John Heisler | September 14, 2018
When any team in college football team plays an opponent from the Southeastern Conference – as Notre Dame (2-0) does this week when Vanderbilt (2-0) comes to Notre Dame Stadium (2:30 p.m. EDT Saturday on NBC Sports) – it seems to attract attention.
Yet there is a handful of individuals connected with the Irish program who already appreciate what this means.
No introduction to Vanderbilt is required for Clark Lea. Or for Ron Powlus – or Autry Denson.
Or for Alex Bars or Justin Yoon.
Not to mention Golden Tate, Harrison Smith and Gerry DiNardo.
Here are details of why those individuals particularly appreciate the Commodores' visit to South Bend:
- Lea is the second-year Irish assistant coach (in his initial year as defensive coordinator) who is a Nashville product, a Vanderbilt graduate (2004, plus a master's degree in 2007) and a former Commodore fullback (2002-04). Lea, a former assistant football coach at Wake Forest before he came to South Bend, will have a similar connection next week when the Irish play their first 2018 road game at Wake Forest (noon EDT Sept. 22 on ABC).
- Powlus, currently Notre Dame's associate athletics director for football, was the starting Irish quarterback in the two previous meetings between the Irish and Vanderbilt. In 1995 in Notre Dame's 41-0 victory in Notre Dame Stadium, he threw for 200 yards (13 of 18 passing) on a day the Irish also ran for 293 yards. In 1996 in a 14-7 Notre Dame win in Nashville, he threw for 216 yards (19 of 32) in the season opener.
Read more here.