The taste was sour following Notre Dame's 3-9 season.
So Maurice Crum Jr., the former Tampa Bay Tech standout, has returned for his fifth season at linebacker for the Fighting Irish.
The usual redshirt process traditionally doesn't happen at Notre Dame, even though Crum saw no action when he arrived in 2004. But Crum, who already has earned his degree in sociology, was approved for a fifth season by Notre Dame's Faculty Board of Athletics.
Now, the key.
Leaving on a good note.
Undoubtedly, Notre Dame's new defensive coordinator, Jon Tenuta, will rely on Crum's experience when the Irish open next Saturday against San Diego State. Crum is the 17th player in program history to be selected a two-time captain.
During the summer, he was named to the preseason Bednarik Award watch list. He enters this season with 241 career tackles, needing 54 to join Notre Dame's top-10 rankings.
But Crum seems intent on different numbers, the kind that produce a winning record.
"I really want to right the ship and leave my name that's associated with something a little more positive," Crum said. "It's hard coming off a 3-9 season, but you really want to put it behind you and make it a point of emphasis not to worry about last year."
Crum spoke to his family, including his father (who was a first-team All-America linebacker at Miami), and concluded another season was in his best interest.
For three consecutive seasons, Crum has started every game. Last year probably featured his best game as a collegian. Crum was named national defensive player of the week against UCLA, when he scored his first career touchdown, racing 35 yards with a fumble that he forced.
But there were few happy memories last season.
"All of the younger guys are more developed, and we've got leadership now," Crum said.
"I think we can turn this thing around."
SYKES ON SECOND TEAM: Illinois freshman Fred Sykes (Chamberlain), who entered school in January, is listed as a second-team wide receiver heading into tonight's nationally televised game against Missouri. The starter is Chris Duvalt (Lake Gibson), who shifted from defensive back last spring.
GREAT SCOTT: Former Plant City RB Chad Scott has started his second season as running backs coach at Troy University, which opened its season Thursday night with a 31-17 win over Middle Tennessee.
Scott, a former Kentucky and North Carolina running back, is best remembered for his 204-yard performance against the No. 3-ranked Miami Hurricanes in 2004. In his coaching debut last season, the Trojans improved from No. 66 to No. 35 in the national rushing rankings.
Scott and his wife, Shambrica, had their first child, daughter Kori Cherrell, this summer.
ALOHA, MR. PEOPLES: Hawaii senior RB Khevin Peoples (Blake) gets a treat today by beginning his final college season with a game some two hours from his home. The Warriors open at Florida.
Peoples was on the scout team last season, and the outlook didn't look good for a productive final campaign. But under new coach Greg McMackin, Peoples has a key role on all special-teams units.