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Saturday, February 12, 2022

Post-Fiesta Bowl

Well people I've been here before
I know this room and I've walked this floor...

Dateline: Paris, France

A small, darkened hotel room.  Curtains drawn tight.  New Year's Eve '21 mere days away.  A singular, elderly male figure lies prone on the bed.  Coughing.  He sees evidence of blood in his handkerchief. 

An Edith Piaf song - La Vie En Rose? - plays somewhere, quietly, in the background.  

It's the man's birthday and as he stares at the room's now-obvious-to-him garish motif, he recalls an Oscar Wilde quote, attributed to his final hours.

The Demise of a Blogger. 

The part of Jèrrence that is a Complete Sympathy Whore would LOVE for the reader to have that mental image as part of the 'Jèrrence contracts COVID in France' storyline.  

Um, actually no.  It was more like...

The Family Corrigan having a wonderfully indulgent time for a week, eating and drinking through Paris (the bistros!)... then Reims (champagne country!)... on to Strasbourg (Christmas markets!) before coming back to The City of Light, two days before flying home.   

But then French travel protocol intervenes... demanding one has  a negative COVID test 24 hours before departing the country.

Ryan, I told you to cut her off...

  • Monday afternoon (~ 48 hrs ahead of departure):  The family gets tested. Jèrrence has the only positive result in the group.  Faster than one can say, "Every man for themselves, Pops!" the family re-books their tickets and blows town the next day before their test results could change.  

Leaving Jèrrence alone.  Unaccompanied.  Alone.

  • Tuesday morning:  Daughter Ryan calls and reports that her indulgent New Year's Eve at the Waldorf Versailles reservation, no longer usable, is in fact, non-refundable and would her father be interested in spending his quarantine there for the next three days and helping her with the cost...   Jèrrence can immediately hear Kay Corrigan somewhere saying, "God doesn't close a door without also opening a window..."
    • Sure, Ryan, I'll help you out.  That's what dads are for. 

  • Oh, this is going to be hell...
    Wednesday to Friday morning:  With basically zero COVID symptoms, Jerrence isolates at the palace hotel which used to be Marie Antoinette's old crib, intermittently readingand walking the grounds, mostly investing his time trying to divine... what exactly is it that the French do with their bread?!   
Those croissants - flaky and yet buttery too!  

It has to be the water. 

So Mr. Concierge... garçon...  "be a good fellow and send up another bottle of that Loire Valley stuff.  And if you could be so kind as to make sure the vin pairs with that most delightful foie gras - that sh*t is awesome - s'il vous plait..." 

  • Friday afternoon:  Jèrrence tests NEGATIF and heads immediately to the Waldorf bar - to both celebrate and commune with his peeps - ordering something with Château in its name, and asking the waiter to make he cannot see the bottom of the glass for the next 90 minutes.  He books himself on the earliest flight the next day.
We're on our way home...
We're going home.

*If you need a book reference, The Boys In The Boat, about the 1936 U. of Washington rowing team that beat Hitler's crew at the Berlin Olympics, is excellent. 

In the end, we all have our own personal COVID war stories, don't we?  This was mine.  

Tres magnifique, no?   

More seriously, let's hear it for vaccinations and boosters.  I was extremely fortunate.  Oh, and clean living.  I'm pretty sure that played a big role too. 

Quote of the Month

"Get back on the plane..."           
Peter Behrens

New Year's Day afternoon, the text response received when Jèrrence informs Peter that, like Napoleon, he has made it back from exile and... while still on the tarmac.... Notre Dame has been outscored 17-0 in the 3rd quarter.

If only they'd have let me, Pete. 

He's not The Oracle of Troy, MI for nuthin'. 

Word of the Month

Used in a sentence paragraph
:  As Young Jèrrence crawled into bed New Year's night, he could not shake the Dickensian parallels from the last week that he thought he witnessed.

Tableau #1:  Trianon Palace.  The place where Jèrrence and Marie Antoinette both took refuge.  A residence about which his brother, the insufferable family pollyanna, so aptly pointed out, "good luck - we all know how THAT ended for her..."  

Thanks, Tim. So supportive. You're the that perennial ray of sunshine in an otherwise gloomy day.

Tableau #2:  Fiesta Bowl. ND's shocking performance between the 1st and 2nd half proves metaphorically apropos of Charles Dickens' French revolution-centered 'Tale of Two Cities" novel.   One could argue that heads should've roll in both places.

Jèrrence begins to rethink the wisdom of calling his wife Defarge. 

Who would've thunk The Football Gods were Victorian literature fans?

