- Golden Tate thinks he can excel in the Lions' offense, our Michael Rothstein writes.
- The Dolphins released Brady Quinn, our James Walker writes.
- Tom Mendoza describes how Brian Kelly is building a Notre Dame program that will win.
- Notre Dame opens its season under a cloud of uncertainty, LaMond Pope writes in the Chicago Sun-Times.
- The Irish will sing the alma mater after every game this year, Rachel Terlep writes in the Elkhart Truth.
SOUTH BEND, Ind. -- The four Notre Dame players at the heart of the school's academic probe will not play in the No. 17 Fighting Irish's season opener Saturday against Rice, coach Brian Kelly said Tuesday.
Wide receiver DaVaris Daniels, defensive end Ishaq Williams, cornerback KeiVarae Russell and linebacker Kendall Moore have all been suspended since Aug. 15 following an internal investigation that the school launched surrounding potential academic misconduct. Daniels, Williams and Russell had entered fall camp as projected starters. None of the four players were on the team's Week 1 depth chart released Tuesday.
Fall classes started Tuesday at Notre Dame, and Kelly said he will likely have more information on the status of the investigation from athletic director Jack Swarbrick at some point next week.
"I'm sure Jack will inform me once he gets information," Kelly said. "He's pretty good at getting right back with me. So it's not something where I feel I've got to pick up the phone. ... Jack Swarbrick is great with immediately getting me information that is needed relative to making decisions for our football team."
Kelly, who signed an unspecified contract extension with Notre Dame before the 2013 season opener, insisted that he has not felt brushed aside during the investigation and that he has not been blindsided by the academic or administrative side of the school.
"I don't even know what that feels like," Cody Riggs said of the memory.
Cold weather was about the only thing Riggs was unfamiliar with upon his arrival from Florida. The graduate transfer has played cornerback, nickelback and safety. He has defended passes against the best of the SEC and has gained first-hand lessons from a family long on football lineage.
"He clearly is our top guy," head coach Brian Kelly said, adding, "He's been more than advertised for us. He's been a leader, he's been accountable, he's been a guy that can play multiple positions. It's going to be difficult now to play him in multiple positions."
Riggs' transfer was borne by academic desires as much as football ones. He earned his undergraduate degree as a Gator in family, youth and community sciences. He enrolled this summer in Notre Dame's master of science in management program.
He was thrown into an accelerated program of a different kind this summer as he tried to learn a new defense, which helped for the simple fact that his fellow teammates were also still adapting to new coordinator Brian VanGorder.
"I was struggling this summer because I just got here, it was rough," Riggs said. "But I think I'm very comfortable with it, with the terms. The language was completely different and that was the hardest part for me. But now that the language is down I communicate better with the coaches and explain to them what I don't understand and why is this that."
Added VanGorder: "He was at Florida with Coach (Will) Muschamp. He’s been through a lot of scheme work in his career. His value to us has been invaluable, so to speak. It’s been great to have him.”
Riggs will also have a chance to boost the Irish's anemic punt return game, as Kelly anointed him and running back Greg Bryant as his primary punt returners. Riggs was a kick returner at St. Thomas Aquinas (Fla.) High and spent plenty of time on special teams while in Gainesville, but never as the punt returner, a role he asked about upon his arrival to Notre Dame. He said he is relishing the chance to get another 10 chances or so to impact each game.
Regardless, Riggs' role will be huge, especially with Russell not currently in the picture. At Florida, the 5-foot-9, 185-pounder tallied 107 total tackles (nine for loss), two sacks, an interception, a forced fumble and eight pass break-ups in a variety of roles.
"You can see that he's not afraid of anything," defensive backs coach Kerry Cooks said. "He's played in the SEC, he's played against high-level wide receivers and quarterbacks for years. He's got awesome leadership; doesn't say a lot vocally, but he comes to work every day, preparation is on point. So I'm very, very pleased. I told him that he's the best free-agent pickup that I've had since I've been in college football."
Riggs' father is former All-Pro NFL running back Gerald Riggs. His brother, Gerald Jr., starred as a running back Tennessee before playing briefly in the NFL and CFL. His uncle, Bobby Brown, also played briefly in the NFL, after starring as a receiver at Notre Dame.
Riggs was familiar with the Irish thanks to that connection, and thanks to his old Florida roommate, current Boston College quarterback Tyler Murphy. Murphy's father, Peter, is a die-hard Notre Dame fan who gave Riggs a call shortly after he landed with the Irish.
"Seeing Cody go to Notre Dame and get a chance to get his MBA there and play there, me and my dad are both excited for him and happy for him," Tyler Murphy said. "We're looking forward to seeing him finish off his career and have a great season."
- Rice receiver Jordan Taylor (foot) is questionable for Saturday, Joseph Duarte writes in the Houston Chronicle.
- The Wall Street Journal's Sharon Terlep looks at if Notre Dame football is too demanding.
