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Entries in Notre Dame (11)


Jilted Cincy Fans: Consider This Holiday Gift For BK

Brian Kelly

One Great Season

PHILADELPHIA -- So, what do you get for the man who seemingly has everything?

The holidays are right around the corner, and if Robert Wuhl's Larry Hockett character taught us anything in "Bull Durham", it's that candlesticks always make a nice gift.

But if you're a jilted Cincinnati fan and you're not the place-setting type, or you don't think new Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly is into silverware patterns, something tells me you'd consider giving him this book. I'd understand if you got him a used copy.

What other gift ideas can you think of for the man who just broke your heart so close to Christmas? Suggestions are welcome here.


Don't Blame Brian Kelly; Blame UC

Lee Gerowitz

Special To One Great Season

NEW YORK -- When rumor turns to reality, as it did with Brian Kelly leaving Cincinnati for Notre Dame Thursday, love often turns to hate.

This particular saga, which, quite frankly, started the day Kelly stepped foot on UC's campus, began as a love affair.

The University of Cincinnati, its students and fans who had supported the program throughout the years, all wanted a winner in Clifton. After all, many of these folks were witnessing a once-proud basketball program struggle to recover from the fallout of the Bob Huggins era.

+ MORE FROM GEROWITZ: Kelly's Early UC Years Similar To Huggins'

Enter Brian Kelly. The wins on the gridiron quickly piled up, and the love affair was on.

A 22-6 record in two seasons, including a BCS berth in the 2009 Orange Bowl, will make football fans fall in love with you. Follow that up with an undefeated 12-0 regular season and another BCS berth in the Sugar Bowl, and Notre Dame comes knocking on your door.

Brian Kelly

Brian Kelly not only answered the door, but he let them in, let them take all of his belongings, pack them up and move them to South Bend, Indiana.

And now, some, not all, but some UC fans are hurt. Some are betrayed, even hateful toward the man they once supported. For these people, the love affair with Kelly is clearly over.

And why? Because Brian Kelly lied to them. Kelly promised them he'd stay at UC. He told the media, the fans and even his own players so.

One Cincinnati blog recently displayed comments directed at Kelly such as "Two Faced" and "...liar, traitor and he shall be marked with the sign of the beast for eternity!"


+ VIDEO: Brian Kelly Waves Goodbye To UC Fans In Pittsburgh
+ ARTICLE: Does Daunte Culpepper Hate Hot White Women?
+ GALLERY: The Hot Girls Of College Football
+ OPINION: Five Reasons Why Tim Tebow Should Not Win The Heisman
+ ANALYSIS: Cincinnati Is Going To Hate Brian Kelly

Well, there are always two sides to a love affair gone wrong, and if you're one of the bitter ones, shame on you. Shame on you for being blind toward what are the real reasons why UC is looking for a head football coach ... again.

BK, as the kids called him, was always up front about two key things: 1) What he thought it would take for UC to compete for a national championship each year, and 2) His admiration for Notre Dame. He repeatedly stated his case for point No. 1, and those close to Kelly were well aware of point No. 2.

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And let's get this out of the way before we continue: Blame the NCAA for the supposed dishonesty you get from the Brian Kellys of the world during sagas like this. It's the NCAA that allows schools with coaching vacancies to hover like vultures over coaches who currently have jobs and seasons that are still playing out. Because of this, if Kelly denies a rumor if only to protect his players, he's a liar and a traitor. Or, if BK gives an honest answer if only to protect his players, he's a liar and a traitor. It's a lose-lose situation for a coach like Kelly, but before you so quickly judge him, ask yourself something: What would YOU, the angry, betrayed fan, do if you were in his shoes? What would YOU do if you had the opportunity to upgrade your life for your family, all while trying to protect the players that helped you get to your current superstar status?

Kelly's message to UC was always clear: he and his staff would need sufficient monetary support to stick around. His team would need to practice on a field other than the one they played games on. The 107-year-old, 35,000 seat stadium, which he called the "Wrigley Field" of college football, would need to be upgraded and expanded.

To its credit, UC listened. In tough economic times, the administration supported Kelly and his staff as best as it could. Money was raised for the practice fields, which are currently under construction. Possible scenarios to expand and upgrade Nippert Stadium are being considered.

