Saturday, December 31, 2011

Notre Dame Hockey New Year's Eve Extravaganza

Fans of Notre Dame Hockey rejoice! Today marks the beginning of what will certainly be a lucrative opportunity for Notre Dame Hockey as they begin their partnership with Versus (soon to be NBC Sports Network come Monday, January 2, 2012).

First up for the Fighting Irish is a matchup against Boston University at 7:05p EST from the beautiful new Compton Family Ice Arena. It will mark the first college hockey game to be televised by the fledgling sports network.

Notre Dame beats Rensselaer 5-2 in innaugural game at Compton Family Ice Arena

Both teams are nationally ranked in both the USA Today/America Hockey Magazine and polls. Respectively, Notre Dame (11-6-3) is #6/#5 while Boston (10-5-1) is #9/#9.

After the game, Fighting Irish fans should stay tuned to Versus for a one hour documentary called 'Onward to Victory: Notre Dame Hockey.' The documentary followed the Fighting Irish as they prepared to play rival Boston College on November 18, 2011.

Preview of 'Onward to Victory: Notre Dame Hockey'

It was a pivotal game for the Irish as it served as an early measuring stick for the 2011-12 hockey season and was the official dedication game of their new hockey home. In a thrilling game that lived up to the pre game hype, the Irish emerged victorious thanks to a goal from Bryan Rust with 1.1 seconds left in overtime.

Notre Dame beats Boston College 3-2 in OT

Compton Family Ice Arena dedication video

Notre Dame Second Most Valued College Football Team

Forbes recently released its annual list of most valued college football teams (2011) and the Fighting Irish again found themselves in the second spot. Texas earned the top honor again just like last year.

A number of factors contribute to the rankings, including TV rights, game revenue, sponsorships, revenue sharing and more. Notre Dame, of course, lacks one major contributor for most other schools due to its independent status: revenue sharing.

Nevertheless, the Irish netted a current value of $112 million, $17 million behind the first-ranked Longhorns ($129 million).

An interesting tidbit from the rankings, Notre Dame was the only school this season to generate more than $10 million per home game.

While the Champs Sports Bowl left Irish fans with a pitting feeling in their stomachs, they can take solace that regardless of the team's record the Notre Dame name still caries more (economic) clout than nearly every other college football program.

Friday, December 23, 2011

Frank Beamer May Give Army Veteran Shot to Play for Hokies

Daniel Rodriguez has been to Iraq and Afghanistan, now he wants to go to Blacksburg.

The 23-year-old Stafford, VA native joined the Army instead of going directly to college and served a 12-month tour in each country.

In October of 2009, his unit was overrun by hundreds of Taliban soldiers in the eastern mountains of Afghanistan. Outnumbered roughly 5 to 1, The Americans killed 150 Taliban soliders while losing eight of their own.

Rodriguez received the Bronze Star for valor for his acts during the battle, the most harrowing being a reported 300 meter run under heavy fire to replace a fallen soldier holding down the perimeter.

Rodriguez took shrapnel in his legs and neck, as well as a bullet fragment in his shoulder.

He was treated in country and fulfilled his tour of duty. Now healthy and home, he hopes to fulfill his dream to play college football and just might get that shot at his dream school; Virginia Tech.

After publishing his piece on the Washingtonian's website, author Brett Haber forwarded the story to Tech's athletic department and asked them to give it to coach Beamer, fully expecting them to ignore it. He later received this note:

“Brett, I watched the video on Daniel—very impressive! I plan to contact Daniel after our bowl game in January. I hope this story can work out for everyone. Best Wishes! Frank Beamer.”

Here's the really great video below. And here's to hoping Daniel's story comes to a happy conclusion in orange and maroon or some other colors. He'll certainly wear them well.

Monday, December 19, 2011

ESPN Analyst Craig James to Run for U.S. Senate

James trying hard to look Texan.

Say what you will about Craig James—and I'm about to—he's become a polarizing figure amongst college football fans to be sure.

James will seek the Republican nomination for the U.S. Senate in his home state of Texas.

James is in many ways tailor-made for politics.

During his college days at Southern Methodist University in Texas where James was a star running back, the football team was embroiled in scandal stemming from payment of players. The scandal resulted in the NCAA handing out the "death penalty" to the school canceling the entire 1987 season among other restrictions.

James has denied any direct involvement, though he did say in his book, "Gameday,":

"I'm not going to sit here and tell you I never received a nickel during my playing days. But I can say with certainty that no benefits were ever extended to me from anyone associated with the SMU administration."

The implication being that he may have gotten paid, but dadgummit it was from a booster the good old fashioned way.

"Money, money, money, mo-ney!"

Speaking of boosters, James has had a cozy relationship with Sherwood Blount, one of the key boosters in the SMU scandal. James made him his agent and Blount represented him throughout his pro football career.

Not weird at all *wink*.

More recently of course, James and his concussed son Adam got Texas Tech head football coach and Pirate enthusiast Mike Leach fired.

The James' claimed that Leach placed Adam in an electrical "closet" during football practice when he exhibited post-concussion symptoms.

James hired a public relations firm prior to making the accusations public, then used his position at ESPN to get loads of prime pulpit time to get his message out.

A lawsuit filed by Leach against the university alleges that Adam James, "voluntarily placed himself into the electrical closet and apparently took pictures with his phone camera."

Leach has since filed a lawsuit against James relating to public defamation from the incident.

James' personality has always rubbed me the wrong way. He appears to be overly confident and sure of himself, qualities that no doubt served him well as a running back, but don't endear you to television viewers.


The Craig James School of Broadcasting (No seriously, he founded a broadcasting school with that title. How cocky is that?) tells you to be full of yourself and to assume no one knows of your past accomplishments, so you must remind them.

So, James has controversy in his past, has dealings with shady money and knows how to use a PR firm to shape his message. His son appears to have a sense of entitlement, and he owns at least one cowboy hat.

In other words, I'm not sure I've ever seen anyone more suited to be a politician in my life.

Ladies and gentlemen, I'm pleased to introduce the next Senator from Texas.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

North Korean Leader Kim Jong Il Dead at 69

North Korean state TV is reporting Kim Jong Il died of "overwork", which quickly changed from a report of "fatigue" being the culprit. Ah semantics.

This will always be what I think of when the little man comes to mind.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Random Thursday Links

I've decided that since I spend an excessive amount of time finding random things on the Internet, it would only be right to share them on here. No blog post would be complete without an injection of opinion and observation, so there's that too.

Former Pitt Coach Todd Graham Is A Jerk

For the second time in his career, Todd Graham is leaving a school after one mediocre season for pastures perceived to be greener. After alienating his players to the tune of a 6-6 mark this season, Graham is the new head man at Arizona State. The linked ESPN blogger paints a pretty bleak picture of Graham.

Somewhat related, fellow mothership employee Ivan Maisel had a funny Frank Beamer anecdote contrasting one of the classiest coaches with the slime that is Graham:

"Graham presented the me-first side of college coaching. They don’t all act that way. Gary Cavalli, who runs the Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl, told me this story about Frank and Cheryl Beamer. A few days after Virginia Tech played in Cavalli’s San Francisco bowl, Cavalli got a letter from Cheryl. The Beamers hadn’t had time to fill their courtesy car with gas before dropping it off at the airport. The letter included $20 for the gas. After Cavalli closed his dropped jaw, he returned the money."

