Monday, April 30, 2007

Draft Day Detritus | by Jay

Here's the releases from on all the drafted and (undrafted) destinations:

  • Quinn to Cleveland (1st, 22)
  • Abiamiri to Philly (2nd, 57)
  • Harris to Denver (3rd, 70)
  • Landri to Jacksonville (5th, 166)
  • Richardson to New England (6th, 202)
  • Santucci to Cincy (7th, 230)
  • Ndukwe to Cincy (7th, 253)
Four Five Undrafted Free Agents who signed with teams:
  • Freeman & Leitko to Baltimore
  • McKnight to New Orleans
  • Walker & Frome to Chicago
Biggest surprise? Apart from Brady dropping to 22, it's probably Ndukwe getting drafted instead of McKnight or Walker. But if you view Ndukwe as a pretty good special teams guy, and the other two as mere projects at a starting position, it sort of makes sense.

Also: two pretty good reads on how Quinn ended up with the Browns, from USA Today and

Update: reader Andrew sends us this link to a Dolphin Fan's draft day timeline. Hysterical.

Update part deux: Rakes has a solid roundup of all the Irish pro hopefuls.

Update, fin: I was curious how 7 picks for ND stacked up against other schools. It turns out the Irish tied for third-most. Here are all the teams that placed 5 or more players in the draft, with their average overall selection spot in the final column:
No. Picks
Avg Spot
Ohio State
Notre Dame
Louisiana State
Florida State
Penn State
Southern Cal

Sunday, April 29, 2007

Free Fallin' | by Jay

Brady Quinn, for better or worse, will forever be the story of this draft. From the NYT:

Still, if Quinn was a little heartbroken when the Browns opted for left tackle Joe Thomas with the third overall pick, he concealed it well. He smiled and shrugged. He had said that he would not worry about sliding, because it only meant he would go to a better team with a chance to win sooner. But maybe Thomas had had the right idea. He declined the N.F.L.’s invitation to come to the green room, and went fishing with his father instead.

Then the picks went by quickly. Defensive end Gaines Adams to Tampa Bay. Offensive tackle Levi Brown to Arizona, to protect Leinart, who could have offered Quinn some words of wisdom. Leinart dropped to the 10th spot last year. The Redskins picked safety LaRon Landry, and Minnesota, which many believed might consider Quinn, went with running back Adrian Peterson.

That left Quinn alone in the green room. His number had not come yet. Atlanta picked defensive end Jamaal Anderson, then the Dolphins were on the clock.

The Dolphins’ fans at Radio City started chanting his name and the Quinn highlight reel was cued up on the big screens. But the Dolphins pulled off the first shocker of the draft, selecting receiver and kick returner Ted Ginn Jr.

Quinn’s face, captured at the moment of the announcement, tightened and turned grim. Commissioner Roger Goodell approached him. Perhaps, Goodell said to Quinn, you would like to sit in a private suite, away from the cameras, because you might not be picked for a while. A look at the draft order made that clear. Houston, San Francisco, Buffalo, St. Louis — none of them needed quarterbacks. The stunned Quinn agreed and went off to his exile. In Miami, fans booed the new coach, Cam Cameron.

“At a certain point, when you’re past those teams that you’ve built some sort of relationship with, you’re entering an unknown,” Quinn said later.

He stayed in exile for several excruciating hours. This had happened before to quarterbacks. Leinart’s slide was one of the most compelling stories of last year’s draft. In 2005, Aaron Rodgers sat in the green room until the Packers took him with the 24th pick. But Quinn’s wait was the worst. This ended up being the longest first round in the history of the draft — 6 hours 8 minutes.

While Quinn sat, there was a run on defensive players, with 13 of 16 picks in the middle part of the first round going to defense, including nine in a row. That included the Jets, who traded up to the 14th pick from the 25th to take cornerback Darrelle Revis, and the Giants, who took cornerback Aaron Ross at No. 20. Jacksonville, which had traded with Denver to get the 21st spot, picked safety Reggie Nelson.

Then Quinn’s phone rang. It was the Baltimore Ravens. They were working on a trade to get him. The Ravens’ interest perhaps indicated that the wait for Kyle Boller to become their quarterback of the future was nearing its end. During the day, Quinn had already begun to think that once he finally landed with a team, he would work to show the Browns what they missed. Perhaps he would do that for Baltimore. He hung up, and his cellphone rang again. This time it was the Browns. Dallas was on the clock with the 22nd pick.

“We made a trade, we are going to come get you right now,” Quinn said the Browns told him.

If it sounded a bit like a rescue, perhaps it was. As soon as Quinn started falling, the Browns began working the phones, calling teams as high as No. 12, hoping to find a trading partner. When Goodell finally called his name, Quinn looked to the heavens and exhaled heavily.

“I felt like the weight of the world was lifted off my shoulders,” he said.

General Manager Phil Savage is banking on Quinn to improve the Browns’ record immediately. He traded the team’s first-round pick next year to Dallas to get Quinn. “We didn’t expect Brady Quinn to fall as far as he did,” Savage said. “We had Brady rated very high on our board, just not top three.”

Weis had already called Quinn. Quinn told him that things had a funny way of working out.

“Well, it ended up working out how we wanted it to, not exactly, but how we wanted it to,” Quinn said Weis told him. “Go out and prove everyone wrong.”

I sat down at 11am yesterday to watch the draft, fully expecting to be out of there in about 45 minutes. Four hours and twenty-one picks later I was finally able to turn off the tube.

Some bleary-eyed, pre-coffee thoughts at 6:40am...

• First off, here's the Why (as in, "Why the hell did he fall so far?"):
  1. Only a few teams really needed a first-round quarterback this year badly enough to spend first-round cash: Oakland, Cleveland, a couple others.
  2. Oakland satisfied their need with Russell.
  3. Cleveland picked the best tackle in the draft. Understandable.
  4. Miami screwed up by not picking Quinn.
  5. Once Miami passed, Quinn dropped twelve more slots because none of those teams had a QB as a #1 priority.
  6. Cleveland made their deal where they could, moving up ahead of Kansas City, who also might have taken Quinn.
Hence, Brady Quinn was the twenty-second player taken overall.

• Regardless of your fan affiliation, how could you not feel for Quinn yesterday? After Cleveland passed on him, ESPN had him on the split-screen for a reaction during damn near every pick, regardless of whether that team needed a quarterback or not. It was like a bizarro Academy Awards, when they have a camera on everyone and show the losers' reactions -- but with Brady as the lone, jilted nominee in every single category. Painful.

