InsideNDSports - Chat Transcript: ND's portal QB options, managing the rapid roster churn

2022-12-17 12:45:27 By : Mr. Jerry Ni

Eric Hansen: Welcome to Notre Dame Football Live Chat. Transfer Portal Tsunami Edition.

► Our Inside ND Sports podcast presented by Dead Soxy this week will record late Thursday afternoon, so look for it beginning Thursday evening. Our special guest will be a member of the Irish 2023 recruiting class. If you missed last week’s episode, you can find it here. Rivals national recruiting director Adam Gorney joined Tyler James and me to discuss the expanded Rivals coverage of the transfer portal, what his staff uses to rank portal players, who will be the top quarterbacks in the portal, how teams are turning over their rosters with the portal, where Notre Dame fits in the portal picture, whether ND will finish with a top five recruiting class in 2023 and more. The Bending Machine

InsideNDSports  -  Chat Transcript: ND's portal QB options, managing the rapid roster churn

► Tyler James and I were back with our YouTube show, Monday Night Live, this week. We break down Notre Dame’s Gator Bowl matchup with South Carolina, the transfer portal tsunami, ND’s QB situation for the bowl and beyond — with Drew Pyne in the portal — and a recruiting reset. The show continues its run next Monday night at 7 ET. If you can’t catch us live, you can watch anytime during the week, as the show keeps its shelf life going through the entire week.

► Finally, recruiting writer Kyle Kelly will host a subscribers-only recruiting chat in the Insider Lounge on Friday from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. EST.

As for the chat, PLEASE include your name and hometown with your question(s).

With no further blather, let's get started.

Manny in San Pedro: Eric!!!!!!!!!!! Happy Holiday season!!! It was a disappointing season but I am so excited!!! For the future. Feel like a transfer QB can make us a contender next year. Why wasn’t Phil looked at to come back? Just seems like he knew Rees. Also is Diehard a Christmas movie!?!?!? I say yes!!!

Eric Hansen: Manny!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Happy Holidays to you as well. Former Notre Dame QB Phil Jurkovec is leaving Boston College after three seasons there to finish his career at Pitt, back home in Western Pennsylvania and with an offensive coordinator and QBs coach he had some success with at BC, Frank Cignetti Jr. Cignetti was at BC in Phil's first two seasons there. ... Although ND offensive coordinator/QBs coach Tommy Rees and Jurkovec are on good terms and communicate on a semi-regular basis, I don't think either one of them thought a reunion at ND was a good idea. Drew Pyne was light-years better than Jurkovec this season and Phil was not expected to even beat out redshirt freshman Emmett Morehead if Phil had stayed. He is a reclamation project. Does that mean there's zero magic left? Not necessarily, but for a team like ND that is looking to minimize risk, Jurkovec is better off at Pitt. The Irish will get to face him and the rest of the Panthers at Notre Dame Stadium next season on a date TBA. ... Oh forgot to weigh in on the movie question. Manny, I'll lean into your expertise and say that is indeed a Christmas movie.

Joe Tieman -Phoenix: First time submitting but avid reader of your chats. If we are bringing in 30 new players then 30 on scholarship have to go. Right? Obviously some will transfer and some are out of eligibility but not 30! How do we do that? Do we tell players they aren’t going to play so pull their scholarships. If so how do you sell 4/40?

Eric Hansen: Welcome. Jim! This was standard procedure even before transfer portal madness hit. During the Brian Kelly Era, Kelly and the staff would meet with players after the season to talk about ND's plans for them and their thoughts about their own future. Sometimes this would repeat with certain players after spring practice. Unless a player had his degree in hand or was on track to get it in the spring, the option to return went both ways. ND was not obligated to invite them back. If they didn't have their degree, ND was not going to push them out, but sometimes they made that determination themselves based on projected playing time. All the while, though, the Kelly staff would try to gauge the likely number of roster churn, which helped them determine the number of recruits in the latest recruiting class.

