Believe it or not, it's already that time of year. Spring football. Notre Dame head coach Brian Kelly kicks off the spring season with a press conference on Tuesday at noon ET in the Isban Auditorium at the Guglielmino Athletics Complex. The Fighting Irish will have their first spring practice on Wednesday morning and UND.com will have plenty of coverage as the team gears up for the 2012 season and the Blue-Gold game on April 21. Follow the live blog coverage right here on Irish UNDerground and check back to UND.com later in the afternoon for video of coach's presser. 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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How are Coach Kelly's Fighting Irish spending the off-season before spring practice begins? Check out the latest episode of Irish Connection.
If you weren't at Purcell Pavilion on Saturday, did not get a chance to watch the live broadcast on UND.com, or just feel like watching again, check out this YouTube playlist for all eleven championship fights from the 82nd annual Bengal Bouts finals.
Assumption.edu - Assumption College has announced that Brian Kelly ('83) will deliver the address at the College's 95th commencement exercises on Saturday, May 12, 2012. During the ceremony, Kelly will also receive an honorary degree. "Brian has remained closely connected with Assumption and has proudly articulated how his Catholic liberal arts education and the strong sense of community at Assumption have served as a great foundation for his successful career," said Assumption College President Francesco Cesareo. "He is passionate about how Assumption College uniquely combines both intellectual and spiritual development that supports and encourages each student, and I expect that our graduating seniors and audience members will find inspiration from his life story and experiences." A 1983 graduate of Assumption College, Kelly is a veteran of 21 seasons as a head football coach in the collegiate setting. He is heading into his third season as the head football coach at Notre Dame, the 29th in their storied history, and he has guided the Fighting Irish to 16 wins and two bowl games over the last two seasons. Kelly became the first Notre Dame head coach to win a bowl game in his first season with the Fighting Irish. Currently the fifth-winningest active coach in the NCAA Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS), his 110 victories as head coach since 2001 are more than all but two active FBS head coaches - Oklahoma's Bob Stoops and Mack Brown of Texas. Born in Everett, Mass., and raised in Chelsea, Mass., Kelly attended St. John's Preparatory School in Danvers, Mass. A four-year star linebacker for the Assumption College club football team, and captain of the squad in 1981 and 1982, the Assumption teams in those years finished 8-3 and 7-1-1. After graduating from Assumption with a bachelor's degree in political science, he served the College as linebacker coach and defensive coordinator (as well as softball coach) from 1983 to 1986. Kelly has long praised the value of an Assumption College education and its role in his spiritual and intellectual development, which "allowed me to grow as a human being," he said. "I am a proud graduate of Assumption College. I greatly value the education I received there as well as what the College taught me about commitment to service. I am delighted to return to my alma mater to address the graduating class of 2012." He joined Michigan's Grand Valley State University staff in 1987 as a graduate assistant and defensive backs coach. There, Kelly became the defensive coordinator and recruiting coordinator in 1989 and took over, at age 28, as head coach in 1991. Kelly compiled a 118-35-2 record (.767) in 13 seasons as head coach of the Lakers, highlighted by NCAA Division II national championships in 2002 and 2003. In 2009, he was inducted into the Grand Valley State Athletics Hall of Fame, and in 2011 Grand Valley State renamed its Laker Turf Building the Kelly Family Sports Center. The Kelly Family Sports Center is a 138,000-square-foot building that houses a regulation football field and a six-lane, 300-meter track. After coaching three seasons at Central Michigan where Kelly helped the Chippewas win the Mid-American Conference title in 2006, Kelly spent three seasons at the University of Cincinnati from 2007 to 2009. Kelly led the Bearcats to a 34-6 record (.850) and two straight outright BIG EAST Conference titles that earned BCS appearances in 2008 (FedEx Orange Bowl) and 2009 (Allstate Sugar Bowl). He became the first BIG EAST football coach to win the conference's coach of the year honor three years in a row and Kelly's 12-0 squad in 2009 helped him earn ESPN/Home Depot National Coach of the Year Award. At the time he accepted the position at Notre Dame, he qualified as the winningest active BIG EAST football coach as well as the only league coach with more than 150 wins. The parents of three children, Kelly and his wife Paqui host annual events to benefit the Kelly Cares Foundation, established to support organizations, initiatives and programs that align with the goals and values of their family. Paqui, a two-time breast cancer survivor, and Brian have their charity focus on three main areas: personal involvement, with emphasis on breast cancer research, prevention, education and awareness; education and institutional advancement; and community involvement in selected initiatives and projects. In June 2010, Brian and Paqui made a $250,000 gift to the University of Notre Dame in support of endeavors in research, academics and community engagement. The gift directly supports three Notre Dame initiatives: cancer research, the Hesburgh Libraries and the Robinson Community Learning Center.
