With college football exactly a month away, the folks in South Bend know how big 2009 is for the Fighting Irish of Notre Dame. The future of Notre Dame is dependent on what happens in 2009. This is the year that Charlie Weis' recruiting really has to pay dividends.
That is not only for his job but also for the future recruiting. Weis has really done a good job of selling to kids that Notre Dame is the place to be for college success. His pitch will seriously lose credibility if the team goes to another small bowl game.
As much fun as it was for me to see Notre Dame at Aloha Stadium. I don't want them to come back this year. This year they need to have bigger plans. Recruits want to see them with bigger plans. Therefore, Notre Dame really has to get it going this year to continue bringing in the great recruits.
Another thing that has to happen in 2009 is what happens in the neighboring state of Ohio in the city of Cleveland. That of course is the quarterback battle between Brady Quinn and Derek Anderson. I know that like me, the domers are rooting for Quinn to win that job and really get his NFL career going.
I know that there are Irish fans that aren't really big NFL guys. I myself am definitely more passionate about college football. However, I was happy a few years ago when Jerome Bettis ended his career with a Super Bowl victory.
For me, I always remember what they did at Notre Dame. I continue to root for them at the NFL level, but whatever they do there is only gravy to me. Therefore, while many think of Rick Mirer as an NFL bust I still remember him in South Bend.
The biggest name in the NFL right now from Notre Dame is Brady Quinn. That is no disrespect to Trevor Laws, Justin Tuck, John Carlson, Maurice Stovall, and Anthony Fasano. Quinn is without a doubt Notre Dame's favorite son in the NFL.
Like many of his previous Notre Dame predecessors, Quinn is one I will root for unconditionally no matter what. For me he is already the best quarterback I have ever seen in South Bend. Therefore, I won't ever think anything less of him if he doesn't succeed in the NFL.
The only problem with my way of thinking is that Quinn's success in the NFL is huge for the future of Notre Dame. The reality is that when a four or five star recruit is deciding which college to go to, that is not his ultimate goal. His ultimate goal is the NFL. I can't say I blame him. Who wouldn't want to get paid to play football?
Therefore, they want to go to a college that prepares them for the NFL. That is why USC is where they are. They have a coach with an NFL background and tons of success stories in the NFL. Troy Polamalu really stands out. Matt Cassel didn't even play at USC ,and he now has a huge contract in Kansas City.
Based on all that, Notre Dame needs Brady Quinn now more than ever. Weis does have the NFL background that big name recruits like. However, it has to start translating into NFL success for that aspect to keep its effectiveness.
Quinn really hasn't had much of an opportunity to this point to show what he can do at the NFL level. He did have a couple of starts last year before breaking a finger. In those games, he wasn't at the level of Tom Brady but he did quite well for a guy making his debut.
This is Quinn's chance to really go out and win the starting job permanently. I know Derek Anderson is capable of good things when he is on, but I have faith in Quinn. I know the kind of leader he is, and I think that is what will ultimately win him the job.
Although I will never look down on Quinn if he doesn't succeed in the NFL, I am really rooting for him to succeed. The future of Notre Dame recruiting will take a huge boost if our guy succeeds.
So let's root for Quinn in his battle with Anderson and wish him well.
Good luck Brady and you are missed at Notre Dame.