Archive for March, 2007

Shillelaghs, Megaphones, And Bragging Rights

March 30, 2007

I’m sure by now most of you have realized that Notre Dame has a few rivalries. In fact, they may have more than most teams. And some of you may have even figured out that there are trophies that go along with some of these games. Seriously, they do. Why don’t we know them more? With a school steeped in tradition as much as Notre Dame, it seems to get lost in all the other hoopla surrounding these games. Subway Domer is here to educate you in these fine pieces of hardware.

There are truly 5 games that are considered Rivalry Trophy games. Southern California, Purdue, Michigan State, Boston College, and Standford. One of these games has 2 trophies on the line each game… but I’ll get to that further down the post.

USC

The Jeweled Shillelagh is the hardware given to the winner of the annual contest of the Trojans and The Fighting Irish. Legend states that Howard Hughes’ pilot brought this Gaelic Warclub, made of blackthorn oak, over from Ireland in 1952. The Notre Dame Alumni Club of Los Angeles created the award. The winner of the contest is awarded the trophy with a new medallion to mark the victor. ND has emerald shamrocks while USC has ruby encrusted Trojan heads. Although the trophy was created in 1952, the entire series is recorded back to 1926. There have been 5 ties and those games are represented with a combo medallion. The original shillelagh was retired after the 1995 season. There was simply no more room for anymore shamrocks or heads. It now resides at Notre Dame because the Irish won more games up to that point. (We still do even after losses for 5 straight seasons with a 42-31-5 mark). There is a new trophy that is a little longer than the original. It was purchased by Jim Gillis, a former baseball player for ND and USC. It is the same kind of oak and hails from the County Leitrim in Ireland. It was introduced in 1996.

Purdue

In continuing with the shillelagh theme we next look at the Purdue game. It is simply called The Shillelagh Trophy. It was donated by a merchant seaman and Fighting Irish fan, Joe McLaughlin. He purchased the blackthorn oak club while in Ireland. The winner of the game has received this trophy since the 1957 game. The winner has its initials put on a football medallion, along with the score, and that is placed on the oak stand the Shillelagh sit upon.


Michigan State

Known only as The Megaphone Trophy, this trophy may now be the most famous of the ND trophies…or should I say infamous. Introduced in 1949, it is a joint sponsorship by the Alumni Clubs of ND and MSU in Detroit. Half of the megaphone is painted blue with an ND monogram and the other side is white with a green MSU. The score from each year is painted on it. The current trophy is the third one in use since it has run out of room for scores twice before. This award became nationally known after the 2005 and 2006 games. The Spartans were outraged when ND did not present them with the trophy after they were victorious at ND in 2005. ND stated that it has been the custom all along to give the trophy to the opposing team after a defeat away from the field. This might have been the starting point for Johnelle to become crazy as a bat. Most of the ND players and Coach Weis himself, admitted to not even knowing the trophy existed. This is probably true since the picture you see is from the video game NCAA 2007 by EA sports. I could not find a pic of it anywhere else.


Boston College

This is the only rivalry game in existence, that I have heard of, that contains two trophies to the winner. The one depicted to the right is called The Ireland Trophy. It was created by the Notre Dame Student Government as a sign of goodwill and sportsmanship. The second is called The Frank Leahy Memorial Bowl. This second trophy gives this game its unoffical name- The Leahy Bowl. This is after legendary ND and BC coach Frank Leahy. Frank coached BC during the 1939 and 1940 seasons leading the Jesuits to a 20-2 record. He than left for his Alma mater, ND. BC fans will say he was stolen away, but remember… they are idiots and are insanely jealous of ND.


Stanford

This might be the most obsolete trophy. It is not even published by a video game. It was presented for the first time in 1989 by the Notre Dame Club of the San Francisco Bay Area. The Legends Trophy, is a combination of Irish Crystal and California Redwood. Whatever the hell that means.

