Notre Dame Football: Florida State Seminoles
Notre Dame pledge Shaun Crawford with nearly perfect technique on a pass breakup of a pass intended for George Campbell.
Quarterback Kyler Murray with a beautiful touchdown pass.
George Campbell coming down with the catch.
Defensive tackle Christian Wilkins against Alabama recruit Richie Petitbon.
Georgia recruit Terry Godwin makes a catch against Iman Marshall.
Quarterback Deondre Francois with a nice touchdown pass over the middle.
UNC OL pledge Tommy Hatton winning a battle against the No. 1-ranked player in the country, Terry Beckner Jr.
Oregon recruit Canton Kaumatule with a great spin move to win his one-on-one battle.
Byron Cowart with a nice move on Drew Richmond for the sack of Blake Barnett.
South Carolina commit Arden Key with the tackle.
Brandon Wimbush with a nice touch pass.
"The football partnership between the ACC and Notre Dame is a terrific enhancement for all parties," ACC commissioner John Swofford said in a release. "Notre Dame not only adds to our league's already highly ambitious schedules, it also provides the opportunity for almost all of our student-athletes to play against Notre Dame during their careers. When you add in the excitement that it brings to our fans, there's no question that this partnership is significant."
Dates were finalized through 2019, with opponents and sites set up for the six years after that. The full 2015 and 2016 schedules had already been announced last December, when this season's schedule -- the first of the ACC football agreement for Notre Dame -- was released.
"Nine additional seasons of games against Atlantic Coast Conference opponents again adds both variety and quality to future University of Notre Dame football schedules," Notre Dame athletic director Jack Swarbrick said in a release. "Over those nine years, four ACC programs that have never played in Notre Dame Stadium (Louisville, NC State, Virginia and Virginia Tech) will come to South Bend, and two others that have only played at Notre Dame one time (Wake Forest and Clemson) also will travel to our campus.
"On the other side of the coin, during that period we will take our team to four ACC campuses at which Notre Dame never has played football (Louisville, NC State, Virginia and Virginia Tech), plus three others (Clemson, Duke and Wake Forest) where our team has played only once."
Some notes on the Irish's future schedules:
- Notre Dame will get its shot at redemption against Florida State in four years, when the Seminoles visit South Bend on Nov. 10, 2018 -- three days shy of the 25th anniversary of the 1993 "Game of the Century" between these two. The Irish will return to Tallahassee on Sept. 6, 2021, Labor Day, before the Noles go back to Notre Dame Stadium sometime in 2024.
- That holiday date at FSU is actually the second of two Labor Day road games for the Irish, who travel to Louisville on Sept. 2 (Labor Day) in 2019. As of now, it does not look like Notre Dame will play any Thursday night games.
- That 2019 opener at Louisville is the first of a strenuous slate of road games for the Irish in 2019: They also go to Georgia (Sept. 21), Georgia Tech (Oct. 19) and Duke (Nov. 9). They are also expected to travel to Stanford that year, since it is an odd-number year, though no official date has been set. You can bet the Irish staff will point out this year to Peach State recruits, who will get a pair of trips back to their home state in a span of a month.
- Notre Dame gets six ACC games in 2019 and 2023, while playing just four in 2022 and 2024. The Irish, of course, have just four ACC games this year, but will play six next season.
- Notre Dame will play seven of the ACC's 14 teams in consecutive years: Miami in 2016 and 2017 and 2024 and 2025; NC State in 2016 and 2017; Wake Forest in 2017 and 2018; Virginia Tech in 2018 and 2019; Duke in 2019 and 2020; UNC in 2021 and 2022; Clemson in 2022 and 2023.
- There remains no clarity on Notre Dame's Shamrock Series game -- in which it moves a home game off-site to a metropolitan area -- beyond 2016, when it faces Army in San Antonio. Next year's game against BC is at Fenway Park.