On Saturday night at 7 pm ET, UND.com will be streaming the 82nd annual Bengal Bouts finals. The bouts are a charity boxing tournament to benefit the Holy Cross Missions in Bangladesh. Catch all 12 championship bouts right here on UND.com, and if you're an Irish football fan, pay extra attention to the 188-lb weight class, as safety Chris Salvi goes for the title. Here's a quick preview of Saturday's fight night:
With a newborn daughter and a new job, Mike Harrity, the university's associate athletics director for student-athlete development and community programming, amazingly also found time to finish writing a book. Coaching Wisdom: Champion Coaches and Their Players Share Successful Leadership Principles was published in late February and is available now. Harrity, who joined the Notre Dame family in Dec. 2011 after spending six years at Kansas, spoke with 13 coaches who have combined to lead their teams to an unbelievable 103 national championships, Stanley Cups or Super Bowl titles. Brad Stevens, who wrote the foreword for Harrity's book, is the only coach featured who has not won a title, but the 35-year-old is one of the most promising young coaches in college basketball, having led Butler to back-to-back Final Fours and championship game appearances. Although "Coaching Wisdom" is based on firsthand interviews with coaches and their players, Harrity explained that it is about more than athletics. "This isn't a book about sports. It's a book for anyone who is a leader - of a family, a school, an organization, or a team," he says. "I have a passion for exploring how leaders are able to create a culture that leads to achieving sustainable success. After spending time with the 13 coaches, from a broad range of sports, and their former players, I discovered common themes that emerged strongly. Each theme is represented by the chapters in the book." These chapters include Creating a Caring Environment, Communicating Effectively, Keep it Simple, Building Team-First Unity, Motivating and Inspiring Your Team, and Finding Your X-Factor. One of Harrity's remarkable discoveries in speaking with these coaches and their players was that in each case, the players' experience and what they valued had mirrored exactly what the coach had intended of his or her team. The book began as an idea in spring 2004, when Harrity went out on a limb and wrote to basketball legend John Wooden. Originally, Harrity planned to focus the project on the former UCLA coach, but within the last couple years, it evolved to include other collegiate and professional coaches from across several sports. Wooden responded to Harrity's letter, gave him his home phone number, and the two soon set up a meeting at Wooden's home in California. Harrity explains that he asked Coach Wooden for an hour and a half of his time, and ended up spending the entire day with the 93-year-old ten-time NCAA champion. Like many, Harrity had heard stories and read books about Wooden's leadership and the many lives he had impacted off the court. Still, he was struck by just how welcoming, friendly and helpful the coaching legend was to him, a total stranger. "He had more energy than me," Harrity says. "We developed a strong friendship. He really wanted to help me achieve my goals and dreams." Among those that Harrity interviewed were nine-time Stanley Cup champion Scotty Bowman, two-time Super Bowl winner Don Shula, 21-time NCAA champion women's soccer coach Anson Dorrance, and Notre Dame football legend Lou Holtz, who wrote the book's preface. It has been an incredibly rewarding process for Harrity. Of all the coaches he contacted hoping to interview, not a single one declined his request for a meeting. "I have been continually amazed at how generous all of the coaches and their former players have been with sharing their time and wisdom. Many have become friends. But even if I only sell one copy to my wife and one copy to my parents, I'm a better man, husband and father having had the opportunity to learn from and spend time with some of the greatest leaders of our time." You can purchase Harrity's book on Amazon.com and soon, at the Hammes Notre Dame Bookstore. - Josh Flynt ('11)
The NFL Scouting Combine came to a close yesterday in Indianapolis, as the safeties and cornerbacks completed their workouts. Many fans know the combine for the 40-yard dash seen on television. While important, a player's opportunities to make an impact on NFL teams are about more than how fast he runs in a straight line. There are a series of on- and off-the-field evaluations, screenings and interviews that help teams get a better idea of how they will use their selections in April's NFL Draft. Six former Notre Dame football student-athletes participated in this year's combine - cornerback Robert Blanton, offensive lineman Taylor Dever, running back Jonas Gray, linebacker Darius Fleming, wide receiver Michael Floyd and safety Harrison Smith. Gray is still rehabbing the knee injury he suffered this past November against Boston College, and was only able to participate in the bench press segment of the physical tests. He hopes to be ready for Notre Dame's Pro Day in April. Here's a look at some notable performances from the Irish who took part in the combine: - Robert Blanton tied Jamell Fleming (Oklahoma) and Josh Robinson (Central Florida) for third among cornerbacks in the 20-yard shuttle. Blanton's time of 3.97 seconds also ranked third for all defensive backs in the drill. Blanton also fared well in the three-cone drill. His 6.71 placed fifth among cornerbacks, seventh among defensive backs and 11th among all combine participants. The Matthews, N.C. native tied for seventh among all