October 2011 Archives

Daily Dish - 10.31.11

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- Melissa Henderson scored in the ninth minute off a pinpoint service by junior defender Jazmin Hall and Notre Dame used a stellar defensive performance to defeat No. 5/9 Marquette, 1-0, in a BIG EAST Conference Championship quarterfinal women's soccer match on a rainy Sunday afternoon at Valley Fields in Milwaukee ... Henderson's goal -- her career high-tying 18th of the season, and 70th of her brilliant career, as well as a school-record 24th career match-winning goal -- lifted the Fighting Irish into the BIG EAST Championship semifinals for the 15th time in Notre Dame's 17 years as a conference member ... the Fighting Irish will square off with BIG EAST National Division champion Louisville in a tournament semifinal match at 3 p.m. (ET) Friday in Morgantown, W.Va., with CBS Sports Network televising the contest live from Dick Dlesk Soccer Stadium.

- Less than 24 hours after an exhausting five-set defeat at Connecticut, Notre Dame recovered to down host St. John's, 3-1 (25-19, 17-25, 25-22, 25-20) in BIG EAST Conference volleyball action Sunday afternoon at Carnesecca Arena in Queens, N.Y. ... with its fourth straight win in the 19-match series with the Red Storm, Notre Dame concluded its recent road escapades that spanned 11,309 miles in the air and on the road since Oct. 8 ... coming through with a second straight double-double - and her sixth of the season - was Kristen Dealy, who led the Irish with 15 kills (.378) ... Dealy also had 11 digs and a pair of blocks.

- The men's soccer team closes its regular season at noon (ET) today at Alumni Stadium against Seton Hall - and the Irish are hoping a win in that one would translate into a home play-in game Thursday in the BIG EAST Championships.

- The men's golf team closes its fall season today at the Royal Oaks Intercollegiate in Dallas.

- Notre Dame's basketball teams kick off their seasons with exhibition games this week - the men at 7:30 p.m. (ET) tonight against St. Xavier and the #2-rated (AP) women at 7 p.m. Wednesday against Windsor (Ontario) ... both games are at Purcell Pavilion.

- District Academic All-America ballots feature five Irish women's soccer players, four football players and two men's soccer players.

Following Flynt - YouTube Clicks

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Hail, Hail for Old Notre Dame: It started and ended as a great fall day in South Bend, but early on Saturday afternoon, a nasty storm passed through the area. The men's soccer game against West Virginia was delayed while waiting for the weather to clear. Here's a closer look at the hail that hit Alumni Stadium.

Win One For The Gipper: Aside from candy, dressing up in costumes and pretending to be people, animals or objects we are not, is the biggest part of Halloween. For actors, every day is Halloween. In the spirit of today, check out the trailer for the 1940 classic, Knute Rockne, All American, the first movie ever filmed on Notre Dame's campus. Pat O'Brien portrays Knute Rockne, while Ronald Reagan stars as George Gipp.

And of course, it might be remiss to mention President Reagan's portrayal of the Gipp without mentioning Leslie Nielsen's famous Rockne parody in Airplane!

Hear It From a Student - Midday Madness

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8.22.11 MSoc Thunder Stix 1.jpg After its game has been rescheduled multiple times, the men's soccer team is anxious to face the Seton Hall Pirates on Tuesday.

First postponed earlier in the month due to non-tropical South Bend weather and then pushed back from Monday because of weather-related travel issues face by Seton Hall, the long awaited match will be played at the odd mid-week and midday time of noon (ET).

Notre Dame holds an overall record of 8-4-4 and is looking forward to improving upon its BIG EAST record of 4-3-1. The Pirates hold a record of 4-10-2 overall and a conference record of 4-2-1.

The Irish are coming off of a 2-0 loss to West Virginia on Saturday, despite the fact that West Virginia only outshot the Irish 10-9.

Saturday's game was a big day for nine Irish seniors: Brendan King, Greg Klazura, Aaron Maund, Sean McGrath, Adam Mena, Michael Rose, Chris Sutton and Will Walsh.

Senior Day is often one of the last times graduating players will ever play on their home turf. But as the luck of the Irish may have it, Tuesday's game against Seton Hall will provide a second Senior Day.

- Erin Ellis ('12)

Hear It From a Student - Hockey Returns To Routine

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After last weekend's sweep at Bowling Green, the Irish hockey team returned to South Bend with a 5-2-0 overall record, gratitude for their new arena and a fresh feeling of normalcy. The team hits the road again this weekend to face Northern Michigan (Nov. 4-5).

"We love playing in our new facility but it's important to get some road games under our belt and recognize how to play in other buildings and atmospheres," says senior captain Billy Maday. "We've been able to practice at the Compton here for a while now so I think it'll be good for our team to once again experience the other CCHA environments a little bit more."

"Getting away from Notre Dame and then to return back to a place where it's just us and the other team is a good thing," says junior goaltender Mike Johnson. "It helps to get away from the distractions and focus on purely the games."

After constant shuffling between the Joyce Center and Compton Family Ice Arean in the early months of the season, the hockey team's new home allows for a more permanent regimen - a regimen greatly appreciated by the team.

"It took a while to get back in the swing of things," senior captain Sean Lorenz admits. "Now that we're settled in the new place, we're starting to get our energy back and the younger guys are getting into a rhythm."

A customary week for the hockey team consists of early morning workouts, daily practices, meetings and team dinners. The new arena provides the team with the amenities necessary to thrive as student-athletes, including study rooms and dining areas.

While consecutive weekends on the road at Bowling Green and Northern Michigan rid the Irish of the comfort of home, they also provide ideal time for team bonding.

"It definitely feels normal again. We're done with preseason and it feels good to get back on the road again. As a team, going on the road and getting that time to hang out with each other really sets a good tone for the games," says Johnson.

The new ice arena lends a sense of ease to underclassmen as they become familiar with the rigorous schedule demanded of student-athletes. On the other hand, it is a constant reminder to the senior class that their time here is limited.

"They built something special here," Lorenz says. "I've been to every other rink in our league and quite a few around the country. This is definitely one of the best and it makes you appreciate it that much more. The seniors from last year didn't get to experience this. We are just so lucky it was finished for us. It'll be sad to leave but we'll hopefully go out with a bang."

- Hilary Ferguson (Saint Mary's '12)

Following Flynt - Irish Around The League

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With their teams on a bye week, Atlanta's Darrin Walls ('10) and Tampa Bay's Jeff Faine ('03) each traveled back to South Bend to catch the Irish in action against Navy. Chicago, Green Bay, Oakland and the New York Jets also had the weekend off.

Meanwhile, week eight of the NFL schedule featured several former Notre Dame football players pitted against one another.

Kyle Rudolph had two catches for 15 yards as Minnesota bested Carolina, 24-21. Once an offensive duo at Notre Dame, Rudolph and quarterback Jimmy Clausen ('11) were on opposing sidelines on Sunday. The game featured the Vikings' John Sullivan ('07) and Panthers' J.J. Jansen ('08) as well, who were also former teammates while at Notre Dame. At the midpoint of the 2011 season, both teams are 2-6.

Detroit crushed Denver, 45-10 in the Mile High City. Receiver Maurice Stovall ('06) did not have any catches, but made a special teams tackle in the victory. Stovall's Lions improved to 6-2, while the Broncos and his Irish teammates David Bruton ('09) and Brady Quinn ('07) dropped to 2-5.

After missing three games with groin and neck injuries, Justin Tuck ('05) returned to action for New York. Miami led for much of the game, but the Giants took control in the fourth quarter to avoid the upset. Tuck had one tackle and half a sack, as the Giants climbed to 5-2. Anthony Fasano ('06) and the Dolphins remain winless this season.

In a battle for AFC supremacy, Pittsburgh defeated New England, 25-17. Arnaz Battle ('03) made two tackles for the Steelers, while Sergio Brown ('10) had one for the Patriots.

In other NFL news, Philadelphia dominated Dallas, 34-7 on NBC's Sunday Night Football. The Eagles scored on their opening drive and forced the Cowboys to punt on the ensuing possession when Trevor Laws ('07) sacked quarterback Tony Romo on third down.

Baltimore defeated Arizona, 30-27 to improve to 5-2. Tom Zbikowski ('07) had two tackles in the Ravens' victory.

Golden Tate caught two passes for 11 yards in Seattle's 34-12 loss to Cincinnati.

- Josh Flynt ('11)

An Offense's Boogie Man

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A Halloween Hail Mary

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Following Flynt - A Look Back at Navy

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Was Irish Connection not quite enough to satisfy your ND football appetite? Need a cure for the Monday blues? Here's a look back at the action from Saturday's game against Navy.

Visit the playlist page to select individual clips
or watch all thirteen videos right here on Irish UNDerground.

Irish Connection - Episode 19

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Following Flynt - What The Doctor Ordered

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After a tumultuous week, a lot of people wondered what type of Notre Dame team we would see this afternoon against Navy. A team divided could fall to the Midshipmen for the fourth time in five years, while a fired up Irish squad might light up the scoreboard like it did three weeks ago against Air Force.

Fortunately, we saw the latter, as Notre Dame found the end zone eight times and dominated Navy, 56-14. Navy pushed the Irish around last year at the New Meadowlands Stadium, but today, the 85th meeting in series history belonged to Notre Dame. While the Midshipmen arrived in South Bend ranked third in the nation in rushing yards per game, it was the Irish backfield that turned heads on Saturday.

Led by Jonas Gray's three scores, Notre Dame finished with seven touchdowns on the ground, the most for any Irish team since 1992. Cierre Wood added two rushing TDs, and George Atkinson III and Michael Floyd had one apiece. Floyd also caught a 56-yard touchdown from Tommy Rees, the team's longest pass play of the season.

Defensively, Notre Dame held Navy's offense to 229 total yards. The Midshipmen were held to 3.9 yards per carry, and nearly half of their rushing attempts were limited to two yards or less. Even without starting defensive ends Ethan Johnson and Kapron Lewis-Moore, the Irish kept the potent triple option in check.

Notre Dame bounced back this week, and the crowd followed suit. Against USC, Notre Dame Stadium was as loud as I have seen it since I began attending Irish games as a freshman in 207. After that difficult loss, I was concerned that we might see an apathetic crowd, but the offensive outburst (and the varied music selection) had the Notre Dame students engaged for sixty minutes.

It has often been said, "winning cures all." Following the setback to the Trojans last week, and the social media firestorm of the past 48 hours, perhaps this is the game that turns things around for the Fighting Irish. 

Navy will not finish the 2011 season as one of the strongest teams on the Irish schedule, but Notre Dame got the type of win it needed this week. In control from the opening quarter, it was a no-doubt-about-it victory - the kind of game that should hopefully put rumors of locker room controversy to rest.

Earlier this week, head coach Brian Kelly's post-practice media comments were received negatively by some of the veteran Irish players, who expressed their feelings on Twitter. Many speculated that a rift was growing within the team between the coaching staff, upperclassmen and younger players. 

Kelly addressed the rumors in his post-game press conference, assuring that the Irish have moved forward and put any conflicts behind them. "As a family, we all have good days and bad days. You work through that as a family," he said. "We had to work through some things this week, but at the end, like all families, if there's a disagreement, if there's any kind of need to communicate, it needs to get done and we did that. We communicated with each other as a team and as a family, and you saw it today. You saw a team that played together."

The Notre Dame football family seems to be back on track. While the BCS is out of the question, there is a lot of football left to play, and if Notre Dame plays like it did this afternoon, it will be an exciting and enjoyable finish to 2011 for Irish nation. The journey continues under the lights next Saturday in Winston-Salem, N.C. when Notre Dame takes on the Wake Forest Demon Deacons.

- Josh Flynt ('11)

Notre Dame 56, Navy 14

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Live Chat - Football vs. Navy

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The Irish and Navy will play for the 85th straight year today at Notre Dame Stadium, making it the longest continuous intersectional rivalry in the country. The Irish hold a 71-12-1 (.851) edge in the series. Notre Dame has won 44 of the last 47 meetings in the series, but the Midshipmen snapped a 43-game Irish winning streak in the series (NCAA record for longest streak against one opponent) in the 2007 meeting. Notre Dame and Navy have met every year since 1927.

Irish UNDerground will have all the angles in and around the action covered throughout today's game between Notre Dame and Navy. Be sure to share your questions, comments and complaints and let your voice be heard throughout the Notre Dame nation.

Want to track all the action from your mobile device? No problem.

Simply click (or to be phone friendly, "touch") HERE.

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Washington Post - A dozen small children sat in a semi-circle on the floor of the Lovettsville Library on a rainy afternoon last week, their eyes riveted on author Cara Coleman and her 6-year-old daughter, Justice.

"'I have a disability. It does not make me a scary monster,'" Coleman read. She paused to ask the group, "What does 'disability' mean?"

A little girl in a red shirt answered eagerly: "Not able to do something!"

Coleman lifted the book in her hands so the group could see, and pointed to a word on the page: 'DisAbility,' with the 'a' capitalized.

"I did that because I want you to focus on the word 'ability,'" Coleman said. "Because Justice can do a lot of things."

Coleman and Justice have presented Coleman's book, "I Am Justice, Hear Me Roar!" at schools and libraries across Loudoun County and other parts of Northern Virginia over the past several months. They have the routine down: Coleman reads the book and encourages the young audience members to ask questions. Justice sits beside Coleman in her wheelchair. Sometimes she murmurs or squeals when her mother reads a favorite part of the story.

Justice was born with multiple disabilities, one of which is agenesis of the corpus callosum - meaning the structure that connects the two hemispheres of her brain is missing. She does not walk or talk, and she uses a feeding tube.

But despite her limitations, "she is an absolute joy," Coleman said. "She is just about one of the happiest kids ever. That's one of the things I try to teach the kids. Yes, she's not saying words like we are, but she can very clearly communicate."

When Coleman read a passage about how Justice sometimes doesn't like taking a bath or going to bed, Justice twisted her body toward her mother and let out a sing-song cry.

"See, she's complaining," Coleman said, and the kids giggled.

The pair appeared at Lovettsville Library as part of a reading series to celebrate October's disability awareness month. But Coleman said she hopes the book raises "kid awareness" rather than disability awareness.

"I don't want kids or adults to be afraid of Justice and her different abilities," Coleman explained. "They are a part of her, but there are much bigger and better parts of her that make her a kid just like any other kid."

Never Forget

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Always Remember

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Students To 'Raise an X for X'

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The Observer - Tomorrow, thousands of students are encouraged to raise their arms in an "X" as a symbol of unity, strength and remembrance.

The "X" will honor Xavier Murphy, a fifth-year student and former resident of Zahm Hall who died Oct. 11 after a short battle with cancer. Tomorrow would have been his 23rd birthday.

Senior Daniel Duffey, a resident assistant in Zahm and friend of Murphy's, said the unified "X" is the perfect way to honor Murphy.

"Doing [the 'X'] for him is just a further symbol of exactly who he was. It represents him, the dorm and our community standing together," Duffey said. "Normally ... everyone hates us for it, but this time it obviously means something more."

Corry Colonna, rector of Zahm Hall, said the Raise an X for X campaign began when Murphy was first diagnosed with leukemia in September.

"We started this process before he had passed away," Colonna said. "The goal was he would be able to see us. He was watching the football games from Riley Hospital in Indianapolis. Our hope was ... he would see a number of people with their hands up in the air for him."

But for Murphy's family and friends, tomorrow's "X" will hold a different significance.

"One of the first questions the guys asked [after Xavier passed] is, 'Are we going to move forward with this?'" Colonna said. "Mrs. Murphy called me that evening and I asked her. She said, 'Now he'll see it from heaven. Go ahead - sounds like a great idea'".

Colonna said after hearing the news of Murphy's passing, the Zahm community immediately came together to make Raise an X for X a reality.

"I will admit that in a time of such great loss, there is a sense of helplessness," he said. "[The campaign] gave us some purpose, some way of channeling that grief. We moved forward, got more cosponsors after Xavier's passing [and] we got the cheerleaders and leprechaun onboard."

Colonna then met with members of the football team's administration to figure out the logistics of Saturday's event.

Don't Dismiss the Fighting Irish

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USC 5.jpg Editor's note: Terence Moore is a CNN contributor and a sports columnist of more than three decades ... he has worked for The Cincinnati Enquirer, the San Francisco Examiner, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution and AOL Sports.

CNN.com - The glow from the Golden Dome still is wonderfully blinding on bright days. Touchdown Jesus, the nickname of the skyscraper-sized mural on the side of the Hesburgh Library, continues to inspire with its version of Jesus stretching his arms high and wide as a football referee signaling for a touchdown.

The Grotto of Our Lady of Lourdes, where folks haven't stopped lighting candles for miracles. The Basilica of the Sacred Heart, which resembles something straight from the Vatican.

The splendid lakes.

The immaculate trees, with leaves that dance in the autumn wind while dressed in various October colors.

For a guy born and raised a few punts away from all of this on the campus of the University of Notre Dame, I keep hearing a depressing question: Is Notre Dame football relevant anymore?

The answer is yes, definitely yes.

"Talent-wise, we're pretty much there, because players keep coming here to be great, and they know there is life after football when they choose to play for Notre Dame," said Adrian Jarrell, now a senior financial analyst, who had several gigantic catches as a wide receiver for the Fighting Irish during the late 1980s and early 1990s.

Those were the last of Notre Dame's glory days. Thus the question of relevancy. "I live in Dallas, and I hear that question all the time," Jarrell said, chuckling, while many Irish eyes are crying.

Here's why: With Notre Dame spending another season tumbling into obscurity, there are more than a few reasons to doubt its relevancy. For one, this 125-year-old football program that made dominance famous hasn't won a national championship since 1988, when that other Gipper was in the White House.

The original Gipper was George Gipp, Notre Dame's icon of yore. Years after legendary Notre Dame coach Knute Rockne satisfied the wishes of a dying Gipp by delivering his "Win one for the Gipper" speech before a Notre Dame game against Army during the 1920s, Gipp was portrayed in Hollywood by future U.S. President Ronald Reagan.

That Gipper speech was about the last time Notre Dame won a bowl game worth mentioning.

Actually, we're talking about 1993, when Jarrell helped Notre Dame beat Texas A&M in the Cotton Bowl. After that, the Irish dropped a National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) record nine-straight bowl games, spanning from the mighty Orange to the lowly Insight. They've won their last two bowl games, but nobody who participates in either the Sun Bowl or the Hawaii Bowl is considered a national power.

They've had four coaches since College Football Hall of Fame inductee Lou Holtz resigned after the 1996 season. Three of those post-Holtz coaches were fired, and the fourth is Brian Kelly, whose team in his second year at Notre Dame had a disturbing 31-17 home loss last Saturday to archrival Southern Cal. It dropped Notre Dame's record to a sloppy 4-3.

Of the 120 schools at the top of the NCAA's two-tier system, 119 of them have a better turnover margin than the Irish.

Worse, Southern Cal players accused Notre Dame players and coaches of quitting during Saturday's game. Southern Cal coach Lane Kiffin apologized to Kelly for the remarks, and Kelly joined Notre Dame players in denying the charges.

Then again, those things happen when the mighty has become the meek in the minds of many.

"For anybody to say that Notre Dame can't win again is the most ridiculous, asinine comment I've ever heard, because they've got more going for them now than they've ever had before in the history of the school," said Holtz, 74, now a college football analyst for ESPN. He finished his 11 years at Notre Dame with a 100-30-2 record, featuring that 1988 national championship and three other seasons with one loss or less.

Holtz's legacy at Notre Dame is even more astounding when you consider the following: Back then, Notre Dame officials didn't allow "red shirting," which gives players a chance to spend an extra year with a team while retaining their normal four years of eligibility. Holtz had several five-year players at Notre Dame, but that mostly was because they were exempt for medical reasons.

Now, even though Notre Dame officials don't call it red shirting, they allow five-years players for a variety of reasons.

There also is Notre Dame's change in recent years to allow freshmen to enter the university in January instead of September. It has expanded the Irish's recruiting possibilities.

Then there is the acceptance of transfers. It was discouraged for academic reasons during the Holtz era, except in rare cases. Transfers happen slightly more frequently these days at Notre Dame.

Plus, former Notre Dame coach Charlie Weis and his strength coaches often complained about players suffering huge weight losses near the end of seasons. Because of football and Notre Dame's fierce academic schedule, players weren't eating properly. Unlike other major programs, Notre Dame lacked a training table, which allows players to eat structured meals each day around class and practice times.

Notre Dame finally got a training table during Weis' last year there in 2009, and since then, players have enjoyed meals at the Irish's state-of-the-art football complex that was built across 96,000 square feet in 2005.

That was nearly a decade after Holtz's era.

With its multiple fields, extensive weight-training area and huge locker rooms featuring the latest in technology, the so-called Guglielmino complex (nicknamed The Gug) is eye candy for recruits. In other words, those who keep saying the Irish can't recruit anymore aren't paying attention. They had more players (11) on preseason "watch lists" this year for major individual awards than any team outside of Alabama (12).

Wide receiver Michael Floyd and linebacker Manti Te'o are among several Notre Dame players tagged as future high picks in the NFL draft.

Speaking of the future, there were around 50 of the nation's top recruits at the Southern Cal game, and despite the Irish's ugly loss, the South Bend Tribune reported that most of the recruits said they were highly impressed with the Notre Dame atmosphere.

"In the end, Brian Kelly will figure it out, just the same as Ara Parseghian did and every other coach before him," said Holtz, referring to Notre Dame's legacy that has produced 11 national championships and seven Heisman Trophy winners under the likes of Parseghian, Frank Leahy, Dan Devine, Rockne and, of course, Holtz.

What Kelly must do to join them at Notre Dame is win, and he must do so for just shy of forever.

That's all.

Following Flynt - Freshman Friday

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Daily Dish - 10.27.11

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declanhelmet.jpg - There will be a contingent of Dublin media attending the Notre Dame-Navy football game Saturday at Notre Dame Stadium - in advance of the Notre Dame-Navy game that will kick off the 2012 season next September in Dublin, Ireland.

- The pep rallies prior to the Notre Dame-Navy (Oct. 28) and Notre Dame-Boston College games (Nov. 18) will be held at Purcell Pavilion ... doors open at 5:15 p.m. and the Irish football squad enters at 6:30 p.m. ... there are no tickets required.

- A contingent of Notre Dame administrators traveled to Washington, D.C., Wednesday and met with FedExField officials at the stadium - in addition to meeting at St. Matthew's Cathedral and at the National Mall and the Capitol Lawn, sites of the Mass, pep rally and band concerts, respectively, when the Irish play Maryland Nov. 12.

- For the second time this season (and fourth time in her career), Melissa Henderson has been selected as the BIG EAST Conference Offensive Player of the Week ... in addition, Henderson was named to the Top Drawer Soccer and Our Game Magazine national teams of the week ... Henderson turned in one of the top single-match performances in the 24-year history of the Notre Dame women's soccer program during last Friday's 5-1 Senior Night victory over DePaul at Alumni Stadium ... the All-America striker and Hermann Trophy candidate tied a school record with four goals in the match (including two in a 58-second span midway through the second half) on the way to tying no fewer than seven school records ... Henderson also became the first BIG EAST player in more than 13 years to score four goals in a regular-season conference match, a feat last accomplished on Oct. 16, 1998, by former Seton Hall All-American and England National Team star Kelly Smith in a win over Pittsburgh.

- Frank Dyer started the 2011-12 season with a fast stroke and has been named the BIG EAST Conference Athlete of the Week for men's swimming and diving ... Dyer posted a pair of individual victories while competing against Texas Christian, Oakland and Michigan in dual meet action ... his NCAA B-cut 200 freestyle time performance of 1:37.92 was the nation's fastest at the time of the race and currently ranks second ... Dyer is fourth among all NCAA performers in the 100 freestyle (44.57).