- Not pictured in the graphic (and not-ACC related): As of this past summer, Notre Dame and Michigan State had a verbal agreement for two games in the 2020s, though they have said they may look at a single neutral-site contest.
Brian Kelly is no stranger to all of this. The Notre Dame coach is the son of an alderman. He once worked for Massachusetts state senator Gerry D'Amico. He was a driver for eventual presidential candidate Gary Hart.
A day after his Fighting Irish lost a 31-27 heartbreaker at Florida State, a defeat that kept the Seminoles' win streak alive at 23 and sent the 6-1 Irish down to No. 7 in the AP poll, Kelly took the initiative to play to his audience.
The 13-person committee will unveil its first top 25 rankings Oct. 28. Notre Dame has a bye this week, so its loss at FSU in what was arguably the best game of the year was, in effect, its last rehearsal for the committee before the group's initial rankings.
Kelly, ever the politician, made sure all noticed.
"Florida State blew the coverage and they got rewarded for it," is the line he trotted out Sunday that will draw the most attention, an assertion that has been (and will continue to be) picked apart endlessly.
"There's great disappointment," Kelly later added. "You never want to let the game be decided by a referee. You want to control the game yourself.
"What happened at the end was out of our control. We feel like we did the things necessary. We've got to be able to control finishes. That means make a couple more plays. If you've got the champ, you can't win by split decision, you've got to knock him out. I think that's what we want to take away from this."
The written records show that C.J. Prosise received blame for the costly penalty, but Kelly (and others) learned afterward that the flag was actually thrown on Will Fuller. That only further muddled the situation for Kelly, who said that there was nothing that Fuller could have done differently on the play.
Never mind that ACC supervisor of officials Doug Rhoads agreed with the call, or that seemingly every other analyst concurred as well. Never mind that, according to Kelly, officials confessed to him that they missed FSU corner P.J. Williams taking his helmet off on the field after Corey Robinson's nullified go-ahead grab, a no-call that added insult to injury. The only real point of contention, it seemed, was that the spirit of the pass interference rule was violated, a view steeped in the old-school belief across all sports that officials should swallow their whistles in a game's final minutes, especially in an instant classic between two unbeatens.
What matters among all of this are the thoughts of that 13-person committee, and if the rankings that they trot out from next week until the postseason will reflect what Kelly and Notre Dame feel was the truth of the matter Saturday night: That they were better than the defending national champions at Doak Campbell Stadium, and that they should not suffer because of the way things ended.
"I just loved our guys, their mentality going on the road in a hostile environment," Kelly said. "It really did not affect them. They played physical, controlled the line of scrimmage. We made plays against a team that had won 22 in a row. You love that about your team, its psyche, the way they went into the game. So all those are huge things."
This is college football in 2014, where every game still counts, but each game is not exactly an elimination game, not with four teams competing for the top prize at the end instead of two, not just with three Power 5 teams standing unbeaten here eights weeks through the season, with two of those (Ole Miss and Mississippi State) facing each other at season's end.
This is what Kelly -- no stranger to postseason play, having guided Grand Valley State to back-to-back Division II titles in 2002 and 2003 -- guarded against last week, saying that the trip to Tallahassee would not be a make-or-break deal for the Irish.
"It's a journey," Kelly said six days before the FSU game. "You know, this one is such that you have to persevere, and it's a long, long schedule to get there. For us, Florida State is an important game, but we've got to get the rest of the games that are equally as important. I think just pacing our football team through a long season when I was in Division II, you're playing 15 games, and here it's a long season. You just have to make sure that your calendar is stretched out so you're pacing your football team through the season."
It is foolish to assume anything in college football, least of all that Notre Dame will respond to Saturday's loss by winning its five remaining scheduled games. The Irish certainly could, though, and -- with apologies to unbeaten Marshall -- the four-team playoff is already virtually assured of featuring at least two one-loss teams. Notre Dame feels it belongs in that conversation, even without the 13th game that four conferences will offer their finalists.
