Despite blowout loss, Notre Dame here to stay

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Despite blowout loss, Notre Dame here to stay

MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. -- Braxston Cave had a simple declaration to make as Notre Dame players came to grips with a 42-14 drubbing at the hands of Alabama.

"Notre Dame's back," Cave said. "Not how we wanted to (play) tonight, but we're back."

Being back doesn't mean being on Alabama's level, though. Plenty of Irish coaches and players talked about the gap between themselves and Alabama, which won its third championship in four seasons Monday night.

Auburn was the only team to break Alabama's stranglehold on the Coaches' Trophy since 2009. But two years after coaching Auburn to a BCS Championship win over Oregon, Gene Chizik was fired. After a meteoric rise, his program came crashing back to earth without its transcendent quarterback in Cam Newton.

That's one way to build a program, one which succeeds on the back of a star player. That's not how Brian Kelly has built Notre Dame. This is a program built to last, to succeed well into the future.

"We would certainly like to think we're not going to take a step backwards," offensive coordinator Chuck Martin said. "That doesn't mean we're going to play in the National Championship game every year, obviously that's very difficult. But the fact we can show up in the fall and that can be a realistic goal, we want to be in the BCS every year and hopefully get back to this game, and hopefully get back to this game where we play a lot better when we get here."

Manti Te'o is done at Notre Dame, as is the case for Cave, Tyler Eifert, Kapron Lewis-Moore and potentially Cierre Wood, who will decided whether to return for his senior season in a few days.

But Notre Dame has the nation's top-ranked recruiting class entering the program this year, a group stocked with the kind of "big skill" guys coach Brian Kelly and his coaching staff have targeted. Plus, Notre Dame will return plenty of talent, led by guys like offensive lineman Zack Martin, defensive end Stephon Tuitt and defensive tackle Louis Nix.

"We would certainly like to think we're not going to take a step backwards," Martin said. "That doesn't mean we're going to play in the National Championship game every year, obviously that's very difficult. But the fact we can show up in the fall and that can be a realistic goal, we want to be in the BCS every year and hopefully get back to this game, and hopefully get back to this game where we play a lot better when we get here. That's the goal, no doubt, at Notre Dame."

And, if you're looking for a positive from the BCS Championship, Everett Golson held serve, completing 21 of 36 passes for 270 yards and a touchdown against a defense that completely took away the threat of Notre Dame's running game.

"We got a lot of guys returning, a lot of guys who didn't play this year who can play," wide receiver DaVaris Daniels, who caught six passes for 115 yards against Alabama, said. "The future looks bright for us."

The clock is now ticking on the current BCS format, which will go away after next year's championship game. It'll be replaced by a four-team playoff, while Notre Dame has a tie-in with the Orange Bowl and a partnership with the ACC that'll assure the program won't be left behind. For all the consternation over Notre Dame's relevancy half a year ago, there's no questioning it now.

"When you start winning around here, you start to see what it does to the community, what it does to the fans and how it rejuvenates college football, and you realize that this program, this university means so much more," offensive lineman Chris Watt said. "And when Notre Dame's on top, college football's better."

For now, though, Notre Dame will go back to the drawing board. They now have a first-hand look at what the best college football program in the nation looks like -- and even before Monday's game, Kelly talked about getting Notre Dame to Alabama's level.

"Your program is defined in consistency, and Alabama is that model," Kelly said. "I concede to that. It's where we want to be."

No other team is there, though. Alabama is alone atop college football in terms of success as a program. Oregon is closer than anyone else, but Notre Dame is getting there.

Notre Dame couldn't make the giant leap to Alabama's level in South Florida. It'll take plenty of small steps, but this program is confident they'll get to that point.

"Obviously we didn't finish the way we wanted," Cave said, "but these guys coming back are going to be here to take the next step and finish the right way next year."

Notre Dame lands commitments from four-star twins Justin, Jayson Ademilola

Notre Dame lands commitments from four-star twins Justin, Jayson Ademilola

Notre Dame on Sunday earned verbal commitments from Jersey City, N.J. twins Justin and Jayson Ademilola. 

Justin Ademilola is rated by 247 Sports as a four-star outside linebacker and Jayson Ademilola is a four-star defensive end. Both brothers play at St. Peters Prep, the same high school at which Notre Dame sophomore quarterback Brandon Wimbush played. 

Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly, who sends a tweet reading #WeAreND following a verbal commitment, had to alter his recruiting touchdown dance a bit:

Notre Dame now has four verbal commitments to its 2018 recruiting class: Four-star quarterback Phil Jurkovec (Gibsonia, Penn.), four-star running back Markese Stepp (Indianapolis) and the Ademilola twins. 

ESPN 1000 to be Notre Dame football, men's basketball flagship radio station

ESPN 1000 to be Notre Dame football, men's basketball flagship radio station

ESPN 1000 is Chicago's new flagship radio station for Notre Dame football and men's basketball broadcasts, with a multi-year agreeement being announced Tuesday. 

Notre Dame previously had its games broadcast on ESPN 1000 from 1999-2005. As part of the deal, IMG will produce Notre Dame football broadcasts, while ESPN will produce men's basketball games. 

"We are pleased to be partnering with Chicagoland’s leader in sports, ESPN 1000," Dan Skendzel, Notre Dame’s senior associate athletics director for media operations and branding, said. "In addition to the live broadcasts of Notre Dame football and basketball games, in-depth programming in the form of the Jack Swarbrick, Brian Kelly and Mike Brey Shows will now be available on Chicago radio.”

ESPN 1000's first Notre Dame game will be the Irish's season opener Sept. 4 against Texas. 

“In the world of college sports, there is nothing more prestigious to a broadcaster than teaming with Notre Dame,” Jim Pastor, general manager, ESPN Chicago 1000, said. “Returning Notre Dame football and basketball to our airwaves is great news for their legion of fans in Chicago and a great addition to ESPN 1000’s menu of championship play by play offerings.”

Notre Dame receiver Corey Robinson to step away from playing, will remain with program

Notre Dame receiver Corey Robinson to step away from playing, will remain with program

Corey Robinson announced Wednesday he’s stepping away from his Notre Dame football playing career due to multiple concussions. 

Robinson, a rising senior wide receiver, suffered his third concussion in 12 months during spring practice earlier this year and met with a head injury specialist in April. He was elected Notre Dame’s student body president in February, founded “One Shirt, One Body” and, among other accomplishments, sang the national anthem before a Chicago Bulls-Milwaukee Bucks game in April. 

Robinson did not participate in Notre Dame’s summer workouts, which began last weekend. Robinson wore his No. 88 jersey during Notre Dame’s Blue and Gold Game in mid-April but did not participate in the annual scrimmage. 

"After much contemplation and prayer, I have decided not to continue playing football due to multiple concussions," Robinson said. "I couldn't have come to this difficult personal decision without the incredible support from so many within the Notre Dame football program. I am extremely thankful to coach (Brian) Kelly and his staff for the life-changing opportunity to play football at the greatest university in the world. I will continue to help our team as a student assistant and look forward to a great senior year."

The San Antonio native, former four-star recruit and son of NBA Hall of Famer David Robinson caught 16 passes for 200 yards with a touchdown as a junior in 2015. It was a steep drop-off from his promising 40 catches, 539 yards and five touchdowns in 2014, though he would’ve provided valuable experience to a young Irish receiving corps had he returned to play this fall. 

With Robinson officially out of the picture, Notre Dame will lean on redshirt junior receiver Torii Hunter Jr. and redshirt freshman receiver Miles Boykin, as well as sophomore tight end Alize Jones, to play prominent roles as the team’s boundary-side receiver this fall. 

The player-to-student assistant plan is one followed in the Kelly era by former defensive lineman Tony Springmann, offensive lineman Conor Hanratty and linebacker/defensive end Doug Randolph. 

Robinson admitted in February he considered graduating early and giving up football — as former offensive lineman Steve Elmer did to pursue a job opportunity in Washington D.C. — but said at the time he wasn’t ready to give up his senior year of college. Even in walking away from football, though, Robinson can be pointed to as an example of what Notre Dame wants from its student-athletes after he achieved success on the field, in the classroom and in the community.

"This was an extremely tough decision for Corey," Kelly said. "He's such a committed kid to everything he does -- whether it be academics, football, community service or campus leadership initiatives -- that he wanted to finish his four-year career on the field. He was so excited to lead a group of young receivers this fall.

"While that won't happen in the manner Corey initially intended, he will remain involved with the program on a day-to-day basis as a student assistant. He sets a remarkable example for all of our players -- not only how to represent yourself on and off the field but also how working hard through adversity can lead to tremendous success."