But it's too late. Unfortunately, the University of Cincinnati played a waiting game, and got burned.

Simply put, UC wanted to have its cake and eat it too.

UC wanted a coach who'd be the school's rock for years and years to come, but didn't provide enough foundation for him to build upon. Mark Dantonio arrived at UC in December 2003. Nearly three years later, he recognized the program's shortcomings, accomplished his mission of using UC as a stepping stone in his coaching career and was off to Michigan State, which drew 25,000 fans ... to his first spring game.

A week after Dantonio was named MSU's coach, Kelly arrived at UC. And three years later, he's gone too.

The bottom line is, if UC truly wanted a coach to commit to the Bearcats on a long-term basis, UC should have committed to upgrading its program a long time ago. How about after Rick Minter, who coincidentally came to UC from Notre Dame, ended his 10-year, 53-63-1 tenure with the Bearcats in 2003?

UC's facilities have certainly improved in recent years with the completion of its Varsity Village, but one has to wonder, at what point was UC going to sweeten the pot for the long-term stability of the football program? At what point were they going to make the program a destination job, not just a stepping stone, for a football coach?

Kelly certainly used the Cincinnati football program as a stepping stone in his coaching career. But he did much more than that. He showed anyone who has ever supported this program that the school with no practice fields, the school with the 107-year-old stadium that is the smallest in the Big East conference, is a school that can compete for national championships.

Kelly may be gone, but the momentum he built is not. At least not yet. There is a small window of opportunity for the University of Cincinnati to capitalize on what Brian Kelly built in such a short amount of time.

Kelly's departure leaves two questions: Who will be the next Bearcats' coach? And will UC allow time to run out on him, too?

Gerowitz is a New York-based television producer, a Cincinnati graduate and occasional OGS contributor.


Archbishop Tebow Is Right Man For Notre Dame Job

Tim Tebow

One Great Season

CLEVELAND -- Some think Tim Tebow won't amount to much in the NFL, so I offer him this advice:

Send in your resume, No. 15. You're a lock to be the next coach at Notre Dame.

You're winding down the greatest individual college football career of all time. The vacancy is at the most storied college football program of all time.

You embody all that a college football player should be. In the (Irish) eyes of many, nowhere else would be more appropriate for such a man than South Bend.

You've performed surgery on impoverished children in the Philippines. You'd only be asked to resuscitate a once-elite-but-still-proud football program.

YOUR THOUGHTS: Who's Got The Best Job In Sports?

You handled rather easily a reporter's awkward inquiry about your faith and your purity. You'll be the most hounded college sports figure in the Hoosier state since Bob Knight.

Your ability to inspire and lead other young men is well documented. That's been lacking for nearly two decades for the Golden Domers.

Your devotion to your religion also is well documented. You'd get along nicely with Touchdown Jesus.

The case is overwhelming, Mr. Tebow. It's obvious what you should do after you jump-pass your Gators to victory over Alabama on Saturday: Split your time the next five weeks preparing for the national championship game, all the while assembling a team of assistants who can handle the recruiting load in your absence.

Maybe call your old buddy Chris Leak; he's got some free time.


Navy Fan: "That Empty Bottle Does Look Familiar"

Navy Fan: 'That Empty Bottle Does Look Familiar'

Special To One Great Season

LOUISVILLE, Ky. -- Three friends and I decided a couple years ago to leave their wives at home for one weekend every year and take a trip to see a favorite sporting event or venue. We had gone to old Yankee Stadium last year, and before that to Soldier Field for that frost-bitten game against Green Bay days before Christmas. Future trips include the Super Bowl, seeing all the Triple Crown races in the same year, the Pipeline Masters and more. Our list is about 20 events long.

And last weekend we checked off our list a visit inside Notre Dame Stadium as the Irish played Navy.  And it was just a visit.

The day started, I would imagine, like most trips to Notre Dame for a football experience. Bloody Marys at the grotto, a walk through campus amid the very similar architecture, seeing the Golden Dome and Touchdown Jesus and buying food from co-eds trying to pay exorbitant tuition. Of course a trip to campus is never complete without stepping inside the 10,000-square-foot bookstore, where you don't have to be an alum to buy a $30 T-shirt.