- The University of Notre Dame has established an endowed scholarship in memory of Declan Sullivan, the Notre Dame junior who died a year ago today (Oct. 27) when the aerial lift on which he was videotaping football practice fell in high winds ... in conjunction with the anniversary, Notre Dame's president, Rev. John I. Jenkins, C.S.C., is writing to members of the Notre Dame family, inviting them to contribute to the scholarship fund and/or to the Declan Drumm Sullivan Memorial Fund that has been established by his family ... contributions to the family's memorial fund will be used to support those causes about which Declan would be most enthusiastic, in particular, Horizons for Youth, a Chicago organization committed to helping children graduate high school by providing need-based scholarships, a summer program, one-on-one mentoring, enrichment outings, tutoring, and college preparation ... the Declan Drumm Sullivan Memorial Scholarship at Notre Dame will assist students who are not only in financial need, but who also have demonstrated the traits that made Declan original, whether through a particular interest in filmmaking, service to under-privileged youth, creative writing, or other passions.

- The 14th-ranked men's soccer team notched its third straight victory with a 2-1 win over Providence on Wednesday afternoon at Glay Field in Providence, R.I. ... all three of the victories have come on the road ... Notre Dame opened the scoring in the 10th minute as senior midfielder Brendan King sent his shot into the lower-left corner of the net from 12 yards out after a give-and-go with sophomore forward Leon Brown ... the Fighting Irish led 1-0 at halftime ... Harrison Shipp gave the Irish a 2-0 lead in the 80th minute when he scored from eight yards away off a cross from senior defender Greg Klazura.

Irish Connection - Episode 18

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Following Flynt - What To Watch for Against Navy

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IMAG0370.jpg The Irish return to the field on Saturday, taking on the Navy Midshipmen for the 85th time in series history. Here are a few things to look for this weekend...

Beyond the Box Score: Three weeks ago against Air Force, the Irish gave up 565 offensive yards, including 363 yards on the ground, but still won the game 59-33. Obviously Notre Dame is going to do everything it can to stop the ball, but don't be shocked Navy comes through with a similarly impressive rushing performance, regardless of final score. Despite a 2-5 record, the Midshipmen are currently ranked third in the nation in rushing, averaging 325 yards per game.

As head coach Brian Kelly explained in his press conference on Tuesday, the Irish are not concerned with the number of yards they give up against Navy.

"When you play option teams, the yardage is irrelevant. It's all about minimizing big plays and keeping the points down," Kelly said.

Shoes To Fill: Kapron Lewis-Moore is out for the season with a knee injury and Ethan Johnson may be limited with a high ankle sprain (if he can play at all), so Notre Dame will rely upon its highly touted freshmen in this weekend's game. Aaron Lynch, Stephon Tuitt and Chase Hounshell should all see significant action against the Midshipmen.

Lynch has appeared in six games for the Irish, starting twice and making 13 tackles. He burst onto the scene with a crushing sack and forced fumble on Michigan State quarterback Kirk Cousins. Tuitt has played in five games, but will be making his first start on Saturday. Hounshell played against Air Force and USC, and is expected to take on an increased role against Navy.

X for X: Saturday marks what would have been Xavier Murphy's 23rd birthday. Murphy, a former football senior manager, graduated in May and was back this semester to finish one class and intern with the team. He passed away on Oct. 11 after a short battle with cancer. The Irish are honoring Murphy throughout the season by wearing a green shamrock sticker on their helmets.

Residents of Murphy's dorm, Zahm, are also selling t-shirts and bandanas with the phrase "Raise an X for X," in support of those fighting cancer. They are encouraging students to wear the shirts and bandanas to Saturday's game, and to raise their arms in an "X" rather than do the traditional cheer during the Celtic Chant.

Stadium Status: Last week, fans were as fired up as I have ever seen them at Notre Dame Stadium. I have only been going to games since I was a freshman in 2007, so I can't speak for the days of old, but it certainly got loud against USC. The night atmosphere, the fierce rivalry, the towels and the music all contributed to the amped crowd. While Dropkick Murphys and Guns n' Roses may make a return appearance against Navy, those other external factors will be absent on Saturday afternoon and I am interested to hear how the fans respond. It is certainly understandable that fans will be louder against the Trojans. It is no secret that many Notre Dame fans strongly, strongly dislike USC. However, the stadium atmosphere debate has been going on for quite some time, and especially this season. No matter the opponent, the role of the 80,795 fans should remain the same - Cheer, cheer for old Notre Dame.

Back on Track: Though Notre Dame's BCS dreams were dashed with a loss to USC last weekend, the Irish still have a lot to play for in the final five games of the season. First, the Midshipmen have taken three out of the last four between the teams, including two in a row at Notre Dame Stadium. The Irish have dictated most of the historic series, but recent history has been different. Navy took the college football world by surprise when it snapped a 43-year losing streak in 2007. The Midshipmen also squeaked out a 23-21 win in 2009 and dominated the Irish in last season's game at the New Meadowlands Stadium.

The Irish need a victory to prevent Navy from their first-ever three-game winning streak in the series, but more importantly, Notre Dame needs to avoid falling to .500 on the season. A lot can happen in five or six weeks of college football, and Saturday is the first opportunity for the Irish to regain some of the momentum they had before the USC game.

- Josh Flynt ('11)

Following Flynt - One Year Later

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IMAG0367.jpg I had just finished playing a Keenan interhall soccer game when I heard the tragic news. A student had fallen from a video tower while filming football practice. When I got back to my dorm, my rector and a university e-mail confirmed the heartbreaking story. One year ago today, junior Declan Sullivan, a resident of Fisher Hall and a student videographer with the Notre Dame football team, passed away following a terrible accident.

In the aftermath of Sullivan's death, the university was thrust into the spotlight, vehemently criticized by people across the country. On a particularly blustery day, many questioned why Sullivan was filming atop a scissor lift over the LaBar Practice Complex.

I did not know Sullivan, but like many others, was filled with an array of emotions. From the newspapers to the television stations to the conversations in the dining hall, people pointed fingers and called for answers. But no single person can be blamed. It was an accident. The university took collective responsibility for not having adequate safety precautions in place to prevent such a tragedy.

In the year that has passed since Sullivan's death, the university has installed remote-controlled cameras to replace the scissor lifts that were previously used. Notre Dame is not the only school doing everything it can to make sure an accident like this never happens again. Other colleges across the country have installed new systems and instituted new policies to prevent these types of tragedies.

I'll never forget where I was when I found out a fellow student, someone who loved Notre Dame and loved Notre Dame football, not unlike myself, had been violently and suddenly taken from us.

I will also never forget how the university came together in mourning, remembrance and celebration of Sullivan's life. The campus-wide Mass was a powerful reminder of what makes this place special. It was a reminder of the familial nature of this university, and how even though we each have our own dorms, our own experiences and our own ideas of what this university means to us, at the core, we are all Notre Dame students, and that is a bond that will not be broken. It is those times, when we gather together, pray together and sing together, that we, as Notre Dame, are at our very best.

I drive down the road between the tennis courts and the practice fields almost every day, and not a day goes by where I'm not mindful of what happened there. Last week, a memorial to Sullivan was dedicated outside the Guglielmino Athletic Complex. It is located in between the practice field and the team's entrance to The Gug, each day, reminding the players of their fallen Notre Dame brother - a member of the Irish football family that will never be forgotten.

- Josh Flynt ('11)
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Notre Dame president emeritus Rev. Theodore M. Hesburgh, C.S.C., recently was inducted into the Greater Syracuse Sports Hall of Fame.

The Greater Syracuse Sports Hall of Fame recognizes and pays tribute to Central New Yorkers who have made significant contributions to the world of sports.

Hesburgh, now 94 years old, was considered one of the most influential figures in higher education in the 20th century.

Born in Syracuse in 1917, he served as president of Notre Dame for 35 years. During his tenure he oversaw the evolution of the school's athletic program, adding 12 new sports.

In 1960, Hesburgh approved construction of the Athletic and Convocation Center, now known as the Joyce Center. Hesburgh was named founding co-chair of the Knight Foundation Commission on Intercollegiate Athletics in 1989, a position he held until 2000. In addition to his long-term support and involvement in athletics, Hesburgh has been a champion of public service, having advised presidents and popes.

Start Your Day By Watching Other People Run

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Following Flynt - Walk-on Wednesday

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Hear It From a Student - Meet the Team

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Coming off a top-five finish in the 2010-11 regular-season's final AP poll, the men's basketball team started practices last week as it began to replicate one of the greatest campaigns in recent memory.

Although few have the opportunity to witness the team before its first exhibition against St. Xavier (Nov. 1), 700 season-ticket holders got the chance to witness a live practice yesterday at Purcell Pavilion.

"We felt it would be a way of treating our season-ticket holders, our most loyal fans - many of these people have had season tickets 20-plus years - and get them some special treatment and some special inside info into our program and our team early in the season," head coach Mike Brey said. "It's been a very positive thing to meet and talk with our season-ticket holders and let them meet our players."

For two hours in the early evening, the season-ticket holders had the chance to watch the open practice, cheering on their favorite players who took part in scrimmages and practice drills.

"This is really good. We get to see the team a little bit in a real practice and enjoy it," said Anthony Gianoli, a three-year season-ticket holder.

Hear It From a Student - Not Over Yet

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I said at the beginning of the season that my family's tell for Notre Dame football being "back" is a coach's third year. Every coach who has ever won a national championship took home their first in that pivotal third year of coaching.

This is Brian Kelly's second. And it's not over yet.

So there are bumps. Every great coach, player, team, sports movie has bumps. But there are things I see in this season that are making me anxious not just for next season, but for the remainder of 2011. As if I wasn't already awaiting that third year.

We may be losing Michael Floyd next year, but we'll be able to continue to watch him break records while making make highlight-reel catch after highlight-reel catch in a Notre Dame uniform.

The Irish are also retaining and developing a lot of potential that Kelly will continue to cultivate.

Andrew Hendrix and Tommy Rees, as a combination of quarterbacks who play off one another.

George Atkinson III, who is having a remarkable freshman year.

Cierre Wood, Theo Riddick and TJ Jones will have the ability to step up and fill the offensive hole Floyd will leave.

There are flashes of greatness and glimmers of hope yet to be seen in this season. Every time I walk down the tunnel after the postgame press conferences, I see those banners, and I remind myself of the tremendous weight that tradition has here.

That tradition isn't going anyway. This school isn't about quitting.

- Lauren Chval ('13)

Following Flynt - Something To Cheer For

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2011 Commencement 36.JPG Yesterday, the NCAA released Graduation Success Rates for Football Bowl Subdivision schools. Of those 120 institutions, Notre Dame achieved the best marks, with 18 of 22 Irish athletic teams achieving 100 GSR scores. Notre Dame was one of only eight institutions to have at least 50 percent of teams achieve perfection.

The Notre Dame football team achieved a 97 GSR, the highest among FBS schools. Northwestern, Boston College, Duke, Rice and the U.S. Naval Academy were the only other institutions with at least 90 or higher.

In addition, both the men's and women's basketball teams were among the programs with perfect GSR scores. The hockey team achieved a 95 GSR rating, second only to Air Force.

This release from the NCAA probably comes as no surprise to most people at Notre Dame. Still, it is news that should make anyone associated with the university and athletic department proud.

The university and its rabid fan base, alumni and student body expect to contend for and win championships, and Notre Dame has, in several sports. However, football is king for many people, and a lot of fans won't be satisfied until the Irish are hoisting that crystal ball in January.

However, in the age of NCAA sanctions, player suspensions, reduced scholarships and bowl ineligibility, Notre Dame continues to do it the right way.

Notre Dame graduates its players. Notre Dame is committed to both academic and athletic excellence. And Notre Dame is not going to sacrifice its core values in the pursuit of titles, trophies and other accolades.

At Notre Dame, athletes are not just quarterbacks, forwards, shortstops, jumpers, swimmers and goalies, but future doctors, lawyers and business people, getting the job done in the classroom. They are student-athletes. Most of them will "go pro in something other than sports."

It has been quite some time since Notre Dame has even been in the discussion for a football national championship, but the Irish are slowly progressing towards those goals, and will make it back to the BCS conversation.

In the meantime, take pride in the fact that Notre Dame represents the good in college sports.

- Josh Flynt ('11)

Caption Contest

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Ever wondered how the Joyce Center snow cones are made?

Hear It From the Pressbox - All Aboard

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5749184.jpegMusic was pumped through the speakers of Notre Dame Stadium for the first time ever last Saturday during a prime-time matchup against USC. Here's the lowdown on the first few minutes of the tune-spinner's gameday experience ...

I kept looking at the game clock.

Five minutes turned into three minutes which quickly turned into seconds ... five, four, three, then two. Finally the clock hit zero. I stared at the Notre Dame bench with more focus than I had ever done so during my previous games in Notre Dame Stadium. As my finger hovered over the mouse, I waited for the team to break the huddle on the home sideline.

The crowd was loud - louder than I have heard in my two seasons with Notre Dame.

Finally, special teams coach Mike Elston sent the receiving unit on to the field to prepare for kickoff.

Through my headset, I heard the word that I had been impatiently waiting for ..."GO!"

My cursor, which had been hovering over "I'm Shipping Up To Boston" for what seemed like eternity, was finally clicked.

My heart stopped for a second as I heard music playing over the speakers for the 80,795 fans inside Notre Dame Stadium for the first time ... ever. The crowd erupted with the exact reaction we had been hoping for all week. Pure spirit. Pure adrenaline. Pure noise.

I quickly moved my cursor over to the stop button as I followed each step that the USC place kicker made as he prepared for the opening kickoff. He began his march to the ball. Everything seemed to be going to slow motion. When he finally was about five yards out, I stopped the music and it slowly faded from the speakers.

For the first time in what seemed like a lifetime, I sat back in my chair and breathed. I grab my water bottle and then realized just how nervous I was. My hand, as well as the bottle in it, was now shaking at a rate that I had never experienced before. I quickly put the bottle down and try to compose myself as I prepared for my next cue.

The USC offense got the ball and it was back to my job. During USC's second-down play, I moved the cursor over to "Crazy Train" and prepared myself to click it the moment I got the cue on third down.

I quickly heard "GO!" in my headset and clicked.

"ALLLL ABOOOOAAAAARD ..."

This time I focused on the quarterback. I watched as Matt Barkley ran over to the sideline, got the play and slowly returned to his huddle. USC huddled for what seemed like forever. Finally, the huddle broke and Barkley prepared to go under center.

"Alright, stop!" I heard over my headset and faded out the track.

I breathed. I was quickly becoming very comfortable with my new gameday position.

I've just etched myself in Between the Buns' trivia night lore.

"When was the first in-game music played through the speakers of Notre Dame Stadium?"

Monogram Club Musings - USC

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5752907.jpeg The Monogram Club continues to bring Irish fans the "Monogram Club Musings" following each home football game throughout the 2011 season ...

Last weekend, the Monogram Club welcomed a number of high-profile guests back to campus for a home tilt with archrival USC. A plethora of NFL and NBA talent graced the Notre Dame campus and the sideline was sizzling with star power prior to kickoff.

In addition, the Club had a strong presence at the 2011 fencing national championship ring ceremony Saturday morning in the Joyce Center.

- More than 200 football Monogram winners formed the pregame on-field tunnel for the football team to run through. The annual event is always well received by member. Recently retired Notre Dame Alumni Association executive director Chuck Lennon ('61, '62, baseball) kept the tunnel in order like he does every year with the use of his trusty megaphone. Way to go Chuck!

- The first quarter featured two ceremonies celebrating recent Notre Dame national championship teams. The 2010 women's soccer squad and 2011 men's and women's fencing teams made their way onto the field to be honored for their extraordinary achievements.

- College Football Hall of Fame enshrinee Tim Brown ('88) was honored during the first timeout of the second quarter for receiving a NCAA Silver Anniversary Award. Each year, the Silver Anniversary Awards recognize six distinguished former student-athletes on the 25th anniversary of the end of their intercollegiate athletics eligibility. In addition to the on-field recognition, Brown had a busy weekend on campus. He riled fans up at Friday's pep rally, before stopping by the Monogram Club's football lounge event to catch up with some former teammates.

- The 7:30 p.m. start time represented the first night game in Notre Dame Stadium in 21 years. The last Irish night game at home came on Sept. 15, 1990, against the University of Michigan.

- The Irish sported new gold helmets on Saturday that added plenty of sparkle to the clear skies that surrounded Notre Dame Stadium. Notre Dame director of athletics Jack Swarbrick ('76) has been frustrated with the color of the helmets over the last couple of seasons and charged Notre Dame football head equipment manager Ryan Grooms with the challenge of getting it right. To hear how the decision was made, click here.

- Chicago Bulls head coach Tom Thibodeau has some free time on his hands with the lockout in full swing, so the 2011 NBA Coach of the Year decided to make the most of his weekend by attending a number of Monogram Club events. The Muse spotted Thibodeau chatting it up with some former Irish gridders at Friday's football lounge and at the Club's pregame reception on Saturday.

- The Muse always seems to struggle with in-game cell phone reception at Notre Dame Stadium, but didn't have the chance to catch up with Sprint CEO Dan Hesse ('75) on the Irish sideline to see if he had some pointers.

- The inaugural Irish Madness to kick off the 2011-12 Notre Dame basketball season certainly brought some star power to Purcell Pavilion on Friday night. Emceed by ESPN college basketball analyst Dick Vitale, the event was awesome with a capital 'A', and included appearances by longtime Irish hoops coach Digger Phelps, San Antonio Silver Stars center Ruth Riley ('01) and the current Irish men's and women's basketball squads.

The highlight of the night had to be the running commentary from current Irish baller and all-around cool cat Joey Brooks, who had a couple solid quips during the dunk contest. After graduate student Tim Abromaitis and fifth-year senior Scott Martin - the elder statesmen of the team - failed to connect on a number of tag team dunk attempts, Brooks proclaimed that it might be time to get out the "Life Alert."

- Football Monogram winners Luther Bradley ('78) and Reggie Brooks ('93) had the crowd of more than 1,000 fans and supporters in stitches at Friday's football luncheon in the north dome of the Joyce Center. The two Notre Dame legends shared their favorite stories from the Notre Dame-USC rivalry while engaging with luncheon emcee Ted Robinson ('78), an NBC sports commentator and the play-by-play radio man for the San Francisco 49ers.

Bradley - the all-time interceptions leader at Notre Dame - had the line of the afternoon, describing an interaction with his daughter recently while driving past Notre Dame on I-90. While sneaking a glance at the Golden Dome, she turned to her father and asked, "Daddy, are you sure you played in a game there?" That one must have stung a bit, Luther!

Are You Experienced?

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Following Flynt - Tradition Tuesday

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Though the rivalry with USC is perhaps Notre Dame's most storied, the University's history with Navy may be most important.

At Notre Dame, there is a deep sense of admiration and reverence for the dedication of the men and women in the armed forces. The mantra "God, Country, Notre Dame" is inscribed above the east door of the Basilica and it might as well be the unofficial motto of the students and alumni. That short phrase is also the title of President Emeritus Rev. Theodore M. Hesburgh's autobiography.

During World War II, the Navy established a Navy College Training Program on Notre Dame's campus, a decision that, according to Father Hesburgh, may have helped save the University. It boosted Notre Dame's economic status and enrollment, saving the university from decline, amidst the ongoing war.

Since the days of the officer-training program, Notre Dame's relationship with the U.S. Naval Academy has only grown stronger. The Navy ROTC unit is currently the largest on campus, and considered one of the top NROTC programs in the country.

On Saturday, Notre Dame and Navy will meet for the 85th consecutive year on the football field. Playing every season since 1927, not only is this matchup the longest-running intersectional series in college football, it is also the longest in Notre Dame's 125-year football history. In the previous meetings, 53 games have been played at neutral sites and 31 in Notre Dame Stadium. Neutral site contests have been held in several cities, including Cleveland, Baltimore, Philadelphia and East Rutherford, N.J., because Navy's home stadium in Annapolis, Md., have not been large enough.

Though the Irish hold a 71-12-1 advantage in the series, the Midshipmen have taken three out of the last four meetings, including two in South Bend. In 2007, head coach Paul Johnson's team shocked the Irish, 46-44 in triple overtime.

Previously, Notre Dame had won 43 straight against Navy, the longest such streak by one team over another in FBS history. Notre Dame had not lost to the Midshipmen since 1963, when future NFL Hall of Famer Roger Staubach was quarterbacking their offense.

Next September, the Irish and Midshipmen will open the 2012 season oversees. On Sept. 1, the teams will meet in the Emerald Isle Classic at Aviva Stadium in Dublin, Ireland. It will be the second time Notre Dame and Navy play in Ireland.

Saturday's game against Navy will have extra importance for Notre Dame. The Irish have dropped two in a row to head coach Ken Niumatalolo's team, and are seeking to right the ship after a difficult loss to USC this past weekend.

- Josh Flynt ('11)

Irish In Australia

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The Notre Dame softball team (@NDsoftball) recently returned to campus after spending fall break in Australia. Several players and staff members kept a journal of their encounters in the 'Land Down Under' for Irish UNDerground throughout the excursion ...

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Sunday, Oct. 16 - Freshman Cassidy Whidden

G'day mates!

After countless hours on an airplane, the team has made it to the Land Down Under.

However, we were only in Australia for a matter of minutes before Australian officials quarantined us.

The customs officials suspected us of trying to sneak "foreign" substances into the country through the soles of our shoes, but what really happened is that multiple girls had clay from Melissa Cook Stadium on their cleats ... therefore our cleats had to be sanitized of this "foreign" substance.

Despite being quarantined for a while, this did not stop our excitement and from the airport we made our way to Coogee Beach where the sunshine, the beach and an Australian barbecue welcomed us.

Many of the girls joked that we would be eating kangaroo for lunch, but it wasn't a joke. The barbecue had a variety of chicken, sausage and kangaroo meats along with various salads and rolls. While some of the girls enjoyed the 'roo meat, the majority of us thought it was a little bit too "gamely".

One must have an acquired taste for kangaroo meat; otherwise you might just spoil your entire meal.

Along with learning what kangaroo meat tastes like, the team also learned how to throw a rugby ball and enjoyed a pick-up game with some wallabies "natives". For several hours, we enjoyed the sunshine and conversations with our new Australian friends. Our Australian friends taught us more than how to throw a rugby ball, the also informed us that certain American words do not translate into the same word down here.

For instance, a fanny pack is not a fashionable waist bag but rather an inappropriate body part. It's a learning experience down here!

I think I can speak for the whole team and say that jet lag has finally caught up to us, so this is all for now from down under! We miss everyone back home and we love you all!

Cheers!

Digger Does His Jig at Irish Madness

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Women's Hoops at BIG EAST Media Day

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Irish Update

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Spotlight Shines On Skylar Diggins

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5733393.jpeg ESPN.com - Skylar Diggins ascended to the top of her sport by being herself. Leading a preseason national title contender, having nearly 120,000 people follow her on Twitter and seeing her name spread from the sports pages to the gossip pages is not going to change that approach.

"I think that with the expectations means raising the bar, but it doesn't mean changing myself or being anything different or conforming to what society wants me to do or whatever," Diggins said. "In the same breath, I understand that people are watching me and I'm a role model ... And I welcome any challenges to that, and I'm just having fun with it. I'm enjoying it. It's not becoming a job, so I'm happy to be here."

For now, Diggins' job is to take a Notre Dame team coming off a national title game appearance to the next step.

The goal is simple.

"Last season we were the bridesmaids," Diggins said, "and this season we wanna be the bride."