- Notre Dame is pleased with James Onwualu's transition to linebacker, JJ Stankevitz writes on CSNChicago.com.
- The Irish hope Corey Robinson's jazz hands are up to the task, Chris Hine writes in the Chicago Tribune.
- Bob Elliott talks linebackers, Kyle McCarthy and more, per BlueandGold.com's Dan Murphy. (Subscription required)
Ohio State quarterback Braxton Miller missing the season could hit the school, retailers and Nike in the wallet.
Only four players in all of college football are more merchandised than Miller, according to jersey options matched to the most marketable players that are being sold on official school website stores.
Oregon is selling 25 different jerseys, counting colors and sizes, of No. 8, quarterback Marcus Mariota.
Michigan offers 17 different versions, in blue and white, in infant, youth, toddler, women's and men's cut, of No. 98, worn by its quarterback Devin Gardner.
Notre Dame has 15 different jerseys of its quarterback Everett Golson, who wears No. 5.
The University of Alabama website features 10 different jersey choices of No. 4, the same number worn by its star running back T.J. Yeldon.
Ohio State's official store is selling seven versions of Miller's No. 5.
That's even more jersey options (six) than Florida State fans have of No. 5 to choose from, the number worn by Heisman Trophy winner Jameis Winston.
The NCAA and its schools have long contended that numbers don't necessarily correspond to current players, but common sense, as proven by all the cases above, suggests otherwise.
While players one day might be able to realize a percentage of the business from their jersey sales, the recent O'Bannon ruling did not include commentary on this area.
It's not known how many No. 5 Ohio State jerseys have been produced for this season, but Miller's absence will be the biggest hit to the college jersey marketplace in two years. In August 2012, LSU safety Tyrann Mathieu was dismissed from the team weeks before Baton Rouge retailers got their shipment of No. 7 jerseys. The number is finally fashionable again thanks to it being given to Leonard Fournette, the nation's top running back recruit.
- Jimmy Clausen is your new No. 2 quarterback for the Bears.
- The Lions have moved TJ Jones to the PUP list, our Michael Rothstein writes.
- Former walk-ons Connor Cavalaris, Charlie Fiessinger and Tyler Plantz have all been granted scholarships for this season.
- Notre Dame is not worried about its running back dynamic, JJ Stankevitz writes on CSNChicago.com.
- Everett Golson is now taking charge at Notre Dame, Chris Hine writes in the Chicago Tribune.
Beginning Aug. 3, we're counting down the days until the college football season with a look at the 25 most interesting people in the sport.
SOUTH BEND, Ind. -- In the days after Everett Golson learned he wouldn't be allowed to play the 2013 season, questions surrounded him: Was an eventual return to Notre Dame possible? Did Notre Dame even want him back? Would he transfer?
Hugh T. Wallace drove more than 800 miles from Golson's hometown of Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, to South Bend to get to the bottom of things. Together, the exiled Fighting Irish quarterback, his hometown mentor and assistant Tony Alford gathered on Alford's back porch to discuss Golson's options.
They had just learned Golson would be suspended for the 2013 fall term because of what he called "poor academic judgment." He was told that summer school was off the table, too, and that he could apply for readmittance to Notre Dame for the spring semester. If Golson thought about transferring, it's not something he discussed publicly.
"It was the first time I ever heard Everett speak for himself at length," Wallace, the retired Myrtle Beach High assistant principal, said. "He doesn't say a lot."
Previewing the 2014 season for the Notre Dame Fighting Irish:
Key returners: QB Everett Golson, RB Tarean Folston, RB Cam McDaniel, RB Greg Bryant, TE Ben Koyack, LT Ronnie Stanley, C Nick Martin, RG Christian Lombard, DT Sheldon Day, LB Jaylon Smith, LB Joe Schmidt, S Matthias Farley, S Max Redfield, S Austin Collinsworth
Key losses: QB Tommy Rees, RB George Atkinson III, WR TJ Jones, TE Troy Niklas, LT Zack Martin, LG Chris Watt, DE Stephon Tuitt, DT Louis Nix, LB Dan Fox, LB Carlo Calabrese, CB Bennett Jackson
Most important 2014 games: Sept. 6 vs. Michigan, Oct. 4 vs. Stanford, Oct. 18 at Florida State, Nov. 8 at Arizona State, Nov. 29 at USC
Over/under Vegas odds: 7.5 (pre-suspensions)
Instant impact newcomer: Redshirt senior cornerback Cody Riggs did enough this summer and in fall camp to earn a starting job after transferring from Florida. But Riggs' role has become even more important after KeiVarae Russell (and three others) were suspended amid an academic probe. Riggs is a physical, versatile corner who brings along plenty of SEC experience and has proven to be a stabilizing force in light of Russell's suspension. He will likely prove to be one of the bigger fifth-year pickups in college football this season.
