend the game tonight courtesy of Notre Dame.

2. Check out und.com for the video tour of the new Purcell Pavilion. That facility saw its first real action this afternoon when the Irish defeated Seton Hall 3-1 in volleyball.

3. Some 7,500 fans jammed Alamo Plaza last night for the football pep rally on a perfect night – with the nearly-full moon rising over the Alamo as darkness fell.

4. The best view for the rally was at a Notre Dame reception on top of the three-story building right across the street from the Alamo.

5. A San Antonio mariachi band entertained the crowd for a half-hour before the rally began – though one member, Poncho, arrived late because he was in a car accident on the way. The band played the “Victory March” – and also coaxed fans to join a sing-along on “My Girl” by the Temptations.

6. Notre Dame radio play-by-play veteran Don Criqui, who spoke at the rally, is no stranger to San Antonio. He played basketball at Lackland Air Force Base while in basic training with the National Guard. Another member of his unit was current Los Angeles Dodger manager Joe Torre.

7. Seen waiting at least an hour and a half for the rally in the front row was a 12-year-old boy (with his father) wearing a blue jersey and a gold helmet.

8. Notre Dame band director Ken Dye had little problem soliciting a crowd reaction at the rally when he noted head drum major Aaron Hernandez from El Paso. Assistant band director Sam Sanchez is also a Texas native – and one of the Irish cheerleaders comes from Houston.

9. The Notre Dame band arrived in San Antonio yesterday on six different commercial flights.

10. At the rally, San Antonio mayor Julian Castro said, “You can’t find a better place to celebrate the fighting spirit than in front of the Alamo.”

11. Said Irish athletics director Jack Swarbrick, “Taking a home game on the road like this is a little bit of an experiment and when you do that you better have a good partner. We couldn’t have asked for a better partner than San Antonio.”

12. Criqui referenced all the nerve-wracking finishes by the Irish and said after the win over Washington, 92-year-old Notre Dame president emeritus Rev. Theodore M. Hesburgh, C.S.C., said, “I’m getting too old for this.”

13. Rally speaker Allen Pinkett, who played a half-dozen years for the NFL Houston Oilers said, “You know I’m old when the team I played for doesn’t even exist any more.”

14. Also on hand this weekend are a couple of former Irish basketball players – recent Monogram Club president Marc Kelly and San Antonio native Gilbert Salinas.

15. Big win by Notre Dame hockey last night. The Fighting Irish got stellar goaltending from freshman netminder Mike Johnson and goals from Calle Ridderwall, Dan Kissel and Billy Maday as they opened the defense of their CCHA regular-season title with a 3-1 win over Ohio State in front of a sellout crowd at the Joyce Center. Johnson, making just his second career start, stopped a career-high 27 Buckeye shots while the Notre Dame power play converted twice — goals by Ridderwall and Kissel — with Maday scoring into an open net with 18 seconds left to seal the Irish win. Ohio State got a power-play goal from John Albert in the first period for its only goal of the night.

16. Even bigger win for Irish men’s soccer this afternoon. Senior forward Bright Dike came up with a golden goal 53 seconds into OT to give Notre Dame a 2-1 win over #5 Connecticut in Storrs, Conn. That makes the Irish 10-7-1 overall and 8-3 in the BIG EAST.

17. The Notre Dame men and women both finished sixth today in the BIG EAST cross country championships in Kenosha, Wis. Senior Lindsey Ferguson earned her third all-BIG EAST honor with a 10th-place finish, clocking in at 21:40. The Villanova women won the team crown with 30 total points. Notre Dame finished sixth with 160 total points. Senior Jake Walker was the first Irish men’s runner to cross the line, clocking in at 25:57 to finish 28th. Junior Dan Jackson was 30th with a time of 25:58. Syracuse won the men’s team crown with 55 points, while Notre Dame was sixth with 178 points.

18. The Irish women’s soccer team begins pursuit of a BG EAST title Sunday with a 1:00 p.m. quarterfinal game against South Florida at Alumni Stadium.

19. Notre Dame’s men’s swim team this afternoon defeated Cleveland State 178-120 and Miami 232.5-67.5.

October 30, 2009

1. The 400-strong Band of the Fighting Irish is headed to San Antonio. The band will play at the pep rally tonight in front of the Alamo, will play a pregame concert at 3:00 p.m. Saturday at the San Fernando Cathedral Plaza in downtown San Antonio, then will march down Market Street to the Alamodome. The band will have pregame Mass and a pre-game meal inside the Alamodome before the game begins. The band will sit in the stands in the northeast corner of he stadium.

2. There’s all kinds of history in San Antonio, from the Alamo itself to the old-school Menger Hotel right next door. The very-old-school Menger Bar has been around since 1859, has a black-and-white photo of Teddy Roosevelt above the bar itself and supposedly was the site where Roosevelt mustered his Rough Riders.

3. Spotted on the streets of San Antonio – Irish ’64 Heisman Trophy winner John Huarte, former Irish captain and halfback Phil Carter (in from Tacoma, Wash.) and former South Bend mayor and Indiana governor Joe Kernan (and his wife Maggie).

4. A half-dozen Notre Dame athletic staffers headed to the Alamodome this morning for the game production meeting, with more than 30 stadium and other officials in attendance. Also along was former Irish football player John Mosley, who now works for the New York Yankees and is in town making notes for next year’s off-site game. Ironically, Mosley last night managed to wander into one Riverwalk establishment loaded with Phillies fans watching the World Series.

5. Although kickoff isn’t until 6:41 p.m. local time, Alamodome officials will open the parking lots at 10 a.m. and say they expect record amounts of tailgating. One fan bought up 40 parking passes in order to set up his pregame party. All reserved parking was sold out long ago.

6. Washington State’s football team was slated for a 4:45 p.m. walk-through today at the Alamodome, while Notre Dame will travel late and go directly to its team hotel, expecting to arrive about 7:45 p.m. today.

7. Allen Pinkett will speak at the pep rally tonight, with Tim Brown unable to arrive now until late tonight.

8. The coin toss Saturday will take place with the same coin used at Notre Dame home football game coin flips in 2006. It contains images of all seven Irish Heisman Trophy winners.

9. Alamodome officials say they expect all kinds of Halloween costumes at the game on Saturday, but they won’t permit masks as fans enter the building.

10. The Alamodome has brand new LED ribbon boards between the two decks and all around the stadium. Look for some nifty Notre Dame graphics throughout the game.

11. Other former Irish players expected at the game Saturday include native San Antonian Carlyle Holiday, Leon Wallace, Anthony Denman, Tim O’Neill and Casey Cullen. Also now living and working in San Antonio is former Irish LB Tyreo Harrison.

12. The weather on the Riverwalk was close to perfect today – and there were fans from both schools trading chants of “Go Irish” and “Go Cougs.” It may not have been exactly like a bowl game, but it was close.

13. The Irish men’s basketball team ranks 28th (based on votes received) in the preseason Associated Press poll. Other BIG EAST teams listed were Villanova (#5), West Virginia (#8), Connecticut (#12), Louisville (#19) and Georgetown (#20).

14. Three Notre Dame soccer players and Kansas City-area natives — senior midfielder Michael Thomas, junior forward Lauren Fowlkes and sophomore defender Molly Campbell — have been named ESPN The Magazine first-team Academic All-District V selections. All three student-athletes are first-time academic all-district honorees and now will advance to the national ballot for Academic All-America consideration.

15. Notre Dame head softball coach Deanna Gumpf recently announced the program’s 2010 schedule, which features trips to 10 different states and includes 16 home dates. Notre Dame begins the season at the Kajikawa Classic hosted by Arizona State. The Irish will face Creighton (Feb. 12), Oregon (Feb. 12), Auburn (Feb. 13), Oregon State (Feb. 13) and Washington (Feb. 14) in Tempe, Ariz. In fact, the matchup against the Huskies will mark the eighth time in the last 10 seasons the Irish have been slated to face the defending national champion (Notre Dame was scheduled to play Arizona in 2008 but the game was called off due to rain). From Feb. 20-21, Notre Dame will take part in the Southern Miss Mizuno Classic in Hattiesburg, Miss., where the Irish will square off with Louisiana Tech, Stephen F. Austin, Alcorn State and the host Golden Eagles. The University of Virginia Invitational in Charlottesville, Va., will feature matchups against Lehigh (Feb. 26, Feb. 28), Ohio (Feb. 26), George Washington (Feb. 27) and the host Cavaliers (Feb. 27). Nine days in California will feature nine contests against teams from around the nation. The UC Riverside Aten Construction Tournament (March 6-7) and the Long Beach State Invitational (March 12-14) will sandwich a non-conference meeting at Cal State Northridge. The home portion of the schedule begins March 23 against Eastern Michigan with a doubleheader versus Toledo one day later.

16. Notre Dame head baseball coach Dave Schrage has announced the dates for the 2009-10 Irish Winter Baseball Camps, which will feature two separate sessions for aspiring baseball players (Dec. 6 and Jan. 16-17). The High School Skills Camp will take place on Jan. 16-17 (Sat.-Sun.). This camp is open to all players who are freshmen, sophomores, juniors or seniors in high school. The two-day camp will cover multiple aspects of the game, including: pitching, hitting, catching, fielding and base running. This camp serves as an opportunity for aspiring collegiate players to be recruited and evaluated by the Notre Dame staff and other collegiate coaches. Additionally, Notre Dame will be holding a one-day hitting clinic on Sunday, Dec. 6. This clinic will be an in-depth look at the foundations of hitting through lecture, drills and video analysis.

October 29, 2009

1. The Dish took to the road today, as several Notre Dame athletics administrators headed to San Antonio to confirm arrangements for the Irish-Washington State football game and surrounding events on Friday and Saturday. The Notre Dame group spent several hours at the Alamodome today, rehearsing a complete run-through of gameday events, including several video features that will run on the arena video boards. The weather in San Antonio today? Not a cloud in the sky and 85 degrees.

2. If you’re headed to San Antonio, try County Line BBQ for lunch – then select from Boudro’s or Acenar or Little Rhein Steakhouse for dinner.

3. The most familiar name from San Antonio to play football at Notre Dame is quarterback/receiver Carlyle Holiday – and he’ll be attending the football game Saturday.

4. The Irish rowing squad doesn’t often compete at home, so take advantage of your opportunity to see Notre Dame row this weekend on the St. Joseph’s River. At 3:30 p.m. Saturday, the Irish will race Iowa and Indiana. At 12:20 p.m. Sunday, the Irish race Indiana, Iowa and Michigan State.

5. Notre Dame senior John Lytle was named the BIG EAST Conference Swimming Athlete of the Week. Lytle won a pair of individual races while helping Notre Dame to two relay victories in a dual meet with Oakland at the Rolfs Aquatic Center on Oct. 23. The Clearfield, Pa., native won the 50 free with a time of 20.81 and the 100 free with a 45.97 mark. Lytle also had a hand in the first-place 200 medley relay (fourth leg, 20.04 split) and the 400 free relay (first leg, 46.44 split).

6. The Notre Dame baseball team’s 2010 schedule will include early-season trips to Mississippi, Florida and Texas along with BIG EAST road series at USF, Georgetown, Seton Hall, West Virginia and Villanova. The slate also features the second annual Big Ten-BIG EAST Baseball Challenge, hosted by the St. Petersburg/Clearwater Sports Commission. Notre Dame’s four BIG EAST home series will include games versus Rutgers, Cincinnati, St. John’s and Louisville. The Irish will also play host to Michigan State for a three-game set and play a home-and-home series with Michigan, while the midweek games at Frank Eck Stadium will feature some of Notre Dame’s traditional non-conference rivals, most notably Ball State, UIC, Western Michigan and Central Michigan. In all, Notre Dame will play six games (Louisville, Ohio State, Gonzaga and Kansas State) against teams that reached the 2009 NCAA Tournament.

October 28, 2009

1. There will be a media tour of the new Purcell Pavilion Thursday afternoon – so watch your local television stations (and right here at UND.com) for a visual preview of the new facility.

2. Rivals.com provides weekly power ratings of the best players in the country – and this week Irish QB Jimmy Clausen ranks #1 among college quarterbacks and Golden Tate is #1 among receivers. Irish TE Kyle Rudolph ranks #9 at that slot, and safety Kyle McCarthy is #24 among defensive backs.

3. The first official event in the new Purcell Pavilion happens at 2:00 p.m. Saturday when the Irish volleyball team plays host to Seton Hall.

4. The Irish men’s soccer team dropped a 2-1 match this afternoon at Michigan State.

5. Courtesy of Irish coach Charlie Weis, Notre Dame provided 100 tickets to the Notre Dame-Washington State football game to wounded soldiers stationed at Brooke Army Medical Center in San Antonio. Also sent along were 100 of “The Shirt” as well as adidas drawstring bags.

6. Notre Dame has announced special ticket designation home football games for the 2010 season:
Sept. 25, 2010 (Stanford) — SENIOR ALUMNI GAME
Oct. 16, 2010 (Western Michigan) — PARENT & ALUMNI FAMILY GAME
Oct. 30, 2010 (Tulsa) — PARENT & ALUMNI FAMILY GAME
Nov. 13, 2010 (Utah) — PARENT & ALUMNI FAMILY GAME

Notre Dame contributing alumni who graduated 35 or more years ago receive priority status on their alumni ticket application for the designated Senior Alumni game (Sept. 25 vs. Stanford). In the event that demand from senior alumni again exceeds supply, as in recent years, tickets will be allotted in descending order to the most senior alumni. For example, tickets will be assigned first to those in the 50-year club and then descending in years since graduation. It is a priority of the University to make as many tickets as possible available to the Senior Alumni population. For 2010, parents of returning Notre Dame undergraduate students may apply for up to four tickets to each of three home football games (Oct. 16 vs. Western Michigan, Oct. 30 vs. Tulsa and Nov. 13 vs. Utah). Parents will be guaranteed to receive tickets to at least one game. If you choose to apply for two or more of the parent game offerings, one (or two) of your games, based on demand, will be subject to the general lottery. The parent games for incoming (first-year and transfer) students will be determined at a later date, based on demand and availability. Those games will be announced in June 2010. For the designated Alumni Family games (Oct. 16 vs. Western Michigan, Oct. 30 vs. Tulsa and Nov. 13 vs. Utah), contributing alumni have the option to apply for up to four tickets on their lottery application for those games only.

October 27, 2009

1. The official capacity for the new Purcell Pavilion for basketball is 9,149.

2. Former Notre Dame all-star Tim Brown, the `87 Heisman Trophy winner and 2009 College Football Hall of Fame inductee, will speak at the pep rally Friday in San Antonio and will take part in the coin flip at the game on Saturday.

