DaVaris Daniels and Kendall Moore were two of the five Notre Dame players suspended this year amid the school's internal academic investigation, an ordeal that took roughly three months to resolve.

The players finally learned their fates two weeks ago -- both have said they will not play this season -- but that did not stop them from having some fun with the situation during this holiday season. This tweet from teammate Jarron Jones shows Daniels and Moore wearing prison outfits for Halloween.


Happy Halloween in the ACC

October, 31, 2014
Oct 31
Comparing ACC teams to horror villains in honor of Halloween:

Boston College: Chucky. We could never quite figure the drama of the “Child’s Play” movies. How is does a doll manage to terrify everyone? It’s sort of the same thing for Boston College. We’re not sure how Steve Addazio is doing it, but once again, he’s creating some havoc around the ACC.

Clemson: Pennywise. For our money, there’s nothing scarier than Stephen King’s evil clown. And around the ACC, what could be scarier than that Clemson defense?

Duke: Michael Myers. He’s quiet, he’s faceless, he’s ferocious. That’s Duke, too. The Blue Devils are that team that sneaks up on the rest of the Coastal and continues to torment again and again. Sure, they don’t have the flash of Freddy or Jason, but for sheer slasher-film consistency, it’s tough to argue with Mr. Myers, and it’s tough to find a team haunting its division more impressively than Duke.

Florida State: Frankenstein's monster. In spite of so many NFL departures and nagging injuries, Jimbo Fisher has still stitched together a team capable of inflicting serious damage this season -- a little like how Dr. Frankenstein stitched together his monster. And like the monster, FSU continues to rise from the dead -- coming back from deficits against NC State, Notre Dame and Louisville in miracle fashion. Fisher truly is a mad scientist.

Georgia Tech: The Xenomorph. The alien that stalked Ripley through four films was an unstoppable, genetically perfect killing machine. That’s sort of a good analogy for Paul Johnson’s offense at Georgia Tech. It’s not pretty -- but it just keeps coming at you again and again.

Louisville: Darth Vader. Bobby Petrino is back to work on a second Death Star, and while he’s widely reviled, we’re still hoping there’s some good under that mask.

Miami: The Blair Witch. Because it seemed a lot scarier in the 1990s than it does today. (Just kidding, Miami fans. We still love ya.)

North Carolina: Jason Vorhees. Just when you think you’ve killed them off, the Tar Heels are back again. This year’s rise from the grave could still put UNC in the ACC championship game if it can win out, which we’d happily dub Friday the 13th Part X: Fedora Takes Charlotte.

NC State: Regan MacNeil. The only thing NC State needs to prove the program is possessed by the devil is for Dave Doeren to start spitting some pea soup during his next postgame news conference. It’s an 11-game losing streak in ACC play for the Wolfpack, and someone needs to call in a priest to exorcise those demons. (And you thought we’d take the easy way out and pick the Wolfman, didnt’ you?)

Notre Dame: The Leprechaun. OK, this was an easy one, but since Notre Dame only gets partial member status in the ACC, we’re OK taking the easy way out. On a side note though, this has to be the most ridiculous idea for a horror movie sequel ever.

Pittsburgh: Two-Face. The Batman villain seems an appropriate costume for the ACC team that has managed to bounce back and forth from good to bad most often this season. Thumping BC? Check. Losing to Akron? Check. Upending Virginia Tech? No problem. Winning again the following week against Georgia Tech? Um, we think Pitt may have just fumbled again.

Syracuse: Uli the Nihilist. The semi-villain of “The Big Lebowski” feels like a good fit for Syracuse. He seemed a bit intimidating at the beginning of the film, but by the end, he was left with nothing but a bag full of Walter’s undies. Plus, like Syracuse’s offense in transition, Uli believes in nothing.

Virginia Tech: The Mummy. We’re not talking the newer version with Brendan Fraser, but the classic mummy wrapped in bandages. That feels appropriate for the banged-up Hokies, who’ve got plenty of key players bandaged up and hoping to postpone the end for a bit longer.

