Tuesday, November 30

1. Two former Notre Dame football stars are among the 26 semifinalists for the 2011 class of the Pro Football Hall of Fame. They are Jerome Bettis (1993-95 Los Angeles/St. Louis, 1996-2005 Pittsburgh; 13,662 career rushing yards, 91 TDs, ranked fifth all-time in rushing when he retired; first year of eligibility) and Tim Brown (1988-2003 Los Angeles/Oakland, 2004 Tampa Bay; 1,094 career receptions for 14,934 yards and 100 TDs; had 80 or more receptions nine times; second year of eligibility). The list of 26 will be reduced to 15 modern-era finalists to be announced in early January – then the enshrinees will be announced Feb. 5.

2. Notre Dame sophomore center Riley Sheahan (St. Catharine’s, Ont.) is one of 39 Canadian hockey players born in 1991 or later to be invited to Canada’s World Junior Hockey Selection Camp that will be held Dec. 12-15 at the MasterCard Centre in Toronto, Ont. Sheahan is one of four Division I college players to be invited to the camp that includes 18 players that have been selected in the first round of the NHL Draft. Joining Sheahan from the college ranks are defenseman Dylan Olsen (Minnesota-Duluth) and forwards Jaden Schwartz (Colorado College) and Reilly Smith (Miami). All participating players are eligible to compete at the 2011 International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF) World Junior Championships that will be held Dec. 26, 2010 to Jan. 5, 2011 in Buffalo, N.Y. Besides the four college players, the selection camp roster is made up of 17 players from the Western Hockey League (WHL), 11 players from the Ontario Hockey League (OHL), six players from the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League (QMJHL) and one player from the American Hockey League (AHL).

3. Notre Dame women’s basketball junior guard Natalie Novosel (Lexington, Ky./Lexington Catholic) has been named to this week’s BIG EAST Conference Honor Roll. The Fighting Irish wing was one of five players tapped for the award, which recognizes outstanding weekly achievements by conference players who are not chosen as the BIG EAST Player of the Week. Novosel was selected as the Most Valuable Player of the 2010 Women’s Basketball Coaches Association (WBCA) Classic last weekend after averaging 18.3 points, 3.0 rebounds, 2.7 steals and 2.3 assists per game with a .533 field goal percentage (16-of-30), a .385 three-point percentage (5-of-13) and an .818 free throw percentage (18-of-22) while leading Notre Dame to wins over IUPUI, Wake Forest and Butler at Purcell Pavilion and the tournament championship.

4. Forward Tim Abromaitis (Unionville, Conn.) has earned a spot on the BIG EAST Weekly Honor as he helped the Irish to four wins last week as Notre Dame stayed unbeaten with a 7-0 record. Notre Dame won the 2010 Old Spice Classic with wins over Georgia, California and Wisconsin in the championship game to claim the team title. The Irish’s current start matches the best ever for an Irish team under head coach Mike Brey. Joining Abromaitis on the Honor Roll were Dion Dixon of Cincinnati, Austin Freeman of Georgetown, Justin Brownlee of St. John’s and Rick Jackson of Syracuse. Abromaitis was named MVP of the Old Spice Classic after averaging 14.0 points and 8.7 rebounds. In Notre Dame opening game of the tournament against Georgia in the Irish’s double-overtime victory, he scored 25 points and grabbed six rebounds in game that saw Abromaitis notch his third-straight 20-plus point outing (a first in his career).

5. Notre Dame men’s lacrosse director of operations Kevin Dugan has done a ton of work in Africa through his successful Fields of Growth program, specifically in southwest Uganda. His latest project is helping out with an effort promoting peace in Sudan, through the Playing For Peace initiative at Notre Dame. There’s a 3-on-3 basketball tournament and rally at Notre Dame Saturday, but if you can’t make it to South Bend you can also help out by signing this petition for Peace in Sudan. The Irish men’s lacrosse team has teamed up with the men’s basketball team and coach Mike Brey and the Notre Dame student government to host this one, along with former Georgetown basketball captain Ed Touomou, a Cameroon native. The goal for the petition is 5,000 signatures, so check out the site and sign up today to help out the cause.

