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Transfers, Injuries, ND and the Junior College Question

  • hemy

    Once again, the transfer and injury bug has hit ND football. Once
    again, divergent opinions emerge from: "we're never going to win
    again" to "how dare he turn his back on us" to "don't be surprised,
    it's happened since man first went down to the sea in helmets" to
    "we'll be o.k., we have plenty of talent and ND will win over all" to
    "I wish them well in their future endeavors" to "there's more here
    than meets the eye, my friend...."

    Assuming for the moment that injuries and transfers will always be
    with us, I would like to revisit a topic that I have not seen on this or
    other Notre Dame-related boards in recent times--i.e. the question
    of Notre Dame's policy relative to junior college transfers and/or
    (Eilers, Moriarty, Carlisle and now Wulfeck notwithstanding) the
    general resistance to ND accepting "in school, lateral transfers."

    In his press conference, Brian Kelly stated that between now
    and opening day, the roster would see more "additions and
    subtractions." Off hand, I can see where we could very well
    see more "subtractions." Additions seem to be another matter.

    I believe that practically all Division 1 football programs routinely
    accept junior college transfers, especially on the offensive and
    defensive lines. I also believe that the vast majority are quite
    liberal in their willingness to accept players transfering from
    other programs not just for the fifth year but players with multiple
    years of remaining eligibility.

    I believe we all realize that over the course of the last forty years,
    Notre Dame has reconsidered policies and "adapted" to the
    changing culture of college football: abandoning the "no bowl"
    policy, accepting "lesser" bowl bids, adopting a "training table",
    modifying an "overly" restrictive residence life policy re: player
    discipline, early enrollee admissions, acceptance of the fifth year
    concept as applied to "red shirting." I am sure I have omitted other
    examples. In fact, the acceptance of a Carlisle and even a Wulfeck
    may signal a growing trend to accept, under certain circumstances,
    lateral transfers.

    The junior college question is much more thorny. I understand that
    a prime objection is that Notre Dame is and always has been a four
    year college experience, not a two year one. I also have heard that
    some coaches question the value of "JCs", prefering to mold a player
    for 4 years rather than undo the practice and technique habits ingrained
    from other programs.

    On the other hand, some may question whether we once again, are
    placing ourselves at a competitive disadvantage since the "JC" route
    is a prime way the rest of the college football world deals with the nasty
    transfer and injury bug that is normal to college football.

    Hence, the question---should Notre Dame reconsider its long-standing
    aversion to accepting junior college transfers in football?

    I hope this question spurs yet another "hardcore discussion about Notre
    Dame athletics."

    This post was edited by hemy 13 months ago

  • Hemy,

    There's nothing to assume about injuries and transfers always being with us. They are the death and taxes of football as the two sure things.

    Notre Dame had dozens of football transfers during the 1920s through 1940s, the most famous being Hall-of-Fame George Connor from Holy Cross after World War II. There was no "official" policy against football transfers, but under president Father Hesburgh and VP Father Joyce (1952-87 terms) there was sort of a tacit understanding that it was not the prescribed method at the school. Once Ara Parseghian came aboard, it was like, "We don't need to go that route anyway." Digger Phelps had a personal philosophy about not taking transfers.

    Fullback Larry Moriarty (1980-82) and tight end Ricky Gray (1982-84) became exceptions and came in from Santa Barbara Community College and Holy Cross JC (across the street from ND), respectively, with Gray originally signing with Clemson.

    The University doesn't have a set policy (to my knowledge) per se about not taking JCs if they have the right academic background. However, most players are in JC for a reason. If you can't even get into a state school from high school, it will be even tougher to get into Notre Dame. You also have to look at motivations and intent. Are they in JC to major in "eligibility"?

    Finally, it's not like ND can't enjoy consistent success on the high school recruiting trail. Most of the time they are in the top 10 in recruiting, and about 95 percent they're in the top 25. That's what comes with being Notre Dame, although the coaches still have to work harder with a national base.

