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Laura Thomas (@NDSportsBlogger)

8.14.2015

When you work at Fighting Irish Media, you never know who you might run into on any given day. It's common for notable athletes, musicians, and actors to visit campus, and sometimes we're lucky enough to meet them.

On Thursday, that notable person on campus was Eddie George. George was an All-American running back at Ohio State and won the Heisman Trophy in 1995. He was taken in the first round of the 1996 NFL Draft by the Houston Oilers (now the Tennessee Titans) and was with the Oilers/Titans for 8 years. In that time, George was named Rookie of the Year, appeared in four consecutive Pro Bowls and won a Super Bowl. Following a brief stint with the Dallas Cowboys, George retired from the game in 2005 with 10,441 career rushing yards under his belt.

George is pretty familiar with South Bend. He was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 2011, back when the Hall used to be in downtown SB.

So, you could say he's kind of a big deal.

While George didn't have time to stop by the FIM office, he was nice enough to chat with me for about 3 minutes while he walked from the Gug to his car, rushing off to catch a flight to his next destination.



George was on campus with Sirius XM as a host for their College Football Camp Tour alongside former NFL coach, scout, and executive Phil Savage and Mark "The Packman" Packer.

"We go around to all the top teams in the country in college football and we figure out what they're up to, what they're doing," said George. "It's a great chance to promote the program."

George and the Sirius XM crew drove in on Wednesday from Columbus, Ohio, where they were visiting George's alma mater Ohio State.

Throughout the day, they met with Notre Dame coaches and players and watched the Irish practice, getting a feel for the team.

"I've only seen one practice but, based off what I've seen, I know that they're a team that definitely believes in competitive excellence," said George. "What I mean by that is they're always competing against one another, trying to make everyone around them better."

One day isn't a lot of time to get to know a team. But, it was enough time for George to pick up on some key aspects of the Notre Dame culture.

"Just talking to everybody around here, the culture is that they truly believe they can go to the next level and really compete for a national championship this year," he said. "This could be a really special year for them because of the closeness of this football team."

So, does George think that Notre Dame can make it to the playoff?

"Notre Dame is returning so many starters this year, 17 starters, and there's some expectations that they could be one of the four teams in the playoff," he said. "They have the players to do it, the schedule to do it, and they certainly have the brand to do it. So, I'm really impressed with what I've seen from them so far."

While George believes Notre Dame has everything in place to make it to the College Football Playoff, when I asked him who would win between Ohio State and Notre Dame, his answer was not surprising.

"There's only one choice. Scarlet and grey runs through my blood, so that's about it."

Training camp at Culver Academies wraps up for Notre Dame football on Tuesday. I went down for most of the day on Friday and Saturday to check out the grounds and get a glimpse of camp life at Culver.



Brian Kelly is the second Notre Dame coach to kick off training camp at Culver, Lou Holtz being the first. Running Backs Coach Autry Denson and Director of Player Development Ron Powlus were at Culver as players under Lou Holtz and we caught up with them to see what, if anything, has changed since they were at Culver in the 90′s.

One thing that has remained the same: no AC in the dorms. When Ron and Autry were at camp, it was brutally hot. Ron told us that the upperclassmen would bring their pillows into the hockey rink at night to sleep on the cement bleachers, a slightly cooler option than the dorms. Apparently they didn't tell the underclassmen, which included Autry. In fact, Autry only found out the upperclassmen did this just last week.

Another notable anecdote from Holtz's time at Culver was when he burned a small boat on the lake. Here's the story told by former linebacker Kory Minor ('99):

"There are so many memorable stories that I can share about my time at Culver, but I think the funniest and most enjoyable would be when coach Holtz burned a small boat on the lake. It reminded me of something General Patton would do to ensure his men were in the battle for the long run. I don't recall if it was the first night we arrived in Culver or a day or two later, but it was a sight I have never seen and the inspirational and motivational message was on point, accurate and precisely delivered.

