Notre Dame Should Go The Oklahoma Route At Quarterback


Notre Dame has had trouble developing a quarterback during the Brian Kelly era. Even the best Notre Dame quarterbacks would only produce marginal improvement. However, many others regressed during their time at Notre Dame as well. With all the trouble finding a solid quarterback, Notre Dame should take the Oklahoma approach.

Oklahoma Approach

Sooner head coach Lincoln Riley has become a QB guru over the last few seasons. Two Heisman winners and another finalist in three years is a solid resume builder. However, as quarterback friendly as Riley's system is, there hasn't been a ton of development needed.

Baker Mayfield spent three years at Oklahoma but also had a year at Texas Tech. Riley obviously had a hand in developing Mayfield. But we could see he was talented at Texas Tech, throwing for 2,315 yards and 12 touchdowns as a freshman. Mayfield went from being benched for future NFL draft pick Davis Webb to a Heisman winner at Oklahoma. So I won't take away from the work Riley did with Mayfield. It is just worth mentioning, Mayfield wasn't a total unknown and had spent time in a college program with another great quarterbacks coach (Kliff Kingsbury).

Kyler Murray was next. He only spent two years with Riley after transferring from Texas A&M, and Murray finished with a Heisman as well. Murray was an elite runner and a great arm talent. Another transfer, another Heisman, another playoff.

Then it moved onto Jalen Hurts. While he was a step below the other two, he still had a Heisman level year after transferring from Alabama. Oklahoma had built their team on three transfer quarterbacks that resulted in four playoff appearances and two Heisman's. Oklahoma may have popularized this, but they are not the only ones following this system.

Georgia just brought in USC transfer JT Daniels and Wake Forest transfer Jamie Newman. Miami took on Ohio State transfer Tate Martell and Houston transfer D'Eriq King. Washington State head coach Mike Leach has started to pull from the transfer portal to find his starter for the year. LSU and Ohio State have also had extreme success with transfer quarterbacks too. Notre Dame doesn't have Justin Fields caliber QBs beating down their door to transfer in. However, Oklahoma didn't either which shows the players are out there.

Building Through Quantity

Notre Dame is a quarterback away from a title. If Notre Dame switched QBs with Clemson in 2018, Notre Dame could have won a championship. Missing out on an elite quarterback has held the Fighting Irish back from breaking through.

Recruiting isn't the issue. They have pulled multiple four-star recruits and even let a Top 100 overall quarterback walk out the door last year (Phil Jurkovec). Notre Dame has a real quarterback problem that has persisted for 10 years, they need to change up their approach.

Oklahoma took a chance on Mayfield and Murray. Both were very talented, but they weren't superstars when they were young. Mayfield was a walk-on at Texas Tech, and while Murray was a five-star recruit, he threw more picks than touchdowns in his one season with the Aggies.

Riley helped with development and had two guys hit. Hurts was established and already highly talented so he isn't in the same group. This is just to point out, Notre Dame doesn't need a generational talent to transfer in, just bring in more guys.

The college football landscape has changed. The years of bringing in a highly-touted recruit and building him up over five years are fading. If they are truly talented, they leave early for the NFL. If they get stuck on the bench to learn and develop, they transfer. So bring more talent in.

Bringing in more guys will drive up competition and you have a higher chance of one hitting. It would also be fair to believe that developing with another coach before heading to Notre Dame could skip over the developmental nightmare for Kelly.

Brandon Wimbush was benched in year two after failing to develop and improve his passing game. Ian Book made minimal improvements in year two and actually regressed in some areas. The coaching staff said the Top 100 overall QB, Phil Jurkovec wasn't ready after two years. So it would be fair to question that future development could be underwhelming despite the highly-rated recruits

It's also worth noting, about half of Kelly's QBs don't finish their career at Notre Dame. so it may feel very boom or bust to rely on a starter for one year. However, that is all Notre Dame really gets before the quarterback falls off in year two and eventually leaves. The transfer portal has upended college football and made it too easy for a player to leave. Talent is moving all over the country for a variety of reasons and Notre Dame can tap into it.

Oklahoma has proven that breaking out of the mold can pay off. Instead of living in a false sense of security with a veteran QB, Notre Dame should start pursuing transfer quarterbacks while keeping tabs on the recruiting trail.

