Assorted notes: Big Ten Champs, game in Denver, and June visits
A few interesting notes from the last day or two as we push toward the summer.
While school is out, football players will report back to campus on June 7th for summer school, less than three weeks until incoming freshman and the 2010 football team get started with their summer workouts. According to some message board rumbling, offseason workouts have started even earlier for quarterback Dayne Crist, who is working out with Kyle Rudolph, Braxston Cave and Shaq Evans. They’ll be joined by Duval Kamara and Michael Floyd in the coming weeks before reporting to South Bend in early June.
(I’ll be reporting to camp around the same time, but more on that later...)
Former Notre Dame defensive end Gene Smith has plenty to say about the Notre Dame to the Big Ten rumors. Smith is now the athletic director of Ohio State, where he’s openly pulling for Notre Dame to join the 11 teams already in the conference.
“For me, I just have to believe a Notre Dame football player winning a conference championship and having that conference ring is a memorable experience, and then chasing a national championship,” Smith said for the Big Ten meetings in Chicago earlier this week. “You can do both. But when you only have one, I struggle.
“I would hope if they end up being one of the schools (invited), I hope they would consider what a conference championship means to a young person. I was blessed to be there when we were winning national championships. I won two -- one as a coach, one as a player. The landscape has changed.”
As much as I agree that the landscape in college football has changed, there’s little chance that playing for a conference championship ring would be the impetus for change. Especially in the Big Ten, which every year seems to have a distinct scheduling factor built into the formula. If the conference championship is so important, you’d think that Smith and the rest of the athletic directors would go the way of the Pac-10 and actually play for the championship.
The Brian Kelly barnstorming tour was in Denver Tuesday night, where he spoke to a group of 500 from the alumni club, including Denver Broncos Ryan Harris, Brady Quinn and David Bruton. While Kelly hit all the standard notes, here’s an interesting bit from the piece.
Kelly arrives at Notre Dame during a time of transition in college football. While conferences jockey for position in the probable realignment game, Kelly staunchly stands behind Notre Dame’s independent status.
He’s looking forward to playing Army at Yankee Stadium on Nov. 20 and Navy in Ireland in 2012. He talked of starting series with Texas and Florida, and a 2012 game against Miami at Chicago’s Soldier Field is nearly finalized. He mentioned the Irish playing a potential neutral-site game in Denver at Invesco Field at Mile High.
Kelly is reaching out to alumni on this spring barnstorming trip. Denver was his estimated 25th stop and he started the day visiting an alumni group in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. He will be in Fresno, Calif., today.
(Even more ridiculous, how about the fact that Kelly’s on stop 25 of his May tour? He’d make some political campaigns blush with his hard work.)
A final note from the Big Ten meetings, where coaches lobbied the NCAA for June official visits.
This from Dave Birkett at AnnArbor.com:
The conference’s football coaches met Tuesday to discuss legislation they want to get in front of the NCAA board of directors. One possibility? June official visits.
“So many kids are taking unofficial visits right now and the cost to families is astronomical trying to go see X amount of schools in June,” Northwestern coach Pat Fitzgerald said. “It only makes sense. How many of these kids are making early decisions, making verbal commitments, without ever taking an official visit that you can pay for to be on campus for that 48-hour window? It makes a ton of sense to us as a group.”
(Then again, Fitzgerald is likely pushing for it because there’s no difference in the Northwestern campus between the stoic summer months and football season, when dozens of crazed NU football fans flock to Ryan Stadium.)
I’d be surprised if this got approved, because there are plenty of schools in warm weather climates that don’t want the playing field leveled, but it’s a good suggestion that would show that the NCAA is adapting to the times as opposed to staying stuck in their ways.