• When he was finally selected, there was a shot of Brady emerging from behind the screen, shaking his head, and exclaiming a long, audible, "Whew." When interviewed, he seemed miffed at the Dolphins (as miffed as Brady Quinn could seem), but he tried to put a good face on it. At one point Sanders asked him about "losing all that money", and Quinn pointed out the obvious: "Hey, I never had that money in the first place, so how could I lose it?"

• The Browns got lucky, and anybody who tries to say that this was part of their "master plan" is kidding themselves. I realize Cleveland is now claiming that they were trying to get back in ahead of Miami to select Quinn, but that doesn't pass the smell test. When Miami goofed, that opened the door. Lucky for Cleveland.

• That the Browns traded two picks, including their 1st rounder next year, could be significant. Brady, if he starts for the Browns, is controlling his own value -- but inversely so. The better the Browns do with Brady at the helm, the lower their first round pick next year, and the cheaper the cost of acquiring Brady in the first place. Weird.

• It was a perfect storm for Jamarcus. What other team in this draft would have taken him #1 overall? If the Raiders hadn't been picking first, Russell could have been the one "green-roomed" yesterday instead of Quinn.

[Update, 4/30: I stand corrected on this point. Based on a USA Today article today, Phil Savage, GM of the Browns, confirmed they would have taken Jamarcus #1 overall as well.]

• The reaction in Miami to the Teddy Ginn pick was hilarious. The knives are out for Cam Cameron and the Dolphins brain trust. You have to check out this video, a live reaction of Cameron trying to calm the masses while they gather the torches and pitchforks.

• The NFL Network's coverage was far superior to ESPN's. Just straight picks and commentary, as opposed to ESPN's cheese-packed circus with Boomer sputtering nonsense, Kiper's beady eyes, Suzy Kolber whispering sweet nothings to Brady Quinn whilst reclining on a lounge sofa, and those silly war room "reenactments". (I won't even mention Mark May.) Every time I flipped back over to ESPN, I caught that lame actor in the black and white "footage" exhorting his staff to "LISTEN UP! We're ON THE CLOCK!" I suppose it was better than last year's fashion show theme, but not by much. Listen up, ESPN: everything you touch turns to gouda. For unfiltered, underproduced, and just plain smart commentary (including some surprising prescience by our old friend Adam Schefter, who had nearly every pick confirmed by sources long before Goodell stepped up to the podium each time), NFL Network was the place to be yesterday.

• For Charlie's part, he's not exactly backing off his comparisons of Quinn to Manning and Brady:
"I don't think this is a guy who has to go to a program and be groomed for a year," said Weis in a conference call. "I think if ever there was a quarterback that was ready to go walking in the door - he got hammered for the last two years by me and can take it from just about anybody - he certainly would fit that description."

Weis, the former Patriots offensive coordinator who won three Super Bowls with Tom Brady, said Quinn already has two head starts on Brady, who was a thin, 185-pounder when the Patriots drafted him in the sixth-round.

"No. 1, physically, [Quinn] is a man amongst boys at the quarterback position," said Weis. "No. 2, he's already gone through those first two years of mental preparation. Not too many guys are going to be as good as Tommy Brady, but Brady Quinn has a big head start both physically and mentally."

Weis, who spent most of his career coaching with Browns coach Romeo Crennel, told his good friend that he lucked out by landing Quinn with the No. 22 pick.

"I told him, 'You got a starting left tackle [Joe Thomas] and a quarterback that can come in and challenge as a rookie,' " said Weis. " 'It doesn't get any better than that. You just brought in two dynamic football players. I don't know how many teams are as happy as the Browns right now.' "

Weis reiterated his bold pre-draft statement that Quinn is a combination of Brady and Peyton Manning.

"I look at the two top-line QBs in the league, Tommy and Peyton," said Weis. "In the not too distant future, you're going to be talking about [Quinn] in that pack of guys pushing up to that No. 3 spot."

He said he's confident Quinn will be able to handle the strong personalities of Braylon Edwards and Kellen Winslow Jr. - something Charlie Frye was unable to do last season but vowed to improve on.

"[Quinn's] been weathered by the head coach at Notre Dame," said Weis. "As a rookie you have to earn the respect of the players, but when those guys see that the ball is being delivered in their hands, the kid knows how to read coverages and he has a presence about him in the huddle, they'll naturally attract to him."

Weis scoffed at reports that Quinn is inaccurate. He completed about 63 percent of his passes over his final two seasons, with 69 touchdowns and 14 interceptions.

"I've said to [critics], 'I didn't realize you're the ones calling the plays and you know where the receivers are supposed to be,' " Weis said. "Almost anybody in the NFL would say, 'Please sign me up for those numbers right now.' "

Quinn, a four-year starter, agrees he can start right away.

"I'm very confident of that, and I think that's why a team would draft me in the first round and do what the Browns did," said Quinn. "It's my desire to step in and start."

Neither Browns General Manager Phil Savage nor Crennel made any promises about Quinn starting right away. He'll compete in camp with Frye and Derek Anderson, neither of whom could be reached for comment.

"The addition of [offensive coordinator] Rob Chudzinski and with Rip Scherer being the quarterbacks coach, I think we'll handle him the correct way," said Savage. "If Brady Quinn is the third-stringer this year, so be it. If he's our starter this year, so be it."

Weis gave Brady a little pep talk after he tumbled to No. 22.

"I said, 'You can be disappointed at the number you went, but you should be delighted that you're going to the Browns,' " said Weis. " 'This is a dream come true. You grew up a Browns fans, you love Ohio, and this is the place you wanted to be all along. Even though it didn't go according to script, you're where you wanted to be. So go into Cleveland with a little chip on your shoulder -- and prove to all the people in the Browns' organization and the team and to the fans that they're going to be extremely happy to have [you].' "
• Charlie's right. All Brady has to do to wash this day away is to strap it on and kick some ass. Time to walk the walk.

Saturday, April 28, 2007

Everything is Illuminated | by Jay

The alpha. From the SBT, September 28, 2003. Remember when...?

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. -- Grass-stained but not as green as when he arrived, Brady Quinn walked off the field at Ross-Ade Stadium wiser for the experience. What exactly he learned in a 23-10 loss to Purdue will emerge over time.

