He’s seen as either a savior, single-handedly bring about a return to glory, or as a myth, someone who has yet to prove anything, receiving praise and accolades on the idea of him as much as any actual accomplishments. After three years on the job, maybe Notre Dame quarterback Jimmy Clausen could give President Obama some advice on handling the pressure.

Since high school, Clausen, the brother of former Tennessee quarterback Casey Clausen, has had to live with the hype. It was, after all, a teenage Clausen who was deemed by his personal quarterback coach as the “LeBron James of high school football.” As a junior in high school, Sports Illustrated called him “The Kid With the Golden Arm.”

To be fair, Clausen hasn’t really tried to avoid the hype – he committed to Notre Dame at the College Football Hall of Fame after arriving in a Hummer limousine. Oh, and he talked about winning national championships (plural) at Notre Dame.

South Bend had the Golden Arm and the biggest coach – literally and figuratively – around, and it looked like the Irish’s future would only get better in the post-Brady Quinn era.

Then it all came crashing back to earth.

Sporting an awful mop of blonde hair, Clausen only managed to throw for 1,254 yards as a freshman in 2007, a season when the Irish went a dismal 3-9. To boot, he missed a slaughter at the hands of USC due to “nonspecific injuries.”

His sophomore year was better, but for the Ron Powlus of his generation, it wasn’t good enough. A winning season, 3,172 yards passing and a bowl win couldn’t erase his dismal 41-yard performance in a 38-3 loss to USC. Four hundred yards in a win over Hawaii is great, though the Notre Dame teams of the glory days would never have played in an “inferior” bowl – they would have kept their pride (arrogance) intact and stayed home.

All the skeptics and Notre Dame haters were rejoicing. Forget winning multiple national championships, it was just a matter of whether Clausen could win multiple bowl games.

This year is different, though. Clausen started off the season with three 300-yard passing efforts. The loss to Michigan was rough, but Clausen can hardly be blamed after throwing for 336 yards.

In a gritty comeback in the rain at Purdue, Clausen fought through turf toe (it’s not a separated

shoulder or a broken ankle, but its still painful) and drove the Irish down the field for the winning score with 25 seconds left. At the time, the win didn’t seem that big – and it still isn’t – but avoiding the loss was big, and it’s something that Ohio State couldn’t do last week.

A week later, Clausen engineered another comeback against a Washington team that had upset USC a few weeks earlier. Last week, he had the Irish four yards away from an improbable 14-point comeback against the Trojans before the offense fizzled.

Now Clausen’s name is swirling around in Heisman talk, and at first glance it’s dismissible. He has yet to beat a ranked team while at Notre Dame. His stats this year, however, deserve Heisman consideration.

With 1,804 yards, he is ninth in the nation in passing yards and his 166.35 quarterback rating is third-best. His 14 touchdowns in six games have him in a seven-way tie for ninth in the country.

Plus there are the intangibles. He has three second-half, come-from-behind victories and nearly had a fourth last week against No. 6 USC. He throws the soft pass with the best of them, but has a strong enough arm to put the ball on a rope down the field. He finally looks like a leader on the field with his demeanor, too.

It’s easy to hate Notre Dame. The Irish and their fans have a sense of entitlement unmatched in college football. They have their own network for home games (NBC, the Notredame Broadcasting Channel) and have a loophole built in where they are granted a BCS bowl bid with a top-8 finish.

It’s easy to hate Clausen, both for the excessive praise he receives from the large Notre Dame fan base and a national media that sometimes seems to yearn for a resurgent Notre Dame program.

Despite all this, there’s no denying that Clausen is beginning to live up to the hype, to an extent. He’s not the LeBron of football, but he’s pretty darn good – and with a good second half of the season, we just might see him in New York as a finalist for the Heisman Trophy.

Ryan Travers is a senior in the College. He can be reached at traversthehoya.com. Illegal Procedure appears in every Friday issue of Hoya Sports. “

Have a reaction to this article? Write a letter to the editor.

Comments are closed.