Navy Fan: 'That Empty Bottle Does Look Familiar'

Then there was the tailgating, acres and acres of it.  Flags and food, cheerleaders and football-throwing kids, flat-screen TVs and dancing in the aisles. Everything you might expect from a Saturday afternoon in the sun before a college game, including lots of alcohol. People were drinking beer, wine and spirits, in cups, bottles and even stemware. And they made no attempt at camouflage, as comfortable being in the open as in a communion line.

Navy Fan: 'That Empty Bottle Does Look Familiar'

But, for some reason, all that tolerance changes to temperance once you pass into the reverent halls of the stadium. The effect of giving your ticket to the taker and walking through the turnstile transforms all Irish-Catholic football fans in South Bend into a contingent of fine Southern Baptists, with hands on knees and tongue between teeth. Inside their football shrine there is no cussing, no heckling; you seemingly are not allowed to act in any way like you are at a football game. And what is most relevant to this story is the zero tolerance of alcohol.

At the start of the second quarter an usher asked to see us in the concourse; we knew that we had been caught with contraband of Kentucky’s finest. He then asked if we had indeed been drinking and we confessed, hoping for forgiveness and thinking that the penance would be merely confiscation. Another usher, assumingly used to more evading perps, asked, as he flashed one of our empty pint bottles, "soooo, are you still going to stick to your story?"

Navy Fan: 'That Empty Bottle Does Look Familiar'

"Yes, yes sir, we have been drinking and that empty bottle does look familiar." Apparently, it was alright for Jesus to turn water into wine, but a Navy fan at Notre Dame cannot turn his 7-Up into a cocktail. 

He immediately said what Tony thought to be, "game-day bag." Alright, some souvenirs, an upgrade to another wooden bleacher slightly closer to the field. Tony realized, as we were escorted down the ramp toward the gate, that we had, in fact, suffered a "game-day ban."
Our tickets were taken, the request for the remaining pint was denied and we were told not to re-enter. We went to a bar to watch the rest of the game, which Navy won.

Kuhl is a former Navy sailor and is a friend of OGS. He lives in Louisville.


Weekend Preview: OU-Texas

Bob Stoops

One Great Season

ATLANTA -- Ever just do away with the Xs and Os and maybe even abandon rational thinking entirely in favor of a feeling you have deep down in your gut?

I do it a few times each football season, and that's how I feel heading into Saturday's Oklahoma-Texas game.

You'd think the Longhorns are the obvious choice, but, are they really? Don't let records and rankings fool you. Sure Oklahoma has two losses and is on the outer edge of the Top 25. But remember, each of those losses was by one point, and Bob Stoops' Sooners were without Heisman Trophy winner Sam Bradford for six of the eight quarters in those games.

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Bradford is back, and while he might not be 100 percent, he enjoyed some tuneup action in a 33-7 defeat of Baylor in his return last week.

As he rounds back into form, he also has two stud running backs to hand the ball to in Chris Brown and DeMarco Murray. Texas is without its top two running backs.

Also, Oklahoma boasts a strong and stubborn defense, allowing opponents just eight points per game in five outings. Texas allows 15 points per game, which isn't bad, but the Longhorns haven't really been tested the way Oklahoma has.

Lastly, I think with the pressure of a national championship run not bothering OU players, the Sooners should be going into this game focused just on this game, whereas Texas players still suffer the burden of trying to remain perfect in the big picture.

I do like Colt McCoy, and he was a hair away from a Heisman Trophy and a berth in the BCS National Championship game last year. And I do like that he and his OU counterpart are friendly, but I think Bradford and the Sooners will be the only ones smiling in Texas Saturday afternoon.

Pete Carroll

USC at Notre Dame: USC already suffered its one hiccup of the season when it lost to Washington last month. The Trojans are in their own class when they want to be, and I think they'll want to be on Saturday in South Bend.

Jimmy Clausen's Heisman bid will end as USC will show Irish fans what a real defense looks like. The Trojans aren't too shabby on offense either, and against a Notre Dame defense that can give up big plays, look for Pete Carroll's group to score frequently.

Losing to USC, however, does not mean Charlies Weis should be fired. That talk is so tiresome. With four of their six remaining games at home after this one, the Irish still have a chance to reach 10 wins.