Because Kelly got burned early in his time at ND with unexpected departures, he became much more precise in tracking those numbers and trying to hit the 85- scholarship maximum right on the nose. Prior to that, he'd sometimes go into a season with 80 or so players. In recent years, that's why you'd see ND's scholarship numbers creep up into the 90s in the spring and sometimes summer. Teams don't have to be at 85 until the first day of fall-semester classes. The transfer portal for Marcus Freeman makes this calculation more difficult because there are likely to be more surprise transfers and amassing incoming transfers is more complicated (but not impossible).



Jim, Oakwood, OH: Hi Eric, I loved your analytics piece last week about QBs who portaled or went portaling last year and their respective performances in comparison to Drew Pyne's performance last year. Very informative in showing that other QBs do not necessarily perform at the expected level when they enter the portal. My questions concern the "astronomically high" QB performance numbers that Drew received from PFF due to his USC performance and how they skewed upward his year-end numbers: Were they a "one off" based on what we saw throughout his year's performance? Did he elevate his ceiling based on that performance? I don't recall Coach Free ever publicly admonishing a player quite as harshly as he did Drew, in the post-game comments, about the fumbled hand off in the third quarter. Might that apparent loss of the coach's confidence hastened Drew's decision to enter the portal ... were you surprised at the immediacy of his decision post-game? Will Tyler and Angeli be team Gator Bowl? Thanks and a great job by your team.

Eric Hansen: Hi Jim, and thank you. I think Drew Pyne's whole body of work needs to be taken into consideration, and I believe that's what the coaching staff did. Whereas DeShone Kizer's 2015 season — stepping in game 2 for Malik Zaire — completely changed that staff's idea of what his ceiling was, Pyne's didn't change his enough to eliminate the idea of adding from the portal. I would be in agreement of that. I want to acknowledge the improvements he made and the heart and soul he put into the program, and yet I don't see a quarterback that looks like the others in this year's College Football Playoff and who could get ND into the playoff and win games there.

I do see a player who deserved to compete for the job with a portal player and a guy who had beaten him out in August. He chose to go another direction. ... As far as admonishing Pyne, I didn't interpret it as such. If I remember correctly, Marcus Freeman was asked about how big the turnovers were in the outcome of the game. They were huge. And he acknowledged that. It doesn't mean Pyne didn't so some great things outside of the turnovers. I don't think it had a single thing to do with Drew leaving. It was about bringing in a portal QB. ... Tyler Buchner and Steve Angeli in some combination will play in the Gator Bowl. We should get a little more clarification the more practices Buchner gets under his belt. The Irish are not practicing this week because coaches are out on the road recruiting. It will probably be somewhat light next week because of exams.

Jim- Chester, NJ: No question. Just one request. Please get rid of that introductory music to your chat. Anything, anything will be better than that “noise.” Thank you.

Eric Hansen: Um, Jim. There is no music on this chat. If you hear music now or at the start of it, then I want your eggnog recipe ASAP.

Tom from Toronto: Hi Eric, Sorry to read the news about Drew Pyne’s decision to enter the portal. I expect that during his meeting with Coach Freeman it became clear that while he is a good quarterback, he was not good enough and they were going to look for a better quarterback in the portal. As you indicated in one of your recent articles, he was probably going to be seen as third in line this year, next year and the year after that. I hope that Joanie Mitchell’s lyrics, “that you don’t know what you’ve got til it’s gone” don’t ring true. Drew Pyne was a hard worker, a loyal teammate and a leader. And a good quarterback. As to my question, on many occasions you have referred to the metrics of the teams that have recently won the national championship, one of which is quarterback play. Would you be so kind as to tell us again what they are, where ND stands this year in each category, including how Drew Pyne’s rating this year fits in the mix? Thank you.

