Chat Transcript: What's next for Notre Dame football — on the field, off it and in recruiting?

Eric Hansen
South Bend Tribune

Eric Hansen: Welcome to Notre Dame Football Live Chat. I'd like to remind everyone to please include your name and hometown along with your question. We've got a lot to get to, so I'll skip going over the rules and hope you absorb them telepathically.

Eric Hansen: Keep in mind, I did a pretty extensive analysis last night on what the move toward conference-only schedules could mean to Notre Dame's season. So if you missed it, you may want to catch up here:

Eric Hansen: There may yet be more definitive news from the Pac-12 later today.

Mike from Rochester, N.Y.: Hi, Eric, hope you and your family are all well in these trying times. How much of the Big 10’s conference-only decision was economically driven, I.e., big payouts to MAC opponents and the like while getting little to no revenue from those games?

Eric Hansen: if that was part of the formula, no one is talking about it. Keep in mind, they're giving up big games against Washington, Oregon and Notre Dame, to name a few. The stated drivers, and I believe it, are getting more control over the schedule (stops and starts) and uniform testing standards and protocol.

Smitty from Tempe, Ariz.: Eric, things here in Arizona are nuts and are getting worse. Given yesterday's Big 10 news, am I reading the tea leaves correctly in that college football won't (and probably shouldn't!) happen in the fall? I'm thinking of the first college athlete to die from the virus. and it just doesn't seem worth it, as much as I love college football.

Eric Hansen: Smitty, if there were no economic consequences and if you were absolutely sure things would be safer in the spring, the notion makes more sense. But neither of those are reality. And there's some big downsides to spring or winter/spring football, as I wrote last weekend. I'd wait as long as I could before making that kind of decision. Remember when playing baseball in bubbles in Arizona, California and Texas seemed like a great idea, given the level of infection in New York in April? Now it would be a terrible idea. The wild card in all of this is we, as citizens, can make a difference and shape this picture by the way we cooperate or don't cooperate.

Ryan from Philadelphia: Out of these five, which three do you think ND has a best chance it at in the 2021 class? Rocco Spindler, Dont’e Thornton, Jayden Thomas, Donovan Edwards, Nolan Rucci?

Eric Hansen: This is more a Carter Karels question, but I'll take a stab at it. I'd feel best about Spindler and Thomas. I don't think the odds are good with any of the other three, but pressed to make a guess, I'll say Thornton.

Jeremy from Goshen, Ind.: With conferences likely going to a conference-only schedule, how do you think this affects Notre Dame's chances of making the College Football Playoff? Not playing USC on the road and eliminating Wisconson takes out two tough opponents. I think it only makes the Clemson game even more significant. I don't see anyone else in the ACC realistically beating ND. Your thoughts?

Eric Hansen: Jeremy, there's a lot we don't know in terms of who ND might get to replace those games and how many games will be played in total. For now, the College Football Playoff committee/powers are determined that a CFP will take place. Given how the schedule is shaping up, if Clemson is No. 1 and unbeaten when ND plays the Tigers and the Irish win that game and go undefeated, I think they're in. I think losing a game and beating Clemson is not a playoff slam dunk, given the way the schedule seems to be moving.

Jeff from Phoenix: Hey Eric, not a question but if appropriate, I would like to acknowledge the recent passing of Beth Holtz, Lou's wife. The tributes from friends and family about her life both before and during her illness were very inspiring. Condolences to Lou as part of the ND family.

Eric Hansen: I never got a chance to meet her, but I talked to so many people who were inspired by her. What an incredible legacy she leaves behind.

Rui from Westchester, N.Y.: The million-dollar question: Most likely conferences will only play their own teams and not play out-of-conference games. I know its too early to tell but what kind of schedule can we see ND play and will they lose their marquee games? Part 2 of the question is, will that cause players to look into transferring due to a lack of a proper schedule to be played?

Eric Hansen: We don't know for sure all conferences are going to adopt the Big Ten model. The Pac-12 sure seems likely, but let's say they all did. What would be the difference in Notre Dame's schedule from Clemson's? Not much. Why would anyone from ND then want to transfer? I would hope when we get to 2021 and beyond, this is all a bad dream, so I don't see the point in transferring. Now Ivy League kids who can play right away? Yeah. Maybe some kids from Group of 5 schools, too.

Jeff from Schererville, Ind.: Hi Eric. Thanks for having these chats. I'm wondering if you can give an update on this year's ND Insider preview magazine. I know it usually comes out around this time of year, and I'm hoping you and your colleagues are still doing one, but I understand if it's delayed or won't be available at all this year because of the ever-changing look of the season. Thanks and stay safe and healthy!