The Final Four in Denver is six long months away, however, and controlling the circus around Diggins between now and then might be an exercise in and of itself.

Diggins became a national sensation during last year's six-game NCAA tournament run, averaging 19.3 points, more than five points per game better than her regular-season average.

Since then, speculation has run rampant around the South Bend native's dating life -- rap giant Lil Wayne wore her jersey on stage during an April concert -- while she has grown from a local celebrity to a national one.

Irish coach Muffet McGraw has never seen anything like it in her 25 years at the helm of the program.

"I think the whole social media thing has changed so tremendously that nobody probably has seen; it is just so new to see what she's going through," McGraw said. "I used to look at Brady Quinn. He was the guy I would look at and go like, 'The guy can't even go in the dining hall and get a sandwich without somebody trying to get an autograph for somebody else.' And I thought, 'Boy, that's a shame you can't even be a kid.' And that's what it's turned into for her, because she can't really go a lot of places locally.

"Everybody knows her, and everybody's so nice when she's out, but you can't be just a kid that wants to go to a movie. Everything's magnified, whatever you do. Fortunately she's a good kid and she's always on her best behavior, but you can't even really goof off like a normal kid would wanna do sometimes."

Notre Dame has taken precautions to not overwork Diggins, who won a gold medal this summer in China with Irish teammates Natalie Novosel and Devereaux Peters on the USA World University Games team. Diggins will be limited to one day of interviews per week this season.

McGraw, whom Diggins joked would never get a Twitter account, said she has no problem with Diggins' social media use as long as the junior handles it like an adult.

The coaching staff takes players' phones on road trips at night. McGraw has found amusement in this generation's attachment to technology, jokingly deleting some of her own messages in front of Diggins as a demonstration of how to say no.

She has plenty of help, however, with Diggins' family being so close by, something that Diggins feels has helped quell the pressure rather than increase it.

"I feel like I'm more comfortable because I'm in front of family and friends and familiar faces," Diggins said. "I feel like I know everybody in South Bend or I talk to everybody in South Bend, so it's great being home.

"And to have my family close enough to where if it gets heavy or if I need a break, I can go home. But at the same time they allow me to grow and develop into an adult and have the college experience but be right there to share it with me as well."

Which might explain why Diggins has embraced the attention, brushing aside any suggestions that all the adulation and requests might have somehow diminished the joy of growing up.

"I feel like a kid again," Diggins said. "I'm 21, but I feel like I'm 13, 9, 8 when I get out on the court because I'm having fun. College can make some people lose their passion because of the pressure, because of the expectations, because of the workload, but I'm having fun. Not only while I'm learning but being a part of Notre Dame, the academic side of it, the community, the tradition. I'm home. So I'm comfortable, and then when I step out on the court I feel like a kid in a candy store."

Trick Shot Monday

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Hear It From a Student - Not a Bad Start

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Hockey 11.jpg This was the night hockey head coach Jeff Jackson must have envisioned when he promised a new hockey arena to recruits of the Notre Dame hockey program.

A raucous, sell-out crowd of 5,022 whose noise level was elevated by close confines of the new Compton Family Ice Arena. A dominating 5-2 win for an Irish program fresh off a Frozen Four appearance and ranked in the top 10 of two national polls. A hat trick from sophomore Anders Lee and a goal from senior captain Sean Lorenz.

The opening of the new arena could not have been scripted any better. While the Irish earned a decisive win over Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI), the night was about more than the game. It was a culmination of the rebirth of the Notre Dame hockey program under coach Jeff Jackson.

Before Jackson took control of the program in 2005, the Irish had one NCAA Tournament appearance in their history and played in a Joyce Center facility that felt like a temporary home. Also, the Irish seemed to have hit rock bottom in 2004-05 with a dismal five-win season.

Friday night showed how far the program has come since then with two Frozen Four appearances in six seasons. This turnaround eventually paid off in the construction of a state-of-the-art home. The cozy, 5,000-seat, double-deck arena left those in attendance in awe and motivated the Irish players.

"We really tried to stay focused on the game," Jackson said. "But (the atmosphere) made such a difference."

As for the game, its outcome was decided in a dominant second period performance by the Irish in which they built a 3-1 lead. Entering the period with the game tied at 1-1, the Irish outshot the Engineers 14-2, executed crisp passes and played with a physical edge.

"We were much better with the puck in the second period," Jackson said. "When our guys got on a roll, there's no question the crowd motivated them."

Lee quickly gave the Irish the lead with a goal 1:09 into second period. He found an opening by the faceoff circle and fired a shot into the back of the net for his second tally on the night.

At the 14:37 mark, Lorenz scored his second goal of the season. He momentarily lost control of the pass before regaining the puck and rifling a shot into the upper corner of the goal.

Meanwhile, Notre Dame's physical edge resulted in two penalties but the Irish managed to kill both RPI power plays.

Perhaps all the Irish needed was a home game to exorcise two disturbing early-season trends of slow starts and poor power play execution. While the Irish did not dominate the first period, they played the Engineers to a 1-1 tie. In their previous three games, the Irish were outscored 5-1 in the first period by their opponents.

At the 9:21 mark in the first period, Lee christened the Compton Family Ice Arena with its first goal on a shot from the side of the goal that found the back of the net.

Lee completed his hat trick with an empty net score 18:40 into the third period.

He could have completed the hat trick earlier on a power play in the third period.

However, his shot of the mid-air puck into the net was ruled a high sticking penalty.

Entering the night, the Irish had converted only four of 24 power plays into goals. On Friday, the Irish converted at a 33.3 percent success rate with one goal in three power play chances.

- Matt Unger ('14)

Hear It From a Student - Housewarming Party

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Hockey 4.jpg I was excited to check out last Friday's pep rally. As a lifelong Notre Dame fan it was great to see Mike Golic, Tim Brown and Mike Brey up close and in person. But I knew I had to leave early to secure tickets to the unveiling of a new, state-of-the-art facility.

I had to check out the Notre Dame hockey team as it took on Rensselaer at the Compton Family Ice Arena.

From the moment I walked into the complex I realized that the long months of construction across from the Joyce Center had been for a great cause. The arena is completely modern in every way and the atmosphere inside Compton was electric. Students, alumni, the band and the Fighting Irish players were all ready to try out the new digs.

Everywhere I looked I saw something sparkling and incredible. The Irish pub on the second floor seems too good to believe, and the poster-making stations found throughout the arena were a great idea. I've got to say, the videoboard stole the show. The combination of lights, sounds and high quality videos that the new system allowed was amazing. All of the new features had the Irish fans in the arena fired up for a big game.

Luckily enough, the Irish players delivered.

Maybe it was the energy of the crowd in the new arena. Maybe it was anger at falling a few spots in the rankings after suffering two early losses. Maybe the players were caught up in the emotion of it being "USC weekend" on campus. Whatever the reason, Notre Dame came out with the kind of determination and fire that is almost impossible to beat.

Anders Lee was a man on a mission. Lee put on a show, scoring not only the first goal in the Compton Family Ice Arena but also notching its first hat trick. The Irish were aggressive throughout the night and played with the same level of intensity that led them to a Frozen Four appearance last year. The result was a dominant performance in a commanding 5-2 victory over the Engineers.

It was the perfect way to open the new Compton Family Ice Arena. And as a series of familiar chants rocked the arena at the end of the third period, I realized it was also the perfect way to kickoff the weekend. We got to see what can happen when an inspired team performance combines with a passionate fan base.

They're both powerful forces, but when they're together they're just abut unstoppable.

- Tom McGuire ('14)

Daily Dish - 10.24.11

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kfriltennis.jpg - SI.com selected a 2011 Midseason All-America team and put Notre Dame's Manti Te'o as a second-team linebacker.

- Notre Dame's "Dig Pink" match certainly lived up to its name ... the Fighting Irish scooped 62 shots - including a match-high 20 digs by Kristen Dealy - during Sunday's 3-0 (25-23, 25-17, 25-19) BIG EAST Conference volleyball win against USF in front of 1,460 fans at Purcell Pavilion ... Dealy was one of three Irish players with double-digit digs as senior Frenchy Silva (17) and sophomore Andrea McHugh (10) helped anchor a defensive effort that held USF to a .107 hitting clip. Notre Dame partnered with Dig Pink, a national initiative devoted to promoting breast cancer awareness spearheaded by the Side-Out Foundation, to help raise money for the Secret Sisters Society of South Bend.

- A career-high two-goal effort from Harrison Shipp led the way as the No. 15 Notre Dame men's soccer team defeated Pittsburgh, 3-1, on Saturday evening in BIG EAST Blue Division play at Ambrose Urbanic Field in Pittsburgh ... Notre Dame jumped on top in the 33rd minute on an own goal and Shipp gave the Irish a 2-0 lead in the 44th minute.

- Women's tennis senior co-captains Kristy Frilling and Shannon Mathews punched their ticket Sunday to the championship of the ITA Midwest Regionals doubles draw, which will take place today at the Ohio State Varsity Tennis Center in Columbus, Ohio ... the Irish duo recorded a pair of victories on the day to put them in the title matchup ... after opening up with a decisive 8-1 opening match against Belinda Niu and Brittany Wowchuk of Northwestern, Frilling and Mathews found themselves in a semifinal matchup against RachelWhite and Melissa Kopinski of Illinois ... the Irish tandem jumped out to a quick 4-1 advantage in their semifinal tilt but saw the Illinois team win the next two games to close the margin to one game ... Frilling and Mathews were undeterred, however, claiming four of the next five games to pull away for an 8-4 victory.

- Notre Dame four boat, in its first taste of competitive action on the season, earned a fifth-place finish in the championship four race at the Head of the Charles Regatta on the Charles River on Sunday ... the Irish finish also represented the second-best result amongst collegiate boats in the race ... the Head of the Charles is an extremely reputable race worldwide, as it is the second largest two-day regatta in the world, with more than 8,900 athletes rowing in around 1,750 boats in 56 events ... the Irish boat, comprised of coxswain Abby Meyers, along with Molly Bruggeman at stroke, Olivia Kacsits at the third seat, Erin McConnell at the second seat and Courtney Gaberino at bow concluded the race in a time of 18:40.01 to secure the fifth-place result by more than 11 seconds over Yale, who crossed in 18:51.45.

Hear It From a Student - Christening Compton

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Hockey 1.jpg Last Friday, a new era of Notre Dame hockey began as the team relocated from the Joyce Center's north dome to Compton Family Ice Arena.

The new facility is an incredible upgrade from the old and gives the top-tier team a home with quality that reflects the recent success of the program.

Playing Rensselaer Tech (RPI), the Irish put on a show for the largest hockey crowd in South Bend history - a sell-out showing of 5,022. Sophomore Anders Lee continued his scoring tear, bringing his season goal total to eight with a hat trick in the inaugural game.

Lee is tied for the most goals in the nation with Jeremy Langlois from Quinnipiac, despite playing in three fewer games.

What was most encouraging about the game, however, was the electrifying atmosphere that the new arena brought. A few kinks in the system notwithstanding, the experience was overwhelmingly superior to that of the Joyce Center. The videoboard was able to better introduce the players and provide a real-time feed for when the puck went into a blind spot of the ice.

But the real benefit of the arena was much more intangible than that. It's difficult to describe, but the difference in atmosphere is like the disparity in speed between the NFL and college football. We're at a whole new level now.

Hopefully the Irish will be able to feed off the inevitable increase in energy that will come at home. I'll be anxious to see how loud the place can get in a game that's still close during the third period. As exciting as Friday's game was, I have a feeling it can get a lot louder in that arena.

- Craig Chval ('15)

Hear It From a Student - Three Things

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USC 7.jpg Three things we learned ...

1.) Turnovers break hearts ... Notre Dame had played two consecutive games of turnover-free football going into the USC weekend but that trend ended as the Irish committed three turnovers in the game. Not only did the Irish commit three turnovers, but they committed yet another turnover inside USC's 10-yard line. With the Irish in position to tie the game at 17-17, a botched snap resulted in a fumble recovery for a touchdown. That play swung the entire momentum of the game as Notre Dame never seemed to recover.

2.) Notre Dame Stadium can be a loud, loud stadium ... But there is still some work to be done. Both head coaches used the word electric to describe the game atmosphere during their post-game press conference. However, as the game wore on a number of the students got restless of hearing 'Crazy Train' (which was played on third and fourth downs). Granted, this is likely due to the fact that on the first drive alone the song was played multiple times after USC converted a number of third and fourth downs to keep the drive going.

If the Irish stopped the Trojans on the first third down, students - and fans - would have fallen in love with the song. Regardless, the music made Notre Dame Stadium alive for most of the game. Hopefully that trend continues.

3.) George Atkinson III is a fantastic kickoff returner ... For the second time this season, George Atkinson III ran a kickoff back for a touchdown. Atkinson brought the energy back into the stadium and got Notre Dame on the scoreboard. His 96-yard kickoff return for a touchdown made him the fourth FBS player to record two kickoff return touchdowns this season. In fact, the return was the fifth longest kickoff return in Notre Dame history.

- Andrew Bartolini ('13)

Following Flynt - Irish Around the League

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Although several players were off with byes this weekend, a few former Irish football players performed well in Sunday's NFL action.

In his Oakland debut, Chinedum Ndukwe ('07) made two solo tackles and intercepted a Kansas City pass on the final play of the first half, but the Raiders lost to the Chiefs, 28-0. The former Irish safety signed with the Raiders on Oct. 18.

Green Bay improved to 7-0 with a 33-27 win in Minnesota. Ryan Grant ('05) had nine carries for 29 yards for the Packers.

On the scoreboard, Sunday's game between Seattle and Cleveland looked more like Mariners vs. Indians baseball game than a Seahawks vs. Browns football bout. The Browns won 6-3. Golden Tate had one catch for 11 yards for the Seahawks, who dropped to 2-4.

David Bruton ('09) had one solo tackle in Denver's 18-15 comeback win at Miami. Anthony Fasano ('06) caught two passes, including a 16-yard touchdown early in the fourth quarter for the Dolphins.

Baltimore takes on Jacksonville in tonight's Monday Night Football action, but Tom Zbikowski ('07) is listed as doubtful for the Ravens.

- Josh Flynt ('11)

Irish Connection - Episode 17

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We've Got Spirit

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Hear It From Tim Brown

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Fighting To Protect Our Players

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Live Chat - Volleyball vs. USF

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Today's Dig Pink volleyball match will pit Notre Dame against USF today at 2:00 p.m. (ET). The BIG EAST Conference matchup marks the end of Notre Dame's five-game roadswing.

Irish UNDerground will have all the angles in and around the action covered throughout today's game. Be sure to share your questions, comments and complaints and let your voice be heard throughout the Notre Dame nation.

Want to track all the action from your mobile device? No problem.

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Notre Dame 17, USC 31

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Live Chat - Football vs. USC

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Today is the day. And this is the game.

Irish UNDerground will have all the angles in and around the action covered throughout tonight's game between Notre Dame and USC. Be sure to share your questions, comments and complaints and let your voice be heard throughout the Notre Dame nation.

Want to track all the action from your mobile device? No problem.

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Live Chat - Hockey vs. RPI

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Notre Dame returns to action tonight as the Irish play host to the Rensselaer Engineers on at 7:35 p.m. (ET). The game will be the first-ever played at the new Compton Family Ice Arena.

Irish UNDerground will have all the angles in and around the action covered throughout tonight's game. Be sure to share your questions, comments and complaints and let your voice be heard throughout the Notre Dame nation.

Want to track all the action from your mobile device? No problem.

Simply click (or to be phone friendly, "touch") HERE.

The Trojan Horse Returns to Campus

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Live Chat - Women's Soccer vs. DePaul

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Notre Dame will have one final chance to sharpen its game before the start of postseason play when it welcomes DePaul to Alumni Stadium tonight for a 7:30 p.m. (ET) match. The Fighting Irish also will celebrate the remarkable careers of their eight departing senior players (and senior manager Brendan Andrew) in a short pre-match Senior Night ceremony.

Irish UNDerground will have all the angles in and around the action covered throughout tonight's game. Be sure to share your questions, comments and complaints and let your voice be heard throughout the Notre Dame nation.

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Simply click (or to be phone friendly, "touch") HERE.

Trojans To Face Almost-Teammate Te'o

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ESPN.com - There's little question that junior linebacker Manti Te'o is the leader of the Notre Dame defense, a fact that adds yet another twist to the rivalry between the Trojans and the Irish.

"Te'o is playing fantastic. I wish he was here," USC coach Lane Kiffin said this week.

USC fans who follow recruiting need no reminder of how close Te'o came to wearing a Trojans uniform. He took his official recruiting visit to USC on the weekend before signing day in 2009. Te'o was hosted on that trip by Matt Barkley. The two had become friends during the recruiting process, and when Te'o left Los Angeles he was convinced he would end up at USC.

A few days later on signing day, however, he surprised the recruiting world by announcing that he would be attending Notre Dame. Te'o did this despite being on the phone with USC coach Pete Carroll for the entire hour-plus drive from his home to the signing day ceremony, while most certainly listening to pleas from Carroll about why he should sign with the Trojans.

"I was sold on USC, I grew up a USC fan," Te'o told ESPN.com's Matt Fortuna this week. "I was going to go to USC, then I prayed about it and I was directed here.

"My first two years I said, 'OK, this is USC. I almost went there.' But going into this year I don't have that feeling anymore. I'm happy to play with the guys I'm with so it's just another game for me."

Te'o has been one of the better linebackers in the country this season, notching 59 tackles, 8.5 tackles for loss and four sacks. In a rivalry that prides itself on physical football, you have to figure Te'o is going to be in the middle of the action Saturday.

"Te'o is a great player," Trojans fullback Ross Cumming said. "He plays with a downhill mentality. He's a tough, physical guy, but so are we. We have tough, physical guys over here, too."

Trick Shot Friday - Fail!

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Rees Has Feel for the Game

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Air Force 4.jpgOrange County Register - We don't know yet if Notre Dame sophomore quarterback Tommy Rees will become iconic.

We do know that on this particular Saturday, he'll be ironic.

Rees was born a Bruin. His brother, Danny, was UCLA's holder for kicks. His dad, Bill, was Terry Donahue's recruiter in those misty, black-and-white days when UCLA actually walked the college football earth.

And Rees could have played for Lane Kiffin. When he went to Tennessee's camp, during Kiffin's fingersnap tenure in Knoxville, he was voted offensive MVP.

Kiffin recruited Rees, as did Jim Harbaugh at Stanford, but Rees committed to Charlie Weis and Notre Dame. When Brian Kelly replaced Weis, Rees never budged. So far, Notre Dame is where he belongs.

"Maybe he didn't look as big and strong as other quarterbacks," said Chuck Spagnoli, Rees' coach at Lake Forest High in the north Chicago suburbs. "But every time he went to a camp, that school recruited him, at least everybody but Northwestern."

On Saturday, Notre Dame plays USC. Rees is already 1-0 against USC. He is 8-1 as a starter. He took Notre Dame to a Sun Bowl victory season, in which a Miami player dislocated one of Rees' kneecaps - not that it knocked Rees out of the game or anything.

He had to beat out Dayne Crist this year and he is trying to hold off Andrew Hendrix, who might play a series or two Saturday, but Rees has apparently won the locker room referendum. He has a way of winning.

"He was just that guy who could always come through in the clutch," Danny Rees said. "When my dad was working for the 49ers, we were on the practice field one day and somebody wanted to see if Tommy could throw it through the goalposts from 40 yards. He did."

Rees was 11 at the time. As a 15-year-old sophomore, he took Lake Forest down the field for two fourth-quarter touchdowns to tie Libertyville, a rival that the Scouts had not beaten in a decade, and then won with another TD drive in overtime.

Last season, Crist got hurt in the midst of a loss to Tulsa and Rees came in. He didn't win, but he upset Utah the next week. Then he won games in Yankee Stadium (Army) and the L.A. Coliseum (USC).

Following Flynt - Freshman Friday

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Always Remember

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Never Forget

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Student-Athletes Volunteer In Alabama

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ndmurphbama.jpg AL.com - A group of University of Notre Dame student-athletes and administrators wrapped up a week of volunteering in tornado relief Thursday on a fall break service trip organized by Notre Dame and the University of Alabama.

The trip, called Fight for Tide, brought 24 students and six administrators to Tuscaloosa to work in collaboration with Project Team Up, an initiative to rebuild communities partnered with Nick Saban's foundation Nick's Kids.

Students representing the Notre Dame baseball, cross country, cheerleading, fencing, men's golf, women's lacrosse, rowing and track and field teams were selected for the trip based on essays they wrote.

Sarah Smith, program coordinator for student athlete welfare and development at Notre Dame, said the idea to help Tuscaloosa began with a former Notre Dame employee who currently works in the ticket office at Alabama. He emailed the athletics office at Notre Dame and asked them to collect relief supplies that Alabama would pay to ship.

Smith, who is originally from a town an hour away from Joplin, Missouri, began to come up with an idea of a service trip when students started talking over the summer about going to down to Tuscaloosa to help.

"I just kind of ran with the idea and started calling people to see if it would be a possibility, and people started wanting to support it and make it happen," Smith said.

After arriving Saturday, the group has worked at two sites in Alberta City, clearing storm debris on lots where new houses are planned to be built. They also met with Alabama athletics director Mal Moore and went on the field at Bryant-Denny Stadium, had dinner with Notre Dame's Alabama alumni club at Dreamland, attended Mass with students at the St. Francis of Assisi Parish on the Alabama campus and toured the baseball and softball facilities.

On Thursday, at a site just off University Boulevard on 21st Avenue East, Alabama softball coach Patrick Murphy and several players joined the group from Notre Dame in clearing debris from destroyed houses and carrying limbs to the street.

Notre Dame baseball player Tommy Chase said the experience changed his perspective on the important things in life.

"I look at this as a great opportunity to help where there's a need," Chase said. "We get caught up at school doing a lot things for ourselves, whether it's in sports or in the classroom. Those are all great things, but it's revolved around our own needs and goals. Being able to come down here and help others is really important for my own personal development, but also I want to hopefully inspire this community in some way."

Notre Dame sophomore cheerleader Erin Garfield took time away from her team to travel to Tuscaloosa because the fall break gave her time to join the service trip. On Saturday night, she'll be cheering on the sidelines as the Irish face USC in South Bend.

"It's just been a great experience all around, hearing all these stories from people who experienced the tornado and getting to meet all these amazing people, Garfield said.

Alabama sophomore softball player Ryan Iamurri said she was glad to share the experience of volunteering in Alberta City with the students from Notre Dame.

"When you live here, you kind of get back in your normal routine, and if you don't cross this bridge (to Alberta), you forget what it's like," Iamurri said."It was so nice of them because we realize there's still so much more to do. To come out here with them is special."

Yeh, He Can Hoop

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Warriors of Notre Dame

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Irish Connection - Episode 16

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The Golden Standard

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Following Flynt - What To Watch for Against USC

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5740826.jpeg Fighting Irish Digital Media intern Josh Flynt ('11) continues to provide the inside scoop on the Notre Dame football program. Here is his take on what to watch for during Saturday's game against USC ...

Touchdown Timmy Returns: Before he was Mr. Raider, Tim Brown was one of the most accomplished receivers in Notre Dame history. The 1987 Heisman Trophy winner will be this week's pep rally speaker. During that season, Brown returned two consecutive punts for touchdowns against Michigan State in a 31-8 night game victory at Notre Dame Stadium.

Following the pep rally at Irish Green there will also be a fireworks show. In addition, the Irish hockey team hosts RPI in the first ever game in Compton Family Ice Arena, and the men's and women's basketball teams will hold Irish Madness at Purcell Pavilion. The event will feature ESPN college basketball analyst (and Notre Dame fan) Dick Vitale and current and former players from both teams. There will be team scrimmages and competitions, as well as fan contests throughout the night.

