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Notre Dame drops from second to sixth on all-time wins after losing NCAA appeal

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Notre Dame president Rev. John Jenkins was quite angry Tuesday afternoon when the NCAA denied the school’s appeal against vacating the Irish’s wins from the 2012-13 seasons. But the NCAA did deny the appeal, which means 21 wins have now vanished into the ether.

While we can all agree this is an ultimately silly penalty — we all saw Notre Dame win those games — the rules are the rules, and those 21 wins are now gone. Which actually has a significant affect on Notre Dame’s standing on college football’s all-time wins list.

In dropping from 907 wins to 886, Notre Dame sunk from second all the way to sixth, falling below Texas, Ohio State, Nebraska and Alabama. Here’s the full top 10, according to Winsipedia:

1. Michigan — 943 wins
2. Texas — 898
Ohio State — 898
4. Nebraska — 893
5. Alabama — 891
6. Notre Dame — 886
7. Oklahoma — 884
8. Penn State — 878
9. USC — 834
10. Tennessee — 833

Though some of the programs ahead of them may be down at a given time (Texas and Nebraska currently) it’s nay impossible to imagine all of them being down at once. Which means it will take decades for Notre Dame to make up the ground it lost today — if it ever does.

Notre Dame president blasts NCAA for not restoring vacated wins

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Notre Dame president Rev. John Jenkins went on a lengthy tirade in the form of an elaborate letter to the Notre Dame community to express his disappointment with the NCAA. After appealing a ruling by the NCAA’s Committee on Infractions to vacate all wins from the 2012 and 2013 seasons due to an academic misconduct investigation in South Bend, Notre Dame was informed the restoring of vacated wins will not be granted for those two particular seasons. Jenkins was not pleased.

“We are deeply disappointed by and strongly disagree with the denial of the University’s appeal, announced today by the NCAA, of an earlier decision by the NCAA’s Committee on Infractions to vacate Notre Dame’s 2012 and 2013 football victories due to academic misconduct by several student-athletes,” Jenkins said in his lengthy letter, which has been shared on Notre Dame’s website.

“In academic misconduct cases, the penalty of vacation of team records has, until now, only been applied in the case of serious forms of institutional culpability: when coaches, administrators, or persons with academic responsibilities are complicit in cheating, or when an institution fails to monitor or lacks control over its athletics program,” Jenkins later explained. “In Notre Dame’s case, two of the students had received assistance from a full-time undergraduate student who had part-time employment as an assistant to our athletic trainers. Student-to-student cheating is not normally within the NCAA’s jurisdiction, but the NCAA concluded that the student’s role as a part-time assistant trainer made her a “representative of the institution” and justified a vacation of team records penalty in this case.”

As a refresher, here is what the NCAA said about the investigation back in November 2016;

During two academic years, the former student trainer and two football student-athletes engaged in academic misconduct when the former student trainer completed coursework for the student-athletes. These student-athletes, in addition to a third football student-athlete, also committed academic misconduct individually. The university determined the three student-athletes violated its academic integrity policies. The misconduct resulted in the student-athletes playing while ineligible — one student-athlete during the 2012-13 season and the other two student-athletes during the 2013-14 season.

The former student trainer also provided impermissible academic assistance to six additional football student-athletes in a total of 18 classes. She provided the assistance while she attended the university and a year after she graduated. Two of the student-athletes violated the university’s academic integrity policies. The remaining four student-athletes were not enrolled at the time the violations were discovered, so they were not subject to the university’s policies.

Jenkins has not changed his stance on the issue regarding the vacated wins, which really is one of the most meaningless punishments the NCAA can hand out anyway.

Notre Dame won 12 games in the 2012 season, which resulted in an undefeated regular season before losing in the BCS National Championship game against Alabama. The Irish won nine games in 2013, including a victory in the Pinstripe Bowl. All 21 wins will be wiped away in the NCAA record book.

You can read the full letter from Jenkins HERE.

Top Dawgs: Georgia takes recruiting crown in 2018 and other takeaways from National Signing Day

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National Signing Day — Part II — is pretty much in the books, wrapping up another wild day in college football as we find out where the game’s next stars will be playing at. While the Class of 2018 was the first with an early signing period, there was still plenty of action on the traditional first Wednesday in February date and scores of coaches across the country will be able to claim their teams got much better with the next wave of recruits on board.

Sorting through all the announcements and tallying up the multitude of recruiting numbers, here are a few takeaways from National Signing Day:

1. Top Dawgs

Kirby Smart finished second last season but was second to none when it came to recruiting this cycle.

