“Eventually, we want a big Jumbotron in there. We think that’s something that’s going to add to the atmosphere, too.” Those words, spoken two seasons ago by Notre Dame Head Football Coach Brian Kelly, sent a frisson of panic up the stenotic spine of a Notre Dame Nation already overwhelmed by Crazy Train and night games. A year and a half later, on the surfaces unseen in an architect’s rendering, revealed May 2, 2013, by Athletic Director Jack Swarbrick and Notre Dame Executive Vice-President John Affleck-Graves, perhaps hang the Jumbotrons of our future fan experiences.
The imagined tweaks to Notre Dame Stadium would literally and figuratively anchor it to the rest of campus. A new press box would connect to the Joyce Center to the east while a new student center would spring along the stadium’s west side. The idea, according to Vice President Affleck-Graves, is to augment the resources available to students, i.e. there is no thought of replacing LaFortune, while maintaining the campus’s “pedestrian” quality. With additional classrooms and event space part of the concept, classes of the future will spend a lot more than Saturdays in the Fall in and around the stadium.
First opened in 1930, “The House That Rockne Built” drew architectural inspiration from Michigan’s stadium and included a press box and “seats” for 59,075 fans. The same architects who designed Yankee Stadium, “old” Comiskey, and Fenway Park created a scaled-down Big House in which Coach Rockne roamed the sideline for but one season before his death in 1931. Renovations in 1997 gave the stadium its current look and added 21,000 seats by fitting a new exterior over the old, thereby preserving the old while decidedly dragging the place into the modern age of college stadiums. As we consider another change to Notre Dame stadium, consider what has been done to Michigan’s stadium.
In 2010, our neighbors to the north brought The Big House to its current gaudy capacity of 109,901 in a renovation that added, suites, seats and more suites. In 2011, Michigan added two video screens the size of which would likely cause a statistically significant percentage of NDNation to march on the Administration Building. Measuring forty-seven feet by eighty-five feet, each board has more than four thousand square feet of Light Emitting Diodes to tickle your rods and cones. Could that happen at Notre Dame Stadium?
There are clear and loud voices at Notre Dame who fall squarely in the “no” camp. A little less than one month ago, Professor Philip Bess, who is also the director of graduate studies at ND’s School of Architecture, penned Why a Jumbotron At Wrigley Field Is a Super-Sized Mistake on Chicagosidesport.com. Professor Bess writes ”[w]hen a stadium has a Jumbotron, the game becomes secondary and fans in the park start watching the screen rather than the game—which is why large video boards are a dependable source of advertising revenue.” An interesting question is how closely Professor Bess is to the ear of The University’s Architect , Doug Marsh, the man who will be a key figure in what ultimately transpires.
Notre Dame’s Campus Master Plan, released in 2002 and updated in 2008, set forth a number of tenets, the fourth of which calls upon planners to “steward” the camps’s “Notre Dame-ness” by choosing from “the pre-established palette of building materials, colors, and textures. Exterior materials will be chosen for their climactic endurance and for their consistency with representational and traditional architectural styles existing on the campus.” This stewardship of the essence of campus would seem to preclude the solution for Wrigley Field postulated by Professor Bess: video screens on the outside of the stadium.
While Notre Dame has a clear plan for the architectural development of campus, a plan that would clearly govern any changes to the non-football elements of the football stadium, whether Jumbotrons and Field Turf would be included or excluded by the Master Plan are unknown. Nothing in the document speaks to either, so it remains to be seen whether Professor Bess’s vision of a Jumbotron-free future will ultimately be undone by Coach Kelly’s desires.
Personally, I fail to see the harm in state-of-the art video screens that provide replay and public service announcements. Embracing the avant garde is decidedly in keeping with the spirit of Coach Rockne and the University Fathers who funded, in part, the construction of his vision through the then cutting-edge sale of personal seat licenses. What’s more, I believe that we must acknowledge an indulgence and allow the athlete’s places of performance to reflect their unique needs on match day. If it takes Crazy Train and Jumbotrons and Field Turf to fire up a five-star recruit, so be it. He should have his coliseum as he wants it, free for the moments of contest from what “we” think he should have, or what he should be happy with. If he who would see his future cut short or shattered by a broken bone or severed nerve want us on our feet and whipping towels over our heads, we owe that to him in the same way that he owes “us” excellence in the class room and residence halls. If Notre Dame can so integrate athletics and academics to make them the opposite sides of the same fabric, I fail to see how Jumbotrons cannot be incorporated into the literal brick and mortar of “our” Saturday seances.