Jerk Store Called...

Former QB Todd Marinovich Can Really Paint

ESPN's latest 30 for 30 documentary, "The Marinovich Project" is absolutely outstanding. It details the life of a young man trained by his father from a young age to be the perfect quarterback. He had all the skills and that led him to USC, but drugs were his undoing and he was never able to fulfill his potential (He actually once cut his hand on a crack pipe at half time of a CFL game).

Marinovich has been sober for three years now and has a family with two young kids. He was an art student at USC, and he now uses those skills to produce some really cool art with lots of sports themes. Always great to see someone come back from the brink.

Todd's Online Gallery

The Hobbit Is Being Filmed

Man I really miss that Rudy movie set

I'm not a big Lord of The Rings fan, though I did read some of the books and thought they were almost palatable. I liked The Hobbit the best and thought J. R. R. Tolkein could have saved everyone a lot of time had he just stopped after that first book.

But he didn't and we're left with tomes of epic journey's, elves, dwarves, Elijah Wood, that guy who played Rudy and too much Orlando Bloom.

The Hobbit looks like another major production and this behind the scenes look shows just how bearded and giddy director Peter Jackson is.

Of Hobbits and Craft Services

Monday, December 5, 2011

BCS Gets It "Right"; Hokies Go To Sugar Bowl!!!

I never thought I’d say this, but thank goodness for the BCS system.

I’m not talking about the massively flawed computer metric that spits out the top two teams and then leaves everyone guessing about the method.

I’m referring to the system that rewards a team fresh off an embarrassing loss but with excellent fans to back into my favorite bowl game, the Sugar Bowl in New Orleans, LA.

Fresh off a vomit-inducing 38-10 thumping at the hands of Clemson in the ACC Championship game, the 11-2 Hokies find themselves with an unbelievable date January 3 with No. 13 Michigan in the Superdome.

Plenty of folks are saying the Hokies don’t deserve this, perhaps not, but it does make up for past injustices. I can now almost forgive the 2001 Fiesta Bowl for stupidly picking No. 11 Notre Dame over a No. 5 one-loss Hokie squad led by Michael Vick.

This must be what it feels like to be ND actually, getting favorable bowl bids based purely on past reputation. Virginia Tech has clearly arrived as a program.

ESPN can suck it!

It’s comical to watch Kirk Herbstreit pontificating about how mad he is that the Sugar Bowl chose teams simply to put meat in the seats and make money. That’s what it’s all about Kirk!

The entire BCS is a wild money grab run by greedheads and fools. It’s designed only to pick the top two teams (it can barely accomplish that) after that the rankings barely matter.

This is the system we’re always told works best, so I don’t need to hear the talking heads at ESPN cry foul when the BCS selections upset them.

The Hokies defeated six teams selected to bowl games this season and another eligible team not going to the postseason, Miami.

Assuming that bowls represent some level of accomplishment as we’ve been told they do—despite the fact that there are 35 bowl games this season featuring 70 teams—the Hokies must have been pretty good to knock off all those capable squads.

There are many illustrious bowl games such as the Gator Bowl, Beef ‘O’ Brady’s St. Petersburg Bowl or the San Diego County Credit Union Poinsettia Bowl, but there’s no question that for a Hokie the Sugar Bowl is as good as it gets.

Tech’s best moments have come in New Orleans. In 1995 an upstart Hokie team rebounded from an 0-2 start to stun Texas 28-10 in the Sugar Bowl. The Hokies finished in the top ten for the first time with a 10-2 record and loads of excitement.

Tech returned with much more at stake for the 2000 BCS national championship game against Florida State. Redshirt freshman Michael Vick dazzled the nation and elevated the program to a new level despite losing 46-29.

Michael Vick had the Hokies on top 29-28 at the start of the 4th quarter

In 2005 the Hokies won the ACC in their first season and earned a match up with an undefeated Auburn team left out of the BCS national championship game. Tech mounted a furious comeback behind ACC player of the year Bryan Randall, but lost 16-13.

This season, the stakes are high again. This is a de facto “must win” for Tech. If the Hokies falter, the national perception of not being a big game program will continue to fester and frankly, there will be plenty of truth to it.

If Tech wins, idiot brain morons like Herbstreit and Pat Forde will continue to say the Hokies didn’t belong while simultaneously saying the BCS got it right with a national championship rematch no one wants to see.

But I just don’t care. Right or wrong the Hokies are in the Sugar Bowl and few things could be better.

So as Frank Beamer once eloquently stated, “I want to know how many of you are coming to New Orleans?!”