"A lot of things," Quinn said. "Probably too many to even pinpoint right now."

Notre Dame learned a lot about Quinn too, most notably that he belongs in the position he assumed Saturday under forbidding circumstances. A freshman starting his first game at quarterback for Notre Dame, he acted his age at times and played beyond his years at others. Against a Boilermaker defense committed to denying the run and a hostile crowd feeding on every Irish failure, Quinn persevered...

He passed, and passed, and passed. Fifty-nine attempts, to be exact, the second most in Irish history to Terry Hanratty's 63 in 1967. Completing 29 passes for 297 yards and a touchdown, Quinn proved he reads defenses above grade-level.

Four interceptions served as a reminder that he's not immune to an aggressive pass rush and the inevitable head rush a freshman feels. Everything still happens too fast to process it all.

"I feel like it's progressively getting slower," Quinn said, "but obviously it's not at the pace I'd like it to be."

How quickly Quinn learns will determine Notre Dame's offensive direction. Any forward progress evident against Purdue can be credited to him because the redundant problems of a poor offensive line and a running game still learning to walk continued.

Quinn finished as Notre Dame's leading rusher with 25 yards on eight carries, a statistic that maligns the line and the backs more than it extols the quarterback. It's more evidence of how much responsibility he accepted.

Through freshman mistakes that threatened his confidence, through errors beyond his control that tested his composure, he displayed characteristics of leadership the offense otherwise lacks. It's in his demeanor, in the way he interacts with older teammates and in the way they respond to him. As much as his strong arm and proficient football mind, that prompted his promotion over Carlyle Holiday...

Even when he failed Saturday, that feeling never faded. Quinn contributed to the loss as much as anyone else with turnovers and errant throws that prevented potential gains, but he also provided more reason for optimism, if only in his resilience...

Barring injury, Quinn should be playing from first snap to last for the foreseeable future.

A brief apprenticeship was the prudent course for a freshman, but after three losses, it's next season at Notre Dame for all intents and purposes. In his development, Quinn's already well on his way there.

"He just really knows the game, physically and mentally," offensive tackle Dan Stevenson said. "He's got a great arm and he's got great awareness. That's huge as a quarterback."

Those attributes meant nothing to Quinn in the aftermath of a loss. Only the errors replayed in his mind, plenty of them to occupy his time for two long weeks before Notre Dame's next game. Interceptions. Inconsistency. His objective, like 30 of his passes, incomplete.

"I'm disappointed in myself," Quinn said, "because I really feel like I let the team down today."

In truth, he provided a lift that lightened the letdown of another loss.

For a freshman quarterback, it's a start.

And the omega. Two years of spectacular highlights in seven minutes:

And today, the cycle begins again: not just for Brady Quinn, who ascends to the next level, but also for Notre Dame football, and the fledgling signal caller who will be starting his very first game come this Fall...

Friday, April 27, 2007

Predicting a Draft | by Jay

You might remember we held a contest a few months ago calling for BGS readers to submit an original post. We posted the first winning entry, by Stephen Kelley, a heartfelt tribute to Notre Dame fandom. The other winner was Michael Bangert, but we decided to hold his entry until now, especially since Mike's post deals with college football awards and how they relate to the NFL Draft. Enjoy!

Hardware Hopefuls

by Michael Bangert, '99

So as I was sitting at a bar watching the National College Football Awards show, waiting to watch the Notre Dame hoops team upset #5 ranked Alabama, and I thought to myself, “Do these awards predict where a guy will go in the NFL draft?” Then I remembered the Blue-Gray Sky’s posting contest and decided to do some work to figure it out in the hopes of winning the box set. Would Heisman Trophy winner Troy Smith be the number one draft pick? Will it be Brady Quinn, winner of Maxwell Award? Or will someone else go first?

There are plenty of mock drafts floating around the internet attempting to predict what will happen at the end of April, but instead of just reading those, I decided that it might be fun to go back about 25 years to wade through NFL draft history and college football award winners, and to see how those awards relate to the NFL draft.

Methodology. To determine if winning an award accurately predicts becoming a top draft choice, I looked at how well each year’s award recipient did in the following year’s NFL draft.

• I analyzed the following awards: the Heisman Memorial Trophy, the Maxwell Player of the Year, the Walter Camp Player of the Year, the Dick Butkus Outstanding Linebacker, the Outland Interior Lineman, the Davey O’Brien National Quarterback, the Johnny Unites Senior Quarterback, the Fred Biletnikoff Outstanding Receiver, the Jim Thorpe Outstanding Defensive Back, the John Mackey Tight End, the Rimmington Trophy for Outstanding Center, the Hendix Defensive End, the Vince Lombardi Lineman and the Walker Running Back awards.

• For the player of the year awards (Heisman, Maxwell and Walter Camp), I looked to see if the winner became the overall #1 draft pick.

• For the position awards, I looked to see if the winner became the top draft choice at his position or related positions. For example, the Jim Thorpe award goes to the most outstanding defensive back, which includes cornerbacks, strong safeties, and free safeties. So, if a strong safety won the award, but a free safety was drafted ahead of him, I concluded that the award winner was not the top draft choice.

• Of course a couple a couple of other things could happen to an award winner, the most obvious being that he returns to play another year of college football (like Heisman winner Matt Leinart did two years ago). In this case and in other cases when a player did not appear in the NFL draft (like Charlie Ward, a Heisman winner who opted for basketball instead) I recorded that the player did not go to the draft, and I just ignored that year in the analysis. In addition, in the early 1980s, three Heisman Trophy winners -- Hershal Walker, Mike Rozier, and Doug Flutie -- opted to play in the USFL instead of the NFL; and in 1991 Raghib Ismail, who won the 1990 Camp Award, chose to play in the CFL. I ignored those years in the analysis as well.

• To determine how often winning an award accurately predicts becoming a top draft choice, I divided the number of times the award winner went first by the total number of players considered (ignoring the times that something else happened).

• I took my data primarily from three sources: NFL draft information from 1982-2006 is available at, College Football award information is available at, and in the cases where what ultimately happened to an award winner was not obvious I relied heavily on Wikipedia and other internet sources.

• Some of the awards, like the Heisman, are long-standing, and thus have the full 25 years of winners to support the analysis. Others, like the Hendricks Award for Best Defensive End (first given in 2002), have a very small sample size.

Here are the numbers.