6. The vote for Inside Lacrosse 2010 Breakthrough Performance of the Year was a nail-biter, but Notre Dame goaltender Scott Rodgers took top honors. And it should be no surprise: Rodgers’ pushed the Irish through a difficult postseason road and to the national championship game, a mere goal away from their first title. He joined Brian Dougherty as the only two goalies to be on the losing end of a tournament run and still earn Most Outstanding Player honors. He allowed less than six goals against in the playoffs, and despite missing some games because of injury, he finished second in DI Player of the Year voting.

7. The Inside Lacrosse Faceoff Yearbook ranks Notre Dame’s men’s team seventh in its preseason poll (in terms of the BIG EAST, Syracuse is #1 and Georgetown is #18). When Quint Kessenich listed his personal preseason top 13, he put Notre Dame fifth, with the comment, “Good luck scoring against the Irish.”

8. With a handful of games remaining this weekend, Notre Dame’s football schedule ranks as the second-toughest in the country – with Irish opponents playing at a .647 clip (77-42). Number one on the list is Texas A&M at .660 (74-38). Irish foes from 2010 that are bowl eligible include Michigan (7-5), #8 Michigan State (11-1), #4 Stanford (11-1), Boston College (7-5), Pittsburgh (6-5 with at Cincinnati Saturday), Western Michigan (6-6), Navy (8-3 with Army remaining Dec. 11), Tulsa (9-3), #20 Utah (10-2) and Army (6-5 with Navy remaining Dec. 11). The only team on the Irish schedule for 2010 that finished with a losing record was season-opening opponent Purdue (4-8).

9. If you’re wondering how Notre Dame’s fifth straight trip to the NCAA College Cup in women’s soccer rates (that’s Final Four equivalent), it’s tied for the third-longest streak in history. North Carolina went 21 straight years over one very long stretch (1982-2003), UCLA did it seven consecutive times (2003-09) – and the Irish and Massachusetts (1983-87) are next at five in a row.

10. One used game ball from the Notre Dame-Army football game went to the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, N.Y., since the contest marked the first football game in the new Yankee Stadium.

11. Here’s how Notre Dame’s 7-0 start in men’s basketball measures up to past seasons (11 previous starts of 7-0 or better):

Season Start Final Record
2010-11 7-0 ????
2001-02 7-0 22-11 (advanced to NCAA second round)
1979-80 7-0 22-6 (advanced to NCAA first round)
1976-77 7-0 22-7 (advanced to NCAA regional semifinal)
1973-74 12-0 26-3 (advanced to NCAA regional semifinal)
1945-46 13-0 17-4
1935-36 7-0 22-2-1 (Helms Foundation National champion)
1933-34 11-0 20-4
1926-27 7-0 19-1
1925-26 7-0 19-1
1913-14 7-0 11-5
1912-13 9-0 13-2

12. With the first round of the Bengal Bouts set for Feb. 13, workouts began yesterday for the University’s annual club boxing tournament for charity. It’s the first time in the history of the bouts that formal workouts have started before the holiday break.

Saturday, November 20

1. It’s already been a hectic week in New York leading up to tonight’s Notre Dame-Army football game at Yankee Stadium (the first football game ever played at the new Yankee Stadium). A handful of Notre Dame administrators have been in town since Tuesday, putting last-minute touches on the various plans. Headquarters for the Notre Dame alumni are the Sheraton New York on 52nd and 7th. The Irish football squad stayed in Teaneck, N.J.

2. Saturday morning saw a standing-room-only crowd of more than 2,400 for Mass at St. Patrick’s Cathedral on 5th Avenue. Notre Dame President Rev. John I. Jenkins, C.S.C., celebrated the Mass and gave the homily.

3. At noon, the Band of the Fighting Irish played its pregame concert in the middle of Times Square (at Broadway and 46th) and Irish fans packed the bleachers to the north and filled surrounding sidewalks and other open areas in sunny and breezy conditions. The band headed to Yankee Stadium at 1:30 p.m. by subway (the D train) and conducted another practice later this afternoon at Macombs Dam Park in the Bronx.

4. At noon on Friday Regis Philbin headlined the program in a packed luncheon ballroom (1,000 attendees) at the Marriott Marquis in Times Square to celebrate tonight’s game. Philbin interviewed Heisman Trophy winners John Lujack and Pete Dawkins, as well as Irish athletics director Jack Swarbrick and head coach Brian Kelly. The event began with a four-minute historical video on the history of the Notre Dame-Army rivalry in New York. That same video will be shown on the Yankee Stadium scoreboard tonight.

