SB Nation's national recruiting director Bud Elliott wrote a post on Monday about how the current academic investigation taking place at Notre Dame could give rival recruiters ammo to negative recruit against the Irish.
What he wrote was spot on.
It is definitely going to be something rival coaches will use in recruiting against Notre Dame. They are going to tell recruits how hard it will be academically at Notre Dame and how they won't be able to concentrate on football. They have been doing it for awhile and now they have this situation and last year's Everett Golson suspension to keep pushing along that narrative.
So how is Notre Dame going to respond to the increase in negative recruiting? Pretty much by sticking to the same message they have been communicating to recruits for the past couple of years.
Brian Kelly has been talking openly about it for awhile now. They sell Notre Dame as a different place because it is a different place. They are going to be straight up with recruits about what Notre Dame is and what it's not. If a kid doesn't want that, then he shouldn't come to Notre Dame.
"When we talk about Notre Dame and what we're about and you have XYZ school over here, they're two different schools, so it makes it easier for them to make the decision instead of muddying it, saying, we're kind of like them, we do this. We say, "Here is what we're about. We're not better than anybody else, but we gotta lay it out for you. This is what you're going to get at Notre Dame."
Now, this is what Brian Kelly said in his press conference yesterday when someone asked him about academics and whether Kelly sees it as something that is helpful or a hindrance when it comes to recruiting football players:
"Well, you know, if it‑‑ I've said this, and we see it in recruiting, it's harder at Notre Dame. But if it was easy, then it wouldn't be special."
"That's why Notre Dame is special. It's harder here. But the benefits that you get by coming to Notre Dame far outweigh so many other universities. But there are no shortcuts, and our guys know it. They're held accountable for it, and that's why there's not a huge issue within our football team, because they know what they sign up for when they come here. They know what the expectations are. They know what to expect when they come here. They know they're accountable on a day‑to‑day basis. And they know it's hard. They know it's hard here at Notre Dame. But on the other end, they get an incredible opportunity here at Notre Dame, and it's probably harder here, but that's why it's so special."
It's a pretty similar message, but a little bit more forceful. That's exactly how I see it playing out with the Notre Dame coaching staff's response to the additional negative recruiting that they are going to have to deal with.
@SBNRecruiting Think ND coaches will spin it by turning it into a challenge "It's not going to be easy" Will work for some, not for others.— Jamie Uyeyama (@jamieuyeyama) August 18, 2014
That was my response to Bud on Twitter regarding his post and Kelly pretty much reiterated it with his quote yesterday. The coaching staff's only response to the negativity will be to challenge recruits and ask them if they want to take on that challenge of coming to Notre Dame. As I said, it will work for some, but not for others. But it's been working pretty good for the last few years with a similar message. Notre Dame has recruited up there with the best in the nation in terms of landing blue chip recruits with Kelly running the program.
There are always going to be elite football players who don't seek out the challenge that Notre Dame might present as a student athlete and there are even going be to some players who want to take the easiest path possible in school and prefer to major in football. But those players were already the kind of players that the Irish have been unable to land for years.
The type of players and students that the Notre Dame football program recruits should not change much from the kind of players that are on the roster right now. The message the coaching staff are spreading to recruits is not likely to change either, even if the message from rivals becomes more negative.