Former Notre Dame and current Ball State defensive linemen, Brandon Newman, did an interview with the Fort Wayne based News-Sentinel. In it, he gave his perspective on the Notre Dame battle at quarterback. While it is always great and refreshing to get an inside perspective, Newman went a bit too far and made some comments he shouldn’t have.
First, he starts off with a conversation that former Irish and current Kansas QB, Dayne Crist, had with Tommy Rees:
“Dayne was telling Tommy that even if they are saying that you are the No. 1 guy,” Newman said, “that’s what they told me. It’s not good for your program if you can’t put stock into what the coaches say.”
“The coaches having faith in you to go out there and get the job done goes a long, long, long way,” Newman said. “Even when you are making mistakes it goes a long way. Because every mistake you make on a Notre Dame football field, people think that it is (the quarterback’s) last play.”
Now, while I definitely believe in the “whatever happens here stays here” rule of the locker room, I do see times when it can be broken. We wouldn’t get some great stories and humorous moments that would go untold otherwise (Lou Holtz wanting a piece of Jimmy Johnson for instance).
However, Newman’s recounting of this conversation (I don’t care whether it happened or not) takes a shot at not only the coaching staff, but Dayne Crist as well. Crist handled last season so incredibly well and with so much class–now Newman sees it fit to undo that?
Plus, there’s no telling what context this conversation was in. For instance, we know from Grantland-X that several of the players on the Notre Dame squad were and still are firmly in Tommy’s corner. Knowing this, perhaps Crist felt bad for Tommy when he was named starter despite the locker room support. So, being the good guy that he is, goes and comforts him and makes sure that the young QB doesn’t have his confidence drop.
Instead though, Newman jumps to the conclusion that Kelly and his staff simply didn’t have any real faith in Crist. Add on fan reaction to failures on the field and apparently Crist was doomed before he took a snap. While we all know that the ND fanbase is vocal and critical, implying that Kelly started the dogpile before it began is an absurd conclusion to jump to.
Newman’s criticism doesn’t stop there:
“Tommy has made mistakes,” Newman said. “They were stupid mistakes and he should be punished for those. But I’ve got to go to bat for Tommy. Interceptions are going to be thrown no matter who the quarterback is. Those are going to happen, and honestly, they happen a lot more when the coaches are chewing you out for throwing that first one.”
Yes, interceptions happen and they happened a lot with Tommy (by the way Brandon, fumbles and penalties happened a lot too). According to Newman though, Tommy couldn’t learn from his mistakes because Kelly yelled at him.
I find this hilarious because Newman’s first coach was Charlie Weis.
Want to know how “kind” Charlie was to his players? In fall camp of 2005, Weis, in an open practice with press and fans around, berated Quinn for a terrible pass, proclaiming passes like that would be the reason Quinn would never be better than a 50% completion QB.
I’ve lost could of the times that Charlie gave his eloquent speech of (and excuse my French) “you have only one fucking job to do.” He stopped down one of the last practices of his first fall camp to have the entire team run sprints because he was so pissed at the entire team, himself, and his staff for having such a crappy product in the field.
Here’s a newsflash: coaches yell and tear their players down; however, they will build them back up again. Weis was no different and if you watch any ICONN with a Kelly speech, it is clear he operates in a similar manner.
The fact that Newman considers this newsworthy, much less points to it as the reason Tommy had issues last season, is absurd.
More absurd though, is his final shot at…well…everyone:
“The pressure is magnified through the coaches,” Newman said. “Even through the administration, it’s from everyone. It’s magnified.”
So now it’s everyone’s fault. The coaches, the administration, the fans, and probably even bloggers like myself.
In hindsight, this shouldn’t have surprised me. Yesterday, the News-Sentinel had another piece centered around Newman. In it, he made sure everyone knew why he didn’t play at ND:
Newman said his career – or lack thereof – was due to conditioning (freshman season), problems mastering new techniques (sophomore season), injury (junior season) and, well, he’s not sure about the final season in which he played for his third defensive line coach in four seasons (Ball State’s Chad Wilt will be his fourth in five years).
“I have been capable of playing for years,” Newman said. “You could ask any of the (Notre Dame offensive linemen). It got to the point that when I talked with the coaches, they’d honestly come up with excuses.”
The only “excuses” actually occurring here are the ones from Newman’s own mouth.
Look, I honestly understand the frustration that comes with not getting the playing time you think you deserve. I struggled with it personally through my baseball “career” and I can only imagine how much more amplified it is being a scholarship athlete at a school like Notre Dame.
More often than not though, my playtime was determined by my execution (or rather lack there off…there was also that whole “talent” thing). I suspect much is the same of Newman. In fact, his final quote confirms it:
“There is a difference between playing in the game and playing in practice,” Newman said. “One of my biggest problems is that I am a gamer. As well as I do in practice, a game is where I can turn it up to the umpteenth degree.”
Newman’s admission of a special “game gear” drives the final nail into his own coffin.
Not only does he throw Kelly and his staff under the bus, but his former teammates as well. It was because of coaches that Newman didn’t see game time and, by extension, his former teammates earned unjustified playing time in his eyes. Thanks to that, he had to take his talent to Ball State to show off his amazing game time skills.
Let me be clear, I don’t wish ill on Newman and hope he finds success at Ball State. After all he is a fellow alum and monogram winner. But in the past couple of days, Newman has failed to take on any blame for his own playing time and has extended his personal frustrations and excuses publicly to matters that no longer directly involve him. This approach comes of as nothing more than sour grapes.
If Newman really wishes to make a statement to Kelly and his staff, make it on the field. Actions always speak louder than words.