Fiesta Bowl (and January) - Very Random Thoughts

1)  Fiesta Bowl   Okay, so I didn't watch the 2nd half of the game.  I'm 65 now and believe the world needs to accommodate me.  

2) BCS Championship.  After watching UGA v. Alabama, is anyone still wishing we made the playoffs?

3) Ch ch changes.   Was it a risk hiring a first time head coach?  Absolutely.  Has ND had success hiring first-timers before? 
  Not in our lifetime.  Does that make the Freeman hire, one game into his tenure, a bad decision?  Not in the slightest.

But boy, the subsequent coaching staff carousel is getting me a wee bit dizzy.

                                               Don't you feel like trying something new?

3)  Recruiting. Allow me to channel my inner ND Message Board douche - more on them later - and opine upon an area to which I don't know f*ck all about... and talk a little about recruiting.  All without the benefit of Sully's in depth analyses and/or  Lini's mind-numbing statistical linear regression tables...

* Players (Notre Dame)A+.  Hamilton and Williams were always going to leave.  Austin leaving is semi-tragic (for him) but not terribly surprising - at least he's leaving with his degree.   

Anyone else in the transfer portal likely represents a Darwinian opportunity to upgrade.   

Retaining Foskey and Patterson was huge.  

* Players (High School)A-How much do I hate the current NIL, let me count the ways.  And come to think of it, I don't think I even liked my own children when they were 17-18 years old, much less a group of habitually entitled teenagers who wouldn't know the meaning of 'commitment' if it ran 'em over in the street. 

That said, despite getting played by a couple WR recruits, the class ends up ranked #7 nationally with arguably the best LB haul in the country.  And 2023 trending even stronger.

All things being equal, amidst some significant coaching turnover, pretty damn good.

"That $30M "NIL money" we spent had absolutely nothing to do with getting our top ranked class..."

* Coaching StaffA.  First off, what a weird year for coaching musical chairs.  (Who knew that Tommy Rees was in such high demand?)

A lot of youth on the staff - Harry Hiestand notwithstanding - but if getting aggressive, enthusiastic recruiters was the priority, it sure seems like 'mission accomplished.'

Buddy's Buddy

If Buddy had been in a rock band, I think he'd have been a drummer - not the frontman or the charismatic lead guitarist.  Maybe the cool, stoic bass player. 

And if he were a drummer, he'd have been more Charlie Watts than Keith Moon or (eek) Ginger Baker. 

Steady.  A little surprising in a shy "I think there's more going on with him than what meets the eye" way. But overwhelmingly dependable, if given to perhaps occasional lapses in decision making.

Sound like anyone you watched this year? 

Thus, the season's final (and maybe the year's consummate) Buddy award winner is Jack Coan.    While one could make an argument that perhaps the coaching staff gave up a little early on Buchner - one bad half in Vicksburg - the fact is, Coan was everything ND needed him to be. 

And for the Fiesta Bowl defeatists, it's not like he called for, or audibled into, 60+ passes.  And maybe if the defense got a stop or two in the 2nd half... 

But I digress.  A terrific transfer success story and a guy who always represented the university and the football program extremely well. 

Oh! And a Pat Tillman award winner to boot.  How can you not get behind a guy like that? 

Pop Quiz!

RE-PETE (A shameless, illegal lift of Pete Sampson's weekly mail-bag)

I'm sure you have a great many questions with the end of the 2021 season.  Things like:

Why didn't Buchner play in the bowl game? 

Is Harry Heistand past his prime?

Why don't we recruit the transfer portal more?

Why are green olives the only ones that get stuffed with bleu cheese never, the Kalamata's?

Oh! And when are we ever going to see another book from Gruley?  He moves to St. Petersburg for what - his cutting edge foodie scene or to find a Wednesday night hockey league he can dominate?

All valid and necessary topics that merit further legitimate political discourse. But because I do have a smidgen of respect for intellectual property rights (and I also can't afford Albert's fancy Boston legal fees), we can't answer them all.  So we'll only continue to address (read steal) one Sampson Mailbag topic, and in this instance, seemingly the single remaining staffing question:

The next defensive coordinator will be?

Peter B.

To be determined. And it might not be determined next week, either.

Notre Dame is focused on four candidates right now: Cincinnati Bengals linebackers coach Al Golden, Boston College defensive coordinator Tem Lukabu, Minnesota defensive coordinator Joe Rossi and former Rutgers head coach Chris Ash. Of the four, Ash is the most available, having spent last season as the safeties coach for Urban Meyer in Jacksonville. He has also been the defensive coordinator at Wisconsin, Arkansas, Ohio State and Texas during his career. He has not overlapped with Freeman, but Ash has worked with Luke Fickell, who is one of Freeman’s closest coaching contacts.