Saturday, December 3, 2011

2011 Notre Dame Football Perspective and 2012 Implications

Last week, the regular season came to as disheartening a close as the opening performance from the 2011 edition of Notre Dame Football.
2011 Season Recap 
In its entirey, the 2011 Fighting Irish season was a roller coaster ride with more lows than highs despite an 8-4 record. The tone was quickly set after back-to-back defeats against South Florida and Michigan. Turnovers were the undoing in both events as the Irish would have emerged victorious in both save for the 5 turnovers committed in each contest.
One week after the crippling meltdown against the Wolverines the Irish played inspired football and defeated Michigan State, serving as the most quality win of the year for the Irish. Three additional victories over Purdue, Pittsburgh and Air Force set the stage for a measuring stick matchup against Southern Cal.
Seemingly over its turnover troubles, Notre Dame returned to early-season form against the Trojans and giftwrapped what would go on to be a runaway win for Lane Kiffen's squad.
Recovery mode took over once again as the Irish rattled off another four-game winning streak before heading into the season's ultimate test in primetime at Stanford. There were slight concerns along the way, including a narrow escape at Wake Forest and an even closer call against Boston College. For the most part, though, the Irish seemed to take care of business and make progress along the way.
In fact, they even added to the growing strength in the offensive backfield with breakthrough performances from Jonas Gray. Sadly and tragically for the IRish, Gray's season came to an abrupt stop against Boston College thanks to a torn ACL. Before the injury, he was on pace to eclipse the 1,000 yard rushing mark alongside fellow backster Cierre Wood, who vastly improved his vision and blocking abilities from a year ago.
Enter the Stanford Cardinal and Heisman hopeful Andrew Luck, and it felt like deja vu as another team from California thumped the Irish in prime time. From the very first possession, it was clear the Irish would bein for a long night against a tough Stanford Cardinal team. For as much credit as Luck receives, he actually did not play all that well against the Irish. Sure, he threw for 4 touchdowns, but he failed to capitalize on several golden opportunities handed to him by the Irish secondary.
So as the dust settles on the year, Notre Dame earned eight wins and deserved four losses (if not more).
State of the Program
There are signs that head coach Brian Kelly has the Irish headed in a positive direction. For one thing, the defensive line is as strong as it has been since Lou Holtz's teams of the early 90s. More encouraging is that most of the strength was built from underclassmen such as Stephon Tuitt and Aaron Lynch that Kelly managed to pluck away from elite competition.
Additionally, Notre Dame has a running game worth talking about again. Before Gray's season-ending injury the Irish were on pace to have two 1,000 running backs, a feat that will at most be accomplished by three other schools this year (Michigan, USC and Texas A&M). Credit a ferocious and veteran offensive line for the growth in running the football, too. Lou Holtz is smiling somewhere.
Linebacking play has been outstanding this year, led by all-world player Manti Te'o. If you are reading this, Manti, please take this as an open invitation to return for your final year of eligibility next season.
Quarterback, on the other hand, has been a position marred by controversy all season. Despite closing out 2010 with four consecutive victories for the Irish, Tommy Rees was not named the starter for the season opener against South Florida. Instead, senior Dayne Crist was given the reins back to an offense he was forced to watch from the sidelines during Rees' winning streak due to a torn ACL.
But after a miserable and ineffective first half against the Bulls, Crist was pulled in favor of Rees. Notre Dame was able to claw its way back from the huge first half deficit but could not fully overcome the five total turnovers from the game (some of which were attributed to Rees).
Throughout the year, Rees did not wow anyone with his stats, as his propensity to through interceptions clouded his inate ability to win football games. Winning seems to solve all problems, so despite his inability to run a true spread offense and avoid turnovers he remained in charge of the Irish offense.
Against Stanford, however, he took a shot to the ribs on his very first snap and played the remainder of the first half gunshy and out of sync with his receivers. That opened the door for Kelly to reinsert Dayne Crist. After all, he has one season of eligibility remaining.
But Kelly opted instead for seldom-used Andrew Hendrix, a mobile quarterback who more closely fits the mold of a typical spread signalcaller than Rees or Crist ever have or ever will.
Down 21-0 at the half, Hendrix helped guide the Irish to two touchdowns and ran what looked like the most complete version of Kelly's spread the Irish have seen in his short two year tenure thus far.
Despite the positive momentum Hendrix's presence created, the comeback fell short and deceptively made the 28-14 final score appear closer than the contest really was. Coming into the matchup, Notre Dame's offensive line had allowed only five sacks on the year, but quickly doubled that yearly total as they were overmatched and outschemed by a very disciplined Cardinal team.
So instead of closing out the season with a signature win like 2010, questions abound for the future of the program. Namely, who will be Notre Dame's quarterback in 2012? One might also add, can the Irish avoid turnovers and beat the opponents they are supposed to beat (like the South Florida's of the world)?
Quarterback of the Future 
Kelly may tip his hand toward 2012 when he decides who will start in the upcoming to-be-announced bowl game. Options include Rees, Hendrix and even Crist.
All signs point to Crist's Irish career coming to a close with an ensuing transfer. The NCAA recently instituted a rule that allows players who have graduated to enroll at a different university's graduate program and avoid having to sit out a season to play. Crist will almost certainly dress as a member of the Fighting Irish in the bowl game.
That leaves Rees and Hendrix as the logical candidates vying for the starting nod. My guess is the opponent will dictate who the strating quarterback is in this contest. Reason being that he will want to give Notre Dame its best chance of winning the bowl game. Logical, right? Where it gets tricky is understanding why he could wind up choosing a quarterback who will NOT be the starter in 2012. That could be said of either option, Rees or Hendrix.
Starting with Rees, it is entirely possible that he will start given his record as a starter. Kelly even defended Rees during the press conference after beating Boston College. But Rees could just as easily as poorly as he did against Stanford and earn himself a seat on the bench in the second half (or sooner), paving the way for Hendrix to audition for the 2012 role early.
Likewise, Kelly could take a gamble on an unproven winner and start Hendrix. But if Hendrix falters he might seal his fate for the 2012 competition.
Then there is the wild card that has yet to take a game snap: Everett Golson. A freshman with a powerful arm and elusive speed, it is plausible Kelly wanted preserve an extra year of eligibility while Golson learned the offense and developed his conditioning in practices. To date he has only spent time on the 'show' team.
Bowl Game and Beyond
Regardless of who starts the bowl game, or who finishes it for that matter, Notre Dame must win to show that 2011 was not a total loss. Many pundits tabbed the Irish for at worst 9-3 and a BCS bid. Kelly even set his expectations to the BCS, but alas the Irish will be resignated to bowls just beneath that tier. Now, the Irish must rely on their bowl game to earn their ninth victory of the season and eclipse last year's mark.
A bowl loss would not be the end of the world, but it certainly would not help on the recruiting front, where the Irish have yet to sign an elite back in the class of 2012 despite several potential candidates.
Win, and the sour taste of the poor beginning, middle and end to the regular season will be quelled.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

The BCS Still Sucks and Will Cause The Zombie Apocalypse

For years, we’ve been told that the BCS was the “best system available” to determine college football’s national champion.

Never mind that the lower divisions of college football have playoffs with great success. Never mind that the idea is pounded home that these are amateur athletes on the playing fields of a sport dominated by big money.

These are the last desperate arguments of a group barely hanging on to the cash cow that is the BCS.

Dan Wetzel of Yahoo! Sports published an article Wednesday detailing what the BCS actually is.

Five of the six computer polls used in the BCS don’t make their formulas public, so not even BCS officials know what goes into it.

We do know that two thirds of the BCS are wildly subjective human polls, known to be riddled with political bias and straight up homerism.

Ultimately, this season puts to rest the nonsense argument that the BCS puts an emphasis on the regular season. “Every game matters!” ESPN is fond of spouting, but clearly, that isn’t true.

In the past, we’ve been told teams can lose early in the season and still recover to make the championship game. Now, even that vague guideline seems to have gone out the window.

Alabama already lost to LSU once, and failed to qualify for the SEC Championship game as a result, yet they remain No. 2 in the BCS.

That’s better than Oklahoma State. The Cowboys lost just last week to an unimpressive 6-5 Iowa State team, but they remain third in the BCS.

But the untimely loss by OSU has been glossed over, and if they defeat Oklahoma to end the season they’ll be first in line of the teams that got “jobbed” by the system.

What the Hell is a computer?

Now it doesn't even seem to matter if LSU wins against Georgia this weekend. It's a foregone conclusion that they'll be in the BCS championship game if the entire squad comes down with the old Louisiana two-step (note: Cajun' food burns coming out too).

Frankly, I hate the BCS and every year I come up with a different angle from which to criticize it.

A playoff might not be better, but it would be infinitely more satisfying. The basic concept that the top teams in college football are determined by a complicated formula fully understood by no one is upsetting.

Even now my blood boils as Jesse Palmer and the strangely still employed Craig James gasbag about quality losses.

I'm gonna kill y'all

There's no such thing as a quality loss! Vince Lombardi is spinning in his grave! Bear Bryant will soon reanimate and punch you in the face if you even use the phrase, and rightfully so.

And that ultimately is the biggest problem, great coaches of the past will turn into zombies and storm ESPN, CBS and the individual homes of all BCS proponents if we don't do something to end this nonsense.

Is that really what we want? Waves of the undead fixing a problem that living humans could easily remedy?