3. Charlie Weis comments from his press conference today included:

  • On this week’s matchup: “You can talk about this as a trap game coming after Boston College, but there are a number of factors that make us enthused about this game – this is the first time we’ve gone to one of these neutral-site games – so there’s some intrigue about how it will play out – two, we’ve got guys from the state of Texas pretty fired up about getting the opportunity to play there — three, at this stage of the year, we need to get better across the board if we’re going to do something special. The whole point of emphasis is improving across the board.”
  • On last week: “We analyzed the Boston College game and did some things well – and there were a lot of things we didn’t do well, things we can improve. So this is the next test.”
  • On the challenge vs. Washington State: “This is an opportunity to play a full 60-minute game – a full game together on offense and defense and special teams and have everyone walk out gaining confidence.”
  • On playing a neutral-site game: “Any area you go can help you in recruiting – we appealed to the NCAA to treat this as a true home game – recruits can go and we can give them tickets but we can’t talk to them. So in that case it’s not exactly like a home game. But we’ve got a bunch coming.”
  • On Robby Parris: “He’s doubtful this week – I’ll try our best not to use him.”
  • On Clausen and Tate: “Jimmy’s arguably the best quarterback in the country, and Golden’s one of the best receivers in the country. They both have performed above and beyond what could have been expected.”
  • On Irish LB Manti Te’o: “When he first started playing he was a little hesitant. That momentary pause is starting to vanish – now he sees it and he goes.”
  • On getting back into the polls: “If we want to put ourselves in a position to play in a top-flight bowl game, we have to — slowly but surely, week by week — take care of business.”

4. Thirty-five current Irish players have played at the Alamodome in the U.S. Army All-America high school all-star game.

5. Notre Dame sophomore Kristy Frilling lost 6-1, 6-3 today in the ITA Midwest Regional singles final (in Evanston, Ill.) to Northwestern’s Maria Mosolova, the top-ranked singles player in the country.

6. Even with the time change this weekend, the Irish football traveling party won’t return to campus from San Antonio until 4:30 a.m. Sunday.

7. The Notre Dame men’s basketball program will hold a reunion of its former players, managers and coaches on Nov. 6-7. Planned are a pre-game reception Friday night before the team’s exhibition game against Quincy University – then a pre-game tailgate Saturday before the Notre Dame-Navy football game.

8. A 12-game unbeaten string and six-game win streak have handed the Irish women’s soccer team its 12th BIG EAST title in 15 years.

9. The Irish men’s basketball team is holding tryouts Thursday night for potential walk-ons.

10. The Notre Dame women’s basketball program held auditions for a public-address announcer Monday night and had more than 40 entrants during a three-hour session in Purcell Pavilion.

11. Biggest change in the new Purcell Pavilion is courtside seating. The old configuration included a length-of-the floor media table on the north side of the arena – but most of the media have been relocated to the area behind the east basketball (all except television, radio and official stats). Also, there are now seats right up to the floor (including behind the benches) as opposed to the wide-open areas that previously existed behind the benches and behind the long media table. That up-close-and-personal seating was the particular request of major benefactor Phil Purcell. There are several dozen courtside seats available across from the team benches (the men’s versions are sold on a season-ticket basis – the women are using theirs for promotional purposes).

12. The men’s basketball team is having its meet-the-team promotional event tonight after a similar event for the women’s program last week.

13. Irish hockey goaltender Brad Phillips was named the CCHA Goaltender of the Week thanks to his career-high 34 saves and 3-0 road shutout of defending NCAA champion Boston University last week.

14. Notre Dame junior defender Julie Scheidler has been selected as the BIG EAST Conference Defensive Player of the Week and also earned a spot on the Soccer America National Team of the Week. Last weekend, Scheidler played an important role in a pair of 2-0 wins for Notre Dame over conference foes Villanova and #22 Georgetown at Alumni Stadium.

15. The HeismanPundit.com Heisman Poll is made up of 13 Heisman voters from across the country. They vote for five players each week. Tabulations are made on a 5-4-3-2-1 basis, with five points awarded for a first-place vote, four points for a second-place vote and so on. Last year’s final Heismanpundit poll was the most accurate in the country, picking five of the top six finishers in the Heisman vote, including the winner. Members of the panel include: Mike Bianchi of the Orlando Sentinel, Teddy Greenstein and Brian Hamilton of the Chicago Tribune, Olin Buchanan and Tom Dienhart of Rivals.com, Jenni Carlson of The Oklahoman, Bruce Feldman of ESPN.com, J.B. Morris of ESPN The Magazine, Austin Murphy, B.J. Schecter and Stewart Mandel of Sports Illustrated, plus Dick Weiss of the New York Daily News. Chris Huston of HeismanPundit.com coordinates and also votes in the poll. Here are this week’s results:

Oct. 27 HeismanPundit.com Heisman Poll Results
Total points, plus first place votes in parentheses:

1. Mark Ingram, RB, Alabama–56 (9)
2. Jimmy Clausen, QB, Notre Dame–26 (1)
3. Colt McCoy, QB, Texas–25
4. Tim Tebow, QB, Florida–23 (1)
5. Ndamukong Suh, DT, Nebraska–15 (1)
6. (tie) Golden Tate, WR, Notre Dame–10 (1)
6. (tie) Case Keenum, QB, Houston–10
8. (tie) Jacquizz Rodgers, RB, Oregon State–8
8. (tie) Kellen Moore, QB, Boise State–8
10. Eric Berry, DB, Tennessee–4

16. On 25 first-down plays last week by Boston College, Notre Dame’s defense held the Eagles to two yards or less on 19 of them.

17. The New York Historical Society is holding a public program entitled “Yankee Stadium Forever: College Football” at 6:30 p.m. on Nov. 11 (sponsored in collaboration with the New York Yankees). Speakers include Regis Philbin (moderator), New York Times columnist Dave Anderson, Army Heisman Trophy winner Pete Dawkins and former Notre Dame receiver Tom Gatewood. Call 212-868-4444 (SmartTix) for tickets.

18. Will Notre Dame defeat Washington State on Saturday in San Antonio? In 14 previous football games played on Oct. 31 the Irish have never lost.

19. The ESPN Heisman Watch this week lists Alabama’s Mark Ingram first (57 points, seven first-place votes), Jimmy Clausen second (43 points, four first-place votes) and Florida’s Tim Tebow third (41 points, three first-place votes).

20. If you consider Mark Ingram (Alabama) and Jimmy Clausen (Notre Dame) two of the Heisman front-runners, consider this:

  • In his final four regular-season games, Ingram will face rushing defenses currently ranked 50th (LSU), 66th (Mississippi State) and 89th (Auburn). Chattanooga is 58th in FCS rushing defense statistics.
  • In his final five regular-season games, Clausen will face pass defenses currently ranked 118th (Washington State), 38th (Navy), 54th (Pittsburgh), 39th (Connecticut) and 92nd (Stanford).

21. Annie Brophy tied for first with a 70 and Notre Dame’s women’s golf team finished tied for second overall (at 292) today at the rain-shortened Alamo Invitational in San Antonio.

October 26, 2009

2. There will be a definite Notre Dame Stadium touch to the Irish game in San Antonio this weekend. Notre Dame Stadium PA announcer Mike Collins will travel to San Antonio to handle those chores for the game against Washington State, and the game will included a taped safety message from former Indiana State Police sergeant Tim McCarthy. The Band of the Fighting Irish also will be present.

3. Who’s left on the Notre Dame football schedule? There’s Washington State (1-6), Navy (6-2), #14 Pittsburgh (7-1), Connecticut (4-3) and Stanford (5-3) for a combined 23-15 mark. Before it’s over, look for as many as nine teams on Notre Dame’s schedule to be bowl eligible.

4. Here’s an update on Irish Olympic sports teams and their play in the last week:

  • Men’s Soccer (9-6-1, 7-3 BIG EAST) – Defeated Georgetown 2-1 in OT and Pittsburgh 1-0
  • #6 Women’s Soccer (14-3-1, 10-0-1 BIG EAST) – Defeated Villanova 2-0 and Georgetown 2-0
  • Volleyball (14-4, 8-0 BIG EAST) – Defeated DePaul 3-0
  • Cross Country – Off last weekend, headed to BIG EAST Championships this weekend
  • #9 Hockey (3-3-0) – Defeated #3 Boston University 3-0, lost to #14 Boston College 3-2
  • Men’s Golf – 15th at UNCG Bridgestone Collegiate
  • Men’s Swimming (1-0) – Defeated Oakland 179-119

5. Halftime ceremonies at the New Canaan (Conn.) High School homecoming football game had an historic feel Saturday, as the #23 worn by the late Peter Demmerle was officially retired. Demmerle, an All-America wide receiver at Notre Dame under Ara Parseghian, helped the Irish win the 1973 national championship when they went 11-0 and beat top-ranked Alabama 24-23 in the Sugar Bowl on New Year’s Eve. Demmerle passed away in May 2007 after an eight-year battle with Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS), more commonly known as Lou Gehrig’s disease.

6. The computers were kind to Notre Dame as the Irish this week made their first appearance in the BCS rankings. Part of Notre Dame’s overall #23 standing came because in the computer rankings the Irish were rated 14th by Anderson & Hester, 15th by Massey, 18th by Colley Matrix and 23rd by Sagarin.

7. Golden Tate has been named one of 10 semifinalists for the Biletnikoff Award that goes to the best wide receiver in the country – and Jimmy Clausen is one of 15 semifinalists for the O’Brien Award that goes to the best quarterback.

October 25, 2009

1. Before the Notre Dame-Boston College football game yesterday, Notre Dame recognized BC linebacker Mark Herzlich, the 2008 Atlantic Coast Conference defensive player of the year who last May was diagnosed with Ewing’s sarcoma, a rare form of bone cancer. While undergoing radiation and chemotherapy treatments, Herzlich returned to classes in August and has been helping the Eagles football team as a student coach. Irish head football coach Charlie Weis and his wife Maura made a personal contribution of $5,000 to Uplifting Athletes, a national nonprofit group formed by college football players to fund research for rare diseases. Notre Dame’s Student-Athlete Advisory Council presented a check for $5,094 in Herzlich’s name to Irish men’s basketball coach Mike Brey and his Coaches vs. Cancer program. On the field representing SAAC was president Erika Williamson from women’s basketball. And, finally, Boston native and Irish wide receiver Barry Gallup, Jr., on behalf of the entire Notre Dame football program, presented Herzlich with a framed #94 Notre Dame jersey. Gallup is the son of Barry Gallup, Sr., Boston College’s director of football operations.

2. Retiring Notre Dame athletics administrator and former longtime football and softball coach Brian Boulac was honored both at halftime of the Notre Dame-Boston College game and also with a postgame Mass and reception in the Joyce Center. At halftime, Boulac was presented with a framed #86 jersey representing his number from his Irish playing days. Joining the on-field presentation were current athletics director Jack Swarbrick and former AD Dick Rosenthal. Among speakers at the reception were former players Kevin Hart, Dan Novakov, Mike Kovaleski and Vagas Ferguson. Former coach Ara Parseghian was among guests at the event. Swarbrick opened the proceedings by presenting Boulac with framed photos of old and new Yankee Stadium in recognition of the trip presented to Brian and Micki to New York for next November’s Notre Dame-Army game.

3. Nuggets from Charlie Weis’ Sunday media conference included:

  • On Armando Allen: “He has a lot of elements of Darius (Walker) – a little faster – Darius very good at pre-snap reads and fronts and knew where to run — Armando is a strong runner for his size, but you like to use 35 pounds (Robert Hughes) to your advantage on the goal line.”
  • On the punting situation: “We have to at least give Eric (Maust) a shot in practice and see how it goes.”
  • On r>ookie WR Roby Toma: “There are some things he’s really nifty at, like route-running. Toma is as good as we have at some things. Goody (John Goodman) has played into the top three or four guys. Roby is more of an inside player.”
  • On the defense: “When you sell out to stop the run, you leave yourself vulnerable to the pass – we have to find a happy medium. Our run defense improved the last four and half games – but we have to get some things fixed in coverage – too many easy yards.”
  • On turnovers in the BC game: “The biggest turnover was Sergio’s caused fumble down by the goal line – that was as critical as there was in the game because it prevented points.”
  • On pass defense: “We’re not content nor are the defensive players and coaches content with the yardage in the passing game – on the flip side we have three interceptions and all five turnovers came in plus territory – that’s a critical factor in preventing points.”
  • More on Toma: “He’s making plays with the show team every single week. He’s a constant every single week getting out and catching the ball and he’s nifty and the starters have trouble covering him. This kid’s got a lot of good football ahead of him for us.”
  • On Michael Floyd: “He’ll have a scan a week from Monday or Tuesday – My guess is the scan will say he’s healthy enough to go – but every week longer you wait after being cleared is better. At some point it’s your decision – if you know me I’ll leave it on Michael and knowing him he’ll want to get out there as quick as he can.”
  • On Jamoris Slaughter: “We know he can tackle – the first time out there he was a little nervous but there were some plays made in his area – being around the plays is just part of it – the next part is making some plays.”
  • More on defense: “We’ve already been involved in problem solving today – there’s a happy medium between run and pass defense. I believe our best play on defense is yet to come. That’s not just coach-speak. Early in the year we had a whole bunch of problems. Slowly but surely we’re solving some of these.”
  • On the BC game: “Our defense gave up 14 points – most games you’re gonna come out on top if you give up 14 points.”
  • On Jimmy Clausen: “Each week you can talk about Jimmy Clausen and his development. There’s no better measure of his development than his play vs. BC a year ago versus BC yesterday. A year ago we’re throwing it downfield to them. They were playing the same coverage this time and you saw hitch after hitch, quick out after quick out. Usually QBs at a young age do not have the patience to play that game. Then the game’s on the line and you’re down and he throws a TD pass. That’s the best measure you can say.”
  • On rebounding twice from losses: “It’s maybe one of the more underrated things — coming back to win after losses – we lose to USC on the last play and they are the only ones on campus because it’s fall break. You’re feeling sorry for yourself – so our biggest job is to rally the troops. As a sidebar, thanks to the students for getting back here – they could have been home for another day but there they were back here in force. I’m proud that our guys rallied from being in the tank to get a win against a team that had been beating them forever.”
  • On this week’s challenge: “Our players have to clearly understand that if they don’t go to work we’ll be fighting for the 100th week in a row.”
  • On Kyle McCarthy: “He made a number of critical plays for us – he made game-changing plays against Michigan State, against Washington, against BC – seal-the-victory-type of plays – you can’t give him enough credit for that. He’s a perfect example of what college football used to be — come in, pay your dues and keep working your butt off and you get your opportunity. And you get on the field and you make the most of it – he’s perfect for young guys to emulate.”
  • More on Clausen: “His TD-to-interception ratio was the one we addressed all the way back to training camp – that’s the most telling number you have – he’s gone the extra mile to have a clear understanding of where to go with the ball all the time.”
  • On what a win means: “If our team wasn’t happy last night they’ll be happy when they leave today because I’m going to point out we beat a team that we’d lost to six times in a row. Sometimes right after a game you’re just relieved. And there are still a number of things across the board we have to fix, to get better at, if we want to be peaking.”