There seems to be a continuing theme amongst all the trophies. Notre Dame Alumni ,or in one case a fan, were the originators of the hardware. So why the secrecy? Why are there no presentations? Why don’t the players get to hoist these bad boys up after a victory and yell “Take that Stanford! You stupid trees. Check out this sweet crystal wood thingy”? Maybe ND has too much tradition to be able to squeeze another ounce of tangible lore. ND is an Independent. All or nothing, and that is the way we like it. But wouldn’t be nice to have a little more to celebrate. Or a more emotional rallying call such as ” Let’s kill those Trojans and take the Shillelagh back!” Maybe you’re thinking I’m insane or a little to preoccupied with hardware. But what about all the Heisman talk? That is an individual award (or so it is supposed to be). These rivalry trophies represent the TEAM and in doing so should take precedence over all others, excluding bowl games. I leave you with this thought. Remember the Minnesota-Wisconsin game when the kicker made the game winner and ran straight over to grab the ax? That was a great moment. Can’t we as the GREATEST University in the land have something as similar? No jumbo trons, just Pride and exuberance.

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Rudolph Commits

March 27, 2007

Notre Dame received their fifth verbal commitment for the 2008 incoming class. Kyle Rudolph (TE) Has given his solemn word to attend ND. “The people there are similar to the people I went to Catholic grade school with Catholic high school with,” Rudolph said. “It just makes sense. I’ve always rooted for them when I watched them on TV.”

The 6’7″ 230 pound viking god, chose ND over a long list of schools. Most notably was Ohio State. Anytime you can take a kid out of Ohio that is as highly regarded as Rudolph, it is cause for celebration. “I loved everything at Ohio State,” Rudolph said. “I just felt I fit in better at Notre Dame.”

ND is developing yet another nickname, Tight End U. That name just isn’t given for the fitness of the campus, but because the Irish are nabbing up the top TE prospects every year now. Well here’s to you Kyle “Don’t Call Me Rudy” Rudolph.

Spring Updates

March 25, 2007

My sincere apologies to the 7 people who read this blog regularly. I have been an absentee landlord. Actually, I have been focusing most of my efforts on baseball (fantasy and the dominant Tigers) and work.

I do have some updates for the spring now that practices have been underway.

  • The 4 captains were chosen and it comes as no surprise to me. Travis Thomas, Tom Zbikowski, John Carlson, and Maurice Crum. T2 and Zibby make it a 2nd year in a row which is quite the accomplishment.
  • Gary Gray broke his right forearm and will be out 4-6 weeks with a cast.
  • Munir Prince made the move to CB after requesting it with Coach Weis.
  • Demetrius Jones is now #3. He said he never knew any “busters” to wear that number.
  • Toryan Smith has looked extremely good in the drills that I have seen. They were quick glimpses, but this thought is also echoed by another reporter attending the sessions. He has also lost a little weight.
  • Chris Stewart is a BIG man. Weis called him a big muchacho.
  • Weis has still not named the starting QB against Georgia Tech. What the hell?

Please stay tuned for more updates. They will probably be about every other day or so until the Blue-Gold Game. I am postponing my position battles until after April 21. I will then look retrospectively at each position as opposed to trying to be Nostradamus.

Trevor Laws Says To Read Subway Domer… OR ELSE!!!

The State of Recruiting

March 9, 2007

If you have followed recruiting at all in the last 20 years or so, I’m sure you have heard the phrase “Pipeline State”. This is the word commonly used as a way to describe a particular state the sends good talent to a school. College coaches establish relationships with certain high schools and their coaches in the hopes of landing their star players. These areas then become known as a “pipeline”, to a certain University or College.

In the case of Notre Dame this “pipeline” theory is of extreme importance. ND is nestled in northern Indiana and is not considered to have an overwhelming amount of talent in the area, or the entire state for that matter. ND is a National University, and recruits in a manner to reflect that image.

The Fighting Irish have scholarship players from 25 of the 50 states. This is a huge difference from other elite programs such as Texas and Florida, who have a vast majority of players from their own state. Texas, for example, has only 3 players from outside the state. 3. This is the type of school that has cornered the market for their top prospects in their own backyard. Schools such as these are very difficult to compete against for players in their own state.

I believe ND to be doing a fantastic job in scouring the country for top talent. They have had a few down years, but that was mainly due to incompetent coaches who couldn’t recruit…or wouldn’t (Ty). ND has some work to do to gain back territory lost during the Davieham era, but Coach Weis and his assistants are working very hard to do just that.

