Notre Dame Football

6 Thoughts on a Thursday

July 16, 2020

A wave of pessimism has taken over when it comes to playing college football this fall. Pushing things back to spring feels more likely than ever and who knows what that will mean for players moving on because of NFL opportunities or early enrollees getting to potentially be available to play.

There are too many hypotheticals to go through with all of that and it can wait until we know for sure about a season this fall.

Just like college programs, all we can do at ISD is prepare for a season to be played starting in September. The good news is that if it does happen, it could lead to a surprisingly intriguing schedule for Notre Dame. As Brian Kelly mentioned on ESPN yesterday morning, finding opponents is the least of Notre Dame’s concerns.

There will be teams willing to play them if games are happening. I laid out some scheduling scenarios for Notre Dame last Friday and though it hurts to lose USC and Wisconsin from the schedule, there are some intriguing alternative matchups.

If it’s all about the ACC, how about Florida State to close the season? For once, I might actually enjoy seeing Notre Dame play Boston College in September if they are facing Phil Jurkovec (potentially) at quarterback. That would be must-see TV.

If there are options outside of the ACC available, adding a ranked opponent like Cincinnati, who has an opening on October 10, would be fun to watch. The storyline of former Notre Dame assistant Mike Denbrock as their offensive coordinator adds some spice as well.

But if you’re looking for Hot Ones Da Bomb Beyond Insanity level of spice, how about the Irish playing an SEC opponent in addition to Arkansas?

The Razorbacks are already on the schedule and may stay there if the SEC doesn’t follow the Big Ten’s lead. There is talk of that happening. The SEC and ACC have four in-state rivalry games (Louisville-Kentucky, Florida-Florida State, Georgia-Georgia Tech, and South Carolina-Clemson) that they would like to keep. That may leave the door open for not just Arkansas to still travel to South Bend, but for another SEC team to fill-in another gap in the schedule.

This is the type of season that, if it happens, entertainment may be more important than setting up a playoff run. It should be that given that there is no way of knowing if teams will finish the season. Because of that, it would be a whole lotta fun to see Notre Dame play Florida, LSU, Auburn, Texas A&M, or even, gulp, Alabama.

I’m sure many would say that any college football would be great this fall, but I’m of the mind that if they’re going to be playing, let’s have fun with it. Make the schedule unconventional if it’s possible. Try and play opponents that you may not typically face. Throw some spice in to make it interesting.

I can’t say I’m confident that Notre Dame or anyone else will be playing ball seven weeks from now. I just hope that if they are going to play, they’ll take advantage of the strange circumstances and get a little weird with the schedule.

2. If they do play, I think we’re going to see at least a few players opt out based on the recommendations of agents and others advising them. They’re going to have to determine if the risk is worth it and for some guys who are virtual locks to go in the first round already, I’m not sure that it is.

Consider for a moment that NFL players are working to negotiate daily testing for Covid-19 to protect their health and safety. There are many NCAA programs who might not be able to afford testing once a week.

Some of these first round locks could get insured if they choose to play, but I don’t think it’s as simple as getting insurance in case of a knee injury.

What does Trevor Lawrence have to prove to be a top pick? Nothing that he hasn’t already shown on the field. I don’t know if he’d be one of the guys who chose to sit out, but he’d certainly be justified in doing so if that’s what he decided.

I would be surprised if anyone from Notre Dame decided to opt out, unless it had to do with health, because every NFL Draft prospect they have on the roster still has a lot to prove.

We’ll see if any big names decide to not play, but if some guys are skipping bowl games, there will be some who decided it’s in their best interest to not play in a shortened season.

3. I really don’t see a path to high school football in most states based on how things are trending. Virginia just canceled high school football yesterday. I expect more of those announcements to happen in the next few weeks.

I think the best-cast scenario would be the spring and if that happens, I don’t see any way that the NCAA doesn’t adjust the signing period for 2021 athletes. I can’t see a way where the coaches association won’t fight for that to be the case as well because there will be no chance to evaluate and adjust with recruiting classes.

For the sake of all high school senior football players, I hope that these guys get a chance to play. Not all of them have spots locked up. Many of them will never play football again. I just want all of these kids to have the opportunity to play their final year of high school football whether it’s this fall or they are playing under the Friday night lights in February.

4. How much of a joke is college admissions if a player can simply re-classify to playing college football this fall while it’s the summer? 

Apparently it’s a hilarious joke because top 2021 cornerback Tony Grimes‍ is somehow able to re-classify to 2020 for North Carolina right now and there are apparently others in the 2021 class who may do the same. The idea behind it has everything to do with high school football being in serious jeopardy and these players just wanting to play somewhere.

I understand the reasoning. I don’t understand how anyone can just snap their fingers and not only graduate, but somehow do everything necessary to get accepted into a university. I don’t care a player was already planning to enroll early. No way would he be able to squeeze in a semester of classes in a matter of weeks (during a freaking pandemic!).

I guess we already know what a farce academics are at North Carolina, but if this starts happening all over the country, then it only reinforces that calling a lot of these guys “student-athletes” at these schools is stretching the truth to say the least.

I’m confident that this is something you’d never see at Notre Dame and it only emphasizes the shopping down a different aisle analogy.

5. I wasn’t surprised to see JT Daniels or Jaelen Gill gain immediate eligibility at Georgia and Boston College after transferring. Nothing the NCAA does surprises me, whether it makes sense or doesn’t.

I have seen some others express their surprise that a decision for Phil Jurkovec hasn’t been announced yet. It made me wonder if Jurkovec talking openly about why he left Notre Dame has hurt his chances of having the same result as Daniels and Gill. It may be possible that Jurkovec giving an interview to The Athletic’s Matt Fortuna where he mentioned “losing like the love for the game” didn’t help the cause to play this year.

Considering Notre Dame got rid of the guy who made a lot of people not enjoy the game, the reason to leave might not seem as justified as it would have been if they had retained Chip Long.

Ultimately it may not matter if Jurkovec doesn’t get the greenlight to play soon because teams may not get the greenlight to play at all. When games do happen, I personally would like to see him out there and I’ll be very curious watching the rest of his college career.

6. Am I the only one who wants to see Notre Dame exorcise the demons by going down to Miami and beating the Canes? Probably. I know Matt isn’t excited about going back down there if Miami is added to the schedule.

Beating a team like Clemson would mean a lot more to Brian Kelly’s legacy at Notre Dame than beating Miami, but the way the Irish were handled that day was a low point for Kelly.

I know Kelly is a highly competitive person and I can imagine that he would want a do-over. If they do play this fall, and Miami sounds like they want to play Notre Dame, this game would be at the top of my list for a matchup I want to see.

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