Monday, December 07, 2009

I do declare | by Pat

Jumping in with this before what could be a busy Tuesday...

Until Brian Kelly fired up his blackberry and started to twitter, the big news of the day was that Jimmy Clausen and Golden Tate officially announced that they are forgoing their senior year and will enter the 2010 NFL Draft. It's hard to argue with either decision as both were at the top of their respective position and were unlikely to raise their draft status much higher. Mel Kiper seems to agree as he recently moved Clausen to the #1 QB prospect in the draft and a Top 5 overall pick. It's a entirely too premature projection, but it's always nice to see where the players fall based on actual football before the predictable silly season that is the NFL camp and Combine circuit happens.

Back to the presser, both Clausen and Tate spoke glowingly of their time at ND and Coach Weis, who they invited to sit with them at the press conference. Some might take Charlie's "go pro" advice to Clausen as another example of salting the earth on his way out the door, but that ignores the reality that Clausen stated from the beginning that coming to play at ND under Charlie was a business decision. His goal is to get to the NFL and you really can't improve on being a projected Top 10 pick, new coach or not. The drop in expected draft position by Sam Bradford and Taylor Mays probably didn't go unnoticed in the Clausen household.

As it stands, Clausen leaves Notre Dame holding 9 ND passing records and coming in second in 23 more. Tate holds 8 ND records himself and is second in another 5. Not too shabby for two guys that are leaving school early and spent their freshmen year as part of the worst offense in ND history.

The transcript of the presser is worth a read, if only for Golden's comments. Here are a few of the better ones.

On his future baseball career:

"As of now I'm going to focus on football. But who knows, maybe in five or six years I'll enter some softball league".

On where he expects to be drafted:

"Yeah, I've talked with a few people, and I think they predict me to go between the first and the seventh round, so somewhere between there. But I'm not sure. I'm just going to start working towards being up there."

On if he knew he was going to declare early:

"Absolutely not. My freshman year, you can ask some of these guys up here, you could tell me a play and I still wouldn't know how to run it."
In other news, Jimmy and Golden did share one final event with the teammates last Friday at the annual Notre Dame Football Banquet. Closed off from the public, Charlie presided at the event as the end-of-the-year award winners were announced. Here are the awards and who won.
MVP - Jimmy Clausen, Golden Tate
Nick Pietrosante Award - Kyle McCarthy
Guardian of the Year Award - Eric Olsen
Lineman of the Year - Darius Fleming
St. Joseph Valley Rockne Student-Athlete Award - Mike Anello, Chris Stewart
Friday was in fact the final team event of the 2009 season because Notre Dame will not be playing in a bowl game this year. The players voted down playing in a bowl game and Swarbrick announced the decision on Friday.
“Notre Dame institutionally always has been a strong advocate of the bowl system, and we sincerely appreciate the bowls and individuals representing them who reached out to us.” Swarbrick said. “However, the unique circumstances surrounding our program at the current time prevent us from making the commitment required to compete in a bowl game. If the landscape had been different, we would have been thrilled to take part — and we certainly look forward to being part of the bowl system in the years to come.”
In my opinion it's a good idea to pass on the bowl game this year for a number of reasons. First and foremost, with the change in coaches, it is best to let the new guy come in and focus on recruiting rather than quickly trying to install a new offense and defense in a few short weeks with a quarterback that won't be around next season and an heir apparent who is injured. Get the team in the weight room to start off-season conditioning and start the rebuild there, not on the practice field. Bowl games ideally are rewards for a strong season and I don't think anyone would apply that label to the 2009 season. And that's not to mention that ND would likely lose money on a lower-level bowl trip at a time when they have a new coach contract to fund. At this point, it's probably best to have a clean break with the 2009 season and move forward towards 2010.