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Te'o To Return for Senior Year

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28cdjf.jpg Chicago Tribune - As he began to contemplate dueling futures at Notre Dame and in the NFL, Manti Te'o was advised by his father to make a list of what was important to him. It would offer some sort of traction in the looming stay-or-go clamor.

Ultimately, it brought Te'o back for his senior year.

Te'o announced Sunday he will return to Notre Dame for 2012, instantly equipping the Irish to handle a buzz saw of a schedule next fall in the most impactful moment of the offseason.

Te'o arrived Saturday for the Lott IMPACT TrophyCQ awards banquet in Newport Beach, Calif. He met with his parents, who flew in from Hawaii, and discussed the decision. On Sunday, Te'o finalized his choice and, surprisingly, announced it at the banquet.

According to the Twitter feed of Fox Sports reporter Lisa Horne, Te'o said this: "I feel I'm not done at Notre Dame."

"Just a month or two ago, I felt Manti was really valuing being a professional," Te'o's father, Brian, told the Tribune in a phone interview late Sunday. "I thought that was at the top of the list and he was going to do as much as he could to do his part at Notre Dame. I thought he was at the stage of moving on. Long story short, essentially, we had a really nice talk with him last night.

"We had a long three hour talk with him about where he felt his priorities where. We were going to use his list of priorities to start canceling out the pros and cons from the list we created. In a nutshell, Manti told me and my wife that he felt he came to Notre Dame - and I'm going to reiterate exactly what he said three years ago - he was led there to do something. He just feels there are so many unfinished things left there."

The Te'o camp preferred to have a general idea of a decision before the Irish's Dec. 29 Champs Sports Bowl appearance. The family gathered the requisite information about where Te'o might be selected - and Te'o asked for an underclassman evaluation from the NFL - and the results were unsurprising.

Te'o is the No. 13 overall draft prospect according to ESPN analyst Mel Kiper, Jr., and the family's research had him slotted anywhere from the mid-to-late first round to the worst case of the second round. And, as a result of that, Brian Te'o advised his son to declare for the draft when Manti Te'o asked for his opinion Saturday.

"One of inspiring things he shared with us was, what can he live with if decided to go pro?" Brian Te'o said. "Can he live with not having the memory of his senior season? Could I be satisfied with millions and live without the memory? Or can I live without the millions and have the memories?

"He goes, 'I can do that. I can live with my career possible ending at Notre Dame.' If he leaves this life in general, he'll know he gave Notre Dame everything he had. He felt he didn't do that yet. He really hasn't given Notre Dame everything he's got."

Indeed, this was not a foregone conclusion either way until recently. Te'o had planned for next year's off-campus housing with three teammates, a source said, but Brian Te'o said his son was still contemplating and praying on the decision for weeks.

Then, by the time he met with his parents Saturday night, Te'o knew.

"It was clear to me where his heart was," Brian Te'o said. "It wasn't a difficult decision. There was more difficulty in trying to explain to Mom and Dad what he decided. If there was struggle, it was more a distraction, he said. People were telling him you should leave, you should stay -- he just felt conflicted. A lot of people he looked up to (were) telling him to go two different ways."

Notre Dame confirmed Te'o's return late Sunday but did not comment about the team leader in tackles (115), tackles-for-loss (13) and sacks (4.5) in 2011.

On Sunday night, Te'o was set for a red-eye return flight. A final exam awaited Monday. But after unloading this weight, he probably slept easy anyway.

"He wanted to be a senior," Brian Te'o said. "More than anything he wanted to walk around that stadium one last time, whether it was in pads or in crutches. He said he will walk and give his final goodbyes. He couldn't see himself declaring for NFL and not having that opportunity to say goodbye to Notre Dame.

"From listening to him (Saturday) night, that boy truly loves Notre Dame. He truly loves Notre Dame, despite all the shenanigans that may have happened in this past season, and some of that pointed directly to him -- it didn't matter to him. I was very proud at him for that."

2011 Football Awards Show

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Friday was a great night and a celebration of the 2011 season and senior class at the DeBartolo Performing Arts Center. Check out this YouTube playlist or visit the insideNDfootball YouTube channel to select individual videos from the Football Awards Show.

Here's a complete list of the winners:

Scout Team Player of the Year: Everett Golson (Offense), Brandon Newman (Defense)
Newcomer of the Year: Jonas Gray (Offense), Dan Fox (Defense)
Special Teams Player of the Year: Austin Collinsworth
Nick Pietrosante Award: Harrison Smith
Moose Krause Award: Darius Fleming
Guardian Life Insurance Guardian of the Year Award: Zack Martin
Back of the Year: Robert Blanton
Rockne Student-Athlete Award: Manti Te'o
Next Man In Award: Robby Toma
Most Valuable Player: Michael Floyd

Live Chat - Football Awards Show

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It's time to hand out the hardware at the Notre Dame Football Awards Show.

Find out first-hand who won what, what they're wearing and how they won it right here on Irish UNDerground.

What to step your experience up a notch? Everything you need for tonight's award show is available on UND.com.

Straight Swag

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Which adidas uniform was your favorite throughout the 2011 football season?

Caption Contest

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Must have been a bye week ...

Sporting News' Best College Football City

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61251-650-366.jpg Sporting News - Three reasons South Bend is our best college football city.

