IS TOM LEMMING A NOTRE DAME SHILL IN 2008?

Tom Berenger wants his look back, dammit.

Lorenzo Booker thought so in 2004, certainly, and given some of the people we've talked to about it--yes, anonymous sources, but good ones that we didn't just make up on a caffeine bender through the aisles of Inserection posting from our iPhone--the suspicion is there.

The number one complaint about Lemming involves his selection process for the Army All-American Game, a process he's heavily involved in as "the country's leading expert on college football recruiting and high school talent." (There's an R. Kelly joke here about "high school talent," but that would be in error since the area of specialty in question for him is "middle school talent." Moving on...)

A look at the rosters certainly does look statistically anomalous: of the 84 players invited to the Army All-American fully 21 of them either listed Notre Dame as their destination school or as an interested school. 14 are outright commits, and another 7 put Notre Dame on the short list.

Is this any different than what you would see in a selection of the young and athletically gifted from around the rest of the country? In this sample, the answer is yes: the same roster only features six USC commits, one LSU commit, one Florida commit, and eight commits for Ohio State, who must be the other school deserving of bids in Lemming's eyes. Notre Dame does have the second-ranked recruiting class in the country, true, but Florida's at number one, followed by ND, Alabama, Georgia, and Florida State, all of whom send relatively nobody to the Army All-American Game.

Just on the basis of 2008's class, Notre Dame commits are grossly overrepresented in the All-American's roster. Now commits could just as easily go somewhere else, as the seven listed on the roster as "interested" might. But why the hell invite people who've already committed if you are, as some suspect, a total shill? To cave potentially interested commits during the Army All-American weekend is one possible motivator; another might be to keep the prestige of being a Notre Dame commit ( and thus pumping that helpful brand value up) and helping out the broadcaster of the game, NBC, who also happens to broadcast Notre Dame football.

There's a synergy to it that doesn't really find any reflection in Lemming's rankings...or at least a clear reflection in this year's rankings. Lemming does list three players in his top 100 that do not appear in the Rivals' 100 (Blanton, Clelland, and Walker) and grossly overrates three players:

Dayne Crist: 10 Lemming, 25 Rivals.

Darius Fleming: 31 Lemming, 89 Rivals

Michael Floyd: 13 Lemming, 27 Rivals

OOOOOooooh you are so BURNED LEMMING!!! (Evil gleam, appearing in eye!) But then, foiling the best plans to nail his well-coiffed scalp to the wall, Lemming goes about even on Kyle Rudolph (19 Lemming, 20 Rivals) and actually goes lower than Rivals on Ethan Johnson (51 Lemming/32 Rivals) and Trevor Robinson (64 Lemming/37 Rivals). And he doesn't even list Jonas Gray--though he did, somewhat tellingly, include him in the Army All-American game.

So the rankings, at least, are balanced. Where Lemming appears to be a shameless ND shill above and beyond all statistical means is in the Army All-American game, where he's either just gonzo for Gold and Blue or bending to the will of NBC in an attempt to raise brand profile. Given that we believe no one does anything for any reason besides money--except our dear wife, of course, who knows this franchise is a money pit and doesn't really seem to care--we'd rather say that Lemming isn't a demonstrated shill for anyone but NBC and the brand they happen to co-own in a football sense, Notre Dame.

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