Notre Dame football fans reminded of lost JJ McCarthy opportunity

There was a time when Michigan quarterback JJ McCarthy was desperate to be a member of the Notre Dame football program but he was turned away.
Michigan quarterback JJ McCarthy (9) throws a pass
Michigan quarterback JJ McCarthy (9) throws a pass / Patrick Breen/The Republic / USA TODAY

As the Michigan Wolverines get ready to take on the Washington Huskies in the National Title game, there are few players getting as much attention as JJ McCarthy. However, things were almost quite a bit different, they would have been different for Notre Dame football as well.

Last week, after McCarthy led his team to a comeback win over the Alabama Crimson Tide, people started looking at what could have been. Specifically, they looked at what could have been for the Notre Dame football program.

WSBT Radio host and Notre Dame hockey play-by-play man Darin Pritchett laid out the weird intersections of the semi-final contest.

“JJ McCarthy would have done anything to play for Notre Dame,” Pritchett wrote on X. “Tommy Rees hardly gave him the time of day and went with Tyler Buchner.”

That isn’t where the strange coincidences ended, though, obviously. As Pritchett pointed out, McCarthy got a measure of revenge for being rejected by the Notre Dame football program.

“Rees denied a spot in the national championship game by Michigan,” Pritchett continued. “Led by JJ McCarthy.”

Notre Dame football ‘what if’ takes strange turns

JJ McCarthy of course, might have had an incredibly different road had he come to the Fighting Irish. After all, the quarterback that Rees took to South Bend didn’t have anywhere near the success the Wolverines’ signal-caller did.

Buchner eventually followed Rees when he left for Alabama. After still failing to find real success in Tuscaloosa, he’s back with Notre Dame, though this time only as a lacrosse player.

There were plenty of fans who found the oddity of the situation interesting, though not all were convinced that McCarthy coming to the Irish would have mattered at all.

“Kelly and Rees would have ruined him anyway,” replied one Irish fan.

“Rees can’t develop QBs,” wrote another. “Not sure McCarthy would have been him for us. still maybe an improvement from the last few years.”

One interesting addendum to this story is that Notre Dame football most certainly wouldn’t have brought in Sam Hartman for the 2023 season. One has to wonder how things would have turned out had Rees not decided against JJ McCarthy.