A New Gold Standard: One of the greatest and most recognizable symbols of Notre Dame football for the past several decades has been the gold helmet. In recent years however, that gold seemed to have lost some of its luster. Determined to make a change that would better represent the color of the Golden Dome, athletic director Jack Swarbrick asked head football equipment manager Ryan Grooms to find a better fit.

The result is a new gold helmet courtesy of Hydro Graphics Inc. Unveiled Wednesday on UND.com and the Notre Dame Athletics Facebook page, these helmets will make their debut on Saturday night. They will shine more brightly than those of the past and provide the Irish with a more consistent color from week to week.

In general, it seems that the new helmets have been met with positive feedback. The photos from University photographer Matt Cashore are great, but I had a chance to see the helmets in person earlier this week and I think people will be even more impressed with them when the Irish take the field.

Hear It From a Student - An Empty Feeling

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5709638.jpeg Fall break has been strange day for me in a lot of ways.

It is almost surreal to think that I have a whole week off from classes. I got to see my family for the first time in a few months. But despite knowing that the week would be one of relaxation and fun, I just can't shake this feeling of emptiness without Notre Dame football.

For a few incredible months in fall and winter, my Saturdays are completely defined by Notre Dame football. I structure my entire day around the game. If it's a home game, I have to plan how I'll tailgate before the game, who I'll sit with at the game and where my friends and I will go to discuss the game afterward.

On away game weekends, I have to figure out where I can watch the game and make sure that I have all the necessary provisions. Who I hang out with, what I eat, where I go ... it all comes back to football.

Even the quality of my weekend hangs on how the game goes. If it's a big win (think: the win over Air Force), I'm energized and fired up to have a great time. When we lose a heart breaker, I have to force myself to do anything fun. After the Michigan game, I felt like lying around and doing nothing. My entire state of mind is closely tied to how the Irish do on Saturdays.

That's why last week was so bizarre. Notre Dame was on its bye week and I didn''t know what to do. I tried watching other college football games. While watching Michigan State's defense lay some big hits on Denard Robinson was pretty fun, it's just not the same as watching the Fighting Irish.

There's something magical about walking into Notre Dame Stadium and seeing a vivid blend of green, blue and gold ready to cheer on the Irish. The sense of wonder experienced when watching my first game from the student section, the absolute misery I felt after the Irish collapse against Michigan last year, and the pure joy of storming the field after beating Utah last year are things I will never forget. A nail-biter of a game featuring two teams other than Notre Dame can come close to matching that level of emotion, but it can never quite match it.

I think that I'm going to have to make the most of this situation. Logically, I know that the team needs a break to both physically and mentally recover, and I want them to be well prepared for the rest of the season. More emotionally, I can't stop anticipating and imagining Saturday's USC game. It'll be the first USC game I've seen in person, and I can't wait to hear 80,000 fans cheering on the Irish at the top of their lungs.

I can't wait.

- Tom McGuire ('14)

Quietly, Brey Makes His Mark In BIG EAST

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5723919.jpeg ESPN.com - Mike Brey remembers being introduced to more than 200 Notre Dame alumni and fans 11 years ago at the Joyce Center, telling the gathering that he had been in love with two coaching jobs in his five previous years at Delaware.

"That's Notre Dame twice," he said, referring to his run at the job a year earlier, when he lost out to Matt Doherty. "I'll be very clear, Notre Dame twice, and I'm happy I'm here."

That moment dawned upon Brey last week when asked if he had felt like this was really his 12th go-round with the Irish, who are coming off a 27-win season that helped him notch his third conference coach of the year award in the past five seasons.

"Everybody was, 'Well how long are you gonna stay?' Brey said. "And I said, 'My goal would be to stay here and do a good enough job that you'd let me retire here.' And everybody's like, 'Ah, yeah right.'

"My track record's pretty good after 12 years," he added with a laugh. "Here I am man, what else?"

Don't look now, but the Big East, barring extinction, may soon have a new elder statesman.

Jim Boeheim and Syracuse are on their way out, and the futures of both Jim Calhoun and Connecticut are cloudy at best. Enter Brey, who has ever-so-quietly rebuilt Notre Dame basketball over the past decade, amassing seven NCAA tournament berths and 238 wins through 11 seasons.

Rick Pitino may be more decorated, Bob Huggins may be older and John Thompson may have the better family name, but none have coached in the Big East as long as Brey, who trails just Boeheim and Calhoun.

"I do start thinking, in the league meetings now I do," Brey said of his longevity. "I remember when Jim [Boeheim] and Jim [Calhoun] took me under their wing 10 years ago, and they were great; they never needed to do that but they did. And they gave us younger guys, like Jay Wright and myself, advice. But now I thought about that at the meetings and I said, 'God, if Calhoun leaves the league, I'm the oldest guy.' So the the officials better start reporting to me on every dead ball."

Can Notre Dame Replace Hansbrough?

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5722041.jpeg ESPN.com - Tim Abromaitis was asked a question at Notre Dame media day about the vocalness of Eric Atkins, but it was asked with a caveat.

"He's not Ben," the reporter said matter-of-factly. "No one's Ben ..."

"No," Abromaitis said, cutting him off. "He's not crazy."

Such is what Abromaitis and his Notre Dame teammates are tasked with in replacing Ben Hansbrough, who averaged 18.4 points per game last season en route to Big East Player of the Year honors.

Hansbrough, now playing professionally in Germany, led the Irish to a 27-7 overall record and a stunning second-place finish (14-4) in a conference that sent 11 teams to the NCAA tournament.

But it is Hansbrough's maniacal work ethic and the intensity that has become a trademark of his family that may leave a bigger void on a Notre Dame team featuring just two seniors this season, captains Abromaitis and Scott Martin.

"I don't know -- there will never be another one of those guys," coach Mike Brey said of Hansbrough. "And my God, I miss him. Was there watching some tape the other day. He's doing it in Germany now. Can we do it a little collectively? That's not the personality really of any of our guys."

Added Martin: "I don't think there's a human being on this planet that can match Ben Hansbrough's intensity."

But what about his production?

Abromaitis averaged 15.4 points and 6.1 rebounds per game last season. Martin, a Purdue transfer, came on strong during the Big East tournament and finished his first season in an Irish uniform, averaging 9.7 points and 4.8 rebounds per game.

"It's definitely something we'll be missing because I don't think anybody can step up and replace what Ben did, with his personality and intensity and everything like that," Abromaitis said. "But just because we don't have that doesn't mean that we can't be successful and accomplish what we did last year, because I think we have a lot of talented guys and we have pretty good chemistry and we'll just know how to work together, really."

That may start with Atkins, a sophomore point guard who played in every game last season, averaging 5.8 points and leading the Big East with a 2.56-1 assist-to-turnover ratio.

Following Flynt - Walk-on Wednesday

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Following Flynt - Inside NBC's Broadcast

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nbcsports.jpgFor those of you fortunate enough to watch the Irish live and in person on football Saturdays, you might not be aware of all the work that goes into NBC's television broadcasts of Notre Dame football.

While Tom Hammond, Mike Mayock and Alex Flanagan are the faces and voices of the Irish on NBC, producer Rob Hyland is the true quarterback of the squad. Now in his third season at the helm of NBC's Notre Dame broadcasts, Hyland himself is a former college football player. He graduated from Williams College (Mass.) and was a force on the Ephs offensive line, helping lead the team to a 28-3-1 record in his four seasons.

While a junior at Notre Dame, I had the privilege of working with Rob and his crew in the television trucks on the west side of the stadium for the 2009 season. I operated QBStat, a statistical software program used in the creation of in-game graphics and updates. Rob and color commentator Mike Mayock were recently on campus and spent some time in the Gug preparing for the upcoming season.

I had a chance to speak with Rob while he was watching the Irish practice. He shared more about the ins-and-outs of NBC's coverage of Notre Dame football, as well as his experiences in the industry.

What other NBC coverage have you worked on?
Hyland: I began in 1997 right out of Williams College. I played football there and was an offensive lineman, many pounds ago. I started out with NBC as a runner, working at the World Track and Field Championships in Greece in 1997, where I actually spent some time working with Tom Hammond.

After people began to notice me, I was offered a freelance opportunity with the NFL on NBC, where I worked as a P.A. (production assistant). I spent three years doing replay for Sunday Night Football, where I got to work very closely with John Madden. I learned a lot more about the game from watching film with him.

I've also worked on the network's horse racing coverage. I met my wife through horse racing. Her father was a trainer for Kentucky Derby winner Barbaro.

I always knew I wanted to do college football, and obviously with NBC, Notre Dame is the big one.

The Irish Experience

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cropped_comp.jpgND.edu - A new collaboration between Notre Dame's Alliance for Catholic Education (ACE) and athletics department is bringing a new experience to young people in the South Bend area, combining the excitement of Fighting Irish football and the development of life skills that can convey inspiration and success.

The new collaboration, called the Irish Experience League initiative, brings together ACE's Play Like a Champion Today (PLC) educational program and the Youth and Community Programs office within Notre Dame Athletics.

The Irish Experience League - a youth flag football league for boys and girls in grades 5 to 8 - launched on Sept. 25 at two community locations: the Martin Luther King Center in the Westside neighborhood and Kelly Park in the Northeast neighborhood of South Bend. The free program will continue to take place on Sunday afternoons from 1:30 to 3:30 p.m.

During five consecutive weeks, the League will host 60-minute flag football games, accompanied by 45-minute sessions exploring Play Like a Champion Today lessons in character development as well as health and life skills. The games and learning opportunities, in both girls' and boys' divisions, will feature fun with Notre Dame varsity athletes as they join in the activities.

PLC is known nationally as an initiative of Notre Dame's ACE program. PLC works primarily with coaches and parents to help students integrate constructive values in their athletic experiences and in their whole lives.

The goal of well-rounded human development among these young people is advanced not only through PLC's well-respected educational approaches for young people in public and parochial schools alike, but through the compelling messages of Notre Dame Athletics. The key message for young people is the five pillars of success in the Irish Experience - namely, excellence, education, tradition, faith and community.

"We are pleased to be working closely with Notre Dame Athletics on the Irish Experience League - a program that embodies Notre Dame's mission to turn scholarship into service, especially to the most vulnerable in our community," says Clark Power, a Notre Dame faculty member and director of Play Like a Champion Today.

Under the direction of Kevin Dugan, manager of Youth and Community Programs for Notre Dame Athletics, and with sponsorship and guidance from Power and his colleagues, the League is catalyzing new engagement between diverse segments of the Notre Dame community - faculty, staff and students - and the parents and young people of the South Bend community. More collaborations involving Play Like a Champion Today, ACE and the Notre Dame Athletics Department are being explored for the future.

PLC has launched a "Champions for Children" initiative with the goal of ensuring that children from all backgrounds can enjoy and grow from enriching sport experiences that engage them physically, but also help them to grow morally and spiritually.

Pat Haden Talks Notre Dame

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Following Flynt - Tradition Tuesday

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The week is finally here - the week that Notre Dame fans marked on their calendars as soon as the football schedule was released.

During even-numbered years, it's a post-Thanksgiving trip to the Los Angeles Coliseum. In odd years, mid-October at home in South Bend. It's the greatest of all Irish rivalry games - Notre Dame vs. USC.

This year's matchup with USC is accompanied by more hype than any with the Trojans since, well, to borrow from J.K. Rowling, "The-Game-Which-Must-Not-Be-Named" (more on that later).

In March, the University announced that for the first time since 1990 the Irish would be hosting a night game. For just the eighth time in Notre Dame Stadium's storied history, the entirety of the contest will be played under the lights.

I touched on the early history of Notre Dame's series with USC in last week's Tradition Tuesday. This week focuses on the past several decades in the rich and exciting history of the rivalry.

During what would be Notre Dame's ninth national championship season, the eighth-ranked Irish hosted the sixth-ranked Trojans in late October of 1973. Notre Dame had not beaten the Trojans since 1966, going 0-4-2 in the previous six meetings. USC running back Anthony Davis torched the Irish defense for six touchdowns in the previous season, but this time, head coach Ara Parseghian's team kept him in check, knocking off the unbeaten Trojans, 23-14.

One of the most famous games in the history of the series came in 1977, another national championship year for Notre Dame. During the pep rally on Friday, men's basketball coach Digger Phelps called the students and fans to action. In what has often been dubbed the "Green Jersey Game," head coach Dan Devine surprised the crowd, and his team, by pulling a switch on game day.

Until returning to the locker room before kickoff, only the captains were aware of the different jerseys. The surprise ignited the Irish, who arrived on the field behind a giant Trojan horse assembled by a group of students. No. 11 Irish crushed No. 5 USC, 49-19.

From 1983-93, the Irish won 11 in a row against USC. One of those victories came in a key matchup during the 1988 national championship season when head coach Lou Holtz took his team to Los Angeles for the regular season finale. Both Notre Dame and USC were undefeated and ranked No. 1 and No. 2, respectively, the only time that has occurred in series history. In their quest for a perfect season, the Irish jumped out to an early lead and never looked back. Holtz and his team were not to be denied. Notre Dame won 27-10 and went on to beat West Virginia in the Fiesta Bowl for its 11th national championship.

In 1995, the Trojans were ranked fifth in the country when they traveled to Notre Dame for the annual game. Inspired by Holtz's pep rally speech about the Notre Dame spirit, the 17th-ranked Irish ended USC's undefeated season, dashing the Trojans' title hopes, 38-10 .

Though it was a down year for both teams, the 1999 game between Notre Dame and USC proved to be a memorable one. After falling behind 21-0 in the first half, the Irish battled back, outscoring the Trojans 25-3 the rest of the way. The deciding play came with 2:40 left in the game when Jabari Holloway recovered Jarious Jackson's fumble in the end zone for an Irish touchdown. Jackson had scrambled towards the end zone, but the ball came loose as he was hit. Luckily for the Irish, Holloway was there to recover the ball for a touchdown that propelled Notre Dame to victory.

From 2002-04, Notre Dame fell to USC by a combined score of 130-37, but 2005 was expected to be a much closer game, and it certainly lived up to the hype. ESPN's College GameDay came to South Bend for the showdown between the ninth-ranked Irish and the top-ranked Trojans.

I was not at the game, but it remains one of those "never-forget-where-you-were" moments. As a high school junior, I was returning to New York from a cross-country meet at Brown University in Rhode Island. Our team bus was able to pick up NBC's broadcast, but it occasionally faded out. A couple of us were rooting for the Irish, and a teammate of mine was able to get in touch with his family who was watching the game back at home. In the closing seconds, the clock hit 0:00 and Notre Dame had pulled off a 31-28 upset ... or so we were told.

The Trojans were given one more shot to put the ball in the end zone, and well, we know how it ended.

(Note: No matter how difficult it may be to relive Oct. 15, 2005, no discussion of this series is complete without including that game - even though it may no longer be in the record books as a USC victory.)

In 2010, Notre Dame sought to break an eight-year losing streak against USC. In a rain-soaked battle, the Irish seemed headed for a ninth straight loss at the hands of the Trojans. Down 16-13 with 6:18 to play, the Irish took over on their own 23, beginning an unforgettable drive that was capped by a five-yard touchdown run by senior Robert Hughes. USC had one last chance to regain the lead, but Harrison Smith sealed the Notre Dame victory with a key interception near the end zone, ending the streak and giving the Irish a 20-16 win.

Over the years, Notre Dame and USC have played countless classic games, hard-fought battles with championships on the line. Though this year does not have title implications, it certainly could play a role in the BCS picture, at least for the Irish (the Trojans are in the second season of a two-year bowl ban). Still, the Trojans have a lot to play for on Saturday, especially with regards to recruiting. Don't be surprised if we see Notre Dame and USC pen another thriller when the lights come on this weekend.

- Josh Flynt ('11)

Following Flynt - Irish Around the League

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It's been a tough couple of weeks for the Irish in the NFL. With Seattle's John Carlson ('07) and Philadelphia's Victor Abiamiri ('07) already on injured reserve and out for the season, several other players have also been sidelined.

Justin Tuck ('05), Tom Zbikowski ('07), Sergio Brown ('10) each missed the sixth week of the season with injuries, while Mark LeVoir ('05), Darrin Walls ('10) and Ian Williams ('11) were also listed as inactive. John Sullivan ('07) left Minnesota's game against Chicago with an apparent concussion.

Ryan Grant ('05) had nine carries for 25 yards and two catches for 27 yards, as Green Bay defeated St. Louis 24-3. The Super Bowl champions improved to 6-0 for the first time since 1965.

Kyle Rudolph caught two passes for 20 yards, but the Vikings' woes continued. They fell to the Bears at Soldier Field, 39-10.

After a difficult 1-4 start, Philadelphia finally made a step in the right direction, knocking off division rival Washington, 20-13. Trevor Laws ('07) had one tackle and two quarterback hits for the Eagles.

- Josh Flynt ('11)

At the Car Wash

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The Notre Dame Globetrotters

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This Is the Week

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Following Flynt - Hoops Media Day

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4612974.jpegThough it was 70 degrees in South Bend yesterday and football season is only half over, it's time to begin turning some of our attention to the winter season.

Games will not start until November, but this week marks the beginning of the basketball season for the Irish men's and women's hoop teams.

While my role with Fighting Irish Digitial Media has been almost entirely dedicated to football thus far, I will also be covering the happenings on the hardwood.

Notre Dame is and probably always will be a "football school." From Knute Rockne and the Four Horsemen to Lou Holtz and Rocket Ismail, Notre Dame's rise to national prominence as a university was due in part to the success achieved on the football field. However, Our Lady's University is home to 25 other accomplished varsity athletic teams, and basketball is no exception, especially as of late.

Led by longtime head coach Muffet McGraw, the women's team reached the NCAA championship game in Indianapolis last season, stunning perennial powers Tennessee and Connecticut along the way.

Though head coach Mike Brey's team did not have the postseason success it had hoped for, the Irish stormed through the BIG EAST schedule, finishing 14-4 and earning a No. 2 seed in the Southwest Region.

Conveniently, this year's basketball media day fell in the midst of football's bye week. McGraw and her team spoke with the media earlier, while Brey and his squad met with reporters afterward. The men's team was thrust into the spotlight even before media day, when it was announced that fifth-year forward Tim Abromaitis would miss the first four games due to a "misunderstanding in the technicality of an NCAA rule governing seasons of competition." Brey addressed that situation on Tuesday.

Here are a few of highlights from the media session with the men's team ...

Expectations: After losing Tyrone Nash, Carleton Scott and BIG EAST Player of the Year Ben Hansbrough, many do not expect the Irish to be among the top teams in the conference. This season Brey is preaching patience, understanding that his team is "going to take some punches." Still, he and his coaching staff are taking a similar approach as they have in the past, asking the question, "Can we fight into the top eight (of the BIG EAST?)"

Given the competitive nature of the BIG EAST, a top-eight finish would give the team a realistic chance of earning an at-large bid for the NCAA Tournament. Notre Dame has used the conference's strength to its advantage.

"There's always enough power in the schedule to play your way into the tournament," Brey explained. The 12th-year head coach is confident his team can fight its way into the NCAA conversation when it begins in early 2012.

Room For Everyone: With the departure of Nash, Scott and Hansbrough, Brey finds himself in an unfamiliar situation.

"I don't know if there was ever a team where I could tell on the first day of practice, 'All right let's start with this fellas ... everybody's playing.' I don't know if many coaches can say that."

Players probably won't be asking themselves, "Am I going to play?" or "How much am I going to play?" Instead, everyone is likely to be involved, which might be helpful in the latter part of the strenuous conference schedule.

Still, there are a lot of question marks regarding how minutes will be distributed in the Irish rotation.

"If we played tonight, I feel like we have four guys that have been in the battles and had success ... That's a good place to start," Brey said.

hose four include co-captains Tim Abromaitis and Scott Martin, as well as Eric Atkins and Jack Cooley. It remains to be seen how players like Jerian Grant, Alex Dragicevich, Joey Brooks, Mike Broghammer and Tom Knight will factor into the mix as they gain more experience.

Eric Katenda: In July, the 6-foot-9 Irish recruit suffered a freak injury during a pick-up game, permanently losing vision in his left eye due to a severed optic nerve. The setback has jeopardized Katenda's basketball career, but Brey remains hopeful that the forward will be able to play again. A native of France, Katenda recently connected with former Duke guard Jon Scheyer. After an injury during an NBA workout, Scheyer only has 20 percent vision in his left eye, but has gone on to play professionally in Israel. Team doctors will evaluate Katenda when he arrives on campus in January.

Christmas Comes Early: Notre Dame's BIG EAST schedule kicks off with a home game against Pittsburgh, last year's regular season conference leader and the No. 1 seed in the Southeast Region. It will be a rematch of January's showdown in which the Irish upset the second-ranked Panthers, snapping a 20-game home winning streak. This year's game will be played at the Purcell Pavilion on Dec. 27.

Brey joked about celebrating Christmas with his family a few days early. "I don't know about Christmas this year for the Brey family because we've got Pitt rolling in Dec. 27," he said. "I'll tell you right now, I'm not going to be thinking about Christmas. We might have to do it on the 22nd because by the 25th, Merry Christmas, we've got Pitt coming in. Only in the BIG EAST would they do that."

- Josh Flynt ('11)

Women's Soccer at the Summit

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Notre Dame Magazine - When the women's soccer team won its third national championship in 2010, it established itself in the pantheon of Notre Dame athletics. The program, begun in 1988, took national titles in 1995 and 2004, and its current coach, Randy Waldrum, who came to Notre Dame in 1999, owns a winning percentage at Notre Dame (.860) that would place him between Rockne (.881) and Leahy (.855).

But to understand the story of last year's championship run you have to return to the dark, painful days of October 2010, following the tragic death of student football videographer Declan Sullivan. The women's soccer team was practicing on an adjacent field when the lift from which he was shooting toppled in high winds. Four days later the women's soccer team was booted out of the Big East tournament by UConn, losing to a conference opponent for the first time in 78 games.

The team had already faced other challenges. Waldrum prohibits his players, even those of legal age, from drinking alcohol from August till season's end. The 2009 team had included some backsliders, so the spring training sessions in 2010 were brutal.

"I think it's still left a mark on me," says three-year captain Jessica Schuveiller '12, remembering tough days with lots of running and not much soccer. "I think it was one of the lowest points [of my career]. He took away soccer." Players arriving for practice saw only orange cones, no balls.

"It was definitely disciplinary. Guys screwed up and broke our rules - not just the coaches' rules," says Erica Iantorno '11, referring to a contract all players sign, agreeing to the team rules.

Despite the punishing spring, the code was violated again during the 2010 season, just a few days before "Senior Day," the last regularly scheduled home game. The team came to the decision unanimously; the player, a senior, was dismissed.

The status of Courtney Barg '12, one of the team's stars, presented other potential troubles. The then-junior midfielder had been injured in preseason and had missed almost the entire schedule. Ready to return to play with only six games left, she faced a critical decision to come back and perhaps burn up a full year's eligibility or sit out the remainder of the season.

Notre Dame sports psychologist Mick Franco described Barg's decision to rejoin the team as an example of the players' "love for one another," but it also threatened team chemistry. Playing without Barg, the squad had climbed toward the top of the national rankings, with its only loss in overtime on the road to UCLA. "We were playing so well without her," Waldrum recalls, knowing it would take time for Barg to return to her high level of play and wary that lineup changes could hurt the team.

The fears seemed to have been realized when, two weeks later, UConn upset Notre Dame in the Big East tourney. But - everyone associated with the team agrees - that loss began the drive to the NCAA championship. "That really snapped our heads back on," says Iantorno.