Heisman Trophy 25 yrs

Walker RB 16 yrs
Biletnikoff Receiver 12 yrs
Drafted #1 Overall 3
Drafted First at Position 3
Drafted First at Position 3
Drafted 15
Drafted 12
Drafted 6
Undrafted/Didn't Enter 7
Undrafted/Didn't Enter 1
Undrafted/Didn't Enter 3
Correct Predictions % 17%
Correct Predictions % 20%
Correct Predictions % 33%

Maxwell Player of Year 25 yrs
Outland Interior Line 25 yrs
Lombardi Lineman 25 yrs
Drafted #1 Overall 3
Drafted First at Position 9
Drafted First at Position 8
Drafted 16
Drafted 13
Drafted 16
Undrafted/Didn't Enter 6
Undrafted/Didn't Enter 3
Undrafted/Didn't Enter 1
Correct Predictions % 16%
Correct Predictions % 41%
Correct Predictions % 33%

Camp Player of Year 25 yrs
Mackey Tight End
6 yrs
Rimington Center 6 yrs
Drafted #1 Overall 2
Drafted First at Position 3
Drafted First at Position 2
Drafted 17
Drafted 2
Drafted 4
Undrafted/Didn't Enter 6
Undrafted/Didn't Enter 1
Undrafted/Didn't Enter 0
Correct Predictions % 11%
Correct Predictions % 60%
Correct Predictions % 33%

O'Brien Quarterback 25 yrs
Butkus Linebacker 21 yrs
Thorpe DB 20 yrs
Drafted First at Position 4
Drafted First at Position 5
Drafted First at Position 8
Drafted 14
Drafted 13
Drafted 12
Undrafted/Didn't Enter 7
Undrafted/Didn't Enter 3
Undrafted/Didn't Enter 0
Correct Predictions % 22%
Correct Predictions % 28%
Correct Predictions % 40%

Unitas Senior QB 19 yrs
Hendricks DE 4 yrs

Drafted First at Position 4
Drafted First at Position 1

Drafted 13
Drafted 2

Undrafted/Didn't Enter 2
Undrafted/Didn't Enter 1

Correct Predictions % 24%
Correct Predictions % 33%

Analysis. The first thing that jumped out at me was how poorly the three national player of the year awards did at predicting the #1 draft pick – 17% for the Heisman, 16% for the Maxwell, and 11% for the Camp. Since the 1982 draft (25 years ago), only three players who have won the Heisman Trophy have gone on to become the #1 draft choice – Bo Jackson*, Vinny Testaverde, and Carson Palmer. Winning the Heisman Trophy correctly predicts becoming the #1 draft choice only about 17% of the time. Sadly for Brady Quinn, the Maxwell Award does a slightly worse job of predicting the #1 draft choice – correctly predicting it about 16% of the time. Why do these Player of the Year awards do such a poor job at determining the top pick in the draft?

For starters, there is an obvious degree of misalignment between the objectives of the College Football awards and the NFL general managers. The voters for the College Football awards are trying to reward the most outstanding players of they year, while each NFL team is trying to select the best player for that team in the draft. This certainly explains some of the effect, but the fact that a disproportionate number Heisman Trophy winners have either lackluster or nonexistent NFL careers is certainly odd.

Another statistic that offers little encouragement to hardware winners is that over the past twenty five years, 52% of first round draft picks did not win any national award at all, let alone the Heisman or Maxwell awards. It almost makes one wonder what the fuss about the Heisman is all about.

On the position awards, the voters tend to do a better job predicting the top draft choice at a particular position, although the range varies significantly:

The Mackey tight end award, which predicts the top tight end chosen in the draft 60% of the time, is the only award to actually give the winner a greater than 50% chance of being the top player drafted. Most of the other awards predict the top draft choice at their position about a third of the time. Some of this variance could result from strong collegiate tight ends having a higher tendency to become strong professional tight ends while strong collegiate quarterbacks and running backs have a lower tendency to become strong in the professional game. Or it could be simply that the small sample size has given us a very skewed look at tight ends.

Interestingly, over the past 25 years the winner of the Vince Lombardi Lineman award has gone on to become the overall number one draft pick four times -- as compared to just three times for the Heisman and Maxwell awards and twice for the Camp award. The Lombardi winners who went on to become number one draft picks are Kenneth Sims, Tony Casillas, and Steve Emtman, and Orlando Pace. Do the Lombardi voters see something in their winners that the Heisman and Maxwell voters do not see in theirs? Or are good lineman simply easier to identify (or perhaps less subject to individual bias)?

The two Quarterback Awards provide an interesting comparison. On the surface, they seem nearly identical in their predictive qualities, with each of them placing the #1 quarterback in the draft four times apiece. But among those four, only top quarterback Peyton Manning in 1997 was selected for both awards in the same year.

Year O'Brien Award Unitas Award
2005 Vince Young, Texas Matt Leinart, USC
2004 Jason White, Oklahoma Jason White, Oklahoma
2003 Jason White, Oklahoma Eli Manning, Ole Miss
2002 Brad Banks, Iowa Carson Palmer, USC
2001 Eric Crouch, Nebraska David Carr, Fresno State
2000 Chris Weinke, Florida State Chris Weinke, Florida State
1999 Joe Hamilton, Georgia Tech Chris Redman, Louisville
1998 Michael Bishop, Kansas State Cade McNown, UCLA
1997 Peyton Manning, Tennessee Peyton Manning, Tennessee
1996 Danny Wuerffel, Florida Danny Wuerffel, Florida
1995 Danny Wuerffel, Florida Tommie Frazier, Nebraska
1994 Kerry Collins, Penn State Jay Barker, Alabama
1993 Charlie Ward, Florida State Charlie Ward, Florida State
1992 Gino Torretta, Miami Gino Torretta, Miami
1991 Ty Detmer, BYU Casey Weldon, Florida State
1990 Ty Detmer, BYU Craig Erickson, Miami
1989 Andre Ware, Houston Tony Rice, Notre Dame
1988 Troy Aikman, UCLA Rodney Peete, USC
1987 Don McPherson, Syracuse Don McPherson, Syracuse
1986 Vinny Testaverde, Miami
1985 Chuck Long, Iowa
1984 Doug Flutie, Boston College
1983 Steve Young, BYU
1982 Todd Blackledge, Penn State
1981 Jim McMahon, BYU
(Highlight indicates top quarterback taken in draft that year)

The Unitas Award is constrained by having to pick a Senior quarterback, but the only case I see where that would have made a difference was last year.