Your follow-up question here is probably obvious: What’s taking so long?

The Bengals sticking around in the NFL playoffs has been a factor because it has slowed the process of interviewing Golden for the position. The former Miami and Temple head coach has yet to come to South Bend to interview in person this month. The NFL coaching carousel could make him unavailable if there’s a defensive coordinator job open. But there has been plenty of due diligence on Golden to date, which even goes back to when he was a candidate for the Notre Dame head coaching job 12 years ago.

Lukabu and Rossi already have good jobs, with neither running to make a change. Rossi just signed a contract extension last month that pays him $800,000 annually. Although Notre Dame can pay more, this wouldn’t be a Group of 5 coordinator moving up to the Power 5 in terms of compensation.

Ash entered the mix this week. He’s the most available and very experienced. While Meyer’s NFL stint was a disaster, having experience under Meyer at Ohio State — particularly from a recruiting standpoint — could be a bonus. Ash’s run at Rutgers, where he went 8-33 and 3-27 in the Big Ten, included working with offensive coordinator John McNulty, who is now Notre Dame’s tight ends coach.

OK, so back to your follow-up question. What’s with the delay?

Freeman has publicly stated that whoever is hired will run Notre Dame’s defense more than he’ll run his own. That’s not usually how this works. The players adapt to the new coordinator, as opposed to the new coordinator adapting to the players. It’s not that TBD DC won’t have influence on what’s called and how the system evolves, but he’s going to have to meet Notre Dame much more than halfway in terms of scheme. Is every defensive coordinator candidate willing to do that? Probably not.

As for the running backs coach job, look for interviews to take place next week. Offensive coordinator Tommy Rees will drive the selection of candidates, although it’s not clear where he’ll turn first. He is familiar with Lou Ayeni at Northwestern, who is well regarded around the Big Ten. Regardless, recruiting will be priority No. 1.

Source:  The Athletic
January 28, 2022

Nothing's gonna touch you in these Golden years... 

Cocktail of the Week

For those of you who have lost interest or are presently distracted (it's taken me six weeks to write this so you know I am), we're continuing with the 'Jèrrence in France' theme.

Wait until you read the blog after Jèrrence visits Russia!

Fun fact:  Jèrrence likes his Kir. And his naughty French novels.

So, win-win!

Dangerous Libations
Dangerous Liaisons (1782)
By Pierre Choderlos de Laclos

Before it was a late-80's Oscar winner starring Glenn Close, John Malkovich and Michelle Pfeiffer, Dangerous Liaisons's danger-doing characters appeared in a stage adaptation inspired by the scandalously sexy 1700's era novel.   
If one can imagine hiding the cover of Fifty Shades of Grey while riding public transportation, one would relate to this book's most Dangerous readers - including none other than Marie Antoinette, who couldn't get enough of its lusting lovers.

A story told entirely in scorching hot love letters, one will savor this inky-black drink that's dangereuse to the last drop.

1 oz.  crème de cassis                                               

1 oz.  lemon juice
1 teaspoon activated charcoal (optional, for color)

4 oz. champagne                                            

Combine the crème de cassis, lemon juice and activated charcoal in a shaker with ice and shake for 5 seconds.  Strain into a coupe glass, top w champagne and share with your (nearest) love. 

Source:  Are You There God?  It's Me, Margarita?
More Cocktails with a Literary  Twist
by Tim Federle

Schedule - 2022

It's never too early to be thinking about next year's wager... 


 3                     @Ohio State                        Marcus Freeman's alma mater
10                    Marshall              
17                    California (Berkeley)         Aaron Rodgers still has eligibility
24                   @North Carolina


 8                  @BYU (Las Vegas)                Catholics vs. Mormons
15                   Stanford                                 How many more ND visits for David Shaw?
22                   UNLV                
29                   @Syracuse                 

 5                   Clemson                                 Dabo returns to ND Stadium                
12                  @Navy                         
19                  Boston College                     Phil Jurkovec returns to ND   
26                  @USC                                     The Lincoln Riley Era begins


Congratulations, Jay (and in directly, Peter)!  I think I speak for all of us when I say no one is a more worthy winner or more in need of the money (feeding that Fever Tree tonic habit ain't cheap)...  😎

And FWIW, despite being Bottom Tier bad when it came to predicting ND's Fiesta Bowl false start tendencies, you can thank the great state of Kentucky and their Citrus Bowl performance for putting you over the top.

