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Quinn not a winner?

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Guest SirJohn

From the Chicago Sun Times

(A must read )


Quinn wins over all but hometown


December 28, 2005


BY JIM O'DONNELL Staff Reporter Advertisement



DUBLIN, Ohio -- A river runs through it. And so, too, on tranquil mornings made more and more infrequent by his passing stream of stardom, does a quarterback in ascent.



The wee people probably would insist that any Irish star named Quinn rightfully be from a town called Dublin. So it is for Brady Quinn, the alpha wee who has made fairy tales come true for Notre Dame football.


This town of Dublin -- an upwardly emerald enclave that is one part Wilmette, two parts Naperville -- is 15 miles northwest of the Ohio State campus. Normally, that is cause for highwayed academic expediency. Instead, this holiday season, it is a reason for ha'penny-laned battle lines to be drawn along the chasm between cheer-cheer and ''Carmen Ohio.''


That's because next Monday afternoon in the Fiesta Bowl, the expatriated Quinn will lead the Irish (9-2) against Jim Tressel and his charm-pricked Buckeyes (9-2).


Save for losses to Texas (25-22) and Penn State (17-10), Tressel and troops likely would be playing for the national championship in the Rose Bowl next Wednesday. Save for losses to Michigan State (44-41) and USC (34-31), so, too, would Quinn and Notre Dame.




Quarterback, No. 10, Notre Dame, 6-3, 232 pounds, junior

Essential demeanor: Bright and polite; an Abercrombie model with a deadly gun.

Born: Oct. 27, 1984 (the weekend rookie Michael Jordan began regular-season play for the Bulls).

Father: Ty, a home developer, never played football past high school.

Mother: Robin, a homemaker-plus, ran track vs. the boys at a small high school in northern Ohio.

High school: Dublin (Ohio) Coffman.

First award: In 1991, first grade, ''Most organized desk.''

First QB job: In 1993, age 9, the Wildcats, Dublin Football League (junior division).

Began serious weight training: In 1997, seventh grade.

Draws great inspiration from: The Bible.

Doesn't drink: Soda pop (even diet).

In high school: Skyrocketed after new coach introduced crisp pass-oriented offense in his junior year.

In college: Skyrocketed after new coach introduced crisp pass-oriented offense in his junior year.

College recruiting irony: A Methodist, he was recruited by Tyrone Willingham, a Methodist, to play at the grand Roman Catholic football emporium.

Ecumenical note: His father is a Roman Catholic.

Number of Notre Dame All-Americans from Ohio: 14, including Harry Stuhldreher (Massillon), Alan Page (Canton) and Bob Golic (Willowick).

Most recent: Frank Stams (Akron), 1988.

Biggest strengths: Confidence; high level and rapid response of his football IQ; variety of balls he throws.

Biggest weakness: Sometimes talks too fast, especially to expanding media mass.

Beyond his ears, friends fear: A career-ending injury to his finely-hinged frame.

Is he ready for the NFL?: Were the Beatles ready for ''Ed Sullivan''?

Most compelling argument for playing next year at Notre Dame: Vague notion of placating echoes.

Most compelling argument for moving to the NFL: Irretrievable earning year, accelerated chance to continue closing in on QB legends.

Without him this season: Notre Dame struggles to be 4-7.



Instead, the gods of grid have filtered two of the most storied college football programs into a magnificent entry on the Bowl Championship Series undercard. The meeting will be their fifth, with the series tied at 2. The civic partiality in Dublin is not as even.


''People love Brady Quinn around here, but they love Ohio State football even more,'' said Tim Firlik, the kitchen manager at Buffalo Wings on Perimeter Drive -- the closest approximation to a sports bar in Dublin. ''We'll be jammed for the game, and I would think there will be very little cheering for Notre Dame.''


Added Larry Larson, a former high school football coach who is now the lead sports reporter at WTVN-AM in Columbus: ''Brady Quinn is a great young man and an amazing quarterback. And there are Notre Dame fans everywhere, from Sandusky to Singapore. But this is Buckeye country.''


