Lemming: Notre Dame historically has overcome off-field issues in recruiting

Tom Lemming
ND Insider Correspondent

Historically, off-field matters like Notre Dame is currently facing with the investigation of four players for academic issues have not affected recruiting.

Following the 1973 season a number of players were suspended for a year, and the 1974 class was still great, including Joe Montana and Ken MacAfee. There's very little that can hurt Notre Dame because the school's image is so great that it often can withstand off-field matters.

From a strict recruiting standpoint, situations such as this one when players may be off the team, it can actually help because recruits can see a perceived lack of depth. The school has so much going for it and players many times think they'll have a better chance of playing. It won't affect recruiting at all.

What has happened in the past, when there are academic problems with individuals or a small group of guys, other schools will try to use it against Notre Dame by telling the kids in a round-about way that if they go to ND they could have trouble academically. If you go to their school they don't have to worry about it. In effect, they're telling the recruit that they're not smart enough to make it at Notre Dame.

I've found through the years that the majority of the top 300 kids are borderline students, well more than 50 percent of them are borderline 2.5 grade-point average kids or below. That said, there are enough kids out there with confidence in their academics that Notre Dame can have a top-10 class.

An example? Stanford. They do it through hard work, organization and they've got a great community of recruiters.

It all started with Jim Harbaugh because Stanford has been up and down in recruiting throughout most of its history. Harbaugh hadn't been coaching that long when he got to Stanford but he understood what it takes. Stanford's standards for getting kids in are higher than Notre Dame, Northrwestern, Duke, everyone. They've been able to sustain their recruiting through organization, from the head coach down, because it wasn't there before Harbaugh but it is now.

Recruiting can be cutthroat. Not that long ago, the academic fraud investigation at Notre Dame wouldn't have really mattered in recruiting because it's more than five months until signing day. But with so many kids committing early, if it comes down to ND and another school, the other school will tell the kid that he'll struggle academically at Notre Dame.

Notre Dame can counteract that easily by saying that the school graduates almost every single player that goes there. The graduation rate every year is among the highest in the nation. Notre Dame can tell kids that if you can get in, you'll graduate.

This is where the assistant coach becomes vital. He has to be on top of the entire situation. If he's not, the kid will lean to the propaganda coming from the other school.

Two things you hear other schools use against Notre Dame are the weather and tough academics. They can't do anything about the weather but they can counteract the academic issues.

They've got to make sure that not only the kids know this, but also the parents. And it's got to constantly be repeated because other schools pound away.

Because academics are talked about so much at ND, parents become important. I would say Notre Dame gets half of its players because of the parents coaxing the player that way. Every single parent in the country wants their child to get a quality education, and that's a major advantage to Notre Dame. They probably need the parents on their side more than almost every other school, and the reason is that almost 100 percent of the time the parents will push academics.

I doubt that the scandal will have any influence on recruiting. Notre Dame is smart and will tell kids that they need help at certain positions. I don't think it will have any affect.

Notre Dame head coach Brian Kelly during practice on Tuesday, Aug. 19, 2014, inside Notre Dame Stadium at Notre Dame South Bend. SBT Photo/ROBERT FRANKLIN via FTP