Virginia: Hannibal Lecter. Because if there’s any team that should be able to pair a nice chianti with a big conference win, it seems like it should be Virginia.

Wake Forest: Jigsaw. In the “Saw” movies, a terrifying set of circumstances leave the hero with virtually no options for escape and no ability to run. If that doesn’t sum up Wake Forest’s season, we don’t know what does.
SOUTH BEND, Ind. -- Corey Robinson surrendered himself into his father's arms, his career night gone for naught.

[+] EnlargeCorey Robinson
Streeter Lecka/Getty ImagesCorey Robinson knows how to handle success -- and failures -- thanks to his dad, former NBA great David Robinson.
His fourth-and-long catch would not go down in program lore. His fourth-and-short touchdown had been wiped away. Notre Dame had fallen at Florida State.

So the sophomore sauntered over to his dad, a guy who knows a few things about big games, and shared an embrace that served as necessary for father as it was for son.

"Don't miss the moment," David Robinson recalled telling his son. "You guys did what you were supposed to do: You took the ball, drove it right down their throats, you put it in the end zone. You can't be mad at yourself when you did what you were supposed to do.

"… I was just telling him: This is sports. In sports you win and you lose. That's the nature of sports. You can't get away from that part of it. And if you get too hung up on the losing part, then you miss the boat. The competition part, a game like that is why you play sports. That is as good as it gets."

That the Basketball Hall of Famer saw his son come so close to stealing the spotlight from the defending national champions was rewarding. That the Naval Academy graduate will follow that up by rooting against his alma mater on Saturday is somewhat surreal. But he finds himself in this position for a second straight year, this time near his old backyard, as the Midshipmen host the Fighting Irish in Landover, Maryland.

"It’s nice because all my family is going to come up -- my aunts, my uncles, my grandparents," Corey said. "For them it’s going to be really special. But for me it’s just another game we have to go and perform and win."

His father will visit the Annapolis campus for the first time since 2011, when he was back for a 25-year reunion of Navy's 1986 Elite Eight team.

Notre Dame's last outing -- and specifically his son's role in it -- reminded the San Antonio Spurs great of his own coming-of-age moment, one year before that NCAA run, also as a sophomore.

The second round of the 1985 tournament pitted 13th-seeded Navy against fifth-seeded Maryland, led by the late Len Bias. David scored 22, Bias tallied 20 and the Terrapins won by five, but David took away plenty.

"My confidence just went through the roof at that point, and I just realized, ‘You know what, there's nobody that I cannot play with,’" David said. "And I think for Corey, coming from a small school and getting on that big stage and realizing that, ‘Hey, there's nobody that you can't play with’ -- I could see that coming out of him."

It is not that the 6-foot-4.5, 215-pound Corey ever lacked for athleticism. But he never played much football until high school. And at San Antonio Christian -- with a prep enrollment under 400 -- validation was hard to find.

His coaches convinced him that the gridiron could take him places, but football was mostly foreign to the Robinsons.

Two-time NBA champion David confessed he knows little about the game other than the competitive mindset it takes to succeed at the highest level. Such potential is what drove Corey away from his old man's alma mater, as he drew heavy Division I interest.

David said Notre Dame and Corey are in some ways built for each other. Coach Brian Kelly used a signature mantra -- gentlemen off the field, tough guy on it -- in describing Corey.

"That's fun as a coach and teacher when you get somebody that is in so many ways learning every day that he steps on the practice field," Kelly said.

The tough guy in Corey was evident as he played through September with a broken right thumb. He said the pain forced him to focus on other nuances of his game. He is second on the team in catches (27), yards (359) and touchdowns receptions (four).

The gentleman in Corey comes through in mission trips, like this past summer's to Brazil. Or through jam sessions with teammates. Corey plays the piano, bass and guitar, among other instruments. His father takes credit for his son's love of music, but he cannot pinpoint the source of talent.

The Admiral can, however, trace his son's eccentricity to his forebears, including his own father, Ambrose, also a Navy man.