Another interesting effect that may be skewing these numbers is that in the first few years of an award’s existence, the recipients tended to be less heralded players. For example the first two recipients of the Doak Walker running back award, Greg Lewis and Trevor Cobb, were not drafted highly and did not have particularly strong NFL careers. Both of these players did not have Wikipedia pages so I have no idea what eventually happened to them.

I am sure other conclusions could be drawn from the data. One obvious one that comes to mind: how many of these award winners end up as successful players in the NFL ("successes" perhaps measured by length of career, or Pro Bowl appearances, or another measuring stick)? But that is a project for another day.

* Tampa Bay drafted Bo Jackson first in the 1986 draft, but he never signed with the team due to his desire to play baseball. The next year, Jackson returned to the draft where the Raiders drafted him in the seventh round. The NFL archives actually leave the top draft choice off their official records for the 1986 season, but I deemed Jackson one of the three cases where the Heisman predicted the number one draft choice because Tampa Bay did draft Jackson first.

Ed. note: with Mike's post in mind, keep an eye on these 2006 award winners and see when (or in some cases, if) they are selected:
Troy Smith, Ohio State
Brady Quinn, Notre Dame
Walter Camp
Troy Smith, Ohio State
O'Brien Quarterback
Troy Smith, Ohio State
Unitas Senior Quarterback
Brady Quinn, Notre Dame
Butkus Linebacker
Patrick Willis, Ole Miss
Outland Interior Lineman
Joe Thomas, Wisconsin
Walker Running Back
Darren McFadden, Arkansas
Biletnikoff Wide Receiver
Calvin Johnson, Georgia Tech
Thorpe Defensive Back
Aaron Ross, Texas
Mackey Tight End
Matt Spaeth, Minnesota
Hendricks Defensive End
LaMarr Woodley, Michigan
Rimington Center
Dan Mozes, West Virginia
Lombardi Lineman
LaMarr Woodley, Michigan

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Besides Brady... | by Jay

Overlooked among TV appearances and EAS endorsements and throwing footballs in the streets are the other guys who might get called up to the podium this weekend. In fact, along with Brady, ND's got an outside chance to place more guys in the NFL draft since the '94 draft. We had 10 in '94, and the most since then has been 7 in '99 and '03.

(A little trivia. Since '94, we've had two years where we had just one guy drafted. What were the years, and who were the players? Answers, and a complete rundown of Notre Dame players in the NFL draft are here.)

As for this year's Irish hopefuls, Blue & Gold has some nice capsules, with some handicapping from Scott Wright of NFL Countdown. Hansen in the SBT has got some quotes from Frank Coyle of Draft Insiders. And UHND put out a good rundown of draft prospects for this year (way back in Spring of '06! Fun to read.)

Right now this seems to be the consensus:

sure-fire draftees:
Quinn - 1st round
Abiamiri - late 1st, early 2nd
Harris - 3rd or 4th
Walker - 3rd or 4th
McKnight - 4th or 5th
Santucci - 4th or 5th
Landri - 6th or 7th

on the bubble:
As for the Brady Quinn odds, here's what the BGS Sports Book & Casino is showing:
Cleveland 3/2
Oakland 6/1
Tampa Bay 12/1
Miami 12/1
Detroit 15/1
Minnesota 25/1
Carolina 50/1
Chicago 100/1

Routes About | by Jay

Came across this diagram on a literature site called, appropriately, Diagram.

From How to Watch Pro Football on TV, by Y.A. Tittle, 1966, The Benjamin Co., New York.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

BGS Blue & Gold Gallery | by Pat

As promised, here is our photo gallery slideshow of the recent Blue & Gold weekend. Thanks so much to Joseph S., Michael S., Eddie F., Gerald K., Brian T., John M. (who sent in the above photo), Ryan V, and Mike B. for sending in the pictures. There really are some fantastic shots in there so make sure to check them out. There are even more photos in a bit less organized manner on the main BGS flickr page if you're looking for even more shots of Jimmy Clausen, by far the most popular photo subject.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Blue-Gold Bonanza | by Pat

(With the dramatic increase of online information about Notre Dame football, we here at BGS took to the task of updating our multimedia capabilities in the form of the newly constructed Jerome Green Memorial BGS Media Lab *. There are of course some bugs in the system -- we blew one of our internet tubes during a trial run -- but the lab passed its big first test this weekend with flying colors. Now we can easily present all of the relevant media links -- video, photo, or otherwise -- from the recent Blue-Gold weekend. Enjoy.)

Your first stop this morning should be the Lou Holtz video feature on ESPN. It's vintage Holtz: cajoling the refs, explaining why he never threw to the tight end, and offering both lectures and lessons in being a winner to the players. It's fantastic.

The next must-see is the highlight video of the scrimmage found on You can also find some individual plays popping up on youtube, although most of them are covered in greater resolution on the clip. The interviews of Coach Weis and Lou and Ara are up and great to watch. If you don't have the time, here are the transcripts of both Charlie and the two Irish coaching legends. Charlie's presser is a good read, as always, as he discusses the plans for deciding the QB depth chart and why he's looking to emphasize a power running attack with the ND offense next season.

Photo-wise, the South Bend Tribune has a very nice photo gallery. The AP wire has a string of photos from the weekend while Irish Eyes and Irish Illustrated also have some great galleries for members only. The BGS photo gallery is almost done, but I'm going to wait another day or so to let more people get their shots in. We already have some fantastic action shots, but if you want to send in your pics of the weekend festivities, feel free.

Getting into the print stories, the official stat sheet and game play-by-play is up on, but really there isn't too much to glean from the numbers. The SBT has stories on Clausen, Lou, Ara, offensive MVP Junior Jabbie, and defensive MVP David Bruton, while the Observer covers the only real big news from the game, John Sullivan's ankle injury.

That should just about cover most of the major news items from this weekend. If there is anything else you think we missed, feel free to leave a link in the comments.

*Jerome Green is the Notre Dame professor who in 1899 constructed a tower outside of the Basilica and transmitted a signal down the road to Saint Mary's. That transmission was the very first wireless transmission sent in North America. The message read, "I need a date for the Sorin SYR. Any takers?"