4. Remember Jay Mills? He was a three-year graduate assistant at Notre Dame (1984-86), became passing game coordinator at both Harvard and Boise State and now has been head coach at Charleston Southern for seven years (Big South title in 2005, record nine wins in ’06).

5. Notre Dame now ranks 11th nationally in passing offense (305.86 yards), 15th in total offense (438.43), fourth in turnover margin (plus-1.43), eighth in passing efficiency (158.47 rating).

6. Individually Jimmy Clausen is second in passing efficiency (161.30 points), 11th in total offense (286.0); Golden Tate is 10th in receptions per game (7.43) fourth in receiving yards per game (121.0, with leader Freddie Barnes from Bowling Green at 131.75), 17th in all-purpose running (150.0 per game); Kyle McCarthy third in interceptions (.71 per game); Nick Tausch 10th in fields goals (1.71 per game); Darius Fleming 11th in tackles for loss (1.58 per game).

7. Notre Dame this week is 23rd in the toughest-schedule rankings at .575 (opponents are 46-34 combined).

8. Golden Tate is 20th among active players in career TD receptions at 20 (SMU’s Emmanuel Sanders and Oklahoma State’s Dez Bryant are #1 with 29 each).

9. Notre Dame moved back into both the AP and USA Today polls today at 25th.

10. Another turnover-less game for the Irish against BC means Notre Dame remains at five turnovers for the entire season. The only team in the country with fewer is Cincinnati with four.

11. Never in Notre Dame history have the Irish played six straight games within a single season, all decided by seven or fewer points (it also happened in last four games of ’83 and first two of ’84).

12. Notre Dame already has set a record by coming from behind four times in the final period to win.

13. Jimmy Clausen’s 26 completions vs. BC were a season high – while Golden Tate’s 11 receptions marked a career high. Tate had his third straight 100-yard receiving games – something no Notre Dame player had done since Derrick Mayes in 1995.

14. Nick Tausch now has connected on 12 straight field goals, one short of the Notre Dame record of 13 by Mike Johnston in 1982.

15. Notre Dame’s first preseason men’s basketball game next Sunday night against Lewis College will be televised in the Chicago market by Lakeshore Public Television.

16. Notre Dame is 12-4 in the state of Texas in football games. Notre Dame’s two most recent trips to Texas produced a 27-24 win over Texas in 1996 in Austin – followed by a 24-3 loss to Texas A&M in College Station in 2003.

17. The Texas legacy at Notre Dame includes 95 football players (all played at last one second): Steve Alaniz, Bill (Tex) Allison, Bert Berry (currently with NFL Arizona Cardinals), Garron Bible, Jordan Black (currently with NFL Jacksonville Jaguars), James Bobb, Tim Brown (College Football Hall of Fame, ’87 Heisman Trophy winner, ’86 All-American, ’87 consensus All-American), Stafford Campbell, Cikai Champion, Linc Coleman, Larry Cooke, Casey Cullen, Derek Curry, John Dampeer (’72 captain and All-American), Anthony Denman (2000 captain and All-American), Vontez Duff (’02 All-American, ’03 captain), Jarvis Edison, Randy Ellis, Robbie Finnegan, Christy Flanagan (1926-27 All-American), Jimmy Friday, David Fuentes, Mike Gandy (2000 All-American, currently with NFL Arizona Cardinals), David Givens (’01 captain), Dennis Grindinger, Wayne Gunn, Joe Haggar, Justin Hall, Tyreo Harrison, Mike Haywood (head coach at Miami of Ohio), Johnathan Hebert, Joseph Hepburn, Cedric Hilliard, Carlyle Holiday (’04 captain), Barry Holton, Dave Huffman (’78 consensus All-American), Steve Huffman, Tim Huffman, Grant Irons (2000-01 captain), Clifford Jefferson, Wally Kleine (’86 All-American), Jeff Kramer, Greg Lane, Travis Leitko, Bobby Leopold, Kapron Lewis-Moore, Alton Maiden, Drew Marsh, Rob Martinovich, Angus McDonald, Coy McGee, Ted McNamara, Matt McNew, Michael Miller, Leo Mixon, Alfred Morales (San Antonio), Gerald Morgan, Ronnie Nicks, Dan Novakov, James Odem, Bob Paine, Van Pearcy, Robert Phelps, Bill Pierce, Paul Porter, Geoff Price, Charles Renaud, Bobby Renkes, Allen Rossum (’97 captain, currently with NFL Dallas Cowboys), A’Jani Sanders, Gerome Sapp (’02 captain), Bumper Schiro, Herb Scholtz, Martin Scruggs, Hunter Smith (currently with NFL Washington Redskins), Pete (Red) Smith, Scott Smith, Wade Smith, Shannon Stephens, Chris Stewart, George Strohmeyer, Mark Swenson (San Antonio), Nick Tausch, Bobby Taylor (’93 All-American, ’94 consensus All-American), Joe Thomas, Stuart Tyner, Joe Unis, Tom Unis, Dave Vinson (’77 Academic All-American), Mike Viracola, Leon Wallace, Kevin Washington, Robin Weber, John (Tex) Young.

18. Kyle McCarthy already have five interceptions – most since five by Tom Zbikowski in 2005. The only time since 1990 an Irish player has topped that figure was seven by Shane Walton in 2002.

19. How do those five current turnovers rank for Notre Dame? The Irish in 2000 tied an NCAA record for fewest in a season with eight (also by Clemson in 1940 and Miami of Ohio in 1966).

October 23, 2009

1. The Warren Golf Course at the University of Notre Dame has been chosen as one of three host sites for regional play in the 2011 NCAA Women’s Golf Championships. The 54-hole tournament will take place over three days from May 5-7, 2011, with a practice round scheduled for May 4. It will be the first time the Warren has played host to a women’s NCAA Regional. The eight lowest scoring teams, as well as the two lowest scoring individuals not on an advancing team, from each of three regional championships will qualify for the 2011 NCAA Division I Women’s Golf Championship. The championship will be held May 17-20 at the Traditions Golf Club in College Station, Texas. Though 2011 will mark the first NCAA women’s regional played in Notre Dame, Ind., the Warren Golf Course is no stranger to championship competition. The Warren has played host to the NCAA men’s golf regional in 2005 and will again serve as a men’s regional site in 2010. Since the course opened on May 1, 2000, it also has played host to four U.S. Amateur Championship qualifiers, three Western Amateur Championship qualifiers and eight BIG EAST Championships (five men, three women).

2. Seen around campus today – former Irish hockey coach and player Dave Poulin, now general manager of the Toronto Maple Leafs. Poulin is in town for tonight’s Notre Dame-Boston College hockey game since Eagles sophomore winger Jimmy Hayes (he’s 6-5, 220 pounds) was a second-round Toronto pick in the 2008 NHL Entry Draft.

3. Also in town — current Delaware athletics director and former Notre Dame athletics administrator Bernard Muir.

4. Watch for a special presentation just prior to the Notre Dame-Boston College coin toss tomorrow to Eagle linebacker Mark Herzlich who is battling a rare form of cancer.

5. It looked like the weather might play havoc with the football pep rally tonight, but the rally went off as scheduled, with quarterbacks coach Ron Powlus, receiver Golden Tate and defensive lineman Ian Williams speaking.

October 22, 2009

1. Head coach Muffet McGraw and fifth-year senior guard/tri-captain Lindsay Schrader represented Notre Dame at this year’s BIG EAST Women’s Basketball Media Day, which was held today at the ESPN Zone in New York’s Times Square for the fifth consecutive year.

2. Prior to leaving the hotel (the Grand Hyatt in Manhattan) for the ESPN Zone, Schrader and several other BIG EAST players spent a few minutes each taping portions of a public service announcement for the conference that will air during the various televised BIG EAST women’s basketball games this season.

3. New BIG EAST associate commissioner for women’s basketball Danielle Donahew had a chance to chat with Irish coach Muffet McGraw for a few minutes in the hotel lobby this morning before heading off for Thursday’s media day activities.

4. Two BIG EAST coaches – DePaul’s Doug Bruno and Rutgers’ C. Vivian Stringer – were unable to attend this year’s BIG EAST Media Day due to deaths in their respective families. Bruno, the president of the BIG EAST coaches’ group, originally had been asked to speak on behalf of his conference colleagues at Media Day, but Pittsburgh’s Agnus Berenato pinch-hit for the longtime Blue Demons’ skipper. Both DePaul and Rutgers sent their top assistant coaches (Nicci Hays-Fort and Carlene Mitchell, respectively) in place of their bosses at the event.

5. Former Notre Dame All-America point guard Megan Duffy (’06) quietly slipped in and out of Thursday’s media day event. In her new role as an assistant coach at nearby St. John’s, Duffy was asked to drive three Red Storm players down to the ESPN Zone to meet the media.

6. On Wednesday night, Duffy caught up with her former coach and teammate, having dinner with McGraw and Schrader at a hole-in-the-wall BBQ restaurant near Times Square.

7. The Notre Dame women’s basketball team has been selected to finish second in the BIG EAST Conference in 2009-10, according to a preseason vote of the league’s 16 head coaches released Thursday morning. The Fighting Irish picked up 210 points and one first-place vote in the balloting (coaches may not vote for their own teams), placing behind only defending national champion Connecticut, which was a unanimous choice to win the conference title with 225 points. DePaul and reigning NCAA runner-up Louisville shared the third spot in the BIG EAST preseason poll with 171 points, while Pittsburgh rounded out the top five with 167 points. The conference coaches also voted fifth-year senior guard/tri-captain Lindsay Schrader and senior guard/tri-captain Ashley Barlow to the 12-player Preseason All-BIG EAST Team. Rookie guard Skylar Diggins was a unanimous choice as the BIG EAST Preseason Freshman of the Year, according to the league’s head coaches.

8. The Notre Dame men’s lacrosse team will take part in the 2010 Konica Minolta Face-Off Classic on March 6, 2010, at M&T Bank Stadium in Baltimore, Md. The Fighting Irish will face the Loyola Greyhounds in the third and final game of the day. The fourth annual Konica Minolta Face-Off Classic is the traditional start of the lacrosse season for the game’s growing fan base. This year, for the first time, the game lineup features a tripleheader. Maryland and Duke will get things underway at 11:00 a.m. (ET). Princeton and Johns Hopkins will follow at 1:30 p.m. The Irish and Greyhounds will play the final game of the day at 4:00 p.m.

9. Seen around the football offices today was former Irish safety David Bruton, now a rookie with the NFL Denver Broncos. His smile befitted his team’s current 6-0 record.

October 21, 2009

1. The Irish men’s basketball team practiced at Purcell Pavilion yesterday afternoon, then coach Mike Brey, Luke Harangody, Tory Jackson, Jon Peoples, athletics director Jack Swarbrick and associate athletics director Jim Fraleigh flew to New York for the BIG EAST Men’s Basketball Media Day. The Irish delegation stayed at the Grand Hyatt on 42nd Street, then headed to Madison Square Garden this morning for several hours of interviews. The Notre Dame group spent the first hour with the electronic media, doing interviews with 20 different outlets, from ESPN’s Andy Katz to SNY, Sirius Radio, Phoenix Communications, ESPN Regional, Cox Sports, Inside the BIG EAST, plus affiliates from Syracuse, Providence and New Haven.

2. First-year BIG EAST commissioner John Marinatto began the proceedings by expressing condolences and support for the University of Connecticut and the family of Huskie cornerback Jasper Howard who was killed early Sunday morning in Storrs, Conn. Marinatto then talked about following in the footsteps of his two BIG EAST predecessors, Dave Gavitt and Michael Tranghese, both longtime Providence athletics administrators. The three go back three decades in terms of working relationships. Now 100 days into his role as commissioner, Marinatto told the story of receiving a letter last summer from Tranghese congratulating him on the new assignment and passing along best wishes. Then, Tranghese related a story he said Gavitt had passed along to him 19 years earlier. Said Marinatto, in the event of an embarrassing situation, you’ll find three letters in your top desk drawer. He opened the first one and it read, “Blame the previous administration.” The second time there was a scandal, he opened the second letter and it said, “Form a blue-ribbon commission.” The third time it happened, he opened the third letter and it read, “Prepare three envelopes.”

3. Media day provided Marinatto a chance to remind those in attendance of some of the BIG EAST highlights from 2009 – two teams in the NCAA Final Four, Louisville’s first BIG EAST Tournament championship, the epic six-overtime game between Syracuse and Connecticut.

4. Marinatto announced an extension of the BIG EAST agreement to play its postseason tournament at Madison Square Garden, with that event now slated for MSG through 2016. That will ensure that BIG EAST players have the chance to play in the new Garden that will open in 2013. Marinatto said the new MSG would be “like a new building.”

5. Marinatto said ESPN would televise all 16 games of the BIG EAST Tournament in 2010. Last year the two first-day sessions were not televised. This time the early games will be on ESPN2 and the late session on ESPNU. All 144 regular-season league games will be televised this year, 139 by ESPN and five on CBS.

6. Said Marinatto, “There’s no question the league is younger but it will be more balanced.”

7. Notre Dame’s Luke Harangody, with a chance to become the league’s all-time leading scorer and rebounder, is the preseason pick as the BIG EAST Player of the Year (he won the award in 2008).

8. In the preseason league poll (voting by the coaches), Notre Dame was listed eighth, with Villanova, West Virginia, Connecticut and Louisville holding down the top four spots.

9. Among those seen at BIG EAST media day were Notre Dame ISP football play-by-play voice Don Criqui, CBS Final Four producer Bob Dekas, ESPN’s Bill Raftery, CBS Sports executive Mike Aresco and ESPN analyst Doris Burke.

10. Another visitor to the BIG EAST media day was former Irish football player John Mosley, who now works for the New York Yankees and handles non-baseball events. He is headed to San Antonio next week to see preparations for Notre Dame’s first-off-site game in advance of Notre Dame’s trip to Yankee Stadium in 2010.

11. The women’s version of BIG EAST Media Day happens tomorrow at the ESPN Zone in Times Square.

12. Huge road win by the Irish hockey team last night – 3-0 over defending NCAA champion Boston University.

13. The Irish men’s soccer team defeated Georgetown 2-1 in OT this afternoon.

October 20, 2009

1. Another sideline guest last week for Notre Dame-USC was longtime major-league pitcher Don Sutton who said he always dreamed of a being a kicker for Notre Dame.

2. Former Irish all-stars Andy Heck and Ryan Harris will be in for the Notre Dame-Boston College football game. Heck is offensive line coach for the Jacksonville Jaguars (they are off this weekend), while Harris starts at offensive tackle for the 6-0 Denver Broncos (they are off this weekend as well).

3. More than 5,800 fans wandered down the tunnel of Notre Dame Stadium on the Friday before the Notre Dame-USC game and that number could go up since there is no visiting team workout scheduled this Friday by the Eagles. Another 700 people visited the Lou Holtz and Ara Parseghian sculptures at Gate D. Both those options again will be available on Friday.

