Mike Golic Jr. was an offensive guard at Notre Dame and a radio personality for ESPN radio. He is now partnered with DraftKings on his GOJO podcast and alongside his dad, Mike Golic, anchors DraftKings Network weekday morning show from 8 a.m. – 10 a.m. ET on Samsung TV Plus and DraftKingsNetwork.com.
Now, he joins us for this week’s Q&A where start off on some broader questions before focusing in on the Duke Blue Devils and the Clemson season opener.
Ryan: I know you’re a Notre Dame guy so I’m going start off hot here with something Notre Dame did that irked a lot of Clemson fans. Notre Dame AD Jack Swarbrick reportedly pushed the ACC to add Stanford and Cal even though it would seemingly add serious travel burdens and not boost revenue. The Irish get a vote and he voted for their admittance (Clemson, FSU, UNC, and NCSU blocked it, but rumor is one of them will flip and let them in soon).
Swarbrick wrote “the notion that two of the very best academic institutions in the world who also play D-I sports could be abandoned in this latest chapter of realignment is an indictment on college athletics.”
It seems odd to me that he would be so worried about these schools — which any conference would add in a moment if Notre Dame joined with them — but doesn’t give a care to mention Oregon State or Washington State. What’s your take on Notre Dame’s involvement in conference realignment and more broadly the future of the ACC?
Mike Golic Jr: I think Notre Dame obviously holds a lot of power in the future for wherever they will insert themselves as CFB continues to consolidate. I do not believe that will be in this round of realignment. I understand their unusual situation with the ACC ruffles feathers. The bottom line is Notre Dame will have as much influence as the ACC gives them, which at this point is a vote in the proceedings. They don’t have to listen to Notre Dame or Jack just because he speaks publicly, but if they do then that’s their choice. I can’t speak to Jack’s motivation for supporting this move as publicly and passionately as he has, other than maybe that’s how he actually feels. The only benefit I can see from 30,000 feet for Notre Dame football would be potentially having Stanford FB, who they play yearly, count as one of their 5 ACC required games.
Ryan: Clemson’s offense has not been a top 40 offense since Trevor Lawrence left. It’s fairly clear that the issues were three-fold: offensive scheme/play calling, QB play, and WR play. The first two of those will have new faces, but the WR group is largely the same. What is a reasonable expectation for how much they could improve?
Mike Golic Jr: A QB’s improvement and the right play caller can certainly go a long way. I can’t put a number on it necessarily, but looking at the year-to-year improvement Coach Riley helped orchestrate at his last stop, it’s hard not to get excited. I think Cade is a really talented player who was thrust into some difficult situations because of their QB room structure and played well towards the end of the year. Having clarity around that position all offseason and a chance to stack reps with the new offense and his receiver should pay big dividends.
Ryan: As a former player, I’m interested in your perspective on the transfer portal. Coach Swinney has positioned his relative avoidance of the transfer portal as a bet on his current players. Is this something that helps with team culture and high school recruiting, or do guys want to see players like Dominic Lovett (Mizzou to UGA) and Fentrell Cypress (UVA to FSU) come in and start immediately?
Mike Golic Jr: It always depends on your own personal station on the team and if you keep winning at a high level. Transfers coming in are great until you’re the one getting replaced, but in general I never really cared who was coming or going aside from that. If you were a teammate of mine and leaving was what’s best for you, I’d always support that. If you’re a player transferring in, and you work hard and buy into the things we believe in as a team, I’d always support that. I think winning and sending players to the NFL still matters more than almost anything in recruiting at the highest levels, and that every situation is different when it comes to the portal. I think it’s a tool everyone is still trying to figure out the best way to utilize.
Ryan: Let’s talk about Clemson’s season opener against Duke. The Blue Devils’ offense returns a ton of production including QB Leonard Riley. They have a very senior offensive line and the reigning ACC Coach of the Year. How seriously are you taking this Duke offense?
Mike Golic Jr: I think everyone should be taking it seriously. In this day and age especially having a returning starter at QB with continuity around him is a huge asset, especially one who played as well as he did. It’s a great test early for Clemson’s defense which is viewed as the strength of the team and Clemson’s offense as well going up against a Mike Elko defense that will throw a lot at you especially on passing downs. The ACC is full of tricky middle-of-the-pack teams who could upend someone’s season if you’re not dialed in.
Ryan: While I respect any team that can manage 9-wins, we should also look at who they beat. Wake Forest and UCF were their only wins over bowl teams. They gave up 35 to Kansas, 38 to UNC, 31 to Boston College, 28 to Pitt, and 31 to Wake Forest. I believe this is a game where Clemson’s offense can flex their muscles a little bit and end with a 40-20 type win. What are your expectations for the opener?
Mike Golic Jr: I’d expect about the same. I’m picking Clemson to make it back to the playoff this year. I think what Dabo has done maintaining their double-digit win standard despite the issues you mentioned at the top and major shifts with their coordinators has been really impressive. They went and made a huge hire this offseason which is another credit to Dabo. If Cade steps up and the defensive talent plays to its star level then this is a team that can hold off FSU and get back to the stage they’re used to.
A big thank you to Mike Golic Jr. for offering to do our first Q&A of the year. If you’re interested in a sports podcast that’s broader than what we do here (not just Clemson/ACC) check out his GOJO podcast. He and his father also host a live daily show. Information about that is below.
Mike Golic and Mike Golic Jr. have joined forces to host a live daily studio show on DraftKings Network. GoJo and Golic will anchor DraftKings Network weekday morning show from 8 a.m. – 10 a.m. ET on Samsung TV Plus and DraftKingsNetwork.com. The show will also be available via audio wherever fans listen to podcasts including on Spotify and Apple.