Eric Hansen: Hi Jeff. I'm glad you asked. I had a meeting about this today with people much higher on the food chain than me. I'm going to cut and paste a response I sent via email to a subscriber yesterday ... and amend it a bit.

Because of the pandemic and the uncertainty back in April and May of whether there'd even be a college football season, we decided to wait as long as we could to make a decision. Had we gone in our regular production cycle, there would have been very little new information, since at that time there had been one spring practice and zero team activities since.

We decided instead to print a special section, which will be mailed to our NDI Premium subscribers (for free) and anyone who decides to order it (for a price). Some of the size of the section depends on ads sold, but much of the content that normally would be in the magazine will be in the special section. One thing that won't be included are the opponents pages.

Print subscribers will also get the special section.

After some optimism in June about a season that would start on time, there now seems to be some doubt nationally, with decisions among the Power 5 schools likely being made as we speak. The section is supposed to be available on Aug. 2, but we may have to push it back. We are working as if the season will be played, knowing the section pub date may get moved again or that we may have to pull the plug. I hope this explains our process more than it confuses you.

Chuck from Brigantine, N.J.: Eric, the Food Channel has been an excellent substitute for the absence of sports, so whatever happens, happens. The risk/reward ratio on college sports is unprecedented as colleges NEED football financially. But since the summer weather did not kill COVID, risk is very high. IF football is pushed back to spring, how does it affect basketball, the other "cash cow?" My other question: How can the NCAA consider playing without fans when a significant percentage of colleges would not generate any TV money? Would they consider revenue sharing just to provide a football product? Thank you for your updates and insight.

Eric Hansen: Chuck, I'm happy you found the sports/competition aspect of the Food Channel as entertaining as I do. I find myself sport-ifying other programming, too. During my first furlough week, I actually seeded the final 17 contestants on The Voice. ... When you ask about "how can the NCAA?" you're going to find out they have much less centralized authority than people gave them credit for having.

There is TV money for pretty much all FBS schools, though the Power 5 schools have much more access to the big bucks than do the Group of 5 schools. That's why games like Bowling Green at Ohio State being canceled (and thus a big payday) are so devastating. I don't think the big schools, given their own economic challenges, are going to want to help out the Group of 5. As for basketball, there are fewer people involved, but more games, more travel and indoor facilities. I think the ADs want to focus on football first, then figure out hoops.

Doug from Sunny but virus-laden Florida: Eric, it sounds like all players have reported for workouts with nobody transferring after the spring. What is the status of getting down to 85 players by start of classes? Could this rule possible go out the window this year?

Eric Hansen: It might, and perhaps that's why Notre Dame hasn't tried to micromanage those numbers quite yet. ... in the event that football punts to spring/winter. I'm hoping to have a better feel for that Tuesday or Wednesday next week, so stay tuned.

Irish Rob from Scranton, Pa.: If the season does not happen, is there any thought on whether the NCAA would change scholarship/roster requirements to accommodate students whose eligibility would have expired, but were unable to play due to a season cancellation? Or would that be too big a potential headache for the NFL Draft, the NCAA, etc?

Eric Hansen: I think all options, including that one, are on the table. But remember, the NCAA allowing it is one thing. Whether a school can handle the cost of additional scholarships in 2021 is quite another.

Jeff from Schererville, Ind.: Thanks for that explanation, Eric. I'll keep checking the ND Insider home page for updates on the preview section and in the meantime continue to enjoy the good work you and your colleagues do for us.

Eric Hansen: Thanks so much, Jeff.

Ron from St Louis: Thanks for continuing the chats on a regular basis during this irregular season!! I never miss a chat as they are always informative. Keep up the great job of keeping us informed. Question: Is there any evidence to suggest that our new offensive coordinator has the creativity to employ new wrinkles that will surprise opponents like we have seen from the top FBS teams — like halfback passes, quick kicks, passes off direct snaps to running backs, etc. When I watch bowl games, I am struck by the simplicity of the Irish attack versus their peers.

Eric Hansen: Ron, thank you for being a part of the chats. As far as new OC Tommy Rees is concerned, I'm not sure being too gimmicky against Iowa State would have been a smart move, particularly with how well Notre Dame matched up in conventional plays and formations. It would have been unnecessary. I think we saw some wrinkles that did encourage me about how to make the offense more effective moving forward, including some snaps under center in short yardage. I don't think you want to get too left-handed as an OC, meaning relying too much on trickery. Given the condensed runway to the season this year, I think we'll see fewer tweaks this year than we would have normally seen — or that we will see in 2021.