The 2013 NFL Player Selection Meeting a/k/a “The Draft” took place from last Thursday, and The University of Notre Dame did well. Six players were drafted over the course of seven rounds, with TE Tyler Eifert going first as the 21st pick overall and S Zeke Motta going “last” as the 244th pick overall. This was a very good draft for Notre Dame, the most since 2007 when a total of seven Irish got the coveted call. Here’s how it shook out:
First Round: Tyler Eifert was a lock to go in the first round. The only real questions were “when?” and “to whom?” After The Jets and The Vikings passed on him, the Cincinnati Bengals grabbed Tyler with the twenty-first pick overall. You can read more about Cincy’s newest “Ochocinco” here.
Second Round: Manti Te’o should have gone in the first round, but weighed down with questions about his fake girlfriend, he fell to the San Diego Chargers with the thirty-eighth pick overall. Actually, Te’o was never a consensus first round pick and the Chargers traded up to get him. You can read more about San Diago, which of course means “whale’s vagina in German,” and their newest, classiest linebacker here.
Sixth Round: Jamoris Slaughter ended a multi-round drought for Notre Dame when The Browns grabbed him with the one hundred and sevety-fifth overall pick. Coming off a season-ending Achilles injury against Michigan State and the disappointment of being denied a sixth season by the NCAA, Slaughter was surprised to get called. You can read more about his injury status and his draft experience here.
Sixth Round: Theo Riddick had to wait until the one hundred and ninety-ninth spot to get his call and it came from Detroit, but I am sure he will not let the pain of either hold him back for long. You know that Theoooooooooo did pretty much everything at ND, from returning kicks to catching passes in the slot, but did you know that The Lions’ number one pick sounds exactly like Dikembe Mutombo? And is a recent convert to football? You can listen to him, and learn more about Detroit’s thoughts on Theo, here.
Sixth Round: Kapron Lewis-Moore made it back-to-back Irish. True story, though, the last time Kap heard his name called on draft day, he got sent to Anzio. But, seriously, was there a better pair of draft day stories than Kap and Jamoris getting drafted after everything they had been through? Sure, EJ Manuel made a great story, but he wasn’t the only person in the Bills organization crying when they heard his name. Anyway, after shredding his ACL in the National Championship Game, KLM had every reason to pack it in or doubt himself. His selection is a massive credit to his performance and character over the years. You can read more about Baltimore’s newest Raven here.
Seventh Round: Zeke Motta was the last Notre Dame player selected in the 2013 Draft, going to Atlanta with the two hundred and forty-fourth pick. While getting drafted by The Falcons will condemn him to a first-contract’s worth of disappointment behind The Saints, Motta had a strong senior season and anchored a secondary that you, me, and your cousin thought would cost us at least two games last season. You can read more about Zeke’s new nest here.
UDFAs: Once, or, more accurately, AS the draft was going on, other Irish were getting calls that would ultimately lead them to signing free agent contracts. As of Sunday afternoon, four Irish signed as undrafted free agents: Braxston Cave, Mike Golic, Jr., Cierre Wood, and John Goodman. Obviously, it’s great that these men get to chase their dream for another day.
Analysis: So, that’s nine total players who signed on the dotted line in the most public and hyped “Match Day” in the world. The six draftees make this the second-best Irish class in the last decade. Still, compared to their peers, Notre Dame had a strong, but not superlative NFL Drat. Florida State saw ELEVEN players get drafted, while Alabama, LSU, and Florida had nine, each. Although D.J. Fluker may count for two. Anyway, good luck to all of them and Go Irish. (Author’s note: this post reflects “passerby”‘s correction in the comments section below.)