So Kelly doubled-down on his stance Sunday in a defense of his players and of his fan base but, most importantly, in an attempt to convince the voices who matter that the Irish are better than the FSU team that has not lost in 23 months, and that questionable officiating was the only thing standing in their way.
He may be three decades and several gray hairs away from his previous life, but Kelly can still politic with the best of them.
SOUTH BEND, Ind. -- Everett Golson's last trip to the Sunshine State was unique, to be sure. The bells and whistles of the BCS title game presented their own set of distractions. Alabama's defense was unforgiving. There was, of course, the final score, a 42-14 humbling of then-No. 1 Notre Dame.
And then there was the aftermath, an unfamiliar feeling whose imprint remains, frankly, unknown: Golson had lost a football game that he took the first snap in -- a blemish that, given its distinction, has seemingly taken on added significance with each passing win.
Golson brings a 16-1 career record as a starter into Florida State this Saturday. That outlier is what, in many ways, sets him apart from the man likely to be under center on the other side of things, 19-0 Jameis Winston. No active FBS quarterback with at least 10 starts can touch the winning percentages of Golson (.941) and Winston (1.000), who has a national title to his name.
Golson exited Miami nearly two years ago and, unbeknownst to anyone at the time, would not play a football game again for 600 more days, thanks to an academic suspension imposed nearly five months later. The shame of discipline overshadowed the only real on-field black mark of his career. Given his inward nature while on public display, it is no easy task untangling whatever resentment has stuck with Golson from Jan. 7, 2013.
One of the first people outside of the Irish locker room to see Golson in wake of the defeat was Hugh T. Wallace, a former assistant principal at Myrtle Beach (South Carolina) High who has served as a mentor to the signal-caller since his days as a prepster. Wallace had driven down to Miami and back, there to pick Golson up from the airport at home a day after the loss to the Crimson Tide.
Little was gleaned.
"He wanders out of the terminal with his little backpack, gets in the (car) like nothing has ever happened, and he asks me, 'Did you see the game?' " Wallace recalled. "I said, 'Yeah, I watched it on television in a bar outside the lobby.' And I said, 'Didn't anybody say anything to you after the game?' He said no. I said, 'You played good, your team just got beat. Too much speed.'
"He keeps that wanting-to-play pretty internal. Every now and then he'll say, 'I'm competitive.' But almost all of that stuff he really internalizes. He's very quiet, self-determined. If he talks, it's about music. He doesn't say a lot about football. He's not your swaggering jock."
On a team that was outplayed and overwhelmed that night, Golson was solid, though not spectacular. Spotted a three-touchdown hole three Tide drives into the game, Golson finished with 21 of 36 for 270 yards with a touchdown and an interception. He added another score on the ground.
Head coach Brian Kelly quipped before this season that Golson "rode the bus" to the title game during that 2012 campaign, a comment borne out of coachspeak and one in deference to a defense that was loaded with future pros. But Golson had taken on much greater responsibility down the stretch then, leading a late comeback against Pitt and executing the game plan to a T at rival USC. He has taken almost all of the responsibility now, for better and for worse.
He remains on practically every Heisman short list, but he has turned the ball over nine times over the past three games, with the Irish surviving the last two by the skin of their teeth -- and, of course, because of late plays from their quarterback.
"I'm going to do a better job, for sure," Golson said. "I come in here every week for the last couple of weeks saying I have to do a better job. Right now, it's time for me to stop saying that and time for me to put my words into action and actually do that."
Kelly said this week he is more concerned with "self-inflicted wounds" than he is with the chaos a hostile environment in Tallahassee will present. He did not mention his quarterback -- or anyone, for that matter -- but he no longer needs to.
"Just it goes back to me," Golson said after his last win. "I just got to prepare. I think the game is big, but this week is going to be big in how we prepare and how we kind of take care of our business."
For Golson, that means winning football games. Business has been good. Only one person is doing better. Golson gets a chance to change that in the only state he has left unfulfilled.