4. NBC utilized a camera on a jib on the west end of the south goal-line for the Notre Dame-USC game and will utilize that option again this week when Boston College comes to town as well as in San Antonio the following Saturday.

5. Recently-retired Irish football coach and administrator Brian Boulac will be honored at halftime of the Notre Dame-Boston College contest.

6. The Irish softball team will be honored during the Notre Dame-Boston College game, as will the 100th year of the campus Knights of Columbus chapter.

7. When Notre Dame’s Federal graduation rates and NCAA Graduation Success Rate figures are announced next month – expect the Notre Dame numbers to be better than ever before.

8. Comments from the Charlie Weis Tuesday press conference:
On Robby Parris: “He had an ankle, knee and hip that all got X-rayed and were negative. He had an MRI on his knee and it was just bruised. He went from out to doubtful but there’s a chance he could be used this week. He’s just very sore.”

On Kyle Rudolph’s three receptions vs. USC: “He spent most of the day in protection. It was more what we did than what they did.”

On Boston College’s use of the wildcat offense: “They hopped on board and they had a big day (versus North Carolina State last week).”

On the Eagle pass defense: “They play zone defense and you have to be patient and throw the ball underneath. If you throw it downfield it’s gonna be their ball. They make you play that game.”

On his team: “The thing I like most is their heart. It’s evident this is a fighting group of guys with intestinal fortitude. When we were down 20 in the fourth period Saturday there was no one on the sideline who didn’t think we were going to win. That’s how the program has changed. You couldn’t have said that before but you can say it now.”

On Boston College linebacker Mark Herzlich: “He’s a winner. I contacted Barry Gallup Sr., and he was able to get me in touch with him and we’ve traded texts and phone calls. He’s friends with Golden Tate. He told me people would disown him if they knew a Boston College player was friends with the Notre Dame head coach.”

On the Irish defense: “It’s getting better against the run, but we gave up way too many chunks in the passing game against USC. We’ve made significant progress against the run and it comes at the right time.”

On what he texted to Bill Belichick after the Patriots’ 59-0 win Sunday: “Wow.”

October 19, 2009

1. It’s a big week for Notre Dame hockey as the Irish play the last two NCAA champions in a four-day span. First, tomorrow in Boston, it’s 2009 champion Boston University. Then, on Friday at the Joyce Center, it’s 2008 champion Boston College (a winner over the Irish in the title game). Boston University is 0-1 after a 3-2 loss Friday night at Massachusetts and was ranked #2 last week. Boston College is 0-1 after a 4-1 loss at Vermont last night and was ranked #12 last week.

2. Notre Dame this week will have to defend the player who has posted the best single-game rushing effort in the country in 2009, after Boston College’s Montel Harris ran for 264 yards and five TDs Saturday against North Carolina State (27 carries). Harris had a 179-yard effort earlier this year against Florida State (Oct. 3).

3. Notre Dame’s schedule is now ranked as the 23rd-most difficult schedule in the country based on NCAA numbers (among FBS teams). The Irish previous opposition stands 18-14 (.562), while future foes are 22-15 (.594), for an overall mark 40-29 (.579). Boston College’s schedule rates 66th at 28-28 (.500). Notre Dame’s remaining opponents are Boston College (5-2), Washington State (1-5), Navy (5-2), Pittsburgh (6-1), Connecticut (4-2) and Stanford (4-3).

4. Notre Dame leads the nation in time of possession, averaging 37:08 in possession time per game – for a huge lead over #2 Kansas State at 34:41 and #3 Navy at 34:11.

5. All five Boston College wins have come at home – both Eagle losses have come on the road.

6. It’s fall break at Notre Dame this week – no classes until Monday, Oct. 26.

7. Tight end Kyle Rudolph and safety Sergio Brown will be guests at the Friday kickoff luncheon at the Joyce Center.

8. Boston College comes to South Bend having defeated the Irish six straight times. Short of USC’s current eight-game win streak against the Irish, that’s the best current streak of success against Notre Dame. The Irish haven’t been successful against Boston College since a 28-16 Notre Dame Stadium win in 2000 (Bob Davie’s fourth season at Notre Dame). The Irish are 9-9 overall against Boston College, including 5-5 at Notre Dame Stadium. The Eagles have defeated Notre Dame when the Irish have been ranked #1 (1993 in South Bend), #8 (1994 in Boston), #4 (2002 in South Bend) and #24 (2004 in South Bend).

9. Here’s the Notre Dame Olympic sport weekend update:

  • #7 Women’s Soccer (12-3-1 overall, 8-0-1 BIG EAST): Defeated Connecticut 6-1 and Providence 2-0
  • Men’s Soccer (7-6-1 overall, 5-3-0 BIG EAST): Lost 3-0 to #19 Indiana and lost 1-0 to West Virginia
  • Volleyball (13-4 overall, 7-0 BIG EAST): Defeated Pittsburgh 3-0 and West Virginia 3-0 on the road to make it seven straight wins
  • #9 Hockey (2-2-0): L 3-2 and W 2-0 vs. Providence
  • Cross Country: Women 9th (Lindsey Ferguson 15th), men 15th at NCAA Pre-National Meet in Terre Haute, Ind.
  • Men’s Golf: 11th at The Prestige at PGA West at La Quinta, Calif.
  • Women’s Golf: 9th at Mercedes Benz Collegiate in Knoxville, Tenn.
  • Men’s Tennis: Casey Watt advanced to the championship match of the ITA Midwest Regional before falling 6-1, 7-6 (1)
  • Men’s Lacrosse: Defeated Iroquois National Team 14-8 in baptism of Arlotta Stadium

10. If you are headed for South Bend this weekend for the Notre Dame-Boston College football game, here’s what else you can see in terms of Irish athletic events:

Hockey (7:35 p.m. vs. Boston College)
Women’s Soccer (7:30 p.m. vs. Villanova)
Men’s Swimming (6:00 p.m. vs. Oakland)

Women’s Soccer (6:00 p.m. vs. #22 Georgetown)

11. Jimmy Clausen is second in the country this week in passing efficiency at 166.35 and Notre Dame as a team is fourth in that category at 162.61. Clausen is seventh nationally in passing offense at 315.83 yards per game.

12. Through six games, Notre Dame has committed only five turnovers. The only schools with fewer are Air Force, Cincinnati and Oregon State with four each.

13. If you still collect football cards, the 2009 Topps Pro Football set includes former Irish players Justin Tuck (#23), Anthony Fasano (#237), Julius Jones (#216), John Carlson (#268), Ryan Grant (#27) and Brady Quinn (#150).

14. Top NCAA team stat rankings for Boston College this week are 20th in punt returns (13.9 each), 27th in tackles for loss (7.14 per game), 34th in scoring (30.86 points per game), 37th in scoring defense (20.71) and 39th in rushing defense (117.14).

15. Here’s an amazing stat for you: Boston College ranks 106th (of 120 teams) in the country in passing offense at 171.0 yards per game – but the Eagles and Irish have the exact same number of TD passes (15).

16. Notre Dame coaches Mike Brey and Muffet McGraw and their top players head to New York this week for BIG EAST Basketball Media Days Wednesday (men) and Thursday (women).

17. Sideline visitors at the Notre Dame-USC football included director Spike Lee, actors Will Ferrell and Jim Caviezel and former Minnesota Viking coach Bud Grant.

18. Five straight football games in a single season decided by seven or fewer points? It hasn’t happened at Notre Dame since 1939 when the Irish started the season in that fashion (W 3-0 vs. Purdue, W 17-14 vs. Georgia Tech, W 20-19 vs. SMU, W 14-7 vs. Navy, W 7-6 vs. Carnegie Tech). Six straight would be an all-time high.

19. Former Irish standout and current Milwaukee Brewer infielder Craig Counsell will attend the Notre Dame-Boston College football game. Counsell earned World Series championships rings with both the Florida Marlins and Arizona Diamondbacks.

20. The espn.com Heisman Watch lists Florida’s Tim Tebow #1 (74 points), Jimmy Clausen #2 (45), Texas’ Colt McCoy #3 (43) and Cincinnati’s Tony Pike #4 (18).

21. The CBSSports.com weekly poll of its five college football experts has Alabama’s Mark Ingram #1 (39 points), Tim Tebow #2 (31), Clausen #3 (23), Houston’s Case Keenum #4 (18).

October 16, 2009

1. A new book, Pigskin Warriors: 140 Years of College Football’s Greatest Traditions, Games and Stars by Steven Travers, lists Notre Dame prominently:

  • Notre Dame is second in terms of all-time tradition (USC is #1, Alabama #3, Oklahoma #4).
  • Among top single season teams, Irish teams rated #5 (1947), #15 (1988), #20 (1973), #23 (1924), #27 (1966), #32 (1929) and #36 (1946).
  • The Irish in `24 ranked as the best team of that decade, as did the ’47 Notre Dame squad.
  • Under dynasties, the Irish under Knute Rockne stood #3, Notre Dame under Frank Leahy and Terry Brennan stood #5, the Irish under Ara Parseghian an Dan Devine were #12.
  • The greatest single-game individual performance list had Joe Montana #6 vs. Houston in ’79 Cotton Bowl, Tim Brown #10 vs. USC in ’86, Montana #11 vs. USC in ’77, Montana #13 vs. USC in ’78 and John Lujack #15 vs. Army in ’46.
  • The greatest single-game team performance chart had Notre Dame #3 vs. USC in ’66, #21 vs. USC in ’77, #31 vs. Texas in ’78 Cotton Bowl. The greatest games played list included Notre Dame #5 (vs. Michigan State ’66), #6 (vs. USC ’31), #9 (vs. USC ’05), #10 (vs. Army ’46), #11 (vs. Alabama in ’73 Sugar Bowl), #13 (vs. Miami ’88), #16 (vs. USC ’74), #17 (vs. Oklahoma ’57), #19 (vs. Florida State 93), #23 (vs. USC ’64), #26 (vs. USC ’78), and #28 (vs. USC ’77). That meant Notre Dame was part of 12 of the top 30 games on that list.
  • The greatest player list had Tim Brown as a starting wide receiver – and by ranking had Ross Browner #31, Paul Hornung #53, George Gipp #56, Marchy Schwartz #60.

2. The Irish men’s basketball squad wasted no time making use of the brand-new Purcell Pavilion, taking the floor this morning for a 6:00 a.m. workout.

3. Two-day ticket packages for the second annual Shillelagh Hockey Tournament to be held Jan. 2-3, 2010, at the Sears Centre Arena in Hoffman Estates, Ill., will go on sale to the public at 10:00 a.m., Monday (Oct. 19). The tickets can be purchased through the Sears Centre Arena website at searscentre.com and then clicking on tickets, the Sears Centre Arena Box Office, Ticketmaster.com, all Ticketmaster locations or charge by phone at 1-800-745-3000. Parking for the Shillelagh Tournament at the Sears Centre Arena lots will be free. The Shillelagh Tournament will be hosted by seventh-ranked Notre Dame and will feature Colgate, Niagara and fourth-ranked North Dakota. On Saturday, Jan. 2, Niagara will face North Dakota in the opening game at 3:05 p.m. (CT). Notre Dame will then play Colgate in the nightcap beginning at 6:05 p.m. (CT). On Sunday, Jan. 3, Colgate will play in the first game at 3:05 p.m. against either Niagara or North Dakota with Notre Dame facing one of those two teams at 6:05 p.m. (CT).

4. The best of quotation leftovers from Notre Dame’s basketball media days:

*** Irish men’s coach Mike Brey —

On Purcell Pavilion…
“I’m in awe of what they got done in five months, and there are still a few things they are cleaning up, but it’s bright. I don’t think I realized how dark the old place was with those bleachers on top. I think it’s an exciting time to see that finished. I know the guys are excited.”

On the experience of the team…
“We are still kind of old. We lost four seniors who were really key guys for us and great representatives of the university and the program, but we still are experienced when you add (Ben) Hansbrough, you add (Tim) Abromaitis in his third year, (Carleton) Scott in his third year, certainly Tyrone Nash, you see we have experience and any time you’re old in college basketball and anytime you’re old in the [BIG EAST] you always have a shot . . . . That’s always something we’ve talked about here, trying to get back to being a part of the NCAA tournament. We’ve done it five of my nine years, and I think it’s safe to say three of the four we didn’t go, we were right there making a run at the thing. We strive to do it every year. And realistically can we make a run at one of the bids that come out of the BIG EAST? Yes, we can do that, even with Scott Martin not being part of the equation. It’s going to be a little different; it’s going to be a little tougher. With the experience we have back, and the older guys, we have a chance to do that.”

On Luke Harangody…
“He’s a better college player for putting his name in the (NBA) draft. It’s helped him. He’s a more confident player. I think one of the things that he didn’t know he’d miss when he was considering leaving was being a senior captain and leading the team. He’s become a much better passer. He’s going to have a lot of attention. Last year, they played him with one guy, let him get 25, and then see if any of our other guys could step up.”

On how the team changes due to the loss of Scott Martin…
“It’s to be determined. We will have to look at playing the three guards, which we were looking at if we had Martin anyway. Ben (Hansbrough), Jon (Peoples), and Tory (Jackson), they are all 22 years old, it is their fourth year in college basketball. They have great strength and size, and even if we have to give up some size in matchups, we still have strength and maturity. After Martin went down, we definitely started thinking that the three senior guards will be in heavy doses together.”

On Tory Jackson’s progress…
“He has always been such a warrior for us. I look for him to come back and have a great year. As far as giving us toughness, energy, and a voice, I don’t know if we have had a better player in my ten years. There is so much positive energy that comes off him. I think he is one of the best guards in our league.”

On Ben Hansbrough…
“He can shoot the ball. If you ask SEC coaches, when there is a big shot, his percentage is really high. He has some driving ability, which really helps us. He rebounds well for a guard.”

On the effect of the new arena…
“We’ll use that. We’ll convince them they can [play better in the new arena.] Guys will shoot better there and everything. I did have Phil Purcell tell me today, we took a little tour, and he said, `I was really glad when you lost the Connecticut game here last season.’ I said, `Well, Phil, why was that?’ He said, `Because I didn’t want the streak to snap in the building with my name on it the next year.’ I said, `You know, I never thought of it that way.’ I think it’s energizing for our current guys and everybody associated with the program, including our fans. Our fans haven’t been in it yet, and it’s a smaller venue, obviously. It’s good; it’s tight. It’s a college basketball venue. I think you’ll be shocked that you’re in the same footprint, the same building.”

*** Luke Harangody – Senior – Forward —

On why he came back to Notre Dame and the things he wants to achieve this year…
“The most important thing for me was my teammates. I came back to spend another year with them and I will never be around another group of individuals like this ever again. My main component is to go into this year determined.”

