Notre Dame Football: What If Golden Tate Had Stayed for His Senior Year?

Tim Daniel@IrishUnmatchedContributor IIIJune 25, 2011

SOUTH BEND, IN - SEPTEMBER 13: Tate Golden #23 of the Notre Dame Fighting Irish gets open running room in front of Charles Stewart #5 of the Michigan Wolverines during the second quarter on September 13, 2008 at Notre Dame Stadium in South Bend, Indiana.  (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)
Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

Last season was a great start to the rebuilding process of Notre Dame Football.

We saw a lot of young talent begin to blossom into guys who you can really tell will impact the program as the Fighting Irish move forward and continue to progress.

But one name in particular really could've helped this team add more wins to its record and put the Irish in a bigger bowl game. 

Golden Tate was just electric during his time at Notre Dame—he was one of those guys that was just exciting and fun to watch for the general football fan. With so many memorable plays during his three seasons, it's hard to imagine him not being able to contribute to this team.

If you look at the early portion of this past season—before the Michigan State game—Michael Floyd really wasn't able to score or help the team, although, minus the fumble in the season opener against Purdue, he did a great job of making the best of everything.

If Golden Tate had been lined up on the other side of Floyd, how does that not help Michael achieve more?

Tate has a good build for Coach Kelly's system and is one of the most athletic players I have ever seen.

This begs the question: Would the Irish have won more games had Tate returned for his senior season?

If you ask me, the answer is yes. 

I don't think that he'd have made all the difference in the two big losses to Stanford and Navy, but look at the games against Michigan, Michigan St, and Tulsa.

Week 2 Notre Dame loses to Michigan by a score of 28-24.  According to, Tates' time stats against Michigan look like this:

2008: 4 Rec/127 Yards/ 1TD
2009: 9 rec/ 115 Yards/ 2TD

It's hard to say with his ability to play against Michigan—not to mention the weak defense the Wolverines had this past year—that Tate wouldn't have helped us beat them. That would have made nine wins on the season for the Irish.

Now let's look at the awful loss to Michigan St. 

We know what happened here—the terrible fake field goal we were in no way prepared for plus the controversial play-clock call. Notre Dame loses this game by a score of 34-31.

Tate's stats look against MSU look like this:

2008: 5 rec/83 yards/ 0 TD
2009: 7 rec/ 127 yards/ 1 TD

Although this was Michael Floyd's breakout game of the season, there's no doubt in my mind that if Tate were wearing a gold helmet, this game doesn't even go into overtime.

Make that 10 wins.

Unfortunately, Golden Tate never played against Tulsa in his three seasons at Notre Dame. However, looking back at that heartbreaking, one-point loss, having one more option definitely wouldn't have hurt. 

I mean, everyone knows Floyd is the number-one target, but in that situation if worse comes to worst, Tate is out there as a decoy for guys like Floyd, Riddick, Jones, or Goodman to score the TD......

Or you kick the field goal. 

Don't worry, I'll be alright. For those keeping score, that would have been 11 wins for the Irish.

Now, this is all really speculation, but I truly believe that if Golden Tate were on this past year's team, the Irish would have won those games.

And with double-digit regular-season wins at the University of Notre Dame—no doubt about it—that's a BCS game.

What are your thoughts?