Georgia finished with the consensus top-ranked recruiting class in 2018 and pretty much picked up where they left off in the early signing period. The Bulldogs landed five-star cornerback Tyson Campbell, flipped both Otis Reese (previously committed to Michigan) and Quay Walker (Alabama), plus went into Texas to grab a pledge from lengthy wideout Tommy Bush. And that was just on Wednesday morning. All told the team is bringing in a CFB-high seven (yeah, seven) five-star recruits in this cycle and 15 others who are ranked as four-stars. Whether it’s by sheer volume or by average star rating, this is one of the best recruiting classes any program has put together and a pretty incredible feather in Smart’s hat. While the good news in February probably won’t take all the sting out of what happened in Atlanta last month, it sure does help to smooth the pain a little and keep the Bulldogs in the running for SEC titles and playoff appearances for years to come.

2. Alabama double-take 

One of the most bizarre sights when the dust settled on signing day was the placement of Alabama at No. 7 in the 247Sports‘ team rankings. That puts an end to one of the more remarkable streaks in college football as the Crimson Tide had hauled in the top-ranked class every year since 2011 and finished outside the top three for the first time since Nick Saban’s initial class in Tuscaloosa. No one will be crying for the national champions however, especially not with three true freshman keying that comeback against Georgia in the title game. Alabama still landed top cornerback Patrick Surtain Jr., who could start right away with the team given what the depth chart looks like going into the season. Still, it was strange to see the program that had been a recruiting juggernaut lose battles to Georgia, Ohio State, ClemsonStanford and USC. Saban made several staff changes this offseason that were no doubt aimed at getting better on the recruiting trail so this dip is probably temporary but it was nevertheless strange to see the Tide not crushing everybody like they normally do on and off the field.

3. USC’s big day

Death, taxes, and USC rolling up commitments on National Signing Day. The Trojans once again had a frenzy of top-ranked players don the cardinal and gold on Wednesday, including the majority of the big hitters in their backyard. Everybody already knew five-star quarterback J.T. Daniels had reclassified from 2019 to 2018 to bolster the class but the team also added four-star teammate Solomon Tuliaupupu, landed the services of five-star corner Olaijah Griffin then secured another top player in four-star corner Isaac Taylor-Stuart. Just as important, they leapfrogged Pac-12 rivals Washington, Oregon and UCLA. While the fan base may not have been thrilled at Clay Helton receiving a new contract yesterday, the results on Signing Day may have them reconsidering.

4. Dabo does it again

The biggest commitment Dabo Swinney and Clemson received came last month when three potential first round picks along the defensive line announced they would return to school for another season. Add that group to yet another top 10 class and the Tigers look like they’ll remain in the nation’s elite for years to come. Two of the top three recruits in the country are already on campus and Clemson signed the top-ranked player from a whopping six states, including plucking five-star wideout Justyn Ross out of Alabama and away from the Crimson Tide. Only Georgia signed more five-stars and you’d be hard pressed to find many teams with a better average than this group.

5. Jimbo Fisher and Willie Taggart close strong

The biggest mover from the first signing period to today appears to be Jimbo Fisher and Texas A&M. After getting behind the eight-ball with his hire coming a little late in the cycle, the Aggies went on a roll to close strong with the class of 2018. They landed Louisiana TE Glenn Beal over Tennessee and others, plucked Jeremiah Martin out of California, got four-star QB James Foster and flipped DL Bobby Brown from Alabama among other moves. It will still take time for the new regime in College Station to establish ties in the state of Texas but as far as first recruiting classes go, it was a heck of a first effort from Fisher and company.

As for the guy who took his old job at Florida State, Willie Taggart delivered one of the other big surprises in the team rankings as the Seminoles moved from the 30’s in the team rankings into the top 12. They won the battle for Jamarcus Chatman over in-state rival Miami and also secured the signature of four-star defensive end Malcolm Lamar among other moves but were very active in locking up another talented class despite not having much time to work with. Perhaps just as importantly, it looks like FSU is already rolling with the class of 2019 and will be a force to be reckoned with all those quality recruiters on staff.

6. Texas returns to the top

Up the road in Austin, second-year coach Tom Herman appears to have the Longhorns back among the elite recruiters in college football this year after trending downward the past few years. UT finished with a consensus top three class and landed some impact players in the secondary with a pair of five-star safeties. Even more notable is how the program cleaned up in-state, landing 11 of the top 15 players in Texas.