The 15-2-2 Irish made the NCAA tournament but as a lowly fourth seed. No team seeded that low had ever won the title. Notre Dame would need to win six games, most on the road, to reach its ultimate goal.

Lights, Camera and ... Cut!

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Rocket Man

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Women's Soccer Gaining Steam After Slow Start

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5579781.jpeg ESPN.com - To say the curtain rising on the second act of Notre Dame's season coincided with the team discovering a natural playmaker in midfield is close to the truth, but it isn't quite right.

Sure, the defending national champions had become the unranked defending champions by the time senior Jessica Schuveiller shifted from her familiar spot in the back line to the midfield in late September. And yes, the Fighting Irish have climbed back into the mix with a 3-0-1 record in four games since she made the move. The timing is inescapable. It's the part about the new midfield star that needs tweaking.

It's not so much that Schuveiller creates plays as she leaves them littered in her wake, relentlessly pushing forward for a team until recently headed backward.

"It definitely was a spark to get her up there," Notre Dame All-American Melissa Henderson said. "She's a great attacking presence, and I think she brings a whole different aspect to the game, especially when we needed it. Coming into the season, it started out a little slow, and moving her up, it gave us so many more chances, and I think it gave us a little more confidence."

Leads will do that for a team's confidence. Schuveiller has scored four goals in the past five games, matching the total she scored in starting the first 88 games of her career as a defender (she's played 8,005 of a possible 8,529 minutes in her college career). The Fighting Irish, in turn, scored multiple goals in four of those games, something they managed just four times in their first 11 games. That's the tangible part of the equation. What's immeasurable is just how much the Fighting Irish needed a spark.

Rarely one to take losing in good humor, Notre Dame coach Randy Waldrum was nonetheless sanguine after a 2-1 overtime loss at North Carolina in the season's second week. The Tar Heels got the win that day, but Waldrum felt his team had the better play -- a sentiment North Carolina coach Anson Dorrance echoed at the time. Waldrum said this week that he felt the same after a 2-1 loss at Stanford in September, a game the Fighting Irish led with 10 minutes to play and which the coach contended was a better performance than the one that earned a national championship when the same teams met last season.

Waldrum seemed to think then and now that the Fighting Irish have the talent to play with anyone. Experience is an issue, with four sophomores, two freshmen and a new starter in goal. Talent is not.

Yet quality losses early gave way to suspect results. A 1-0 loss at home against Louisville ended a 62-match unbeaten streak in Big East competition. A 1-1 draw at South Florida came after the Fighting Irish had outscored another of their newest Big East foes by a 12-0 margin in three previous meetings.

Monogram Club Holds Fall Letter Jacket Ceremony

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5719151.jpeg The Monogram Club awarded letter jackets to 135 first-time monogram winners at the organization's annual fall letter jacket ceremony Tuesday night in the Joyce Center.

More than 250 individuals, including student-athletes, coaches, parents and administrators, gathered in the Monogram Room to celebrate an important Notre Dame tradition, started by the Monogram Club three years ago.

Although the organization has awarded letter jackets to varsity student-athletes since the Club's inception in 1898, a formal ceremony was implemented in 2008 to properly honor student-athletes for the competitive accomplishments to which only 8,000 individuals in the history of Notre Dame can stake claim.

"Tonight is very special, as it marks an extraordinary milestone in the lives of these honorees," Monogram Club executive director Beth Hunter said. "Through perseverance, dedication, and hard work, each of you has earned the right to become a part of the Monogram Club, which is certainly no small feat."

After her remarks, Hunter introduced University of Notre Dame president Rev. John I. Jenkins, C.S.C. Jenkins praised the student-athletes for their ability to achieve success on and off the field, often under a high level of scrutiny and attention.

"I know and I see how hard each of you work," Jenkins said. "You're our most visible students, and the way you act and the way you carry yourself makes me proud and reflects so much about this University. You are ambassadors of Notre Dame in a very special way."

While the letter jacket symbolizes athletic accomplishments and academic success while at Notre Dame, it also serves as a reminder of the tenacity and effort it takes for student-athletes to achieve in the professional world once their time at the University has come to an end.

The importance of this memento was stressed by keynote speaker Kate Sobrero Markgraf ('98), a two-time Olympic gold medalist (2004, 2008) and a member of the 1995 Notre Dame women's soccer national championship team. Markgraf provided color commentary for ESPN during the 2011 FIFA Women's World Cup in Germany.

"Notre Dame student-athletes know that to build a foundation to be successful in life and to develop a great reservoir of resilience, you must be challenged academically, athletically, socially and spiritually," Markgraf said. "You can become anything, and your experiences at this University will help you in every aspect of your life."

Athletics director Jack Swarbrick ('76) took the stage after Markgraf to reflect on what the monogram itself symbolizes - how it's interlocking letters convey the strong, symbiotic relationships with coaches, family, friends and teachers that help Irish student-athletes better reach their academic and competitive goals.

"Every one of those people is represented in a stitch of your monogram," Swarbrick said. "I want to make sure that every time you put on and wear the monogram, you remember all the people who helped you achieve it, and you thank them with your performance and the way you represent that jacket."

At the conclusion of the formal program of speakers, Hunter welcomed faculty athletic representative Patricia Bellia to the podium, who invited the student-athletes up to the stage by sport. During the presentation of each group, coaches and administrators joined the athletes, along with Swarbrick and Monogram Club president Dick Nussbaum ('74 & '77, baseball) to celebrate the accomplishment.

Jake Brems of men's lacrosse closed the ceremony by representing his fellow student-athletes with remarks about how shared values and experiences connect Monogram winners and bring the legacy of Notre Dame to life.

"The spirit of the Fighting Irish manifests itself in everything we do - in our academics, our volunteer work and in competition," Brems said. "It is the pride in being a part of this community that places the group above the individual and integrity above winning. It is through the work that we do and the sacrifices we make toward a common goal that we find success as Notre Dame student-athletes."


Following Flynt - Tradition Tuesday

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Fighting Irish Digital Media intern Josh Flynt ('11) continues to provide the inside scoop on the Notre Dame football program. Here is the first of his two entries on the history of the Notre Dame vs. USC series ...

Celtics vs. Lakers. Red Sox vs. Yankees. Packers vs. Bears. Ali vs. Frazier.

The sports world is full of great rivalries. But to Irish fans, Notre Dame vs. USC takes the cake.

The worlds of South Bend and Los Angeles have collided on the football field every fall since 1926 (except 1943-45 during World War II). The teams have played a total of 82 games against one another, with Notre Dame leading the series 43-33-5 (USC's 2005 win was vacated in June 2010). The Jewelled Shillelagh, introduced in 1952, is awarded annually, with emerald or ruby ornaments being added each year for the respective winner.

As legend has it, or better yet, as the "old wives' tale" goes, the series between Notre Dame and USC began following a conversation between Knute Rockne's wife and USC athletic director Gwynn Wilson's wife when the Irish were playing at Nebraska. Supposedly, Mrs. Wilson convinced Mrs. Rockne that a trip to sunny California every two years was better than a visit to cold and snowy Nebraska.

The more likely story suggests that perhaps Notre Dame's alumni had been looking to get Rockne to bring his team west, and that a pacific coast game could prove to be lucrative for the Irish. Notre Dame had first received an invitation from USC, but played Stanford in the 1925 Rose Bowl. Subsequently, Notre Dame decided to continue its trips to California, developing a home-and-home series with the Trojans.

The first meeting took place at the Los Angeles Coliseum, a close 13-12 victory for Rockne's squad, in which 145-pound fourth-string quarterback Art Parisien led a surprise winning drive.

In 1927 and 1929, the teams met at Soldier Field in Chicago with Notre Dame winning by a single point in each of those contests. The rivalry's early emergence as one of college football's best may have been due in part to the fact that the Fighting Irish and the Trojans were perennially among the major players in the chase for the national title.

Notre Dame won the championship in 1929 and 1930, while USC claimed that title in 1928, 1931 and 1932.

In 1938, USC spoiled Notre Dame's undefeated season with a 13-0 home victory. The Irish salvaged the national title in the Dickinson System, but may have cost themselves the Associated Press championship. Ten years later with the Trojans and Irish tied at 14-14, ending Notre Dame's 21-game winning streak. Frank Leahy's team won the national championship in 1946, 1947 and 1949, and probably could have in 1948 as well, if not for that tie on its resume.

One of the most notable games of Ara Parseghian's 1966 national championship season was the 51-0 blowout victory to close out the season in Los Angeles. The top-ranked Irish crushed the 10th-ranked Trojans, on their way to the university's eighth football title. To this day, it is the largest margin of victory in the storied history of the series.

The Notre Dame-USC series is simply too significant to cover in just one blog post and with a convenient bye this week, I will cover the more recent history of college football's greatest intersectional rivalry in next week's Tradition Tuesday.

- Josh Flynt ('11)
mlaxncaa.jpg The NCAA Division I Men's Lacrosse Committee has selected Indianapolis, Ind., and College Park, Md., to serve as hosts for the 2013 Division I Men's Lacrosse Quarterfinals. The NCAA and Indiana Sports Corp jointly made the announcement at its annual meeting on Tuesday.

Notre Dame and the Indiana Sports Corporation will host quarterfinal match-ups in Lucas Oil Stadium May 19, while the University of Maryland will host games at Capital One Field at Byrd Stadium on May 18.

"We are extremely pleased to bring this marquee event to Indianapolis," said Susan Williams, Indiana Sports Corp president. "Having the NCAA headquartered in Indianapolis and their commitment to showcase Indianapolis by awarding our experienced team with events of this magnitude continues to return huge dividends.

"Lacrosse is obviously a growing sport in our city and our state, and this announcement should excite a very passionate lacrosse community."

Indianapolis becomes the first site not along the east coast to be awarded pre-determined games of the NCAA Division I Men's Lacrosse Championship. The semifinals and championship game of the 2013 NCAA Division I Men's Lacrosse Championships will be held at Philadelphia's Lincoln Financial Field (May 25-27).

"2013 will be an exciting year in men's lacrosse as we take one of the quarterfinals to a newer grassroots area in the Midwest, and we return one to the state of Maryland, a place widely known for lacrosse," said Tony Seaman, Division I Men's Lacrosse Committee chair and special advisor to the director of athletics at Towson University.

"The committee felt moving one of the quarterfinals to a different geographic part of the country would aide in growing the sport of lacrosse, which is one of our most important goals. Both quarterfinal sites will play the games in top-notch facilities, and have staffs that are experienced and well-equipped for putting on a great championship event for all involved. We're looking forward to what is sure to be a memorable lacrosse weekend in both College Park and Indianapolis in 2013."

Let's Hear It for 'D-Boys'

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Air Force 6.jpg Notre Dame director of football media relations Brian Hardin makes his Irish UNDerground debut in grand fashion ...

Beginning this week, I will occasionally pen a column on our football team to either draw attention to something I feel is being overlooked, provide clarification on an issue that has not been presented accurately or fairly or shed light on a part of the program few have seen or heard from before.

In my first column, I'd like to recognize a group that has earned much deserved praise for its performance in the first half of the season, but one that was sent to the shadows from the shining light that was the Fighting Irish offense last Saturday.

I want to give credit to the first-team defense for its performance against Air Force.

Many will think I'm crazy for praising a defense that allowed 33 points and 565 total yards of offense. Those numbers certainly did not help the unit's statistical rankings in the latest NCAA report. However, a look inside those numbers reveals something pretty fascinating. The defense was pretty solid.

For instance, the Notre Dame first-team defense allowed 19 points to a group that entered averaging over 38 points per game. The final two touchdowns and 147 of 565 total yards came against third-team defenders last Saturday. In fact, over 25 percent of Air Force's final total yardage came in the last three possessions against the third-team defense.

The two touchdowns scored on the first-team defense occurred on drives that had actually been stopped earlier in the possession. The first touchdown came one play after the Irish jumped offsides on fourth-and-two from their own seven-yard line when the Falcons were attempting a field goal. The second touchdown came on a drive that was continued by a fake punt from the Air Force 35-yard line. The defense had allowed 15 yards on six plays in that possession before the Falcons punter scrambled 19 to keep the drive alive.

The second half, though, is when the stinginess the Irish defense showed in 19 of the 20 quarters entering Saturday returned. Air Force gained only 107 yards on 28 plays in the third and fourth quarters against Notre Dame's first-team defense. A team that entered the contest averaging 7.7 yards per play was held to half that after halftime. The Irish starters were tough to run against after intermission as Air Force tallied 78 rushing yards on 20 carries.

Explosive plays were non-existent in the second half as the only rush over 15 yards and pass over 20 yards in the second half came at the end of the game when the Irish cleared the bench in the waning two possessions.

The only way for Air Force to have gotten back into the game would have been through quick scores on offense that would have required passes over 20 yards. The defense implemented in the second half by defensive coordinator Bob Diaco completely eliminated that possibility.

Maybe the largest point that should be made cannot be proven by a statistical category, and that is the discipline required to play Air Force.

During Friday's production meetings with NBC, Cierre Wood told the story of how he asked Stephon Tuitt if he was ready to wreak havoc in the Air Force backfield on Saturday. To Wood's surprise, Tuitt's response was, "I'm ready to do my assignment."

For five weeks, our defensive line has gotten pressure in the backfield seemingly at will. That had been its assignment in previous games but not against Air Force. It was a great sign that a group of talented yet inexperienced defensive linemen could focus on the duty assigned by their coach in helping the team be as successful as possible.

There will be times in the future when the young defensive linemen will be "turned loose," but that type of approach versus Air Force could have had catastrophic results for the Irish.

It was great to see the Irish offense march up and down the field with relative ease last Saturday. The offense deserves the lion's share of attention this week for its stellar play in scoring touchdowns on every possession of the first half.

However, what I really enjoyed seeing was the winning mentality displayed in the second half by the Irish defense.

In a game decided by points and not yards, the starting defensive unit lived up to the standard set multiple times this year, and that's something that shouldn't be completely overshadowed.

- Brian Hardin (@bhardin2)

The Best Day of the Week

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Hear It From a Student - Riding the Wave

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Saturday's game was anything but boring. Any lack of suspense was overshadowed by pure offensive firepower. The Irish scored a touchdown on all six of their first-half possessions, gained 560 yards of offense and scored 59 points.

When the game was well in hand in the second half, though, apparently many fans were not content to find amusement watching the game in front of them. They awed and cheered as "the wave" made its way several times around the stadium.

I am not a fan of the wave, so I don't want to say there is a right time and a wrong time to do it.

The right time is "never" and the wrong time is "ever."

Yet, I also recognize some times are better than others. Media time outs are the best, followed by when we're on defense.

The worst time is when the Irish are on offense. Our offense requires quick no-huddle signals from the coach and verbal checks by the quarterback. Having the crowd stand up and cheer is distracting for the team.

Unfortunately, this is when the crowd (urged by the student section) chose to create its own little game, opposing Notre Dame's tradition that I thought surpassed any other school. There's a reason we don't have a jumbotron, we don't leave the game early and we don't wave maize-colored pom-poms. This is Notre Dame.

Worse, though, is that the wave is disrespectful. It tells the players (who have built up this comfortable lead through stellar play) that you're bored. It says that what is going on during the game disinterests you to the point that you need to find your own form of entertainment. It's an insult and a disgrace.

The players deserve the crowd's utmost respect and attention. If three or four hours is too long, tune into NBC next time and change the channel if you get bored.

- Craig Chval ('15)

Hear It From a Student - Not Enough

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5709825.jpeg"Four in a row is not enough for this group."

Brian Kelly is right. Four in a row is not enough. He was talking about the players when he said "this group" but he could have meant the whole school. Four in a row is not enough for the student section or the alumni or the Notre Dame nation. It is certainly not enough for me.

There has been a lot of talk of momentum lately. We've piled a win upon a win for four weeks now, and we're pushing all of that energy and excitement right into ... a bye week. And then we come right back and play USC.

USC is the ultimate measuring stick of how far this team has come. Right now, they're looking pretty good. The players are exciting, seizing opportunities and finally starting to click as a real, functioning machine. But USC brings pressure (the mental kind) our team has not truly felt since Michigan. And then we will see.

I'm scared again, you know? My hopes are back up, my enthusiasm is in full force, and I don't want to take any more heartbreak. That momentum has kept my team and me going. What if it leaves us right as we need it?

But then Kelly said something else that made me think this team really is changing.

"Momentum is necessary when there isn't a lot of wind in the sails. When you have confidence and ability, momentum is not a necessary part. Momentum then becomes a turnover in the first series and turning that into a touchdown. That's momentum within the game."

Momentum within the game. These players are now capable of generating their own success. They are that good. They have shown it, and I have seen it. Their growth this season is a matter of mental toughness, and as long as they keep that, I know they will be ready.

So I'm going to let my hopes stay out there on the ledge. And my classmates will create momentum right down into the USC end zone.

- Lauren Chval ('13)

Hear It From a Student - Three Things

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5711797.jpeg Three things we learned ...

1.) The Irish offense continues to be prolific ... The Irish offense put on a clinic Saturday on how to run an offense. The offense caused Notre Dame media relations' Brian Hardin and Michael Bertsch to break open a number of binders and start looking at box scores from decades ago in order to find the last time Notre Dame had put on that kind of display.

I could list a number of the records, but to put it plainly, the Irish dominated Air Force's defense. Everything Brian Kelly called worked and the attack was spread out as seven different Irish players scored a touchdown. This was the offense that everyone expected from Kelly after his success at Cincinnati and in year two at Notre Dame, Kelly's offense has exploded. We can only hope the Irish keep shaking down the thunder against the USC defense in two weeks.

2.) Andrew Hendrix is a perfect change-of-pace-QB ... When Andrew Hendrix took the field it shocked many of us. Things didn't start off very well for Hendrix as his first pass went for negative three yards (even Michael Floyd couldn't do anything on that play).

Hendrix then trotted to the sideline as Kelly quickly put Rees back in the game. However, Hendrix came back into the game a couple of plays later and started executing his playbook to perfection. He didn't run the whole offense, but he ran his sets and ran them well. The only thing he needs to work on is his endurance because he definitely doesn't want to get caught from behind again. That said, give him credit for totaling the most rushing yards on the day of any Irish player (and that is with two stud running backs on his team).

3.) The defense can slow down an option attack ... When the Irish starting defense was in the game, the Falcons only scored 19 points. The Irish went with the bend-but-don't-break philosophy against Air Force and it worked out rather well for the first-string unit. Yes, the Irish gave up a lot of yards, but they forced turnovers and limited the scoring. They forced Air Force to kick field goals instead of score touchdowns for the most part and if the Irish could have covered the fake punt - among other things - the unit may have surrendered zero touchdowns.

The score may have indicated a shootout but for the majority of the game it was anything but. The Falcons posted their scores towards the end on an inexperienced Notre Dame second-team defense, but at the end of the day, the Irish handled the usual "nightmare" that is the Air Force offense.

Not many teams can shut down the Air Force attack. Against offenses like Air Force, the defense has to manage the game and not give up big plays - and for the most part, that is exactly what the Irish did.

Also Worth Noting ...

* Notre Dame now has a winning percentage of .800 in the month of October. The Irish are 375-91-8 all-time during the month.

* Notre Dame had seven different players register a touchdown against Air Force. The last time the Irish had at least seven different players score touchdowns - Oct. 9, 1999 against Arizona State.

* The 59 points for the Irish were the most since Nov. 23, 1996, when Notre Dame shutout Rutgers, 62-0, in Lou Holtz's last game as head coach at Notre Dame Stadium.

* The 92 combined points are the most in Notre Dame Stadium history. The previous mark was 90 combined points, which happened on two different occasions. The Irish knocked off SMU, 61-29, in 1986 and Navy bested Notre Dame, 46-44, in three overtimes in 2007.

* Notre Dame scored 42 points in the first half. The 42 points in today's opening half are the most for the Irish in any half since Nov. 3, 1990, when Notre Dame registered 42 points in the second half against Navy (52-31).

* Rees became the fourth Irish quarterback in school history with multiple games of at least four touchdown passes. Rees joined Brady Quinn (seven), Jimmy Clausen (three) and Ron Powlus (three).

* Notre Dame totaled 560 yards of total offense. The Irish have now registered 500 yards or more of total offense in back-to-back weeks. It was the most yards for Notre Dame since Oct. 31, 2009, when Notre Dame had 592 against Washington State.

* Rees has thrown a touchdown pass in 11 straight games, which ranks as third-longest streak in school history. Brady Quinn holds the school record with a touchdown pass in 16 straight games (2004- 05).

* Jonas Gray collected a pair of touchdown runs in a single-game for the first time in his career.

* Hendrix was the first Irish quarterback to run for 100 yards since Carlyle Holiday on Oct. 27, 2001, at Boston College.

* Hendrix's 78-yard run was the second-longest in school history by a Notre Dame quarterback. Bill Eder had a 79-yard touchdown run against Navy on Nov. 1, 1969.

- Andrew Bartolini ('13)

Caption Contest

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"Can you find the two things wrong with this picture?"

Following Flynt - Irish Around the League

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The fifth week of NFL action was very quiet for former Irish players, but here's a look at some of Sunday's performances ...

- The Seattle Seahawks surprised the New York Giants with a 36-25 win at MetLife Stadium. Wide receiver Golden Tate caught two passes for 31 yards.

- Philadelphia dropped to 1-4 with a 31-24 loss at Buffalo. Trevor Laws ('07) had two tackles, including one for a loss.

- In NBC's Sunday Night Football action, Green Bay overcame a 14-0 deficit, scoring 25 unanswered points in a rematch of last year's divisional playoff game at Atlanta. Ryan Grant ('05) had one reception for six yards and was one of 12 players to catch a pass for the defending Super Bowl champions. The former Irish running back also had seven carries for 18 yards.

- Detroit puts its undefeated record on the line tonight when division rival Chicago visits the Motor City. Maurice Stovall ('06) injured his hand earlier in the season, but is listed as probable for tonight's game.

Defense! Defense! Defense!

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Ergging Along

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Monogram Club Musings - Air Force

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5714151.jpegThe Monogram Club continues to bring Irish fans the "Monogram Club Musings" following each home football game throughout the 2011 season ...

This past weekend, the Monogram Club joined with the athletics department to honor former Notre Dame football head coach Dan Devine by dedicating a new statue of the Hall of Fame coach at Gate A of Notre Dame Stadium. More than 60 members of the Devine family returned to campus to celebrate the momentous occasion.

The Club also hosted MLS All-Star Matt Besler ('09) at halftime of the men's soccer game versus Connecticut and put on its usual mix of popular football weekend activities.

- For the third-consecutive home game, a pre-game flyover electrified the crowd before the opening kickoff. Saturday's flyover featured a USAF B-2 stealth bomber named the "Spirit of Ohio."

- During the contest, Notre Dame football head coach Brian Kelly and the rest of the Irish sideline wore the adidas Breast Cancer Collection, a line of apparel and headwear created to support October's National Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Notre Dame players also sported pink arm, wrist and head bands as well as pink gloves.

- The weather for Saturday's game was so perfect, Notre Dame Stadium announcer Mike Collins quipped you could "put it in a bottle and sell it." The warm, sunny temperatures were certainly noted by NBC News' Chief Environmental Affairs correspondent Anne Thompson ('79), who may have jotted down a few notes for an upcoming report on global warming. She stopped by the Monogram Club pregame reception on Saturday to share some stories and memories, as she roomed with Devine's daughter, Sarah, during her undergrad career at Notre Dame and has remained close with the family ... During her 14-year career with NBC News, Thompson has covered a number of front-page global events, including the death of John F. Kennedy, Jr., the Martha Stewart trial, the Columbine school shooting, and the 2010 Gulf Oil spill. She won an Emmy for her extensive coverage of Hurricane Katrina in 2004.