The breach of football faith is more palpable in the Quinn household, where father Ty is based as a custom-home builder and mother Robin is queen of the manor. Said Ty: ''Of all the possible bowl matchups, the one I wanted least was Notre Dame vs. Ohio State. When the chances of it first came up, I thought it was kind of interesting, then I was a little leery. Now that I see the fervor of Buckeye fans around here, the number of die-hards even in my own office, I wish Notre Dame was playing Penn State or someone else.''




Atop the chasm looms Brady Quinn.


He is Notre Dame football right now. He is an emerging quarterback talent so large that optimistic observers fully expect one day -- barring injury, excessively agendaed coaching or diminishing NFL team assignment -- Quinn will rank alongside Otto Graham, Johnny Unitas, Terry Bradshaw, Joe Montana, Peyton Manning, et al., as one of the greatest ever to play the position.


''Brady Quinn is a talented quarterback and a very fine young man,'' said Tressel, who finished no better than third in the race to recruit Quinn behind Notre Dame's Tyrone Willingham and Michigan's Lloyd Carr.


Said Carr: ''Anyone who watched Brady Quinn's development knew he was capable of everything he has accomplished. He is a very special player.''


That specialness has been evident since Quinn first took a hike, initially as a 6-year-old quarterback in the flag division of the Dublin Football League. Said DFL president Don Davis: ''My son Matt and Brady are the same age, so they played together pretty much from first grade through the end of high school. I can remember going over to their grade school when they were little, at recess when parents were still allowed to be around, and tossing a football around with them. Even then, Brady had a special zing to his throws, a special way he seemed to command the game at his level.''


Quinn commanded games through the third-grade Wildcats of the DFL and then to Dublin's traveling ''Little Rocks'' -- as in Shamrocks -- in fifth and sixth grade. At the end of his sixth-grade season, Quinn and the Rocks suffered their only loss to the Wee Elks of Centerville, whose stars were current Ohio State standouts A.J. Hawk and Nick Mangold.


Said Hawk, now an All-America linebacker: ''I remember the game, and I remember that their quarterback was good. Later, in high school, we all kind of knew who Brady Quinn was, and we figured if he was good enough, like the rest of us, he'd wind up at Ohio State.''


Instead, a chance meeting at the start of middle-school football set Quinn on the road to Notre Dame. A new family named Ndukwe had moved to Dublin, and its 12-year-old son, Chinedum -- ''Nedu'' to his friends -- arrived for his first day of practice.


''I was the only African American out there, and not a lot of people were talking to me,'' recalled Ndukwe, now a Notre Dame safety. ''Brady was there, and he had just gotten back from Florida with his family, so he was very tan. I thought he was a Native American, so I also thought, 'Hey, that's good. I'm not the only minority around here.' Then he came over and introduced himself and started talking to me, and we've been friends ever since.''


The two later would star at Coffman High School in Dublin -- Quinn as quarterback, Ndukwe as his fleet wide receiver. But of greater importance, Ndukwe's father, Stephen, would include Quinn when he took Nedu to visit an elder son who was an undergraduate at Notre Dame.


''The influence of Stephen Ndukwe in how Brady got to Notre Dame cannot be overstated enough,'' Ty Quinn said. ''As a young boy, Brady always had Notre Dame pennants and stuff in his room. Then in high school, the school didn't show tremendous interest in him, but coach Willingham was interested in Nedu.


"And then I'll never forget, after Nedu went to South Bend and committed, Stephen came home and got me out of bed at 1 a.m. to talk to me. We drank beer for an hour or so, and he told me that he had told Willingham he should be taking a long look at Brady. And then he was telling me that we should make arrangements to go to South Bend as soon as possible to try and seal the deal. And that's basically how Brady got to Notre Dame.''