Virginia Tech at Georgia Tech: Both teams run the ball very well, particularly the Yellow Jackets. But the difference will be on defense, where Virginia Tech looks like a typical Frank Beamer unit. The Hokies are strong and fast and physical.

Beamer's bunch is also capable of making a big special teams play every single week, and that could be the X factor as the home team will certainly keep it close.

I picked Virginia Tech to be the best team in the ACC this year -- did anyone not? -- and the Hokies will show why on Saturday.


Three Thoughts For Thursday

Jimmy Clausen

One Great Season

ATLANTA -- I've got some non-football items to address today. I was born here in Atlanta, but only lived here until I was 2 years old.

So mom wants me to visit our old church and maybe even the hospital where I was born. I think I'll also visit our old neighbors, the Pompilios. 

And I need to hit Best Buy because, and let me know what you think of this: The 1TB external hard drive I bought right before I left on this tour doesn't work. I saved some things to it each of the first two or three weeks, and then it just sat unused but well traveled for a month. It must have gotten kicked or something by the baggage handlers.

Anyway, the Best Buy people said they'd do a free exchange, in which case I'd get a new drive but would lose the content on the old one that I'd return to them. Or they'd ship it out for the data to be retrieved for several hundred dollars. It's really a no-win situation. Isn't the point of guaranteeing the products you sell to protect consumers from having to dig deep into their pockets to pay for fixes that shouldn't have to be made in the first place?

But before I set out for the day, here are three quick football takes:

+ Cincinnati can run the table in the Big East and still won't play for the national championship. Boise State's unimpressive win last night at Tulsa was the Broncos' last chance to lose; they're home free the rest of the way. And if Boise's rank in the BCS standings at the end of the season isn't higher than Cincinnati's, a one-loss SEC team's will be.

Mark Richt

+ I won't wait until after the USC game to say this, but Jimmy Clausen (pictured, above) is not a Heisman Trophy candidate. I know I wrote this season that a good Notre Dame team is good for the sport, but we don't need to try so hard to make it seem that that squad actually is good. The Irish lost to a decent Michigan team and struggled to beat bad Purdue and Michigan State teams. Let's take it easy with Clausen, who's a nice talent and will certainly play on Sundays, but after USC's defense shuts him down, the calligrapher can take his name off the invite list for a December trip to New York.

+ I don't get sports radio. I understand that Atlanta is more of a pro town, but when the local screamers talk about college football, they lose me. I hate that our culture is so obsessed with perfection, that if Mark Richt (pictured, above) leads struggling Georgia to only seven or eight wins this year, he and/or his assistants need to be fired. The 'Dawgs are 2-3, but fans knew it would be hard to replace both Matthew Stafford and Knowshon Moreno on offense. Sometimes bad experiences can lead to good growth; fans just need to be patient to let it happen naturally. Would replacing Richt really make for a much better season in 2010?


Gameday Gallery: Michigan State at Notre Dame

One Great Season

SOUTH BEND, Ind. -- My week in South Bend has come to a close, and it ended on a great day.

Under sunny skies, I made some new friends at a very lively tailgate party for several hours, then took my $100 scalped ticket to the 11th row behind the north end zone -- with Touchdown Jesus at my back -- and watched an exciting game between two teams trying to be better than mediocre.

Neither Notre Dame nor Michigan State was excellent Saturday, but each showed flashes good enough to win. The Irish got a late touchdown, a picture of which you can see below, then stopped a Spartan drive with a red-zone interception with less than a minute left.

To see the day in pictures, click the picture of Golden Tate catching the game-winning touchdown pass below. And PS, I have to check out of the hotel pretty soon, so I'll add captions maybe later tonight:


Friday's Fotos -- The Week in South Bend

One Great Season

SOUTH BEND, Ind. -- Though I didn't get official media access this week in South Bend, I still feel like I got a lot accomplished. And I have a credential for next week's game in Lexington, Ky., where No. 1 Florida visits the Kentucky Wildcats. And the week after that, more credentialed access out west for the USC at California game in Berkeley.

