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FOOTBALL COMMENTARY: No. 1 draft pick eight losses away

Chris Hine | Friday, September 28, 2007

Notre Dame is 0-4 and that can only mean one thing – it’s time to start tanking and get the No. 1 draft pick.

Just like the Boston Celtics and Memphis Grizzlies in last year’s NBA, it’s time for Notre Dame to give up and hope it gets a player that can turn the franchise around. Offensive line, just let everybody through. Defense, let everyone run all over you, and, David Bruton, stop trying so hard.

But don’t make it obvious that you’re tanking, Irish. Make it look like you’re trying, but keep in mind the next Peyton Manning or Troy Aikman is just waiting to be picked. When you get that player, it will only be a matter of time before he develops into the next superstar and leads you to another national title.

Oh wait, what’s this I hear about Notre Dame having the No. 1-rated recruiting class in the country? Really? How is that possible?

I had heard our coaching staff stunk and didn’t know what they were doing. I forgot this is not the NFL, where the league rewards your lack of effort and/or ability with a No. 1 draft pick.

Notre Dame has a bunch of solid “draft picks” lined up for next season on both sides of the ball and there is a lot of speculation that if things do not improve soon, some of those verbal recruits will go elsewhere. But these recruits have heads on their shoulders and probably won’t be influenced by negative recruiters who say their careers will go down the tubes if they go to Notre Dame.

To quote Demetrius Jones in the South Bend Tribune on Sept. 17, “College coaching is a business, but so is playing. So is playing.”

These recruits know Notre Dame is young and that it would be a bad business decision to jump ship at this point. They know they can come in and possibly see playing time right away to become part of the solution.

This is where the current team enters the picture.

I know it’s hard to give 100 percent every play when there is no lofty reward waiting at the end of the season. When you are down at the end of the game, and victory is out of reach, it almost seems silly to keep trying. But failing to give 100 percent is worse than any loss this team could suffer.

Lack of experience is an excuse; lack of effort is not. Nothing will turn recruits away faster than watching a team that does not want to be on the field. In a way, the Irish are playing for a national championship – just one that will be a couple of years in the future.

If I was lucky enough to have the talent to be a highly-touted high school recruit, I would not want the players at my future school giving up just because they are down a couple of touchdowns.

If I was lucky enough to be playing as a senior for Notre Dame, I know I want to do all I can to make sure this program is in good hands when I leave. I may not be able to single-handedly win a game, but I can make sure I’m giving 100 percent. People can say it is the coach’s job to motivate the players to play. I don’t buy that argument.

The players are here to play football. It’s their job. They need to motivate themselves to play every down as hard as the last.

Unlike the NFL, nothing good can come from giving up.

The views expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.

Contact Chris Hine at [email protected]