Being the quarterback at Notre Dame has never been an easy task, primarily because the expectation level is often unreasonable, if not unreachable.
No one knew that better than Ron Powlus, who arrived under the Golden Dome 25 years ago. Powlus had yet to settle in as a freshman when he heard that, under his guidance, ND would win a pair of national championships and Powlus would win a pair of Heisman Trophies.
Neither happened and Powlus is now a footnote in ND history, rather than a hero.
Ian Book came out of California a couple of years ago, as a 3-star recruit. He sat out his freshman season as a redshirt and didn’t really emerge until Notre Dame’s Citrus Bowl victory over LSU last season, when Book, coming in as a replacement for Brandon Wimbush, threw a couple of TD passes in ND’s 21-17 come-from behind victory.
That was good, but not good enough for Book to win the job from Wimbush this spring and summer.
Led by Wimbush’s game management, the Irish knocked off Michigan in their opener, but through the first month of the season the Irish were winning, but they looked one-dimensional (run-oriented).
ND coach Brian Kelly, knowing that if the goal of reaching college football’s Final Four was going to be achieved, they needed more.
Re-enter Book, who made his starting debut against Wake Forest three weeks ago and has been a key element in Notre Dame’s steady climb (No. 5) in the rankings.
All of that seemed in jeopardy last Saturday, when the Irish trailed underdog Pitt, 14-12 with just under six minutes remaining in a game in which the sellout ND Stadium crowd watched with growing apprehension.
Just as he had done with teammate Miles Boykin against LSU in the Citrus Bowl on a game winning 55-yard TD, Book connected with Boykin on a 35-yard go-ahead TD pass which turned out to be the game-sealing score in a 19-14 victory.
Book has been solid, but not spectacular. No one is talking Heisman, but the Irish are 7-0 for the first time since 2012 and Book is leading the way.
For that, and for a season-saving effort (in terms of national championship dreams), Ian Book is TMG’s Newsmaker of the Week.