Eric Hansen: So the five key metrics are: Rush offense, team pass efficiency, rush defense, total defense and turnover margin. Let's look at ND's numbers in all five, which improved a lot over the season, as well as South Carolina's, Georgia's and Michigan's: ND is ranked 42nd nationally in rush offense, 29 in team pass efficiency, 43 in rush defense, 22 in total defense and 74 in turnover margin.

South Carolina is 100-31-113-79-103

Georgia is 18-15-1-9-74

Michigan is 6-24-3-3-21

As far as pass efficiency itself here are the rankings for the national champs the past 10 years, starting with 2021 and ending with 2012:



The 74 number is the 2012 Notre Dame team. The Irish were 29th as a team and Drew Pyne was 21st individually this season. Pretty, pretty good. The problem was consistency. Overall his rating was 155.3. He was over 200 against USC and Navy but at 117.6 against BC, 114.4 vs. Clemson, 105.5 vs. Syracuse and 107.4 in the loss to Stanford.

I don't disagree with the attributes you used to describe Pyne and perhaps he will do ever better at his next step. But I think this helps illustrate why the coaches wanted a competition in the spring with an additional QB and not a coronation in December of Pyne as the 2023 starter.

Tom from Toronto: Hi Eric, another Drew Payne question if you have time. If he changes his mind and wants to stay at ND, would he keep his scholarship? Do you think that he would get a fair chance to compete for the starting role? Thank you.

Eric Hansen: Tom, I don't see that happening, but if it did, I think he would be welcome to compete. ND was not trying to push him out. They wanted him to stay and compete in the spring.

Eric, Atlanta GA: Eric, we just got Brandyn Hillman committed which I find as an under the radar but extremely important commitment. Where do you see him ending up position wise for the Irish. Very exciting addition and a young man who seems like a wonderful value add as a player and person.

Eric Hansen: Hey Eric. Yes, Brandyn Hillman just became Notre Dame's 27th verbal commitment in the 2023 class minutes ago. Our Kyle Kelly has a full story. He can play RB, WR, wildcat QB, safety and cornerback. He says he'd be happy with any of those. I think the staff would like him to start off on offense, but attrition at either safety or corner could change that outlook. I agree with you, he's an underrated, valuable piece in this recruiting class. And I'm not just agreeing with you, because you have a cool first name.

Bill from St Joe, MI: Eric, who are the QB transfers in the portal that ND is considering?

Eric Hansen: A bunch of you had this question and some varied it a bit in terms of who I would take/like. As far as which QBs interest ND, I think Devin Leary (NC State), Hudson Card (Texas) and Brennan Armstrong (Virginia) are the names I'm hearing. If Wake Forest's Sam Hartman or Tulane's Michael Pratt jumped in the portal, which some are expecting, I'd expect the Irish to kick the tires on them too. If it were up to me, I'd add Spencer Sanders of Oklahoma State to the list and eliminate Card. I like Card's game, but he has up to three years of eligibility left. Is he good enough to risk the ripples that might cause with Tyler Buchner, Steve Angeli, Kenny Minchey and CJ Carr? I'd prefer someone like Leary or Armstrong or Sanders, who have more experience, who can win games with their legs as well (less so with Leary) and who are likely one and done. Hartman would also be one and done. I think Pratt could play two more years, and I could live with that.

Doug from Sunny Florida: Eric, I'm excited and looking forward to the bowl game practically in my back yard! I think this game is definitely one of the marquee non-playoff bowl games. Have you heard of any rumblings of who, if anyone, from ND is opting out of the bowl game yet? Who do you see as the go-to receiver if Mayer opts out? Lastly, hit me up for a couple of restaurant recommendations in the Jacksonville area if you need!