High point from 2013: It certainly didn't look like it at the time, but a 17-13 victory over Michigan State on Sept. 21 proved to be a huge win for the Irish and one that might have ended up changing the landscape of the national title race. The game was ugly, with poor offensive play all afternoon. Little did anyone know the Spartans would win the rest of their games, finish 13-1 and win the Rose Bowl. How much MSU learned from that defeat is anyone's guess, but it's not a stretch to think a 13-0 Spartans squad could have been No. 2 at the end of the regular season and facing Florida State in the BCS title game. Instead, one-loss SEC champion Auburn earned the shot.
Low point from 2013: A Nov. 9 loss at Pitt was a huge letdown, as the Irish entered the game with just two defeats and BCS bowl hopes still alive. Turnovers and mental mistakes in the Steel City did them in, though -- characteristics unbecoming of a Brian Kelly team in November. When Kelly said after the season that 2013 was a good year that could've been great, it is safe to assume the Panthers game was the one at the top of his mind. A Week 2 loss at Michigan also hurt -- because a loss to Michigan always hurts. But the ramifications of the Pitt defeat were bigger.
Best-case scenario for 2014: The optimistic view sees a young Notre Dame team that does not play a true road game until Oct. 18 at Florida State. Until then, Golson and the Irish take care of business early and race to a 4-0 start before stumbling into Stanford. A back-loaded schedule makes even a confident team trip into a few road blocks, but Notre Dame manages to finish 9-3 and heads to one of the better ACC bowl games. All in all, it's a very strong season for a team facing so much uncertainty on the defensive side of the ball, especially given the camp suspensions. (We could see 10-2 and an access bowl as a best-case scenario with all of the currently suspended players on board.)
Worst-case scenario for 2014: This is a tough one to project, given the uncertainty surrounding the currently suspended Russell, DaVaris Daniels, Ishaq Williams and Kendall Moore, but the weight of those players' losses might actually be more than the sum of their parts. Yes, three are starters, and Notre Dame will struggle to replace them, but if the academic probe lingers far into the season, it creates one more obstacle for a young team that faces a very difficult schedule. Notre Dame is favored in most of its games, but it has zero cakewalks. A worst-case scenario has the Irish scrapping for bowl eligibility.
They said it: "You never want to lose any of your players, so that's always difficult. To lose any of your players, especially given the circumstances, that's always difficult. But I'm responsible for not just four players [but] 105-plus [and] over 30 support staff [members]. I've got to get going. I've got to move immediately to getting better as a program and as a football team. I don't spend much time on the past [and] don't mortgage the future. I try to stay in the present." — Kelly, on moving forward as four players serve an indefinite suspension amid Notre Dame's academic probe
- Notre Dame will have to rely on youth on the D-line, CSNChicago's JJ Stankevitz writes.
- Suspensions don't change the Irish's goals, LaMond Pope writes in the Chicago Sun-Times.
- Matthias Farley once again starts a new beginning as he enters his senior year, Andrew Owens writes on BlueandGold.com.
- Kyle Brindza embraces pressure, Jake Brown writes on IrishIllustrated.com.
That’s what I asked the 65 coaches from the Power Five conferences and Notre Dame to do. Describe their team in one word.
Some coaches were one-word wonders, but a few insisted they needed two words. That’s fine because the descriptions shed some insight into how coaches view their team and/or what they want the public perception of their team to be.
In all, the 65 coaches used 44 different descriptions.
Well, here’s to taking it one “word” at a time. My word: Enjoy.
ACC (including Notre Dame)
Boston College’s Steve Addazio: Young
Clemson’s Dabo Swinney: Experienced
Duke’s David Cutcliffe: Veteran
Florida State’s Jimbo Fisher: Habits
Georgia Tech’s Paul Johnson: Young
Louisville’s Bobby Petrino: Unknown
Miami’s Al Golden: Renewed
NC State’s Dave Doeren: Redemption
North Carolina’s Larry Fedora: Ravenous
Pitt’s Paul Chryst: Young
Syracuse’s Scott Shafer: Hard-nosed
Virginia’s Mike London: Experienced
Virginia Tech’s Frank Beamer: Developing
Wake Forest’s Dave Clawson: New
Notre Dame’s Brian Kelly: Athletic
After announcing that he'd be listing his five official visits, Marshall tweeted six schools, as Florida State, LSU, Michigan, Notre Dame, Oklahoma and Texas all made the list. The five-star prospect offered a little clarity, saying he is town between Oklahoma and Texas, then asked the fan bases of those two schools to help him decide which to see for his fifth visit.
To continue reading this article you must be an Insider
- Yours truly joined ESPN Upstate earlier this week to talk some Notre Dame.
- Is the BYU series in jeopardy?
- Funny stuff from Tommy Rees and Mike Golic Jr., who took the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge together.
- The read-option has become second nature to Everett Golson, JJ Stankevitz writes on CSNChicago.com.
- The Wall Street Journal looks at how Brian Kelly and others fare against ranked teams.