The most important question facing the Irish is not “who will replace Manti Te’o?” Or “who will replace Tyler Eifert?” Clearly, as the 2013 Blue Gold game proved, the answer to either question is “Louis Nix, III.” In fact, as Tex established yesterday, Irish Chocolate may be our answer in short yardage situations on the offensive side of the football, too. Removing my tongue from my cheek, though, I would suggest to you, our loyal reader, that the most important question facing the Irish going into the Temple game is “who is going to replace Braxston Cave?” Well, loyal reader, the answer is “Nick Martin,” and if the Blue Gold game is any indication, and it is, the Irish are in good hands at center.
Braxston Cave was the anchor of a very good offensive line last season. A fifth year senior, Cave started all 13 games in 2012 and his line opened holes for a Notre Dame running attack that surpassed 200 yards in a game seven times. The challenge for Coach Harry Hiestand is to replace Cave while keeping the O-line out of the color commentary next season.
Nick Martin proved he is up to the task last Saturday. While the 2013 Blue Gold Game provided a lot of the usual “meh” moments to which we have all grown accustomed, it also showed us that the center position is not going to be a concern. Paired opposite Nix, Martin acquitted himself rather well and we can only expect more improvement as Martin faces the nation’s best nose-tackle day in and day out.
The first series, to be honest, was nothing to write home about. On first down, Martin and the left guard double-teamed Nix and Golson threw an incomplete. On second down, the Irish ran right, but I’m prrrrrrrrretty sure there was a holding that went uncalled. Third down saw another incomplete.
The second series, though, saw the line, and Martin, come to the fore, and good things start to happen. With Tommy Rees under center, the Irish ran up the middle for a couple of yards. On second down, Martin took Nix one-on-one and Rees completed a quick strike to Prosise for four yards. On third and four, the Irish ran left, the line did its job and George Atkinson, III, picked up the first down.
On first down, Martin and the rest of the line got beat by the blitzing OLB and a bll rush by Nix, but Rees read it right and unleashed a timing pass to TJ Jones. This will happen. In running through the game a few times since Saturday, I can’t help but note that our defense is pretty good. Aside from Nix, our O-line had to contend with Stephon Tuitt and Ishaq Williams, not to mention Kona Schwenke and Prince Shembo.
On third and seven of the same drive, with about 7:55 left in the First Quarter, the O-line, and Martin in particular, do a great job of reading the rush and give Tommy all the time he needed to throw what should have been an incomplete pass, but for the amazing one-hand grab by Cam McDaniel. On the subsequent first down, Martin moved Schwenke out of the way and GAIII filled the hole for a six yard gain. On second and four, Martin neutralized Nix and Tommy should have picked up a completion, if not a touchdown, to Davaris Daniel, but for an uncalled pass interference on Keivarae Russell. On third and four, though, Connor Hanratty (I think) flinched, and that was called. Suddenly it’s third and nine and ultimately the Irish settle for a missed field goal.
There’s a bit to critique in Martin’s game from Saturday. He got manhandled by Tyler Stockton at least once, but with 2:01 left in the Second Quarter, he straight dominated, and maybe held, Kona Schwenke, allowing Golson to complete long to Troy Niklas. Still, even though the refs weren’t calling much, I only counted one false start and two “sacks.”
Not bad for playing the best defense in the country.
Much will be written about Skylar Diggins’s legacy at Notre Dame in the coming days. Today, though, is for dissecting last night’s disappointing loss to UConn in New Orleans in the Women’s Basketball Final Four. UConn will go on to face Louisville on Tuesday, while Notre Dame will clean out their lockers, wonder what could have been, and what is to come. Sure, there are incredible bright spots on Irish horizons. Today, though, the seas between are disturbed.
Coach Muffet McGraw’s Fighting Irish gave as good as they got against Geno Auriemma’s Huskies for the first fifty combined points. ND was up 26-25 with 3:44 to go in the first half when things went pear-shaped for the Irish. The half ended with Notre Dame down 39-29 and everyone wondering what happened to Skylar Diggins.
Notre Dame’s talismanic leader, Skylar Diggins was as cold last night as a mint julep cup. Limited to two points on free throws in the first, she finished her career with just ten points on a sorry 3-15 from the field. Despite her defense, 4 steals and 3 blocks, and distribution, 8 assists, she was unable to get anything going.
After that 26-25 lead was lost, nothing worked last night for ND, who never got closer than six points distant from the rampant Huskies in the second half. Swaths of time melted from the clock as Irish shots missed their mark. With the final seconds dripping away, Notre Dame ultimately crumbled and lost, 83-65.