But Saturday, I'll still enjoy a decent angle, just 11 rows up, right near the Notre Dame tunnel, so check back this weekend for more pictures. Until then, enjoy these three galleries:

+ Friday's Fotos -- The Week in South Bend
+ College Football Hall of Fame
+ One Golden Gallery

Catching Up With Former ND Athletes

One Great Season

SOUTH BEND, Ind. -- I count among the friends I've made in my 15-year news career a pair of former Notre Dame student-athletes, both of whom I worked with in the great city of Louisville, Ky.

Andrea Stahlman (nee Armento) played volleyball and Tom Parnell played baseball for the Irish, and each was nice enough to answer a few questions via email for me this week.

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Both seemed to appreciate in their college days and still enjoy a few of the traditions that make an autumn game-day special in South Bend. Here's how Parnell described it:

"Home games were an incredible experience," he said. "We'd awake at 7 a.m., out the door to tailgate at 8, and start sipping warm Busch Light and Mad Dog 20/20 with the masses until game-time around 2:30 p.m. Alumni with motor homes were always a welcome sight, as they would pull us in for some great BBQ and home-cooked football feasts. Once inside the stadium, we were on our feet for four hours, cheering on the Irish, enjoying Sheriff McCarthy’s corny jokes in the fourth quarter and finishing every game arm-and-arm with friends singing the alma mater."

Added Stahlman, who, like Parnell, was at Notre Dame when Lou Holtz was coaching: "Campus is electrifying on game day. There is so much tradition. For a student I would think it is like no other college football atmosphere."

Stahlman said she liked to tap the well-known "Play Like A Champion Today" sign, and appreciated the classy touch of weekly paint jobs on the ND helmets, which included real specks of gold. One of her most memorable times as a Notre Dame athlete was when the volleyball team had a game out at rival USC the same weekend the football team was playing the Trojans.

Both Parnell's and Stahlman's fathers went to Notre Dame, and Parnell said he remembers wearing ND gear as a toddler, and at age 11 he began making the annual pilgrimage to South Bend. He knew even long before high school where he'd attend college.

"But during my senior year of high school, a rejection letter sent me to the doorstep of Holy Cross Junior College across the street from Notre Dame," Parnell recalled. "Ironically, the movie 'Rudy' came out my freshman year, and I was able to transfer my sophomore year."

Stahlman, a reserve for the Irish volleyball team, recalls her own "Rudy" moment in South Bend.

"Starting my senior home game and having everyone yelling, 'Rudy! Rudy!' was pretty funny," she said.

Parnell counts a 1993 Notre Dame defeat of visiting Florida State as the most memorable game he saw in person. The win sent the Irish to the top of the polls, but coach Holtz couldn't win a second national championship after ND's perfect season in 1988. The Irish haven't been close to a title since.

"The next three years found the Irish struggling against the top teams, and starting to show signs of the current climate," Parnell said. "The next three years saw ... equal doses of brilliance and baffling play-calling. I watched Holtz get carried off the field in my last home game as a senior, and thus began the Bob Davie-Tyrone Willingham-Charlie Weis disaster."

Stahlman, who has two young sons, also lamented the post-Holtz mediocrity, but said she still likes to get to South Bend to see old friends at least every other year when those hated Trojans come calling.

"I'm anxious to take my boys to the games, and I love re-connecting with my old teammates and college friends," she said.

She'll have a chance on Oct. 17 when USC and its highly heralded freshman quarterback, Matt Barkley, pay a visit for the annual beat-down.


When Notre Dame Is Good, So Is College Football

One Great Season

SOUTH BEND, Ind. -- Not long after many of my peers jumped on the Notre Dame bandwagon in the late 1980s, and Irish haters accused us of being fairweather fans, I jumped off the wagon and chose Ohio State as my favorite squad.

YOUR THOUGHTS: Why Do So Many People Hate Notre Dame?

Until then, I felt like I had a legitimate reason to support the Golden Domers. Ever since I was old enough to talk trash and stretch truths, many of my friends were aware that my dad had played at Notre Dame. Of course I left out the fact that he didn't step on the field for legendary coach Frank Leahy, and ultimately transferred to Marquette after two seasons. Yes, Marquette had varsity tackle football back in the day.