defensive backs in the 60-yard shuttle, clocking a time of 11.28. - On Saturday, Taylor Dever ran a 7.49 in the three-cone drill, tying Nate Potter (Boise State) for fourth out of 43 offensive linemen who completed the test. - Darius Fleming completed the combine drills on Monday, where he ranked sixth among linebackers in the three-cone drill (7.03) and tied for seventh in the 20-yard shuttle (4.28). Fleming also placed sixth in the 225-lb bench press test with 27 reps. The Chicago native tied Keenan Robinson (Texas) and Luke Kuechly (Boston College), winner of the 2011 Bronko Nagurski Trophy, Butkus Award, Lombardi Award and Lott IMPACT Trophy. - Michael Floyd ran a 4.47 (13th among wide receivers) in the 40-yard dash, quieting some critics who had previously questioned his speed. With the exception of Miami's Tommy Streeter and Georgia Tech's Stephen Hill none of the other wideouts who ran faster share the 6'3," 220-lb receiver's combination of size and speed. - Harrison Smith, the 2011 Notre Dame captain, had an impressive Tuesday, the final afternoon of the combine. Smith's best drill was the three-cone test (6.63), where he placed first among safeties, fifth for defensive backs and seventh among all combine participants. The safety ran a 4.57 in the 40 and completed 19 reps in the bench press test, both good for seventh at his position. Smith also turned in a strong showing in the 20-yard shuttle, running a 4.12 - good for second among safeties and 13th among all defensive backs. He tied LSU's Morris Claiborne, who is projected as a possible top-5 pick. These former Fighting Irish players aspire to play on Sundays, but no matter what happens eight weeks from now in New York, and in the free agency period thereafter, each will have a degree from the University of Notre Dame - and that will benefit them long after their playing days are complete. Notre Dame's NFL Combine participants, as well as other Fighting Irish professional hopefuls will be back in action just over a month from now on Pro Day, to be held on April 3 in the Loftus Sports Center. - Josh Flynt ('11)
- The names of three former Notre Dame football all-stars--Dave Casper, Raghib Ismail and Jim Seymour--appear on the National Football Foundation's College Football Hall of Fame Football Bowl Subdivision (formerly NCAA Division I-A) ballot . . . The Hall of Fame class will be announced May 15 and then inducted at the National Football Foundation and College Hall of Fame's Annual Awards Dinner Dec. 4 at the Waldorf-Astoria in New York City.
Here are details on the three former Irish players on the ballot: * Dave Casper - Offensive Lineman/Tight End - 1973 consensus first-team All-American . . . Notre Dame co-captain and offensive MVP in 1973 on national championship team . . . 1973 Academic All-America selection . . . received post-graduate scholarships from NCAA and National Football Foundation . . . received NCAASilvery Anniversary Award and is member of Academic All-America Hall of Fame. * Raghib Ismail - Wide Receiver - Two-time first-team All-American earning consensus honors in 1989 and unanimous honors in 1990 . . . Walter Camp Player of the Year and Heisman Trophy runner-up in 1990 . . . led Notre Dame to a Fiesta Bowl and two Orange Bowls . . . set NCAA record by twice returning two kickoffs for TDs in a single game (Rice 1988, Michigan 1989). * Jim Seymour - End - Two-time first-team All-America selection in 1967-68 . . . set Notre Dame career records for receptions (138) and receiving yards (2,113) and for pass receptions in a game (13 vs. Purdue in 1966) and still holds record for receiving yards in a game (276 in that same game). Notre Dame has 43 former players and six former coaches already enshrined in the Hall of Fame, providing more inductees than any other institution. The most recent addition is former Heisman Trophy winner Tim Brown, who was inducted in 2009 and enshrined in July 2010 in South Bend. - Consecutive losses dropped the Notre Dame men's basketball team to a projected #7 seed in two bracketology versions, with both versions sending the Irish to Greensboro. SI.com projected the Irish against #10 Harvard; CBSSports.com projected theIrish against #10 Southern Miss. In both cases the other half of the bracket featured #2 North Carolina. - Notre Dame's quarterfinal game in the BIG EAST Women's Basketball Championships at 2 p.m. Sunday in Hartford will be against either #8 DePaul, #9 USF or #16 Pittsburgh. - For the third time this season, Notre Dame junior guard Skylar Diggins (South Bend, Ind./Washington) has been selected as the BIG EAST Conference Women's Basketball Player of the Week, it was announced Tuesday by the conference office. Diggins joins Georgetown's Sugar Rodgers as the only three-time BIG EAST Player of the Week selectionsthis season, with the Fighting Irish floor general adding four other BIG EAST Weekly Honor Roll citations to her current resume. In addition, this marks the 75th time a Fighting Irish women's basketball player has earned a BIG EAST weekly award (44 Players of the Week, 31 Freshmen of the Week), the second-most selections in conference history despite the fact Notre Dame joined the BIG EAST in 1995-96, a full 14 seasons after the league began sponsoring women's basketball (1982-83). Both fifth-year senior forward Devereaux Peters (Chicago, Ill./Fenwick) and senior guard/tri-captain Natalie Novosel (Lexington, Ky./Lexington Catholic) also have been named BIG EAST Player of the Week at some point this season (Novosel on Dec. 19, Peters on Jan. 23). What's more, rookie forward Markisha Wright (Des Moines, Iowa/Des Moines East) was chosen as the BIG EAST Freshman of the Week on Jan. 2. . . .
