Ex-NDer: Botched Penalty Walkoff That Cost USC

Sunday I noted the botched call by Pac-12 Referee Michael Batlan that likely cost USC an opportunity to attempt a game-winning field goal against Stanford in its eventual 56-48 triple-overtime loss to the Cardinal.

Former Notre Dame football player Rick DiBernardo botched penalty walkoff during USC-Stanford game in 2011

But as preposterous as that officiating error was, at least it involved a sliver of subjectivity.

You can’t say the same for the gross negligence shown by Batlan and a certain member of his officiating crew during a critical juncture in the second overtime.

Trailing USC 48-41 and in possession of the ball, Stanford was called for holding during a 2nd-and-5 play from the USC 20-yard line. The foul occurred at the line of scrimmage, which should’ve resulted in a 10-yard markoff against the Cardinal forcing Stanford’s offense into a 2nd-and-15 situation at the USC 30-yard line.

Strangely though, the ball was instead walked by Umpire Rick DiBernardo only back to the USC 22-yard line, somehow setting up a 2nd-and-7 play. So rather than penalize the potent Stanford offense - led by Heisman Trophy frontrunner Andrew Luck - 10 yards, the Cardinal was pushed back only two.

How could DiBernardo have made such an astonishing error?

Maybe his mind was wandering back to his days as a starting linebacker for Notre Dame during the ’80s.

UPDATE: For those wondering exactly where the holding penalty in question took place, here’s closeup video of what led to the epic, inexplicable blunder by game official - and former starting Notre Dame football player - Rick DiBernardo:

As the video shows, Stanford’s Geoff Meinken held USC’s Chris Galippo at the line of scrimmage from which Umpire DiBernardo should’ve walked off 10 yards to the USC 30-yard line.

Instead, DiBernardo spotted the ball at the 22-yard line, two yards behind the spot of the foul.

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Video: Notre Dame Football Losing Thy Religion

Late Saturday night longtime local Notre Dame flagship television station WNDU briefly headlined its USC-Notre Dame highlights - narrated by sports anchor Angelo Di Carlo - with: “Crist Not The Savior.

The word play from the game, which saw ND fall 31-17, referred to the backfire visited upon the Irish after backup Notre Dame quarterback Dane Crist relieved QB Tommy Rees in the third quarter of the game following a knee injury suffered by Rees.

Trailing USC 17-10 with Crist under center, an Irish drive reached inside the Trojan 1-yard line. But instead of a game-tying touchdown, a center exchange botched by Crist resulted in a 80-yard fumble return for a touchdown by USC’s Jawanza Starling.

Or as Di Carlo put it while narrating the game-winning score, “devastation for the Irish, it’s 24-10.”

Devastation” or “desecration“?

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Faux Throwbacks Cheapen Michigan, Notre Dame

On Sept. 10, Michigan and Notre Dame will play the first-ever night game at Michigan Stadium.

Michigan Notre Dame Throwback Uniforms

I’m pleased to report that in keeping with that historic break from tradition, adidas will outfit its two highest profile college football clients in throwback uniforms of somewhat dubious distinction.

Unfortunately for the uniphiles at adidas charged with boosting the bottom lines of their clients, ND’s most glorious seasons coincided with decidedly drab on-field apparel, while the actual Michigan Menswear of past Wolverine teams apparently wasn’t enough of a hard sell either.

Last month Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly leaked details of the antique uniques to be worn by ND and UM to Brian Hamilton of the CHICAGO TRIBUNE:

Irish coach Brian Kelly spilled the beans Friday that the programs will wear throwback uniforms for their Sept. 10 matchup.

Kelly wouldn’t get specific about the design of the Notre Dame outfits beyond saying they hearken back to the Joe Kuharich Era — perhaps an odd choice, given that Kuharich was 17-23 in four years as Irish coach from 1959-62.

“I’m just trying to help you guys piece together what it’s going to look like, without me saying and then getting yelled at by our adidas people that we blew the surprise for them.

“But yeah, we’re going to have throwback uniforms. As they will. I can tell you what theirs look like: They have a block ‘M’ on them, and a number, and a number on their helmet. How’s that? The adidas people at Michigan are going to be (ticked) at me.”

So instead of celebrating one of Notre Dame’s most famous teams or eras, the school will instead remind us of perhaps the most forgettable collection of Fighting Irish squads in history.

Notre Dame Shamrock Throwback Helmets


Not to mention that the Fighting Irish helmet logo featured at that time, as noted by Matt Hinton of Yahoo Sports, was a shamrock more resembling the international symbol for radiation than anything associated with a football institution fallen on hard times. (Or as Hinton called it, a “nuclear shamrock.”)

Notre Dame Shamrock Throwback Helmets

(Little known factoid: Perry Como once coached ND Special Teams)

Then there’s Michigan, which will will break out a set of ancient on-field apparel that Ann Arbor annals reveal never fully existed.

Yesterday the DETROIT FREE PRESS reported:

Michigan’s jersey, according to a sample provided to the Free Press, will be modeled after the image shown above. A small number also will be added to the upper-left corner of the jersey front, opposite the Adidas logo.