Eric Hansen: Thanks, Doug. Michael Mayer and Isaiah Foskey are rumored as opting out eventually, though Marcus Freeman didn't confirm that on Sunday. We'll have him in front of us again on Saturday. Obviously, Drew Pyne, Jayden Bellamy and Ositadinma Ekwonu won't, because they're in the portal. There may be some players who delay heading to the portal, because they want to play in the bowl game. I think we'll have a much better head count this weekend, so stay tuned. … Who would be the go-to receiver if Mayer doesn't play? I think he would be spread out among many receivers. The go-to third down guy might be Deion Colzie. I think Mitchell Evans and Holden Staes will get some receptions, but overall just a mix of a bunch of receivers.

James from Columbus: Hi Eric, really enjoy the chats. Over/under on the current roster entering the portal? Since I am sure no one else will ask, who is ND targeting in the QB portal derby and is that player even in the portal now? Is there a possibility that they may take more than one QB? Thanks as always!

Eric Hansen: Hi James, Notre Dame had 14 players enter the portal last year. That number includes K Harrison Leonard, who was a walk-on at ND but I believe got a scholarship at his new school, Rhode Island. I'd expect a few more in this cycle and that would include players who enter the portal in the spring window (May 1-15). No, I do not think ND will take two portal QBs nor would they.

Shane from White Deer, Texas: Hey Eric - hope all is well. Has there ever been this many players in the portal as there seems to be now? What is causing this amount of movement? Are the reported amounts of NIL money exaggerated? I have heard some players are getting millions of dollars? Lastly, out of this year’s playoff teams, how many portal players are currently on their respective rosters? Sorry for all the questions. Go Irish!!

Eric Hansen: Hi Shane. There were roughly 1,950 scholarship players in last year's portal cycle and that record is expected to be shattered eventually this cycle. What's causing the movement are a wide variety of reasons, some of which I talked about in this story: Getting a handle on the transfer portal complexities awaiting Freeman, ND ... Yes there is NIL money involved in some cases, but not all. I have no idea about the portal numbers on those four teams. I would think they're all relatively low. Just don't have the time to research it when other questions are waiting. I can tell you USC has 36, with 33 from four-year schools. ND has four.

Marie from Atlanta: Hi Eric, I hope you’re having a great week, you must be extremely busy with this new era of the transfer portal. It seems ND will be more aggressive with the transfer portal moving forward both in taking players from the portal and ushering players towards the portal. I understand that the coaches are having a lot of talks with players who may need a little direction, and encouragement, when it comes to entering the portal. However, what happens, if there is a player who is told, he will never see the field, with the point of the discussion being to encourage him to transfer out of ND, but the player’s response is that he doesn’t care and he wants to continue to be a part of the team and complete his Notre Dame degree. Will Notre Dame honor their promise to that player, or will he be forced out? Living in the south east, I know firsthand of several cases like this involving SEC schools where the kids were forced out, I hope Notre Dame will not resort to this level.

Given the absolute chaos associated with the portal this year, and the large number of players jumping into the portal who will likely end up without a new team, do you think this will force the powers that be to re-look at the transfer policy and try to do something to get it under control? If so, what are some ways they could get it under control? Do you think reinstating the sit out a year rule would be considered? Although big-name players would all fight it with Lawyers and Win, reinstating it might discourage the non-big-name players, many of whom will not end up with a new team from entering the portal. Thanks for hosting the chat and look forward to hearing your thoughts on this topic.

Eric Hansen: Hi Marie. Life is good in South Bend this week. Thanks for asking. To your first question, Marcus Freeman has stated this, they want players to get their degrees before entertaining a transfer. So underclassmen would not be encouraged to get into the portal. ... To your second set of questions, the genie's out of the bottle. There's no way to reinstate the sit-out rule without massive litigation and very likely a loss in court. It was almost worse. The NCAA considered unlimited transfers without sitting out but held back on that. Players can do that if they're grad transfers. But underclassmen have a hard road to pull that off. There may be some self-correction at some point with the novelty wearing off, perhaps NIL deals going sour, cautionary tales .. but that's hard to predict at this point. One thing ND has going for it is there are kids who are not going to want to walk away from the Notre Dame education.