Monday, April 23, 2007

Recruiting Double Dip | by Pat

During their trip to campus for the Blue-Gold game weekend, a pair of "F"s decided it was time to make a public commitment and join the ND Class of 2008. Chicago linebacker Darius Fleming committed first thing in the morning, and California tight end Joseph Fauria committed later in the day after talking things over with his family and Coach Weis. Fleming has been a regular visitor to spring practices and his commitment was hardly a surprise. Fauria, on the other hand, wasn't expected to make such a quick decision. Expected or not, the result was the same, and ND picked up its 9th and 10th members of the Class of 2008.

The commitment by Darius Fleming continues a strong Midwestern recruiting push by ND and also adds another player from the talent rich Chicago area. At 6'3", 230 pounds, Fleming plays mainly defensive end for his high school but will be an outside linebacker once he arrives at ND.

"I know the defense isn't the strong part of the team right now, but I feel the recruits that are coming in and coach Brown coming in, that he's going to be very successful teaching us the new style of defense that he's bringing."
Fleming is now the third linebacker recruit already this year, and of the three, Fleming comes in with the most recruiting fanfare. A 1st team All-Conference and Honorable Mention All-State selection at defensive end, Fleming picked ND over offers from Southern Cal, Oklahoma, Michigan, and Wisconsin and a handful of other schools. Scout lists Fleming as a 4-star recruit, rated the 49th overall recruit in the nation, and along with Dayne Crist and Anthony McDonald, Fleming is ND's third straight recruit listed on Scout's Top 100 list. Rivals still hasn't listed any rankings yet, but includes Fleming on their Top 100 "pre-evaulation" list. lists him as the 146th overall prospect on their initial Top 150 list.

(Fleming also rides horses and competes in rodeos, but no rodeo recruit rankings could be found. If they exist, I'm sure Fleming is a 5-star rodeo recruit).

You can watch Fleming's football highlights here. With Anthony McDonald and David Posluszny tentatively penciled in as inside linebackers and Fleming slotted for the outside, ND has plenty of flexibility for filling a fourth linebacker spot. At this point ND can hold out for talented linebacker targets like Chicago's Steven Filer, the first junior offered by Notre Dame, or someone like Arthur Brown, the nation's #1 rated player by at least one recruiting service. It's possible that the Irish will take five linebackers if more than one top recruit decide to join Corwin Brown's defense.

The other Blue-Gold weekend commit, Joesph Fauria, continues ND's run on talented tight ends and California natives. Listed at 6'8" and 240 pounds, he'll be the tallest player on the roster when he arrives on campus.

If the name Fauria seems familiar, it's because his uncle Christian Fauria is an 12-year NFL veteran who played tight end for Coach Weis in New England for three years and won two Super Bowls. And as you might suspect, his nephew took a lot of notes in watching how a pro tight end should play.
“I try to emulate a lot of tight ends, like Joe Newton (Oregon State) and Matt Spaeth (Minnesota). I would watch them the whole time. And of course, when I watch the NFL I watch my uncle. I’ll call him a day after the game and mess with him and tell him all the stuff he did wrong. I love watching the tight end block on runs and passes. I love how they’re used. I want to go to a school that uses their tight end a lot.”
Fauria, who grew up a Notre Dame fan, picked the Irish over offers from LSU, Nebraska, Colorado, Stanford, and UCLA. On Scout he's listed as a 4-star player while Rivals has him as part of their intial Top 250 list. You can check out his highlight videos here.

It's pretty impressive how ND is scooping up the top tight ends. In this class alone, 6'8" Fauria joins 6'7" Kyle Rudolph, now listed as a 5-star recruit on and the 25th overall recruit in the nation. That's a lot of height at the tight end position that will pay dividends in the run game and in the red zone. At the recent L.A. Nike Camp, Fauria impressed the recruitniks with his ability to catch the football and was listed as the top tight end at the camp. Rudolph, Fauria and Mike Ragone will give ND a potent combination of tight ends to succeed John Carlson, Konrad Reuland, and Will Yeatman.

Charlie Weis has left campus for his monthly trip around the country re-visiting current commits and dropping in on future prospects. Six of the ten current public commits are on the offensive side of the ball while four are on the defensive side. Expect that number to balance out as ND looks to solidify the defensive side. ND will ultimately wind up with between 20 to 23 players in this class, so the Irish are already about halfway home, and the class of 2008 is already looking very strong across the board.

Sunday, April 22, 2007

I went to South Bend... | by Mike

...and all I got was this hellacious sunburn.

Actually, that's not all I got, but I don't think I saw enough to draw any real substantive conclusions regarding the 2007 edition of the Fighting Irish. It was enjoyable to see Junior Jabbie garner offensive MVP honors following his 87 rushing yards on 13 carries, and we certainly hope Jabbie has a great season. However, Charles Stafford and Chris Olsen have demonstrated that a strong spring game performance does not necessarily portend fall stardom.

Given my limited expectations from a football standpoint, I was drawn to a weekend in the Bend by the surrounding revelry - and in these respects I was not let down. The weather was as good as it gets in South Bend. The cloudless sky, mid-70s temperature, and slight breeze combined to produce perfect tailgating weather. After a long winter, it was nice to be reminded of the simple joy of simultaneously soaking up sun and spirits.

As the morning passed, it became apparent that we could expect a Blue & Gold attendance record. The rapidly filling tailgating lots were a testament to the considerable buzz generated by the wide open QB race, the unveiling of Corwin Brown's new defense, and the return of the legendary Ara and Lou. Yet even after witnessing the multitudes outside, the number of people inside the stadium still surprised me. For starters, it was hard just finding an accessible section. At section entrance after section entrance, the ushers turned our merry band of late-arriving tailgaters away, telling us their section was full. When we finally reached the stands, I was amazed at how many people were in the upper level. This was due in part to the decision to close off some of the sections in the tunnel endzone, but the crowd still dwarfed any I had seen at a Blue & Gold game.

The announced attendance was indeed a Blue & Gold record: 51,800. I was actually expecting a slightly higher figure and would be interested to know how the students were counted, since they simply had to flash their IDs. While this figure is significantly below the totals at the Alabama and Ohio State spring games, the Notre Dame fanbase is far less provincial than that of schools whose student body is overwhelmingly composed of in-state residents. In light of the geographic dispersion of ND Nation, getting almost 52,000 to travel to a game designed to reveal little of substance speaks volumes about the excitement surrounding Irish football these days.