Head coach Brian Kelly met briefly with some members of the media this afternoon for a story that will run later this week about his players who are moonlighting with the Notre Dame track team - George Atkinson III, Josh Atkinson and Bennett Jackson. Naturally, questions deviated from the topic at hand, as discussion shifted towards which Irish student-athletes will be returning for a fifth season. Rumors, tweets and blogs discussing the possibilities have persisted, but right now everything remains speculation. Though Notre Dame does not officially apply the redshirt title to any of its players, those who do not appear in game action during a season retain that year towards their four years of athletic eligibility. These athletes then have an opportunity to apply for a fifth season, but must obtain approval from the Faculty Board on Athletics before being granted permission to compete. I spoke briefly with football director of media relations Brian Hardin (@bhardin2), who explained that the fifth-year application process has begun and an announcement will hopefully be made before spring practice begins on March 21. Coach Kelly did confirm the reports that former walk-on safety Chris Salvi, who starred on special teams this past year, has been awarded a scholarship for the 2012 season. Salvi is also competing in the Bengal Bouts, and will fight in the 188-lb semifinals tomorrow evening. The bouts begin at 6 pm and will be held in the north dome of the Joyce Center. - Josh Flynt ('11)
Photo courtesy of @MGolicJR57In front of a sellout crowd at Compton Family Ice Arena, Notre Dame got an important 2-0 victory over Michigan State in its second-to-last game of the regular season. After a scoreless first period, sophomore Jeff Costello netted his fourth goal of the season, giving the Fighting Irish a 1-0 lead, 2:31 into the second frame. Sophomore Shayne Taker and freshman Austin Wuthrich were credited with assists on the power play score. Just before the midpoint of the final period, freshman Peter Schneider scored his first goal of the season, on an assist from junior Kevin Nugent. The insurance goal gave Notre Dame a 2-0 advantage, and sealed the team's first win since Feb 3. (The Irish had lost five straight since defeating Bowling Green, 2-1, three weeks ago.) Sophomore Steven Summerhays stopped 25 shots, becoming the first Notre Dame goalie to record a shutout since Dec. 13, 2009, when Mike Johnson registered 38 saves against Michigan. Kickoff in Dublin is months away, but for the second time in three days, several members of the Notre Dame football team were making headlines. On Saturdays in the fall, they may reach a celebrity status, playing in front of 80,795 and millions more on national television. But this week, the Irish football players themselves were the ones in the crowd, reminding us that at the end of the day, they're students and fans, just like the rest of us. After being courtside at Purcell Pavilion for the men's basketball game on Wednesday, Kapron Lewis-Moore, Mike Golic Jr., Matt Mulvey and Mike Grieco were right against the glass cheering on their fellow student-athletes. Sporting the same floppy hat that intimidated the Mountaineers earlier in the week, Lewis-Moore may have also earned himself a spot on the Notre Dame cheerleading squad. The senior defensive end raised a big yellow "Go Irish!" sign and rallied the Notre Dame student body throughout the evening. Golic, Grieco and Mulvey, along with a few other football players, were into the game from the opening faceoff, even bringing along some homemade signs to show their support for the Irish icers. A big win for Irish hockey, a great night at Compton, and an awesome reminder of what makes Notre Dame a special university. The Fighting Irish will be back tomorrow night against the Spartans at 7:35 pm ET for the regular season finale. Catch the game on Comcast Channel 3, as Notre Dame looks to clinch home ice for the first round of the CCHA playoffs. - Josh Flynt ('11)
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