Michigan 1899 Uniforms Throwback Uniforms Notre Dame Game

Last week, athletic director Dave Brandon told a meeting of the state’s sports editors that U-M intended to hold a nighttime unveiling of the jersey this summer and that U-M hoped fans would purchase a lot of jerseys, as they did for the Big Chill last winter.

Asked about the night-game jersey Thursday, associate athletic director Dave Ablauf responded: “We are still tweaking and making final decisions on the look of the uniform. We won’t be commenting on the throwback uniform design until we have the product in hand.”

MVictors.com is a remarkable archive of all things Michigan, so after seeing the Free Press report, the UM-centric site was my next stop.

The reaction from Greg at MVictors today was, in a word, pained.

I’m sure there are certain constraints the athletic department and adidas are dealing with (material, size, and marketing – they want to sell a bunch of these, afterall). The question mark for me concerns those stripes on the sleeves. I don’t recall stripes having a prominent presence on the gridiron, really, at any point in history.

Again – nothing is official so please only panic quietly to yourself until we see the final designs.

Greg pointed out that, from the UM-released image, the jersey does not fully resemble any past Michigan football ensemble.

Though it was noted that similarities are seen in 1899 UM squad:

Michigan 1899 Uniforms Throwback Uniforms Notre Dame Game

And the Fielding Yost-coached teams of the early 1920s:

Michigan 1920s Fielding Yost Uniforms Throwback Uniforms Notre Dame Game

Per Kelly, apparently UM’s venerable winged helmet design, instituted in 1938, will include player numbers affixed to the sides as was custom in Ann Arbor from 1959 to 1968.

Ron Johnson Michigan Winged Helmet With Numbers On Side


Of course, the argument for such historical incongruity is in making the jersey as palatable to the money-spending public, players and recruits as possible. An early return on that front comes from current Michigan player Troy Woolfolk, who had this reaction on Twitter after a fan Tweeted an image of the faux throwback to him:

Troy Woolfolk Tweet about Michigan Football Throwbacks

If a Michigan football historian and current player don’t like the look, what exactly is the demographic UM and adidas is targeting?

I’m all for celebrating the past, especially when the schools involved have such rich football histories. But the above in no one way resembles anything other than a naked grab for cash.

These two schools, in my estimation, are better than that.

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WWNDD: School To Follow Own Rules With Floyd?

Yesterday morning the news broke that Michael Floyd, the top returning offensive Notre Dame football player this season, had been arrested for DUI.

Michael Floyd 2nd Offense: Will Notre Dame follow its own rules?

The arrest, from which Notre Dame police cited Floyd for having a blood alcohol level twice over the legal limit, was his second alcohol-related arrest in 14 months. Last January the ND wide receiver was arrested and charged with underage drinking by Minneapolis police.

On Oct. 15, 2008, Brian Hamilton of the CHICAGO TRIBUNE reported of a Notre Dame football player, Will Yeatman, in a similar circumstance:

Yeatman, a junior tight end for the Irish, has been suspended from all football activities for the fall semester after a Sept. 21 arrest at an off-campus party, his father confirmed to the Tribune early Wednesday.

It was Yeatman’s second arrest this year, following a January operating under the influence arrest.

Yeatman entered a plea agreement in February following that first incident.

Prosecutors announced earlier this month that they found Yeatman to be in violation of that agreement, for which he was charged with the misdemeanor of minor consuming.

The ruling by Notre Dame on Yeatman’s case was an easy one, considering the schools specific rules regarding alcohol-related arrests.

Page 111 of the Notre Dame student handbook - as outlined by the school’s Office of Residence Life - states:

All students are required to comply with applicable laws and University regulations regarding the possession or consumption of alcoholic beverages.

a. .. Students may be subject to disciplinary action for underage consumption, possession or transportation of alcoholic beverages, possession of false identification which misrepresents their age or identity, or for providing alcoholic beverages to any person who is underage.

Page 114 of the Notre Dame student handbook states:

The University prohibits the operation of a motor vehicle while intoxicated or impaired. Any person doing so exhibits wanton disregard for the rights and safety of others.

Page 114 of the Notre Dame student handbook also states the penalties for such alcohol-related offenses:

Second offense: If a student is determined to have violated this policy and it is a second offense as described above, the Office of Residence Life and Housing will:

1. Separate the student from the University for at least one academic semester.

On December 2, 2010, the CHICAGO TRIBUNE reported:

(former Notre Dame football coach Charlie) Weis criticized the (Notre Dame) office of residence life, saying it’s too strict about enforcing campus rules on football players. Weis called that office “the biggest problem on campus relative to the football program.”

Clearly Weis hasn’t read the Notre Dame student handbook. The “biggest problem on campus relative to the football program” isn’t the Office of Residence Life, but the actual rules governing Notre Dame student behavior. Read more…

Docs: Notre Dame Edited Declan Sullivan Videos

In the wake of the tragic death of Notre Dame football videographer Declan Sullivan, there’s been much scrutiny of the school’s dubious handling of the affair.

