Underdog Irish arrive in South Florida for BCS Championship


Underdog Irish arrive in South Florida for BCS Championship

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. -- Notre Dame touched down in South Florida Wednesday afternoon to a water cannon salute and plenty of fanfare. Following the team from South Bend to South Beach is an underdog status that has lingered for months, and won't go away unless the Irish find a way to beat Alabama on Monday at Sun Life Stadium.
"We've been underdogs before, and it didn't really change our preparation," coach Brian Kelly said. "And they haven't changed the way they've done their work."
That may be the case, but there's no question Notre Dame has drawn from an underdog mentality all season. After beating Oklahoma, a few players hinted there was a little added burn given so few expected them to win. And after clinching a berth in the BCS Championship with a win over USC, defensive end Kapron Lewis-Moore was quick -- like, right when he got in the locker room -- to gloat at ESPN's Rick Reilly, who wrote plenty of scathing words regarding the Irish.
But for all those previous us-against-the-world games, that mentality only had a week to fester. It's been just over a month since the BCS Championship was set, and in that month most analysis has pointed to Alabama beating Notre Dame on Jan. 7.
"Certainly they've read all of the papers and all the pundits that have us as underdogs, they don't think much about that," Kelly said.
But there is at least some thought on the team, some motivation being drawn from Alabama's status as a heavy favorite. It'd be weird if there wasn't -- why not take a little extra swagger into Monday with an us-against-the-world mentality?
This is a Notre Dame team, though, that's good at being tactful with the media. There won't be any Jordan Lynch-esque bulletin board material coming from these guys in the next few days, something a loaded Alabama team could latch on to leading up to Monday.
"We've played a lot of games as underdogs this year, and a lot of people doubted us," wide receiver Robby Toma said. "Nothing's going to change. We're going to compete for four quarters, we're not going to guarantee a win but we're just going to go out there and play."
Temperature acclimation next up for Irish
While Notre Dame has practice indoors for most of its December workouts, adjusting to the humidity of South Florida is something the team will have to do in the next few days. Kelly said he wants his team to "feel the weather tomorrow" with a strenuous workout, and then adjust from there.
It's not that big of an issue, especially with plenty of time to prepare. But it's one that certainly merited a bit of consideration from Kelly and Notre Dame's coaching staff.
"Our guys are in great condition, great shape," Kelly said. "A couple of days outside, I think we'll be fine."
Kelly earns another award
Notre Dame picked up another individual honor Wednesday, with Brian Kelly receiving the Walter Camp National Coach of the Year Award -- his fourth major coaching honor stemming from the 2012 season. Kelly previously received the Home Depot Coach of the Year (ESPNABC), Eddie Robinson Award (FWAA) and AP Coach of the Year.
Kelly is the first Notre Dame coach to win the award, which dates back to 1967.
Notre Dame Bowl Preview Show tonight at 9 p.m.
A little tune-in plug: Comcast SportsNet will air a special 30-minute program looking back at Notre Dame's season and previewing the BCS Championship tonight at 9 p.m. It's hosted by Chuck Garfien and features Tony Rice, the last Notre Dame quarterback to win a National Championship.

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."