Steve, Kenosha WI: Eric, do you know whether Rivals tracks the number of decommitments? I recall an interview you had this summer with Tom Lemming in which he forecasted about 50% of the top 100 recruits decommitting, not to mention others. Also, calculating turnover per team on portal transfers would also be interesting. Thanks for all your resourcefulness and expertise!

Eric Hansen: Michael Mayer, as expected, is opting out of the Gator Bowl. Here's my story: ND tight end Michael Mayer opts out of Gator Bowl and opts into NFL Draft

Eric Hansen: Now to Steve's question.

Eric Hansen: Hi Steve, the portal number is going to be easy, because the Rivals portal tracker lets you sort by position, outgoing school, incoming school and the players' year in school. Because of the sheer volume, there's a little delay on the absolute numbers, but it will eventually be in sync on a daily basis. As far as the decommitments, Rivals doesn't have the same kind of tracker per se, but I know Rivals director of recruiting Adam Gorney tracks it personally, so at the end of the cycle, I can check with him and get those numbers. Adam was on our podcast last Thursday and predicts there will be lots of movement here among high school commitments over the final two weeks before signing day.

Mike McFadden, Williamsport, PA: Howdy Eric, With the way the landscape has now changed with all the loose NIL money flying around and legal PLUS a new 12 team NCAA playoff on TV, you would think the players of the 12 teams would need to sign commit to play in the bowl IF the playoff committee picked their team, correct? With players opting out now of bowls b/c of injury (Jaylon Smith), do you think the NFL should be permitted to early sign any player in college pre-NCAA playoff games which would eliminate bowl injury issues? I really think this will happen. What do you think and are their conversations already about this?

Eric Hansen: Mike, I think your questions are valid and yet it is filled with so many hypotheticals, it is reminiscent for me of the conversations I had with my kids when they were little about monsters being under the bed. Let me take the last part first. No, I don't think there's any circumstance in which early signees would be allowed to play for their new team in a playoff. The other part is really interesting. I think Jaxon Smith-Njigba is the first sort of opt-out of a playoff game. He hasn't played since the Notre Dame game and portrays himself as injured, though there are some who question if he still is. The opt-out syndrome is about playing in a meaningless game. I don't think there would be many, if any, players who consider the playoffs meaningless. But I don't think the CFP committee would even have that info in time to affect their decision. nor should it affect their decision. This is a good idea for me to explore perhaps after the bowls with Michael McCann, who's an expert on these sports/legal issues.

ced walker: ced walker saginaw michigan when will notre dame report to the gator bowl and dasan mccullogh will he consider nd the golden standard rally we are nd go irish love thee notre dame our mother pray for us

Eric Hansen: Hi Ced. Notre Dame will start practicing in Jacksonville on Dec. 26. ND would love to add Dasan McCullough, an elite edge player in the portal from Indiana and the son of ND running backs coach Deland McCullough. I would not consider the Irish the favorites to land him.

Mark from Orange County, CA: Hi Eric, Thank you for all that you do in covering ND sports. Is Drew Pyne graduating from ND this month? I've seen comments on social media that he is which, if true, makes his transfer easier to accept for me. I feel college football is passing me by though with the no wait transfer portal and the pay players can now take. Scholar athletes, coaches developing players , meaningful bowl games and building teams over the course of a few seasons are sadly, for me, looking to be things of the past. A player painting his finger nails " F---- opposing team name and being called a Heisman candidate is so wrong yet I have not seen any outrage to this behavior. What do you think about the current landscape of college football and where do you see it heading?