Max Redfield -- No. 10 himself, just like Daniels -- sported a towel hanging from his uniform Saturday with hand-written numbers: 6 (KeiVarae Rusell), 8 (Kendall Moore) and 11 (Ishaq Williams), saying that was all he could fit.
"He was positive about it, that's the kind of guy he is," Luke said. "But he came up to me and was like, 'Keep balling man, I love you.' I said, 'I love you, too.' That was it."
Collectively, this all made for the most public display -- and even mere mention, really -- of any of the five Irish players who have been suspended since Aug. 15. Notre Dame, after holding a press conference that day to announce its internal academic investigation, has said it would not be revealing any of the results from the players' hearings, leaving those decisions in the hands of the college kids who were involved.
So there was Russell, the only of the five players whose fate seems remotely clear, announcing his intentions on Instagram on Friday. And there was head coach Brian Kelly, who has been the de facto spokesman for this ordeal despite not receiving full information, standing up there at the podium some three times a week, doing his best to decipher the indecipherable for everyone.
And, after escaping North Carolina on Saturday, winning 50-43 to get to 6-0 before their showdown at Florida State, there were Notre Dame players talking about those who weren't there, finally letting some of their feelings show as a process that began on July 29 -- when the Office of General Counsel initiated an investigation when the compliance office was referred to evidence -- continued on through the weekend with little clarity.
"Obviously we've shown appreciation to them, because they've been out there with us over the summer and in the spring, working just as hard as we work," Redfield said. "They're no different than us. They're still our brothers even though they had to leave the team."
Kelly has driven home the message of blocking out noise since he first arrived on campus five years ago. He has said throughout this season that he feels for the suspended guys, though he cannot spend too much time playing the what-if game.
But even he was fine with his players expressing themselves in the manners that they did this past weekend, recognizing that keeping quiet for nearly two months could not have been the easiest thing for curious teammates.
"I think they're being good teammates and just recognizing their teammates in that situation," Kelly said Sunday. "I'm generally not big on that, but they've handled themselves very well through social media. They have not formed opinions of such, and so I did see a towel, I did not make a big deal of it because I thought that our team as a whole has handled the situation very well and felt that I was OK with it."
Notre Dame faces its biggest opponent yet in five days, as it puts its perfect record on the line at the defending champs' house, the location perhaps not being such a bad thing.
"I think it can work both ways," Kelly said of playing on the road. "One way is you're at home and it's great to be at home. Being away there can be a lot of noise. It just depends on your team. This team, the great thing about it is that they love to play and they believe they're going to win. I really don't know if it matters one way or the other."The Irish can enter Tallahassee a confident bunch. They have not lost in two months, despite the absence of five players creating an eternal silence that seems as deafening as most outside noise is.
- Colleague Travis Haney says Notre Dame can spoil Florida State's season.
- Brady Quinn is back in business, finally getting a chance with the Miami Dolphins, our James Walker writes.
- Our friend Aaron Horvath recaps Monday's ESPN #BusBlitz at Notre Dame.
- SI.com's Brian Hamilton spends some time with Jaylon Smith, who seeks every answer in his pursuit of greatness.
- Did BlueandGold.com's Andrew Owens find the Fighting Irish's first Under Armour jersey?
The fifth-year Notre Dame head coach did his best impersonation of the Irish's famed "Four Horsemen" Friday, riding into practice on a horse named "Patton."
The Irish were beginning their final off-site practice of fall camp at Culver Military Academy in Culver, Ind., and Brian Kelly hoped to take some of the edge off by surprising his players with his entrance.
"We're playing two teams that feature a horse prominently as their mascots, that would be Florida State when they ride that horse out, and USC, and we need to beat both of them," Kelly said in a video posted on UND.com, the school's athletic website. "So it was a little way for me to remind our guys that's coming real soon."
Neither Chief Osceola nor Traveler could be reached for comment as of press time. And was it just us, or did Kelly's voice sound a little hoarse in that video?
- Notre Dame will be hosting NC State in 2017 before going to Raleigh in 2022.
