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Notes on Spring Practice Eve

I’m planning on rolling out a big Spring Football column tomorrow morning and I’m busy at work on that, but in the mean time, here are a few notes from around the interwebs...

* Eric Hansen had a chat today at the South Bend Tribune’s website and he’s always worth a read. There wasn’t anything particularly revealing in it, but Hansen projects Cierre Wood, Jamoris Slaughter, and Steve Filer as breakout players this season.

* Lorenzo Reyes over at had another great article on the technology revolution that Brian Kelly is bringing with him to Notre Dame’s football office. The staff has installed XOS Digital’s Thunder Football Platform, a state-of-the-art computer system that allows coaches to watch and edit game video, scouting information, an analyze game tape all in one place.

Here’s more from Reyes, who quotes recruiting coordinator Chuck Martin on the system:

“We’ve all got five, six states,” Martin said. “You get kids coming in your area and you evaluate them and plug them into the computer and it automatically generates an alert to the next guy on the processor. It’s almost like an assembly line. For example, if I like a defensive lineman in my area, I evaluate him and put him in the computer system and I don’t even have to go down the hall to talk to Mike Elston. It goes right to Mike Elston. Then he evaluates him and he can push him up to Bob Diaco, our defensive coordinator. And if he likes him, he can push him right up to Brian Kelly without having to have staff meetings, without having to walk and say, ‘Hey would you look at this guy?’”

I’m convinced that this kind of thing is the future of the coaching profession, and it’ll be up to the coaches -- and the IT support staff at universities -- to make sure veteran assistant coaches, creatures of extreme habit, learn how to utilitze these things properly.

* John Mutka of the Post Tribune wrote an interesting profile on associate athletic director Jill Bodensteiner, who has a leading role for Irish athletics in compliance and legal affairs. As we see more and more big-time athletic programs fall victim to self-inflicted wounds, the role Bodensteiner, and other members of the compliance department at Notre Dame, plays is critical.

Compliance involves keeping track of 750 athletes in 26 varsity sports at Notre Dame. Of course, the biggest numbers are concentrated with 100 participants in football.

“That requires the most maintenance,” she says. “They tend to be the athletes our boosters want to give things to, to give them special treatment. So we have to be vigilant to make sure they don’t cross the line.”

According to the NCAA athletes must maintain a 1.6 GPA. Notre Dame insists on a higher eligibility standard.

“Our athletes must have a 2.0 to compete,” says Bodensteiner. “They also must declare a major by their junior year. Credit-wise that doesn’t always happen neatly.”

Athletes seldom leave Notre Dame without a diploma, especially in basketball. Both men and women tied for first nationally with a 100 percent graduation rate. Football is also No. 1 at 96 percent.

As schools like USC and Alabama find themselves in the crosshairs of the NCAA, it’s important to acknowledge the role of support staffs that monitor the daily activities of 750 varsity athletes. Great job by Mutka bringing us that story.