Notre Dame

Jaylon Smith's freak injury comes to mind as Leonard Fournette, Christian McCaffrey skip bowl games

Jaylon Smith's freak injury comes to mind as Leonard Fournette, Christian McCaffrey skip bowl games

Jaylon Smith hasn’t been specifically mentioned by LSU’s Leonard Fournette or Stanford’s Christian McCaffrey, but both those star running backs couldn’t have avoided the freak injury that the former Irish linebacker suffered in the 2016 Fiesta Bowl. 

Smith’s injury — a torn ACL and LCL, and more importantly for his draft stock, nerve damage in his knee — came on a relatively routine play after which Ohio State offensive lineman Taylor Decker shoved Smith to the side. Smith, being the athletic freak that he was, tried to plant his left knee in the ground instead of rolling to the turf, as most players without the physical gifts possessed by Smith would’ve been forced to do. 

It’s a gruesome injury to re-watch nearly a year after it occurred — Smith’s leg, from below his kneecap to his ankle, twisted in a sickening direction. These kind of freak injuries are a common occurrence in a sport as violent as football, though. 

It just so happened that injury probably cost Smith upward of $15 million. 

So that brings us back to Fournette and McCaffrey, both of whom announced this month that they will not play in their respective bowl games and will focus on preparing for the NFL Draft.  

More significant to both than what happened to Smith, though, is just how much both Fournette and McCaffrey have been used in the last three years. Consider this:

As for Fournette, he touched the ball 682 times over his three years in Baton Rouge. That’s a lot of battering, too. 

But given what happened to Smith, it’s hard to criticize either player for making a logical financial decision. Fournette appears destined to be a top-10 pick, while McCaffrey likely will come off the board late in the first round. Let’s say Fournette goes No. 3, where CBS Sports’ Rob Rang has him projected. Last year’s third overall pick — San Diego Charges defensive end Joey Bosa — signed a $25.8 million contract with a $17 million signing bonus (albeit after a lengthy, tumultuous process). If Fournette were to play in the Citrus Bowl against Louisville and suffer a significant injury, it could drop him out of the first round and cost him no less than $15 million and potentially more than $20 million. That’s generational wealth being taken away. 

The same goes for McCaffrey, where dropping out of the first round due to a significant injury could cost him around $5 million. Why risk it to play in the Sun Bowl, a game that in the grand scheme of things won’t do much to affect Stanford’s trajectory?

That may not be good for college football, but whatever impact it has on the quality of bowl season falls well short of the financial impact an injury could have in one of these games. After all, the NFL Draft is the first chance for any of these players to make money on their football abilities, and they should be allowed to take full advantage of it in whatever way they choose. 

It’s also worth noting that there was no consideration from Smith to not play in last year’s Fiesta Bowl, which certainly was a bigger game than the 2016 Sun Bowl or Citrus Bowl. And consider what Notre Dame athletic director Jack Swarbrick, who was with Smith in the University of Phoenix Stadium locker room after his injury, said after the game:

“This is such a special kid,” Swarbrick said. “His entire focus wasn’t a bunch of questions about consequences, it was, you gotta get me back out there so I can be with my teammates. That’s what we focused on, getting him showered, getting him braced and getting him back out there.”

There’s no wrong answer to the question posed to these highly regarded NFL prospects about participating in their team’s bowl game. Keep that in mind if this trend continues beyond Fournette and McCaffrey. 

Notre Dame will play for ACC conference championship in 2020 football season

Notre Dame will play for ACC conference championship in 2020 football season

The Notre Dame Fighting Irish will compete for the ACC crown this football season.

The conference announced their updated slate of games on Wednesday, with the Fighting Irish as a de facto conference member for the 2020 season.

Included in that schedule is a marquee matchup against the defending champion Clemson Tigers, however there will be no revival of the rivalry between Miami and Notre Dame.

Notre Dame will also play one non-ACC opponent at some point this season, but that opponent has yet to be determined. Notre Dame typically plays USC and Stanford every season, but those games won’t be played since the Pac-12 previously said it will only play in-conference this season.

To go with their honorary status in the ACC, if Notre Dame wins the ACC championship game but is not selected for the College Football Playoff, they will be eligible for an Orange Bowl bid.

RELATED: Big Ten to play conference-only NCAA football schedule 'if able'


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Notre Dame - Navy football game scheduled in Dublin moved back to U.S.

Notre Dame - Navy football game scheduled in Dublin moved back to U.S.

The Navy-Notre Dame football game that was set to be played in Ireland has been relocated to the United States, due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Notre Dame announced on Tuesday that the game which was originally going to take place in Dublin on Aug. 29 will “likely” be played over Labor Day weekend, either on Saturday or Sunday.

The teams plan on playing at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium, which will be a first in the 94-year rivalry history. Every previous matchup hosted by Navy has been played at a neutral site.

“We are obviously disappointed not to be traveling to Ireland this August,” said Naval Academy Director of Athletics Chet Gladchuk. “But, as expected, our priority must be ensuring the health and safety of all involved.

“I am expecting that we will still be able to play Notre Dame as our season opener, but there is still much to be determined by health officials and those that govern college football at large.”

Jack Swarbrick, Vice President of Notre Dame, and James E. Rorh, Director of Athletics at Notre made a joint statement as well.

“Our student-athletes have had great experiences competing in Ireland and are very disappointed not to be returning to Dublin in 2020,” they said. “The change of venue has been a very difficult decision for our colleagues at the Naval Academy, but we are in full support of their choice. We are also grateful for everything our partners in Ireland have done to make this a smooth transition. We look forward to going back to Ireland for a game in the not too distant future.”

RELATED: Notre Dame will allow students back on campus this fall

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