5. The Irish football team conducted its walk-thru at 4 p.m. Friday, though Brian Kelly’s squad didn’t actually work out. The Irish players are dressing in the Yankee clubhouse, so there were plenty of questions about which Yankee player dressed in which cubicle. There was no shortage of photos taken of the Stadium, as the Notre Dame team watched several video packages on the scoreboard and then took a team photo. The Irish returned to the Stadium this morning for another walk-thru.

6. The traditional Notre Dame pep rally took place Friday night outside Lincoln Center — with former Irish star and current New York Giant Justin Tuck speaking, along with Irish head coach Brian Kelly and Irish players Ian Williams and Kyle Rudolph. Irish radio voice Don Criqui served as MC. At the end of the rally, former Yankee Lee Mazzilli presented Kelly with a ceremonial key to Yankee Stadium made out of a baseball bat. Mazzilli is from Brooklyn and played for the Yankees and Mets, was Yankee first base coach from 2000 to 2003 and Yankee bench coach in 2006. Tuck reminded Kelly he still had a year of college eligibility remaining. Opening the rally were former Irish football captain John Scully playing keyboards and vocalist Cathy Richardson performing their latest number “Our Lady of the Lake” followed by their hit “Here Come the Irish.”

7. The list of Notre Dame events began Thursday night when a long list of former Irish football standouts (including Frank Stams, Steve Beuerlein, Ricky Watters, Byron Spruell, among lots of others) and plenty of other guests and celebrities came to New York to honor former Irish coach Lou Holtz at Cipriani Wall Street at the Lou Holtz-Coach for Life dinner. Former White House press secretary Ari Fleischer served as MC and speakers included Regis Philbin, former Minnesota player Pete Najarian and former Irish players Rod West, Ned Bolcar and Ryan Leahy – plus live video remarks from ’87 Heisman winner Tim Brown who was in Dallas.

8. Officials from the Yankees, Notre Dame and Army will hold a brief pregame press conference to talk about how tonight’s game came about.

9. Tonight’s pregame parachute jump features four members of the Black Daggers from the U.S. Army Special Operations Command. The jumpers are Staff Sgt Dewey Vinaya of Alexandria, Va. (bringing in the Army flag), Sgt Anthony Galusha of Lodi, Calif. (Notre Dame flag), Sgt Kevin Haddon of Mount Hood, Ore., (American flag) and Staff Sgt Noah Watts of St. Louis, Mo. (game ball).

10. The national colors are presented tonight by a color guard that includes six ROTC students from the University of Notre Dame – Kyle Hanratty, Joseph Flynn, Christopher Bennett, Griffin Bonnema, Jan McNaughton and Kelly Davis – plus six USMA cadets — CDT Zach Clark, CDT Mike Wright, CDT Brenden Podzus, CDT Joshua Orr, CDT Jason Jin and CDT Sean Johnson.

11. The National Anthem will be sung tonight by Patrick Wilson, a critically acclaimed and award-winning theatre actor most recently seen in “The A Team” and “The Switch” opposite Jennifer Aniston and Jason Bateman. He has earned Emmy and Golden Globe nominations and also received consecutive Tony Award nominations for his work in “Oklahoma!” and “The Full Monty.” Born in Virginia and raised in St. Petersburg, Fla., he’s a Carnegie Mellon graduate.

12. Joining the team captains in the ceremonial coin toss tonight will be:

— 1947 Heisman Trophy winner John Lujack from Notre Dame (look for a live interview with him during the first period on the NBC Sports telecast)

— 1958 Heisman Trophy winner Pete Dawkins from Army

— New York Yankee co-owner Hank Steinbrenner

A special coin featuring Notre Dame’s seven Heisman Trophy winners will be used for the toss.

13. The Notre Dame band, The Band of the Fighting Irish (434 members), will perform at halftime (10:00 program), joined by the USMA West Point Glee Club (82 members) for the “Battle Hymn of the Republic.”

14. Singing “God Bless America” at the end of the third period will be Sgt First Class Mary Kay Messenger, vocalist of the USMA West Point Band. She performed that song here at Yankee Stadium during the 2009 World Series (Game One: New York Yankees vs. Philadelphia Phillies).

15. The late George Steinbrenner, longtime Yankee owner, will be recognized before the game with a PA announcement and video board notation.