- Comedian Brian Regan enjoyed Friday's Dan Devine statue dedication and reception as a guest of the Devine family. Hopefully his flight to South Bend went smoothly, because he's been known to poke a little fun at the airline industry.

- The Muse spotted former NBA standout Pat Garrity ('97) at events throughout the weekend, including the Devine proceedings on Friday afternoon. Garrity received his MBA from Duke University this past spring and has moved on to a financial services career in Connecticut. The Muse wonders if Pat can still throw it down like he did during his time with the Magic.

Daily Dish - 10.10.11

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5714138.jpeg - Despite an overwhelming edge in shots and quality scoring chances in the second half and both overtime periods in its BIG EAST Conference women's soccer match at Rutgers, Notre Dame wasn't able to find the winning solution and wound up sharing the spoils with the Scarlet Knights, as Sunday's matinee ended in a 0-0 draw at Yurcak Field in Piscataway, N.J. ... it was the fourth consecutive shutout for the Fighting Irish and keeps Notre Dame unbeaten in its last four matches, as well as six of their last seven outings ... the Fighting Irish finished with a 21-9 advantage in total shots for the afternoon, including a 17-3 edge during the final 45 minutes and the two 10-minute overtime sessions.

- A second straight BIG EAST Conference volleyball road win came in the form of a 3-0 (25-18, 25-19, 25-12) victory for Notre Dame Sunday afternoon at the West Virginia Coliseum in Morgantown, W.Va. ... paving the way for the Irish over host West Virginia was senior Kristen Dealy and her 16 kills ... in fact, Dealy hit an eye-popping .533 on the day without an error in 30 attempts.

- Sean Lorenz, Anders Lee and T.J. Tynan each had a goal and an assist and Notre Dame got strong play from its special teams as the Irish rallied to overcome a 2-0 second-period deficit on the way to a 5-3 hockey win over the Minnesota-Duluth Bulldogs Saturday night in front of 6,303 fans at AMSOIL Arena ... Nick Larson and Kevin Lind added the other two Irish goals while Sam Calabrese chipped in a pair of key assists for a two-point night on the score sheet ... Steven Summerhays made 21 saves in helping Notre Dame to a split of the weekend series.

- The 11th-ranked men's soccer team played No. 1 Connecticut to a scoreless draw in BIG EAST Blue Division action on Saturday afternoon in front of 1,943 fans at Alumni Stadium on the Notre Dame campus ... the tie snapped Connecticut's 11-game win streak.

- Here are some of Brian Kelly's comments from Sunday's media teleconference:

"We've said, listen, if we want to make the playoffs we have to win each and every week. We said, let's get to the top 14 in the country, you're in the playoffs and that means you've got to win a lot of games. It's a must-win situation each week and every game is a playoff game for us."

"Any time you are preparing against the option, yards have nothing to do with the outcome. It's about keeping the points down."

"When you have to prepare for triple option and the ability of the quarterback to run, you put in one less coverage for Michael Floyd and you put in one less blitz package to get after Tommy Rees because you're afraid you may get caught in that when (Andrew) Hendrix is in the game So it protects him (Rees) more when you have that kind of versatility in your offense."

"When you can protect the quarterback at the level that we do and to run the ball the past two weeks for over 250 yards, that's about as complete as it gets for an offensive line."

- Here are some leftover football notes from the Notre Dame-Air Force contest:

* The last time Notre Dame had seven different players score TDs in a game was in the 48-17 win over Arizona State in 1999 at Notre Dame Stadium.

* The last Notre Dame QB to run for 100 yards was Carlyle Holiday who had 22-109 vs. Boston College in 2001; Andrew Hendrix had six for 111.

* The 555 total yards by Notre Dame is the most this season (551 last week at Purdue).

* Notre Dame's 59 points are most by an Irish team since 62-0 vs. Rutgers in 1996 in Lou Holtz's last game at ND Stadium

* It was first time Irish have scored 50 anywhere since a 57-7 win at Stanford in 2003.

* It was first time Irish have been over 50 points at Notre Dame Stadium since a 52-20 win over Boston College in 1997.

* The last time a Notre Dame team scored more points in any half than first-half 42 vs. Air Force was 48 in second half vs. Georgia Tech in 1977.

* Last time an Irish QB threw four TD passes in first half of a game was Brady Quinn who did it in 2004 in first half vs. Washington at Notre Dame Stadium.

* Tommy Rees now has at least one TD pass in 11 straight games - third on all-time list behind Brady Quinn (16) and Jimmy Clausen (13)

Irish Connection - Episode 14

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Live Chat - Women's Soccer at Rutgers

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Notre Dame returns to the pitch at noon (ET) today when it travels to Piscataway, N.J., to take on Rutgers at Yurcak Field.

Irish UNDerground will have all the angles in and around the action covered throughout today's game. Be sure to share your questions, comments and complaints and let your voice be heard throughout the Notre Dame nation.

Want to track all the action from your mobile device? No problem.

Simply click (or to be phone friendly, "touch") HERE.

Following Flynt - A Great Day to Be Irish

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5709809.jpegWhat a day. From the weather to the final score, Saturday was nothing short of excellent. It felt more like mid-July than early October when the Irish took the field for their third home game of the season.

Notre Dame scored on each of its first six possessions, getting on the board early with a 34-yard touchdown pass from Tommy Rees to Michael Floyd. Rees also threw three more touchdowns, finishing 23-of-32 for 261 yards.

In all, the Irish amassed eight touchdowns while getting scores from seven different players - Floyd, Eifert, Toma, Gray, Wood, Riddick and Atkinson. After overcoming the adversity of an opening-week fumble, gameday captain Jonas Gray continued his strong play, scoring twice and finding the end zone for the third consecutive week.

Saturday's game also introduced the long awaited and much anticipated quarterback mix-up. Many wondered if Everett Golson would fill this role, but sophomore Andrew Hendrix got the nod. Hendrix completed all four of his passes and carried the ball six times for 111 yards, including a 78-yard dash in the fourth quarter.

Defensively, the Irish did have some difficulty stopping the Air Force running game. The Falcons piled up 363 yards on the ground, but only managed 16 points through the first three quarters. They scored twice in the final five minutes of the game, but it was not nearly enough to overcome Notre Dame's 40-point lead.

The Irish still have some work to do, but after starting the season 0-2, they have got to be pleased with where they stand at the midway point of the season. The focus now turns to midterm exams and USC.

Notre Dame has a bye next week, meaning it will have two weeks to prepare for the showdown with one of its biggest rivals in the first night game in 21 years at Notre Dame Stadium.

The upcoming fall break should also give the students an opportunity to rest up. While the Irish take the season one week at a time, USC has been circled on fans' calendars since the University announced it would be a night game several months ago.

As head coach Brian Kelly stated in his post-game press conference, his team has not "arrived." However, there is much to be excited about in South Bend. The Irish have come a long way since dropping their first two games and have set themselves up nicely for the second half of the season.

Get excited because it's sure to be a thrilling ride. The fun all starts again two weeks from tonight.

- Josh Flynt ('11)

Notre Dame 59, Air Force 33

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Live Chat - Football vs. Air Force

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This year's matchup will mark the 29th meeting between Notre Dame and Air Force, with the Irish holding a 22-6 series lead. Notre Dame owns a 10-4 mark against the Falcons at Notre Dame Stadium.

Irish UNDerground will have all the angles in and around the action covered throughout today's game. Be sure to share your questions, comments and complaints and let your voice be heard throughout the Notre Dame nation.

Want to track all the action from your mobile device? No problem.

Simply click (or to be phone friendly, "touch") HERE.

Live Chat - Women's Soccer at Seton Hall

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After consecutive shutout wins last weekend, Notre Dame now plays its final two road matches of the BIG EAST Conference's regular season slate, beginning with a contest tonight at Seton Hall.

Irish UNDerground will have all the angles in and around the action covered throughout tonight's game. Be sure to share your questions, comments and complaints and let your voice be heard throughout the Notre Dame nation.

Want to track all the action from your mobile device? No problem.

Simply click (or to be phone friendly, "touch") HERE.

Daily Dish - 10.7.11

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greendevine.jpg - The sculpture of former Notre Dame football coach and College Football Hall of Fame member Dan Devine was officially blessed and dedicated this afternoon at the Dan Devine Gate of Notre Dame Stadium (formerly Gate A) on a sunny, 81-degree afternoon ... the 50-minute ceremony was led by master of ceremonies Jack Nolan ... it included opening and closing performance by the Notre Dame glee club ... five of Devine's seven children were in attendance, plus countless grandchildren and great-grandchildren (in fact, they gathered to pull the covering off the sculpture), adding to around 60 Devine family members on site ... more than 20 former players were in attendance - Ed Bauer, Luther Bradley, Nick DeCicco, Tom Desiato, Marty Detmer, Mike Favorite, Vagas Ferguson, John Flood, Tom Gibbons, Bob Golic, Kris Haines, Steve Hartwig, Jerome Heavens, Ted Horansky, Larry Hufford, David Meadows, David Mitchell, Lou Pagley, Joe Restic, John Sweeney, Bob Tull and Mike Whittington ... former Irish assistant Brian Boulac was on hand, and former assistant Johnny Roland will attend the game Saturday.

- Notre Dame athletics director Jack Swarbrick, a student at Notre Dame during the early portion of the Devine era, noted, "Every Catholic university ought to have a Devine gate!" Swarbrick also noted that, unlike in many coaching changes, Devine did not inherit a broken program (the Irish had been a combined 21-2 the previous two season) and even with that unique challenge "he achieved at the highest level." ... in closing, Swarbrick said, "You'll note we've got one gate we can still name, so we're working on it." ... University president Rev. John I. Jenkins, C.S.C., also a student when Devine was coaching, recalled a story former athletics director Kevin White told upon visiting Devine in the Phoenix area when Devine's health was waning ... despite Devine's success at Arizona State, Missouri and the Green Bay Packers, White noted that almost all of the memorabilia in Devine's home represented his Notre Dame experience ... in blessing the sculpture, Father Jenkins called Devine a "master motivator who brought out the best in his players." ... former Irish safety and punter Joe Restic represented the former Irish players and noted he was part of the first class recruited by Devine ... Restic pointed out that Devine was hired as the Arizona State head coach at age 31 and won 27 games in three seasons, then went on to a similarly-successful run at Mizzou ... Restic related a number of tales surrounding the wearing of the green jerseys against USC in 1977 and called it "one of the top 10 motivational ploys in the history of college football." ... fittingly, there were plenty of items of green apparel in the audience ... Devine's brother, Deacon Jerry Devine, spoke on behalf of the family and noted the Dan Devine phrase at the base of the sculpture: "Leave the field a better player. Leave Notre Dame a better person." ... he added, "You must go deeper than X's and O's to understand Dan completely. His effect on his former players was immeasurable." ... earlier at the kickoff luncheon, Nolan read a note from Regis Philbin congratulating the Devine family on the sculpture dedication.

- Former Fighting Irish All-American and current Sporting Kansas City defender Matt Besler will be honored at halftime of Saturday's Notre Dame-Connecticut match ... Besler played at Notre Dame from 2005-08 ... as a senior, he became the first player in program history to earn both first-team All-America and first-team AcademicAll-America honors in the same season ... Besler was a three-time all-BIG EAST honoree and was named the 2008 National Soccer Coaches Association of America (NSCAA) Scholar-Athlete of the Year ... in July, Besler competed in the Major League Soccer (MLS) All-Star game against Manchester United at Red Bull Arena ... he is the first MLS All-Star in program history.

- Former Notre Dame men's lacrosse All-American David Earl recently was selected by the Minnesota Swarm in the National Lacrosse League (NLL) 2011 Entry Draft ... Earl was taken in the third round with the 27th overall selection ... Earl is coming off a successful rookie season in Major League Lacrosse (MLL) ... he and his Hamilton National squad fell to the Boston Cannons, 10-9, in the 2011 MLL title game in August ... Earl scored two goals in Hamilton's 11-9 semifinal win over Denver ... Earl tallied 17 goals and four assists in 10 games during the 2011 MLL campaign.

Reggie Brooks Knows How to Beat Air Force

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A Devine Afternoon at Notre Dame

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Following Flynt - Freshman Friday

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Celebrity Showdown

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Fabio and Dan Fox

Supporting the Cause

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john.michael.cavs.jpg Cleveland.com - The hockey announcer hired to call basketball games drew on a football analogy to explain what it's like to replace a broadcasting legend.

John Michael, who the Cavaliers tabbed to succeed Joe Tait, hopes to prove he's a play-by-play man for all seasons.

"I feel a little like Aaron Rodgers stepping in after Brett Favre left Green Bay," Michael said. "Why couldn't I have been the guy following in the footsteps of Don Majkowski? You don't replace someone like Joe Tait. But it does provide amazing motivation to work hard."

The Cavaliers named the 39-year-old Michael their new radio voice Thursday morning. He will work alongside analyst and former Cavaliers forward Jim Chones once the NBA lockout ends.

Until the work stoppage is resolved, Michael will continue his duties as an in-game host of NHL Columbus Blue Jackets telecasts on Fox Sports Ohio. The Aliquippa, Pa., native also provides analysis for the network's pregame and postgame shows.

Although he has broadcast many sports, Michael primarily has spent the past eight years focused on hockey, including two seasons (2007-09) as the play-by-play voice of the Lake Erie Monsters. His experience with basketball is limited to calling high-school and small-college games in Western Pennsylvania.

Michael understands some Cavs fans will wonder why in a field of 200 applicants the franchise chose an announcer used to describing kick saves rather than tomahawk dunks.

Cavs President Len Komoroski points to Michael's versatility, storytelling and strong fundamentals. He also said hockey and basketball broadcasts have a similar rhythm and flow.

"The way John brings games to life is exceptional," Komoroski said.

The organization became familiar with Michael during his two seasons calling Monsters' games. Cavaliers and Monsters owner Dan Gilbert occasionally sat alongside Michael in the press box.

Co-workers in Columbus mentioned Michael's meticulous preparation for games and attention to detail.

He graduated from Notre Dame with degrees in mechanical engineering, law and business administration.

He worked as a trial lawyer for five years in construction law before breaking into pro sports broadcasting, and later supplied legal services for the Cavs and Monsters.

Among his new Cavaliers duties, Michael will contribute to the team's website and be active in social media. While technology changes the way we follow sports, Michael spoke of the timeless qualities of the man he replaces.

He wasn't born when Tait began calling Cavs games during the inaugural 1970-71 season. Before last season, Tait was the recipient of the Basketball Hall of Fame's Curt Gowdy Media award.

"I can remember listening to Joe as a kid," Michael said. "We could pick up the games where I lived ... Joe's broadcasts had a Vin Scully feel to them. He drew you in and made you feel very comfortable, like you were sitting round a campfire.

"I'm humbled by this opportunity."

Tradition at Notre Dame

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lewismoorepractice.jpg The Observer - The dream of donning the gold and blue, running out of the tunnel and playing in Notre Dame Stadium usually begins at a very early age. Legendary games like the 1993 contest against No. 1 Florida State or the 1988 "Catholics vs. Convicts" battle against Miami foster the desire for an aspiring football player to lace up for the Irish.

But in Texas, the Big 12 reigns supreme, and for Irish senior defensive end Kapron Lewis-Moore, landing at Notre Dame was less of a dream-come-true story than a dream dashed.

"Being a Texas kid, your dream schools are Texas, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, [Texas] A&M - the Big 12. You kind of stay close to home," Lewis-Moore said. "I was actually committed to Texas A&M my senior year in high school."

A native of Weatherford, Texas, Lewis-Moore was recruited into the Aggie program by then-coach Dennis Franchione. But following Franchione's resignation and subsequent hiatus from college football, Lewis-Moore's college football career took an abrupt 180-degree turn.

"After he resigned after [the Aggies] upset Texas that year, I was kind of in a fluster, didn't know what I wanted to do," he said. "I wanted to talk to my mom, who didn't really have any idea how the recruiting process worked, so I de-committed from Texas A&M at the time, and that's when I took some trips."

Those trips included a recruiting visit to Colorado and, eventually, Notre Dame.

"I came up here, visited, loved the school, loved the people, even though it was like negative 10 [degrees] outside with the sun shining," Lewis-Moore said. "I still had a lot of fun."

Facing the prospects of harsh winters and a life away from home, Lewis-Moore's path took another 180 when he re-committed to Texas A&M. But after conversations with close family and friends, the recruit decided to take a leap of faith.

"My mom - she was happy for me - but at the same time challenged me to do something different with my life. She challenged me to get out of my comfort zone, and my mom being a schoolteacher, she had a real positive impact in my life. Academics was always first and I feel like Notre Dame's one of the best academic institutions in the country."

It seems Mom knows best, as in his fourth year as a member of the Irish, Lewis-Moore has emerged as a pivotal player on a defense that has bolstered the Irish following a disappointing 0-2 start.

No School Like Old School

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Following Flynt - What To Watch for Against Air Force

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Fighting Irish Digital Media intern Josh Flynt ('11) continues to provide the inside scoop on the Notre Dame football program for Irish UNDerground. Here's a look at what to watch for this weekend when the Irish return to the friendly confines of Notre Dame Stadium ...

Home Sweet Home: It's been a few weeks since the Irish were back home under the Dome. After a short trip to West Lafayette last Saturday, Notre Dame will spend the rest of October at home in South Bend. The matchup with Air Force will be the first of three home games this month. After this weekend, the Irish will have two weeks to prepare for a primetime showdown with USC on Oct. 22 before squaring off against Navy during Halloween weekend.

As head coach Brian Kelly said on Tuesday, "Our guys love playing at home. There's nothing better than the pageantry of Notre Dame game day."

However, the excitement of a home game can also be accompanied by many distractions, which the Irish will need to put aside if they hope to continue their three-game winning streak.

"I've talked about this several times. There's a balancing act. You'd like to be at home, but you don't mind being away once in a while because it allows you to really focus," Kelly added.

Honoring Devine: On Friday afternoon, a sculpture of former Irish head coach Dan Devine will be dedicated at Gate A of Notre Dame Stadium. Devine, a member of the College Football Hall of Fame and the coach of the 1977 national championship team, will be the fifth Notre Dame football coach to be recognized outside the stadium. After this weekend's dedication, each of the University's national championship coaches - including Knute Rockne (north tunnel), Ara Parseghian (Gate B), Frank Leahy (Gate C) and Lou Holtz (Gate D) - will have been honored with a statue.

Option Attack: In my experience playing video games, the option playbook is one of the most fun offensive sets. If I ever told that to a defensive coordinator, he would probably laugh at me. While it may be a fun scheme for the offense or in a video game, the option and its occasional trickery can give the defense nightmares.

Notre Dame's rushing defense has been one of its key strengths through the season's first five games. The Irish have limited the strong running games of teams such as Michigan State and Pittsburgh, but perhaps their biggest test will come against an Air Force squad that is one of the best in the nation on the ground. In addition, quarterback Tim Jefferson remains a threat passing the ball as well. The Falcons, do not throw often, but when they do, they're efficient. Jefferson has completed 70% of his passes for 493 yards this season.

Playing for a Cause

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Men's Soccer Alums Heading To Haiti

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2809539.jpegFormer Notre Dame standouts Bilal Duckett and Philip Tuttle will be among a group of professional soccer players that will take part in a mission trip to Haiti in December to visit orphanages and conduct soccer clinics to help the children and young adults of the country.

Haiti, which is located in the Caribbean, has been in need of support ever since a major earthquake ravaged the country in January of 2010. The natural disaster left over 300,000 people dead and 1.6 million people homeless.

The Vision International Ministries (VIM) is sponsoring the mission. Tuttle's mother, Annette, is in full-time ministry at Shiloh Community Church in Manchester, N.H., and she oversees the mission program there in addition to working with VIM. This will be Annette's fourth trip to Haiti since the earthquake. She has also traveled to the Ukraine, Bulgaria, Russia and the Dominican Republic.

"VIM uses medical clinics as their main focus while sharing the love of God to the various people they come across," says Philip Tuttle. "However, this trip will focus on preaching the gospel through soccer clinics as well as visiting orphanages to minister to the children. Soccer is the national sport of Haiti so we are excited to have a number of professional players coming with us. There will be 15 people heading down and five of them currently are professional players. I am excited to watch as God uses these players and the game of soccer to minister to the children and young adults of Haiti."

Tuttle was a goalkeeper for the Irish from 2006-10 and he now plays for the Harrisburg City Islanders of the United Soccer Leagues (USL) PRO. Tuttle played in 33 career games, including 29 starts, with the Irish and he registered a 16-10-4 record with nine shutouts.

"I have always wanted to go on a mission trip to another country and I'm thankful to be given the opportunity to use a game that has given me so much joy and excitement over the years as a tool to help others in need," adds Tuttle. "This is the first soccer specific trip VIM has ever done and I see it as an exploratory one. When I first asked Bilal (Duckett) about going he didn't hesitate at all. I asked him if he had any plans for the offseason and when I began to explain what my plan was he jumped right on board. Since then the trip has grown.

"We've had a number of responses from other professional players who share the same passion as us that we've actually had to turn them down due to a lack of accommodations in Haiti. I see this as the first of many trips to different countries all over the world and in the future would like to bring as many Notre Dame players as possible."

Duckett currently plays for the Vancouver Whitecaps of Major League Soccer (MLS). The club selected him in the third round of the 2011 MLS SuperDraft. The Georgia native started 40 of a possible 42 matches at right back during his junior and senior seasons at Notre Dame. Duckett helped the Irish post 14 shutouts during that time.

"I got on board with the trip quickly because I feel that I've been given a great opportunity as a professional soccer player to give back to the community," states Duckett. "We all heard about the tragic earthquake in Haiti in 2010. Although it's no longer breaking news, there's still a lot to be done for the people in Haiti. We hope that we can bring some joy and supplies to Haitians."

A Night for Notre Dame and a Sight for Our Lady

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It is a scene that captures the essence of the Fighting Irish spirit. Students and other members of the Notre Dame community arrive from all corners of campus and gather together in front of the Golden Dome.

The balcony and steps of the Main Building are crowded; some climb trees and hang off the rails of the steps in hopes of getting a decent view. They are patiently awaiting those who will wake up the echoes. The bells of the Basilica ring out the new hour and the new day. It is officially game day.

Gathered near the LaFortune Student Center, members of the drumline eventually march toward their adoring fans.

As the ovation intensifies the drumline forms a circle within the crowd of observers and prepares to entertain with a tradition as strong as any on the Notre Dame campus ... the midnight drummer's circle.

"Nothing can prepare you for the first time you play at a midnight drummer's circle," Michaela Byrne ('11) says - an alum of the drumline and a former cymbalist. "The experience has a way of making you feel like a rock star and humbled beyond belief at the same time. On one hand, there is this giant crowd waiting to hear you play and cheering along with everything you do. On the other hand, Mary is standing on the Dome reminding you that you are part of a history and tradition that is so much bigger than yourself."

The exciting display, held every Friday night before home football games, is a follow-up to the pep rally held just hours before and a preview of the game day atmosphere. For forty-five minutes, the drum cadences that will be played in Notre Dame Stadium the following day are performed. Many of these include the offense, defense and sideline cheers that are heard from the band and student section throughout the game. Also played are the Notre Dame Fight Song and the popular Rakes of Mallow that inspires the audience to jig in jubilation with those around them.

How We Do What We Do

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typewriter.jpgWhen you consider all the technology available today, it's downright amazing to think how archaic athletic communications were just a few short years ago.