    Bill Snyder built Kansas State on JCs because he couldn't compete with Texas, Oklahoma, A&M, or even middle of the road programs, for high school stars. He couldn't go into high schools of four- or five-star players like ND. Neither can Charlie Weis, now at Kansas. I think he brought in 18 JCs this year. He knows he might have only two or three years to turn it around there, so he can't be fiddling around trying to recruit from the same pool as Notre Dame. He has to use the quick-fix method in order to survive.

    Notre Dame doesn't have to do. That's not to say exceptions can't or wont be made along the way. But it would have to be an extremely special and rare case.

  • hemy


    I am not advocating one way or the other. The topic does come up in
    conversations from time to time more from the perspective of whether
    junior colleges could provide a supplemental pool to Notre Dame's
    focus on high school recruiting(at least, as you point out, from the
    Hesburgh days).

    I dare say, no one would suggest "building the program on JCs"
    or using it as an overall "quick fix." However, the question is,
    can or should ND's coaches expand their list of targets to include
    JCs on an annual basis so as to possibly recruit one, two or three
    JC kids, especially as many other schools do on the offensive
    and defensive lines.

    As for Notre Dame "not having to", let's see----Ohio State, Michigan,
    USC, Alabama, Florida, Oklahoma, Nebraska,Texas are all "blue blood"
    kinds of programs that routinely land "top ten" recruiting classes,
    yet they all take JC transfers more than "rarely." They must
    think that, despite their ability to garner the cream of the crop
    each year from the high school ranks, the JC pool can increase
    their ability to compete. Otherwise, they probably wouldn't feel
    that they needed to either.

    All I am saying is it seemed like a good discussion. However,
    from the overwhelming response to date of our board members,
    I guess its a non-starter. I can live with that.

  • That's a good rebuttal, and I hear you. Like I said, I don't think this is something that Notre Dame claims is taboo.

    What they are consistent about is having the required 16 core credits (4 years English, 3 years Math, 2 years foreign language, I think two years of science, etc ...) If an individual is in JC, that generally means he didn't even have the scholastic background to get into a less rigid state school. That's going to make it even more difficult to get into ND — and the question is, will he even have the academic confidence or desire to want to get into Notre Dame? Was it his primary goal to major in "ineligibility" and just do enough to get by and get admitted to a four-year school. That's what ND's coaching staff, and the the school, would examine thoroughly.

    As Brian Kelly says, ND shops down "a different aisle." That's not a case of superiority or elitism, as some might say, but parameters set in order to realistically achieve academic/athletic success at the school. It's said thousands of times each year: ND is not for everyone. It might not be fair to an individual to try to force making it for everyone.

    I speak from experience because I was somewhat nervous about getting started at Notre Dame in the second semester of my sophomore year after attending Holy Cross Junior College for three semesters. There might be even more consternation if you add football into the mix.

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  • hemy

    As I said, I am not an advocate, one way or the other. Lou
    and Garyfh have added quality perspective. All I know is,
    an adage that is commonplace, even in conversations
    with knowledgeable alumni, is "ND doesn't take JCs."

    Obviously what you are saying is that the odds are
    rather stacked against a junior college football player
    having both the academic credentials as well as the
    academic "desire" to succeed at ND. So, for the staff
    to fish in the JC pool may not be worth the effort.

    I wonder,though, whether Kiel, Ferguson and Neal
    had the "desire" to stay the course and succeed at
    ND. Just asking.

  • What about Rudy?

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    5 Time POTW--Gringo Mafia Director of Guerrilla Warfare

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    5 Time POTW--Gringo Mafia Director of Guerrilla Warfare

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  • Lou,
    Their is a huge misconception about why people in California attend Jucos. I had tons of friends in California who played JC ball and the majority of them went the Juco route because the didn't have offers in football or the offers were from D3 or NAIA schools. I think the population of the state and the lack of college football programs allows for a lot of kids to go undiscovered/overlooked.