Eric Hansen: Hi Mark and thank you. I have to double check on Drew Pyne, but I don't think he's going to graduate this month. I seem to remember him telling us his graduation timeline earlier this season and I don't remember it as being imminent. I will check on that. ... Business as usual in college football has changed so much it is dizzying. But I think it's too early to discount PRIMARILY building through recruiting and player development then supplementing through the portal rather than the other way around. We don't have long-term evidence what that will do to a program and its culture. What if Congress changes the NIL rules? There's a lot to consider. ... As far as Caleb Williams' naughty message on his fingernails, for me it was a bad look and isn't the way I'd expect a player to present himself. If I were his dad or his coach, I'd let him know that. As far as the landscape and where it's heading, it's a pretty broad question. I think your fear is the same fear a lot of us share, is that it could change the fabric of college football and why we love it so much. It's too early for me to tell. There are a lot of powerful people who care about the game and who will look for and work for answers.

Sean-Schaumburg, Il: I'm surprised Buchner has been cleared. How do you see him and Angeli splitting reps in the game? Wouldn't it make sense to give Angeli several series throughout the game? This game needs to flesh out who can play/be counted on moving to 2023. Will Buchner ask for a redshirt year? Heaven forbid Buchner is injured in the game. Also, I realize that Notre Dame wanting to stay independent is of paramount importance. However, I see 16-team(Power 5)conferences in the near future. I understand that litigation would occur to get ND out of the ACC agreement early. It's only money. ND has plenty of it. Moving to the Big Ten sounds the most prudent of choices with USC/UCLA moving to the Big Ten. I think the powers-that-be in the NCAA hold NDs independence against us. Removing the wins from Kelly a decade ago for self-reporting academic misconduct while UNC suffered zero consequences for sham courses/majors, denying Alohi Gilman immediate eligibility, the NC State game are three instances that come to mind. Merry Xmas.

Eric Hansen: Sean, there are some questions here and some venting that may be subtly asking for a response. I don't like to let those things stand in general, because it sounds like I'm cosigning on them, which I am not necessarily. So let me try to answer the obvious questions. Tyler Buchner's health, level of rust, level of play, will determine his reps. Notre Dame has always gone 60-40 when it comes to reps splits in practices for the No. 1 and No. 2 QBs, so I don't see why that would change. Game reps will likely be determined on the basis of practice performance. Yes, it would be ideal if both played, but the coaches should be able to glean quite a bit from the practices as well.

The whole superconference thing and ND's independence was something I've covered extensively, particularly after USC and UCLA opted to join the Big Ten. Once there's new ground to cover considering ND's next media rights deal, then let's dig into that again. The NCAA may not exist -- at least for major college football -- for much longer, so I'm not sure that's worth us worrying about. Unless you compliment the NCAA, you're probably not going to get an argument from me.

Guest: Scott, Augusta, Ga. Eric, thanks very much for you excellent coverage of the Irish. Your insight is wnd to none. Great to hear ND in the Gator Bowl, but frankly, it's the extra practice for next year's guys. Obviously transition is on everyone's mind. Curious as to what positions you see Coach Freeman focusing on in the portal and our incoming freshman. What gaps need the most fills? Happy holidays to you and your family.

Eric Hansen: Scott, thanks, I'll take wnd to none as a compliment. And yes, I type so fast in these, trying to get to as many questions as I can, I have to go back and clean up all my own typos. Thanks for putting up with me. So far Marcus Freeman has extended offers to wide receivers and a defensive lineman in the portal. I think an additional D-lineman is in play. Obviously, quarterback too, although there haven't been any public offers. Depending on additional attrition, I could see a safety or cornerback come into play as well. Happy Holidays, Scott.

Tom from Sister Lakes: Hi Eric, Now that Pyne has entered the portal is he no longer off-limits from contact from reporters such as yourself? It would be nice to get his thoughts on why he did it. Secondly, who are the top 3 quarterbacks in the portal who you believe ND should target. Thank you.

Eric Hansen: Hi Tom, I hit the second part of your question earlier. As for contacting Pyne, we are free to do so. I look forward to trying to talk to him after he's found his new school.

Jim Tal, Valley Center, CA.: Eric, wishing you the best as always. Question, couldn't some of these high-profile players like Mayer, K. Williams and Hamilton either themselves or through Notre Dame take out insurance policies to guard against serious injury either during the regular season or in a bowl game. If so, that seems an avenue by which some of these stars would opt to keep playing on as opposed to walking away before a season has fully run its course. Thanks.

