A quick rundown of some recent ND news items that deserve mention:
Two Twos and a Three
The AP All-American Team, perhaps the most prestigious of the numerous All-American teams, was announced and ND placed three players on the multi-team list. Brady Quinn and Jeff Samardzija were named 2nd Team AP All-Americans while Tom Zbikowski was named to the 3rd team. Congrats to all three, who were also named to the AP All-American teams last year as well. Especially noteworthy is Samardzija's 1st team All-American nod by the Football Writers of America Association. That makes Samardzija ND's first two-time 1st Team All-American since Bobby Taylor in '93 and '94 and the only 1st team repeat from last year's FWAA list.
Still, I have to say that the fact that John Carlson didn't make any AP All-American team while Zibby did is just about all the proof you need that these lists are largely made out in the fall and don't change. Outside of QB, RB, and WR, I really don't think the voters pay much attention and as a result fall back on pre-season choices. I have to think that Carlson didn't make it due to his injury which kept him out for a few games, but I really believe he was one of the three best tight ends in the country this year. On the flip side, Zibby went from leading the team in interceptions in 2005 to zero INTs in 2006. His production as a punt returner also trailed off a bit. I'm still a big fan of his and think it's great that he's rumored to be returning to ND, but I also have to admit that there were likely guys out there who deserved to be on this list more than he did. The good news for both Carlson and Zibby is that they likely both will have another shot to stake their claim for the 1st or 2nd team next season.
Zibby's fellow All-American teammate Samardzija recently admitted that even though many are predicting his draft status will slip a few rounds if he keeps talking about baseball, Jeff isn't stopping. Here's a recent Q&A from Joe Schad's ESPN Insider blog ($) :
Are you really the next Bo Jackson?I imagine the football/baseball issue is going to only get more heated for Samardzija as the NFL draft prep begins after the bowl game. Remember, since he played for the Cubs over the summer, playing baseball for the Irish is no longer an option.
"I never said Bo Jackson. These NFL teams want to know how much time they'll get from me. An un-thought question that is asked a lot is body size. Obviously baseball doesn't want me to get up to 220 and football doesn't want me at 210, a pitching weight. So that's a big part of it, too. Time, body-type and also if I would be worn out and able to do it. Those are the three things they ask. I usually say it's no big deal to all three questions. My plan from Day 1 is going to be to just do both as long as I can. People think it's about two-sport hype. But that's not what it's about. I just want to do both as long as I can to make sure I made the right decision. There is no doubt that if I say I'm playing both that will completely affect my NFL draft status. It's a decision I live with every day. And trust me, there's not a day that goes by that I don't think about it."
Along the NFL draft prep lines, earlier I noted that Quinn was named to the Senior Bowl roster and questioned if he would play. It seems that the answer is yes as Quinn accepted the invite and will show his stuff down in Mobile this spring. Joining Quinn will be teammates Ryan Harris, Rhema McKnight, Victor Abiamiri, and Jeff Samardzija. Troy Smith has also accepted an invitation to the Senior Bowl and will finally play behind the same OL as Quinn, which I assume will put to an end any bickering between ND and OSU fans on the internet.
My Boy is Wicked Smaht
Once again the Irish Round Table scores the video goods. This time they have a quality copy of the Brady Quinn-as-student video shown during the Heisman Trophy ceremony. While this video certainly doesn't fall under the negative media approach to Brady Quinn that we wrote about a few days ago, as that commentary related mostly to reaction to his football skills, it does go to show why ND fans are so nuts over Quinn, despite games like Michigan and USC this year. He's just a damn fine representative of ND. We're all going to miss him next year.
This Hype Meter Goes to 11
Exit Brady Quinn as overrated, enter Jimmy Clausen as overrated. At least Quinn was able to enjoy college for two and a half years before becoming a collegiate poster boy and therefore target for lazy/dumb/lazy&dumb sportswriters and fans and their cries of overrated. After winning a state championship in his final high school game -- for the record, he didn't lose any of high school games -- Jimmy Clausen was greeted with, among other game reviews, this article that went for the cheap and easy slam-the-popular-kid routine. I'm not that worked up about a local smalltime sportswriter (the Daily Breeze? Really?) writing a dumb article and I'm not linking it so ND fans can get outraged and flood his inbox with angry emails (that he will take to his editor as proof that he needs a raise for increasing the paper's website hits). Merely, this just struck me as a glimpse of things to come next year. The leap from beating up tiny private schools with an army of D-1 teammates to facing teams like Georgia Tech, Penn State, Michigan, Southern Cal, and Duke is enormous, as are the pressures of beating out three upperclassmen for the starting gig. And anything less than a stellar season as the full-time starter will bring out the boo-birds. ND is about to have a full-fledged QB battle with no serious incumbents for the first time since, what, 2000? 1994? And one of the potential starters is one of the most hyped recruits in a long time. You can practically hear the sportswriters drooling.
Fight for the Blue and Gold
The next stop in Ronald Talley's football career will take place at the University of Delaware. By heading to a D I-AA program, Talley will be eligible to play right away and not have to sit out a year. The Chicago Sun-Times states that the main reason for Talley's decision to leave the Irish was due to the coaching staff's desire to move him to defensive tackle versus Talley's desire to remain at defensive end.
We've Come a Long Way
Helping to rid the final shreds of embarrassment over the MBA tailgating video that hit the internet earlier in the season, this talented and dedicated ND fan put on a great performance while prepping for the showdown against the Trojans of Southern Cal. Someone get this man a Stadium Lot parking pass for next year.
Remember, Remember, the 9th of December
Finally, here's a quick anecdote from Ivan Maisel's blog ($) over on espn.
He may be loud and he may be big, but even Charlie Weis can be inconspicuous. On the night that Notre Dame quarterback Brady Quinn did not win the Heisman Trophy, the Fighting Irish coach stood behind a pillar at the far end of the lobby outside the Nokia Theater. If you came down the stairs into the lobby and craned your neck to the left, you might have seen Weis, which is how he liked it.
When public figures like Weis are in a public setting -- that is, one they don't control, complete with civilians -- they lurk on the edge of it. To dive in would be to surrender their time and their shield. Speaking of which, I can remember being in South Bend some years ago for a banquet at which then-coach Lou Holtz would speak. He stood in the second-floor lobby of the athletic building, self-pinned against a trophy case, sipping a diet Coke and girding himself to go on stage.
So Weis is off to one side, and I walk up and re-introduce myself and congratulate him on going 10-2. And here, from memory, is what he said:
"Listen, it's a polite thing to say, and politically correct, but if I'm happy with a 10-2 record, I'm going to get fired," Weis said. "The two losses were not close. We're not where we want to be. But I'm telling you, with the players we have coming in, including a couple of recruits that nobody knows are going to commit to us, we're going to be a lot better. A couple of years from now, you are going to remember that we had this conversation tonight."
"All right," I said. "I'll remind you. No, you remind me."
"I won't have to," Weis said. "We'll just look at each other, and you'll know."
You can't hear tone of voice online. On the screen, Weis might sound arrogant in that exchange. He didn't in person. He is fixed on a prize, and he intends to claim it.
One other thing: that's why journalists love unscripted moments. That's the real Charlie Weis.