Tom from Downers Grove, Ill.: Hi Eric, if we don't play a season, how do you think this affects the roster in terms of who declares for the draft?

Eric Hansen: I think it would be riskier for someone like Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah to declare, just because he could really improve his draft standing with another season in college. Other than Aaron Banks, I'm not sure how many other ND players would face that kind of dilemma.

Gene from Wyckoff, N.J.: Hi Eric. Has there been any rumblings that maybe if the regular season for most teams gets cut down to about 10 games that it could ease the way for an eight-team playoff on the back end rather than four. Might be fairer for teams that lose the ability to show their worth with marquee out-of-conference games (Ohio State-Oregon, ND-USC, etc.)

Eric Hansen: I think 10 games is what the Big Ten is going to try to shoot for, so perhaps that will become the standard. We'll know in the next week. I do like the thought of expanding the playoff to eight teams this year. The unknowns are:

• Can you contractually do it?

• Where will we be with the COVID-19/flu overlap?

• Will more therapeutics be on the market ... and/or a vaccine?

Peter from Provo, Utah: Hi Eric. In your view, will the NCAA, as we know it today, survive if there is limited or no football or basketball this year? Would it make sense for a reworking of the system? Or just start anew? Maybe the top 20 or 30 teams going their own way? I think their days were numbered even before the pandemic.

Eric Hansen: I think we've been moving toward a more distinct split between the Power 5 and the Group of 5, and the pandemic may hasten and widen that division. What the policing/enforcement arm of the NCAA will look like, moving forward, is the most intriguing to me. My hope is that the concept of vacated victories goes away fast.

Eric from Exeter, Calif.: Hello Eric, Any word on offensive changes with Tommy Rees and Lance Taylor? Curious to see if the QB will be under center more this season, with Taylor having more of a background in the NFL? I think it plays to ND's strengths as far as recruiting (offensive line and tight ends) being more of a downhill, play-action offense?

Eric Hansen: Eric, we are going to be talking to Rees next week, I believe, and will include that info in our special section. So I'll have better feel for where he wants to take the offense after that conversation. I think you make a really good point including Lance Taylor, and his influences, in this discussion. Bottom line, I don't expect a makeover. I do expect refinement.

Rapid Robert from Sartell, Minn.: Great news on (the verbal commitment of Joe) Alt! He will be a stud. I think the criticism of O-line coach and recruiting in general is overboard. Some ND faithful would complain about the water turned into wine as not being champagne! Question: Will Jafar Armstrong be comeback player of the year? Also, will the Edina kid make an impact?

Eric Hansen: There is so much to like about Jafar Armstrong and what he can become. So yes, he would be a candidate for comeback player, but he HAS to stay healthy. As far as Mr. Edina, Quinn Carroll, the hope is he can challenge to be a starter in 2021 at tackle after honing his skills as a backup this season.

Doug Miller from Coeur d'Alene, Idaho: Not a question just saying hi. Someday you need to come out to Northern Idaho.

Eric Hansen: Hello. And if the people in Northern Idaho are as warm as those in Boise, I'd love to do that.

Mike from Danville Ind.: Love the chats, hate the virus! It seems like, if there is a season, ND is in danger of being over the scholarship limit. I’ve heard a lot about that but have never heard what the penalty and/or resolution is. Thanks for your excellent work covering the Irish!

Eric Hansen: Mike, I partially answered this a little earlier, but let me tease this out a bit. Notre Dame, and every other FBS school, has until the first day of fall-semester classes to get down to the NCAA max of 85 scholarship players. That date this year is Aug. 10 for the Irish. But the earlier chatter made the point that perhaps exceptions would be made because of the pandemic. Possibly, and I hope to have an answer on where that's headed by the middle of next week. But there's no penalty for being over. You have to hit that 85 limit. I don't think ND would have taken two more grad transfers this summer if it didn't have an idea of how the math was going to work. And thank you for loving the chats and hating the virus. Me too.

Lee from Lancaster. S.C.: If the starting quarterback tests positive (no names, because I don't want to "jinx" anyone) during game week and the backup quarterbacks have to quarantine due to contact tracing, will the upcoming game have to be canceled? Will there be contingency plans in place for these type of situations?