"My grandfather grew up in Little Rock, Arkansas, and there was all the racism at that time, and Central High there had the segregation issues," David said. "I grew up around the tail end of a lot of that stuff, where my parents and my grandparents had to deal with that. So I always admired how they stood strong and how my father overcame a lot of that stuff and joined the Navy and gave me opportunities that he didn't have, and I wanted to do that for my next generation and the generations after that."

Such opportunities have meant spending Veterans Day with President Obama and visiting troops in Afghanistan. David won the 2013 Heisman Humanitarian Award for charitable endeavors. Corey sees this, David said, and he knows how to handle success.

"All this stuff doesn't happen to you for your own sake," David said. "It doesn't happen to you so you can fill your shelves with trophies or line your pockets with cash; it happens so you can have a positive influence and encourage other people. It's what you leave behind that's far more important, because everything else is just going to be snatched up by somebody else. Your bank account's going to somebody else. All your records are going to go to somebody else.

"But what you really leave behind is that love that you put into other people's lives, and I think that's what he sees in my life over the years."

Trevor Matich and Todd McShay point out who they think the College Football Playoff committee has overvalued or undervalued in its first Top 25 rankings.

ESPN Insider Brad Edwards gives his thoughts on the first set of College Football Playoff rankings.

Rankings Winners And Losers

October, 29, 2014
Oct 29


Now that the first College Football Rankings have been made official, Brad Edwards looks at who were some of the winners and losers.

Brad Edwards and Antonietta Collins react to the College Football Playoff rankings that were released on Tuesday night.

National links: Rankings madness 

October, 29, 2014
Oct 29
Now that we have had time to digest the first Top 25 from the College Football Playoff Committee, it is pretty obvious the group delivered on the promises it made before the process began.

Strength of schedule matters. Quality wins matter.

The AP and coaches poll do not.

One glance at the College Football Playoff Top 25 and the other rankings clearly illustrates the committee truly started with a clean slate.

There are several discrepancies that illustrate this point:


GRAPEVINE, Texas -- The suspense is over.

In what was a historic day for college football, the 12 members of the College Football Playoff’s selection committee have determined that three SEC West teams are among the top four in the country, along with undefeated defending national champ Florida State.

The committee’s top four was: 1. Mississippi State, 2. Florida State, 3. Auburn, 4. Ole Miss.

[+] EnlargeJameis Winston
Kirby Lee/USA TODAY SportsFlorida State and Auburn in Pasadena worked pretty well last season, why not do it again in the College Football Playoff?
Here is what the College Football Playoff would look like right now if the season ended today:

Semifinal: Mississippi State vs. Ole Miss (Allstate Sugar Bowl)

Semifinal: Florida State vs. Auburn (Rose Bowl Game Presented By Northwestern Mutual)

That’s right, the committee just delivered Egg Bowl II and a rematch of the 2013 national championship. The Sugar Bowl looks like the perfect spot for the state championship, and why not have FSU and Auburn return to the scene of what was an instant classic to end the BCS era?

The displaced conference champions that aren’t playing in the semifinals are guaranteed spots in the other New Year’s Six bowls. Based on the committee’s rankings, ESPN.com is projecting No. 5 Oregon to win the Pac-12, No. 7 TCU to win the Big 12, and No. 8 Michigan State to win the Big Ten.

The Capital One Orange Bowl lost the ACC champion (FSU) so it gets the next highest-ranked ACC team, No. 21 Clemson. Then the Orange selects the next highest-ranked team from the Big Ten, SEC or Notre Dame. That would pit Clemson against No. 6 Alabama.