- Jaylon Smith feels ready to handle pressure, JJ Stankevitz writes on CSNChicago.com.
- The Elkhart Truth's Rachel Terlep looks at 2014 Irish opponent North Carolina.
- The Oct. 18 Notre Dame-Florida State tilt will rekindle memories of 1993, Bill Bender writes on SportingNews.com.
There were several high-profile quarterbacks in attendance, and they lived up to the hype for the most part. Deondre Francois, who recently transferred to IMG Academy, made numerous impressive throws. The 6-foot-2, 188-pound signal-caller has a top three of Oregon, Auburn and Florida State and is planning to make his decision at the end of July.
Prospects from across the country were polled on which school has been the best at developing each position over the past 10 years. Did your school make the list?
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In the Class of 2015, the race has been on for months for programs in need of signal-callers.
With the calendar having turned to June, there are more than 55 quarterbacks who have given verbal commitments to FBS programs.
Most recently, Florida snagged West Coast prospect Sheriron Jones over the weekend. In all, 39 of 62 programs in the Power Five conferences have QB commitments, and more are on the way.
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Week 8 schedule
Thursday, Oct. 16
- Virginia Tech at Pittsburgh
- Notre Dame at Florida State
- NC State at Louisville
- Clemson at Boston College
- Virginia at Duke
- Georgia Tech at North Carolina
- Syracuse at Wake Forest
Why you should come along: Sure, the term "Game of the Century" is overused, but the classic 1993 showdown of No. 1 Florida State and No. 2 Notre Dame is justifiably in the conversation. It was a game that lived up to the considerable pregame hype. The Seminoles could be No. 1 again, and the Fighting Irish could be looking to knock them from that perch again. Florida State's Jimbo Fisher and Notre Dame's Brian Kelly are two of the best coaches in college football, restoring relevancy and mystique to programs that were ridiculed more than revered not long ago.
The trip to Doak Campbell is the first true road game for Notre Dame -- there are neutral-site games against Purdue and Syracuse. While it is not a conference game, the national implications could be felt all the way into January. The Irish have a tough schedule, but a victory at Florida State would go a long way toward compensating for an early loss, perhaps against Michigan or Stanford.
As for Florida State, this could be a game in which a loss would shift the 2014 season's narrative. Even as the likely preseason No. 1 team, a one-loss Florida State team is not guaranteed to make the College Football Playoff, and a loss to Notre Dame could be tough to overcome.
Putting the playoff talk to the side, it is just a welcoming sight to see these programs playing each other again, especially considering just how memorable the 1993 meeting was. Notre Dame fans still believe that the Fighting Irish deserved to travel to Florida for the Orange Bowl to play the Seminoles rather than Nebraska. Florida State defeated the Huskers, giving Bobby Bowden his first national championship.
Pittsburgh hosts Virginia Tech two days earlier, but you might be better off soaking in the pregame scenes in Tallahassee.
Clemson athletic director Dan Radakovich, one of 13 members on the committee, said plainly, "It’s going to be the totality of the schedule. Being a conference champ is one of the top priorities as is winning the games, so there’s really not just one factor that is overwhelming the others. It’s the body of work associated with the program."
In the selection committee procedures, released earlier this month, there is a brief mention about how strength of schedule will be evaluated. The committee will be given data from SportSource Analytics, which will provide stats on every FBS team, along with opponent records and opponents' opponents' records. Unlike the basketball model, which relies heavily on RPI, the committee will not use just one data point.
That means much of this is left up to interpretation. The Pac-12, for example, finished second in the ESPN Stats & Information Conference Power rankings to end the 2014 season. The Pac-12 plays nine conference games. The ACC, on the other hand, finished fifth in the same set of power rankings. The league decided to stick with eight conference games. Does this automatically mean the Pac-12 gets a built-in advantage based on playing a conference schedule that is perceived to be more difficult?
Nobody really knows until we see the committee pick four teams based on on-field results.