Need the latest University of Notre Dame football statistics? They'd be calculated and typed by hand on a manual typewriter (eventually the "big innovation" IBM Selectric typewriter came along), reproduced and mailed on Sunday nights and maybe you'd receive them via ordinary mail by Thursday.

Need them quicker than that? The hit commodity in technology in the 1970s was the Xerox Telecopier (a facsimile machine) that required either four or six minutes (depending on how clear you wanted the type to read) to send a single page of copy to another Telecopier on the other end.

If a media representative out of town needed your entire news release, depth chart and stats, it might take an hour or more to send it all.

Breaking news happening on one of the Irish athletic fields? There was no simple way to communicate it. Pick up the telephone and dictate. Call media outlets one at a time to alert them about a hiring or press conference.

Three technology advances changed everything in the sports information world everywhere - cell phones, the Internet and e-mail.

For years the joke around the Notre Dame athletic offices was that the Irish quarterback on a given day might break his leg and - given that practices were closed to the media - there was some chance no one would find out until the next day.

There was no texting, no Facebook - maybe no way for the word to get out other than old-fashioned word of mouth.

The World Wide Web prompted the offering of athletic sites like und.com that debuted in 1995. In the beginning sites like Notre Dame's offered strictly the basics - mostly what was available via traditional press releases. There was no video in the "early days," and media members weren't yet routinely carrying computers or laptops. So, quite often, the plea to media to utilize school sites for time-sensitive items like statistics went unheeded.

About that same time, cell phones changed the face of telecommunications. When current athletics staffers consider all the detailed scheduling and adjustments that go into, for example, a weeklong stay for a postseason bowl game, it's hard to imagine how those events ever occurred without cell phones. The Orange Bowl provided some new contraption-style portable phones to Notre Dame reps one year, but they looked more like walkie-talkies than the current variety and they didn't exactly fit in your pocket.

Getting the Last Laugh

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8.10.11 Practice 40.jpg Everyone knows senior running back Jonas Gray is funny. He jokes with every coach and player who passes him during dinner, and he'll tell you that the boys are always asking him to tell a story.

"The way I got started in doing any type of comedy is the way I tell stories," Gray remarks. "Guys always ask me to tell a funny story. I'm so animated with it. That's how I started being funny."

He pauses and cracks a smile.

"The guys always tell me I'm funny."

Cierre Wood, his roommate on the road, doesn't want to give Gray too much credit. Their relationship, so crucial to Notre Dame on the field, is a light one when they don't have a football in their hands.

"The thing about Jonas is, he's funny when he wants to be funny, but at the same time he's funny when he doesn't even try to be," Wood chuckles. "I told him, his face just makes me laugh. Just thinking about some of the stupid stuff that he says, I can't help but snicker a little bit."

Although Gray is double majoring in English and political science -- "unusual," he jokes, for an athlete -- in hopes of becoming a lawyer, if he really got his way, he says he would be David Letterman. It's not hard to imagine him as a talk show host.

Gray always wants humor to be a part of his day, but he knows the rest of the 2011 season is no laughing matter. As a senior becoming increasingly important to the success of his team, it is time for him to become a leader.

"There are some benefits to being a funny guy," he insists while discussing his leadership role for the Irish. "You interact with a lot of people. When they see a serious side of you, they know it's time to buckle down. When I'm serious, everyone knows it's time to be serious."

Don't ask him what he's afraid of. He won't tell you. There's no room for fear when you're trying to pull a team up by its cleats.

"I'm tough -- I try to bring a toughness to the team. When it comes to the season, I know where we're headed. I know how good this team can be. We're going north the whole time. We won't go south anymore. I know the coaches won't let us. The seniors on the team won't let us."

What Gray doesn't say is that he personally won't let it happen anymore, but it's clear that's where his head is. It is clear that is where his head has been ever since his fumble in the first drive against South Florida.

"I knew I was a better player than I showed," says Gray. "The confidence I had in myself, the confidence Coach Kelly had in me, and my teammates, and the coaches -- those guys stuck with me, and that was it for me."

Big Hitter, Bigger Heart

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teosign.jpg

Irish Connection - Episode 14

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Following Flynt - Walk-on Wednesday

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151557318.jpgWhile college football stars and Heisman hopefuls cannot even go to the grocery store without being stopped, walk-ons are typically out of the limelight - putting in much of the same time and effort, with little or no recognition in return.

Still, it is an important role that hundreds of Notre Dame athletes have played and one that fifth-year running back Pat Coughlin has embraced.

Coughlin hails from Oak Lawn, Ill., and attended Brother Rice High School where in addition to football, he played basketball and ran track. He followed his brother Brian's footsteps and decided to attend Notre Dame, beginning as a sprinter on the Irish track team.

Brian, a 2010 graduate, walked on to the football team prior to spring 2008, which triggered the younger Coughlin to try out as a sophomore. His tryout experience, consisting of agility and conditioning drills, was similar to that of fellow fifth-year Nick Lezynski. After surviving six to eight strenuous weeks and making it through spring practice, Coughlin earned a spot on the roster as a receiver.

When head coach Brian Kelly took over following the 2009 season, he was moved to his current position. Coughlin's position coach, Tim Hinton, has enjoyed the opportunity to work with him and other walk-ons because they take a different approach to the game than the average player.

"You have the 85 guys here everyday on scholarship ... and then you have guys like Pat Coughlin," Hinton says. "That's someone who pays his way, mom and dad are probably scraping everyday I'm sure. Coming here, he did not have all the recruiting interest and everything, but he has a passion for the game of football and a love for the University of Notre Dame.

"He goes out every day, does everything that everyone else does, and he does it with great passion. And those kind of young men you love being around."

Coughlin saw significant action in each of the last two Blue-Gold games. In 2010, he tallied 11 carries for 80 yards - including a 34-yard run - while running for 42 yards on 11 rushes while competing for both squads this past spring.

"I pretty much played on both teams for the entire last three quarters, so that was a lot of fun, getting back to just playing football, like I was used to in high school," Coughlin says.

However, intersquad contests are not the only game time Coughlin has seen during his career at Notre Dame.

"Last year I think I started 10 games on the kickoff team and then during Navy week I got put on the kick return team and I played that for the rest of the year. I ended up playing in 90 or 100 plays and earning a Monogram, which was pretty cool."

As a 2011 graduate, most of Coughlin's friends have moved on to full-time jobs or pursued graduate school opportunities, so the WOPU brotherhood is an especially significant part of his social life. "I would say the walk-ons are my best friends at the school," he says.

An accounting major, Coughlin is now enrolled in the University's M.S.A. program, where he and fifth-year cornerback Ryan Sheehan work together to balance school and football. Often, this means making sacrifices both academically and athletically.

"I have a class during practice on Tuesdays and Thursdays that gets taped. I don't want to miss football, so they're allowing me to tape it and watch it later."

On the other side, being a graduate student also means there are some classes that simply cannot be adjusted.

"We have class from 1:30-2:45 p.m. on Monday and Wednesday, so I usually miss the special teams meeting and then I get over just in time, maybe a little later for scout team meetings."

As one of the team's veteran players, Coughlin is aware of the importance of his role for the Irish.

"When I walked on, I had Mike Anello, my brother, [Chris] Bathon and some of the seniors that really showed me the way on how to act and what to expect. I think it's huge to show that to the younger guys."

Specifically, Coughlin finds he can help shorten the learning curve and mental transition for the freshmen adjusting to college football.

After graduating (again) in May, Coughlin will begin his accounting career working for PricewaterhouseCoopers in Chicago. Like many 22-year-olds, he's not quite sure where he will end up for the long-term.

Wherever his career takes him, Hinton has no doubt that No. 29 will do well.

"In the reality of what we do, you know he's going to be successful when he leaves here because he understands teamwork, commitment, passion and all the other things that it takes to be successful and he's doing it everyday," Hinton says.

Daily Dish - 10.5.11

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4659526.jpeg - The Hockey East Association and Notre Dame announced today that the Fighting Irish have been accepted into the league as the 11th member school and will begin hockey play in the 2013-14 campaign ... the announcement came at a press conference on the ice at Notre Dame's new Compton Family Ice Arena ... in making the announcement, Hockey East commissioner Joe Bertagna said, "It is not an overstatement to say that this is one of the most significant days in the history of our conference. The addition of new institutions is always exciting but Notre Dame brings a unique set of qualities and circumstances to the continued growth of our league. We are proud to welcome Notre Dame into the fold and we look forward to getting to the many details that come with this announcement." ... Notre Dame Vice President and Director of Athletics Jack Swarbrick said, "We are excited to be joining Hockey East beginning in the 2013-14 season. Many factors played a role in our decision, but three were of special importance to us. The first two were the critical issues of the student-athlete experience and Notre Dame's fit with the other schools in the conference. But of special importance in this instance, was our goal of giving our hockey program an unprecedented level of national exposure through our expanded partnership with the NBC Sports Group. Athletics at Notre Dame has always served as a platform for promoting the University." ... Irish head coach Jeff Jackson added, "We are honored and pleased to join Hockey East for the 2013-14 season. The conference is an established league with a great tradition and outstanding programs that share Notre Dame's values. The exposure for our players and team in a major media and NHL market will be second to none. Hockey East's commitment to playing a smaller league schedule will allow us to enhance our home and non-conference schedule with traditional western and Big Ten rivals. This will allow us to bring great games to the Compton Family Ice Arena and create a more diverse, nationally-televised schedule. We are grateful to Joe Bertagna and the Hockey East Association members for this tremendous opportunity."

- Notre Dame already has sold out its allotment of women's basketball season tickets in Purcell Pavilion for the 2011-12 season ... a limited number of single-game tickets go on sale next week, with season-ticket holders having first shot at those.

- Speaking of tickets, hockey tickets are a hot-enough item in the new Compton Family Ice Arena that a number of Irish home games already feature only stand-room availability.

- There are three former Irish players alive in the Major League Baseball playoffs - John Axford and Craig Counsell with the Milwaukee Brewers and Brad Lidge with the Philadelphia Phillies.

- As the Dan Devine sculpture dedication looms on Friday afternoon, consider some of the assistant coaches who worked under Devine:

* The late Jim Johnson, who became a highly-successful NFL defensive coordinator with the Philadelphia Eagles and also coached with Arizona Cardinals, Indianapolis and Seattle

* Jim Gruden, later a longtime NFL scout and father of Super Bowl-winning coach Jon Gruden

* Merv Johnson, who went on to become offensive coordinator for 20 seasons at Oklahoma.

* Greg Blache, who became a successful NFL defensive coordinator with the Washington Redskins and Chicago Bears

* Hank Kuhlmann who went on to coach in Green Bay and Tampa Bay and briefly served as head coach of the Arizona Cardinals in 1989

* Johnny Roland who coached with Arizona, New Orleans, Green Bay, Philadelphia, New York Jets, St. Louis Rams, Chicago in the NFL

* Bill Meyers who coached with Pittsburgh and the Oakland/Los Angeles Raiders in the NFL

* Francis Peay, later the head coach at Northwestern

* Gene Smith, now the athletics director at Ohio State

* Ron Toman, later an NFL Indianapolis Colts assistant

* Longtime Irish assistants Joe Yonto and Brian Boulac

- The men's golf team climbed to 20th in this week's (Oct. 5-11) Golfstat rankings ... it marks the first time since October of 2005 that the Irish have been ranked in the Golfstat polls .. in addition to finding themselves within the top 25 of the Golfstat rankings, the Irish also debuted at 28th in the first Golfweek/Sagarin rankings of the 2011-12 season, which was released Sunday.

- Men's golfer Max Scodro has been tabbed BIG EAST Men's Golfer of the Month for September ... the Irish senior notched three top-15 results during the month while finishing as the top Notre Dame golfer at each of the three events ... entering his final campaign with the Irish, Scodro sat third in career stroke average (minimum 35 rounds played) at 73.99 and after a three-tournament September slate that saw him finish fourth, tied for sixth and tied for 11th, Scodro has moved into second on that prestigious list with a73.80 average.

- The BIG EAST and Big Ten conferences have announced the pairings for the 2012 Big Ten-BIG EAST Baseball Challenge, hosted by the St. Petersburg/Clearwater Sports Commission ... the fourth annual event begins Feb. 17 and will feature a 24-game schedule spanning three days and five venues in the St. Petersburg and Clearwater area ... Notre Dame opens the event against Illinois and return to action with games against Iowa and Purdue throughout the weekend.

Think Pink

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Live Chat - Men's Soccer vs. Northwestern

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Notre Dame will play host to Northwestern in a non-conference match tonight at Alumni Stadium. Kickoff is slated for 7:00 p.m. (ET). The Fighting Irish are 5-2-2 this season, while the Wildcats are 4-4-2. This will be the 18th meeting all-time between Notre Dame and Northwestern and the Irish lead the series, 12-3-2

Irish UNDerground will have all the angles in and around Alumni Stadium covered throughout today's game. Be sure to share your questions, comments and complaints and let your voice be heard throughout the Notre Dame nation.

Want to track all the action from your mobile device? No problem.

Simply click (or to be phone friendly, "touch") HERE.

Hear It From a Student - A Second New Home

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jeffjackson.jpg Notre Dame hockey has found a new home.

The new Compton Family Ice Arena is not the only change coming the way of the program, as Notre Dame announced today its move from the Central Collegiate Hockey Association (CCHA) to the Hockey East Association, effective for the 2013-14 season.

Notre Dame's transfer follows in the wake of a national restructuring of the collegiate hockey conferences. The Big Ten announced in April that it would introduce its own conference in 2013-14, partly due to Penn State's new Division I hockey team.

The new Big Ten conference fragmented both the CCHA and Western Collegiate Hockey Association (WCHA), taking Ohio State, Michigan and Michigan State from the CCHA and Minnesota and Wisconsin from the WCHA.

Hockey East was not the only conference considered by the Fighting Irish. While the Irish contemplated joining the National Collegiate Hockey Conference (NCHC), the NCHC put an end to all speculation with a news release on Sunday stating it would go forward with the eight teams already committed.

Hockey East includes Boston College, Boston University, Maine, Providence, University of Massachusetts, University of Massachusetts-Lowell, New Hampshire, Vermont, Northeastern and Merrimack.

After a trip to the Frozen Four in St. Paul, Minn., last April with a large freshmen class in tow, the Irish solidified their spot in the national picture as a perennial powerhouse. In both the CCHA coaches and media 2011 preseason polls, the Irish were given the No. 1 spot.

And for now, the Irish are comfortable in their reign.

- Hilary Ferguson (Saint Mary's '12)

Get Your Row On

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erg.jpg The women's rowing team is sponsoring an erg-a-thon fundraiser for pancreatic cancer this Friday. An erg, or ergometer, is a simulated rowing machine that will be available for anyone who attends the event. The team will be selling t-shirts for $10 and cancer bracelets for $2.

For anyone who would like to channel their inner Winklevoss and participate, the fundraiser will last from 12-8 p.m. (ET) at Field House Mall on the north side of LaFortune. All donations will go to the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network.

Want more information? Call the women's rowing office at 574.631.4840.

Following Flynt - Tradition Tuesday

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walkerforce.jpgFrom the early football series with Army to the Naval officer training program during World War II, Notre Dame has the utmost respect for and a time-honored history with the United States military, both on and off the football field.

Compared to its counterparts, the United States Air Force has a shorter relationship with Notre Dame, though that should not come as much of a surprise, as this branch of the military was not established until 1947. A few years later, in 1954, the Air Force Academy was founded in Colorado Springs, Colo., and in 1955, the Air Force Falcons began playing football.

In 1964 - Ara Parseghian's first year as head coach - the Irish made the trip west for their first-ever meeting with the Falcons. Though Air Force got on the board first, Notre Dame scored 34 unanswered and won the game rather handily.

From 1972-1991, Notre Dame and Air Force played every season except for 1976. In recent history, the series has been more sporadic, with seven additional games played beginning in 1994.

During the 1975 season, a young quarterback from western Pennsylvania led Dan Devine's team to an impressive come-from-behind victory over the Falcons. He entered the game with Notre Dame trailing 30-10 in the fourth quarter and carried the Irish to an incredible 31-30 win.

Afterwards, Notre Dame athletic director Moose Krause told Devine "This one's better than last week," a win over North Carolina that Krause had referred to as the "greatest comeback I've ever seen." That young quarterback was none other than the legendary Joe Montana.

In 1996, the Falcons visited Notre Dame Stadium to take on the eighth-ranked Irish. Led by quarterback Beau Morgan, Fisher DeBerry's Air Force team upset Notre Dame, 20-17. Morgan carried the ball 23 times for 183 yards and a touchdown, and Dallas Thompson sealed the victory with a 27-yard field goal in overtime.

It was not until 2000, that Notre Dame had an opportunity to avenge the loss. The Irish did so with an overtime victory of their own, a thrilling 34-31 win on their home turf. With three seconds on the clock, the Falcons lined up for an apparent game-winning field goal, but defensive back Glenn Earl blocked Dave Adams' kick as time expired.

In the extra period, Adams connected on a field goal that gave the Falcons a 31-28 lead. On Notre Dame's possession, quarterback Matt LoVecchio ran a fake option right, but pitched the ball to flanker Joey Getherall who ran left and carried the ball nine yards, diving into the end zone and improving the Irish to 6-2 for the season.

On Saturday, Notre Dame and Air Force will meet for the 29th time, and the first since 2007. Though the Irish lead the series 22-6, they fell to the Falcons four years ago.

Even with the momentum of last week's 38-10 victory at Purdue, Notre Dame will not have an easy task in improving to 4-2.

Air Force comes into the match-up with a 3-1 record, and the Falcons are averaging 364.5 rushing yards per game (third in the nation). Through five games, Notre Dame's defense has done a great job of containing, if not shutting down, its opponents on the ground. The Irish have allowed just over 91 rushing yards per game, but they've yet to face a team with the powerful running game and potential trickery of the option that is cornerstone of the Falcons' offense.

Strong rush defense against a strong running game sets the stage for what could be an exciting Saturday afternoon.

- Josh Flynt ('11)

Daily Dish - 10.4.11

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2437526.jpeg - The Office of Recreational Sports has announced the naming of its men's and women's interhall all-sports trophies, in honor of two of its former leaders, Richard D. O'Leary and Dr. Thomas W. Kelly, respectively ... the awards are given annually to the men's and women's undergraduate residence halls that most excel in participation, competition and sportsmanship ... students compete in more than 15 sports throughout the year, and take great pride in representing their hall ... the O'Leary Cup honors late director of intramurals and club sports Rich O'Leary, who was instrumental in developing the RecSports all-sports awards ... O'Leary lost his battle to cancer-related illness in 2009 ... a member of the University's athletic department for 37 years, O'Leary was responsible for over 60 intramural programs and supervised its extensive club sports area ... named after former associate athletic director Tom Kelly, the Kelly Cup recognizes Kelly's longtime service to RecSports ... among his many contributions, Kelly played a vital role in developing programming for women when they were first admitted as undergraduates to the University ... Kelly retired in June of 2003 following 39 years of service with the Irish athletic department.

- In case you missed it, women's soccer coach Randy Waldrum decided to change things up last week by wearing a tie (not his normal game day attire) while coaching in the respective 3-0 Notre Dame wins over Connecticut and Providence.

- Brian Kelly and the rest of the Irish sideline will be wearing the adidas Breast Cancer Collection, a line of apparel and headwear created to support October's National Breast Cancer Awareness Month, when Notre Dame plays host to Air Force on Saturday ... Notre Dame players will also wear pink arm, wrist and head bands as well as pink gloves.

- Tim Abromaitis has been selected to the Preseason Top 50 List for the John R. Wooden Award ... Abromaitis is entering his fifth season with the Fighting Irish ... he started all 34 games last season and registered 15.4 points and 6.1 rebounds per game ... Abromaitis earned third-team all-BIG EAST honors in addition to taking home the BIG EAST Scholar-Athlete of the Year award for men's basketball for the second straight year.

- According to the Colorado Springs Gazette, Air Force football coach Troy Calhoun voted Notre Dame 19th this week on his USA Today poll ballot ... CBSSports.com rates all 120 NCAA FBS teams and has the Irish 18th this week.

- Lauren Bohaboy was selected as the BIG EAST Conference Women's Soccer Rookie of the Week, while Jessica Schuveiller was named the BIG EAST Defensive Player of the Week, the league office announced Monday ... in addition, Bohaboy was chosen for the 11-player Top Drawer Soccer National Team of the Week ... Bohaboy earned this week's award after scoring three goals last weekend in 3-0 victories over BIG EAST foes Connecticut and Providence at Alumni Stadium ... Schuveiller was a factor at both ends of the pitch for Notre Dame last weekend, piling up five points (2G-1A) on the offensive side ... she also helped anchor a Fighting Irish defense that registered consecutive shutouts while holding its opponents to a combined 12 shots (six on goal) in the two matches.

Trick Shot Monday

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Band Wins Sudler Trophy

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The Notre Dame Band will be presented with the Sudler Trophy at halftime of the Notre Dame vs. Air Force game on Saturday.

The Sudler Trophy is considered the Heisman trophy of college bands. The John Philip Sousa Foundation presents the award to "collegiate marching bands of particular excellence that have made outstanding contributions to the American way of life." The Notre Dame Band joins an elite group of college bands which have won this award, which recognizes both Notre Dame's historical contributions to college bands and the excellence of the current Notre Dame Band.

The trophy is produced by Dieges and Clust, who also make the Heisman Trophy. The Sudler Trophy will be displayed in the Ricci Band Rehearsal Hall at the University of Notre Dame.

The trophy will be presented by Timothy Rhea, director of bands at Texas A&M University and chair of the Sudler Trophy Selection Committee. Receiving the award will be Kenneth Dye, director of bands at Notre Dame, and University president Rev. John Jenkins, C.S.C.

Dating back to 1845, the Notre Dame Band is the oldest college band in continuous existence in the United States and was honored as such by being declared a "Landmark of American Music" by the National Music Council and the Indiana Music Educators Association during the 1976 United States Bicentennial.

In addition to a rich history of performing at concerts, campus celebrations and religious ceremonies, the Band of the Fighting Irish has a long tradition of providing music and pageantry for Notre Dame football games and athletic events. The Band was on hand for Notre Dame's first football game in 1887 and has performed at every home game since then.

Irish Connection - Episode 11

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Devine Sculpture To Be Unveiled Friday

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devinestatue.jpg A sculpture of former University of Notre Dame football coach Dan Devine, a member of the College Football Hall of Fame and coach of the 1977 Irish national championship team, will be dedicated Friday (Oct. 7, the day before Notre Dame's home football game against Air Force) in a ceremony at Notre Dame Stadium.

The dedication will take place at Notre Dame Stadium's Gate A, which in 2010 was designated the Dan Devine gate when the sculptures of Knute Rockne (north tunnel), Ara Parseghian (Gate B), Frank Leahy (Gate C) and Lou Holtz (Gate D) were re-located outside the stadium walls. Rockne, Parseghian, Leahy, Holtz and Devine are the five former Irish football coaches - all of them Hall of Fame inductees - who have won one or more national titles at Notre Dame.

The dedication is a private, ticketed event - but there will be areas for public viewing. More than 50 members of the Devine family are expected to return to campus for the sculpture dedication.

Notre Dame graduate Jerry McKenna created the sculpture. He also created the Rockne, Leahy, Holtz and Parseghian sculptures at Notre Dame Stadium, the Moose Krause sculpture east of Notre Dame Stadium and the Knute Rockne sculpture at the College Football Hall of Fame in downtown South Bend, Ind.

The sculpture was funded by donations from Devine's former players, coaches, and staff members, and longtime University benefactors Joe and Barbara Mendelson of Santa Barbara, Calif. The Mendelsons also funded the Rockne sculpture at Notre Dame Stadium in 2009.