No! We must take a stand and defend what little sanctity is left in college football. We must end the BCS any way possible, even if it means a little bloodshed.

That's food for thought. Zombie food.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

David Wilson Named ACC Offensive, Overall Player of the Year

How is that balance possible?

Virginia Tech's David Wilson has had a remarkable season. Barring something crazy, he will likely break the school record for rushing in a season this weekend in the ACC Championship against Clemson.

He has already tied the Tech and ACC marks for 100-yard games in a season (10), he's the fifth leading rusher in the nation with 1,595 yards (ranking just above likely Heisman finalist Trent Richardson) and has been the spark plug for a much improved Hokie offense.

Wilson also served as an emotional lightning rod following Tech's 23-3 home loss to Clemson in October.

Wilson was so upset that he stormed straight into the locker room.

“The team got in there and just like a rage came over me and I was screaming at my team telling them we shouldn’t have lost that game,” the running back recalled of the Clemson aftermath. “‘They’re not better than us.’ And I told them we weren’t going to lose any more games. And I told them I mean it.”

It was a bit out of character for Wilson, but it seemed to be the right thing to say at the right time.

“It was real,” running backs coach Shane Beamer said. “It was real and it was genuine. … And he spoke for the whole team. We don’t like letting a team come in here and embarrass us in our stadium like they did. And we said that night we’d like to get another shot at them.”

Monday, November 28, 2011

Hokies Slam 'Hoos; No One Shocked

If there was ever a time for Virginia to beat Virginia Tech in football for the first time since 2003, this was it.

The 'Hoos came in hot off a "big" win over an underachieving Florida State squad and the Hokies were perhaps a little too focused on the BCS standings in which they suddenly mattered.

But it was business as usual. Virginia could have scored early, but likely ACC coach of the year and Cee Lo Green lookalike Mike London panicked and failed to convert a fourth down play deep in Tech's red zone.

Logan Thomas had another nice game completing 13 of 21 passes for 187 yards and two touchdowns adding another TD on the ground.

Most of those went to the often invisible redshirt junior Marcus Davis, who had a career-high five catches for 119 yards and a score.

After a slow first half, David Wilson exploded in the second period totaling 153 yards and two touchdowns on 24 carries.

Now, quickly back to the BCS. No I don't really think Virginia Tech is the second best team in the nation, but how do they get jumped by Stanford?

Was Stanford's hard-fought win over No. 22 Notre Dame that much more impressive than Tech's 38-0 dismantling of No. 24 Virginia? No, it's not.

Regardless, Stanford can now sit around and study because they aren't eligible for their conference championship game while the Hokies prepare for a re-match with No. 20 Clemson, a team that as I predicted is mired in it's traditional late season swoon.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Tech Improves to 10-1, Knocks Off UNC 24-21

Senior night in Blacksburg was a frigid affair made a little warmer by a Hokie victory. It was a night of strange happenings; Tech wore orange, Darius Rucker sang the national anthem, and David Wilson was held under 100 yards rushing for only the second time this season.

Logan Thomas threw for two touchdowns and ran for another, then the Hokies held on for dear life as they watched a 24-7 lead nearly evaporate in the closing minutes.

With that behind everyone, now things get really interesting.

The oxymoron that is a good University of Virginia football team is once again in existence. Head coach Mike London has the Cavaliers playing well to the tune of an 8-3 overall record and a win Saturday would mean the school's first appearance in the ACC Championship game.

Of course standing in their way are the 10-1 Hokies. The Commonwealth Cup, given to the winner of this longstanding rivalry, has been collecting dust in the trophy case in Blacksburg for some time now (2,555 days come Saturday but 'Hoos counting?).

This should be a good game in Charlottesville. For some perspective on UVA "football", here's Colin Cowherd's famous rant on the weenies.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Virginia Tech All But Locks Up ACC Coastal Division, Beats Georgia Tech 37-26

For the sixth consecutive season, the ACC Coastal Division crown was on the line when the conference's two Tech's met Thursday night in Atlanta.

Hokie quarterback Logan Thomas played brilliantly, completing 7 of 13 passes for 209 yards and three touchdowns while also rushing 18 times for 70 yards and two more touchdowns.

Two of those completions went to senior Danny Coale who turned them into 97 yards including a career-high 63-yard touchdown just prior to halftime.

Running back David Wilson was up to his usual tricks, carrying 23 times for a career-high 175 yards.

I simply cannot get over how dominant the Tech backfield is this season. Thomas runs over defenders with a power rarely seen in QBs and Wilson routinely demonstrates otherworldly balance, speed and power.

Wilson has been held under 100 yards rushing just once this season, and has now reeled off 7 consecutive 100+ yard games, the most by any player under Frank Beamer.

As for the Hokie defense, currently a veritable mash unit, they continue to impress even against the troublesome nonsense that is the triple option.

Despite shuffling guys along the defensive line, giving Jack Tyler his second career start at mike linebacker and being without several starters, the Hokie defense held Georgia Tech to 243 yards rushing. In three previous games against the Hokies, the Yellow Jackets averaged 311 rushing yards per game.

“We’ve got the best defensive coaching staff in the nation,” Tyler said. “They’re so good. We could plug in anybody and they’d be all right. They’re [the staff] just so good. They came up with a great scheme this week. Obviously, we’ve got people out of position, but they’re [the staff] just so good at what they do that it doesn’t matter.”

Man crushes on the defensive coaches aside (don't worry Jack I have one too) on the season, the Hokies' defense has now stopped the opponent for no gain or a loss on 275 of 590 plays (46.6 percent).

With the win Virginia Tech improves to 9-1 overall and 5-1 in ACC play while Georgia Tech falls to 7-3 overall and 4-3 in the ACC.

The Hokies all but wrapped up the Coastal division crown by eliminating the Yellow Jackets from contention. Barring a total collapse and losses in the final two regular season games against North Carolina and Virginia, the Hokies will find themselves defending last years ACC title in Charlotte with a likely rematch with Clemson (assuming they don't crap out which usually happens)

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Un-Happy Valley As Penn State Disgraced by Scandal, Haunted by Silence

In the wake of the Penn State football scandal there are many things that should be left unsaid about the story. For that matter, don’t expect to find specifics about the allegations against Jerry Sandusky here.

You can also throw away any positive sentiment towards Joe Paterno and what he means to not only those in Happy Valley and college football world out the window.

If you its specifics you want, check out ESPN and their related stories feature.

What should, no must, be understood is that a group of adults deemed to be academic leaders and role models for America’s future failed to address a pervasive and egregious scandal that affects more than just Sandusky’s victims.

But Sandusky does not stand alone as the sole villain in this tragedy. Make no mistake about it, those who failed to take action and ensure Sandusky be brought to justice are equally guilty desperadoes. That group includes administrators and football staff members all the way from the very top of the university’s totem pole to the very bottom. Anyone with knowledge of the sickening acts that persisted over the span of many years is accountable.

For what purpose and what measure did those so-called leaders stand to gain? Money, power and a mountain of guilt that, long overdue, finally crumbled underneath them. We have all heard this same unfortunate story on repeat and sadly, with so much money involved in college athletics, we will likely continue to hear it ad nauseam.