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Comments (48)
No. 1-10

I agree with ND needing better QB play, better development, and I don’t have an issue with us going the transfer route (think we should have been in on JT Daniels)... but I can’t get behind the logic of ND being a QB away. I think that was true of the 2017 team because when Wimbush was playing well Notre Dame could beat anyone in the country. I also agree that in 2018 we beat Clemson if you swap QBs... but this staff has taken a major step back since 2017. I don’t believe the staff we have now can go toe to toe with the best in the country.


So in other words you'd take a transfer in over Book. Do you really think Martell was better than Book. I realize your not a Book guy you even prefer an untested Jurcovic. Don't you think it depends on who you can get? Let's say you risk losing Buchner. Would you lose Buchner over a transfer. I get your point but it depends on who you can get.


I disagree with you, I don't think we're just a QB away from a title. If we could get stellar, top 5 quality production from our offensive line, then we'd be a serious contender despite numerous other areas of concern. But that's several gears higher than we've played the last two years.


I agree if a Justin Fields, Jalen Hurts or Kyler Murray want to transfer to ND then let's do it. But the whole argument hinges on the development piece which ND still is greatly lacking. This year they'll have a QB room of Book, Clarke and Pyne and the next year they'll have Clark, Pyne and Buchner. I think that is enough talent to find a guy.


Riley and OU know how to win and rack up huge points and stats against the Big12...which has poor defenses and secondaries where superior talent will dominate.

Last time I looked...ND plays all over the country and all kinds of Power 5 opponents...most of them have fair to good to very good secondaries and defenses.

ND will do better than fine with Buchner-Pyne and Book for 2020 and maybe have a big powerful QB mixed in the 2022 class. This is an RPO offense predicated on accurate passes and every snap has a split second decision and reaction by the QB based on what the LB's and safeties are doing.

Riley and OU have a mad bomber approach which works great with WR speedsters and weak coverages in the Big12 . For ND's schedule---not so much.

ND wants to run the ball more and better and be more balanced and run clock when they need to close down a game in the 4th Quarter...Riley & OU aren't built that way either.


College game is definitely a QB based world and ND may have a great answer with Buchner coming on board. QB is not the only missing piece IMO.

They also need to elevate their RB talent---potentially Chris Tyree and some other RB help get them closer (Taylor knows how to get RB's sharp)---and some more talent on Defensive line/DT's/NG's and some solid talent for DB's.

They are very close and have closed the gap talent and coaching wise the past 2-3 years.

Bringing in outside "QB gunslingers" and disrupting the QB room and revamping the offense in general may be a double edged sword. It took Joe Burrow awhile to make waves and it took a brand new OC to finally pay off.

Books stats from 2019 were as good or better than Burrow's for it's not just a "QB upgrade away"solution for ND.

ND's WR's and OL and TE's and much of the defense are "there" now...

I like Clark-Pyne-Buchner and big QB for 2022 class for QB...outsiders/transfer portals QB guys may work for a lot of programs...but the formula may not work for ND because ND is a whole different place than State U football factories.


It's about time somebody wrote this're Notre Dame and we can't get a good QB. That and how awful of a play caller Chip Long is. I got High School kids that can call a better game. I am glad he is gone and putting my faith in TOMMY!


The QBs that left ND went on to do very little. Crist, Golson, Zaire, Kiel, And most went to Offensive minded coaches like Weis and Jimbo Fisher. The jury is out on Phil J but history is not on his side. Seems like it’s a talent problem and not a development problem. Because if any of those guys who left had major talent. It should have come out at the next stop or as an NFL FA.


Coach D, you state: Also, the whole problem I have with Kelly and his staff's inability to develop QBs is the fact mentally the QBs get beat down, and that is not something most QBs come back from.
That begs the question: Do you think Rees will likely be able to change that dynamic, given his experience with BK?


Mr. Palmieri thank you once again for your unique perspective on all things inept at ND. You certainly have a laundry list of items from which to choose....unfortunately!

It's hard to argue against the history of qb failures that you cite during Kelly's reign of error.

I'm not sold on the idea that ND is just a xfer port hole prospect away from an NC. Kelly has left too many other recruiting and coaching gaffes in the program to overcome the savior QB.

Kelly's epic failures in regular season big games and post season NC opportunities are indicative of the talent voids, recruiting voids and coaching foibles.

Keep up the great work. I look forward to your next unique perspective.