Eric Hansen: Hi Jim. Actually some of them do, but Jaylon Smith's case showed they are not necessarily easy to collect on. And for them, it's not all about potential loss of income, but the potential loss of opportunity, to realize a dream. I'm not saying that's how I would look at it in their position, but I do understand their position.

Kevin from Chicago: Really appreciate your intelligent and interesting journalism. Just curious...when writers on the beat mention a source, is this a coach, player, support staff? Do you always need to find new sources. Thanks.

Eric Hansen: Kevin, thank you. I can only speak for myself on the beat and how I do things. The No. 1 rule on dealing with sources is to NEVER reveal their identity, either directly or by process of elimination. So to stay true to that, I'm going to give you a rather disappointing answer. There are a lot of different forms/roles a source can be, It's important that they are correct with the info they're providing and trustworthy.

Len from the Jersey Shore: Hi Eric, Kudos to you in your wrap up from last week. My question was accurately described as "long". It probably met your manifesto criteria. LOL No one knows exactly where roster mgt is going. It seems ND is recruiting at a high talent level. That no longer is good enough. A plan is needed for NIL and entrance/transfer req'ts when recruiting, with the portal and when recruiting your own roster to stay. That's a lot, especially for a new HC. In addition there are all the aspects of player dev't, game planning, coordinating the extras that analysts and grad asst. can bring and taking the time to develop a relationship with the players. I have felt that ND pre NIL was late in providing the resources a current HC will need to succeed in today's game. Have they caught up? Are they committed to keeping up? Is ND/Swarbrick also providing "CEO" level skills support to our young head coach? Have we reached the point per the NYT article with Fr.Jenkins that ND will not pass? Your thoughts are appreciated

Eric Hansen: Len, thanks for your thoughtful questions and your thorough prefacing. Each of these would require a pretty expansive answer, which I can't do justice to in a chat format with that volume. So, if you'll forgive me, I'll try to answer concisely, but not in the depth it deserves. 1. Has ND caught up. No, because of transfer portal complications, but in most other areas, yes. There's certainly an effort to make the portal admissions process something both football and the college deans can live with. 2. Committed to keeping up? Yes, as long as it doesn't compromise the school's academic mission. 3. Swarbrick support. Yes, if I understand your question correctly. 4. No, they have not reached that point. Classifying student-athletes as employees would cross that line. Father Jenkins has long been a proponent of NIL, though not the way many schools are doing it.

Lorne from Reno. While the combination of the portal and NIL has a multiplicative effect on the problem, I'm beginning to think that the wild world of portal transfers is the larger problem. A student-athlete who can do better under different circumstances should be allowed to transfer, but the ease of transferring is making it difficult for coaches to plan for the future and wreaking havoc on the already-compromised bowl system. Are there any changes being proposed or considered for the portal system? Or are some teams going to face the prospect of playing scrubs in bowl games because their best players all left for greener pastures? I know it's not THAT bad yet, but I fear that a disaster scenario is inevitable.

Eric Hansen: Hi Lorne. The new transfer portal windows -- Dec. 5 to Jan. 18 and May 1-15 were designed to make roster management less chaotic. But it doesn't help with bowl roster management. I don't know that there's a fix for this. As far as the bowls, not only do the minor ones have to deal with this issue, but will the coming 12-team playoff diminish them even further to the point where they cease to exist?

Irish Rob, Scranton PA: Eric, I am a frequent reader of chats with occasional inquiries. I believe this forum has covered, in depth, the shortcomings of Coach/OC Tommy Rees. He lost me when I read in one of the early season chats that Rees was resistant to Coach Freeman bringing in an offensive analyst. My question is this. Does Freeman have the authority to move on from Rees, if he decided that was a direction he wanted to go? It's hard to ignore Rees history with the university and I always got the feeling that Swarbrick liked him too. I would hope the HC has the authority to make changes that he sees fit, but I don't ignore the fact that ND is a unique place with its own set of expectations and procedures. Happy Holidays to you and yours btw!

