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Miller: Notre Dame should bench Sam Hartman

| Wednesday, November 8, 2023

Sofia CrimiVaroli | The Observer
Quarterback Sam Hartman (10) looks on during the game between Notre Dame and Clemson at Memorial Stadium on Saturday, Nov. 4.

After Notre Dame lost to Louisville, I wrote that practically, the season was over. At that point, I argued Notre Dame didn’t have anything meaningful to play for, including a New Year’s Six Bowl Game. My thought all along was that a NY6 bowl game would be a sort of exhibition where seniors on both sides sat out of the game.

With the Irish’s loss on Saturday, even that goal is now impossible. For the second straight year, the Irish will be sent to Florida (or possibly San Diego) to play what amounts to a meaningless game. Of course, winning the game would be nice. It instills some hope in Freeman, it gives fans some optimism as they head into the offseason and it gives players a tangible thing to recognize. But at the end of the day, whether the Irish win or lose their bowl game, this season’s story is already written in permanent ink: an incredible roster that fell short of every one of its goals due to injuries and poor coaching.

I hope that the Irish win their final three games. If Notre Dame tries its hardest, losing to Wake Forest or Stanford would be nothing short of embarrassing. Regardless, these three games only mean so much for the program. The focus has to be on the future — not the present. Next year, the Irish have a much easier schedule, with their hardest games (USC and Florida State) coming against teams with new quarterbacks. Whether the Irish will be any good or not is another question; they’ll have their own new players to deal with. Regardless, there is hope.

To prepare for next year — where hope still exists — the Irish should be investing every possible resource in developing potential talent and getting them meaningful game reps against other teams. This is especially crucial at the quarterback position. At the end of the season, Sam Hartman will leave Notre Dame and try to go to the NFL. Notre Dame has three options: start true freshman C.J. Carr, start one of its current backup quarterbacks (Steve Angeli or Kenny Minchey) or find a quarterback in the transfer portal.

Luckily, Notre Dame doesn’t have to make that decision yet. But in the case that the Irish do roll with Angeli or Minchey, the team needs to invest heavily in their development. Why not start right now? Sam Hartman has been a fun player to watch this year, but in my opinion, his opportunity passed. He failed in key moments. His NFL draft stock has plunged; NFL scouts have six seasons of Hartman tape. They have enough. No scout needs to see Hartman beat up Wake Forest or Stanford. They want to see him against elite defenses, like Ohio State and Clemson.

In my opinion, Notre Dame owes nothing to Sam Hartman, just as last year, the Las Vegas Raiders determined that they owe nothing to Derek Carr. Of course, that move didn’t really work out for the Raiders, but on principle, once they realized he wasn’t the future (as Notre Dame must do with Hartman), they moved on — which was the right decision.

Hartman is an excellent athlete and a great role model. He showed how to respectfully engage with NIL. Personally, I have nothing against the man. However, we need Angeli to struggle. If Angeli struggles now, he’ll struggle less if forced into real competition. The same applies to other positions, such as cornerback and safety which will see turnover in 2024.

Marcus Freeman has the chance to re-direct his team. Making radical changes in the team’s last three games is a place to start.

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

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About Jake Miller

Jake is the President of NDTV. On occasion, he contributes to The Observer, primarily covering football and women's basketball.

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