I realize that a lot of news just broke about the Notre Dame Football program. I also realize that I was very short with my posts about both the Bowl news and the new commit. These both need to be addressed and commented on- and I don't feel like painting the baby room yet. So let's take a little deeper look at both of these stories.
Jordan Cowart is Irish. I really don't think this needs a big explanation, but after reading some of the message boards I was surprised at the lack of insight by some of the posters. People are generally confused about this offer and acceptance. Did you see the special teams unit play this year? More importantly, did you see some of the snaps made on the punts and field goals? They were less than stellar and almost never looked like a smooth play. This commitment give Notre Dame a guy who's sole purpose in life, is to snap the ball. Some wondered about the scholarship numbers. How could Notre Dame "waste" a scholarship on a longsnapper? First, I don't think it was a wasted scholarship. I did a recruiting math post a while back and I fucked it up very badly. So let me summarize what ND has as far as numbers go.
- There are currently 76 scholarship players on the team after you factor in Mike Anello.
- Subtract 11 departing seniors. = 65
- I have heard from various sources that Jashaad Gaines will not return to Notre Dame and Luke Schmidt will have to take a medical due to his head injuries (Schmidt is in the same category as Bartley Webb and Abdel Banda, whereas they stayed in school but they were not counted towards the 85 allotted scholarships). This is not official by any means, but I will chalk it up as more than likely for this post. = 63
- Darrin Walls is going to return to Notre Dame. = 64
- There are currently 18 verbal commitments for 2009. = 82
- That leaves 3 available spots that are open for the 2009 roster.
- There are 6 prospects that ND is really looking at that may be possibilities: Opurum, Nixon, Custis, Te'o, Jenkins, and Starling. Of those six, if there were going to be 3 that committed, I would put my money on Te'o, Opurum, and Custis. I'm not saying that all 3 of these guys will commit (how in the hell would I know) but they are the most likely.
So, the Irish had a scholarship to use and with a possibility of 22 or more guys leaving after next year before you consider any type of 5th year players. This wasn't wasted. The NFL uses a roster spot for a long snapper with only 65 (?) spots available. The Fighting Irish have 85 and they may still not fill that total with recruited scholarship guys for 2009. (These numbers should be right this time).
Notre Dame is heading to the Hawaii Bowl. This comes as a little bit of a surprise to most Irish fans as the big bowl talk after the USC game was the Sun Bowl if Louisville beat Rutgers and if they didn't, the Irish would probably be playing in Houston in the Texas Bowl. But, here we are at 6-6 and heading to Hawaii for a matchup versus the native Warriors of Hawaii. Why?
- The players were allowed input on what bowl they would like to go to.
- The Christmas Eve game allows for final exams to not be interfered with for the players.
- This game will be on ESPN Prime Time as opposed to the NFL network Prime Time.
- Manti Te'o still resides in Hawaii.
- Pick one of the following: Honolulu, Detroit, Houston, Shreveport, and Louisville. Hmmm.
- Of all of the possible Bowl matchups, this one may give the Irish the best chance to snap the bowl losing streak.
This is a chance for Charlie Weis to put this team in a position to be successful in 2009. In reality the 2008 season is still not over, but an overwhelming fact is that the Bowl games count as much for the following year as it does for the current one. This is that step that Notre Dame has to take to keep improving. Laugh if you will, but an impressive bowl performance (translation over 18 point victory) could land the Irish in the preseason top 25.
No trip to the islands should be took lightly, especially when the game is against the home team. The Irish must keep their focus and stick to business- something they have had a hard time doing anywhere this year.
I'll have more on this Bowl matchup during the next few weeks.