Now here’s the rest, including the highest-ranked conference champion from the Group of 5, which would be No. 23 East Carolina:

Fiesta: No. 5 Oregon vs. No. 9 Kansas State

Cotton: No. 7 TCU vs. No. 8 Michigan State

Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl: No. 10 Notre Dame vs. No. 23 East Carolina

Here’s the final look:

Dec. 31

12:30 p.m. ET – Peach Bowl – No. 10 Notre Dame vs. No. 23 East Carolina

4 p.m. ET - Fiesta Bowl – No. 5 Oregon vs. No. 9 Kansas State

8 p.m. ET - Orange Bowl – No. 21 Clemson vs. No. 6 Alabama

Jan. 1

12:30 p.m. ET – Cotton Bowl – No. 7 TCU vs. No. 8 Michigan State

5 p.m. ET – Rose Bowl – No. 2 Florida State vs. No. 3 Auburn (Semi No. 1)

8:30 p.m. ET – Sugar Bowl – No. 1 Mississippi State vs. No. 4 Ole Miss (Semi No. 2)

Of the 18 one-loss teams left in the country, the committee decided Auburn was the best, and it showed it valued head-to-head competition by ranking Ole Miss ahead of Alabama, Auburn ahead of K-State, and Oregon over Michigan State. The Ducks were also ahead of Arizona, though, even though they lost to the Wildcats on their home turf. No. 7 TCU was also ranked ahead of No. 13 Baylor in spite of the loss to the Bears.

“Head-to-head is important,” committee chair Jeff Long said, “but it’s not the only factor, obviously.”

No. 10 Notre Dame had the biggest difference between the Associated Press rank, where it was No. 6, and the committee’s. Louisville was the only team not in the Associated Press Top 25 that was in the committee’s, replacing undefeated Marshall. That showed that the committee valued No. 23 East Carolina’s strength of schedule ahead of Marshall’s undefeated season.

Selecting The Top Four

October, 28, 2014
Oct 28


College Football Playoff selection committee chair Jeff Long discusses how the committee came to its inaugural rankings.

SEC West: 3 of top 4 in rankings

October, 28, 2014
Oct 28

GRAPEVINE, Texas -- The College Football Playoff selection committee has spoken -- and it likes the SEC.

At least for now.

Mississippi State, Florida State, Auburn and Mississippi are the top four teams in the first College Football Playoff rankings.

The first of seven Top 25 rankings compiled by a 12-member selection committee was released Tuesday night. The selection committee will ultimately pick the four teams to play in the national semifinals and set the matchups for the other four big New Year's Day bowls that are part of the playoff rotation.

"It was extremely difficult, more difficult than any of us had expected having gone through our mock selections before," Arkansas athletic director and committee chairman Jeff Long said. "There are 18 one-loss teams in FBS at this point in time, and the difference between many of them is very slim."

Oregon was fifth and Alabama was sixth, giving the Southeastern Conference's West Division four of the top six teams. There are still four games remaining matching those SEC West rivals, starting with Saturday's matchup of Auburn and Ole Miss in Oxford, Mississippi.

"We don't analyze it by conference," Long said. "We look at those teams and evaluate the teams they played and the success they had, or the failures they had."

The final rankings will be released Dec. 7, the day after the most of the conference championships are decided.

"Everyone on the selection committee recognized that our rankings will change over the next six weeks," Long said. "I think that's important for us to emphasize. We expect our rankings to change over the next six weeks. One week's rankings won't influence the next week's rankings."


(Read full post)

Kickoff Extra: CFB Playoff Committee rankings reaction (8 p.m. ET)

October, 28, 2014
Oct 28
The College Football Playoff Committee's first rankings will be revealed Tuesday at 7:30 p.m. ET on ESPN and WatchESPN.com. Immediately following the release, join ESPN.com reporters Andrea Adelson, Edward Aschoff and Chantel Jennings for reaction, commentary and debate over the committee's choices.

The selection committee is ready to reveal its first rankings, a member of Florida State's backfield is under police investigation and TCU's offense might be too explosive. It's all ahead in your College Football Minute.

Making The ESPN Grade

October, 27, 2014
Oct 27


Gregg Easterbrook talks about ESPN Grade, a tool that measures both classroom and on-field success in college football.