Here is a map of where ND players come from. (Not exact in location within states)

As you can see, although the number of states is great, particular states and areas are more represented than others. The following is a breakdown of the top states for sheer numbers and their average star rating for the players according to Scout.com’s rankings.

1. Florida

  • 9 players.
  • Average Star Rating………. 3.44
  • Most Notable………. Sam Young(5*), Armando Allen(4*), Maurice Crum(3*)
  • It seems as if this state is a cornucopia of talent for the gridiron. Even the 3 star players are excellent and may have been at least a 4 star if they were in another state. This fertile ground is quickly becoming a heated rivalry meeting place for dozens of programs across the country. The big 3 of Miami, F$U, and Florida still seem to lockdown most of the states elite talent, but there are those who venture out of the Sunshine State. These are the kids Charlie and the boys MUST sign and play for the Irish.

2. Pennsylvania

  • 8 players.
  • Average Star Rating………. 3.5
  • Most Notable………. Travis Thomas(4*), Darrin Walls(4*), Zach Frazer(4*)
  • Pennsylvania, especially western PA., has always been a good source of talent for ND. The Irish have had to fend off in-state power Penn State for most if not all of their PA. guys throughout the years. Now however, Pitt is making a comeback in recruiting and is landing some very good state talent. Can Weis hold ND’s ground in this state? Let’s hope so, because some of Notre Dames greatest players are from PA. and the state might hold a lot more in store for the future.

3. California

  • 7 players.
  • Average Star Rating………. 3.85
  • Most Notable………. Jimmy Clausen(5*), Terrail Lambert(4*), Konrad Reuland(5*)
  • This state, like Florida, is loaded with elite talent. The problem is keeping them away from Pete Carroll’s grubby hands. ND does do, and has done, a very good job of taking away top tier kids from Cali. In fact, if you take Darrin Bragg out of the equation, the average star rating would be 4.16. Not a bad number. The Irish must continue to hammer this state and battle not only U$C, but Cal, UCLA, and pretty much every PAC-10 school. If Weis can get them to put aside the distance factor, we will continue to do very well in California for years to come.

4. Illinois

  • 6 players.
  • Average Star Rating………. 3.5
  • Most Notable………. Tom Zbikowski(4*), Demetrius Jones(3*), Robert Hughes(4*)
  • This state should be home turf. The Irish are finding out however, that Zook and the Fighting No Mascots are in war mode. ND has had some very good commits in the past from Chicago, but they lost a couple this year to a 2-9 team. I won’t speculate as to why, I’m just stating the facts. There is a lot of hope that the kids from Illinois high schools, and in particular Chicago, are going to keep marching for Our Lady because of Corwin Brown and his connections there. Here’s hoping for early commits from Filer and Flemming.

5. Ohio

  • 6 players
  • Average Star Rating……….3
  • Most Notable………. David Bruton(3*), Kallen Wade(4*), John Ryan(3*)
  • Although the numbers are decent with 6 players, the quality is still a question mark. Most of the kids are too young to properly access the talent stream. Two of our starters last year hailed from Ohio,and the same school for that matter, in Quinn and Nedu. Tressel is really fighting to keep his talent in his state, but ND has a long history of getting elite prospects from Ohio. If Charlie and crew can keep pounding on the doors, they will open.

6. Indiana

  • 4 players.
  • Average Star Rating………. 3.5
  • Most Notable………. James Aldridge(5*), Luke Schmidt(4*), Pat Kuntz(3*)
  • This is actually a sweet surprise. Although we are now scraping the the barrel with numbers for each state, Indiana is either tied or beating the average star ratings of Pennsylvania, Ohio, Illinois, FLORIDA, New Jersey, and a host of 3 players states. What does this say about the home state? Well it says that despite the slim pickings, ND has pulled out some quality kids from their own backyard. ND is on the right track this year with 2 in-state recruits already committing in Walter and Braxton Cave. These may be the only two , but they are the guys we can not let slip away to Purdue, Michigan, etc.

