|Jimmy Clausen won’t play for Notre Dame’s new coach; he’s headed to the NFL. (Joe Raymond/Associated Press)|
The next Notre Dame coach is going to have to try to turn around the program without two of the best players from a .500 team.
Quarterback Jimmy Clausen and his favorite receiver, Golden Tate, announced yesterday they will bypass their senior seasons and enter the NFL draft. They shared the team’s most valuable player award.
“I don’t think we could have done more than we did this past year,’’ Clausen said. “Golden has played great. I’ve done my part. I think this is just the best time for us to go out.’’
The announcements were made in the same room where athletic director Jack Swarbrick revealed the firing of coach Charlie Weis a week before. Weis made his first public appearance since he was let go, sitting between Clausen and Tate during a news conference at the school’s football facility, but didn’t take any questions.
ESPN reported that Kelly would interview with Notre Dame today in New York, where the National Football Foundation & College Hall of Fame is having its annual awards dinner. Kelly didn’t return a message, but told Dan Patrick on his radio show that he expects to decide his future by Saturday.
Asked if he’d definitely coach the Bearcats in the Sugar Bowl, Kelly said, “No, there’s no guarantees in anything that you do.’’
The New York Times reported that Stanford coach Jim Harbaugh also is being interviewed for the job. Harbaugh declined to talk about it.
The Heisman Trophy will be awarded Saturday night in Manhattan. The presentation ceremony has been televised since 1981, and every year since 1982 at least three players have been invited to attend. The last time as many as five players were invited to New York was 2004, when USC quarterback Matt Leinart won the award.
Tebow, who was the first sophomore to win the Heisman in 2007, is trying to become the second two-time Heisman winner, joining Ohio State’s Archie Griffin. Tebow finished third in the voting last year, despite getting the most first-place votes.
He’s also the first player to finish in the top five of the Heisman voting three times since Georgia tailback Herschel Walker did it in the early 1980s.
McCoy was the runner-up last season to Oklahoma’s Sam Bradford and has led No. 2 Texas to the BCS national championship game this season.
Ingram has rushed for 1,542 yards and scored 15 touchdowns for No. 1 Alabama.
Gerhart, meanwhile, has run for more yards (1,736) and scored more touchdowns (26) than any player in the nation.
Suh had 4 1/2 sacks in an attention-grabbing performance for the Cornhuskers against Texas in the Big 12 title game. He is the first defensive player to be a finalist since 1997, when Michigan cornerback Charles Woodson became the first full-time defensive player to win the Heisman. Suh won the Bronko Nagurski Trophy yesterday as the nation’s top defensive player.