March Madness apparently isn’t limited to basketball.
Brian Hardin, director of ND football media relations, released quite a few interesting notes on his twitter feed today. Michigan will be a night game, Amir Carlisle was cleared by the NCAA to play in 2012 after his transfer from Southern Cal, and Tee Shepard withdrew from Notre Dame. No explanation was given for the shocking development. The only official statement from ND came from Brian Kelly:
“Tee is a special person and it’s unfortunate it didn’t work out here,” head coach Brian Kelly said. “Everyone at Notre Dame wishes him all the best in the future.”
Not exactly a whole lot to go on there.
Speculation has run rampant about why Tee decided it was time to leave the Bend: he was homesick, he had issues in the classroom, or he just wanted to join his cousion, Deonte Greenberry, another Irish defection, out in Houston.
So what’s the real story?
I have a feeling that it isn’t to follow Greenberry though, especially with this tweet. Seems to me that Greenberry was a little surprised that his cousin’s move released the wolves back on him again. Had Shepard really wanted to play football with his cousin, I would’ve expected a withdrawal on signing day, not as winter workouts come to a close.
As far as homesickness, that doesn’t seem likely either. By withdrawing, Shepard has just cost himself the 2012 football season. Homesickness doesn’t seem to be nearly a good enough reason for that sacrifice.
His grades though could be a very likely culprit. As Keith Arnold at Inside the Irish pointed out, midterm deficiencies were released on Tuesday. Two days seems like a reasonable time period to discuss a bad academic situation with coaches, academic advisers, and family. Shepard also wouldn’t be the first player at ND that had to pack up because of academic issues either.
Should you choose to be optimistic, you could point to players that left ND only to return later. Chris Stewart left ND only to have a change of heart and come back. Players like Julius Jones found himself in academic trouble and returned later as well.
Until either Tee, members of the Shepard family, shed more light on the issue though, we likely will never have the exact reason as to why this happened. Whatever the reason, losing Tee, one of the top CB recruits in the nation, on a team that has a big need there.
I’ve said it once and I’ll say it again: #NDFBIsDeterminedToKillMe.