He’s seen as either a savior, single-handedly bring about a return to glory, or as a myth, someone who has yet to prove anything, receiving praise and accolades on the idea of him as much as any actual accomplishments. After three years on the job, maybe Notre Dame quarterback Jimmy Clausen could give President Obama some advice on handling the pressure.

Since high school, Clausen, the brother of former Tennessee quarterback Casey Clausen, has had to live with the hype. It was, after all, a teenage Clausen who was deemed by his personal quarterback coach as the “LeBron James of high school football.” As a junior in high school, Sports Illustrated called him “The Kid With the Golden Arm.”

To be fair, Clausen hasn’t really tried to avoid the hype – he committed to Notre Dame at the College Football Hall of Fame after arriving in a Hummer limousine. Oh, and he talked about winning national championships (plural) at Notre Dame.

South Bend had the Golden Arm and the biggest coach – literally and figuratively – around, and it looked like the Irish’s future would only get better in the post-Brady Quinn era.

Then it all came crashing back to earth.

Sporting an awful mop of blonde hair, Clausen only managed to throw for 1,254 yards as a freshman in 2007, a season when the Irish went a dismal 3-9. To boot, he missed a slaughter at the hands of USC due to “nonspecific injuries.”

His sophomore year was better, but for the Ron Powlus of his generation, it wasn’t good enough. A winning season, 3,172 yards passing and a bowl win couldn’t erase his dismal 41-yard performance in a 38-3 loss to USC. Four hundred yards in a win over Hawaii is great, though the Notre Dame teams of the glory days would never have played in an “inferior” bowl – they would have kept their pride (arrogance) intact and stayed home.

All the skeptics and Notre Dame haters were rejoicing. Forget winning multiple national championships, it was just a matter of whether Clausen could win multiple bowl games.

This year is different, though. Clausen started off the season with three 300-yard passing efforts. The loss to Michigan was rough, but Clausen can hardly be blamed after throwing for 336 yards.

In a gritty comeback in the rain at Purdue, Clausen fought through turf toe (it’s not a separated

shoulder or a broken ankle, but its still painful) and drove the Irish down the field for the winning score with 25 seconds left. At the time, the win didn’t seem that big – and it still isn’t – but avoiding the loss was big, and it’s something that Ohio State couldn’t do last week.

A week later, Clausen engineered another comeback against a Washington team that had upset USC a few weeks earlier. Last week, he had the Irish four yards away from an improbable 14-point comeback against the Trojans before the offense fizzled.

Now Clausen’s name is swirling around in Heisman talk, and at first glance it’s dismissible. He has yet to beat a ranked team while at Notre Dame. His stats this year, however, deserve Heisman consideration.

With 1,804 yards, he is ninth in the nation in passing yards and his 166.35 quarterback rating is third-best. His 14 touchdowns in six games have him in a seven-way tie for ninth in the country.

Plus there are the intangibles. He has three second-half, come-from-behind victories and nearly had a fourth last week against No. 6 USC. He throws the soft pass with the best of them, but has a strong enough arm to put the ball on a rope down the field. He finally looks like a leader on the field with his demeanor, too.

It’s easy to hate Notre Dame. The Irish and their fans have a sense of entitlement unmatched in college football. They have their own network for home games (NBC, the Notredame Broadcasting Channel) and have a loophole built in where they are granted a BCS bowl bid with a top-8 finish.

It’s easy to hate Clausen, both for the excessive praise he receives from the large Notre Dame fan base and a national media that sometimes seems to yearn for a resurgent Notre Dame program.

Despite all this, there’s no denying that Clausen is beginning to live up to the hype, to an extent. He’s not the LeBron of football, but he’s pretty darn good – and with a good second half of the season, we just might see him in New York as a finalist for the Heisman Trophy.

Ryan Travers is a senior in the College. He can be reached at traversthehoya.com. Illegal Procedure appears in every Friday issue of Hoya Sports. “

Have a reaction to this article? Write a letter to the editor.

Comments are closed.