1. There's nothing like the campus.

Walk anywhere on the bucolic grounds and the aura overwhelms you.

The reflection pool shimmering and shining in front of Touchdown Jesus. The flickering candles from all those Hail Marys (the real kind) at the Grotto of Our Lady of Lourdes. The ivy-covered walls, the Basilica of the Sacred Heart. If you're lucky enough, and sitting high enough in the stadium, you get an extra game-day experience: a view of the sun setting and shining on the iconic Golden Dome.

"It's so much more than football," says former Notre Dame All-American Aaron Taylor. "It's this living, breathing daily life experience."

There's a reason no campus in the nation has more annual visitors (hundreds of thousands, according to ND) and why game day in South Bend, Ind., is about much more than football.

The leaves turning colors in the crisp fall air. The Friday night pep rallies. The tailgating and the postgame celebrations. It's an event like no other--and it plays out over and over no matter what happens on the field.

2. The history and tradition are unmatched.

Where do we begin? Knute Rockne or Lou Holtz? The Four Horsemen or Joe Montana?

Maybe it's safe to begin with 11 national championships, seven Heisman Trophy winners and 99 All-Americans. The second-highest winning percentage in college football history and the third-most wins and fewest losses all-time. Twelve undefeated seasons.

Those numbers are more striking when you consider the Irish haven't been nationally relevant in more than 15 years. Maybe the most telling number of all is 49: the number of players and coaches Notre Dame has in the College Football Hall of Fame, more than any other school.

"We've had some lean years lately," says Notre Dame legend Paul Hornung. "But that doesn't diminish the history that was built by all those players and teams of the past."

3. The future is always bright.

Despite the downturn since Holtz retired as coach in 1996, Notre Dame is still Notre Dame. The Irish still are the biggest television draw of any team or conference in college football.

But the drop-off has hurt recruiting. Prior to the 1990s, Notre Dame had its name and ability to play on national television as the recruiting trump cards. Now everyone plays on national television. And because the Irish aren't affiliated with a conference, once they lose twice (or three times) and become ineligible for a BCS bowl, they are left playing in a meaningless lower-tier bowl. That impacts recruiting more than anything.

So despite its love of independence, recruiting will eventually lead Notre Dame into a conference affiliation--where the best sports city in college football will only get better.

- Matt Hayes


ESPN.com - Former Notre Dame and NFL player Larry Williams was named the new vice president and director of athletics at Marquette on Monday.

Williams has been the director of athletics and recreation at the University of Portland since 2004.

"Marquette is one of the elite names in collegiate athletics," Williams said in a statement. "But after getting to know the people here, it was clear to me that this was a program with not only a storied history, but an extremely bright future. Just as importantly, it was a place my family and I could call home."

Williams was a standout offensive lineman at Notre Dame and went on to play in the NFL. He earned a law degree from the University of San Diego during his pro football career.

Williams will begin Jan. 2 and report directly to Marquette President Scott Pilarz.

A native of Santa Ana, Calif., Williams and his wife, Laura Lee Williams, have five children.

After his playing career, Williams practiced law for an Indianapolis-based firm, then returned to Notre Dame to work on licensing and product marketing for the athletic department.

Allie McGuire, the son of the late Marquette coach Al McGuire, chaired the school's search committee. Boston Celtics coach Doc Rivers, a former Marquette player and current school trustee, was a member of the committee.

"I was extremely impressed with Larry's fierce commitment to the values that have always distinguished Marquette, and to the vision he shares with Father Pilarz -- for our student athletes to have a transformational education and for our teams to succeed as national leaders in athletics," McGuire said in a statement. "He'll be a great fit at Marquette."

No Trick Shot Monday? No Problem!

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Rudy 2.0

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Following Flynt - Irish Around The League

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GoldenCatch.jpg
Photo courtesy of The Philadelphia Inquirer

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Photo courtesy of Getty Images

Which catch was better?

That's the question Notre Dame fans might be asking themselves after watching this weekend's NFL action. Golden Tate and Kyle Rudolph blew up the Twitter world, as both made outstanding touchdown receptions in Week 13.

On Thursday night, Tate had four catches for 47 yards for Seattle, including an 11-yard touchdown in the back of the end zone. The former Irish receiver also had one carry for eight yards in the 31-14 win over Philadelphia.

Rudolph reached over a Denver safety to haul in a 19-yard pass from quarterback Christian Ponder in the second quarter, but Minnesota lost on a last-second field goal, 35-32.

Fellow tight end Anthony Fasano ('06) made four receptions for 66 yards and was Miami's leading receiver in a 34-14 win over Oakland.

Green Bay continued its quest for perfection with a 38-35 win at New York. Ryan Grant ('05) had 13 rushes for 29 yards, as well as one catch for 17 yards. College teammate Justin Tuck ('05) had five tackles, including one sack in the Giants' loss.

In other defensive news, David Bruton ('09) made two tackles in the Broncos' win at Minnesota. Teammate Kyle McCarthy ('09) also had one tackle in his season debut.

Derek Landri ('06) had two tackles and Trevor Laws ('07) had one solo tackle for the Eagles.

Darrin Walls ('10) registered one tackle for Atlanta in a 17-10 loss at Houston.

-Josh Flynt ('11)

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