The next Notre Dame coach is going to have to try to turn around the program without two of the best players from a 6-6 team.
Quarterback Jimmy Clausen and his favorite receiver, Golden Tate, announced yesterday they will bypass their senior seasons and enter the NFL draft. They made their decisions after talking to fired coach Charlie Weis on Friday.
"I don't think we could have done more than we did this past year," said Clausen, expected to be a first-round pick. "Golden has played great. I've done my part. I think this is just the best time for us to go out."
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.
Clausen finished this season second in the country in passing efficiency behind Boise State's Kellen Moore. Clausen was 289-for-425 passing for 3,722 yards and 28 touchdowns with four interceptions. Tate had 93 catches for 1,496 yards with 15 receiving TDs, two rushing TDs and a punt return for a score.
Meanwhile, Cincinnati coach Brian Kelly confirmed that he will meet with Notre Dame officials about succeeding Weis. Kelly met with his players yesterday afternoon, and confirmed his interest in the Notre Dame job on his Twitter feed.
The New York Times reported that Stanford coach Jim Harbaugh also is being interviewed for the job as Weis' successor. Harbaugh declined to talk about it, telling the newspaper, "Not now or not in the future will I talk about any other jobs or opportunities."
ESPN first 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 left on his cell phone, but told Dan Patrick on his radio show that he expects to decide his future by Saturday.
Cincinnati athletic director Mike Thomas said through a spokesman that the university is still negotiating with Kelly on an upgraded contract.
* Quarterbacks Tim Tebow (Florida) and Colt McCoy (Texas) are headed back to the Heisman Trophy presentation as finalists, along with running backs Mark Ingram (Alabama) and Toby Gerhart (Stanford) and defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh (Nebraska). Suh last night won the Bronko Nagurski Trophy as the nation's top defensive player. The Heisman Trophy will be awarded Saturday.
Meanwhile, Florida Gov. Charlie Crist said he has talked with the Jacksonville Jaguars about drafting Tebow as a means to sell more season tickets and keep the team from moving out of Jacksonville. Tebow, who grew up in Jacksonville, won the Heisman in 2007.
* Virginia hired Richmond coach Mike London, who agreed to a 5-year contract worth $1.7 million a year to take over a team that finished 3-9 this season. London, a former Cavaliers assistant under fired coach Al Groh, is just the second current black head coach in the six conferences with automatic bids to the BCS. Temple's Al Golden, a former Virginia assistant, had been mentioned as a potential candidate.
* Kansas received permission from the University of Buffalo to interview Turner Gill for its vacant coaching position.
* Southern University fired Pete Richardson, its coach for 17 years.
* The disparity between graduation rates for white and black players at schools headed to bowl games grew slightly this year, according to the annual report by the University of Central Florida's Institute for Diversity and Ethics in Sport.