In a city where stories are written as freely and as fast as sazeracs are poured, two freshmen penned new chapters in their teams’ legends. For UConn, Brenna Stewart led all scorers, hanging 29 points on the Irish and giving them fits on the defensive end of the court. For Notre Dame, Kayla McBride had the high hand, netting 16 points. Of the fallout from the Big East’s demise, that these two won’t be able to square off regularly is among the most disappointing.
Both teams travelled well. If you watched the early game, in which Louisville clawed back to defeat Cal and punch their ticket into the final, you saw that only about eleven people were able to free themselves from the Crescent City’s embrace and make it to the Arena. By the time the Irish tipped off, UConn and Notre Dame had sizeable contingents who were in full throat. The pregame festivities, put on by the Alumni Association and the Monogram Club, were well-attended and Ruth Reily and other former players signing autographs and mingling with the fans.
It was a disappointing showing by the Irish and by Diggins in particular. She’s the most decorated and accomplished female athlete in Irish history, with a successful professional career all but guaranteed. Last night’s defeat will not dull her legacy’s lustre or the affection South Bend and Notre Dame have for their hometown hero. Still, in the light of the day after, as crumpled ticket stubs swirl in the eddies along the muddy waters of the Mississippi, something feels that the Irish left something on the table last night and failed to rise to the moment.
Fourteen Notre Dame football players went through their last meaningful paces at the Loftus Center today when the Class of 2013 conducted its NFL Pro Day. While all (most of) the national press focused on the performance of Manti Te’o, Notre Dame’s erstwhile defensive field general, John Goodman, Mike Golic Jr., Braxston Cave, Theo Riddick, Robby Toma, Tyler Eifert, Cierre Wood, Kapron Lewis-Moore, Zeke Motta, Jamoris Slaughter, Manti Te’o, Ben Turk, Jordan Cowart, and Chris Salvi all sought to put their best effort forward in front of representatives from 27 NFL teams. Wrapped in familiarity’s embrace one last time, the fourteen did not disappoint.
Jack Nolan and UND.com’s whirlwind video hits the highlights:
Eric Hansen at the South Bend Tribune provides the most comprehensive run down of ND’s Pro Day here.
While Notre Dame does not give official 40 times, Manti’s definitely improved over his disappointing NFL combine 4.82. Running a 4.69 according to ND a 4.71 according to ESPN’s Todd McShay and a 4.75 according to Mike Mayock, Te’o said afterwards that he “felt good. I’m at home now, at a place where I’m comfortable, surrounded by people I know.” Most sources, including NFL.com, didn’t see Manti’s 40 time as improving his draft stock dramatically. Still, one-tenth of a second improvement is very solid for a middle linebacker.
Other notable performances included Robby Toma, who turned in a very solid 4.5/40 and fastest times in skills drills and the three cone drill. Braxton Cave and Mike Golic, Jr. put up big numbers on the bench press with 32 and 31, respectively, while John Goodman impressed in the long jump and the vertical, clearing 34 inches. Tyler Eifert eschewed the drills he completed at the combine, but still turned in a solid performance, putting him in position to achieve his self-stated goal of being the first TE drafted. Ben Turk put up 26 reps on the bench and jumped 32 inches vertically. Ben Turk, ladies and gentlemen.
Unfortunately, neither Cierre Wood nor Zeke Motta were able to add much zip to their plodding performances in the 40 at the combine, with Motta still unable to crack 4.70.
While neither Manti nor Tyler will be in New York for the draft, all fourteen players, including the rehabbing KLM and Jamoris Slaughter, will no doubt be watching the coverage and staring at their phones, intently.
Quick Word of Thanks: Today marks my one year anniversary writing for HerLoyalSons. I want to thank Biscuit and Tex for bringing me on and making me a part of this great community. I owe Tex a special debt of gratitude for showing me how to blog. Literally. yTex has to talk me through the magic spells needed to make the 1′s and 0′s do their thing. And I want to thank you, the Loyal Reader. Without you, we’d be nothing. I appreciate your readership and your commentary. I hope that I’ve made your unofficial ND blog experience a touch more enjoyable.