Source: Irish Likely Won’t Play in Bowl

A source close to the Notre Dame football program said that the Fighting Irish will almost certainly not play in a bowl this season. While it was expected that the players would meet on Friday and perhaps vote on whether or not they wanted to play in a bowl, the source, who did not wish to be quoted, believes that the odds of the Irish playing a 13th game this season are minimal at best.

At 6-6, the Irish have an identical record that they did last season when they accepted a bid to play in the Hawaii Bowl on Christmas eve. Twelve months later, the record may be the same but the circumstances are entirely different, including:

1) The football program does not currently have a head coach.

2) Whereas last year’s pilgrimage to Honolulu was seen as a stepping stone to the 2009 season — most players still referenced the 49-21 victory over Hawaii as their first game of the ’09 season as late as mid-September — for a team that was losing only one or two key players, this year’s bowl would be different. Considering that a new coach will bring with him an entirely new playbook and philosophy, any bowl that the Irish would attend this year would be just a holdover of the current regime-without its leader in place.

3) The quarterback situation. Jimmy Clausen’s return to South Bend next fall is highly unlikely. His successor, Dayne Crist, will be recuperating from his ACL surgery and would be unavailable to play in a bowl game. A bowl appearance would give Clausen (and perhaps wideout Golden Tate, who was named an AFCA First-team All-America Thursday) a proper sendoff and one last chance to creep closer to Brady Quinn in the school record annals, but it also might be seen as an unnecessary risk.

4) Resources. It will likely be deemed that the best use of time for the assistant coaches remaining on staff will be to continue trodding the recruiting path. Assistants visited at least half a dozen recruits on Wednesday and were expected to visit five more on Thursday, according to Pete Sampson of Irish Illustrated.