The real stars of the game were Ara and Lou. I was talking to my father before the game, and he was pretty fired up about Ara's return. When I found out that yesterday's game was Ara's first time through the tunnel since my father was a student, I once again thanked Charlie Weis for his efforts to bring the family together. Holtz really seemed to enjoy the game, and when a yelling Holtz ran out on the field at one point, the crowd responded with an enthusiastic "Louuuuuuu!"

I hope the experience made quite an impression on the visiting recruits, and the early returns indicate that this is the case.

Crist crosses country; chooses Charlie | by Pat

We're catching up with an avalanche of ND football news. More on the Blue-Gold weekend and the two newest commits in a bit. But for now, here's the word on ND's newest quarterback, Dayne Crist.

The second Notre Dame High School football player to commit to Notre Dame in as many weeks, California QB Dayne Crist announced on Thursday evening that he will be attending the University of Notre Dame as the 8th member of the Class of 2008.

"I am absolutely thrilled. I couldn't be happier. Ultimately, it was between USC and Notre Dame, and it was a real difficult choice. It was a tough decision, and it took a lot of thought. I have a lot of respect for USC... but Notre Dame just felt right,"
Crist is a fantastic QB prospect and chose the Irish over offers from Southern Cal, LSU, Michigan, Nebraska, and Stanford. At 6'5" 220 pounds, Crist is a big quarterback with a strong arm and a great prospect according to his high school coach.
“He completed a lot of deep balls and throws the deep ball very well,” said Notre Dame High coach Kevin Rooney said. “He had the highest yards-per-completion average that we’ve ever had here. He sees the field very well, too, and finds people when they are open, and that isn’t easy for a lot of people.” has him listed with 4 stars and the #66 overall recruit in the nation while has him listed as the 47th overall prospect. Recently he attended the Nike Camp combine in L.A. and walked away with the Camp QB MVP award. All are very good honors for a quarterback who threw for over 1,200 yards, 17 touchdowns, and 3 interceptions last year despite missing five games with an injury. Now, high school stats are usually pretty irrelevant when predicting college success, but a very lopsided TD/INT ratio, like Crist's 17/3 mark, is always a good sign of solid decision making. Crist also rushed for 400 some yards and is a member of his school's track program, which is a clue that he's also not a motionless statue when back in the pocket.

With the current QB depth chart full of talented quarterbacks with plenty of eligibility, some might wonder if taking on another quarterback now is a wise move. The simple answer is yes. Great programs don't get to the top by taking one top player and then taking a few years off. They consistently land great players in order to keep the depth chart full and foster a competitive atmosphere on the squad. It is true that Notre Dame currently has four good quarterbacks on the roster now, but you never know how attrition, whether via injury or transfer, will change that situation. The recent past of ND fielding tight ends and walk-ons at QB should be enough to remind Irish fans of how quickly a QB depth chart can change. Crist doesn't seem to be scared off by the current depth chart though and is well aware of what it will take to see the field.
“I’m a very competitive person by nature,” Crist said. “I knew wherever I went I would have to battle and be as competitive as possible. That was going to come anyway. Winning a spot in college is not easy at all. You have got to go in there and be ready for the most competitive situation. That I knew going in, so then I looked for other things. That was a given going into the whole recruiting process.”
It's the second straight year that ND landed the top quarterback in California, which is a great sign that the Irish are making even more inroads into the talent rich west coast state largely dominated by the Southern Cal Trojans. Crist, who went to middle school with Jimmy Clausen, is now looking to help ND bring in even more talented recruits.
"I'm going to do everything I can to help the team I pick get the top recruits," he said. "I want to win, and I want to win big. I wouldn't have it any other way."

Saturday, April 21, 2007

T. Nice | by Jay

A little bit on the other Blue-Gold captain. I was a freshman in 1988, and for me, Tony Rice simply defined Notre Dame football at the time.

Was there ever a better fit between coach and quarterback than Tony Rice and Lou Holtz? It was a near-perfect melding of coach, scheme, and skills, with Rice as the motor that powered Holtz's vaunted option attack. In this era of aerial assaults by ND quarterbacks, it's funny to think that in Rice's time, fifteen passes a game were considered a lot. (In the Fiesta Bowl win for the National Championship, for example, Rice was 7-11 for 213 yards and two touchdowns). But any great quarterback, whether option- or pro-style, is above all a great decision maker, and Rice was one of the very best at knowing when to pitch it and when to tuck it and run. When the Irish got inside the 30 yard line, there was simply no doubt they would score, and it was largely due to Rice. He'd hand it off to AJ or Culver up the middle, or stretch it to the sideline and pitch it to Watters or Brooks or Green, or sprint off tackle and take it in himself, or fake the option, pull back, and lob one to Derek Brown at the back of the end zone. He was so much fun to watch.

The image “” cannot be displayed, because it contains errors.His 65-yard keeper for a score against Southern Cal in 1988 (highlight above) was perhaps the quintessential Tony Rice play: #1 versus #2 in the Coliseum, last game of the regular season, a National Championship season on the line. Rice takes the snap and dashes left on the option. Mark Green is the pitch man, mirroring Rice step for step on the outside. The USC defensive back comes flying up, and for a fleeting moment there's a perfect triangle between the quarterback, the running back, and the defender. Rice does a subtle shoulder dip -- is he about to pitch it? -- and then he's gone, the Trojan defender having bitten on the fake, and Rice sprintng sixty-five yards down the sideline for the score. Beautiful.

A few random facts from the '90 media guide on the other Blue-Gold captain today, Tony Rice:

• His three year record as a starter at ND was 28-3. (And those three losses are more than he ever lost in high school. During his four years at Woodruff high, he lost only two games - both in the state championship.)
• He engineered a 23-game win streak as a starter, which included wins over seven Top 10 teams and twelve bowl teams. That's the longest win streak for a quarterback in Irish history.
• During his tenure he beat:

'87 Alabama (#10)
'88 Michigan (#9)
'88 Miami (#1)
'88 Southern Cal (#2) -- ND ranked #1
'88 West Virginia (#3) -- ND ranked #1
'89 Michigan (#2) -- ND ranked #1
'89 Air Force (#17)
'89 Southern Cal (#9)
'89 Pitt (#7)
'89 Penn State (#17)
'89 Colorado (#1)
(From the end of 88 to the beginning of 89, Rice and the Irish beat #2, #3 and #2 in a stretch of 4 games. Crazy.)

