Blue and Gold Illustrated

June-July 2017

Blue & Gold Illustrated: America's Foremost Authority on Notre Dame Football

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Page 6 of 63 JUNE/JULY 2017 7 FAN FORUM Or if such understanding and vision were not present, what does that say about Kelly? There has been more than enough time to evaluate Kelly and know what he brings. Mediocrity is bad enough. Acceptance of mediocrity is worse. There should not be an enabling of him by painting a rosy picture of his perfor‑ mance where the truth is otherwise. Peter Dockery, '72 Roselle, Ill. Mr. Dockery, you touch on many fair and excellent points, and we can appreci- ate the cynicism. However, we want to point out several items: First, let's not ignore that Notre Dame did advance to the national title game in 2012 and was in the conversation for the four-team College Football Playoff right until the final regular-season game in 2015. Over the last five years (2012-16), the Fighting Irish are one of a handful of teams to achieve those feats in two different seasons. We know that's hardly the "bar" for Notre Dame, but it's not always awful like last year. Two, BGI has consistently addressed any problems/concerns within the opera- tion and not glossed over them. No one is privy to everything behind the scenes, and anything reported based mainly on "rumors" is not correct journalism. Last spring and summer, before the season began, two different columns ad- dressed the doubts we had about defen- sive coordinator Brian VanGorder and a scheme we felt was not suited for college football. One of the headlines about it read, "A New Season, An Old Problem." We get criticized then for "being negative." Last September we wrote an extensive three-page spread that the biggest disap- pointment of the Kelly regime was that the Irish remained a "team" and was not a "program." In other words, teams rebuild, while programs (Alabama, Ohio State, Clemson, etc.) reload. Kelly was in a form of "no man's land," or a "9-4-type of football purgatory." One of our columnists, analytics expert Brian Fremeau, did a breakdown during the season of "the cost of poor special teams play," and football analyst and former col- lege coach Bryan Driskell did a four-page spread prior to the staff purging on what needs to change — one of them "a strength and conditioning overhaul," and why. The 2017 recruiting class did close strong when you consider the tumult surrounding the program — but a point of emphasis in the "The Fifth Quarter" column in that same edition was the tal- ent gap continues to widen between Ala- bama, Ohio State, etc., and the Irish. Those schools have certain recruiting advantages over Notre Dame, but that's not unusual. We've talked to numerous coaches and players during the glory years in the 1960s and 1970s who admitted they real- ized USC always was going to have more talent than the Irish (from 1967-82 they were 12-2-2 against Notre Dame), but that wasn't "defeatism." It was reality. It didn't mean the Irish couldn't compete. Recruiting problems have nothing to do with losing over the years at home to Syracuse, UConn, Navy, Tulsa, South Florida, Northwestern, Louisville, Duke, etc. Notre Dame still recruits better than about 95 percent of the teams in the Foot- ball Bowl Subdivision. Other than Geor- gia and USC, there isn't anybody on the 2017 schedule that has recruited on par or better than the Irish. We also have outlined in depth the fourth-quarter woes under Kelly, which goes back to not just physical toughness but especially mental. We don't try to paint "a rosy picture." We strive to present all sides, positive or negative, and be realistic. POLITICALLY INCORRECT I just read Mr. Matt Jones' "NFL Notes" concerning Michael Floyd. His statement about how many New England Patriots went to the White House sounds like a political point. I don't subscribe to Blue & Gold Il- lustrated to read about politics. Please keep politics out of BGI. Bob LaFave, '73 Via the Internet ONE MORE FOR THE UNOFFICIAL BOOKS In the May 2017 edition, you listed the two Helms Foundation national championships in men's basketball (1927 and 1936) that are not recog‑ nized by the NCAA. How about Notre Dame's rugby national championship? During the 1965‑66 school year — my senior year — the Fighting Irish won the Commonwealth Cup, Nas‑ sau Invitational, Midwest Tourna‑ ment, Irish Challenge Cup and the All‑College Tournament. These wins resulted in the Fighting Irish being named collegiate rugby national champions by Sports Illustrated. After that season, Notre Dame of‑ fered the rugby team the chance to become a varsity sport, but this was turned down via players' vote. Notre Dame was even named a "national rugby power" by The Washington Post. I think we had a weightlifting "ti‑ tle" in the late '40s, early '50s. We also have a club team title in something or other, I believe. I'll have to dig deeper. Cappy Gagnon, '66 South Bend Mr. Gagnon, thanks for the find and research. FROM THE WEBSITE After spring drills this year, a subscriber told some other subscribers to have "patience" in 2017 because Notre Dame had to adjust to six new assistant coaches. That did not strike the right chord with many follow- ers. Here are some samples: BigNDFan80: It's been 7 years. Is ND any closer to competing for a National Champion- ship? The reality here is the likelihood of Brian Kelly getting Notre Dame to the playoffs after everything that has happened during his time here is extremely low. PortND: Is the talent gap closing? Not even close. Rich Starkey: Patience is not key. You have new coordinators, new assistants and a new S&C coach — all of whom were brought in to make a difference right now. You have a lot of starters back on both sides of the ball and guys who saw game action last year. Patience is for spring practice with all of the new installs and the teaching that came along with it, but I'm not going to be patient once the season starts. This is a good team, and it has a chance to be a very good team. Kelly needs to win, and he needs to knock off teams like Geor- gia and Southern Cal that he plays at home. Rusty Bear: It takes an elite kind of leader to consistently succeed at ND, OSU, Bama, Michi- gan, USC. You need the "it" factor. If Kelly had it, we'd know by now. Moe38: I think many of the young recruits fear the academics and don't want to put the time in and look for easier paths to the league. Tony_Riccio: While I question ND being a consistent playoff team, ND should be able to be a consistent 10-game winning team. Benko's Army: Agreed. Stanford is a 10-win team, and I don't think we lack anything that would prevent us from becoming that good. Ninermark: All of us have been waiting pa- tiently for 2 decades with the mantra of "have some perspective."

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