Blue and Gold Illustrated

February 2019

Blue & Gold Illustrated: America's Foremost Authority on Notre Dame Football

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8 FEBRUARY 2019 BLUE & GOLD ILLUSTRATED UNDER THE DOME From Notre Dame's Angle, It Might Be For The Best By Lou Somogyi I have much ambivalence about expanding the College Football Playoff, which it seems inevitably will happen sometime in the next decade. This will be to help appease the Power Five conferences such as the Big Ten and Pac-12, which have been left out of the dance the past two years. Deep down, I don't like the idea because it devalues the regular season. Georgia needs to understand that it was in the "eight-team playoff" already when it lost to Alabama Dec. 1 in the SEC Championship game. The 11-1 Bulldogs had lost by 20 to LSU, but still had a chance to advance to the Final Four by beating the Crimson Tide — but didn't. It's not about "eye tests." You had your chance. You either win and advance, or you don't and won't. It's no different when Notre Dame men's basketball was magnifi- cent in the Elite Eight loss to No. 1 Kentucky in 2015. You don't advance after a loss. Is 10-2 Michigan really worthy to be in an eight-team playoff after losing its final game 62-39? Be that as it may, I'm okay with enlarging to eight for selfish reasons in that a one-loss Notre Dame team would have its chances appreciably enhanced. It still would have been in the CFP at 11-1 in 2017, but not this year nor prob- ably in 2015 when it started 10-1. It depends on strength of schedule. Getting to 12-0 is extremely difficult. However, when it does grow to eight, I'd prefer (unrealistically) that it replace the conference cham- pionship games the first weekend of December. Staying At Four Is Best For College Football By Bryan Driskell There is no doubt that expanding the College Football Playoff to eight teams is good for Notre Dame. But for me, the argument needs to be more than what's best for Notre Dame. It needs to be what is best for the game as a whole. Right now there isn't a regular season in sports that mat- ters more than the college football regular season. Think about it, if Notre Dame loses to Michigan Sept. 1 the odds of it making the CFP this season are slim. Expand to eight teams and it wouldn't have mattered as much because Notre Dame would still be in, even with that loss. A game on the first weekend of the season has that kind of impact on who plays for a championship. An October loss at Purdue kept Ohio State out of the CFP, and the Buckeyes beating Michigan in the final game of the season knocked the Wolverines out. Expand to eight teams and none of those games are all that important because both Michigan and Ohio State would have made the CFP. So would Georgia, which lost to Alabama in the SEC title game and fell by 20 to LSU earlier in the season. One of the things I love most about college football is how important every game is during the regular season. Expanding the CFP starts to cheapen the impact of the regular season. You can lose by 20 to LSU (Georgia), or 29 to Purdue (Ohio State), or win your conference despite losing three games (Washington) and still have a chance to play for a championship. That is not good for the game. Point ✦ Counterpoint: WOULD YOU LIKE TO SEE THE COLLEGE FOOTBALL PLAYOFF EXPAND TO EIGHT TEAMS? On Jan. 30, 2018, Notre Dame announced the hiring of Terry Joseph to coach the Irish safeties. He arrived in South Bend with eight seasons of experience at the Power Five level, having served as the defensive backs/secondary coach at Ten- nessee, Nebraska, Texas A&M and North Carolina. In year one under the direc- tion of Joseph, the Notre Dame safeties jumped their intercep- tion total from zero to six with junior Jalen Elliott leading the way with four during the regu- lar season. BGI: How would you describe the experience so far at Notre Dame in year one for you? Joseph: "It's been awesome. Watching a program like Notre Dame from the outside, you know the prestige and the na- tional acclaim it gets. To live it on a day-to-day basis, it's been an unbelievable experience for me and my family. "Not only the football part, but off the field with the way people treat you." BGI: You've been at Power Five schools before, but what were some of the challenges or adjust- ments you've faced here? Joseph: "The biggest was the Notre Dame way. It's not a lot of rah-rah. We do what we do, and we do it on a daily basis. We don't waste a lot of time on the fluff. "Our mission is pretty clear: to graduate all of our players and win a national champion- ship. We don't go away from that every day. We're trying to develop the well-rounded student-athlete. " That's one of the biggest differences, and you can see it from the top." BGI: Did your recruiting style have to change when you go into schools or a prospect's home representing Notre Dame? Joseph: "It definitely changes because you go from recruit- ing to selecting. Every player isn't a Notre Dame player. You find yourself doing a lot of work on the front end to make sure the guy is a great fit for our program. "With that being said, you probably pass up more schools than you go in. We're really select- ing the kid that will fit the program." BGI: On the field, what are some of the traits you are looking for to fit the system? Joseph: "It goes by position measurables. You want the size, the speed and all of that, but also the intangibles like the toughness, grit, attitude, and is he a great leader? "At the end of the day, every day is not going to be perfect no matter which school the prospect chooses. You want guys who can overcome ad- versity, attack adversity, and make your team and program better." BGI: Where have starting safeties Jalen Elliott and Alohi Gilman made the biggest strides in their games? Joseph: "Those guys have really bought into our defense and the process. They've done a great job of putting themselves in a position to make plays. We talk all the time about doing your job and being in the right spot in the plays that come. "That's what they've done a really nice job of — getting in that spot. When the play is there, they've done a nice job making that play and creating turnovers at timely points of games and in big games." — Corey Bodden Five Questions With … NOTRE DAME SAFETIES COACH TERRY JOSEPH Joseph has helped the Notre Dame safeties take the next step on the field. PHOTO BY BILL PANZICA The College Football Playoff trophy might have more teams vying to capture it in an eight-team format sometime in the future. FILE PHOTO

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