Money and power drive people to do illogical and irrational things. All across the globe since the beginning of time this has been true, so why now in the 21st century would people in State College, PA be immune from such behavior?

Yet they are not martyrs. They are a function of a system that awards athletic success unparalleled and arguably unjustifiable monetary rewards while fueling a lifestyle replete of greed. These people are the problem, not the answer as their positions of power would fool one to believe.

Let their inevitable downfall be an example for anyone else sitting on such disgusting knowledge. Truth be told, once all of the dust has settled they will have only gained tarnished reputations, pink slips and hopefully prison sentences.

No one, not a football coach or university administrator nor a university or corporation is bigger than the law or, more importantly, any single individual. Yet that is what these so-called leaders expressed through their silence. If actions speak louder than words then inaction reveals only one definition: cowardice.

Unaccountability abound, the silence out of Penn State is deafening. While answers are sought, the gravest problem is understanding how such senseless behavior could be tolerated by anyone associated with the program and university. Moreover, how could any individual with knowledge of the wrongdoings not alert someone other than the corrupt university officials?

The biggest losers are the individuals whose lives are now forever scarred by Sandusky’s incomprehensible acts. As the public seeks to understand how and why these terrible acts occurred, the victims struggle with their emotions and feelings of emptiness. No amount of counseling or condolences offered to the victims can make amends for the mental toll caused by the horrendous acts.

These are serious matters and they require serious action. To whomever is responsible for punishing the villains, do not let the pedestal of which Penn State football sits as a money-printing business for the university and state of Pennsylvania get in the way of doing the right thing. Even if bigwig university officials lack the morality and integrity to do so, there must be some hope that state officials and their lawyers are not cast from the same mold.

Regardless of who at the university was legally responsible for pursuing the allegations against Sandusky, the entire chain of command from the top down to the very assistant that informed Joe Paterno of the first incident deserves to be fired. Not even Joe Paterno can be exonerated from punishment.

Matt Millen, a former player under Sandusky, was quite noticeably distraught during an interview this morning on ESPN. He summarized the scandal better than anyone has to date.

…This is about people. And if we can't protect our kids, we as a society, are pathetic. So, that's where I stand on it.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Yet Another Round of New Notre Dame Football Helmets

For the second time in four weeks the Notre Dame Fighting Irish Football Team will feature yet another variation of their classic gold helmet. It will mark the third different helmet donned by the Fighting Irish squad this season alone.

Playing Under The Lights at Michigan in early September, the Irish placed shamrocks on their helmets for the first time since the 1960s.

Fast forward more than a month later and the Irish revealed what had been in the works for more than a year by equipment manager Ryan Grooms: an entirely new process of applying gold paint to the helmets. It marked the second twist of their golden domes on the young season, this time coming against archival Southern California.

Now, Notre Dame is set to unveil its latest creation this Saturday as it takes on the Maryland Terrapins in a neutral site 'home' game at 7:30pm ET on NBC.

According to a Notre Dame press release, the helmet variation coincides with the Shamrock Series, which is the name given to the annual neutral site 'home' games hosted by Notre Dame throughout cities across the United States.
This marks the first in a series of uniform features that will be utilized for Notre Dame's Shamrock Series contests. After the 2011 game at FedExField, the Shamrock Series in 2012 moves to Soldier Field in Chicago for a game against Miami. In 2013 the Shamrock Series matchup against Arizona State will be played at Cowboys Stadium in Arlington, Texas. The Irish will showcase uniform variations in their annual Shamrock Series games but otherwise will wear their standard uniforms the rest of the season.
It is clear a primary directive is to showcase the Irish in green jerseys and, accordingly, drive corresponding merchandise sales.

Purists scoff at the mere suggestion that Notre Dame try to capitalize on its cachet by altering its brand identity through uniform variations. While it is unmistakable an outcome of uniform variations is increased sales, it is not to say potential revenue is the sole driving factor behind the decision to create and promote new merchandise.

From our point of view, as long as the uniforms stay true to traditional colors worn by the university, which includes green along with blue and gold, there is nothing wrong with a little variety. It also helps to steer clear of extreme departures from the norm. This weekend's opponent, Maryland, cannot say it heeded our advice.

The uniforms shown above were debuted by the Terrapins in their season opening win against Miami (FL). Ironically, the Terrapins were supposed to save those jerseys for this weekend's matchup against the Irish. Ultimately, the Terps could not resist the temptation to unveil them in primetime on a Monday night as the only college game on the board.

Even if you find yourself among the helmet change naysayers, no Irish fan can deny their desire to see this change yield a different result than the prior two 'change games' earlier in the year. Emerge victorious and the critics will still exist, but in a much more subdued manner than they would in a loss.

That said, any argument claiming a loss is a result of a uniform change should immediately be rejected as unfounded, illogical and downright comical.

Suit up, play ball and look good (read that double entendre as you will) while winning.

Go Irish!

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Hokies Move up to No. 10 Following Bye Week; Notre Dame Edges Wake Forest

Virginia Tech has continued to win following a loss weeks ago to Clemson. The Hokies pulled out a lackluster 14-10 win at Duke last week to improve to 8-1 (4-1) on the year.

The only bright spot was the typically fluorescent David Wilson who scampered for 148 yards in Durham, helping to set up a huge match up this coming Thursday at No. 23 Georgia Tech.

After losing consecutive games to Virginia and Miami, the Yellow Jackets (7-2, 4-2) returned to form and thumped then No. 5 Clemson 31-17.

The Thursday night tilt in Atlanta is all but a must win for the Hokies if they hope to once again win the ACC's Coastal division title.

Notre Dame returned from Tobacco Road equally pleased with a 24-17 victory over a tough Wake Forest team.

Senior Jonas Gray finished with 19 carries for 92 yards and a touchdown while Cierre Wood tacked on 87 to seal the win.

The Irish now sit a 6-3 on the season and have two winnable games against a miserable Maryland squad and the spirited but largely inept Boston College Eagles before a regular season finale against No. 4 Stanford.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Notre Dame Football Tour: Welcome to The Gug

Until recently, Notre Dame Football did not have a training table or set of unshared locker rooms and facilities. In fact, the team's practice facilities were spread across three different locations: Notre Dame Stadium, The Joyce Center and the Loftus Sports Center. Instead of lavish dedicated facilities like the ones at Oregon and Texas, the Irish trailed far behind in the college football arms race.

That all changed with the opening of Guglielmino Athletics Complex, or as the players affectionately call it "The Gug." Conjoined to Loftus Sports Center, The Gug is a 96,000-square-foot masterpiece made possible by the late Don F. Guglielmino and his wife Flora.

In 2005, Notre Dame Football officially unveiled The Gug as its solution to unify the program under one roof. As a result, the Irish had weight training, meeting rooms, practice locker rooms and even a lounge to relax. The addition of a training table did not come until current Head Coach Brian Kelly's inaugural season at the helm.

The following video, presented by Irish Sports Connection (ICON), opens the doors of The Gug for a public tour, led by Sr. C Mike Golic, Jr. and Sr. NG Brandon Newman.