(60 MPH winds a “beautiful day” according to ND football coach)

Responses from Notre Dame personnel to Indiana OSHA investigators about the accident, including from Brian Kelly, were rife with remarks that contradict the conclusions of OSHA’s accident report. But the oft-evasive responses from those on the scene the day Sullivan died pale in comparison to Notre Dame’s overt lack of cooperation with OSHA investigators when it came to turning over the actual ND football practice videos.

From a meticulously detailed report from the CHICAGO TRIBUNE last week:

The university allowed OSHA to view the team’s practice footage, but it did not turn over the tapes because Notre Dame lawyers said it contained “highly proprietary, trade secret information related to the business of college sports,” documents show.

The ridiculous nature of Notre Dame’s denial in response to OSHA’s request for the acquisition of the practice videos is appalling, but not nearly as troubling as what we now know Notre Dame did to the footage investigators were actually allowed to see.

On Dec. 6, 2010, Notre Dame allowed OSHA investigators to view excerpts of practice videos taken by Declan Sullivan and other Notre Dame videographers on Oct. 27, 2010, the day Sullivan died.

From the notes (pdf) of that viewing session, the OSHA investigators documented on multiple occasions that the videos had been doctored - portions of footage was “missing.”

Notre Dame doctored practice video taken by Declan Sullivan

After viewing the edited videos, the investigators wrote the following: Read more…

ND Student: Rush Field After Record-Setting Loss

Another gem from John Walters today, as he points us to a letter from a Notre Dame senior student published Tuesday by the ND school newspaper, THE OBSERVER:

Notrre Dame's losingest seniors to rush the field?

(Full text below)

Senior Matthew McManus writes:

The senior class is on the brink of an achievement that has never been accomplished. Assuming (and this is a big assumption) that the football team beats Tulsa this weekend, the game against Utah will be our chance to break the record of most losses in a four-year period, previously owned by the Class of 1964.

When we get steamrolled by Utah on Nov. 13, we will officially be the losingest class in Notre Dame History.

That day will also be Senior Day, a day that the senior class is allowed on the field at the end of the game. The senior class should not walk onto the field, but storm the field in celebration of its four seasons as spectators in the student section.

The senior class should show its thanks and appreciation for a record-breaking four seasons by storming the field at the closing of the loss to Utah on Nov. 13.

Matthew McManus
Oct. 25

At the very least, McManus should personally consumate his delightful proposal by leading the charge onto the field himself.

Though even if Notre Dame loses to the Utes and McManus goes through with it, I have good news for ND’s graduating class. Read more…

ND Coach: Cheap Shot Warrants No Punishment

John Walters of AOL Fanhouse and Brian Hamilton of the CHICAGO TRIBUNE followed up with Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly today about the cheap shot delivered by Notre Dame linebacker Kerry Neal on Navy slot back John Howell during the Midshipmen’s 35-17 win over the Irish Saturday.

John Howell

(Video below)

Hamilton Tweeted from Kelly’s press conference:

NotreDame coach Brian Kelly on whether there’s anything about Kerry Neal “stomp” video to deal with: “We don’t believe so.”

Walters, who asked the question of Kelly, sent out a similar Tweet.

Surprising that Kelly said he didn’t think the actions by O’Neal demanded - at the very least - a reprimand. Read more…

This Is What Notre Dame Football Has Come To?

Appalling cheap shot by Notre Dame senior linebacker Kerry Neal of Notre Dame against Navy slot back John Howell Saturday at the Meadowlands.

John Howell

(Thanks John)

In the video below, Neal goes out of his way to stomp on Howell, stepping onto the Midshipman’s exposed abdomen with his entire body weight.

There was no penalty on the play. Read more…

Notre Dame Game Soundtrack: Bed Intruder Song

Saturday the Western Michigan University band hat-tipped one of the year’s hottest internet phenomena by covering “Bed Intruder Song” during the Broncos football game at Notre Dame.

Western Michigan Bed Intruder Song

The song is a parody of a garden-variety though insanely amusing Alabama-based news report in July featuring over-the-top comments from an alleged crime bystander named Antoine Dodson:

After video of Dodson’s original comments went viral on Youtube, The Gregory Brothers musical group released an “auto-tuned” version of the news report. (Dodson’s voice was manipulated to make him appear to sing.) Read more…

Brian Kelly Reports Cincinnati House Was Egged

Notre Dame Football Coach Brian Kelly Tweeted this today from his Cincinnati home:

Brian Kelly House Egged

(Kelly’s Cincy Exit? Far From (Over) Easy)

Kelly returned to Cincinnati this weekend after being introduced as Notre Dame coach last Friday.

Based on the nature of Kelly’s abrupt departure as Univ. of Cincinnati Coach to Notre Dame in the same capacity, I doubt this news surprises anyone. In fact, a Bearcat football player foretold the possibility of a local backlash on the day Kelly announced to the team he was leaving for Notre Dame. Read more…