Notre Dame’s $400 million renovations include 3,000-4,000 premium seats

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Notre Dame revealed plans for a $400 university renovation project that will see some upgrades to storied Notre Dame Stadium in the coming years. According to a press release from the university outlining the details of the project, Notre Dame Stadium will have three structures added to the stadium for various activities and the addition of anywhere between 3,000 and 4,000 premium club seats.

“At a time when so many would call into question the viability of the collegiate sports model in America, it is fitting that Notre Dame, a perennial leader in the measures of academic performance by student-athletes, offers a bold vision providing emphatic evidence that the full integration of athletics into the academic mission of a university is not only possible but desirable,” said Jack Swarbrick, Notre Dame’s vice president and director of athletics. “Coach Brian Kelly and I are thrilled that one of the most famous sports venues in the world will now also be known as one of the most innovative educational facilities.”

The expansion on the west side of Notre Dame Stadium will serve as a center for student life services with space for a recreation center and career center. On the east side of the stadium will be a building dedicated for the anthropology and psychology departments as well as a digital media center. The south expansion will house the Department of Music and the Sacred Music at Notre Dame. As you read through the details of the expansion, you can see how it may benefit the football program in the future.

Premium seating means big money for the school, if they can sell out the tickets. This being Notre Dame, that seems likely. The Irish are also updating the game day experience inside the stadium for all fans with the addition of an updated and modern scoreboard in the south end. Having all of those other services literally attached to the football stadium also makes for a more attractive football program and beyond. At this time no seating changes will take place in the two lower bowls of the stadium. A total capacity for the stadium once the project is completed has not been confirmed.

What is interesting is that Notre Dame chose to make the football stadium the center of the campus renovations and upgrades. The first question on the project’s website asks why the decision was made to build around the stadium.

“Currently, the stadium is used just 10 to 12 times a year,” the website explains. “In 2013, the University formed an oversight committee of faculty and staff tasked with studying an ambitious concept: how to make this campus crossroads a year-round hub for academic and student life. With assistance from outside consultants with expertise in architecture, engineering, technology, food services, and student life, that group helped craft the bold plan detailed on this website.”

The project is not starting overnight though. Expect the project plans to become reality within the next two years and it should take an estimated 33 months to complete. There are no plans to rename Notre Dame Stadium.

Artist rendering via Notre Dame Athletics.

Texas QB Shane Buechele undergoes hip surgery, expected back for spring practice

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A postseason injury has forced Shane Buechele to undergo an offseason medical procedure.

Buechele suffered a torn abductor muscle in his hip/abdomen in the first half of Texas’ Texas Bowl win over Missouri and didn’t return in the second half.  Nearly a month later, the football program has announced that the quarterback will undergo surgery on Thursday to repair the damage.

If rehab goes as planned, Buechele is expected to be on the field when the Longhorns kick off spring practice March 5.

As a true freshman in 2016, Buechele started all 12 games for the Longhorns.  This past season was one marred by various injuries.

Buechele started the season opener for Texas, but ceded the job to Sam Ehlinger the next two games because of a bruised throwing shoulder.  Returning to the starting lineup in Week 5, Buechele suffered an ankle injury in the win over Iowa State that allowed Ehlinger to start the next three games.  In the last of those three games, Ehlinger suffered a head injury that left him in concussion protocol and opened the door for Buechele to start five of the last six games of the season.

Buechele and Ehlinger will be the two veterans battling for the starting job once spring practice kicks off in March.

NCAA tables discussions on limiting staff size

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It is going to take some more time to dive deep into the pros and cons of limiting the size of a football staff before the NCAA Division 1 Council decides what to do. In a statement released on Wednesday, the Division 1 Council has decided to table a legislative proposal focusing on setting parameters on the size of a football staff, meaning this topic should pop up again a year from now.

The proposal aims to cap the size of any football staff at 30 people and determine who may be eligible to participate in on-campus recruiting efforts. Those assigned recruiting duties, including head and assistant coaches, would then be required to pass an annual test on recruiting practices. At this time, however, there appears to be too much confusion and uncertainty about how the proposal would impact programs now. With so many questions about the proposal, it was best to put this one on the table and spend the next year examining how it could impact college football programs.

“I went to the American Football Coaches Association meeting, and there were a lot of questions about how this was going to work,” Big 12 commissioner Bob Bowlsby, the chair of the oversight committee, said in a release shared by the NCAA. “The coaches wanted to know who was going to be included, how they would be certified and who was exempted.”

This topic has already been floating out there since last spring, and with recent adjustments from the NCAA to allow for a 10th full-time assistant coach, it appears this will be the next step in the evolution of ruling how large a football staff can be.

Miami’s home winning streak is officially over after Orange Bowl loss

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The Miami Hurricanes opened the new year with a loss in the Orange Bowl in their home stadium, but the Hurricanes marked the bowl game down in their records as a neutral site game. Not so fast, says the NCAA. That loss to the Badgers will go down as a home loss for the Hurricanes.

Because the NCAA officially records the Orange Bowl as a home game for Miami any time the Hurricanes happen to play in the bowl game hosted in their home stadium, the wins and losses are reflected on Miami’s home record. This is true for any team playing a bowl game in their home stadium, including any time UCLA appears in the Rose Bowl or San Diego State in the Holiday Bowl or Poinsettia Bowl.

Prior to losing to Wisconsin in the Orange Bowl this past season, Miami was riding nine-game winning streak in Hard Rock Stadium dating back to November 5, 2016. Miami will get a chance to hit the reset button on their home winning streak on September 8 with a home game against Savannah State.

Report: LSU to add former RB Kevin Faulk to staff if SEC gives the green light

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Former LSU running back Kevin Faulk could be set to return to the Tigers program in a new role if the SEC will allow it. According to a report from The Advocate, Faulk is being lined up to join the LSU football support staff, but his addition must be thoroughly vetted first.

Because Faulk is a high school coach, LSU and the SEC must be certain he has no direct ties to any LSU football players on the roster. This is to ensure the staff change complies with a new NCAA rule prohibiting schools from hiring high school coaches for a two-year period when any player from that associated high school enrolls at the university. As long as there are no players on LSU’s roster with any ties to Faulk’s high school coaching within the past two years, the staff change should become official.

Having Faulk associated with the program would be good to see considering how much Faulk meant to LSU during his college career. Faulk rushed for a school-record 4,557 yards and 46 rushing touchdowns. Both are records that stand today despite some extremely talented running backs over the years. Since Faulk’s final season at LSU in 1998, Leonard Fournette has come the closest to Faulk’s career rushing total with 3,830 yards in three years. Fournette is also the closest to Faulk since Faulk played to the school record for career rushing touchdowns, with 40.

Supposing the staff addition does go through, Faulk will not be involved with any off-campus recruiting efforts or on-field coaching assignments, but he will assist with player development.