Eric Hansen: Let's say this scenario is a realistic one, I don't think you cancel the game. You put Avery Davis, Jay Bramblett or Kendall Abdur-Rahman at QB and do the best you can. I think the contingency plan might be isolating the starting QB as much as you can this season. ND's on-campus plan is really good, so basically you're asking him to sacrifice going off campus. That's oversimplified, but you get the picture. Maybe you keep the QBs apart at practice and do position meetings via Zoom.

Coach from Reading, Pa.: Eric. Take me back on the “way back machine." Is there any scenario where Barry Alvarez could have been made head coach at Notre Dame or were Bob Davie and Monk Malloy already hooked at the hip? Thanks a lot.

Eric Hansen: Caoch, my way back machine is a little fuzzy on this one, but I don't remember Barry getting involved at all. He had just finished year seven at Wisconsin and had a promising young team that would go 23-3 in 1998 and 1999 with two Rose Bowls. The most realistic candidate other than Davie at the time was Gary Barnett, who was at Northwestern.

Erik from Granger, Ind.: I saw that squash was among the varsity sports Stanford dropped to save money. Have you ever covered a squash tournament in your lifetime? And how will this affect Brian Kelly’s Thanksgiving dinner plans? :-)

Eric Hansen: OK that made me laugh out loud. I think we all needed that. For the record, I have never covered a squash tournament, and I will check with BK next week about revision of his favorite Thanksgiving side dishes.

Erik from Granger, Ind.: Thanks for being here! Any Pods of Gold dropping soon? I miss your verbal insights.

Eric Hansen: We're going to try soon. Producing our special section and the seismic breaking news has limited our recording windows.

Bill from Thousand Oaks, Calif.: What transfer on both sides of the ball do YOU think will have the most positive impact at the end of the season? And on a scale of 1-10, how badly do YOU think the virus has hurt recruiting? Stay safe. Thanks for the chat!!

Eric Hansen: Well there's two on each side. I'll say Nick McCloud at cornerback overall and then for offense, running back Trevor Speights, although wide receiver Ben Skowronek is the more accomplished player pre-ND. Pandemic hurting recruiting? I'd say a 6 out of 10. The on-campus visit is ND's trump card, but there's room for improvement even if you remove that from the equation.

Christopher J. McFly from Long Island, N.Y.: Hi Eric, thanks for taking my question. There does not seem to be any major weaknesses on this year's team, but if there was one ND player that you could take from the past 10 years and add to this year's team in order to help bolster their playoff chances, who would it be? Jaylon Smith in a defense that takes full advantage of his talent could be tough to pass up.

Eric Hansen: Wow, you just gave me the heebie-jeebies, because I have that on my list to ask Brian Kelly that question in our annual fun 20 questions with BK feature. I'm going to go with need over overall quality of player and pick All-America cornerback Julian Love.

Jim from Derry N.H.: I’m sure you’ll be asked this question several times, but with the loss of Wisconsin from the schedule, what happens if they lose USC and Stanford as well? Season over?

Eric Hansen: Season't not over. Far from it. Plenty of options.

Marie from Atlanta: Hi Eric, I hope you are staying safe. Do you think ND taking more players than usual from the transfer portal this year is a trend that will continue? The schedule next year sets up for a potential playoff run. However ND will have inexperience at QB. If there was a suitable QB in the portal, do you think there would be consideration to pursue, particularly if QB development did not go as planned? Also, I would really like to see more of the younger, talented players get on the field, I know Brian Kelly is apprehensive about inexperience. However, couldn't a set of plays for each of the more talented players be drawn up, so they could see the field without mastering the entire playbook, particularly the ones who are so talented that they are not going to be staying at ND for five years anyway? Thanks for you thoughts and for hosting the chat.

Eric Hansen: Hi Marie. Assuming we have a football season in 2020, I think how these four grad transfer fare will help inform ND's plan for 2021 and beyond. To this point, only Cody Riggs among grad transfers has made a significant impact, but you're talking about a small sample size. Looking at the QB situation, I would think ND would only entertain a grad transfer if early enrolling Tyler Buchner next spring got injured or another QB transferred and made the roster too short on numbers. As far as getting younger players on the field, I'm not sure that's a universal issue by position. And it shouldn't be. It should be tougher for an offensive lineman to play early than a running back. I understand your point, and I think there's some validity to it.

Manny from San Pedro, Calif.: Eric!!!!!!! I hope you and the family are well. It’s funny we thought we might have some fans at games a month ago and now we wonder about the season. If the conferences go to conference-only, does ND have enough to play a season?

