WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. - Tim Brown’s Heisman Trophy had roughly 3½ years to accumulate dust by the time Theo Riddick came roaring into the world.
The Notre Dame junior wide receiver and aspiring returnman admits he hasn’t seen much of Brown, a Hall of Fame receiver and returnman, live or recorded, in the 20 years since.
“I did hear he was a great player,” Riddick offered.
If Riddick TiVos his next game, he’ll get a chance to hear what Brown thinks of his game.
Brown will be the analyst for ESPN 3D’s telecast of Saturday night’s clash between his alma mater, Notre Dame (2-2), and Big Ten Leaders Division member Purdue (2-1) at Ross-Ade Stadium.
ESPN actually has two completely different crews and announcing teams for the game. Brad Nessler and Todd Blackledge will preside over the 2D telecast that most of the college football world will see.
Brown and Dave Lamont will don their 3D glasses and provide the soundtrack for the select part of the population that has invested in a 3D TV set.
“Pretty much everybody working in the production truck and everybody in the booth wear the 3D glasses too,” said Phil Orlins, coordinator producer for ESPN 3D. “You need to see what you’re sending home to the viewers.”
It won’t be the 45-year-old Brown’s first 3D assignment by any means, but it will be his first time breaking down Notre Dame.
“It’s been a blast, man,” Brown said of his ESPN assignments “I’m having the opportunity to talk to some of these kids when I go to some of these cities. So for that alone, I could tell ESPN they don’t have to pay me, but they might listen to me. I mean, I would be sitting at home talking to the TV anyway.
“The hardest part about doing this game is saying ‘they’ and not ‘we’ when I’m talking about Notre Dame. I have no idea how good I’ll be at that, so we’ll see what happens.”
As Brown delved into his research, Notre Dame’s defense is what has impressed him the most. Its special teams has been the disappointment. The nation’s worst 15 giveaways have been the most baffling.
“You would expect that of a team maybe in its first year with a new coach,” he said. “But it doesn’t make any sense that it’s happening in year two. If they can get that out of their game, they have a chance to be pretty good.”
As far as the return game, Kelly reiterated this week that he still believes Riddick can be explosive in that area and is working with the junior to get him back involved - eventually.
Riddick was taken off punt returns after fumbling a pair of them in ND’s 23-20 season-opening loss to South Florida on Sept. 3 and was replaced by senior John Goodman. The Irish have totaled six punt return yards in four games this season.
Riddick lost the kickoff return job a week later after the 35-31 loss at Michigan in which he looked less-than-sure-handed at times.
“If it happens, it happens,” Riddick said about returning to return duty. “When it does, I’ll be ready.”
Brown, whose proficiency in kickoff and punt returns helped deliver to him the 1987 Heisman, said the two jobs require completely different skill sets.
“To be a strong punt returner, you have to accept your going to get hit right about the time you catch the ball,” he said. “But knowing it and thinking about it are two different things. You can’t be thinking about it, or you’re done.
“Then you’ve got to make a move and try to find a crease.”
Brown, who averaged 11.8 yards per return during his Heisman run with three TDs, considers kickoff returns the tougher and more dangerous job.
“You don’t have people on top of you when you catch it,” he said. “But once you start running with the ball, people are flying at you like a head-on collision, and they’re generally bigger than me. So I would try to take a path where they could only get a glancing hit, not head-on.”