• Won the Johnny Unitas "Golden Arm" Award in 1989 (which is sort of funny, if you think about it)
• Finished 4th in the Heisman voting in 1989
• Holds the record for season rushing yards by a QB (884 in 1989) and career rushing yards by a QB (1,921)
• Won a National Championship in 1988, beating West Virginia in the Fiesta Bowl.

Rice's career at ND was birthed in controversy; he was the first ND athlete to fall victim to Proposition 48, and had to sit out his freshman year due to poor testing grades. But he worked overtime in summer school to gain his eligibility back, and eventually graduated Notre Dame with a degree in psychology.

The option, of course, was his bread and butter, and nobody ran it with better instincts and talent than Rice. He was the first QB to lead Notre Dame in rushing since Paul Hornung did it in his Heisman year of 1956. But despite dazzling with the option, Rice always had a little trouble in the passing game, although he improved remarkably during his time as a signal caller. On his very first snap in college, coming in for the injured Terry Andrysiak midway through a game against Pitt, he lined up over the guard instead of the center. He completed only 42% of his passes his sophomore year. Holtz had him throw darts in between starts to improve his accuracy, and he got that completion rate up to 50% his junior year. But he seemed to hit the big pass when he needed it: long passes against Miami in '88 to set up touchdowns; a bomb to the Rocket from his own end zone against USC in '88; going 7-11 in the Fiesta Bowl against West Virginia.
"He proved it when he had to, in prime time," said flanker Ricky Watters, who grabbed a 57-yard bomb from Rice to set up an Irish touchdown. "Bottom line, he's a winner."

"I'm glad we didn't have to play against Tony Rice," Irish safety George Streeter said. "That would be a really big challenge."

Rice had his best statistical performance in a Notre Dame uniform. He hit 7 of 11 throws for 213 yards and two touchdowns. He also had an interception. The 21-year-old junior from South Carolina also ran for a game- high 75 yards. [Major] Harris, by comparison, hit 13 of 26 for 166 yards and a touchdown and ran for 42 yards. He also had an interception.

In the process, Rice made a believer out of coach Lou Holtz, who had doubted Rice's passing ability all fall. "He's just gotten better and better," Holtz said. "I did say (last week) that he's throwing the ball better this week than I've ever seen him."

Rice's biggest pass was a 47-yard strike over the middle to freshman tight end Derek Brown, who was caught from behind at the Mountaineer 5-yard line. The Irish had worked all week on exploiting that weakness in the heart of the West Virginia defense. Notre Dame scored on the next play to take a 16- point lead and deflate the No. 3 Mountaineers. "Our offensive team can score against anybody," Rice said.

The main reason was Rice. He was deadly on the option, as he had been all season. But his passing was a vast improvement over his 5 for 20 in the season's first two games.
Going into his senior season Rice was a legitimate Heisman candidate; even Bo Schembechler called him "the most dangerous quarterback in the country." From a Chicago Tribune article at the time:
This year, Rice not only finds himself to be a highly regarded candidate for the Heisman but he's also found peace of mind. "Last year, he had something to prove. This year, he wants to get better," says Holtz. "I see a more mature Tony Rice, a more confident Tony Rice. His knowledge of football has improved as much as any individual I have ever seen. We've really come to appreciate him as an exceptionally fine quarterback."

Rice was keenly aware of his critics last year and is clearly tired of them now. "I don't have anything to prove to anybody," he says with a characteristic wide smile that takes the sting out of the message. "There's always going to be so many people out there who say I can't pass. "I can't do what they are going to say I can't do. Let it be like that. I'll go and prove things to myself and just have fun on the field and do what counts for the team. "If I pass five times and we win, that's fine with me. "
Rice finished out his career at ND in fine form; the Irish went 11-1, with only a heartbreaking loss in Miami preventing the Irish from capturing their second consectuive National Championship. Rice placed fourth in the Heisman voting. ND went on to play #1 Colorado in the Orange Bowl, beating them 21-6.

A couple other BGSers were in school while Rice was there...

Jeff: I knew Rice fairly well (all of the South Carolina kids knew each other). One of the reasons I'm really looking forward to the BG game this weekend is to say hello.

He was really known for his leadership and his demeanor. He used to crack jokes in the huddle to lighten the mood during tense situations. After the '88 Miami game, he laughed that he had to come to the sideline to wipe off "a big gob of spit of my forehead" and none of it seemed to faze him. Holtz also tells a story of Rice on the sidelines after an opponent had rallied back to take the lead late in the game. Before putting on his helmet to take the field, Rice smiled at Holtz and said, "Good game, huh coach?"

Sean: So many great T. Rice moments.

1988, Miami game. One of the best shots of the day was Tony Rice calmly raising his arms in victory after taking the knee to run out the clock.

The image “” cannot be displayed, because it contains errors.1988, USC game. I remember sitting in the upper reaches of one of the end zones at the Coliseum. Irish ball on their own 35 yard line at the far end of the field, and Tony Rice takes the snap, breaks to the outside. He's into the secondary, and -- HOLY SHIT, he's coming right at us! He... could... go... all... well, you get the idea.

1989, USC game. ND down 24-21 with only a few minutes left. Undeafeted season on the line. Tony Rice calmly marches the team down the field, culminating with an option left from about 15 yards out where he crossed the goal line with a USC defender hanging onto his ankle for the last three yards.

Three (!) Sports Illustrated covers in about a ten week span in 1988 (post-Miami, post-USC, post-Fiesta Bowl). Has anyone (not named Jordan) ever done that?

Off the field, Rice was quite simply the definition of the BMOC, only without all of the ego that usually goes along with that "title". In the few times I was around him, he was the same charismatic, upbeat guy whether he was hanging out with his teammates or whether he was hanging out with other students. Just a really good guy. On a campus that he shared with many future NFL draft picks and even a few NBA draft picks, Tony Rice was, undoubtedly, THE MAN. If you don't believe it, just ask any of the football and basketball players who were there the same time as him.

And in a little known fact that you won't find on Wikipedia or any Notre Dame history books, Tony Rice bought me the shot that put me down for the count on my 21st birthday. CJ's Pub, January 1990. I'm sure he had no idea who I was, just some soon-to-be-deathly-ill loser who was standing in a booth at CJ's. I like to think he did it out of the goodness of his heart. That was Tony Rice: always better instincts and judgment than anyone else on the field.