Eric Hansen: Manny!!!!!!$$$$$&&&&%%%***, for some reason I always worry about you when I don't see you and your exclamation points. My family is well and so am I. I finally got to hug my grandkids, and it was amazing. I'll never take that for granted. I think it's fair to wonder if we're going to have a season at all. And when I say "we," I mean all of college football. I think most of the schools have done a pretty good job so far. It's the communities outside of the schools where the numbers are scary. ND will have enough games to play the season. That's not the issue. Where we stand with the virus as a nation is the issue.

Mike from Baton Rouge, La. Eric, I'm sure you'll have seen Heather Dinich is reporting Jack Swarbrick saying he expects the season to start late. I guess my question is whether you've been able to speak to him or BK and have more to elaborate. Thanks.

Eric Hansen: Mike. I think he said he's less optimistic it will start on time, not that it wouldn't start on time. I have an interview set up with him next week and with BK as well. I will definitely drill down on that point, and we'll know a lot more about what the other conferences are doing by then.

Ryan from Philadelphia: Do you think freshmen, such as Jordan Johnson, Chris Tyree, Michael Mayer, etc., will turn into top-tier college football players that lead ND to a 'chip?

Eric Hansen: I like the chance of all three developing into top-tier players. In terms of that translating into a national title? The Irish need to recruit and develop more players like that.

Matt from LA: Hi Eric, I'm glad your doing another mailbag. I always enjoy your perspectives. I have two questions: 1) Do you think the NCAA is going to relax its transfer rules over the next few years for student-athletes whose recruiting periods were changed by the pandemic? I.E., allowing students to transfer because they had to make a college choice without the benefit of official visits? 2) I've heard that ND is going to simplify its playbook due to the lack of practice time. Who do you think benefits most from that development? Do you think a simplified playbook might be a long-term answer for ND to better use and develop some of its more athletic recruits?

Eric Hansen: Matt, for question 1, the NCAA is already moving toward relaxing the transfer rule, though it was tabled this spring. So I don't see that as a separate issue. I think it's a great question, though. 2) I think the ND playbook will expand during the season. I think the emphasis early, and rightly so, needs to be on conditioning and fundamentals. You have a pretty veteran team at key positions on both sides of the ball. I think they'll be able to handle an expanding playbook during the season. I don't think a simplified playbook will lead to better utilization of more athletic recruits. That's making an unfair and untrue assumption that being athletic limits your mental capacity.

Jack from Oak Park, Ill.: With the Badgers afraid to play us, what are your thoughts about the possibilities of ACC going conference only? Hope you are well. Go Irish!

Eric Hansen: Wisconsin isn't afraid. I think what the Pac-12 does will affect the ACC's decision. Should be a fascinating next few days/weeks.

Wills Ryan from Parts Unknown: How many four- and five-star recruits has Notre Dame football gotten all time?

Eric Hansen: Well, the Rivals Era began in 2002, so we can't do an all-time count. And there have been too many four-stars to mention unless we finish this chat next Tuesday and I get a pinch-typer to input those for me. As far as Rivals five-stars (and there have been 247Sports five-stars like Tommy Kraemer and Kyle Hamilton), here's the list:

The following are the 19 five-star prospects, per, who ended up in Notre Dame’s recruiting classes during the Rivals Era (2002-present). Included are the players’ recruited positions, recruiting year and overall national rank in their respective class:

Player Pos. Class Rk

Greg Olsen TE 2003 10

Victor Abiamiri DE 2003 23

Sam Young OT 2006 11

James Aldridge RB 2006 27

Jimmy Clausen QB 2007 1

Kyle Rudolph TE 2008 20

Dayne Crist QB 2008 25

Michael Floyd WR 2008 27

Manti Te’o LB 2009 12

Ishaq Williams OLB 2011 16

Stephon Tuitt DE 2011 22

Gunner Kiel QB 2012 20

Jaylon Smith LB 2013 3

Greg Bryant RB 2013 19

Eddie Vanderdoes DE 2013 21

Max Redfield S 2013 30

Quenton Nelson OT 2014 29

Daelin Hayes OLB 2016 31

Jordan Johnson WR 2020 28

Jim K from Oakwood, Ohio: Eric, Best wishes for your and your family’s safety, and thanks for your chats and excellent coverage of ND football. Sorry to mix my metaphors, but I applaud your straight-down-the-middle, chin-high fastball writing in the story “Punting the college football season to spring is a good Plan B and a bad Plan A.” You said on page one: “There is no guarantee that it will be easier to protect student-athletes’ health ... when ignorance and selfishness are two of the strongest contagions that have driven the coronavirus case numbers in the US ....” I agree entirely.