All in all, The Gug is a remarkable facility that warrants showing off as one of the many perks provided to Notre Dame's football squad.

Arguably, the most meaningful perk is the premier education afforded to all of Notre Dame's athletes. While the University held up its end of the bargain, Irish athletes responded to the academic challenges by earning a #1 ranking in 2011 NCAA Graduation Success Rate (GSR).

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Review: O.A.R. Returns to Form With King

The release of 2008's All Sides put O.A.R. at the highest popularity levels of their career.

The album's first radio single, "Shattered (Turn the Car Around)" was the band's most successful to date, going platinum and peaking at #2 on the U.S. Adult Pop Songs chart and #36 on Billboard's Hot 100.

Despite the success, many long-time fans were disappointed with the more pop-friendly sound.

As Cutting Room Floor's own Alan Brown said recently, "I wasn't a fan of the All Sides album because I felt the band went too far from their roots."

It's true the album was more polished and less like their classic songs, but I thought it showed a thoughtful maturity and proved the band was evolving well beyond the "jam band" label.

O.A.R.'s latest release, King is a nice blend of the more mature sound with the classic jammy, reggae-influence the band's loyal fans have come to expect.

I still can't get over the overly-glossy production of first single "Heaven", but it's a good song. The acoustic version the band has put out is infinitely better, dropping the overpowering drum machine for subtle tambourine hits and hand claps.

Even the female choir loses some of it's annoyance as it gives the acoustic guitar a nice layer to sit on top of.

As for the production on the rest of the album, it's absolutely fantastic.

As drummer Chris Culos explained, "...the majority of it was recorded live off the floor. We ditched the traditional way of tracking each instrument individually in favor of capturing a live feel. We’ve always wanted to capture our live feel in the studio but never really nailed it before. I think it finally comes through on King."

In addition to making a conscious effort to capture the band's live feel with different production, the band made a return to their roots musically.

As frontman Marc Roberge said of opening track "King", "What I want it to inspire is influences, different things that influence us. Not what other people want us to be influenced by. We are influenced by stories, reggae, these characters, hip-hop beats, drums, sax, keys, bass, you know? It's us."

Sure enough, all those things appear on King. The upstroked reggae guitars, danceable grooves and characters from past albums all make their return in vintage O.A.R. style.

Jerry DePizzo's saxaphone finally shows up again in a meaningful way and touring member Mikel Paris' keyboards add delightful subtle touches all over the album while Benj Gershman lays down tasty bass grooves.

After the confusion and surprise of the opening track, cuts like "Taking On The World Today" and "Not For Me" point the album in a more familiar direction.

Later tracks like "Fire", "Dangerous Connection" and "Over And Over" highlight the mature side of a band that's been through the grind for over 15 years.

In my view, this is the best studio album the band has released. The production is crisp without stifling the layers, and as Culos mentioned does the best job yet of capturing the band's noted live energy.

No, they aren't singing about getting drunk in your buddy's driveway anymore and frankly they aren't the same band, but that's a good thing.

King is as close to the formative years of O.A.R. as you're going to get.

There may be a misstep here or there, but as the band says, "We've got more than a lifetime/To make it all feel right/So don't apologize/You gotta be wrong sometimes".

Friday, October 21, 2011

Out with the Old, in with the New ND Football Helmet

No word embodies Notre Dame more than any other like 'tradition.'

From national championships to Heisman trophy winners. Legendary coaches, several 'games of the century' and 'Play Like a Champion Today.'

The list really could go on, but for brevity's sake we'll stop there.

While traditions are great, though, not all are created equal and therefore meant to be maintained.

Such was the decision made by ND Athletics Director Jack Swatbrick when he revealed that ND would change its football helmets starting with this weekend's clash against Southern Cal.

As part of that decision, student managers will no longer be in charge of painting the team's helmets, as was prior tradition.

This decision has left some conservative traditionalists besides themselves. In fact, many of those discontented with the new helmets were former student managers whose former jobs have been eliminated.

Perhaps 'eliminated' is too harsh since the managers will be involved in a new role removing scuff marks and buffing the helmets each week to reveal their natural shine.

Real gold flakes are still used in the new design, which is the twelfth iteration from Oregon based Hydro Graphics, Inc. With Mary's gold still adorning the protective head gear of the football team, Notre Dame maintains its most unique helmet feature.

So embrace change for the sake of starting a new tradition: helmets that closely resemble the golden dome.

They're real, and they're spectacular.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Former Weezer Bassist Mikey Welsh Found Dead

Over the weekend while we were basking in the warm glow of an exciting Hokie victory, I was busy missing the news that former Weezer bassist, artist and generally cool dude Mikey Welsh died in Chicago Saturday at the age of 40.

He was actually in town to see Weezer play. Welsh had finally begun to reconcile with his former band mates and even joined them on stage once again earlier this summer.

While cause of death has yet to be established, anyone who knows anything about Welsh's past has to worry that it was intentional.

Welsh's exit from Weezer was brought about mostly because he had a nervous breakdown hastened by the stresses of touring, an undiagnosed medical condition and heavy drug use.

Despite only recording one album during his time with the band, 2001's eponymous "Green Album", Welsh was there for Weezer's big comeback following the hiatus after the release of 1996's Pinkerton.

After leaving the band, Welsh dedicated himself to another artistic pursuit, painting and carved out a unique niche with his colorful works seen everywhere from Burton snowboards to skate park walls.

Welsh gained success as a painter, and had begun interacting with many fans (including myself) of his art and music, especially over the last few months on Facebook.

He began sharing intimate stories of his time in Weezer and gave some interesting insights into the life of the band during one of its most popular eras like:

so there i was... at a california pizza kitchen with rivers. "so...would you like to be in weezer?" or something along those lines. that was the question that was presented to me by r.c. the one i had been waiting to hear since i arrived in los angeles several days earlier.. "yes. i would", i think i stammered out.. i had been playing with the three members of weezer for a few days or so. but we d...idn’t play any weezer songs.. at least all the songs i knew so well. i had flown out expecting to shred away on "getchoo", or maybe "say it ain't so", or any of the tunes off of blue and pinkerton... but that wasn’t what rivers had in mind.. instead, we ended up jamming out on songs i had been playing with rivers for almost a year... "rosemary", "prettiest girl in the whole wide world"... these were songs i loved dearly... but man, i wanted to play the old stuff.. anyways, I accepted the offer to join the band.

It's a sad loss to be sure, but this is the first "famous" death that has really bothered me. Mikey was the bassist in my favorite band when I "found" them in 2001. He was funny, cool and had the perfect vibe for a decidedly un-cool, awkward band.

Also, he gave the funniest interview I can recall with drummer Pat Wilson. I think I posted it recently but it deserves another look.

Rest well Mikey.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Offense Rules As Hokies Stop 'Canes

One week after a dismal offensive outing in a loss to Clemson, Virginia Tech got a nearly perfect game from quarterback Logan Thomas who led the Hokies to a 38-35 victory over Miami.

Thomas completed 23 of 25 passes on the day for 310 yards and three touchdowns. One incompletion was a drop and the other was a ball thrown away on purpose.