Eric Hansen: Happy Holidays, Irish Rob. First, I don' think Marcus Freeman sees Tommy Rees in the same light you do. So let's address your question with any generic assistant coach. I think Marcus does have the authority to make changes as he sees fit. I think it's accurate to say he was given Rees and director of football performance Matt Balis, and welcomed that. But I don't think coaching moves are made in a vacuum. I'm sure when Brian Kelly got rid or Chip Long and Brian VanGorder, AD Jack Swarbrick was on board. And Marcus was given the latitude not to retain Del Alexander, Jeff Quinn and Brian Polian last year.

Matt (KC): Rapid fire is back! 1. With the running back room so deep next year, do you expect any of those RB's to transition to receiver? 2. Is Joe Alt a 1st overall pick type talent/candidate? 3. Who was unheralded this year that we should have on our radar next year, someone who wasn't out because they were hurt, maybe buried on the depth chart? 4. What kind of people are M. Mayer and I. Foskey, great ball players, but I want them to be great guys I can cheer for in the pros too. 5. Most important, Barnaby's or Rocco's?

Eric Hansen: Hi Matt. 1. Yes. 2. First round, yes. 3. Billy Schrauth, Eli Raridon, Jaylen Sneed. 4. Awesome human beings. 5. Barnaby's for takeout, Rocco's to eat in.

Len from the Jersey Shore: Very well done in a concise manner. You’re the best at what you do!!

Chris in Abq: Any news on Bowen, I keep reading it not if but when he flips to OU. If he is doing so why wait so long and is ND prepared? Thank you sir

Eric Hansen: Peyton Bowen, the safety out of Texas, as opposed to Drayk Bowen, the linebacker from Indiana. We probably won't know for sure until he puts pen to paper on Dec. 21. ND and Oklahoma both feel good about their chances.

Adam (Dayton, OH): Eric, we appreciate you! A few questions. 1.) I see that ND is offering undergrad this confirmation that the school recognizes they must adapt from long-held beliefs/pushbacks on transfers? Or will the same internal conflicts wage on (not accepting a transfers because that kid gets the same ND degree as a student that has been in school all four years)? 2.) Heard anything about the school re-thinking graduation timelines, as in it is okay to to graduate a player in 5 years, or are they still trying to hold on to the 3.5 year thing? 3.) 2023 recruiting. How do you view the class? With and without Peyton Bowen? Are we in store for surprises, good or bad? 4.) Momentum seems to have stalled with 2024...slipping with Justin Scott, Marquise Lightfoot, and Ryan Wingo. All difference makers. What are you expectations for recruiting going forward, can ND stack multiple top 5 classes in a row, or is that next-to-impossible in the current era? 5.) What do you make of Deon at Colorado?

Eric Hansen: Adam I appreciate you too, but these aren't rapid fire questions. I'll do my best to get to what I can. 1. I don't understand the first one. What I'll offer is it's not that ND can't take underclassman transfers. It's that it's more challenging. And freshmen are less challenging in general than are juniors for instance. 2. I have not heard that. Not sure what the point would be if you care about graduation rates. 3. I really like the class, like it more with Peyton Bowen in it. I think surprises each way for ND will be minimal. And yes there could be a pleasant surprise in store (but not likely).

As far as the 2024 class, it's time to button down 2023. Not sure what more that you want. It's the No. 1 class in 2024 out of 131 schools with the second-most commitments. And I think you'll see more on the way in the next month. 5. Deion Sanders at Colorado? Haven't given it much thought. It won't be easy for him.

Eric Hansen: OK, that's going to do it for today. Thanks for all the great questions. We'll be back next Wednesday at noon ET to do it all over again.

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