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Friday night notes: Computer fail edition

(To all the loyal readers of the blog, the postings this weekend might be a little light, as I turned on my laptop yesterday to hear everything boot up correctly, but the screen decided to stay black. NOT. GOOD. The fine people of Apple are working on it, but as of now I’m sans computer and sans all my Irish-centric bookmarks, robbing me of few tidbits I was hoping to dazzle you with. Until I get a computer back, the weekend updates might be a little lighter than usual. Apologies in advance, and don’t worry the laptop and scoop with be back and better than new.)

* While more than a few people are bemoaning a tough recruiting defeat, Brian Kelly and staff trudged on in California, visiting one of the other four key recruits we mentioned, safety Dietrich Riley. According to, Riley was visited by defensive coordinator Bob “Baby Blue” Diaco, outside linebackers coach Kerry Cooks, tight ends coach and West Coast recruiter Mike Denbrock, and head coach Brian Kelly. The coaches met with Riley, his family, and his coaches after one of Riley’s high school basketball games.

“It went well,” Riley told Irish Illustrated. “I was impressed. He showed us some information on the graduation rates, which is 96-percent and makes all the other universities look poor.”

More interesting than graduation rates was Kelly’s potential plan for Riley -- which wasn’t at safety, but possibly on the offensive side of the ball.

“He wants me at running back or wide receiver, but will give me the opportunity to be on defense,” Riley said. “He wants the ball in my hands.”

Riley has UCLA still at number one, with three others -- Notre Dame, USC, and LSU -- all trailing right behind. I credit Kelly for trying to tweak his pitch, knowing full well that giving Riley a chance to score touchdowns could be something that he really wanted. While Rick Neuheisel may be the man to beat here, Kelly at least played every hand he could.

* Sports Illustrated’s Andy Staples had a nice article on Kelly’s work on the recruiting trail, pointing out the difference in recruiting philosophy between Kelly and his predecessor Charlie Weis.

As he stood on the field at Cincinnati’s Nippert Stadium last April, Brian Kelly explained his recruiting philosophy. At Grand Valley State, Central Michigan and Cincinnati, Kelly had to zero in on the players the big boys didn’t want. At one point in the conversation, these words passed his lips.

“I’m not comfortable with four-star guys,” Kelly said.

Last week, Kelly arrived at the American Football Coaches Association convention wearing a tie festooned with a leprechaun pugilist. A pin bearing the letters N and D gleamed proudly from Kelly’s lapel. The conversation turned to his recruiting philosophy, prompting an obvious question. Now that he’s the coach at Notre Dame, how does Kelly feel about four-star (and five-star) recruits?

“I don’t really know that my philosophy has changed relative to the process,” Kelly said. “I can project because of my background. I think I’ll continue to do that, so maybe I won’t be necessarily just about four- and five-star guys. But as it relates to this year, right now, that’s who’s been recruited. Those have been identified by the former staff, and I’m really just trying to reel this one in.”

This seems to get some Irish fans incredibly worried, and is used by many skeptics to support the thesis that Kelly isn’t cut out for recruiting at a big-time program like Notre Dame. I’m not one of those people. The recruiting game has changed in the past ten years and while there’s a definite correlation between teams that win the national recruiting rankings and the national championship, it’s foolish to discount Kelly’s track record for developing unheralded recruits into top-flight players. Kelly has proved he’s willing to go toe-to-toe with recruiting giants like Urban Meyer and Jim Tressel this year, but also has the confidence in his abilities as a head coach to recruit players like unheralded tight-end/lineman Tate Nichols.

Sites like Rivals and Scout have shown that they’re good at projecting the top 50 to 100 players in the country, but as Kelly and many other smaller schools have proved, there are far more than 100 elite players in the country each year.

Add Staples to a group of well-respected national writers that think Kelly will do big things at Notre Dame. I haven’t found a single prominent writer across the country that I’ve talked to that didn’t have great things to say about Notre Dame’s new coach.

* On the topic of recruiting, Kelly recently offered a third quarterback a scholarship to go along with the two commitments already with the Irish, Andrew Hendrix and Tommy Rees. Cincinnati Bearcat commitment Luke Massa will take an official visit to Notre Dame on January 29th, which is turning into a gigantic recruiting weekend for the new staff.

Rees is already enrolled at school and Hendrix welcomed the competition, so there’s no worries of a defection from the guys currently in the fold. I’m going to defer to Kelly and offensive coordinator Charley Molnar on this one, but we don’t have to look too far in the rearview mirror to find examples of multiple quarterback recruits not working. Whether it’s Demitirus Jones and Zach Frazer, and likely another blue-chip quarterback recruit committing next year, I expect one of these guys -- and probably two -- to finish their college career at a different school.

* I’d be foolish not to point you all to the heroic efforts of Notre Dame student-athletes present and past after the earthquake in Haiti. Notre Dame is donating all gate receipts and concessions profit from the weekend basketball games to Haiti relief. The men play DePaul on Saturday and the women play West Virginia on Sunday. If you’re around, go watch some hoops for a good cause.

As for alums, former lacrosse player Angela Dixon Guerrea is in Haiti with a team of fellow doctors helping victims. Dixon and I ran around in the same circle of friends at ND, maybe possibly making me a better person by the transitive property. (I’ll need some of our cleverest comments to help me figure that one out...)

Here’s the article from the Philadelphia Inquirer about the good work the team of doctors from Cooper University Medical Center are doing.