7. New Jersey

  • 4 players.
  • Average Star Rating………. 3.5
  • Most Notable………. Mike Ragone(4*), Leo Ferrine(4*), Duval Kamara(4*)
  • Weis is in love with N.J. And why not? He’s from there and makes no denial that he wants to plug in a “pipeline” from the Garden State straight on to Our Lady of the Lake. A lot of excellent high school ball is played in this state and a lot of elite talent. In the past poaching of these stars has been relatively easy, due to no major football power in the state. N.D., USC, Florida State, and a host of other schools had their pick of the lot. Rutgers and Greg Schiano are changing all of that. Weis is a leg up on other schools for talent with the connections he has there, but he must keep Schiano and Rutgers in their place…bottom feeding.

8. Texas, Missouri, Minnesota, Georgia

  • 3 players each.
  • Average Star Rating………. 3.41
  • Most Notable………. Chris Stewart(4*), John Carlson(3*), Trevor Laws(4*), Toryan Smith(3*), D.J. Hord(4*)
  • Theses 4 states have been very good providers for the Irish. Texas has developed into a problem and will always be as long as Mack Brown hovers over all of the elite talent there. Minnesota has given us great players, and they all seem to come from one school. Georgia is like Florida. A 3* there is a 4* somewhere else. Missouri is a real eye catcher though. A lot of talent filters its way to the Big 12, but Weis in particular has had excellent results in that state. With the exception of Texas ND should continue to nab top talent in these states.

What does this all mean? National recruiting is exactly that…national. Good talent is everywhere. ND just has to keep going hard at it (and with Brown it looks great) and they will have no problem getting top 5 classes. And that means Championships. It is only a matter of time.

Unlimited Power

March 6, 2007


This has been a very good week for the Fighting Irish. Today defensive lineman Sean Cwynar verbally committed to Weis and Notre Dame for the incoming class of 2008. Sean is 6’4″ and 235 pounds. He is from Marian Central Catholic High School in Woodstock Illinois. The all-name team is shoring up with guys like Sean who believe that the less vowels in a last name…the better.

Although he is being projected as a defensive tackle, Darth Brown wants to use him as an end in the 3-4. Sean was quoted as saying that a degree from ND has “unlimited power”. Of course Sean …you are going to play for the Emperor and his apprentice Darth Brown. “You don’t know the power of the Dark Side. I must obey my Master”.

Sean is the 4th recruit for the 2008 class to commit. It makes me wonder if Weis has a clone of Lou Holtz somewhere. Put these numbers into perspective and try to remember the good old days of Holtz’s classes.

  • 3 out of 4 attend a Catholic High School.
  • 2 are the state of Indiana’s top players.
  • 1 is a Legacy.

These are the type of kids we should NEVER lose to another school. Lou once talked about these kind of kids. I posted about it before, but if you are new to this blog, follow the Lou Link.

Lou Holtz

Captain Caveman, Walter Solchek, and Commitment

March 5, 2007

Notre Dame’s Junior Day seems to have gone quite well. The Fighting Irish picked up 2 more commitments for the 2008 incoming class. These weren’t just your run of the mill Tom Smith’s or Bob White’s, these were 2 young men making a run for the all-name team when they qualify after National signing day.

John Goodman, a 6’4″ 185 pound wide receiver from Bishop Dwenger High School in Fort Wayne Indiana, gave a verbal commitment to Charlie Weis and the Fighting Irish. John, or Walter as I will call him from now on, chose ND over Michigan, Iowa, and a slew of other Big Integer teams.Because of his skin pigment and the reports that he is deceptively fast, Walter is already being compared to Samardzija. While this would be great news in itself, Walter actually reminds me more of Mo Stovall. He has longer strides and jumps better than the Shark ala Mo. Congratulations to Walter and to the Fort for finally producing a ND commit in the last decade.

Braxton Cave is a 6’4″ interior lineman out of Penn High School in Mishawaka Indiana. He has been primarily a center throughout high school, which leads me to wonder if he might end up on the defensive side of the ball with Golic already on board…or visa versa. Welcome to ND Braxton.
Here is a video of Braxton talking about his commitment.