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New dad Davonte’ Neal transferring from the Irish

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Just a little over a year after a National Letter of Intent signing debacle, Davonte’ Neal has decided to take his leave of the Notre Dame football program.

While the school has yet to announce it, Neal’s father Luke Neal confirmed to the website that his son is transferring from the Irish.  Neal has already informed head coach Brian Kelly of his decision, and the Arizona native has a one-way ticket for a Thursday flight out of South Bend.

Luke Neal stated that the decision to move back closer to his Arizona hometown is one that has been a few months in the making and was based on one factor completely unrelated to his son’s experience at the South Bend school — fatherhood.

“The reason for Davonte’s transfer is that he’s the father of a six-week old baby girl (Baylee) with his girlfriend (Marie Burton) that he has dated since seventh grade,” said Luke Neal, Davonte’s father, of his granddaughter that was born on Feb. 2. “The plan was to move his girlfriend and his baby to South Bend, but Davonte’ just felt the need to be closer to his family and his girlfriend’s family at this time.

“It’s a situation that I’ve been talking to Davonte’ about the past four months through his girlfriend’s pregnancy, and he’s finally realized he wants to be involved in his daughter’s life closer than from a distance at Notre Dame.”

The elder Neal added that a transfer to a California school “would most likely be a better fit for Davonte’ because of my relationships there and being from there.”  The wide receiver had four finalists leading up to his signing nearly two weeks after National Signing Day began last year; along with Notre Dame, Arizona, Arkansas and North Carolina were in the player’s final four.  Based on the father’s words, however, none of those programs will be under consideration during this second recruiting go around.

Neal was a four-star member of the Irish’s 2012 class, rated as the No. 17 receiver in the country.  He played sparingly on offense as a true freshman, catching one pass for minus-five yards.  Neal’s biggest role came on special teams as he returned 21 punts for 46 yards.

Neal becomes the second high-profile member of last year’s Irish recruiting class to transfer this month.  The No. 1 quarterback in the country in 2012, Gunner Kiel flipped his LSU verbal commitment to a Notre Dame signing shortly before signing day.  A week ago Wednesday, the Irish announced, after much speculation, that Kiel had asked for and been granted a release from his scholarship.

No punishment from SEC for Bielema’s sideline interaction with Alabama player

Bret Bielema

Arkansas head coach Bret Bielema will not be disciplined by the SEC office for his brief interaction with Alabama offensive lineman Cam Robinson last weekend. A video showing Bielema exaggerating his interaction with Robinson at the end of a play was reviewed by SEC commissioner Greg Sankey, and the commissioner has discussed the situation with the Razorbacks coach.

“I visited with Bret over the phone on Monday and we discussed the play that has now become widely reviewed through a brief video clip,” Sankey said in a released statement. “Football is played in an intense competitive environment and I reminded him of the need for head coaches to resolve with their own players issues that may arise, which was his intent. The unsportsmanlike penalty assessed on the play was not directly associated with Bret’s efforts to intervene at the end of the play and we are moving forward in a positive manner.”

That appears to be the end of the discussion regarding Bielema’s act. I personally think there should have been some more done here by the league’s commissioner, but we will see if Bielema avoids putting himself in a similar position moving forward.

Temple announces rare football sellout

Jahad Thomas, Marcus Allen

In the midst of what could be a dream season in South Philadelphia, the Temple Owls announced a rare sellout for a football game this afternoon. The October 31 game at home against Notre Dame has sold out Lincoln Financial Field. This is the first time Temple has sold out two home games in the same season since 1976, when the Owls began playing home games in one of Philadelphia’s pro sports stadiums.

This is the second sellout of the season for Temple, but it is also worth mentioning who the opponents are for those two games; Penn State and Notre Dame. Penn State is always Temple’s biggest draw when they get a chance to host the Nittany Lions and their legions of fans in and around the Delaware Valley. Temple dominated Penn State in the season opener, snapping a long losing streak against the in-state power. Notre Dame is also a big draw everywhere the Irish go, and there is a solid fanbase in the southeastern part of Philadelphia as well.

It is also a rare trip to Philadelphia for Notre Dame. The Irish last played in Philadelphia in 1993 when they faced Navy in Veterans Stadium. Navy also hosted Notre Dame in Philadelphia in 1960, 1962, 1964, 1966, 1968, 1970, 1972 and 1974. Notre Dame and Temple have never played in Philadelphia, although they did face each other in the 2013 season opener. This year’s game is the second game of a home-and-home series.

The game could potentially prove to play a key role in the evolving College Football Playoff and Group of Five conversation as well. If Temple avoids slipping up this week against UCF and next week at East Carolina and USC holds off USC, then we could have an undefeated and top 25 Temple program hosting a top 15 or even potential top 10 Notre Dame on Halloween. Let’s not put the cart ahead of the horse here, but that could be a very attractive matchup worth paying attention to at the end of the month for many fanbases.