Thursday, January 22, 2004

I'll write a little about Bud Selig next week, but for now let's have some fun...

ND Fantasy Coaching Staff

The stipulation: create the ideal coaching staff for ND, consisting of people who theoretically would and could coach the team (in other words, they're still alive and they have some ties to the team, such as being a former coach or player). Some of these are a stretch, so by all means give me your thoughts.
Head Coach: Ara Parseghian. Not only did he bring home two National Championships, but he never had a team that lost more than 2 games. Not bad for someone taking over for a 2-7 team.
Offensive Coordinator: Lou Holtz. The latest head coach to bring a championship to Our Lady's University, he recently took over the offense at South Carolina.
QB Coach: Jon Gruden. The only person on the list never to play or coach at ND. Qualifications: could you win a Super Bowl with Brad Johnson? Assistants: Tom Clements, QB of the '73 team, was QB coach for the Steelers until his recent hire as OC at Buffalo; Joe Montana, just because.
RB Coach: Tom Pagna. He was Ara's backfield coach before becoming a longtime voice of the Irish. Currently works at the Notre Dame Football Fanasy Camp. Assistants: John Lattner, '53 Heisman winner and also a coach at the camp; Hank Stram, who was a backfield coach at ND in the 50s before becoming a legendary coach for the Kansas City Chiefs.
Receivers Coach: Urban Meyer. Held the same position while he was here with Bob Davie. After reviving the Bowling Green (not a state) program, he is currently enjoying similar success at Utah. Assistant: Rocket Ismail - although he will be missed for his hilarious insight on College Gameday.
TE Coach: Andy Heck. Converted from TE to tackle under Lou Holtz. Currently serves as U. of Virginia's OLine coach and also makes appearances at the ND Fantasy Camp. Assistant: Dave Casper - one of my favorite "Oh yeah, he went to ND" players, he had a fine NFL career with the Raiders and Oilers.
OLine Coach: Gerry DiNardo. A guard on the '73 team. After a successful XFL coaching stint, he is currently the head coach of the IU Hoosier(oon)s. Assitant: Dusty Ziegler, recently retired from the New York Giants.
Defensive Coordinator: Joe Yonto. See yesterday's HOF writeup if you have any doubts about his credentials.
DLine Coach: Yonto. Assistants: Mike Trgovac, assistant coach/DLine coach under Lou from '92-'94, was the Carolina Panther DLine coach before being promoted to DC this past year (I'd say he's doing a pretty good job); Greg Mattison - Ellen loves him.
LB Coach: Barry Alvarez. Was DC/LB coach under Lou Holtz from '87-'89. Has been head coach at Wisconsin since. Assistant: Bob Golic - although a nose tackle in the pros, he was a middle linebacker while at ND.
DB Coach: Ty Willingham. Hey, we had to put him somewhere. I thought about making him the RB Coach, as he was before he became the head coach of Stanford, but then I remembered his philosophy on fullbacks ("first a receiver, second a blocker, third a runner"). Willingham began his coaching career as a Secondary Coach. Assistants: Jim Johnson, secondary coach and later DC under Dan Devine and Gerry Faust, and currently DC for the Philadelphia Eagles (although that may not be much of a compliment); Dick Lynch, a HB at ND before becoming a great DB for the New York Giants (also a fired up ND alum who is loved by Ellen).
Special Teams: Davie. Hey, it's the one thing he got right. Assistant: Ismail.

OK, that was fun, and remember, it's just a rough draft, very open to discussion. Time for more fun, completely unrelated to this list:

ND Alumni Fantasy NFL Starters

QB: Steve Beuerlein, with backups Rick Mirer and Jarius Jackson.
RB: Jerome Bettis, with 3rd down back Tony Fisher and backup Autry Denson.
FB: Marc Edwards, backed up by Tom Lopienski and Joey Goodspeed (or we could just go jumbo with Bettis, Edwards, and Lopienski in the backfield).
WR: Tim Brown and David Givens, the latter of which enjoying a very good season. 3rd receiver is Javin Hunter, and Arnaz Battle comes in for 4 receiver sets.
TE: John Owens, with Jabari Holloway and Dan O'Leary for the big sets.
T: Luke Petitgout (Ellen loves him) and Mike Rosenthal, with Jordan Black, Brennan Curtin, and Kurt Vollers backing up (what a trio).
G: Mike Gandy and Sean Mahan. That's it, according to ESPN's list.
C: I'll give Jeff Faine the nod over Tim Ruddy, just because I can.
DT: Bryant Young and Lance Legree, backed up by Jim Flanigan, Paul Grasmanis, and Oliver Gibson.
DE: Ahhhh, Mistah Weavah! and Bert Berry, although I think Berry mave have been moved to DT. Backups are Grant "Fo Weel Dog?" Irons and Reynaldo Wynn.
LB: Rocky Boiman and Tyreo Harrison. Hmm... maybe we'll use a 5-2, or use a lot of Nickel.
CB: Jeff "Lead With the Helmet" Burris and Bobby Taylor, Nickel Back Shane Walton, Dime Back Deveron Harper, and Brock "I don't need a 5th year" Williams.
S: Deke Cooper and Shawn Wooden, backed by Gerome Sapp and Ron Israel.
K: John Carney.
P: Craig Hentrich.
H: Hunter Smith.
PR/KR: Allen Rossum and Battle.

ND Senior Player News

Julius Jones and Courtney Watson are headed to the Senior Bowl, this Saturday at 5pm Eastern on the ESPN. Scouts are saying that Watson has "good size and [is a] tough, aggressive player," but it doesn' t look like he has "the athleticism or speed to become much more than [a] backup and special teams player in the NFL." I agree. What happened to his athleticism. This is a guy famous for an interception/fumble run back last year, and this year he's huffing and puffing on a run back against Syracuse. Does anyone know what happened?
Julius is considered the best receiver out of the backfield there, which speaks wonders for a) his improvement catching the ball since the beginning of the season and b) the receiving ability of ND's backs, since Grant and Wilson are considered the best receivers, and Schmidt is just amazing. The scouts think he's a little small, but at 5'10" he's about Tiki Barber's size and much stronger. One scout said he wouldn't be surprised if Julius went as high as the third round with his hands and return ability. (Is it bad that I'm hoping the Browns lose both their 3rd down back and their kick returner to free agency just so we can pick Julius up?)
Darrell Campbell and Ced Hilliard are slated to play in The Villages Gridiron Classic, Saturday the 31st at Noon Easter on ESPN. On most draft reports, these two usually show up as 5th to 7th rounders, and it seems to be a toss-up as to who is better. The one exception is a lone Packers fan who did a complete mock draft and seems to think that Darrell will go in the 3rd round to Seattle.
Not seeking 5th years are Garron Bible, further weakening our secondary, and the much-maligned Ronny Rodamer, who may or may not transfer to the University of Montana (or so hope fans of the Griz). I'll see if I can pull strings with my contacts in the UofM athletic department to see what's going on.
No word yet on the decision for Gary Godsey's sixth year, although a ruling was due last Tuesday.
To see those reportedly seeking 5th years, click here. (

Well, that should keep you occupied for a while. I'll try to get a Super Bowl preview out next week, in the in-depth style I used for ND previews. I'll tell you right now, though, that the winning team will be the Pa