NCAA FOOTBALL: NOV 25 Iowa at Nebraska

Hot Reads: Special Ops

MAHER GOES DEEP >>> What’s the longest field goal senior kicker/punter Brett Maher has ever hit in practice? ESPN’s Big Ten blog got the answer:

I hit one from 64 yards. That’s in our indoor facility, which is a pretty controlled environment. So who knows when you get outside, the wind is at your back, wind is in your face, things change and game situations and all that. But that’s definitely the outer limits of it.

The entire Q&A is worth a read but the other answer of particular note was to the question “where’s the toughest place to kick?” Maher said Memorial Stadium. Interestingly enough, he’s 13-for-13 on field goals and 27-for-27 on extra points at home, 6-for-10 on field goals and 16-for-17 on extra points on the road.

ESPN’s B1G blog also ranked Maher as the top specialist in the Big Ten on Thursday. Sophomore kick and punt returner Ameer Abdullah ranked fourth.

IRISH EYES ARE CRYING >>> Hey, get this, Notre Dame’s got a new blue helmet featuring that old-timey boxing Irishman. Never really thought a school like Notre Dame would wear anything but a gold helmet, but I kind of like this. I always thought that logo was sort of cool…wait one second…the player is turning around….what?!…Oh God no…Chelcie Ross just burned the props he “borrowed” from the set of Rudy…Lou Holtz wants to fight…the other 66% of the helmet is “hammered gold”? The pants are basketball shorts? The jerseys feature that Notre Dame font that never really caught on?

That’s a dramatic recreation of how Notre Dame’s unveiling of its Shamrock Series uniform went for me on Thursday. Of all the uniform unveilings over the past four or five years — and I’ve paid attention to every one of them — this is the most desperate. Why? Because this is Notre Dame. As we well know now, no school is safe and most of the traditional powers have done at least one wacky one-off at this point. But at places like Ohio State, Alabama, Texas, Oklahoma, even Nebraska and Wisconsin, you got the sense that somebody tapped the brakes somewhere. Those schools all at some point said to Mr. Sneaker Company Designer Man one important word: No. The results were usually a look that could at least be tolerated. The shoe companies got to play with the look of an icon and the actual icons got something to sell in recruiting. Everyone was happy.

Notre Dame apparently never said no. This uniform looks like the result of a “design-the-uniform” newspaper contest but the judges couldn’t decide which eager 11-year-old should win so they picked their two favorite helmet designs, the best jersey, and the best pants. Everybody wins.

Or nobody wins. The best condemnation of these uniforms comes courtesy of UniWatch:

Up until now, the weirdest helmet ever worn on a college football field was probably Maryland’s “pride” design…But Notre Dame has just out-weirded the Terps.

Let that sink in for a second. And then consider this: New images of what could be Oregon’s new uniforms leaked yesterday and everyone sort of shrugged their shoulders. Notre Dame made that possible. There was no way to unsee what we’d seen from the Irish.

APATHETIC GOPHERS >>> Minnesota still has a sparkling new stadium in a tony Minneapolis location, but that doesn’t mean the students are rushing to come out and watch the Gophers football team. The Minneapolis Star-Tribune reports that Minnesota students have purchased “roughly 2,000″ season tickets for the upcoming season. That’s down from 10,000 tickets sold when TCF Bank Stadium opened in 2009. That’s at a school with 40,000 full-time students in the Spring 2012 semester. Only five percent of them, apparently, want to see Minnesota play football.

Combine the available tickets, desirability of the Twin Cities for a weekend trip, and the proximity to Nebraska and this place is well on its way to become Lincoln North when they play the Huskers every other year.