Blue and Gold Illustrated

May 2017 Issue

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

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6 MAY 2017 BLUE & GOLD ILLUSTRATED FAN FORUM THE FINE LINE, CONTINUED This is in reference to a letter from reader Ed Szewczyk in the "Fan Fo- rum" of the April 2017 issue of Blue & Gold Illustrated. Mr. Szewczyk was upset with Brian Kelly's remarks about the 2017 re- cruiting class to the effect that Notre Dame's class would be ranked some- where between fifth and 15th "be- cause there's a line there we can't get over based upon what our distinc- tions are here." The writer assumed that Kelly was suggesting Notre Dame could not compete with Alabama and likely other programs such as Florida State, Clemson, USC, Ohio State, etc., on the field, and, therefore, did not aspire to be as good as those teams. The BGI response was mainly based on the position there is nothing wrong with recruiting classes ranked be- tween Nos. 5 and 15, and Notre Dame can win with them. It seems clear to me that Kelly was not suggesting that Notre Dame shies away from recruiting four-star and five-star prospects. He was simply referring to the usual results based on the constrictions under which Notre Dame operates. There are fewer five-star recruits than four-star recruits, and fewer four-star recruits than three-star re- cruits. Thus, the population of highly ranked players is smaller for every- one. In addition, ND's admission stan- dards, which are higher than nearly all schools with whom it competes for recruits (including the ones I men- tioned), prevent Kelly and his staff from recruiting many of the prospects in the limited pool of four- and five- star recruits. Those are the facts of life for the Notre Dame football coach. The administration cut Lou Holtz a little slack on admission standards for whatever reason when he came to Notre Dame. I doubt the university has done, or will do, that for Kelly, perhaps based on the recent history of academic and behavioral issues that it has experienced with certain students on football scholarships (nor am I sug- gesting it should). Notre Dame gets sufficient talent to compete with anyone on the field. We need good luck with injuries. We need a better hands-on program to support our recruits and reinforce the messages about academics and personal conduct. Finally, we need the staff to do a bet- ter job of "coaching up" the players. John Arado Arlington Heights, Ill. Mr. Arado, overall we are on the same page. Alabama has had a recruiting ma- chine under Nick Saban that has been un- matched, even more so than Notre Dame from 1987-90. Still, Notre Dame over the past five recruiting cycles has collectively recruited — on paper — better than at FROM THE WEBSITE During spring break, we posed a "yes or no" question to our readers on Blue- If a higher power guaranteed you that Notre Dame would finish the 2017 regular season 9-3, would you sign up for it? We were curious because 9-3 has been viewed as "no man's land" by many Fighting Irish faithful: Good enough to make the top 25 — generally the minimum expectation — but not good enough to be classified as a "program" with the big boys in college football. Also, when a team is coming off a horrid 4-8 season like Notre Dame is, 9-3 suddenly would feel like a godsend. But should it be in head coach Brian Kelly's eighth season? Of the 108 respondents over a couple of days, 63 said they would not sign up for 9-3, while 30 said yes they would. Fifteen others were in the "it depends" fringe. They would take 9-3 — if it included a bowl win. Here were some of the responses: FightinMike87: Yes. Because without the guarantee of 9-3, I think it's more likely this team could go 8-4 than 10-2. PortND: Hell no! This would be 8 seasons under Kelly with just one top-10 fin- ish — unless that is the new expectation and bar for the program. TokyoIrish: No. To me, that would represent purgatory. IrishEyes1013: I wouldn't see 9-3 as a failure, but I would be a bit disappointed. With this group, the amount of seniors, the amount of returning lettermen and the talent assembled by Kelly & Co., anything short of 10-2 would be unsatisfac- tory for this fan. Funny little trend I found the other day: 2011 = 8-5 2013 = 9-4 2015 = 10-3 2017 = 11-2? That would mean either an 11-1 regular season with a loss in a likely playoff semifinal or a 10-2 regular season with a win in a likely NY6 game. Either scenario would be more than acceptable for me. JW1723: Yes because ND is a 9-3-type program in my opinion with the occa- sional excellent year (12-0 and 10-2). Patryk: Most years I would say no, but after a 4-8 season I'll cash the 9-3 check with a young team and new QB and coaching staff for some program stability and 2018 hype. YSUbest: Nope, it's time to win games we are not supposed to win along with the games we should. I give this team one or two mulligans, no more and it needs to win a major bowl game if it loses two games. SDS123: No. I don't care who the opponent is, it's time to deliver the goods. Every year except the 2012 anomaly has been filled with the what if's and sundry rationalizations. Tigerguy: I would since I see 7-5 this season, but even at 9-3 Kelly's gone. Fitz23: No. I agree that 10 wins and a major bowl win should be our bottom line. It's time we beat some of the big boys and acted like the alpha dogs on the field versus the puppy trying to pull the bone away. ND63: Yes, because that's better than Kelly usually does. We aren't talking Lou or Ara here. Apegambino: No. We are coming off a disaster season and ND needs a record that leaves no doubt about the Kelly era — and those records are 10-2 or better, or 7-5 or worse. 8-4 and 9-3 makes everyone wish-washy and I have my fingers crossed this won't happen. NDCorby: Absolutely not. No "it depends," or qualifications! It's year 8. Go- ing 4-8 and having one of the worst years in school history shouldn't give Kelly extra leeway. An 8-4 or 9-3 year shouldn't be applauded as a great turnaround, because ND never under any circumstances should be in the position we were in last year. Very rarely has Notre Dame been matched up against a team whose recruiting classes are ranked higher than the Irish — although that was the case in the Fiesta Bowl that concluded the 2015 campaign, a 44-28 loss to Ohio State. PHOTO BY BILL PANZICA

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