We are the champions, my friends... 

Schadenfreude of the Week

While this edition's recognition remains mostly (still) college-oriented, reveling in the joy of someone else's loss - in this case invariably a season ending one - can be likened to having dessert after my wife's wonderful Linguini Catherine.  

As much as I consume, I can always find room for a rich, 'I really shouldn't be eating this' cannoli. 

And by 'cannoli' I mean a Dallas Cowboy loss.  The more embarrassing, the better. 


1)  Alabama.  Nice of you, Nick, give the other children a chance to win once in awhile. Even dull-witted Kirby.

2)  Michigan.  Be careful what you wish for, Wolverines.  It would appear the Emperor has no khakis. 

3)  SEC.  Enough with 'our conference is so good every inner conference loss is better than everyone else's wins' rubbish.  And you collectively went 6-8 in your bowl games this year.

Net:  you've got two really good teams. After that, you're just like everybody else 

4) Dallas Cowboys.  Any Packer fan could've warned you about Mike McCarthy.  Not sure we could've done the same about Dak Prescott's time management.

Terry's Tools

Stop me if I've said this before...

Flint Lake, this time of year, has a very Fargo vibe to it.  

And not just a prideful, "hey we're North Dakota's largest city and home to the FBS national football powerhouse North Dakota State University Bisons" feeling. 

More like a Coen Brothers-type Fargo.  Simple on the outside, more than a little menacing within. And with all the uncertainty in the world today - I just read that even Joe Rogan himself has doubts! - one just can't be too careful.

And given that I haven't yet talked Mademoiselle DeFarge into getting a dog - something about her 'come talk to me when you're retired' rejoinder still cuts deep - I find myself pondering what is it that will send a message to the outside world that Maison de Jérrence should be approached with just a tad more caution?

Wait. I think I know.   

But the Corrigans don't have any trees...

And while it may not keep the local Gazpacho police from our door, I'm pretty sure most other NW Indiana ruffians will get the hint.  God knows they all look like young Steve Buscemi's.

1)  Antonio Br
own / Bruce Arians. I don't think anyone would argue with the notion that we have, or are perilously close, to a national mental health crisis.  

But when that psychosis is mixed with years of entitlement and enabling?

Whew - that can make for a serious cocktail of lunacy.

That Antonio could weave his magic on the Buccaneers and their head coach, Mr. "When I say 'one misstep and you're out' I'm really talking about an extraordinarily wide sliding scale of permissiveness..." Arians. 

The same guy whose finger on the pulse of his team declared mid-January "I'd be shocked if Tom Brady retired."

But I digress.

You are a walking cautionary tale to us all, Antonio. 

"One of us!   One of us!"
2) ND Message Board.  I'm in an unhealthy relationship - and no, I'm not talking about my now decades long fascination with the growing number of Dillon Hall degenerates that cross my path - each and every one seductively charismatic in sort of a Jim Jonesian "Hey kids, I've just made a fresh batch of Kool-Aid, who's thirsty?" kind of way.  

Well since you mention it, my throat is a little parched, Mr. Jones.

No, I'm referring to a sick proclivity to repeatedly (okay, obsessively) log into my ND Insider's Message Board, thinking there'll be "breaking news"...  only to find the pithy insights of the board's legion of twits representing two classes of Know It All:  

a) The "Are you still alive?!" fossils who harken back to their halcyon days in Holy Cross Hall during the Daryl Lamonica years, or 

b) The Gen X alumni, students during the Willingham years who had a friend of a friend's sister who lived down the block from someone who delivered mail in Granger to Mike White's neighbor's house who SWEARS that Bob Stoops was signed up to be ND's head coach until Charlie Weis played the "I lived in Flanner and once beat Matt Lindon in frisbee golf" card which, in retrospect, was a COMPLETE lie but seemed credible at the time because during Charlie's interview Park City got dumped w 20" of pow the night before and no one goes to work the next morning when the snow's that bitchin' and anyway Matt left his cell phone at home and Trace knew better than to answer any call to her husband from a 574 area code...  

So Charlie gets the job.

The point is why would anyone sane waste their time on this group of tinfoil-hat-wearing-loons who, predictably, CAME OUT OF THE WOODWORK after ND's 2nd half collapse with their "I knew Freeman was a bad hire!  Why'd we rush it, we should never hire someone without head coaching experience" proclamations."

And you don't even want to get their takes on the "Freeman botching the coaching searches" topic.  