On if he thinks the team is underestimated at all this year…
“Yeah, I think we definitely are. We could be picked anywhere between nine to thirteen (in the BIG EAST) but that’s okay with us. I think back to my freshman year when we were picked 11th and finished fourth in the league.”

On what he learned and how he grew up over the couple of weeks he was away at NBA tryouts…
“I think just working on my game and being around not a lot of Notre Dame people helped my leadership skills where I have to come back here and now my voice is very important to the team.”

*** Tory Jackson – Senior – Guard —

How do you picture your big-picture development from a freshmen until now and then also the UCLA game last season, your struggles, and you turned it around at that point. First of all, though, big picture, what’s been your development to make that happen?
“First my maturity. I came here out of high school, and I wasn’t mature. The high school game is so different from the college game–it’s tougher, it’s quicker, it makes you think. I wasn’t able to handle that my first game coming in, but I had the guys here to guide me too. The players on the team continued to help me and things went well. I kept talking to Coach (Brey), kept talking to (assistant coach) Martin Ingelsby and learned how to become a better point guard and not just a scoring guard. The UCLA game made everything a reality check not to let my guard down.”

*** Irish women’s coach Muffet McGraw —

On high expectations in regards to the players…
“I want them to embrace it. I think that we are going into the season as a team with everybody back, but the expectations are definitely higher than they were last year. I think that when you look at the Big East it’s a great conference. We are expected to finish at the top. We’re expected to be better nationally. I think that it’s a little bit of a different feel going into the season, but I think we have a little bit of a different sense of urgency with the seniors. I think last year not having any seniors we didn’t have that sense of urgency that we needed. Now we have five senior players, and they know what they want to accomplish before they leave here. I definitely think there is a greater sense of urgency amongst the players.”

On how good the team can be…
“I think that we can be a really good team, but we do have some question marks. Right now we are hoping that our post game comes along really quickly. Getting them back into the practice will be a great start. We have Erica Williamson in a cast right now until next Monday. Erica Solomon just got out of a cast. Devereaux Peters of course is not back yet. Right now, Becca Bruszewski is our post game. She had a great summer and a great fall. We are expecting big things from Becca, but really we need our depth to come along in the post really quickly.”

On the excitement of Skylar Diggins making her debut…
“I think we saw the excitement brewing during season ticket sales. We are just about at 7,500. I think there might have been a couple of season booklets left. We really did a fantastic job. The fans really came out and got the tickets early. We are kind of excited and think you can sense that in the air all around town; certainly for Skylar and for the rest of the team as well. I think that she is excited just to get out there and start playing. There has been a lot of hype coming in and she just wants to put that behind her and start on a new career. “

*** Becca Bruszewski ÃÆ’Ã € ‘ ¯ ¿ ½ Senior ÃÆ’Ã € ‘ ¯ ¿ ½ Forward —

On having too much offense…
“I mean I guess it is a good and bad thing because it is more of a challenge in practice. We are really going to challenge each other. The competition is going to increase. We are going to fight for playing time. Our pick-up game has increased. The entire defense has. It’s really good.”

On freshman Skylar Diggins…
“Skylar fits in perfectly, her and Kaila (Turner) both. Their shots are falling, they are looking good, and they are working through the offense. She is just a normal freshman. They all go through the transition of a faster pace game. I can see that in pick-up. She has adjusted well, her and Kaila both.”

On motivation after last year’s disappointing loss in the first round of the NCAA Tournament at home…
“Right after the loss we cracked down on the defense to the extreme. We are going to work on playing 40 minutes on both sides of the court. It was a tough lesson to learn, but it was learned. I mean we aren’t going back.”

*** Melissa Lechlitner ÃÆ’Ã € ‘ ¯ ¿ ½ Senior ÃÆ’Ã € ‘ ¯ ¿ ½ Guard —

On preseason expectations…
“You try and ignore it. It is great to be recognized preseason and everything but at the same time it has no importance on our season and how we play as a team. We just try and take it with a grain of salt.”

*** Skylar Diggins ÃÆ’Ã € ‘ ¯ ¿ ½ Freshman ÃÆ’Ã € ‘ ¯ ¿ ½ Guard —

On her initial thoughts on the upcoming season…
“I’m so excited to actually put a jersey on. It’s starting to get real, and I’m about ready to play a game tonight, and you just have to tell yourself `Let’s go Let’s go.’ I’m so excited and this is what I’ve been waiting for. This is what all the hard work has been for, and I just can’t wait to get in my jersey and play. I’m so excited for my family to be around and see me play, and coach has told me to try to get rid of the pressure, but I’m just ready to get started.”

On the pressure of the upcoming season, and what she has to prove…
“I don’t have to prove anything. I’m just coming out here to play with a great group of girls, and they’ve really welcomed me. We’re excited and ready to get started with the season.”

*** Lindsay Schrader ÃÆ’Ã € ‘ ¯ ¿ ½ Senior ÃÆ’Ã € ‘ ¯ ¿ ½ Guard —

On being here five years…
“I think I’m just going to stay here forever because it feels like I have been here for a long time. But I’m glad to stay; it’s one of the best decisions that I have ever made since coming to Notre Dame. Everything happens for a reason and I’m glad that I’m here for my fifth year. This year is going to be something special and I can’t wait to be a part of it.”

On expectations…
“We have high expectations on our end. I’m not going to promise you a national championship, but I’ll definitely promise you that this team is going to give 110% all the time. We’re not going to stop running, we’re not going to stop shooting, we’re not going to stop until we reach all of our goals. My personal goal is to get to the Final Four. I want to go to San Antonio.”

*** Erica Williamson ÃÆ’Ã € ‘ ¯ ¿ ½ Senior ÃÆ’Ã € ‘ ¯ ¿ ½ Center —

On returning from injury and looking forward to the BIG EAST season…
“I think coming back from last season and going forward to this season were really looking forward to really being the presence that a lot of people expect us to be. At Notre Dame we have had a lot of expectations in the past and this year it’s going to be really important to fulfill those. We had a terrible end to the season last year and this year we are just eager to play and eager to get started so we can start to right our wrongs a little bit.”

5. The Irish women’s golf team shot an opening round 306 (+18) today to tie for 10th through one round of play at the 2009 Mercedes Benz Championship, which is being played at the Fox Den Country Club in Knoxville, Tenn. On a day that saw only two players not from the host institution of Tennessee break par, sophomore Becca Huffer led the Irish with a three-over par 75.

6. The Irish men’s lacrosse team baptized the brand-new Arlotta Stadium with a 14-8 victory over the Iroquois National Team. Notre Dame overcame an early 3-1 deficit and broke out of an 8-8 tie at the end of three periods. Nicholas Beattie and David Earl had three goals each – while Neal Hicks, Grant Krebs, Sean Rogers and freshman Steve Murphy had two apiece.

7. NBC Sports president Ken Schanzer detailed all the early conversations and meetings that led to the contract with Notre Dame today at the Notre Dame football kickoff luncheon at the Joyce Center. Then former Irish star Raghib Ismail delivered an impassioned plea both to the Irish players and fans to take advantage of the opportunity on Saturday versus USC. Ismail and current Irish tackle Sam Young spent most of lunch talking nutrition and training and warm-up regimens.

October 14, 2009

1. What’s the best way to measure the strength of a rivalry? How about the number of times the teams played when both squads were ranked? In terms of Notre Dame, that’s been the case 31 times against USC, 21 vs. Michigan, 12 vs. Purdue and Michigan State, nine vs. Army and Navy, eight vs. Pittsburgh and Miami, seven vs. Texas and Penn State. Cut it back to when both teams were in the top 10, and you’ve got 18 Notre Dame games vs. USC, eight vs. Michigan, six vs. Army, five vs. Navy and Texas, four vs. Alabama, Miami, Oklahoma and Purdue.

2. While the Notre Dame-USC game in South Bend is now a mid-October tradition, the game at Notre Dame used to be played in late November similar to the games in Los Angeles. But it’s been 50 years since that happened. The last time the Trojans came to South Bend that late? November 28, 1959. The 4-5 Irish defeated seventh-rated and once-beaten USC 16-6 in Joe Kuharich’s first season as Notre Dame head coach. In all the Trojans made a dozen trips in November to play in South Bend (Notre Dame won nine times, including the last seven in a row).

3. Speakers at the Notre Dame-USC football pep rally Friday will include current Irish captains Eric Olsen, Kyle McCarthy, Scott Smith and Jimmy Clausen, head coach Charlie Weis and former Irish All-Americans Joe Theismann and Raghib “Rocket” Ismail.

4. Fans in town for the Notre Dame-USC football weekend have several ways of accessing Notre Dame Stadium attractions on Friday. For the first time, fans will be permitted inside Gate D from 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. EDT to view and photograph sculptures of former Irish football coaches Ara Parseghian and Lou Holtz. Similar to previous home weekends, the north tunnel of Notre Dame Stadium down to the field will be available to fans from 10:00 a.m.-3:30 p.m. EDT Friday. As many as 5,000 fans took advantage of that opportunity Oct. 2 prior to the Notre Dame-Washington game. On the east side of Notre Dame Stadium, fans can view sculptures of former Irish coaches Knute Rockne (only two weeks old following its Oct. 2 dedication) and Frank Leahy and former athletics director Moose Krause.

5. Thursday is media day for both Notre Dame basketball teams. Then the Irish men will practice in the new Purcell Pavilion for the first time Friday afternoon.

October 13, 2009

1. Today’s comments from Charlie Weis about the possibility of injured receiver Michael Floyd returning to the field in November were such a hot scoop that they aired as the lead item on ESPN Radio SportsCenter at 1:00 p.m. EDT, less than an hour after Weis made his remarks live at his weekly media briefing.

2. Other events happening this week on campus include:
WEDNESDAY–Men’s soccer vs. Indiana at 7:00 p.m. at Alumni Stadium
THURSDAY–Hockey vs. Providence at 87:30 p.m. at Joyce Center fieldhouse.
FRIDAY–Men’s lacrosse vs. Iroquois National Team at 4:00 p.m. at the new Arlotta Stadium; women’s soccer vs. Connecticut at 7:30 p.m. at Alumni Stadium; hockey vs. Providence at 7:30 p.m. at the Joyce Center fieldhouse.
SATURDAY–Men’s soccer vs. West Virginia at 11:30 a.m. at Alumni Stadium.
SUNDAY–Women’s soccer vs. Providence at 1:00 p.m. at Alumni Stadium.

3. Hannah and Friends will hand out 10,000 rally towels to students attending the Notre Dame-USC football game on Saturday.

4. Fred Leahy, the son of former Irish head football coach Frank Leahy, will be in town this weekend and will tour the expanded Notre Dame Stadium for the first time.

5. The dedication for Arlotta Stadium this weekend includes the men’s lacrosse game at 4:00 p.m. Friday against the Iroquois National Team, dedication ceremonies at 10:00 a.m. Saturday in the Stadium (the public is welcome to view from the stands) followed by a private reception, then a private dinner after the football game.

6. It’ll be a hectic weekend on campus – with the Board of Trustees in town for meetings, plus the weekend dedication of Ryan Hall, a new women’s residence hall.

7. Plans for the pep rally Friday at Irish Green include use of an eight-by-eight-foot LED video board.

8. There was a definite national flair to Charlie Weis’ usual Tuesday media update – with ESPN’s George Smith and CBSsports.com`s Dennis Dodd here in person – and questions by telephone coming from espn.com’s Pac-10 expert Ted Miller and espn.com national college writer Ivan Maisel. Meanwhile, Sports Illustrated is sending two photographers to the game on Saturday, and the New York Daily News and New York Post are both covering.

9. Some nuggets from Charlie Weis’ press conference today:

  • On USC’s defense: “They lose all these guys to the NFL and they haven’t missed a beat. It’s a rare team where you really don’t find a hole (to try to exploit).”
  • On Michael Floyd: “He looks like he might be ahead of schedule and there’s a chance we’ll get him back in November. He can’t catch balls yet, but this will be his first day running around at practice in pads.” Weis said Floyd will have a scan in early November that will help determine his status and he could play as early as Nov. 14 versus Pittsburgh.
  • On Jimmy Clausen’s injury: “His turf toe is better, but he’ll have it until the season is over.”
  • On why the Irish have a big recruiting weekend planned: “What bigger game in terms of buzz than this one?”
  • On the ’05 game: “I was absolutely completely miserable. We had our chances – we didn’t get it done.”
  • On motivation vs. USC: “It’s easy to get up for a game against USC. You can get them at a fever pitch, but you still have to go play against USC on Saturday.”
  • On visiting the USC locker room after the ’05 loss: “It was really hard to do, but it was the right thing to do. As bad as I felt, it was a great teaching moment with my kid. I just congratulated them and wished them well the rest of the year.”
  • On USC QB Matt Barkley: “He knows who his playmakers are and he gets the ball in their hands. He’s got a seasoned offensive line with good skill people. He’s making plays – he’s doing more than just managing the game.”
  • On USC’s defense a year ago: “Our offense got manhandled from start to finish, without them bringing a lot of pressure.”
  • On USC: “They’ve lost all these good players, but you look at their team, and they put somebody else in and the thing just keeps on ticking.”
  • On Jimmy Clausen: “He’s had a heck of a year. There couldn’t be anyone in the country playing any better than him through these first five games. But now he’s playing against the best defense he’s seen all year. This (playing QB at Notre Dame) is a what-have-you-done-for-me-lately position.”
  • On Clausen as a Heisman candidate: “If he wins that award we will have won a bunch of games. If he wins because we play great, sign me up for that.”
  • On players believing they can beat USC: “For the first time since I’ve been here the players believe they’re going to win. I don’t know if that’s always been the case.”
  • On his sleep patterns: “I get my four hours in. That’s not unusual. That’s what we do.”
  • On Clausen vs. Purdue: “When he had to play in the fourth period after the game had changed, he led us on the drive at the end of the game and threw a TD pass. That was the moment his career might have changed. He showed the team a toughness that was visible.”
  • On the difference in expectations between where the Irish are now and the past: “It’s the difference between expecting good things to happen and hoping bad things don’t happen.”

10. The si.com Heisman Watch this week puts Notre Dame’s Jimmy Clausen first, Nebraska’s Ndamukong Suh second, Texas’ Jordan Shipley third, Cincinnati’s Tony Pike fourth, Florida’s Tim Tebow fifth, Virginia Tech’s Ryan Williams sixth, Alabama’s Mark Ingram seventh, Houston’s Case Keenum eighth, Texas’ Colt McCoy ninth and Kansas’ Todd Reesing 10th. Meanwhile, the espn.com Heisman Watch has Tebow #1 (74 points), Clausen #2 (45), McCoy #3 (43), Pike #4 (18), Suh #5 (13).

11. As Charlie Weis noted, here’s the difference in NCAA total defense rankings for Notre Dame first six opponents:

  • Nevada 93rd at 394.6 yards per game
  • Michigan 84th at 387.83
  • Michigan State 41st at 329.0
  • Purdue 76th at 379.67
  • Washington 106th at 418.0
  • USC 6th at 238.6

That means the Trojans, on average, give up 100 yards less per game than any defense the Irish have played to date.

