There has been no lack of criticism for senior quarterback Ian Book from Notre Dame fans, professional analysts and opposing fans alike. Despite the negativity surrounding him and the constant knocks on his game, Book has done nothing but prove the haters wrong in his two seasons as a Notre Dame starter.
Luckily enough for the Fighting Irish, regardless of whether or not they will admit it, Book announced that he will return for a fifth year in pursuit of a National Championship. If there is one legitimate critique thus far of Book’s performance in a Notre Dame uniform, it is that he has not been able to win the big game.
With a return to Notre Dame next season, Book will have the opportunity to change the narrative around his career and increase his NFL Draft stock. The Fighting Irish have two games circled on their calendar next year: a neutral-site game against the Wisconsin Badgers and a home game against the Clemson Tigers. While these games will certainly dictate how next season goes, Book is focused on one thing: beating Navy.
Prior to Book’s announcement, head coach Brian Kelly stated, “I want him back. I’ll certainly recruit him.” Kelly understood the importance of convincing Book to return for a final season to lead what could be a relatively youthful offensive unit. Without Book’s return, Notre Dame would have been forced to start a first-time starter with very little collegiate experience.
Book now has the chance to surpass three of his predecessors for the most wins as a Notre Dame quarterback, no small feat for an unheralded recruit who was not supposed to be the starter.
There is no doubt that Notre Dame is better with Ian Book on the field, and with a new offense led by his position coach Tommy Rees, he might just have his best season yet. Next season’s outlook got a whole lot better; now it’s time to see what Book can do in his third year leading the offense.