Notre Dame's head football coach from 1975-80, Devine served as head coach of the 1977 Irish consensus national title team and also won two of the most dramatic postseason bowl games in Irish annals - the 1978 Cotton Bowl victory over top-rated Texas and the '79 Cotton Bowl triumph over Houston that featured a stirring second-half comeback from a 34-12 deficit.

Among the Irish standouts he coached were Outland, Lombardi and Maxwell award-winning defensive lineman Ross Browner, Walter Camp Player of the Year and tight end Ken MacAfee, first-team All-Americans Steve Niehaus at defensive tackle, Luther Bradley at cornerback, Bob Golic at linebacker, Dave Huffman at center, Vagas Ferguson at tailback, Tim Foley at offensive tackle, Bob Crable at linebacker, John Scully at center, Scott Zettek at defensive end, plus all-star quarterback Joe Montana.

As head coach at Arizona State from 1955-1957, Devine accumulated a 27-3-1 record. From 1958-1970, he guided Missouri to a 93-37-7 mark. Among his achievements at Missouri were victories in the 1961 Orange Bowl, '62 Bluebonnet Bowl, '66 Sugar Bowl and '68 Gator Bowl. He served as head coach and general manager of the NFL Green Bay Packers from 1971-1974 before his arrival at Notre Dame in 1975.

His Irish teams won the 1976 Gator Bowl, '78 Cotton Bowl and '79 Cotton Bowl - and his six seasons in South Bend produced a combined 53-16-1 mark (.764). His '77 team achieved notoriety when it switched from blue jerseys to green just prior to a noteworthy home win over fifth-ranked USC.

Devine resigned prior to his final season in South Bend in 1980 and later became executive director of the Arizona State Sun Angel Foundation in Phoenix. In1992, Devine returned to Missouri as athletic director and then retired at the end of the 1993-94 academic year. He was elected into the National FootballFoundation College Football Hall of Fame in 1985 with an overall collegiatemark of 173-57-9. Born in Augusta, Wis., Devine (a Minnesota-Duluth graduate) died in 2002 at age 77.

Following Flynt - Irish Around the League

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While Notre Dame lit up the scoreboard on Saturday night against Purdue, it was a quiet Sunday statistically for former Irish players in the NFL.

Performance of the Week: Minnesota dropped to 0-4 with a loss at Kansas City, but tight end Kyle Rudolph continues to find his groove in the NFL. The rookie caught three passes for 44 yards, including a 41-yard reception early in the second quarter.

- Anthony Fasano ('06) had one catch for nine yards in Miami's 26-16 loss at San Diego.

- Defensively, New England's Sergio Brown ('10) led the way with five tackles, including three solo stops, as the Patriots defeated Oakland, 31-19. Trevor Laws ('07) had three solo tackles in Philadelphia's close loss to San Francisco.

- Denver's David Bruton ('09) recorded two tackles against Green Bay, but the Broncos could have used about a dozen more from the safety. Aaron Rodgers and the Packers torched the Denver defense for 507 offensive yards and 49 points.

- Tom Zbikowski ('07) had one solo tackle in Baltimore's 34-17 win over the New York Jets.

Caption Contest

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Purdue 44.jpg
"This is a sign of greatness, isn't it?"

mjtongue.jpg

Daily Dish - 10.3.11

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5692986.jpeg - Adriana Leon celebrated a very happy birthday with a goal and an assist, while Lauren Bohaboy and Jessica Schuveiller also scored goals, leading Notre Dame to its second consecutive shutout victory, a 3-0 BIG EAST Conference women's soccer decision over Providence on Sunday afternoon at Alumni Stadium ... Melissa Henderson chipped in with her BIG EAST-leading sixth assist of the season (third of the weekend), while Molly Campbell and Sammy Scofield also added assists for the Fighting Irish - for Scofield, it was the first point of her collegiate career.

- Lola Arslanbekova knocked down 28 kills on a .375 clip with 14 digs and four blocks to lift visiting Louisville over Notre Dame in BIG EAST Conference volleyball action Sunday at Purcell Pavilion ... Louisville responded after hitting .026 in the first set to post the 3-1 (17-25, 25-16, 25-22, 25-21) win while handing Notre Dame its third straight loss ... the Irish looked crisp in the opening set while hitting .237 and receiving four blocks from both Andrea McHugh and Toni Alugbue to set the tone for a great all-around team effort in the frame.

- St. John's Daniel Herrera tallied the golden goal in the 110th minute as the 15th-ranked Red Storm topped No. 10 Notre Dame 2-1 in BIG EAST men's soccer action on Saturday night at Belson Stadium in Queens, N.Y. ... the loss snapped Notre Dame's four-game win streak and five-game unbeaten streak ... St. John's grabbed a 1-0 lead in the 54th minute on a goal from Andres Vargas ... that was the first goal Notre Dame had surrendered in the last 323:39 of play.

- Notre Dame leads the nation in fewest rushing touchdowns surrendered in 2011 (tied with Alabama, Louisville, Michigan and Utah) with one - and that one on a one-yard run by Michigan's Denard Robinson after picking up a fumble ... but that streak figures to endure a severe test Saturday as Air Force comes to Notre Dame Stadium with the third-best rushing offense in the country (364.5 yards per game) ... the Falcons already have 15 rushing touchdowns combined in their four games to date ... over Notre Dame's last 10 football games (last five in 2010, first five in 2011), Irish opponents have scored only twice on the ground ... both those were one-yard quarterback sneaks (by Robinson and USC's Mitch Mustain) ... in fact, the previous two opponents rushing touchdowns also came from quarterbacks (Navy's Ricky Dobbs).

- Notre Dame's offense already has three 500-plus-yard games in its first five outings ... how unusual is that? In 1970, when the Irish set their all-time single-season record by averaging 510.5 yards per game (behind quarterback Joe Theismann), they had only two in their first five contests and finished with five 500-yard days for the full season ... more recently, in 2009 when the Irish ranked eight nationally with 451.75 yards per contest, they finished with four 500-yard efforts (with Jimmy Clausen at the helm) ... in 1968 - the only other year the Irish averaged 500 yards a game for the full season (504.4 to rate second nationally) - Terry Hanratty and Company accounted for five 500-yard efforts.

- Notre Dame defeated Air Force 11 straight times to begin the football series (1964 through the 1981 season) - and the Irish later enjoyed an eight-game series win streak (1986 through 1995) ... but the Falcons have now defeated the Irish in two of their last three visits to Notre Dame Stadium ... those Air Force victories came in 1996 (a 20-17 overtime Falcon triumph over the eighth-rated Irish) and a 41-27 win in 2007 ... meanwhile, Notre Dame hasn't lost to Air Force in Colorado Springs since 1985, Gerry Faust's final season as Notre Dame head coach (the last of four straight Falcon series wins).

- The official NCAA strength-of-schedule standings (those don't include non-NCAA Football Bowl Subdivision opponents) this week list Notre Dame 20th at .641 (25-14) ... so far, only one 2011 Irish opponent has played a more difficult slate (Michigan 18th at 26-14 for .650) ... check the Sagarin ratings this week and you'll find Notre Dame's schedule rated fifth nationally, with the Irish listed 24th overall as the highest-ranked two-loss team on the chart.

- The only teams in the country that won road football games each of the last two Saturdays are Notre Dame and SMU (won at Memphis and TCU).

- The Irish have played three straight football games allowing 13 points or less - and that hasn't happened since 1989 when Notre Dame was ranked number one (45-7 over #7 Pittsburgh, 41-0 over Navy, 59-6 over SMU).

- Here are comments from Brian Kelly's media briefing this afternoon ...

"He (Cierre Wood) is one of those guys I want on our football team because he loves competition. Once he was seasoned enough I think we're seeing the results."

"I'm more concerned with the individual instead of the entire scheme relative to our special teams. I'm more interested in getting (Kyle) Brindza right because he's the best we've got and getting (David) Ruffer right and getting our long snapper more consistent. Those are the three individuals that have got to play better."

"Option offense requires my attention because there's things we've got to do that are not necessarily in the playbook. I'll be more involved with that in terms of decision-making and those will be in meetings. It won't be me coaching on the defensive side of the ball."

"I think we've been pretty consistent in running the football and stopping the run and I think that's what I look towards more than anything else."

"He (Manti Te'o) might have had his best game against Purdue. I thought this was his most disciplined game in terms of the way he played. Sometimes he tries to do too much. He was very detailed and he was outstanding against the bootleg."

- The Irish hockey team opened its season Sunday night at the Joyce Center with a 4-0 exhibition win over Western Ontario ... Notre Dame got goals from Bill Maday (two), Anders Lee and Garrett Peterson ... the Irish icers will make their first-ever appearance in the new Compton Family Ice Arena on Oct. 21 against Rensselaer (RPI) Engineers in a 7:05 p.m. (ET) contest ... the Irish will play their final games at the Joyce Center the weekend of Oct. 14-15 when they play host to Ohio State in the CCHA openers for both teams.

Hear It From a Student - Victory Talk

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5691838.jpegThat's the kind of game I have been expecting to see.

The expectations I had in August were built over almost a year of waiting. The turnaround last season that resulted in a bowl victory, the recruiting victories, the hype surrounding Brian Kelly - all of that festered in me over the summer. I was desperate for the smell of autumn that would mean the start of football season. Those hopes best explain the heartbreak I felt in our first and second games, because during all that, I wanted my team to play like they played this week.

Less than half a minute into Saturday's game at Purdue, everyone was screaming and jumping and high-fiving. Michael Floyd, Jonas Gray, and Cierre Wood all stepped onto the field and showed the world how the Irish should have been playing all season.

Sure, there were still blips. Not everything has been polished and perfected. But that learning curve everyone keeps talking about seems to be shooting up, and it makes me excited for Notre Dame football again.

As that Notre Dame excitement blew up my Twitter feed last night, my absolute favorite was this: "I'm not saying, I'm just saying. If Notre Dame were a great football team it would look an awful lot like this."

And so it would.

But as this potential for greatness dawned on us at the end of Saturday's game, someone said, "We should be 5-0." In that moment, all the air was let out of the room.

We could be. Maybe we should be. I can't explain how badly I wish we were. It is currently the dark thought that pervades our rising enthusiasm.

What I have to keep reminding myself is this: it is easy to talk about what could have or should have been. What is not so easy is pulling yourself from that. There was a time after the Michigan game where it seemed possible that, gasp, we were due in for another season a la 2007. But our classmates turned things around and kept that from happening. They have accomplished the hard part.

Now it is a matter of remaining strong in the circumstances at hand. Would it have been exhilarating to play this whole season like we played Saturday? Yes.

Will it still be exhilarating to play the rest of the season like we played Saturday?

Yes.

- Lauren Chval ('13)

Hear It From a Student - Living Up To the Hype?

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5691840.jpeg For the first time in five games the Irish finally avoided turning the ball over, a major victory in and of itself. To top off that great news the Irish dominated Purdue for four quarters for a 38-10 win. And for those of you keeping count at home, yes, that makes it three wins in a row for the Irish.

Can we say the Irish are back on the winning track for the long haul? I'll gladly say it on behalf of the Notre Dame students. In fact, we've even got a couple believers from the AP Poll. In the updated rankings we received 24 votes, still far away from our former spot at No. 16 in the preseason polls. But it's a step in the right direction.

Enough good things can't be said about Notre Dame's team performance Saturday night. Granted, Purdue's only victories of the season came over Middle Tennessee and Southeast Missouri State, but we out-performed them in startling fashion.

Clearly, Tommy Rees was happy to have an open Michael Floyd on multiple occasions, and so were we.

Rees completed 24 out of 40 passes for 254 yards and no interceptions. Not perfect, but good enough for us and for the win

If we think the offense was impressive, the "D-boys" (as the defense calls itself) easily matched that. The Boilermakers entered the game ranked 11th nationally in rushing but we held them to only 87 yards on 27 carries. When our first-string defense was in, we only gave up a field goal. The lone touchdown Purdue had came with 21 seconds left in the fourth quarter against the Irish backups.

- Kristen Stoutenburgh ('13)

Hear It From a Student - Just What We Needed

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5691833.jpeg Saturday's game against Purdue didn't have any incredible comebacks. There were no huge swings in momentum, no truly electric moments and no plays that made Notre Dame fans cling to their seats in anticipation.

And you know what? I'm alright with that.

Notre Dame fans have gotten to watch a lot of exciting games the last few weeks. The South Florida game was chaotic, both on the field and in the skies. Michigan weekend was a swing from one extreme emotion to another - I was in the Big House for that game, and I safely say it was of the most intense days of my life. And even the Pittsburgh game last week was filled with drama until the very end.

The contest at Purdue was about as drama-free as you can get. Those of us watching the game in Siegfried Hall got loud and very excited for the first play of the game, Gary Gray's interception of Purdue quarterback Caleb Terbush.

But from that point on, the Irish simply dominated the Boilermakers. Sure, there were exciting moments and spectacular games. Michael Floyd reminded us just how special he really is, and Cierre Wood and Jonas Gray highlighted a dominant rushing attack.

And there were a few rough moments, like the missed field goals and occasional flags. But the outcome of the game was never really in doubt, and Notre Dame was always in control.

The most exciting, enjoyable and memorable games tend to be ones that go right down to the wire. But every now and then, you just need to win big. Notre Dame had gotten into a habit of making me sweat by committing costly turnovers and not putting away games until the very end.

For once, it was nice to come out and clearly show that we were the better team.

Purdue couldn't stop our offense. Their offense couldn't do anything against our defense - we completely shut down the 11th-ranked rushing offense, limiting it to just 84 yards on the ground. Even freshmen like Aaron Lynch and Ishaq Williams got in on the action, a familiar trend that we should get used to seeing. It seemed like our team was making big play after big play.

Notre Dame fans have seen a lot of exciting finishes lately - some ending in incredible wins, and some resulting in painful losses. I honestly think all of these insane games have worn us out a bit. Saturday's game was just what we needed.

The Irish played to the potential we all knew they had while flat-out beating the Boilermakers. Game after game of heart-pounding drama, simply winning in convincing fashion was just what I needed.

- Tom McGuire ('14)

Following Flynt - An Excellent Win

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5691830.jpeg Yes, we all know 38-3 would have been a bit sweeter.

A late Purdue score prevented Notre Dame from its first win without allowing a touchdown since last season's Army game at Yankee Stadium. But at the end of the night, the Fighting Irish and their faithful fans were smiling, and they probably still are today.

It was not a flawless victory, but it was certainly the most complete win of the season and the most impressive offense performance in quite some time.

Notre Dame was in control from the beginning. On the first play from scrimmage, Gary Gray intercepted a Caleb TerBush pass, and shortly later, Tommy Rees found Michael Floyd for a 35-yard touchdown.

The Irish offense gained 551 total yards through a nearly perfectly balanced attack - 40 rushing attempts for 287 yards and 41 passes for 264 yards.

After Pittsburgh's secondary made him a non-factor in last week's game, Floyd bounced back in West Lafayette, catching 12 passes for 137 yards.

On the ground, Cierre Wood and Jonas Gray combined for 285 yards. Wood had 20 carries for 191 yards, including an impressive 55-yard touchdown in the second quarter. For the second consecutive week, Gray also found the end zone, finishing with 15 rushes and 94 yards.

Five Irish players scored touchdowns and T.J. Jones and game captain Tyler Eifert each had their second score of the year. Ben Turk only punted twice, and for the first time this season, Notre Dame did not turn the ball over.

Defensively, the Irish limited Purdue to 276 yards, just over half of the ground covered by Notre Dame's offense. Manti Te'o and Aaron Lynch sacked TerBush and it took the Boilermakers more than 59 minutes to score a touchdown.

In preparing for Saturday's home game against Air Force, the Irish will certainly seek to improve their special teams. Notre Dame missed two field goals and finished with -3 yards on seven punt return opportunities. And while they may have been overshadowed by Purdue's astounding 13 penalties for 118 yards, the Irish committed eight infractions of their own.

Notre Dame can get away with these types of mistakes against a lesser opponent, but that will likely not be the case against teams like USC and Stanford.

At the end of the year, Purdue will probably finish as one of the weaker teams on Notre Dame's schedule. Still, Saturday's win is worth savoring. Notre Dame fans can be a picky group and 15-12 over Pittsburgh left many unsatisfied. However, this was the kind of statement, dominating win that Irish nation longs to see. It is the type of victory that can build confidence and momentum and it is a sign of how this Notre Dame team is capable of playing.

If the Irish use yesterday's performance as the standard they seek to emulate for the rest of the season, there is a good chance we'll have many more enjoyable Saturday evenings and smiling Sunday mornings in 2011.

- Josh Flynt ('11)

Hear It From a Student - Three Things

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Three things we learned ...

1.) The Irish have a prolific offense ... when they don't turn the ball over. The Irish finally registered a complete offensive game without a turnover. Not coincidentally, the Irish racked up 38 points and totaled 551 yards, both of which were season highs. Tommy Rees threw for 254 yards and three touchdowns while Michael Floyd paced the wide receivers with 137 yards on 12 catches and one touchdown. The running back duo of Cierre Wood and Jonas Gray dominated the Boilermaker defense with 191 and 94 yards, respectively, as well as a touchdown rush apiece. The trio of Wood, Floyd and Tyler Eifert could be arguably one of the best running back, wide receiver and tight end combination in the nation. The Irish can dominate defenses if they just take care of the ball as they did at Purdue.

2.) The Irish have a dominant running game ... Cierre Wood collected 191 yards on the evening against a porous Purdue defense. That total is the most by an Irish running back since Julius Jones had 218 yards against Stanford in 2003. Wood's 191 yards came on just 20 carries, which was good for a 9.6 yard per carry average. Gray added 94 yards on 15 carries (6.3 yards/carry) as the Irish had a total of 287 yards on the ground against Purdue, which was also a season-best total. What should not go unnoticed, however, is the offensive line. The running backs get all the glory, but the lineman are the workhorses of the offense and they led the way for the great Irish ground game.

3.) The Grays are resilient ... Jonas Gray's season didn't start off well and Gary Gray's second game of the season is one to be forgotten, but that hasn't stopped either player. Gary Gray had an interception on the first Purdue offensive play of the game and then aided in holding the Purdue air attack to just 192 yards. Jonas Gray had another bounce-back game with his second career touchdown. Jonas has been able to become the bruising back that perfectly complements Cierre Wood. Both players could have let their earlier performances affect the whole season, but they didn't, and now they have contributed to the team's success over the past three games.

Also worth noting ...

* Jordan Cowart is the long snapper.

* Michael Floyd became the first Irish wide receiver ever to total 3,000 receiving yards in a career. Floyd also recorded his 16th career 100-yard receiving game, which gives him sole ownership of the Notre Dame record for the most 100-yard receiving yard games.

* The Irish had 38 points and 551 total yards, both of which were season highs.

* Notre Dame has now won 21 of the last 26 meetings against Purdue.

* Notre Dame is approaching a winning percentage of .800 in the month of October. The Irish are now 374-91-8 (.799) in October.

* Tommy Rees now has 10 consecutive games under his belt with a touchdown pass. That is tied for third all-time for the longest such span. Brady Quinn has the record with 16 consecutive games with a touchdown.

* Offensively, the Irish have dominated the first quarter. Notre Dame outgained the Boilermakers 185-39 in the first 15 minutes on Saturday. In the first five games of the season, the Irish have outgained their opponents in total yards, 649-195.

- Andrew Bartolini ('13)

Live Chat - Hockey vs. Western Ontario

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Notre Dame opens the 2011-12 season today 6:05 p.m. (ET) when the Irish play host to the Western Ontario Mustangs at the Joyce Center.

Irish UNDerground will have all the angles in and around the ice covered throughout today's game. Be sure to share your questions, comments and complaints and let your voice be heard throughout the Notre Dame nation.

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Live Chat - Volleyball vs. Louisville

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The Fighting Irish end their BIG EAST Conference weekend twinbill today at 2:00 p.m. (ET) with a bout against Louisville at Purcell Pavilion.

Irish UNDerground will have all the angles in and around the court covered throughout today's game. Be sure to share your questions, comments and complaints and let your voice be heard throughout the Notre Dame nation.

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Live Chat - Women's Soccer vs. Providence

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Notre Dame is back at home today while playing host to Providence at 1:00 p.m. (ET) at Alumni Stadium.

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Notre Dame 38, Purdue 10

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Live Chat - Football at Purdue

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This year's matchup will mark the 83rd meeting between Notre Dame and Purdue, with the Irish holding a 54-26-2 series lead. Notre Dame owns a 26-14-2 mark against the Boilermakers away from Notre Dame Stadium. The Irish have won 20 of the last 25 meetings, including eight of the last 12 games in Ross-Ade Stadium.

The game will be televised live on ESPN with Brad Nessler (play-by-play), Todd Blackledge (analysis) and Holly Rowe (sidelines) calling the shots.

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Live Chat - Volleyball vs. Cincinnati

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The Irish volleyball squad starts the weekend with a BIG EAST Conference match today against Cincinnati at 2:00 p.m. (ET). Notre Dame - picked second in the BIG EAST preseason poll - looks to bounce back from last week's loss to Villanova with a win over the Bearcats - who were picked third in the preseason poll.

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Daily Dish - 10.1.11

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5687891.jpeg - Lauren Bohaboy scored twice, and Jessica Schuveiller added a goal and an assist as Notre Dame blanked Connecticut, 3-0 in BIG EAST Conference women's soccer action on a cold and blustery Friday night before a crowd of 1,651 at Notre Dame's Alumni Stadium and a national television audience on ESPNU ... it was the second shutout of the season for the Fighting Irish, and their first since a season-opening 2-0 win over Wisconsin on Aug. 19, also at Alumni Stadium ... Schuveiller and Bohaboy scored 40 seconds apart midway through the first half to stake Notre Dame to a lead it would never relinquish ... Bohaboy then added a key insurance tally less than five minutes into the second half, converting a cross from Schuveiller, with Melissa Henderson setting up both of the freshman's goals on the night.

- Battling weather and 14 ranked foes between the two blue races, the women's and men's cross country squads placed fifth and 11th, respectively, Friday at the 56th annual Notre Dame Invitational ... runners fought through tough conditions all day, as temperatures dipped into the high 40s and winds blew at 20-30 MPH, with top gusts reaching 40 MPH and above ... Jessica Rydberg paced the Irish women for the third meet in a row, placing 25th out of 225 runners in the women's 5K blue race to help Notre Dame to a fifth-place finish out of 28 teams ... on the men's side, the 23rd-ranked Irish finished 11th out of 26 teams ... J.P. Malette paced Notre Dame, placing 41st in 24:51.

- The Central Collegiate Hockey Association (CCHA) has announced its 43-game television schedule for the 2011-12 season and Notre Dame is scheduled to appear 11 times with six games carried by Comcast Television and five on the CBS Sports Network ... Versus, which will become NBC Sports Network in January, has not yet announced its college hockey schedule ... Notre Dame will appear on television five times before the Christmas break and six times in the second half of the season according to the schedule released Friday.

- The football team made a brief stop at Ross-Ade Stadium in West Lafayette, Ind., about 8:30 p.m. Friday - but cold and windy conditions meant Brian Kelly and his team spent only about five minutes there, taking a quick look at the locker room and the field before heading to their local hotel ... the Notre Dame team traveled over to Lafayette Central Catholic High School at 10:45 a.m. today for a 45-minute walk-thru ... it's sunny and breezy in Lafayette today, with a high of 55 degrees expected - with temperatures expected to dip into the low 40s by game's end this evening (there's only a 10 percent chance of rain today).

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