Thomas also ran for two scores including the game-winning touchdown (above) to cap Tech's final 77-yard drive.

David Wilson added a typical 23 carry, 128-yard performance to pace Tech rushers and helped the Hokies (5-1, 1-1) to 482 yards of total offense.

Miami played outstanding in the second half gashing Tech for big gains, outrushing the Hokies 236-172.

The Hurricanes (2-3, 0-2) amassed 519 total yards in the defeat and exposed Tech's weakness along the injured Hokie defensive line.

The defense still played well however, and with the emergence of Tech's offense the Hokies now look like a team to be feared.

Thomas showed tremendous poise down the stretch and seemed to benefit from the difficult experience against Clemson. Tech once again looks like the team to challenge No. 12 Georgia Tech for the ACC's Coastal Division title.

The Hokies now head to Winston-Salem for a date with Wake Forest.

The Demon Deacons are fresh off a victory over #23 Florida State and are now 4-1 overall and 3-0 in the ACC.

Kickoff is set for 6:30 next Saturday on ESPN3.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Irish Hockey Eastward Bound

After several months spent patiently waiting for an announcment, Fighting Irish Hockey fans were pleasantly rewarded with official news yesterday that Notre Dame will depart the Central Collegiate Hockey Association (CCHA) in favor of Hockey East starting with the 2013-2014 season.

From the confines of a brand new hockey facility, Compton Family Ice Arena, Irish Athletic's Director Jack Swarbrick said the decision over the newly formed National Collegiate Hockey Conference (NCHC) and Hockey East happened within the past two weeks.

We are excited to be joining Hockey East beginning in the 2013-14 season. Many factors played a role in our decision, but three were of special importance to us. The first two were the critical issues of the student-athlete experience and Notre Dame's fit with the other schools in the conference.
Hockey East presents a collection of schools with similar values and committment to academics, including fellow Catholic universities Boston College and Merrimack. The remaining list of Hockey East members includes Boston University, Maine, Massachussetts, Northeastern, Providence, UMass-Lowell, New Hampshire and Vermont.

Swarbrick also revealed what is widely viewed as the deal breaker between Notre Dame's choice of Hockey East over NCHC: television rights.
But of special importance in this instance, was our goal of giving our hockey program an unprecedented level of national exposure through our expanded partnership with the NBC Sports Group. Athletics at Notre Dame has always served as a platform for promoting the University
Those familiar with the school know that the Irish also have a deal with NBC for broadcasts of Notre Dame Football home games, so the partnership with NBC Sports Group is not completely from left field.

Like it or not, Notre Dame is now going to be on a premier stage in the world of collegiate hockey. As Head Coach Jeff Jackson pointed out, the television deal and new conference will permit the Irish to maximize their exposure.
We are honored and pleased to join Hockey East for the 2013-14 season. The conference is an established league with a great tradition and outstanding programs that share Notre Dame's values. The exposure for our players and team in a major media and NHL market will be second to none. Hockey East's commitment to playing a smaller league schedule will allow us to enhance our home and non-conference schedule with traditional western and Big Ten rivals. This will allow us to bring great games to the Compton Family Ice Arena and create a more diverse, nationally-televised schedule.
The wheels were set in motion in September 2010 when Penn State announced its plans to move from the American Collegiate Hockey Association (ACHA) to Division 1. After the 2011-2012 season is finished the Nittany Lions will spend one season as an independent before joining the newly formed Big Ten conference.
Michigan, Michigan State and Ohio State announced they would leave the CCHA and, along with Minnesota and Wisconsin who left the Western Collegiate Hockey Association (WCHA), ultimately join with Penn State as the founding members of the Big Ten hockey conference.

While Notre Dame was interested in maintaining its midwestern presence, there are more compelling reasons why this move will be a boon for Irish hockey.

  1. Competition - The CCHA is no slouch by any means, but the it is safe to say the Irish are joining a far more competitive conference in Hockey East. Its conference members have won five national championships since 1999 and over that same period they have placed 18 teams in the Frozen Four. Sure, Notre Dame faced stiff competition in Michigan, Michigan State, Ohio State and even Miami (OH), but Hockey East is an entirely different animal. Moreover, as Jackson pointed, the smaller league schedule allows Notre Dame to play more non-conference games (i.e. against defected CCHA members such as Michigan and Michigan State) and home games, which ultimately bring in more revenue for the University. Speaking of money...
  2. Revenue - Football and Men's Basketball and generally referred to as the only 'revenue generating' sports in collegiate athletics. While this is true, it is a sentiment only held in regard for schools that do not field talent hockey teams. Boston College, Michigan, Minnesota and North Dakota are all prime examples of schools that manage to make money off of their hockey programs. The relative profit compared to more high profile American sports such as football and basketball is lower but, nonetheless, still present. Details of Notre Dame's TV deal are yet to be released but it is rumored that all Irish home games will be broadcast on NBC Sports Group (formerly known as Versus).
  3. Recruiting - Over the past decade Notre Dame hockey has risen in relevance in collegiate hockey. From relative obscure as a club sport, the Irish have soared to new heights under Head Coach Jeff Jackson. Since his hiring in 2005, Jackson has led the Irish to their first ever national championship and Frozen Four games. A national title remains elusive for Jackson's Irish squads, but he has managed to take them to events and venues never before seen by Notre Dame's icers. Moreover, he almost singlehandedly brought the Compton Family Ice Arena to life by his insistence that a new arena be built or else he would resign. Now, with national TV exposure and an east coast footprint the Irish will expand upon their fertile recruiting grounds in the midwest.
This move makes sense for all the right reasons for Notre Dame and, quite frankly, Hockey East. Terms of the TV contract have yet to be released but remarks from Jon Miller, president for programming of NBC Sports and Versus, indicated there would be opportunities for other Hockey East programs to be nationally broadcast.

Furthermore, since the league itself agree to a shorter conference schedule prior to Notre Dame's announcement to join it is clear the conference had exposure on its mind. Shorter conference schedules equate to expanded non-conference games against other competitive opponents. The notion of Vermont or Boston College playing against teams like Michigan or Minnesota in the regular season is sure to bring smiles to collegiate hockey fans everywhere.

All in all, it was a momentous day not only for Notre Dame, but also for Hockey East and its members.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Tigers Tame Hokies 23-3

Saturday night in Blacksburg was cold, wet and depressing unless you happened to be a Clemson Tiger.

Clemson continued to prove they're the team to beat in the ACC's Atlantic Division and the Hokies showed they have work left to do before they can win another ACC championship.

Tech's offense laid an absolute egg under the bright lights of the national spotlight. The Hokies scored just three points and blew countless opportunities in Clemson territory, including a goal line try that turned into the made field goal after a false start penalty.

Logan Thomas finally looked like a first-year starter completing 15 of 27 passes for just 125 yards and an interception.

David Wilson once again paced the Tech offense. Despite an early fumble, finished with 20 carries for 123 yards. Among the carries was Tech's only highlight of the evening (seen below).

While Tech's offense was stagnant, the special teams unit was an unmitigated disaster. Scott Demler who has struggled with punting all season had a season high 8 punts Saturday for a season low 29.4 yards per kick.

