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Very good article on ND & Clausen

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Even recruiting circus has its clowns: the fans



Jimmy Clausen's immaculate commitment caused static that rasped like feedback from the sound system after his entourage departed the College Football Hall of Fame.

Clausen had infringed on Notre Dame's traditional modesty in self-promotion. He couldn't have waited until a flack changed his name to rhyme with Heisman, out of respect for the very dignified history of hype around here?

Not to mention the damage done to the noble institution of recruiting. After his televised announcement, what's next, prospects staging elaborate, dramatic ceremonies on signing day to reveal what they decided weeks earlier?

In the current Sharper Image recruiting catalogue, Clausen stands out as the coolest toy, a combination massage chair-martini shaker nobody can do without.

Only one exists in the world, an updated version of his older brothers -- Clausen 3.0 -- and he welcomed himself to Notre Dame with an event fit for a rare and valuable commodity. Steve Jobs unveils new iPods with less fanfare, but then, they're not as sleek.

Preening recruits have roamed the land for a long time now, but this one turned up in South Bend, a startling discovery for college football anthropologists.

Notre Dame might keep a peacock in its pocket, but a porcupine-topped quarterback with an appetite for attention heralded a kind of ambiguous evolution in the football program.

What could it mean?

The hypothesis here is that conditions over the last few years just haven't been favorable for Clausen's species to thrive at Notre Dame. Charlie Weis changed that and Clausen represents nothing more than the next step in the developmental process.

He might be California personified, a cool coastal breeze compared to Weis, who has more of a storm cloud quality to his personality. For all his thundering, though, Weis prefers calm around him. Hard to imagine him acquiring a high-maintenance quarterback who would disrupt that.

After the sloppy kiss he gave to his hype with the Hall of Fame hello, Clausen opened himself to Ginsu-sharp criticism and sarcasm -- and that's just from Weis at practice -- not to mention the best shot from opposing fans. Every bit of it will be deserved.

But flaunting his celebrity doesn't make Clausen different from any other recruit playing to the enabling adults who care too much. Only the reaction to it does, exaggerated as usual in the Notre Dame echo chamber.

Some of the negative response even came from his own future teammate, Paddy Mullen, who suggested Clausen might need some sense knocked into him. Others fear an even worse fate for him off the field, recalling how previous preordained legends have suffered more than succeeded.

Todd Marinovich remains the cautionary tale on the dangers of premature pressure and fame, such a threadbare reference after all these years that his story makes the opposite point. Maybe his problems were specific to him.

Dire fears about the effects of this excessive celebration over high school seniors don't have even much of an anecdotal basis, let alone mug shots like Marinovich's.

Speaking of threadbare references, Ron Powlus didn't win either Heisman Trophy that Beano Cook reserved for him. He set a lot of records as the Notre Dame quarterback and also experienced intense criticism for his perceived inadequacies.

Somehow he survived it all without an arrest record or damage to his reputation or Notre Dame's. Powlus wended his way back to college football, joining the Irish administrative staff last year, looking no worse for the emotional scars he must have suffered.

None of that justifies the ridiculous circus recruiting has become. It just suggests this high-wire act doesn't necessarily infect every aspect of a kid's life. Depends on the person.

Clausen opened his arms to the attention, leaving himself exposed to the pressure and scrutiny that comes with it. Exposing himself to it, in fact, which ratcheted up already extravagant expectations.

Some voyeurs to Clausen's pimp-my-commitment moment saw more than the indulgence of an adolescent ego. They saw into the future.

During Notre Dame's recent alumni reunion, a man visiting campus wanted to discuss recruiting with a reporter. By that early June weekend, Clausen already had morphed from recruit to recruiter, the Pied Piper for a line of promising offensive players forming behind him.

"With all the guys who have followed him, he's done enough for Notre Dame already, even if he's a bust," the reporter said, making small talk, not a prediction.

"Oh, he won't be a bust," came the defensive reply, as if a college athletic career never could play out contrary to the promises of the recruiting catalogues.

More than any Notre Dame quarterback in recent memory, Clausen will have people rooting hard for both boom and bust, because he went out of his way to peddle his own hype.

Just remember that he wouldn't have had anything to sell if so many people weren't buying it.

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If Charlie Weis sticks around, I don't see too many Notre Dame QBs being "busts" any time soon. (I'll go on record as saying the same goes for Borges as OC here). That man can flat out coach an offense. Defense, on the other hand...?

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Have I mentioned today that I HATE NOTRE DAME!!!??? :angry:

Just thought I would....


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HATE? Notre Dame? Perish the thought. I LOVE ND! After all, any team uaters HATE that much must be GREAT!

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