By Timothy Threadcraft / @shadcraft21
Whether we like it or not, for the time being, it seems that Notre Dame is back. Recent SEC dominance notwithstanding, Brian Kelly has built up a sturdy rushing attack and rugged defense in his three years in South Bend. The surge in recruiting resulting from the hire definitely paid dividends. The funniest thing about their resurgence is that if you look at Notre Dame’s roster, you’ll notice that since Kelly took the reins, the Irish’s best skill position players (outside of Manti Te’o) are either from California or the south. Everett Golson (SC), Stephon Tuitt (GA), Prince Shembo (NC), Louis Nix (FL), Kendall Moore (NC), Zeke Motta (FL), and hell, even their third-leading receiver Davaris Daniels is the son of Donalsonville, GA native Phillip Daniels, former Redskins defensive end.
Now I’m not saying we should just give them the crystal football just yet, but if they get past USC, I think they would put up a decent fight for three quarters against ‘Bama. The Irish’s defense has been phenomenal so far, but they have not faced many offensive juggernauts, and up until last week against Oklahoma, the offense looked pedestrian at times against legit defenses. However, I subscribe to the notion that a team can only play the games on their schedule, and it’s not the kids’ fault. Of course they wouldn’t be contenders if they had to play an SEC schedule, but guess what? They don’t have to. Unless they forget to get off the team bus against Pitt, BC, or Wake Forest, they won’t really get tested until Thanksgiving weekend.
The Irish have a solid team, perhaps the nation’s best media deal, and Rivals’ fourth-ranked recruiting class as of today. They couldn’t keep it close against Bama. But that’s just this year. Notre Dame’s rise, as well as Ohio State’s this year under Urban Meyer, is more evidence that college football success is cyclical, and with the way recruiting works, success breeds success. Notre Dame is one of those prestigious blue-blood schools that will always be able to recruit talent, regardless of their location or recent missteps. All it takes is the right coaches, continuity, and on-field success. I guess you can say, in short, Brian Kelly woke up the echoes.