Blue and Gold Illustrated

January 2024

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

Issue link:

Contents of this Issue


Page 5 of 55

6 JANUARY 2024 BLUE & GOLD ILLUSTRATED N otre Dame quarterback — or as of Dec. 11, ex-Notre Dame quar- terback — Sam Hartman posted a video on Instagram that morning that was more than five minutes long, thanking college football. After a six- year career, with some of the gaudiest volume stats in the history of the sport, H a r t m a n f i n a l ly said goodbye. A s t h e v i d e o opened, his first w o r d s s u m m e d up a pessimist's view of his time in South Bend. "Often, a jour- ney begins with a grand destination in sight, with rigid goals and timelines set in stone," Hart- man said. "Unfor- tunately, to many people's dismay, the journey is any- thing but." That's not what he was talking about when he said that, of course. Hartman went through a lot in six years, includ- ing a surgery to remove a blood clot that involved taking out one of his ribs right before football season in 2022. But in his 340 days at Notre Dame, Hartman's Irish team fell short of its goals and did not reach its preferred destination, and that's all some fans will remember. It shouldn't be, though. Hartman's season with the Irish wasn't perfect, and I don't think any- one, including Hartman would argue it was. Notre Dame played four games against teams that were ranked at the time and only won two of them. Among opponents listed in the final College Football Playoff rankings, the Irish went 1-3, and some of — but not all — the three losses fell on the quarterback. The Wake Forest transfer couldn't pick up two key fourth-and-shorts against Ohio State, and the Irish lost by three. He threw 3 interceptions against Louisville and 2 more, including a pick six against Clemson. After that last game, Hartman was apoplectic at him- self, and he had a reason to be. "I played very poor today," Hartman said. "Didn't play well enough to be a win- ning quarterback, to be a winning foot- ball team. … If you want to mention people on Twitter, you want to blame O C s, yo u wa n t to blame Coach [Marcus] Freeman, blame me." Those who en- tered the season believing anything l e ss t h a n No t re Dame's first na- tional champion- s h i p s i n ce 19 8 8 would mean ac- quiring Hartman was a waste of time likely felt validated after his perfor- m a n c e a g a i n s t Clemson. But they're wrong. First of all, when you look at the num- bers, you'll be more impressed than you think. Hartman was Notre Dame's most efficient quarterback (minimum 100 at- tempts) since Kevin McDougal in 1993. Despite the hardships against the best defenses — and it's worth remember- ing that the Irish faced four of the top 25 teams in points allowed per game — Hartman led a top-10 scoring offense. The last time the Irish had that was 2005. Brady Quinn was the quarterback. Hartman is the only transfer addi- tion in the long, storied history of Notre Dame football to be named a captain in his first season. That doesn't happen by accident, and it wasn't even a surprise when the Irish announced it. Regarding the losses, Hartman cer- tainly could have played better, but Notre Dame could have given him more help. The wide receiver corps was suspect to begin with, but after four of its preseason top seven suffered various injuries, it be- came an insurmountable problem. Freeman admitted late in the season that his transition from Wake Forest's slow-mesh run-pass option offense to the Irish's pro-style scheme was always going to be an uphill battle, and yes, first-year offensive coordinator Gerad Parker bears some of the blame, too. "I know Sam tries to own everything," Parker said Nov. 14. "That's not true. It's me. We'll own that together." That's not what you'll remember when you look back on the season of Sam Hartman, though. At least, that shouldn't be the first thing that comes to your mind. You'll remember the life Hartman in- jected into the program from the mo- ment he arrived, generating incredible amounts of hype that helped incentivize ESPN's College GameDay to visit South Bend. The eight 40-point performances, including five at home. The love and ap- preciation he constantly expressed for his new home in South Bend. "If I'm blessed to have kids, I hope I can bring them back and they play a highlight," Hartman said after Notre Dame beat USC. "I'm so grateful for that. Grateful for the fan base and ev- erything. I freaking love the Irish." You'll remember the standing ovation he received as he ran out of the tunnel during the Senior Day ceremony Nov. 18 before a game against his former team, and you'll think about why that hap- pened. When Notre Dame Stadium put Hartman on the Jumbotron that day and played Whitney Houston's "I Will Al- ways Love You," it wasn't lying. Even the pessimists will eventually see that. The results might have fallen short, but the journey did not. ✦ In his 12 starts at Notre Dame, Hartman completed 191 of 301 attempts (63.5 percent) for 2,689 yards with 24 touchdown and 8 interceptions. PHOTO BY CHAD WEAVER OFF THE DOME JACK SOBLE Staff writer Jack Soble has covered Notre Dame athletics for Blue & Gold Illustrated since August 2023. Contact him at Sam Hartman Leaves Successful, If Imperfect, Legacy At Notre Dame

Articles in this issue

Links on this page

Archives of this issue

view archives of Blue and Gold Illustrated - January 2024