Welcome to another edition of "The Week in News," where we bring you the week's top stories at breakneck pace. Hold on to your spats as we kick this off elsewhere and touch down in South Bend. (Yes, I just did that.)
It wouldn't be a week in college football news without a bit of conference realignment shaking things up. Boise State has officially abandoned the Mountain West for the Big East in football and the WAC for all other sports. The loss of the Broncos is softened (is it?) by the young Mountain West's welcoming of Hawaii (football only), Nevada (Reno), and Fresno State into its fold; San Jose State and Utah State will join the MWC's party in 2013.
This week, ACC commissioner John Swofford discussed the possibility of a Notre Dame tie-in with the Orange Bowl,with which the conference has a 12-year partnership and which caused probably more than its share of attention this week.
"In your mind, who would be the ideal opponents for the ACC?"
"John Swofford: I think it could go several different directions as we talk through this. Anything specific I would say would be premature. One thing is certain, and that is, we will end up with a quality opponent on a prestigious day in a terrific bowl."
. . .
"What about specifically Notre Dame? Is that a possibility?"
"JS: I think it's likely Notre Dame could be involved in the mix."
More evidence of Notre Dame's much-discussed irrelevance in college football.
Arkansas's new head coach, John L. Smith, is on the verge of declaring bankruptcy in the wake of some unsuccessful real estate investments. Not much more to say about that, but let's hope Brian Kelly isn't trading excessively on futures in whiskey.
Elsewhere in college football, one recruit - the nation's top recruit, in fact - is finding ways to be as explicit as possible about the cards he's holding. While schools have long wooed star recruits by offering scholarships to those recruits' beloved high school teammates, this usually happens quietly, apparently at the discretion of the coaches, and when the teammate is himself a highly-touted player. Not so with Clemson's unlikely verbal commit and Georgia DE Robert Nkemdiche. Nkemdiche made his terms very clear this week:
"Offer a scholarship to yet another teammate - two have already received offers from the Tigers - and he's all in at Clemson.
"‘I am waiting on Clemson to offer Ryan; when that happens, it's locked... it's a done deal...it's over,' Nkemdiche told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, referring to Loganville (Ga.) Grayson High School defensive back Ryan Carter.
"‘Yes, sir, if Clemson offers Ryan, it would seal the deal. There's no ifs, ands or buts about it. [Clemson verbal commit] David [Kamara] and Ryan, those guys are like family. They are like brothers to me. I'm close to them. We've had success playing football together and I don't want to change it.'"
Ryan Carter, the aforementioned teammate, is unrated by one recruiting service and rated 2-star by another; he has an offer from Ole Miss, but otherwise, a handful of only lower-level offers. Now, that seems to paint head coach Dabo Swinney into a bit of a corner: bow to a 17-year-old's very public and relatively costly demands and keep his star recruit, or assert his authority over the football program and risk the loss? Poor Dabo.
In an interesting look at the increasingly high-fashion and big-money world of college football attire, Brian Rosenthal at the Lincoln Journal Star added up the cost of suiting up a college football player for a game. His figures worked out to about $1000 per player per uniform. Rosenthal is looking at University of Nebraska football, but the Cornhuskers wear much of the same equipment as the Irish (Adidas jerseys and pants, Douglas shoulder pads, some Riddell helmet equipment), so the numbers are probably not far off. Though one has to assume that the spectacular Hydro Graphics, Inc. gold helmets the Irish now wear cost them a bit more than the basic white helmets donned by the Cornhuskers.
On the topic of football equipment and facilities, Brett Hein of Vanquish the Foe took a look at the current distribution of natural grass and artificial turf in college football. What makes Hein's analysis worth a look is his breakdown of the grass/turf distribution by region, conference affiliation, and program wealth.
While artificial turf is more abundant than natural grass now on CFB playing surfaces (65% to 35%), the split is flipped for BCS schools (47% artificial to 53% grass), with 94% of non-BCS schools laying out artificial turf at home. Not only is grass favored (if slightly) by BCS schools; when they have money, conferences with a moist, temperate climate favor natural grass. Hein doesn't look at hybrid surfaces, which many favor for Notre Dame, but his analysis certainly shows the primary influence of money in shaping the decision most schools have to make between maintaining a natural grass field or installing artificial turf.
What got a little less attention was the news that women's basketball player and 6'3" forward Natalie Achonwa is headed to the Olympics with the Canadian women's basketball team. The Canadian team qualified last Sunday by beating Japan in the FIBA World Olympic Qualifying Tournament in Ankara, Turkey. Achonwa, a native of Ontario, will be only the second Notre Dame WBB player ever to compete in the Olympics (Ruth Riley helped the US team win gold in 2004), and compete, she will. Best of luck to Natalie in London, and be sure to watch for her on the court.
The ND Athletics channel uploaded a well-done, student-produced, 10-part feature on Bookstore Basketball yesterday in honor of the yearly tournament's fortieth anniversary. You can see the first part here.
On UND.com this week,former Irish football great David Casper, with Alan George, tells his story.
"Dave Casper will soon become the 44th former Notre Dame player enshrined into the College Football Hall of Fame. An All-American tight end and member of the 1973 Irish national championship squad, Casper, who is also a member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame, shares his journey both to and from Notre Dame."
The Evansville Courier & Press snagged an interview with Notre Dame defensive line coach Mike Elston. Elston has his goals set appropriately high and seems to like what he sees in his front seven.
"We are going to be very strong. Three years ago when I was asked my expectations for the defensive line at Notre Dame, I said I expected to have the best defensive line in the country. We are well under way. It's going to again be a strong suit for our team."
You can say that again.
Tyler James at the South Bend Tridbune has a piece on the 2013 Irish recruiting class and the six already-committed members of it invited to Nike Football's The Opening Camp in Beaverton, Ore., from July 5-8.
"[T]he event offers another chance to prove the class belongs in the discussions of the top five or 10 recruiting classes in the country. Only USC, Michigan, Georgia, and Florida will have more verbal commits than Notre Dame's six at the event. USC will have the most with eight.
"‘Everybody says Notre Dame has to lower their standards when it comes to athletes because of the academics,' [Irish CB verbal commit Devin] Butler said. ‘I think with all of us going to The Opening, it shows that we have upped our standards and nothing has really fallen off. It's just been finding the right type of people. I feel like this year we have a special group. We have SEC athletes with Ivy League minds.'"
Well-played, Devin, well-played.
And finally, a tip of the hat to Andy Griffith, beloved actor and comedian, who passed away this week at the age of 86. Before you ask where this fits into TWIN, take a listen to this early stand-up bit Griffith did where he recounts unknowingly attending a college football game with his Mark Twain-worthy accent.
"And what I seen was this whole raft a people a-settin' on these two banks and a-lookin' at one another acrosst this purty little green cow pasture. Well, they was! And somebody had took and drawed white lines all over it and drove posts in it and I don't know what all! And I looked down there and I seen five or six convicts a-runnin' up and down and a-blowin' whistles! They was!"
That should put a smile on your face.
And last but not least, our comment of the week comes from Mr. Michael Collins. Commenting on Jim Miesle's "10 Things to Change about College Football: Uniforms," MC exudes total aesthetic disgust towards Michigan's uniforms.
The wolverhate is strong with this one.