Navy challenge twofold for Irish

October, 27, 2014
Oct 27
SOUTH BEND, Ind. -- His 24-year coaching career across 12 different college and pro stops has offered Brian VanGorder a taste in all that offensive football has to offer. And yet this Saturday's trip to Navy will be the Notre Dame defensive coordinator's first time facing an option team in a decade.

"2004, I want to say: Georgia Southern," VanGorder said, referring to when he was Georgia's defensive coordinator.

VanGorder takes an Irish unit into Landover, Maryland, that is still smarting from its first defeat of the season, at defending national champion Florida State last week. And he gets the benefit of a team bye week and student mid-semester break before preparation for the Midshipmen hits full force in the coming days.

When it comes to Navy, though, the biggest concern is not necessarily stopping the triple-option on a given Saturday. Yes, Keenan Reynolds has proven to be lethal, illustrating his brilliance again this past Saturday by rushing for 251 yards, the highest total by an FBS quarterback this season. His three rushing touchdowns in a win over San Jose State extended his FBS-leading active streak of games with a rushing touchdown to 14 games.

But peek ahead to what awaits Notre Dame Nov. 8 in Tempe, Arizona, and you see what is hardly an ideal recovery mission for the Irish when they go to Arizona State. And when it comes to facing Navy, recovery time is usually what matters most for the Irish.

In the seven games Notre Dame and Navy have played since coach Ken Niumatalolo took over Navy before the 2007 season, the Irish have a 4-3 record against the Midshipmen, including a current three-game winning streak. In the seven games played immediately following their contests with Navy, the Irish are just 2-5. Those two wins: a seven-point victory at Wake Forest in 2011 and a three-point home win over Purdue in 2012.

The Irish have lost to a good Air Force team when they themselves were not good (41-24, 2007); they have lost to a terrible Syracuse team that had just fired its coach (24-23, 2008); they have lost to a Pitt team that was a few plays away from a Big East title (27-22, 2009); they have lost to a Pitt team that barely went bowling thanks in large part to beating the Irish (28-21, 2013).

This is not particularly unique to Notre Dame: Of the 4-4 Midshipmen's first seven opponents this season, just two -- Temple and Rutgers -- won the following game. And the Owls' win came against an FCS Delaware State squad after a bye week.

None of these setbacks, of course, came from a VanGorder-run defense. None of those prior Irish opponents, though, may be able to match the offensive firepower of the ASU team Notre Dame will face in two weeks.

The Sun Devils -- who have no picnic of their own this Saturday in hosting Utah -- are the 11th-best passing team in the nation, and they score nearly 37 points per game. That is a little off their nearly 40-points-per-game clip from a year ago, a season in which the Irish beat them, but the pace and expected desert heat will be a challenge nonetheless.

First comes Navy, though, as the Midshipmen appear to be hitting their stride coming off their top-two offensive outings of the season.

"I think the value of the week off right now through seven games and coming off a great game (Oct. 18), the most important thing right now is we get some rest and get away from the game a little bit," VanGorder said last week. "Let the coaches work the Navy game plan, let the players get away. I think that’s important. Hopefully they’re fresh in coming back and, yeah, they’ve got to adapt, it’s an entirely different game. But these guys will. Our players, again, are high-character, smart guys. They’ll adapt and be fine."

Few can doubt that. The last time they had excess time to prepare for Navy, the Irish won 50-10 in the 2012 opener in Dublin. The season before that, with the locker room on edge after a loss to USC, the Irish channeled their frustrations into a 56-14 rout.

Both of those years mark the only times out of the past seven that the Irish then went out and won the next week. With a team this season whose playoff hopes remain very much alive, it is safe to say these Irish are not taking anything for granted.

"Everybody’s got to be detailed," VanGorder said. "It’s assignment football, and if you have a breakdown it can be devastating."

Not as devastating as the fallout, win or lose Saturday, which makes the Irish's first trip West the following week all the more challenging.


'College Football Live' Extra: Playoffs
Trevor Matich and Todd McShay point out who they think the College Football Playoff committee has overvalued or undervalued in its first Top 25 rankings.