Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Holiday Leftovers | by Pat

As we pick through the last bits of holiday turkey and ham and get ready for the upcoming few days of college football bowl bliss, here are a few assorted leftovers from the past few days to mull over as we all decide whether to resign or just take a leave of absence from the long upcoming stretch of holiday-less months.

The big news of course is the slowly building coaching staff that Coach Kelly is hiring to help him run ND football. The only ND verified hire so far has been an excellent one as running backs coach Tony Alford was announced prior to Christmas as the lone assistant coach to make the Weis-to-Kelly transition.

"I got to know Tony during our days in the Big East when he was at Louisville and I was at Cincinnati," Kelly said. "He is a tremendous teacher and a great recruiter and I'm thrilled to keep him on the coaching staff. He has consistently developed his players at every school he has coached and his passion for the game is infectious. I look forward to working closely with him."
Adding to the list appears to be now former Grand Valley State head coach Chuck Martin, who according to mlive.com will be the new defensive backs coach under Kelly. It will be a definite step up for Martin, especially when it comes to the wild world of D1 recruiting, but on paper this sounds like a very good hire for a position coach.
Martin knows all about the defensive backs position as he was an All-American free safety nearly 20 years ago at Millikin University (NCAA Division III College in Decatur, Ill.).

As mentioned above Martin was originally hired at GVSU as the defensive backs coach back in 2000. He held that spot for three seasons and then in 2003 was promoted to the defensive coordinator position. Then in 2004 when Brian Kelly left to become the head coach of the Central Michigan Chippewas, Martin took over the same position at GVSU.

During his time at GVSU as head coach Martin went an unprecedented 74-7. Martin led the Lakers to two NCAA Division II National Championships and five GLIAC titles. In total at GVSU, Martin was apart of six NCAA Division II National Championship appearances and came away with a trophy in four of them either as the assistant or as the head coach.
The writer is clearly impressed by Martin's work at GVSU as his followup article is a glowing review of Martin's work as head coach the past 6 seasons and a good take on his transition to Notre Dame.

As for the rest of the staff, there are rumors that respected OL coach Mitch Browning has been interviewed and a handful of coaches from Cincinnati, including possible defensive coordinator Bob Diaco, will be making the trip to South Bend following the Sugar Bowl, but so far nothing has been publicly announced.

While Kelly is assembling the staff, the players of ND Christmases past, present, and future have all been making news.

Departing seniors Kyle McCarthy, Eric Olsen, and Sam Young have all been invited to the 2010 Senior Bowl, one of the major pre-Combine stops on the path to the NFL Draft. The game will be on January 30th with NFL Network providing plenty of coverage.

Current star Manti Te'o has announced that he will remain a current player as he intends to return for the 2010 season and forgo his Mormon mission for at least another year.
"This was probably the biggest decision that I've had to face in my entire life. I knew the impact of my decision could have a positive influence on those who follow me and those who watch what I do. I always want to have a positive influence on them. I just thought that I was sent to Notre Dame for a purpose and that is a purpose I have to devote to."
Meanwhile, the recruits that will team up with Manti next season are busy as well as we are entering into the post-Christmas high school bowl season that has taken on a life of its own as of late. Here is the breakdown of where ND commits (as well as many relevant interested recruits) will be participating over the next week or so:

Offense-Defense Bowl - January 2nd
QB Andrew Hendrix, DE Justin Utupo, and LB Prince Shembo are listed on the roster for the least well known of the January high school bowl games.

Under-Armour All-American Bowl - January 2nd (ESPN)
WR Tai-ler Jones, DT Louis Nix, and recently decommitted CB Toney Hurd, Jr. are among other notable names like Nick Montana in the ESPN hyped newcomer still trying to edge out the US Army Bowl for the nation's best recruits.

US Army All-American Bowl - January 9th (NBC)
OL Christian Lombard, LB Blake Lueders, and WR/S Austin Collinsworth (who apparently is injured and will not play) are the three lone commits in what is a quieter than usual year at the US Army Bowl for ND recruits. Still, there are a number of other recruits either still considering ND or at least familiar to ND fans including Seantrel Henderson, Anthony Barr, recent decommit Chris Martin, and Kyle Prater.