Posted: Thursday July 20, 2006 4:45PM; Updated: Sunday July 23, 2006 12:48AM
SI:Is your ideal scenario to play both sports in the pros?
Samardzija:Of course. If things can fall into place with the Cubs and the Bears, well, that's what I think about every day. I think about the cool things. Do I understand I might have to make a decision in six or seven months? I do. But right now I'm just trying to have some fun and live it up while I can.
SI:The floor is yours. Tell the Bears why they should draft you next year.
Samardzija:To be a Cub and a Bear would be unbeatable. If that were to happen, there would be nothing stopping me from giving everything I have to make it work. Making a commitment like that is risky, I know. But I'd put everything I have into it. There would be no way that I wouldn't make it work out. Of course I'd do it anywhere I'm drafted, but the Bears would be a dream come true.
SI:How many baseball teams approached you and your father and said if you would forego football, they'd take you in the first round?
Samardzija:A lot. Not personally to me, because I tried to stay out of it because I'm still a college player. From what I heard from my advisor and father, it would have been cut-and-dry that I'd be a first-round pick. But again, remember what I'm doing this for. I'm doing this because I love both sports. And there's nothing that could buy me out of playing football for this next year.
SI:You threw 45 pitches in the Wrigley Field bullpen when you met the media after the draft. What was that like?
Samardzija:It was ridiculous. Greg Maddux sat and watched me. What can you say about Greg Maddux watching some 21-year-old punk kid in the bullpen? Not too shabby. I caught a lot of heck for being an ND guy because, well, we always do. [Former Trojan] Mark Prior gave me a USC shirt. But I didn't wear it.
SI:How difficult is it for an athlete to play both sports at the collegiate level?
Samardzija:At the collegiate level it's tough. Forget about the competition for a moment. Just time-wise, there are so many demands in college that you put upon yourself, whether it's school or community service. Your time is going so many different places. School means a lot. If you screw around with that, you're not going to be playing sports.
SI:When do you end up doing classwork?
Samardzija:I try to do it during the day before practice. You might have 50 minutes between classes. That's a great time to get it done. You're in the mode of classes because you went to one during the day. Obviously, papers you have to do at night.
SI:You're from Valpo, Indiana. You and Bryce Drew are walking down the street. Who gets recognized first?
Samardzija:Probably Bryce. He's a hometown hero. He went to Valpo. I'm a little different. I left for Notre Dame, which is a few hours away.
SI:Every profile written about you says you're a White Sox fan.
Samardzija:I knew that you were going to bring that up. You're going to put that in SI?
SI:It's in. So what happens now?
Samardzija:You know, obviously I grew up a lot closer to the Sox' stadium than Wrigley. And Wrigley is nearly impossible to get tickets. So yeah, I did go to more Sox games as a kid, but I didn't root against the Cubs. I've always been a fan of Chicagoland teams. My Dad is a Blackhawks fan, and we love the Bears. So I love the Sox and the Cubs. If you go by attending games, yeah, I went to more Sox games, but I always watched WGN during the day. I'd fall asleep in the second inning and wake up in the ninth.
SI:You set a new Notre Dame single-season record for yards receiving (1,190) and touchdown catches (15) and were the first Notre Dame receiver since 1970 (and Tom Gatewood) to gain 1,000 yards receiving in a single season. Who is the best Irish receiver ever?
Samardzija:Derrick Mayes. There was a lot of attention drawn when I was trying to catch his touchdown mark. He was a great receiver and had a lot of skills. Met him a few times. Great guy. Tim Brown is obviously a Heisman winner and he's one of the best complete football players. So if you asked that question, I'd go with Brown.
SI:Are the places in piece for Notre Dame to win a national championship?
Samardzija:In my opinion, Notre Dame can be in the national title game every year. I think no matter what, Notre Dame is going to get the athletes who can play football. If certain things fall in the right place, it could work out. Every year I've been here we have had the same talent we've had in the past years. This year we're getting more attention after a 9-3 season and a BCS game. There has always been the same amount of talent at Notre Dame. That's why it irks us when we hear that Notre Dame doesn't have talent or speed, or this and that. It's here. It's always here. It's just a matter of putting it in the right spot.
SI:Has Charlie Weis seen you pitch?
Samardzija:He's seen me pitch a few times and from what I heard, he likes it. He's a huge baseball fan and so is his son. Hopefully, I've impressed him a little bit. I've kind of had to do good when he's watched to give him the peace of mind to let me keep playing.