Imagine coach Holtz and his less than large stature standing in front of each and every player and coach and basically gave his sermon on the mount.  He talked about the mission and what it would take to be successful that season. Coach shared stories of past seasons, the successes and failures and what that team needed to do to win. I remember him scanning the audience with his eyes as though he was looking and talking to each one of us directly, giving you the official guidelines and strategies that we needed to hear as a team so we could unleash our true greatness.

When coach lit the boat on fire and pushed it out to sea the underlying message was clear, there would be no retreating. If you were on that team you must totally by into the message and the philosophy that coach Holtz envisioned. There would be no middle ground. Coach knew how to win and he was very proficient at that. His job was now to fundamentally transform our minds, hearts and beliefs and to have us all on the same page. I must admit Coach did an excellent job conveying his message. I have never been in awe of anything in my life, but to see the boat on fire behind coach Holtz set against the starry night was the most breathtaking sight I have ever seen. That moment was when I knew I had arrived at the University of Notre Dame and there would be no turning back now."

The Culver campus is a busy place during the summer, and not just because of Notre Dame football. On Saturday, there was a triathlon in the morning and three weddings throughout the day. Then, once Notre Dame was done on the field, Culver Academies had their own football team that had to practice in the afternoon.

Luckily, the grounds are huge and there's plenty of space for everyone.

After lunch, the players have some free time before meetings. They can go boating, horseback riding, or fishing but, as you might expect, most choose to just sleep... Or, if you're Romeo Okwara and Corey Robinson, play the ukulele.


Once the team gets back to Notre Dame, training camp continues right here under the dome.

A New Home

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While our student-athletes have been working hard in preparation for the start of the fall season, we've also made a few improvements in anticipation of the new school year.

From this point forward, Irish UNDerground will be utilizing the Wordpress platform powered by NBC Sports.

Here's a look at our three new blog websites:

UNDerground: Notre Dame Athletics

Strong and True: Notre Dame Football

Irish United: Notre Dame Men's and Women's Soccer

Go ahead and bookmark these now. With features, videos, photos, commentaries and news from inside the athletic department, we are committed to bringing you coverage of Notre Dame athletics unlike any you can find elsewhere.

Get ready. 2012-13 is going to be an exciting year to be Irish.

Mic'd Up: Coach Kelly

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The latest Fighting Irish Digital Media video looks back at spring ball and features Coach Kelly mic'd up during one of his team's practices in the Loftus Sports Center.

Watch the video to get a closer look at the quarterback competition, which resumes on Aug. 4, when the Irish begin fall training camp.

There Are Over 360 Species of Sharks ...

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... but here are two of our favorites!

The Other "Mike and Mike"

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There Is No Offseason

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Class Is In Session

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Before There Was Mike and Mike ...

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... there was, well, Mike and Mike.

Lezynski Joins Holy Cross Coaching Staff

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The "president emeritus" of the Walk-on Players' Union has got a new gig.

Former Irish cornerback Nick Lezynski ('11) was named today as the assistant secondary coach at the College of the Holy Cross in Worcester, Mass.

A friend and classmate of mine, Lezynski earned his bachelor's degree in marketing last year, before returning to ND as a fifth-year student-athlete for the 2011 season.

Read more about his new position on the Crusaders' website.

WOPU Nation, continuing to do big things. Congrats, Nick.

- Josh Flynt ('11)

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Event Calendar

September 4
7:30 PM
vs USF
Notre Dame, Ind. (Alumni Stadium)

WatchND
September 4
4:00 PM
at Western Michigan
Kalamazoo, Mich. (WMU Soccer Complex)
September 4
4:00 PM
at Crusader Invitational
Valparaiso, Ind. (Sunset Hill Farm County Park)
September 4
7:00 PM
at Seton Hall
South Orange, N.J.

Live Video
September 5
7:30 PM
vs Texas
Notre Dame, Ind.

NBC
September 5
12:00 PM
vs Temple
South Orange, N.J.
September 5
5:30 PM
vs Hofstra
South Orange, N.J.
September 6
2:00 PM
vs UAB
Notre Dame, Ind. (Alumni Stadium)

ESPN3
September 6
12:00 PM
at Michigan State
East Lansing, Mich. (DeMartin Soccer Complex)

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