Said Mark Crabtree, Quinn's final varsity coach at Coffman: ''The Ndukwes are the hidden heroes of the story at Notre Dame for a couple of reasons. First, it was Stephen who seemed to see the final path of the scholarship there for Brady. Without Stephen, I think Brady would have wound up at Michigan. Second, Nedu has been playing defense, where he never played a snap in his high school career. And now, while Brady gets so many accolades, rightly, for what he has done, Nedu gets overlooked as one of the mainstays of an improving Notre Dame defense.''




Now, 35 college football games later -- 32 as a starter -- Quinn has come full Buckeye circle. On the threshold of a prime-time bowl game against the legendary hometown university of his wonder years, he also remains keenly political.


''The scenario that it's Ohio State just makes it that much more intriguing for me,'' Quinn said. ''Obviously, my parents have heard about it more than I have. Some people have called to wish me good luck. I think most are hoping for me to play well. I know that not everybody back home is rooting for us to win.


''Ohio State's defense is pretty unique in that they don't have any weaknesses. They have special people on that side of the ball. But I don't mind if everything seems on me. That's how quarterbacks should think, that the pressure is all on their shoulders.''


Quinn took a break from pre-Fiesta demands last weekend with a brief return to Dublin. Father Ty expected to pick out a Christmas tree last Friday, ''so that we'd be set to decorate with Brady on Saturday morning. He loves doing that.'' Quinn was due back in South Bend overnight Sunday.


The holiday homecoming around the Quinn family hearth was to include sisters Laura, an aspiring sportscaster, and Kelly, a star soccer player at Virginia. Also in the Christmas sphere were uncles David and Steve Slater, both of whom played college football on the offensive line -- David at Brown, Steve at Kentucky.


And while Fiesta thoughts were in the air, so, too, was discussion of Quinn's future. While he has said it is ''99.9 percent certain'' that he will return to Notre Dame next season, senior family members acknowledged that all options -- including declaring for the NFL draft -- were being explored.


''Obviously, Brady is weighing more than the financial in his decision because the numbers work themselves,'' said David Slater, a stockbroker in Columbus. ''If waiting one more year means a bump from $5 million to $6 million in signing bonus, that's not a great inducement to delay entering the draft. But what value can you assign to all of the benefit Brady would enjoy now and forever from a senior year at Notre Dame and a run at both a national championship and the Heisman Trophy?''


Said Ty Quinn: ''One of the most difficult things about trying to make a rational decision with Brady is sifting through all of the agendas with information that are coming at him and us. I have tried to screen him from all agents, and only one or two have gotten through, which pretty much eliminated them from any future consideration. The league itself is somewhat helpful, and we have a meeting tentatively scheduled with coach [Charlie] Weis sometime after the Fiesta Bowl to discuss the future. The final decision will be his. There has never been any question about that.''


In the interim, the biggest decision facing the Quinns and expanded family is how to most diplomatically handle being a stronghold of Go-Irish fervor alongside a river of scarlet and gray. On his Christmas rounds, Ty Quinn saw one hopeful sign of deliverance.


''I noticed that over at the Meijer's across town, they are actually carrying more Notre Dame merchandise than normal,'' Quinn said. ''Nowhere near as much Ohio State stuff as they have, but more than normal. That's good.''


But not as good as after the Fiesta Bowl. Because that's when all of Dublin -- on both sides of the Scioto River -- will return to being proud and unified behind the quarterback in ascent who runs through it.



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Guest irishrick

great article sj, that Irish guy at sun times is great, i can relate to the river as we have the same type of river dividing two towns, a catholic/Jewish/ vs the protestant side of the river, but you know , that has all changed in the past few years, now everyone gets along pretty well. most of the people worked at the paper mill, until it closed, I bet that after Brady and crew beat the hawk , this town will come together

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Guest SirJohn
:) You understand if your Notre Dame RUDY! I would like someone to tell me just where in the USA, that a Black and White kid meets then later on at 1 AM in the morning one is awakened from bed and over beer a decision to go to Notre Dame occurs? That's....incredible. :) WONDERFUL!
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