The Royal Heffernans

Quite possibly the best family ever

Thursday, October 02, 2014

ND Hodge Podge

We hit the real start of the football season this weekend as Stanford comes to town. I thought I'd take the opportunity to discuss a few ND topics of interest...

The Five
So the ND Honor Code finally held the hearings for the 5 ND football players this week. They should have their ruling within the next week, as early as today. Much mental anguish has been thrown around the interwebs with regards to ND admin's slow pace in resolving this situation. Here's what you need to know.
  • ND does and always will place academics above everything else. Sports are a distant 2nd at best, and may be 3rd with the Catholic identity edging it out for 2nd.
  • The pace of this investigation has been slow, but ND will NOT mess this up. 
  • There has been no special treatment because these are football players.
  • Clearly, these 5 players did something wrong. How bad their mistake was is the subject of the investigation and hearings. So if anyone (including them) wants to complain, they need to remember that it was the players who started this mess.
Much of the complaining has to do with the fact that they are being held out of football activities. Guilty until proven innocent. A typical complaint goes like this, "If they are exonerated, they were punished by missing over a quarter of the season for nothing!" While I agree that it doesn't make sense to take this extreme step (at least let them practice), you have to understand history. This situation involves a paid student employee of the athletic department. What her involvement is, we don't know. However, if you recall the one and only time ND received NCAA probation, it was because Kim Dunbar gave gifts to a player she was dating. The NCAA determined she was a booster because she paid $25 to go to a QB club luncheon. So that is why ND self-reported the current situation to the NCAA. I doubt this will have any NCAA implications, but ND will take no chances on getting a penalty. I think their deliberate approach to this situation will make that very unlikely.

ACC and Scheduling
I am loving our association with the ACC. We have 5 power conference games locked in. They rotate to new ACC sites every year. Lots of new opponents and stadiums to check out. It covers HOT spots we need for recruiting. Our Bowl opportunities are better than ever. Looking ahead, it look like Swarbrick is looking to diversify the schedule. We have series scheduled against Georgia, Texas, A&M and OSU. I envision a future in which we hopefully play one team from each power conference every year. Without a conference championship, we need to be able to compare ourselves to other conferences for playoff selection. An ideal future schedule format:
  • 5 ACC teams
  • 2 Pac 12 (USC, Stanford)
  • 2 B1G (rotate Purdue/MSU and occasional OSU or Michigan)
  • 1 SEC (Georgia and A&M currently)
  • 1 Big 12 (Texas coming up)
  • 1 Navy
I see almost everyone seems to be picking Stanford to pop ND's bubble. I can't even believe it. The pure ignorance is mind-numbing. Go back to 2012 and read my preview of the ND Oklahoma game. I hit it dead on. I don't often make predictions, but this one seems too easy.
  • ND is better than 2013.
  • Stanford is worse than 2013.
  • ND lost 27-20 at Stanford in 2013.
  • That loss was aided by 2 4th Q picks by Tommy Rees.
  • Our QB is now Golson who can make plays.
  • The game is at Notre Dame.
It seems pretty obvious we should at least be favored in this game. Stanford isn't the bruising juggernaut of the past 5 years. They are in transition. I think our O is good for a few scores, and I don't see them taking advantage of our solid D. I call ND victory 24-13.

Season Prospects
So the inevitable question. Do we make the Playoff? Clearly it is too early to make that call. A big win this week helps a LOT. FSU may be the season. We also cannot slip up against AZST and USC. I'll be all-in if we beat FSU, and we will be in prime position if that happens. A close loss to FSU keeps us alive, but the only way we get in with 1 loss is if we look better than the Big 12 and B1G champions. I don't see that happening. Assuming we are 11-1 with a loss to FSU, FSU is in. Whomever wins the SEC is in. Whomever wins the Pac 12 is in. The B1G is down, and could lose out. A 1 loss MSU will be difficult to skip in favor of ND. Conference Championships are a big criteria. Even tougher is Oklahoma should they win out or have 1 loss. If we beat FSU and them stumble late, we could edge out FSU with 1 loss. That may be our best shot, but it has always been tough to overcome a late season loss. I think the only way we get in as an independent is undefeated. Some hard years ahead until the Playoff expands to 8.


Teddy said...

Week 5 "Who do you root for"
1. Ole Miss
2. Miss State
3. LSU
4. Nebraska
5. TCU

Kevin said...

Hey now, don't forget Maryland (over OSU)!

Colin and Liz said...

Ted nailed it!