What we do know is three conferences have opted for nine league games. That is a big reason why the ACC will require teams to play at least one power-five opponent in nonconference per year, beginning in 2017. Notre Dame is included in that group; BYU is not.
Will that be enough?
The Pac-12 already plays a tougher conference schedule, plus most of its teams play power-five opponents. Last season, only four teams did not have at least one power-five nonconference game. Four -- including Oregon and USC -- had two.
"It’s a wait and see," Miami athletic director Blake James said. "It will take some programs not making it to the final four and having the committee or someone come out and address that it was a scheduling issue that prevented them from being there. With that said, we all have to be cognizant of the fact that our schedules are going to be evaluated and you want to be one of the four teams. The challenge there is no one knows who is going to be the dominant program three, five, 10 years out, which is how we’re doing our schedules. You can schedule an elite program right now and by the time you play them, they might not be an elite program and vice versa. It’s a real challenge and it will be interesting to see how it plays out."
You saw examples of that throughout college football last year. Oregon had Virginia and Tennessee, power-five opponents, yes, but both teams finished with losing records. Ohio State scheduled Cal when the Bears were good, not knowing they would have a 1-11 season when the teams ended up playing. Perhaps more scheduling contracts will be broken in the playoff era, as teams jockey to get current elite teams on the slate.
"In Blacksburg, if we have Michigan and Notre Dame on the schedule, I think our fans would be fine with that," Virginia Tech athletic director Whit Babcock said.
Elite games like that are hard to find, because both parties have to be willing to play one another. That could make more scheduling challenges for everyone, especially since the Pac-12, Big 12 and Big Ten will have fewer nonconference spots open because they play more league games.
"The cost of guarantees continues to rise, too," James said. "You have three of the five conferences that are playing nine games so right away there are fewer games needed and geographically you want to try to stay within your area and schedule games that make sense for your fan base and alumni base. When you put all those things together it makes scheduling already challenging and I do think it will be more challenging in the future."
Given all the challenges and the uncertainty about strength of schedule during playoff evaluation time, ACC athletic directors left open the possibility that they could change their minds on scheduling. Like James said, it's wait-and-see.
"As we get through the first cycle of this new football playoff, I think it will be telling for us as to whether or not this decision is the right decision or whether we need to do something else," Florida State athletic director Stan Wilcox said. "I think we felt comfortable knowing we're not the lone conference out there, that we're comfortable being at eight."
When it comes to running backs, the state of Texas is loaded. Ten running backs represent the Lone Star State in the ESPN 300. Of those 10, five are committed. A total of seven running backs in the state have reported FBS commitments.
ESPN 300 RBs from the state:
No. 50 Ronald Jones II: Ranked the nation’s No. 3 running back, Jones is an explosive, game-changing back who -- as scary as it might sound -- will only get better. Jones committed to Oklahoma State on April 6 and finished his junior season with more than 2,400 rushing yards and 39 touchdowns.
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2. The good and bad of Twitter: the travel nightmare endured by Ohio State offensive coordinator Tom Herman in Atlanta, when he spent 19 hours stuck on an icy interstate, is only a slight exaggeration of the road-warrior sagas that FBS recruiters go through every January. Herman used Twitter as lifeline and diary during his overnight stay. Then there’s Syracuse coach Scott Shafer, who, unaware of how serious conditions were, tweeted that Atlantans were “softnosed.” Shafer meant it as a chain-jerk, but it was a classic ready-fire-aim use of the medium. We’ve all been there.
3. Alabama has a commitment from kicker J.K. Scott of Denver Mullen High, which rings a bell for anyone who remembers Wide Right I and II. After Florida State lost to Miami in consecutive seasons, knocking itself out of the race for No. 1, Seminoles coach Bobby Bowden had enough. In Feb. 1993, he signed the best high school kicker in the nation, Scott Bentley, also from the Denver area. Less than a year later, Bentley kicked the field goal that gave Bowden the 1993 national championship.