What has happened to Notre Dame football?

Notre Dame quarterback Jimmy Clausen—projected by many to be a first-round draft pick—finds himself still on the board as we get ready to enter rounds two and three of the 2010 draft.

Matt Bowen and I were bullcrapping on the phone about Clausen’s fall early today (yes, technically that counts as work) when the discussion turned to Notre Dame football.

Specifically, what happened to all of the first round picks?

The Fighting Irish used to be a football factory. From 1980 until 1999, Notre Dame produced at least one first-round pick in 13 of 20 draft classes. That includes a combined seven first-rounders in 1993 and 1994.

If you remember, ’93 included Rick Mirer, Jerome Bettis, Tom Carter and Irv Smith.

However, times have changed dramatically in South Bend over the last decade. Since 2000, Notre Dame has produced just two first-round draft picks—Jeff Faine in 2003 (Cleveland) and Brady Quinn in 2007 (Cleveland).

Clausen’s day 1 fall assures the Irish faithful that for the ninth time in 11 years, they won’t have the privilege of watching one of their players land in the first round.

Then again, a 46-40 record over the last seven years doesn’t do much to back up the program either.

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