12. Notre Dame men’s golf finished 11th today at The Prestige at PGA West in La Quinta, Calif., with an 895 team score. Max Scodro was tied for 26th individually at 72-77-72-221.

13. Conference honors for two Irish golfers: Senior Josh Sandman has been named the BIG EAST Golfer of the Month. Sandman announced his return to the Irish lineup – after missing all of last season while recovering from injury – by recording a 71.00 stroke average in his first three tournaments of the 2009-10 season. Becca Huffer also has been named BIG EAST Golfer of the Month. Huffer, the conference’s 2008-09 Rookie of the Year, recently turned in her best career finish with a fifth-place showing at the Windy City Collegiate. Through Notre Dame’s three rounds of the 2009 fall season, Huffer carries a team-best 73.50 stroke average.

October 12, 2009

1. The latest edition of the cbssports.com Heisman Trophy ballot (even after a week off for the Irish) still has Jimmy Clausen first (three of five first-place votes and 36 points), leading Florida’s Tim Tebow (29 points) and Cincinnati’s Tony Pike (14) and Kansas’ Todd Reesing (14).

2. Here are the latest NCAA stat rankings for Notre Dame and USC, coming off open dates for both squads: Notre Dame is 1st in passing efficiency (172.51), 8th in passing offense (322.0 per game), 10th in total offense (470.0). Jimmy Clausen is 1st in passing efficiency (179.25) and 11th in total offense (299.8). Golden Tate is 4th in receiving yards per game (120.4). Kyle McCarthy is tied for 10th in interceptions (.6 per game). Nick Tausch is tied for 6th in field goals (2.0 per game). Darius Fleming is tied for 12th in tackles for loss (1.75 per game). USC is 1st in sacks (4.2 per game), 2nd in tackles for loss (9.8), 4th in scoring defense (8.6 points per game), 5th in rushing defense (64.8 per game), 6th in total defense (238.6 per game), 8th in pass efficiency defense (90.01), 12th in punt returns (16.62 each). USC’s Nick Perry tied for 5th in sacks (1.2 pr game), Michael Morgan tied for 7th in tackles for loss (1.9), Damian Williams tied for 8th in punt returns (16.5 each).

3. Notre Dame stands 44th in the NCAA toughest schedule rankings this week – its past opponents 11-12 (.478), its future opponents 22-15 (.594) for a grand total of 33-27 (.550). Compared to the 33 combined victories by Notre Dame’s remaining opponents, the only schools with more are Washington (37) Ohio State (36), Oklahoma (34), Arizona (34) and Arkansas (34). USC this week is 23rd overall in the ratings (.589 on 33-23). Ranked by future opposition only, Notre Dame is 27th this week.

4. The weekend update for the Irish Olympic sports:

  • Men’s soccer moved to 7-4-1 (5-2-0 BIG EAST) with a 1-0 double OT win at Providence on a golden goal by Bright Dike. Dike today was named to the College Soccer News National Team of the Week and to the BIG EAST Weekly Honor Roll.
  • Women’s soccer is now 10-3-1 (6-0-1 BIG EAST) after a 1-0 win Friday at #10 Rutgers (Lauren Fowlkes scored in 84th minute) and a 2-0 win Sunday at Seton Hall. Fowlkes and junior goalkeeper Nikki Weiss both earned a place on the BIG EAST Weekly Honor Roll this afternoon.
  • Volleyball is now 11-4 (5-0 BIG EAST) after a 3-2 home win Saturday over Cincinnati and a 3-1 home victory Sunday over Louisville (on ESPNU). Senior setter Jamel Nicholas today was named the BIG EAST Player of the Week. Notre Dame is the lone undefeated team in the conference with a 5-0 record heading into this weekend’s action at Pittsburgh (Oct. 17) and West Virginia (Oct. 18). Nicholas became the first setter this season to be named Player of the Week as the team captain set up her teammates 97 times over just nine frames this past weekend.
  • Men’s and women’s swimming took second of five teams by both men and women at the Dennis Stark Relays. Then the women dropped a Saturday match to Michigan 165-133.
  • Rowing opened its season Sunday with a strong performance at the Head of the Rock, which took place at the YMCA of the Rock River Valley in Rockford, Ill. The Irish were able to capture the novice eight title for the second consecutive year, while also finishing runner-up in the collegiate four and placing a boat fifth in the collegiate eight race.
  • Men’s tennis posted eight singles wins and added two doubles triumphs Sunday over Minnesota on the final day of the Harvard Invitational. On the strength of a 3-0 record in singles play, including two wins from the No. 1 position, sophomore Casey Watt was named The Dale Junta Tournament Champion, awarded to the tournament’s top singles performer. All told, the Irish went 19-7 in singles play over the weekend versus competition from Harvard, Alabama and Minnesota. The Irish also added a 6-5 record in doubles.
  • Men’s golf team (299, +11) is in 11th place after the opening round Sunday of the Prestige at PGA WEST (La Quinta, Calif.) from the Stadium Course of PGA WEST. Individually, the Irish were paced on the day by sophomore Max Scodro who put together an even-par 72 round in his opening 18 holes.
  • The Notre Dame women’s tennis team wrapped up its first weekend of competition with two wins Sunday. The 15th-ranked Irish doubles duo of sophomore Kristy Frilling and senior Kali Krisik finished out the consolation bracket of the Riviera/ITA All-American Championship with an 8-4 victory over Clemson’s 14th-ranked team of Josipa Bek and Ina Hadziselimovic. Junior Kristen Rafael edged Oklahoma’s Teona Tsertsvadze 6-4, 2-6, 6-1 in a consolation match at the Wildcat Fall Invitational, hosted by Northwestern. The Irish will take two weeks off before the Midwest Regional begins Oct. 22 in Evanston, Ill.

5. The scene was set. The Joyce Center was packed and rocking (Notre Dame hockey’s 10th straight sellout). A line of students had to be turned away because the student ticket allotment was exhausted 10 minutes before the start of the game and there were no other tickets left. The student section was outfitted in “Gold Standard” t-shirts. Even two Notre Dame rookies, freshmen Riley Sheahan and Kyle Palmieri, got into the act, scoring their first career goals to give the Irish leads of 1-0 and 2-1. But Alabama-Huntsville refused to cooperate, scoring the game-winner with five second left Friday in a 3-2 win (the same Alabama-Huntsville team that extended the Irish into OT in the ’07 NCAA Championships). The Irish returned the favor with a 3-1 win Saturday on goals from Kyle Lawson, Brett Blatchford and Sheahan, while goalie Brad Philips earned the win.

6. Former Notre Dame men’s swimming team captain Brian Casey was recently featured in two New York Times articles. Casey, who was named president of DePauw University in July 2008, was highlighted in the Times for the impact he has made on the DePauw student body, faculty and Greencastle, Ind., community: Oct. 7, 2009: “A House as a Symbol of Openness,” and Oct. 9, 2009: “A University Where the President Knows Everyone’s Name.” Casey was born and raised in New Jersey. As an undergraduate at Notre Dame, he earned degrees in philosophy and economics, was elected to Phi Beta Kappa and graduated summa cum laude, receiving the Economics Award for his class. Casey was also captain of Notre Dame’s varsity swim team and was the University’s “Scholar-Athlete of the Year” in 1985.

October 9, 2009

1. Check out the latest issue of Sports Illustrated (Oct. 12) and you’ll find a two-page spread with a photo of Notre Dame’s Golden Tate upside down after his overtime reception last Saturday against Washington. The shot (pages six and seven in the “Leading Off” section) is by Matt Cashore, the University’s official staff photographer.

2. Notre Dame senior captain Ryan Thang has been selected as a candidate for the 2009-10 Lowe’s Senior CLASS Award in the men’s Division I hockey program. Thang joins 19 other Division I players who have combined excellence in athletics, academics and community service. The award is presented annually to an NCAA Division I student-athlete in nine sports based on achievement’s in the “Four Cs” of classroom, character, community and competition. CLASS is an acronym for Celebrating Loyalty and Achievement for Staying in School. Selected by his teammates as team captain for the coming season, Thang goes into his final year on the verge of breaking into Notre Dame’s “Century Club” with 100 career points. The left wing opens the new campaign this weekend with 48 goals and 44 assists for 92 career points. He will be looking to join 43 former Notre Dame players that have scored 100 or more points during their careers. Thang owns 21 career power-play goals to rank 11th on the all-time list and 13 game-winning goals, tying him for first on that all-time list with three other players. Off the ice, Thang has a 3.241 grade-point average in finance in the Mendoza College of Business. The Edina, Minn., native has been involved in all aspects of the team’s community service efforts throughout his career. For three years, he has participated in the annual Buddy Walk for kids with Down’s syndrome and the University’s Pediatric Hematology/Oncology Christmas Party with Memorial Hospital. During the 2007-08 season, the team was involved with South Bend’s Robinson Center in an after-school program to teach kids how to play hockey. Thang has been a part of the team’s IYHL Mite Skates, working with the community’s youth hockey program, and he has participated in the CCHA’s annual Hockey is Fun Clinic for two years. This is the fourth year that Lowe’s has sponsored an award for hockey. In 2006-07, former Irish goaltender David Brown `07 won the Senior CLASS Award while in 2007-08, forward Mark Van Guilder `08 and in 2008-09, goaltender Jordan Pearce `09 and forward Erik Condra `09 were among the top 10 finalists. From the list of 20 nominees, a national media committee will select 10 finalists for the Lowe’s Senior CLASS Award by early February 2009. Those 10 names will be placed on the official ballot for a nationwide vote that will include coaches, media and fans. The award winner will be announced and recognized at the 2010 NCAA Frozen Four in Detroit, Mich.

3. Notre Dame junior wide receiver Golden Tate has been named the AT&T All-America Player of the Week award following the fifth week of college football action, AT&T announced Thursday. In the only major college football award chosen exclusively by fans, more than 50 percent of ballots cast went to Tate. He is the second Notre Dame player to be honored this season, joining junior quarterback Jimmy Clausen who was selected following the first week of the season. Tate helped the Irish rally past Washington, 37-30, in overtime last week. He hauled in nine receptions for 244 yards and one touchdown.

4. Sophomore Kristy Frilling opened Notre Dame’s fall schedule in grand fashion, knocking off Duke’s 13th-ranked Reka Zsilinska Thursday in the first round of the Riviera/ITA All-American Championship. Frilling, the 20th-ranked singles player in ITA preseason poll, cruised to a 6-1 win in the first set, before battling to a 7-5 loss in the second set. The Sidney, Ohio, native rallied to win the third set 6-3 and advance to the second round. Frilling took on Georgia Tech’s No. 8 Irina Falconi in the second round today. Frilling teamed up with senior Kali Krisik, the country’s 15th-ranked doubles duo, for the first round of the doubles championship. The Irish tandem lost Thursday to seventh-ranked Natalie Pluskota and Caitlin Whorisky of Tennessee 8-2. Frilling and Krisik faced Virginia’s 20th-ranked Emily Fraser and Jennifer Stevens this morning.

5. The Notre Dame-USC pep rally next Friday will be held at Irish Green, the new football hospitality area just south of the DeBartolo Performing Arts Center. Irish Green will open at 3:00 p.m. EDT that day — with pep rally activities beginning at 6:00 p.m., and the Notre Dame football squad scheduled to arrive at 6:30 p.m. EDT. The Whistle Pigs band will play at Irish Green until 5:45 p.m. EDT. The location is the same as previous pep rallies for the Michigan State and Washington home games. There is no charge for admission to Irish Green or the rally – and no tickets are required. Parking is limited but available in the Joyce, Stadium, Library, Bookstore and DeBartolo lots. Please be aware that other events scheduled for Friday night and affecting parking include a men’s lacrosse game (4:00 p.m. EDT at Arlotta Stadium vs. Iroquois National Team), women’s soccer (7:30 p.m. EDT at Alumni Stadium vs. Connecticut) and hockey (7:30 p.m. EDT at Joyce Center vs. Providence).

6. The current edition of ESPN The Magazine lists former Notre Dame All-American Troy Murphy 26th on its list of top 100 NBA fantasy basketball players for 2009-10.

7. NBC Sports president Ken Schanzer will be a guest at the Friday Kickoff Luncheon Oct. 16 prior to the Notre Dame-USC football game.

8. In case you’ve lost count, this is the 50th season that Tim McCarthy has been making his safety announcements at Notre Dame home football games.

October 7, 2009

1. Since there’s no Irish football this Saturday, if you’re looking for something to do in South Bend, here are the Notre Dame weekend athletic options:

  • MEN’S AND WOMEN’S SWIMMING – Dennis Stark Relays at 5:00 p.m. Friday at Rolfs Aquatic Center
  • HOCKEY – Season openers vs. Alabama-Huntsville at 7:30 p.m. Friday and 7:00 p.m. Saturday at Joyce Center (tickets are available)
  • WOMEN’S SWIMMING – Michigan at 10:30 a.m. Saturday at Rolfs Aquatic Center
  • VOLLEYBALL – Cincinnati at 2:00 p.m. Saturday and Louisville at 5:00 p.m. Sunday in Joyce Center Fieldhouse

2. The current issue of Sporting News includes its annual ratings of 399 best sports cities. South Bend is #76. In terms of other Midwest college towns, East Lansing is #44, Iowa City #70, West Lafayette #73, Madison #75, Lexington #78, Champaign-Urbana #84. The top four are Pittsburgh, Philadelphia, Boston and Chicago.

3. Also in Sporting News, five former coaches were asked to pick the former national football champion closest to returning to power – Michigan, Nebraska, Notre Dame, Tennessee or Miami. R.C. Slocum took Miami. Vince Dooley took Nebraska. John Cooper took Notre Dame. Bill Mallory took Michigan. Frank Broyles took Tennessee.

4. The fall portion of the Notre Dame women’s tennis schedule gets underway this week as the Irish compete at the Riviera/ITA All-American Championships and the Wildcat Fall Invitational at Northwestern. Sophomore Kristy Frilling was one of 22 collegiate players selected for the All-American main singles draw, while Frilling and senior Kali Krisik will team up in the main doubles draw. Frilling ended her stellar freshman campaign with a 30-11 overall singles record and a 40-6 mark in doubles play. The 2009 ITA National Player to Watch advanced to the second round of the both the NCAA singles and doubles tournaments. Krisik, who will be making her second straight appearance at the All-American tournament, was a mainstay in the middle of the Irish lineup a year ago. The all-BIG EAST selection notched a 29-10 singles record and a 34-12 doubles mark during her junior campaign. Frilling and Krisik teamed up for one doubles match last season, defeating Marquette’s Kylie Moore and Paola Calderon, 8-0, in April. The Riviera/ITA All-American Championships main events begin Thursday and are hosted by the Riviera Tennis Club in Pacific Palisades, Calif. The tournament includes six rounds of pre-qualifying and qualifying matches that began Oct. 3. Frilling and Krisik are automatic entrants. Last season, Krisik and Kelcy Tefft advanced to the All-American main doubles draw after going 3-0 in the qualifying rounds, but fell in the first round of the main event. Other members of the Irish squad will travel to Evanston, Ill., for the Wildcat Fall Invitational hosted by Northwestern. Akron, DePaul, Michigan State, Minnesota, Oklahoma, South Carolina and Wisconsin will join the Irish in the three-day tournament. Matches are set to begin Friday at noon (CDT).