Conditions were admittedly poor, but that doesn't excuse 11 yard punts.

Tech now looks to rebound next Saturday at home against the Miami Hurricanes at 3:30 on ESPN/ABC.

Making matters worse for the 4-1 Hokies is the loss of starting defensive tackle Antoine Hopkins for the rest of the season to a torn ACL.

In August Tech lost starting DT Kwamaine Battle to the same injury for the second straight season.

The only positive I could find from this past weekend was this photo taken of the stadium.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Irish Hockey No. 1 Entering 2011-2012 Season

Photo Credit: South Bend Tribune Photo/ROBERT FRANKLIN

Jeff Jackson, Notre Dame Fighting Irish Hockey Head Coach, has things cooking in South Bend. In his short tenure thus far he has already led Notre Dame to its first ever Frozen Four and national championship game, won a conference titlle and led them back to yet another Frozen Four.

Accolades keep piling up for the Irish skipper and his team as the domers enter the season ranked No.1 by USCHO and No. 2 by USA Hockey.

Despite the pre-season praise surrounding the program there were more exciting things covered on media day earlier this week, namely the newly constructed Compton Family Center.

Extensive coverage by Stars and Slights on the new home to the Fighting Irish hockey program has been seen since May of 2009. If it were laid out chronologically, coverage would look like this:
  1. May 2009 - Announcement of future home
  2. December 2009 - Mock drawings of arena released
  3. March 2010 - Construction begins
  4. October 2010 - Groundbreaking ceremony
  5. January 2011 - Construction update
Now, as September comes to a close the Irish will have to wait patiently before they skate in their first game at their new home. In fact, Notre Dame is scheduled to play its first two home games of the season at the Joyce Center against Ohio State before unveiling its new jewel on October 21 at 7:35p EST against Rensselaer.

One month later the Irish will drop the puck at their official dedication game on November 18 at 7:35p EST against long-time rival Boston College. That matchup falls on the same weekend that the Eagles' Football team will be in South Bend to take on the Fighting Irish Football team.

Before playing any games in the new rink, though, several finishing touches need to be made on the arena. Among other things, the ice needed to be laid and even painted. For an in-depth look at those tasks as well as viewing the first skate by the Irish squad in their new home follow this link.

Back to the team, Seniors Billy Maday and Sean Lorenz will serve as co-captains this season and sophomore Anders Lee will be an alternate. These leaders will play pivotal roles for the Irish but they are not the keys to success.

Ultimately, Notre Dame will rely on a combination of its bountiful underclassmen from its sophomore and freshmen classes to carry the load. Consistent goaltending from Junior Mike Johnson would also go a long way toward helping the Irish achieve their ultimate goal: the program's first national championship.

Stay tuned throughout the 2011-2012 season as we follow the Irish hockey program.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

My Name is Jonas: Gray Powers Irish to Win in Pittsburgh

Notre Dame's 15-12 victory over Pittsburgh last weekend was far from a thing of beauty. Turnovers, penalties and offensive miscues again abound for the Irish in keeping with the first half of the season.

One of the few spots of brightness, aside from the 'w', was a 79-yard touchdown run from seldom used Sr. RB Jonas Gray.

Fitting for a 230 pound tailback for the Irish playing in Pittsburgh to scamper for such an impressive run. Jerome Bettis, a former Irish tailback in the mold of Gray's stature, played for the NFL's Pittsburgh Steelers for several seasons and unleashed similar runs against opposition in the Steel City.

Tommy Rees was inconsistent and too predictable in the passing game for much of the afternoon as the Panthers did a tremendous job of disguising looks and confusing the Irish offense. He did, however, manage to put together the game-winnning touchdown drive late in the 4th quarter to put the Irish on top for good. On that series alone, he went 8-8 passing. For the game he finished 24-41 for 216 yards with 1 TD and 1 INT.

Tight End continues to be a valuable asset in the Irish offense. Tyler Eifert snared 8 passes from Rees for a game-high 75 yards and caught the game-winning TD and ensuing 2-pt. conversion attempt. For his efforts he was named John Mackey Tight End of the Week. He now leads all FBS Tight Ends in receptions, receptions per game, receiving yards and receiving yards per game. Translation: he's a stud.

On defense, the Irish yet again proved that the epic Michigan collapse was most likely an abberation. They held the Panthers to an unimpressive 268 total yards on offense and refused to allow a rushing touchdown. On the season, they have only allowed 1 rushing TD; only Florida has fewer.

Freshmen DEs Aaron Lynch and Stephon Tuitt were strong contributors for the second consecutive game. Lynch finished with 1 sack and an additional tackle-for-loss and Tuitt chipped in with 1 tackle while clogging gaps while splitting time at DE and NG.

Darius Fleming recorded 2 sacks to support the defensive effort as the Irish tallied 6 total sacks of Panthers' QB Tino Sunseri. With the game on the line on what would turn out to be Pittsburgh's final possession the Irish defense harassed Sunseri with a couple sacks and forced the Panthers into 3rd and 4th and long, which they ultimately could not recover from.

Special teams still has room for improvement, although they managed to not turn the ball over or muff any kicks last Saturday. A questionable roughing the kicker penalty by Austin Collinsworth sparked Pitt's lone touchdown drive of the afternoon to open the 2nd half.

Despite a clear lack of obvious development thus far over the first several games the Irish and Coach Kelly were happy (and lucky) to escape Pittsburgh with a win.
I'd like to have won 37-0 too. But you know what? Winning's winning. It's not easy. You go on the road against a BCS team and limit them to 12 points and find a way to win. I like that development. We're developing and expectation with our guys that in a close game we're going win it.
Next up for the Irish is Purdue on Saturday, October 1 at 8pm EST on ESPN.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Hokies' Cruise Past Marshall 30-10

Virginia Tech knocked off Marshall Saturday 30-10 in Tech's first trip to Huntington, W.Va. in 71 years.

The Hokies improved to 4-0 on the season and finished their non-conference slate with a powerful rushing attack.

David Wilson had 132 yards and a touchdown on 26 carries and Josh Oglesby had 12 carries for 75 yards and two scores. Quarterback Logan Thomas also had a short scoring run.

Through the air, Thomas completed 22 of 33 passes for 229 yards and an interception in a subdued, but fairly even performance.

Senior wide receiver Danny Coale had a lot to do with those numbers, hauling in 7 catches for 107 yards. Coale also punted twice for the first time in his college career, relieving Scott Demler who has had some struggles so far this season.

Coale almost won the job coming out of fall camp and will be in open competition for punting duties again this week.

The Tech defense was stifling once again, holding Marshall to just 6 yards rushing. The Hokies rank second in the nation in rushing defense allowing just 43 ypg thus far.

The Hokies now begin conference play with a big home tilt against the red hot Clemson Tigers.

Clemson enters the game 4-0 coming off wins over defending national champions Auburn and Florida State.

Tech has won the last five meetings with Clemson, though the Hokies are just 2-5 against the Tigers all-time in Lane Stadium.

The top-15 match up will be televised starting at 6 PM next Saturday on ESPN2.


Related Posts with Thumbnails