    If you're from Los Angeles hurting for money and you can't get into UCLA or USC what options do you have besides D3 or Juco Ball? The majority of Colleges in CA don't have football programs.

    Looking at only D1 Programs and populations of states here are some numbers

    CALIFORNIA - 38 Million (10 programs) = 3.8 Million

    SD State
    SJ State
    UCDavis (FCS)
    Sacramento (FCS)
    SLO (FCS)

    Texas 26 Million (18 - Texas, A&M, Tech, TCU, Baylor, SMU, Rice, Houston, Texas St. UTSA, N Texas, UTEP. Texas Southern, PV A&M, Lamar, Sam Houston, SFAustin, TA&M CC)
    New York 19.5 Mil (7 Cuse, Army, Stony Brook, Wagner, Albany, Fordham, Colgate)
    Virginia 8 Million people (10 programs UVA, VT, ODU, Richmond, JMU, W&M, Norfolk, Hampton, Liberty, VMI)
    Alabama 4.8 Million (6 programs - Bama, Auburn, UAB, S Alabama, A&M, Alabama State
    Arkansas 2.9 (Arkansas, ASU, Pine Bluff)
    Mississippi 2.9 (Ole Miss, MSU, So. Miss, Alcorn, Jackson, MVSU)
    Kansas - 2.8 Million (2 Programs KSU & KU)

    Just based on these numbers its obvious that tons of CA kids are getting overlooked.

    This post was edited by teo4heisman 13 months ago

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  • hemy

    I very much appreciate the contributors to this thread because
    you have taught me some things and helped me refocus the question
    I asked at the outset.

    First, from what we can tell, ND has no rule in place against either
    JC or lateral transfers, although Father Hesburgh did lay down a
    "tacit" guideline that "recruting JCs" is not the preferred method
    of landing "student-athletes at Our Lady's University;

    Second, the non-football issue squarely is whether the pool of JCs
    is sufficiently deep enough to provide ND with players who both
    have the academic credentials as well as the desire to succeed
    academically at ND;

    Third, all other college football "blue bloods" (e.g. Ohio State, USC,
    Michigan, Oklahoma, Alabama, Nebraska, Texas, Florida) actively
    recruit JCs despite having undeniable and consistent recruiting
    success from the high schools ranks each year;

    Fourth, season and career-ending injuries and transfers from
    the ranks are, in Lou's words, the "death and taxes" of college

    Fifth, to compete at the highest level (not merely at a high level),
    the blue bloods have resorted to such tatics as "oversigning,
    including gray-shirting" and dipping their feet into the junior
    college pool;

    Sixth, "oversigning" is viewed as an evil to be avoided;

    Seventh, there is some evidence that the student population
    at junior colleges has changed considerably for the better
    over the years, that indeed, it is not now (if it ever was)
    an academic wasteland where nonstudents
    go to delay the inevitable requirement to enter the workforce.

    Given these thoughts, if I were the newly engaged Director
    of Football Operations at ND, I would at least try to canvass
    the junior college pool to see if I could come up with, let's
    say, 10 potential candidates to add to the mix of our recruits
    for 2014. I would especially concentrate on offensive and
    defensive linemen and/or any other area of need as directed
    by the coaching staff(obviously, I would not have done this
    at all if BK had told me "forget it"). I would then present this
    list to Admissions and our football staff so that the normal
    recruiting process would then follow in due course.

    Hopefully, ND would then have done its "due diligence" to
    actively seek to expand its recruiting base each year
    without adversely impacting its academic standards.

    Two other thoughts. First, again thanx to the board members,
    especially Lou, for discussing this topic and providing
    very good insight. Second, since I have not nor will I
    receive a telephone call from ND, I realize this entire
    thread, like so many of the threads on this and other
    ND boards, is both academic and a safety valve for
    relief of sometimes pent up emotions on matters
    pertaining to ND football, especially when we have
    a string of ill-fortune.

    This post has been edited 3 times, most recently by hemy 13 months ago

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  • hemy

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