Pete DiPrimio, sports columnist and college beat writer for The News-Sentinel of Fort Wayne, Ind., takes his best shots on the world of Notre Dame football.

Thursday, August 23

Keeping The ND QB Secret

You’ve got to hand it to Charlie Weis. The guy knows how to keep a secret.

Weis admitted after Thursday's practice that he knows who the starting Notre Dame quarterback will be. In fact, he’s known for at least a week.

The interesting part is Weis hasn’t told the quarterback yet. Or, it seems, anyone outside of the coaching staff, and we’re really not sure about the staff.

Weis wants the starter to be a surprise for Georgia Tech in the Sept. 1 season opener. He wants Tech to prepare for all three candidates -– Demetrius Jones, Evan Sharpley and Jimmy Clausen.

The only way to keep a secret, or keep the players from lying about it, is to not tell anyone. All three quarterbacks continue to work with the first team, although you figure the starter is getting more reps. It’s hard to know for sure because practices are closed except for the first 15 minutes or so, and most of that time is devoted to stretching and drills.

Figure Jones will play because of his athleticism and dual-threat capability, although he might not start. Instinct suggests that Sharpley will be the other quarterback to play, and the most likely starter. He is, in fact, the quarterback with the most experience.

Remember, of course, that the first-game starter might not make it through the season. That will depend on individual performance as well as victories. Winning remains paramount, and that won’t change, even if the quarterbacks do.

Tuesday, August 21

Spotlight Finds Clausen

No, Jimmy Clausen is not football’s version of Britney and Lindsay or even Amy (as in Winehouse, the British soul singer) and heading toward a path of damnation.

Yes, the Notre Dame freshman quarterback did get a citation for transporting alcohol as a minor, which made the major news circuits for those who follow the Irish.

But if you listen to coach Charlie Weis, and we do, there was no evil intent, no reckless behavior. There was, however, ignorance of the Indiana law that bans minors from driving with alcohol in the vehicle unless accompanied by a parent.

“Did he have bad judgment in being at the wrong place at the wrong time? Absolutely,” Weis said. “But I think it was out of ignorance, and by ignorance I mean lack of knowledge (about the law). I don't think he defiantly was trying to get himself in trouble with the law."

Clausen unwanted spotlight time reflects the attention Notre Dame quarterbacks get, even ones who have yet to play a game.

"That’s the way it is,” Weis said. “You have to roll with the punches. You won’t like everything that comes with it. When you’re the quarterback or the head coach at Notre Dame, when things go good you get more credit than you deserve. When they go bad you get more blame than you deserve.”

So now you know that. But did you know that (how’s this for a great transition), that Notre Dame ranks second in the nation in sales of college sports merchandise. At least that’s the result of research done by Collegiate Licensing Co. Texas is No. 1 for the second straight year. Florida jumped from No. 6 to No. 3.