October 6, 2009

1. A story on golfweek.com suggests that the top candidate for the LPGA commissioner job is 1993 magna cum laude Notre Dame graduate Pete Bevacqua. Also a Georgetown law grad, Bevacqua worked for the New York law firm of Davis, Polk & Wardwell and has been with the USGA since 2003. He was named the USGA chief business officer in July 2007.

2. Notre Dame’s football game with Washington drew a 3.3 overnight rating on NBC.

3. The Notre Dame football record for consecutive wins by seven points or less is five, the first five games of the 1939 season (Sept. 30-Oct. 28) under head coach Elmer Layden.

The current Irish football streak marks just the fifth time Notre Dame has won three straight games by seven points or less. The others are the streak in 2002, the last three games of 1941, the first five games of 1939 and the last three games of the 1937 season (Nov. 13-27).

The Notre Dame football record for wins by seven points or less in a season is six, set in 1939 when that club had a 6-1 record in games decided by seven or less. The 1937 team was 5-1-1 and the 2002 club was 5-1-0 in games decided by seven or less, while the 1929 (4-0), 1940 (4-1), 1974 (4-0), 1990 (4-3), 1997 (4-2) and 1998 (4-1) teams all had four wins by seven or less over the course of the season.

As for winning percentage in games decided by seven points or less, the 1929 and 1974 teams were both 4-0, while the 1926, 1928, 1954 and 1957 teams have finished 3-0.

4. The new ESPN College Basketball Encyclopedia says Notre Dame has the #12 most successful program of all time, as computed by Jeff Sagarin and ESPN’s stats and information staff. On a decade basis, the Irish finished #4 in the 1940s, #17 in the `50s, #8 in the `70s, #30 in the `80s, #28 in the 2000s. The list of 50 greatest players has Austin Carr #24.

5. The weekly espn.com Heisman Watch (based on voting by 15 ESPN staffers) has Florida’s Tim Tebow #1 (72 points), Texas’ Colt McCoy #2 (58) and Notre Dame’s Jimmy Clausen #3 (40). Clausen merited three second-place votes, seven for third, three for fourth, one for fifth.

6. Now that Jimmy Clausen is filling expectations at the University of Notre Dame and climbing his way up the list of Heisman hopefuls, former Irish legend Joe Theismann is a believer. But Theismann doesn’t want Clausen thinking about leaving school early for the NFL. “I would tackle him if he tried to leave the university and come out this year,” Theismann said today on the “Waddle & Silvy” show on ESPN 1000 in Chicago. “Jimmy Clausen, I hope, has proven to a lot of people that he’s one heck of a young quarterback. I mean, Jimmy is like Jay Cutler to me. They both have grown up and come to understand that you don’t always have to make all the plays, but when your moment comes and that opportunity presents itself for you to have to step up, you can get it done. He’s learned how to be a leader. He’s certainly handled all kinds of pressure well. [But Clausen] has work to do. I’m not happy with the way he throws the fades. I think he needs to be able to be able to throw the ball down the field more efficiently. His delivery is a little bit unorthodox, but we have a lot of guys in this game with unorthodox deliveries that have done well. If you look at the Notre Dame football team, they have a chance to really be able to do something special a part of this year and I believe all of next year. You get [Michael Floyd] and [Golden Tate] and Jimmy together, and how about [Kyle] Rudolph at tight end, I mean you’re talking about an offense that has been quite prolific. That really can be so much better next year. Plus why would Jimmy Clausen want to come out when he’s faced with Sam Bradford, Tim Tebow. You’ve got Colt McCoy, you’ve got all these guys coming out this year. Stay in [school].”

7. The Notre Dame men’s golf team won the fourth annual Fighting Irish Gridiron Golf Classic today by turning in a final round 292 (+12), holding off Ohio State and Arkansas down the stretch. Senior Josh Sandman carded a four-over par 74 at the soggy Warren Golf Course to claim his first individual title as a collegiate golfer. Notre Dame ended up finishing at +30 for the three-round tournament (870). Ohio State (+34/874), Arkansas (+38/878), Texas Arlington (+43/883) and Lamar (+44/884) rounded out the top five. Kevin Hesbois of Lamar, David Lingmerth of Arkansas and Dan Charen of Ohio State all finished two strokes behind Sandman (214) to share second-place honors. Sandman totaled a two-over par 212 (70-68-74) for the tournament to earn the win. He birdied the 14th and 17th and made an important par put on 18 to become Notre Dame’s first medalist since Max Scodro claimed UNCG Bridgestone Collegiate Championship last season.

8. The Notre Dame women’s golf team shot a final round 301 (+13) today at Northwestern’s Windy City Collegiate to, along with the host Wildcats, earn a share of fourth place in a field that included several top 25 teams. Sophomore Becca Huffer led the Irish by firing an even-par 72 in the final round of play at The Glen Club. For the tournament, Huffer carded an even-par 216 to finish fifth. It marked her best career finish with the Irish as well as her best three-round total (even par). She had three birdies on the day, giving her 11 birdies for the tournament.

October 5, 2009

1. Here’s more on Jimmy Clausen’s current best-in-the-nation 179.25 passing efficiency number:

  • Clausen’s pace is way better than the Notre Dame all-time record of 161.4 by Bob Williams in 1949. By comparison, Brady Quinn’s best numbers were 158.4 in 2005 and 146.7 in 2006.
  • NCAA passing efficiency ratings only began in 1979 – and Notre Dame has had three players finish in the final season top 10 . . . Rick Mirer 10th at 138.8 in 1990, Mirer 8th in 1991 at 149.2 and Quinn 7th in 2005.
  • In the history of the passing efficiency ratings, there have been only five season figures better than Clausen’s current 179.25 number: 1. Colt Brennan of Hawaii at 186.0 in 2006 (the all-time NCAA single-season record), 2. Shaun King of Tulane at 183.3 in 1998, 3. Stefan LeFors of Louisville at 181.7 in 2004, 4. Sam Bradford of Oklahoma at 180.8 in 2008 and 5. Michael Vick of Virginia Tech at 180.4 in 1999.
  • Notre Dame currently ranks #2 nationally in team passing efficiency at 172.51 (Florida is #1 at 173.93). The all-time NCAA season record is 185.9 by Hawaii in 2006. Since the start of those NCAA rankings in ’79, Notre Dame’s best-ever team figure was a 160.53 in 1993 (with Kevin McDougal under center).

2. Projecting toward next week, Notre Dame is 61-15-2 overall after a bye week (since 1900), 29-5 since 1984 and 3-2 under Charlie Weis.

3. This marks the fourth time in five years that the Irish have stood 4-1 after five games in the Weis era. Other recent 4-1 starts came in 1998 (eventually 9-3), 1996 (8-3), 1994 (6-5-1), 1991 (10-3), 1990 (9-3) and 1987 (8-4). Maybe the best 4-1 start came in 1977 when the Irish ended up consensus national champs after a second-game loss at Ole Miss.

4. Former Irish fencer Mariel Zagunis captured the 2009 women’s sabre world championship Saturday, capping a dominant run through the final table of 64 to retain her place atop the women’s sabre world. With the win, the Beaverton, Ore., native adds to her growing list of accomplishments, having already captured gold medals at the 2004 and 2008 Olympic games. With the 2009 world championship, Zagunis became the first American to medal at the event.

Several other fencers with Irish ties joined Zagunis at the World Championships, including Kelley and Courtney Hurley. The sisters, natives of San Antonio, Texas, are representing the USA in women’s epee, while fellow Irish epeeist Ewa Nelip is representing her native Poland in epee. On the men’s side, former Irish foilist Ozren Debic fenced for Croatia, while current sophomore Gerek Meinhardt also competed for the USA in foil.

Zagunis was the top seed in the final table of 64, having earned a high enough rank entering the event to skip the qualifying pool play stages. She proceeded to defeat Hye Lim Kim (15-12), Sevil Bunyatova (15-2) and countrywoman Daria Schneider (15-5) to advance to the final eight. In the final table of eight, Zagunis knocked off Olena Khomrova of the Ukraine 15-8 to advance to the semifinals. In the semis, Zagunis defeated fifth-seeded Carole Vergne of France 15-12. In the championship bout, Zagunis rolled to a 15-6 win over second-seeded Olga Kharlan of Ukraine to remain atop the women’s sabre field.

Zagunis enrolled at Notre Dame in the fall of 2004 and helped lead the Irish to the 2005 NCAA title. She competed with the Fighting Irish for two seasons and compiled an impressive resume that included the 2006 NCAA sabre crown and the 2005 national runner-up spot. Zagunis registered a 75-3 regular-season record with the Irish. Meinhardt also had a high enough rank to advance directly to the final 64 as the 11th seed. In his first bout, he downed Gregory Koening of France 15-12. Then, the 2008 NCAA Championship foil runner-up defeated Virgil Saliscan 15-13. But in the round of 16, Meinhardt fell to sixth-seeded Andrea Baldini of Italy 15-7.

Ewa Nelip and Courtney Hurley both advanced out of pool play in women’s epee to earn the 56th and 57th seeds, respectively, in the final 64. They bout next today.

5. The Notre Dame volleyball win yesterday means the program is off to its best start since 2005 when that squad was 12-1 through the first 13 matches of the campaign. It also marked head coach Debbie Brown’s 800th career match and her 600th at Notre Dame. Brown, who is in her 24th season as a head coach, is 433-167 (.721) since taking over the reins of the Irish program in 1991.

6. The United States Under-20 Men’s National Team was eliminated from the U-20 World Cup following Saturday’s final matches of group play. Notre Dame’s Aaron Maund and Dillon Powers were members of the U.S. squad. The U.S. finished the tournament with a 1-2 record. The U.S. finished the tournament in 17th place (out of 24 teams) and one slot shy of the Round of 16. The U.S. suffered a 3-0 loss to Korea Republic Friday in its final group match.

7. There’s a story in the business section of today’s Chicago Tribune about Stan Bowman, the Chicago Blackhawks general manager (and Notre Dame graduate), and his fight with lymphoma that involved chemotherapy, radiation and a stem cell transplant.

8. Another big event on campus the weekend of the Notre Dame-USC game will be the dedication of Arlotta Stadium for lacrosse.

9. Notre Dame WR Golden Tate has been named one of four nominees for the AT&T All-America Player of the Week award. Tate along with UTEP running back Donald Buckram, Maryland linebacker Demetrius Hartsfield and Toledo quarterback Aaron Opelt have been selected by a panel of analysts from ESPN as this week’s top candidates. Fans can text message** VOTE to 345345 on their wireless phone to opt in for the chance to vote. Fans have until 11:59 p.m. EDT Wednesday to submit their votes. The winner will be announced during Thursday’s ESPN College Football Primetime Presented by Applebee’s. Standard text messaging rates apply.

10. Notre Dame ranks among the top five NCAA Division I institutions in the country in combining athletic and academic achievement, according to the annual rankings released today by the National Collegiate Scouting Association in Chicago. Notre Dame ranked fourth (in a tie with Harvard) among NCAA Division I universities and 12th overall in the annual NCSA Collegiate Power Rankings, trailing only Stanford, Princeton and Duke in the Division I standings. The NCSA Collegiate Power Rankings assess the academic and athletics standards of all NCAA and NAIA athletic programs across the country. Rankings are calculated for each college and university at the NCAA Division I, II and III levels by averaging the academic rankings from U.S. News & World Report, the strength of the athletic departments by the NACDA U.S. Sports Academy Directors’ Cup ranking, plus each school’s student-athlete graduation rate. In the 2009 ratings, Notre Dame finished 21st in athletics, 18th in academic rank and 31st in NCAA graduation rank, for an average 23.33 power ranking. This marks the sixth straight year Notre Dame has finished fifth or better in the NCSA rankings. Here are standings from those six years: 2009: 1. Stanford 8.66, 2. Princeton 15.0, 3. Duke 20.33, 4. (tie) Notre Dame and Harvard 23.33; 2008: 1. Stanford 10.66, 2. Duke 14.66, 3. Princeton 21.33, 4. Harvard 21.66, 5. Notre Dame 23.66; 2007: 1. Duke 11.66, 2. Notre Dame 18.33, 3. Stanford 20.66, 4. Northwestern 21.66, 5. Harvard 26.33; 2006: 1. Duke 11.33, 2. Stanford 13.0, 3. Notre Dame 15.0, 4. Princeton 16.66, 5. Harvard 24.0; 2005: 1. Duke 8.66, 2. Stanford 13.0, 3. Princeton 15.0, 4. Harvard 15.33, 5. Notre Dame 22.33.

11. Is Notre Dame QB Jimmy Clausen a Heisman Trophy candidate? CBSSports.com says he is. Each week five CBSSports.com experts rank their top five contenders on a 10-7-5-3-1-point basis. Three of the five this week put Clausen #1 – and here are the point totals: 1. Jimmy Clausen, Notre Dame (40), 2. Tim Tebow, Florida (35), 3. Tony Pike, Cincinnati (19). 4. Colt McCoy, Texas (10), 5. Jacory Harris, Miami (7).

12. The Davey O’Brien Foundation today named Jimmy Clausen the O’Brien Quarterback of the Week for week five. Clausen, a returning O’Brien Watch List candidate, threw for a career-high 422 yards, which included a 67-yard TD pass to wide receiver Golden Tate. Clausen’s performance in Saturday’s victory over Washington propelled him to the top of the QB rankings with a rating of 179.3.

October 4, 2009

1. Jimmy Clausen now ranks #1 in the country in passing efficiency at 179.25. His 1,544 passing yards (100 completions) are topped only by Texas Tech’s Taylor Potts (1,817 on 159 completions), Toledo’s Aaron Opeit (1,704 on 126) and Houston’s Case Keenum (1,696 on 144).

2. Golden Tate’s 244 receiving yards against Washington mark the highest single-game total this season in the NCAA FBS and one of only four 200-plus totals so far this year. Those 244 receiving yards were the most ever given up to a single player by any Washington team (old mark 242 by Tony Hartley of Oregon in 1998). Tate ranks sixth nationally in receiving yards per game at 120.4.

3. The last time the Irish won three straight games by a TD or less came in 2002 in Tyrone Willingham’s first season: 24-17 vs. Purdue; 25-23 vs. #7 Michigan; 21-17 at Michigan State. Before that you have to go back to 1941 (Frank Leahy’s first season) to find it: 20-13 vs. #6 Navy in Baltimore; 7-6 at Northwestern; 20-18 vs. USC (last three games of 8-0-1 season).

