Notre Dame, Stanford show academic and athletic success can coexist
Posted: 10/09/2012 at 9:04 pm
By: Rachel Terlep
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Sporting the special Shamrock Series helmet, Notre Dame linebacker Manti Te'oNotre warms up before an NCAA college football game aginst Miami at Soldier Field Saturday, Oct. 6, 2012, in Chicago. (AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast)
FILE - In this Oct. 6, 2012, file photo, Notre Dame head coach Brian Kelly, center left, talks to his team during the second half of an NCAA college football game against Miami at Soldier Field in Chicago. About the only thing the Irish havenít done yet this season is rally from behind to win. The Irish have been able to ignore what coach Kelly refers to as the ìnoiseî so far, but it keeps getting louder with every victory.(AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast, File)
Notre Dame running back Cierre Wood (20) and running back George Atkinson III, celebrate Woods touchdown during the second half of an NCAA college football game against Miami at Soldier Field Saturday, Oct. 6, 2012, in Chicago. (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh)
Notre Dame quarterback Tommy Reesbefore warms up before an NCAA college football game against Miami at Soldier Field Saturday, Oct. 6, 2012, in Chicago. (AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast)
Notre Dame running back Cierre Wood (20) carries the ball and is tackled by Miami linebacker Gionni Paul during the second half of an NCAA college football game at Soldier Field, Saturday, Oct. 6, 2012, in Chicago. Notre Dame won 41-3. (AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast)
Notre Dame head coach Brian Kelly looks at the scoreboard during the first half of an NCAA college football game Miami at Soldier Field Saturday, Oct. 6, 2012, in Chicago. (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh)
Both teams are in the Top 20 in AP and coaches’ polls. Notre Dame is 5-0, while Stanford is 4-1.
But both teams crack another Top 20 list that makes Saturday’s game one of a kind.
According to the U.S. News & World Report, Stanford is the seventh best college in America, while Notre Dame ranks 17th. Saturday’s game will mark the first meeting between two schools featured in the Top 20 in both the football and academic polls, according to Lou Somogyi of Blue-Gold Illustrated.
“It doesn’t get enough attention,” Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly said of the joint academic and athletic success of both schools. “You have two outstanding academic institutions that are ranked so high in terms of graduation rates and I think there is a report on U.S. World and News Report in terms of the top institutions as well as on the football field.”
Across all collegiate sports, Notre Dame ranks first with a 99 percent graduation rate and Stanford is seventh at 94 percent.
The academic success of Notre Dame and Stanford doesn’t have much bearing on the X’s and O’s of college football, but it is significant.
If the Irish are truly back from a long stretch of mediocrity and if Stanford can keep winning like it has the past few years, the message can be sent to universities and young recruits across the country: You don’t have to sacrifice education for a successful football team.
“I know that’s one of the reasons why I came to Notre Dame,” Kelly said at a Tuesday press conference. “I wanted to make sure that everybody knew that you could do it in the classroom and you can certainly do it on the football field.”
Though their campuses sit nearly 2,300 miles apart, the similarities between Notre Dame and Stanford — from the outside looking in — stack up.
“I think they have challenges just as we do, they’re an outstanding academic football team, they recruit nationally, and we do that,” Kelly said. “So I think there are similarities there. In terms of the construct of their team, I really don’t know. I don’t know what they do on a daytoday basis, but they are well-coached and they’re a physical football team, which we want to be as well.”
Even from a football standpoint, Stanford features a young quarterback still gaining experience and still prone to rookie mistakes while the defense presents some of the stoutest run-stoppers in the country.
Despite these similarities, Kelly is clear that the schools distinguish themselves on the recruiting radar.
“We make sure that recruits that are looking at Stanford and looking at Notre Dame understand what we believe to be those distinctions,” Kelly said. “We clearly see them, and we make sure the recruits understand that there are some clear distinctions between Notre Dame and Stanford.”
TE’O ‘PUSHING THE BAR’
If there’s a week Kelly expected Manti Te’o’s performance to dip a bit, it was last week after Te’o came back from Hawaii.
As it turned out, Kelly was happy to be wrong.
“Obviously there was some travel there, coming back and all the things that went on,” Kelly said. “Emotionally you might think the average person would have a little bit of a dip in energy and focus, and it turned out to be the opposite.
“He was dynamic as a playmaker. He was making plays he hasn’t made all year, and I think I am probably resigned to the same fact that you are. He’s a unique individual and it doesn’t affect him.”
Te’o played what Kelly said was his best game against Miami, racking up 10 tackles and a pass break-up.
“It’s hard for Te’o to keep pushing that bar, but he does,” Kelly said.