7. Michigan’s disappointing effort

In a way, the Wolverines’ recruiting mirrored their most recent season and finished on a down note. Jim Harbaugh does have a pretty good roster coming back to Ann Arbor for 2018 but it was a bit of a head turner to see the team ranked No. 21st in the 247Sports’ team rankings after so much talk about the program the past few years. They finished well behind division rivals Ohio State and Penn State in the rankings and failed to land a top 100 prospect. To add insult to injury, they lost five-star offensive tackle Nicholas Petit-Frere to the Buckeyes and saw their highest rated commit flip to Georgia. Not exactly attacking recruiting with an enthusiasm unknown to mankind.

8. New coaches, new rankings

Here’s how new head coaches in the Power Five finished in the 247Sports’ team rankings:

Arizona’s Kevin Sumlin: 58th overall, 11th in the Pac-12

Arizona State’s Herm Edwards: 36th overall, 5th in the Pac-12

Arkansas’ Chad Morris: 54th overall, 14th in the SEC

Florida’s Dan Mullen: 14th overall, fourth in the SEC

Florida State’s Willie Taggart: 11th overall, third in the ACC

Mississippi State’s Joe Moorhead: 27th overall, ninth in the SEC

Nebraska’s Scott Frost: 22rd overall, fourth in the Big Ten

Oregon’s Mario Cristobal: 16th overall third in the Pac-12

Oregon State’s Jonathan Smith: 69th overall, 12th in the Pac-12

Tennessee’s Jeremy Pruitt: 20th overall, eighth in the SEC

Texas A&M’s Jimbo Fisher: 17th overall, sixth in the SEC

UCLA’s Chip Kelly: 18th overall, fourth in the Pac-12

9. Turning our attention to 2019

This was the first class that could sign early in December so from players to coaches to parents, the altered recruiting cycle was an adjustment period for just about everybody. While the vast majority of players decided to put pen to paper in the first period, there was still plenty of drama left for recruiting junkies to get excited about in January and February despite worries there would not be. It’s still too early to pull out some big takeaways from how everything is going to play out long-term given all of the unique factors involved in the Class of 2018, but it’s possible we’ll see some tweaks in strategy from programs large and small going forward. One thing is for certain, teams are not wasting any time getting started with the Class of 2019 and the team that sits atop the 247Sports’ rankings this year is the same one that is in pole position next year as Georgia already has seven commitments — all four-stars or better. As we know though, it’s a long road between now and then.

10. Still plenty of NSD strangeness

Despite the early signing period taking some of the buzz out of the air in February, there was still plenty of the regular strange moments we’ve come to expect from National Signing Day. Twitter accounts getting suspended, moms walking off the stageSnoop Dogg and more.

Ahh, ‘crootin.

Four-star LB Solomon Tuliaupupu follows teammates to USC after considering Notre Dame, UCLA

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National Signing Day and a strong close for USC is seemingly a fact of life nowadays. The Trojans continued to land top prospects and close strong with the class of 2018 on Wednesday as they landed the signature of Santa Ana (Calif.) linebacker Solomon Tuliaupupu.

“I’ll be attending the University of Southern California,” he said on ESPN2. “What sold me on SC was the Trojan family. With Coach (Clay) Helton, it’s faith, family and football.”

Tuliaupupu was awarded the Butkus Award as the top linebacker at the high school level this past season and was listed as a four-star prospect that was a top 10 player in the state of California. He joins a long line of players to make the drive up the gridlocked freeways from Orange County powerhouse Mater Dei High to USC, including five-star teammates in QB J.T. Daniels and top-ranked wide receiver Amon-Ra St. Brown.

The Trojans are not likely to be done as the cardinal and gold will have a shot at several other top 100 players who are announcing later in the day.

Ohio State the landing spot for five-star OT Nicholas Petit-Frere

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A pronunciation faux pas notwithstanding, Ohio State has landed one of the biggest available fish in the recruiting pond.

Nicholas Petit-Frere is a five-star offensive lineman out of Tampa, Florida, rated by 247Sports.com as the No. 1 tackle in the Class of 2018.  With a group of finalists that also included Alabama and Florida, the 6-6, 272-pound lineman announced Wednesday morning that he will be attending “The University of Ohio State.”

Petit-Frere, one of four unsigned five-star recruits entering signing day, had taken an official visit to OSU this past weekend, an indication that the super-secretive prospect could be leaning toward the Buckeyes.  Alabama, Florida, Michigan and Notre Dame also received official visits from the player.

The signing is boon for a sterling OSU class that took a hit along the line just a couple of months ago.

During the early stages of the first-ever early signing period this past December, Jackson Carman, then the No. tackle and No. 1 player in the state of Ohio, opted to sign with Clemson over his home state’s flagship university.  A reshuffling of the rankings in the ensuing weeks pushed Petit-Frere over Carman, with Carman’s signing with the Tigers ultimately helping push him to Columbus.