Eric Hansen: Jim. Thanks for your note and support. I'm willing to take a stand on that, knowing there's a segment of the population who will unfollow me on Twitter and stop reading my columns.

ND Harvey from Philly, Pa.: E, hope all is well. Do you see ND playing Navy on the schedule date of September 5? We need college football this year. Thank you. Stay Safe. Go Irish.

Eric Hansen: I know there's a strong desire for both sides to play that game, and to play it on Sept. 5 or 6. Navy's conference, the AAC, will have a say in that. A lot of these questions will be answered in the next week.

Pat from Springfield, Ill.: Any insight on how many fans will be allowed at a game? Also, have there been any discussions as to what happens if the season starts and is interrupted? Would the rest of the schedule be picked up later? Keep up the good work.

Eric Hansen: Even though there are bigger questions on the table, that's one ND is still modeling and may eventually have to answer. I'll ask Jack Swarbrick that question next week, but I would be surprised if the answer is more than 25,000. As far as stops and starts, that's a potential that's being modeled.

Jim Tal from Valley Center, Calif.: Eric, always great to get your insights. Thanks for all that you do to keep Irish fans informed and up to date. I would like to propose a hypothetical: Should the entire season be wiped out and there is absolutely no football this season, do you foresee a situation whereby Ian Book returns to the Irish in 2021? As much as I like his upside and think he's done a very solid job at QB, I definitely believe he would benefit from another year in the college ranks. I would value your thoughts on the possibility of Book coming back if this season is a wash. Thanks again.

Eric Hansen: Jim, thank you but that's an icky hypothetical for me to think about. First that would require the NCAA allowing that to happen and then schools having the financial resources to be able to carry extra scholarships in 2021. But let's say none of those are issues, it really comes down to whether Ian Book thinks he can play in the NFL and what's the best path to make that happen. If all those things align (along with the moon in the seventh house and Jupiter with Mars), I would say he'd like to come back.

Joe from Reno, Nev.: Well the Big 10 has started the ball rolling with a conference-only schedule. This eliminates the Irish playing Wisconsin. This will make this season a farce just like the NBA and MLB. Let’s just cancel the whole thing and get on with our lives. What is your feeling? How can the Irish now play when most conferences will now follow?

Eric Hansen: I wouldn't call the whole thing off. Because of economics. Because of the seniors. Because of the fans. Because we owe it to ourselves to see if it's possible to do it safely.

Tom from Georgia: If being in a tight bubble on campus with very strict rules as to hall lockdowns each night is a core safety issue for all ND students, why would ND Athletics allow much (most?) of the team to live off-campus? What is the point of all the prophylactic measures for athletes if they are going to avoid the tight on-campus safety bubble created by UND? If this is alllllll about player and staff safety, why should players (in any sport) be allowed to risk the UND community at-large?

Eric Hansen: I think your questions are valid, but your assumptions might not be. First, the majority of students don't live off-campus. Second, maybe being off campus can be done responsibly and with more room to spread out than in a cramped dorm room. A lot of that comes down to personal responsibility and accountability. I think ND has the right team culture where off-campus living could actually work in a pandemic.

Robb from Parts Unknown: Is there any talk about how the Notre Dame-Under Armour deal, that was inked several years ago, has worked out for both the school and the company? At the time, UA was flying high and Swarbrick heralded the deal not only for it's equipment design, but also the financial side. He was excited that part of the ND's payment could be made with UA stock (at the time the stock was over $100 per share) which now sits at about $8 per share. At the same time, UA founder Kevin Plank has since stepped down as CEO of the company as it's tried to re-tool itself with new leadership, while rival Nike has been flourishing. Just curious if expectations were met by all sides. Thanks.

Eric Hansen: I'll get to that next week.

Roy from Columbus, Ohio: Would ND consider playing MAC-type schools like Western Michigan, Temple, Bowling Green to replace Stanford, USC and Wisconsin. It would minimize travel, give the Irish an opponent, and boost the coffers of the smaller schools who are losing tons of money by the Big 10 backing out?

Eric Hansen: Roy, well they are already playing Western Michigan. I don't think that's a bad idea, but we have to see whether Navy and Arkansas stay on the schedule ... and how many games total ND wants to/can play.

Eric Hansen: OK, that's going to do it for today. Stay tuned to for all the latest developments, and there will be a lot over the next week. Thanks for all the great questions. We'll do this again before the month is out (TBA).

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