4. Let the hype begin for the Notre Dame-USC game in two weeks – based as much as anything on the matchup between the Irish offense and the Trojan defense. Notre Dame ranks eighth in passing (322.20 yards per game), 29th in scoring (32.6 per game), second in passing efficiency, and 10th in total offense (470.0). Meanwhile, the Trojan defense ranks fifth in total defense (238.6), third in scoring defense (8.6), fifth in rushing defense (64.8), second in sacks (4.2) and third in pass efficiency defense.

5. A half-page ad in the Friday edition of Notre Dame’s student newspaper, The Observer, read, “Dear Golden Tate, We’ll be sure to catch you anytime you score a touchdown! Love, The Band of the Fighting Irish.”

6. Here’s a quick roundup of weekend action for the Irish Olympic sports:

  • #25 Men’s Soccer (5-4-1, 3-2 in BIG EAST) – Irish beat Seton Hall 2-1 Friday
  • #8 Women’s Soccer (8-3-1, 4-0-1 BIG EAST) – Irish won 3-2 in OT Friday at West Virginia, then tied 0-0 Sunday at Pittsburgh in double OT to extend NCAA record 57-game BIG EAST unbeaten streak
  • Volleyball (9-4, 3-0 BIG EAST) – Irish swept Villanova 3-0 Sunday
  • Cross Country – #24 Irish women finished 10th, #28th men finished 16th at Notre Dame Invitational Friday (senior Lindsey Ferguson was top Irish women’s finisher, crossing the line in 15th with a time of 17:08 — junior Dan Jackson was the first Irish men’s finisher at 45th with a time of 24:37)

7. Notre Dame ranks 38th in NCAA schedule strength at 28-21 overall for .571 (future opposition 20-11 for .645). USC is 22nd at 28-18 for .608 (future foes are 20-9 for .689).

8. Here’s what Charlie Weis had to say today in his Sunday wrap-up:

  • On the schedule this week, Weis said Sunday would be like a normal game week, with the Irish on Monday (normally their day off) spending an hour looking at USC video and reviewing the USC scouting report, followed by a half-hour walk-through. Then practices Tuesday and Wednesday will be devoted half to USC prep and the other half to developing backup players. The Irish will run and lift Thursday morning then have the rest of the week off, while Weis heads off to recruit this weekend.
  • On LB Manti Te’o: “You’re going to have some growing pains when he’s going to be out there that much, but his speed and athleticism cover for a lot of things.”
  • On his team: “There’s plenty of flaws, but who can question this team’s heart? And when you have a quarterback like that, you have a chance to win every time you play.”
  • On DL production: “I think we had them for 24 tackles, which is a significant upgrade from other games.”
  • On Golden Tate: “Who can argue with the production out of this kid? He made plays from about everywhere he was (lined up). He knew he was going to be the go-to guy when Michael (Floyd) went down. But a lot of times people find a way to minimize the go-to guy and he has not allowed that to happen.”
  • On things to improve: “There’s a whole bunch of things I’ll be critical of today. It’s almost fortunate you have an extra week because it allows you to spend time on fundamentals. We have to get better in all facets.”
  • On Armando Allen: “He could have gone back in the game, but Robert (Hughes) had it rocking and rolling at the time. I wasn’t going to take Robert out when we had the momentum with him in there. Once he got it going that wasn’t the time to make a switch, even if Armando was at full speed.”
  • On injuries: “This is the week to find out who’s banged up and who is injured. I can see this being a big Dayne Crist week and not being a Jimmy Clausen week. On the flipside, maybe we should give him (Clausen) another turf toe.”
  • More on Tate: “He wants to go to the Packers (based on his multiple leaps).”
  • On the 4-1 record: “Every Notre Dame fan would prefer games where we’re winning by multiple touchdowns. But to be sitting at the bye at 4-1, I think they (the players) should feel pretty good about where they are.”
  • On Irish depth: “We’ve been trying to get to where a guy goes out and the guy who goes in doesn’t give you any drop-off in performance. We’re at the stage now where we can put some guys in and not be afraid to play them.”
  • On the locker room scene after Washington: Weis said he gave the game ball to Irish DL coach Randy Hart who had spent the last 20 years as a Washington assistant. Hart also stood on a stool and led the Irish in singing the “Victory March.”
  • On similarities between what Washington and USC do: “Both teams gain information from the Washington game because their schemes are very similar on offense and defense. But it’s significant both ways, because we both are looking at things to try to do.”
  • On the signature play: “The double goal-line stand, with Ian’s penalty in there, how could I not pick that as the key moment of the game? It was the difference between a one-score game and a two-score game.”

9. Among former Irish players in for the weekend was 1988-89 linebacker and captain Ned Bolcar.

10. The Knute Rockne sculpture dedication on Friday led to a halftime presentation Saturday in which athletics director Jack Swarbrick presented Rockne miniatures to benefactors Joe and Barbara Mendelson and to grandson Knute Rockne III.

October 2, 2009

1. Notre Dame junior men’s basketball guard Scott Martin suffered a torn anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) in his left knee during a preseason team workout Oct. 1 and will be out for the 2009-10 season. Martin underwent an MRI this morning and tests revealed the damage. Martin, who sat out the 2008-09 campaign after transferring to Notre Dame from Purdue in June of 2008, is expected to have surgery sometime during the week of Oct. 19. A full recovery by Martin is expected in time for the 2010-11 season. Martin, a standout at Valparaiso (Ind.) High School, played in 32 games for the Boilermakers during the 2007-08 campaign and averaged 8.5 points and 3.8 rebounds.

2. The Notre Dame Fighting Irish hockey team will appear on television 11 times during the 2009-10 season with five telecasts scheduled for Comcast, three national appearances on CBS College Sports and one appearance each on Fox Sports Detroit, ESPNU and the Big 10 Network:
Tuesday, Oct. 20 at Boston University ESPNU 7:00 p.m.
Thursday, Nov. 19 at Michigan State Comcast 7:05 p.m.
Friday, Dec. 4 at Miami Comcast 7:35 p.m.
Saturday, Dec. 5 at Miami Comcast 7:05 p.m.
Friday, Dec. 11 at Michigan Comcast 7:35 p.m.
Sunday, Dec.13 Michigan Comcast 4:05 p.m.
Friday, Jan. 15 Michigan State CBS College Sports 8:05 p.m.
Friday, Jan. 29 Nebraska-Omaha CBS College Sports 8:05 p.m.
Saturday, Jan. 30 Nebraska-Omaha CBS College Sports 8:05 p.m.
Thursday, Feb. 25 at Michigan Fox Sports Detroit 7:35 p.m.
Saturday, Feb. 27 Michigan Big 10 Network 7:05 p.m.

3. Notes and quotes from the Knute Rockne sculpture dedication ceremonies this afternoon:

  • Master of ceremonies Jim Fraleigh quoted from Lou Somogyi’s gameday program story titled “The Rock Comes Home Again.” He introduced sculptor Jerry McKenna, a 1962 Notre Dame graduate.
  • Athletics director Jack Swarbrick noted it was appropriate that the ceremony was held on a “gray October day.” He also suggested it was appropriate that the ceremony was set up adjacent to the football stadium ticket windows, with the sculptures of Rockne and Frank Leahy essentially welcoming fans to Notre Dame on a year in which the University has upgraded its gameday hospitality initiatives.
  • Swarbrick pointed out that Rockne came after sculptures of Leahy, Lou Holtz and Ara Parseghian in great part because there was not a group of former Rockne players to make it happen, but also suggested it was about “saving the best for last.”
  • Swarbrick on why Rockne stands apart: “He so effectively understood the nature of being a football coach in a collegiate environment. First and foremost he was a teacher.” Swarbrick noted that more than 100 individuals who had played or coached for Rockne ended up in college coaching. Swarbrick also said, “Greatness occurs when a man meets a moment and understands its significance. It was about giving an immigrant population a team and a home.”
  • Fraleigh noted that the sculpture includes three unusual items: 1.) from Voss, Norway, metal from a carriage built by Lars Rockne (Knute’s father) in 1888 (the year of Knute’s birth); 2.) gold leaf from the dome of Notre Dame’s Main Administration Building; 3.) scraps of aluminum from the plane that crashed killing Rockne (courtesy of the Cotton Wood Falls, Kan., Museum).
  • Notre Dame president Father John Jenkins blessed the sculpture, with help from Rockne family friend Father Tom McNally.
  • Knute Rockne III talked about it being “a great day for our family.” He noted his grandfather’s achievement in helping invent synthetic rubber and said, “If it wasn’t for the fact the assistant football coaching job paid five dollars more than the assistant chemistry professor job, he might have gone in a different direction.”
  • A framed photo of the sculpture, with personal notes from Swarbrick and Father Jenkins, was presented to benefactors Joe and Barbara Mendelson. Joe, who was born six years after Rockne’s death, talked about being an altar boy in California and serving Mass at which actor Pat O’Brien attended and telling friends, “I’m right next to Knute Rockne.”
  • Around a hundred people watched from outside the packed tent of invited guests on the east side of Notre Dame Stadium.
October 1, 2009

1. For the first time in four years, the coaches and media agree on who should hold down the #1 position in the Central Collegiate Hockey Association’s annual preseason polls. In two close races, Michigan received enough points from the conference’s 12 head coaches and 66 media members to be named the preseason favorite in both polls.

In the coaches’ poll, the Wolverines took five of a possible 11 first-place votes, five seconds, and one third-place vote. Notre Dame received four first-place votes as well as four seconds and three thirds. Miami took third, receiving two first-place votes, while Ohio State came in fourth. Northern Michigan captured the lone remaining first-place vote and finished fifth in the coaches’ poll.

The media also voted in favor of Michigan, with the Irish coming in a close second and Miami rounding out the top three just five points farther back. The Wolverines picked up 24 of a possible 66 first-place votes — while the RedHawks and Irish received 20 first-place votes each. The Buckeyes and Wildcats finished fourth and fifth in the media poll as well.

2. Check out the current (Oct. 5) issue of Sports Illustrated. In the “Who’s Hot, Who’s Not” section, the “Exciting Irish” are listed on the hot side with the following comments: “Notre Dame is 3-1, and the thrill is in the details. Three straight games have been decided in the final minute, including last Saturday’s win at Purdue on a TD pass by hobbled QB (Jimmy Clausen is pictured). Now the fun part: Washington, USC and BC the next three weeks at home.”

3. Also check out the Yahoo! Sports 2009-10 College Basketball Preview magazine. Notre Dame’s Luke Harangody is picked as a first-team preseason All-American (one of five) and is rated #1 among power forwards. Harangody also is the pick as the BIG EAST player of the year. He’s on the cover with Kansas’ Sherron Collins and Michigan State’s Kalin Lucas.

4. The student sale of Irish men’s basketball tickets begins next Thursday and that will go a long way toward determining whether or not there are any tickets available to the public on a single-game basis.

5. A bronze sculpture of former Notre Dame football coach Knute Rockne, a charter member of the College Football Hall of Fame, will be dedicated tomorrow at Notre Dame Stadium. The dedication and blessing, slated for 4:45 p.m. EDT, will take place on the east side of Notre Dame Stadium. Speaking at the dedication will be Notre Dame president Rev. John I. Jenkins, C.S.C., Notre Dame athletics director Jack Swarbrick, benefactor Joe Mendelson, and Nils Rockne (grandson of Knute Rockne). Assisting with the sculpture unveiling will be four Rockne grandchildren — Anne, Erik, Knute and Nils. Notre Dame associate athletics director Jim Fraleigh will serve as master of ceremonies for the event. The Rockne sculpture shows the former Irish coach in his coaching sweatshirt and baseball pants, with his hands on his hips.

6. This was an actual letter to the editor printed earlier this week in The Observer, the Notre Dame student newspaper: “Dear beloved football team, My healthcare insurance provider has considered heart attacks a pre-existing condition for the past few seasons and will not cover them. Thank you for your consideration.” It was signed Russell Montgomery, Notre Dame class of 2003.

7. Notre Dame quarterback Jimmy Clausen told media Wednesday his turf toe injury is something he’ll have to deal with the rest of the season. “It’s just a nagging injury,” Clausen said. “I don’t think I’ll be 100 percent healthy until the end of the season or after the season. Next week is going to be big for me just getting my rest and resting my toe as much as I can. When you’re out there playing you’ve got to run around, throw the ball. Obviously for me I’ve got to plant off my back foot when I’m throwing the ball, which I had a little difficulty last week and Saturday doing, but it’s getting better day by day, and that’s just how it is right now.”

8. Check the USA Today web site for a Mike Lopresti (he was in West Lafayette for the Notre Dame-Purdue game) column on Notre Dame football. Here’s the lead: “This is for the many Notre Dame haters out there, and the news is not good. The evidence is growing. The dark ages in South Bend might be over. More anti-domers out there, probably, than even lawyers, and no doubt they’ve enjoyed the anguish, the hand-wringing, the defeats. When the Irish lost last year to 2-8 Syracuse, it must have felt like Christmas morning. But the latest signs are ominous. Notre Dame carries a 3-1 record into Saturday’s Washington game, and won’t play in a hostile stadium until Nov. 14. The victory total is bound to swell, perhaps rapidly.” The headline reads: “Warning to Notre Dame haters: Irish on the way back.”

9. Check out the Jack Swarbrick Radio Show on Saturday mornings – guests this week are Dennis Dodd from CBSSportsline.com and Notre Dame hockey coach Jeff Jackson.

10. Other football luncheon guests Friday will be Rockne historian Bernie Kish (former executive director of the College Football Hall of Fame), along with Mike Seamon, who heads up the Notre Dame football gameday operations.

11. Speaking of sculptures, as of this time tomorrow there will be full-size Knute Rockne sculptures in Voss, Norway; in Rockne Texas; plus two in South Bend (one near the College Football Hall of Fame downtown and now one next to Notre Dame Stadium). How many people (in any line of work) can you name that are the subject of four sculptures?

12. Check your local newsstand for the Sporting News College Basketball annual. Notre Dame’s Luke Harangody makes the cover of the regional edition, along with Illinois’ Demetri McCamey and Ohio State’s Evan Turner. Notre Dame is ranked #22 nationally. Harangody is a first-team All-America selection (one of five). Notre Dame is projected as a #5 NCAA seed (as are Ohio State, Clemson and Wake Forest). In the BIG EAST, the Irish are picked fifth, behind West Virginia, Villanova, Georgetown and Connecticut. Harangody is picked to the all-BIG EAST team and also is rated the league’s best leader and best rebounder. The women’s preview lists Notre Dame #6 nationally, says the Irish “may be one of the deepest teams in the country” and says Skylar Diggins comes in with “the most fanfare since Ruth Riley.” Senior Ashley Barlow is a projected third-team All-American (10 per team).