Tuesday, August 19, 2008

SkyWriting: attrition edition | by Pat

• Starting things off, the junior class lost another player when backup wide receiver Richard Jackson decided to leave the program and transfer to a new school closer to his Florida hometown.
"I talked with Richard Thursday night and again (Friday) morning to make sure he had thoroughly thought this decision through," Irish head coach Charlie Weis said in a statement. "He informed me this morning that he intended to part ways with the program and transfer to a school closer to home. We thank him for his time and wish him well in the future."
Jackson sat out all of last season with a hand injury and, while he appears to be healthy now, has been stuck behind sophomore Duval Kamara and junior George West on this fall's depth chart. With classmate Robby Parris and young players like Golden Tate, Michael Floyd, Deion Walker, and John Goodman pressing for more playing time, Jackson's chances to see the field weren't great.

Jackson is the 6th player to leave ND from the junior class. Bartley Webb is no longer playing due to injury, but is still in school and helping out with the program. Darrin Walls is not in school this semester, but it is expected to return in January (more on this later). With the number of players leaving, there is a worry that ND will again face the lack of upperclassmen numbers that has affected the team the past two seasons. However the junior class was a large one with 28 players and added one in starting punter Eric Maust making the class still 22 players strong heading into their junior year. Of course, it's never good to see players leave. Hopefully the attrition from this particular class is over and good luck to Jackson in the future.

• As for Darrin Walls, if you were worried about him not coming back to ND, don't be.
“I wouldn’t let Darrin transfer to Pitt even if he wanted to,” the father added. “I want him to graduate from Notre Dame. He’s not going anywhere and he’ll be back in January.”
The whole need to clarify the situation arose when the sight of Darrin's father at a Pitt practice -- he's friends with the coaching staff -- turned into an internet wildfire rumor of Darrin being at practice and considering a transfer. The good news is that he's not planning on any transfer and the even better news is that the family expects Darrin to return for the spring 2009 semester.

• ESPN has started a new set of college football blogs and so far the results are pretty positive. Graham Watson is covering ND and in a bit about Sam Young's off-season training in Florida mentioned a foot injury in addition to the wrist injury that prompted his move to left tackle.
Working at Perfect Competition this summer was really the first time Young felt healthy. During the season, he'd suffered a right wrist injury and a chronic foot injury that limited his mobility.
It's debatable how much the foot injury affected his quickness and technique last year, but it couldn't have helped. Hopefully a healthy foot and wrist, combined with the return to right tackle and the oft-mentioned off-season weight gains will combine to present a much improved Young for 2008.

• As for Watson's coverage of ND, she's doing a solid job so far. She's also noting the difference between covering ND and her previous assignment covering Missouri.

• About 900 "reporters" cover Notre Dame. Really, I think it's 50 reporters, 25 TV people, 75 sit-on-the-couch bloggers, and 750 alumni who all wear Notre Dame shirts and have questions about the team.

• I heard more stories about fans ripping journalists for negative stories than I've ever heard in my life. I thought Missouri was passionate, but I had no idea.

If she thinks the journalists get it bad, she should see the kind of mail I can only imagine Charlie got during last season.

• Back on the scheduling front, it appears the 10 year ND and Syracuse deal is closer to being official.
The five designated "home" games for Syracuse against Notre Dame that will be moved to the Meadowlands/Giants Stadium will only be slotted in years the Orange has at least six other home games lined up at the Carrier Dome.
Later in the article, Donnie Webb clarifies that odd years are the likely away games for ND with even year matchups being played at Notre Dame. When the contract starts isn't clear yet. 2010, 2011, or 2012 are mentioned as possibilities. It should be noted that if the deal with UConn has been finalized, then ND is already playing three Big East teams in 2011 (Pitt, UConn, South Florida) and Syracuse would be the fourth. Either than means 2012 is a more likely start date or ND is going to contend for the Big East conference championship in 2011.