But once I enjoyed a Notre Dame national championship after the 1988 season, and watched the Irish get robbed of another one a year or two later on the phantom clip call during a Rocket Ismail punt return for a late touchdown against Colorado, I noticed all my friends had suddenly become Irish fans.

And then the school and NBC agreed on what was then a revolutionary television contract, a pact that has stayed intact now for nearly 20 years. No single team in any sport at any level enjoys such coverage at the national network level. To me, that just felt far too corporate for 1991. If I was to continue following Notre Dame football, I'd end up needing many showers.

But then the Irish football program fell back toward mediocrity, and suddenly for many it was no longer a guilty pleasure to enjoy Notre Dame football again. Only it was difficult to do so after Lou Holtz left.

Again, having thrown my full support behind Ohio State football, I cheered for the Buckeyes as they swept a home-and-home series against the Irish in the mid-1990s. I felt a little guilty, just a few years after my dad's death, rooting against Notre Dame, but if I recall, he took me to more Ohio State games as a kid than Notre Dame games, so it made sense for this Ohio native to follow the Bucks, right?


Anyway, these days, I have very little interest in Notre Dame football, but it's hard to discount the history and the tradition here in South Bend. Few schools can match it. And I hope to capture some of it in my remaining days here on this tour.

The recent Brady Quinn teams sure were fun to watch, especially when the 2005 edition lost to Ohio State in the Fiesta Bowl.

But I will say that a good team in South Bend is good for the sport. Those old ghosts that used to affect games in such a way that visiting teams suspected lopsided officiating always make for good conversation.

I never know why people hate players or teams or coaches so fiercely, but Notre Dame football always has had plenty of critics, long in the fan arena and perhaps the press box, and of course in more recent times the mostly faceless blogosphere. But once people do away with the vitriol and allow themselves to have an objective conversation, I think they'll agree that a good Notre Dame team only makes a college football season even more exciting and intriguing.


Tuesday Tidbits

One Great Season

SOUTH BEND, Ind. -- I'm on the radio in Louisville later today. I think it's 790 AM at about 3:45 p.m. I'll send out exact details later. In the meantime, here are some other nuggets to ponder.

+ I spent the weekend with friends in Columbus. When all the fun ended and everyone parted ways Sunday morning, my boy Erin asked right before leaving: "Are you worried about hitting a wall at any point on this trip?"

"You mean, like, now?" I asked.

Seriously, just two weeks in, I'm starting to realize how huge of a bite I've taken. I'm always exhausted. Only three months left!

+ There's an Italian restaurant here in South Bend called The Volcano. I drove past it on the way home from my own dinner at about 9:45 p.m. Unsurprisingly, there wasn't a car in the lot and all the lights were off. Weak.

+ I think what the OSU-USC game showed the most is that late-game crunch time is far more Pete Carroll time than it is Jim Tressel time.

Carroll's Trojans won Saturday's heavyweight bout in a way that seemed similar to how Tressel's first few teams won in Columbus, including the 2002 squad that scored few points but won all 14 of its games en route to a national championship. USC did just enough to win Saturday, especially late.

+ I think the best game no one's talking about this weekend may very well be in Blacksburg. Virginia Tech welcomes Nebraska to Lane Stadium for what promises to be a hard-hitting Saturday afternoon tilt. I wish I was there instead of here in South Bend, where the Notre Dame athletic department is strict about granting media access to outsiders. I don't even have any kind of mid-week access to player and coach interviews. But there's no access in Blacksburg this weekend either, so it makes sense to go to the school with more history and tradition for me to write about this week.

+ Speaking of media access, I got my credential request approved for USC's game at Cal on Oct. 3. If the Golden Bears can get a win at Oregon the week before, then both teams should be 4-0 and ranked among the top six in the country. And I'll be on the sideline for all of it.

+ It's possible I might see the Trojans play three times this year. I'm hopeful to get a credential for the USC-UCLA game on Nov. 28. I've drank the Matt Barkley-flavored Kool-Aid, and I think that would be pretty cool if the talented freshman led USC to a perfect regular season and a berth in the BCS Championship game.

+ Odd crowd here at the Quality Inn in South Bend. Looks like an assembly of Amish construction workers. Those who aren't rockin' the beard and simple clothing are sporting muscle Tees, mustaches and John Deere caps.

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