But here's the sad part:  I actually pay for this message board.  Which would therefore seem to make me, technically, something of a card-carrying masochist.  

Like I said, not healthy. 

That said, all of their questions aren't entirely without merit - the administration's glacial vetting process of ND coaching staff hires would seem to merit some criticism...

3) Novak Djokovic.  Rock on, Australia!  From the Serbian School of "Rules, Schmules, I'm Chasing A Record", Novak has no time for details like country mandated pandemic policies.  

4) Tennessee State Representative Jeremy Faison.   Not that I have much experience in this area but if I were so upset as to confront a referee about a bad call, pantsing him would not have been my first thought.  

Unless said egregious refereeing had involved, say, a Senior Men's Night competition.  

Then again, this was Tennessee.

5) Lincoln Riley.  Taking a page out of the Jimbo Fisher 'admit nothing' playbook.  Couldn't you just have said "this is exactly why I came to USC..."

5)  Stephen Ross.  Brian Flores, former head coach of the Miami Dolphins, says that owner Stephen Ross offered to pay him $100k for every loss during the 2019 season in order to ensure the team getting a better draft position.  

The same Stephen Ross who's name is on the U. of Michigan B-school.  

Paying big money to lose.  Sounds like a true Michigan Man.

6)  Green Bay Packers.  With a special teams unit that interprets that term in the same way as Jerry Lewis' telethon kids were also called 'special.'  

And whose slogan should be "Finding new and creative ways to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory for over a decade..."

7) Speaking of BOHICA... 

And finally... 

This chart harkens me back to freshman year of college when one meets their first few hardcore 'New Yorkers'.  What was your first reaction?  Let me guess - and I can say this as one who spent 10 formative years in northern NJ... 

1) "Dude, can you take the volume down several notches?!  I'm standing like 3' away from you." 

2)  I get that you think Manhattan is The Center of the Universe but you can't even differentiate between any state that starts with a vowel.


But fast forward a couple years.  Four of us spend of Spring Break, skiing in Utah.  
  • Three lads - two Long Island / one Long Beach Island (NJ) with a now transplanted Iowan.  
    • If memory serves, none of the first three had ever been west of Chicago.

Simply stated, one of the very best weeks of my college life.   (Of course this was the year before putting Coatman's car into an extremely snowy median near Cheyenne, having an 18 wheeler repeat the same maneuver maybe 20-30 minutes later - almost on top of us - and generally putting a bit of a damper on that follow up trip.  Some Utopian experiences just cannot be replicated.)


Memory #1:  Stopping in Davenport, IA at mom and dad's for a meal before driving the next 20 hours to Salt Lake City.  

I believe the clinical evaluation for the ND travelers' condition would've been best described as "high as balonies."  

But for Kay Corrigan, these boys were unfailingly polite and with such impressive appetites!  

She's loved them all ever since.

Memory #2:  Driving through the hellscape that is Nebraska at night.  (Nebraska during the day is probably just super but at night, it may as well be the moon.)

Memory #3:  Heading directly to the Park City slopes and immediately seeing women skiing in just shorts and bathing suit tops.  

We are definitely not in Kansas anymore, Toto.

Memory #4:  Crashing at Willy Skinner's in Salt Lake.  And ever since, having almost any Grateful Dead song trigger a memory of that week.

Some folks trust in reason
Others trust in might...

Memory #5:  Watching ND's only men's basketball Final Four appearance vs. Duke.  Starting in the morning at a bar and ending, well, late.  Shooting pool and drinking a lot.  What a day. 

The Rusty Pelican, Denver CO (March 25, 1978)

Final Thoughts.

Let me sleep on it...
I'll give you an answer in the morning.

Hot patootie, bless my soul...

Praying for the end of time
So I can end my time with you...

Bombastic.  Operatic.  How could one not like that Bat Out of Hell album?  

RIP, Mr. Loaf.


Trivia answerU2, Kenny G, Madonna and Michael Jackson.

Friday, December 17, 2021

Pre-Bowl: Recruiting, The Wager And Other Thoughts

Get started
Start a fire... 

Dateline:  Flint Lake

Okay, so as I was doing a teensy-weensy research on past Wager winners (see below) I ran across something I wrote years ago - I think it was pertaining to Brian Kelly but it sure does now:  

How apt.  Yet it made me laugh.  Maybe the only thing about him these days that makes me laugh anymore.  (I am especially aggrieved about having witnessed his collaboration with his 5-star QB recruit, something one can only file under "Heinous things one cannot un-see.")

And while our former coach now goes by a far more efficient name, Voldemort, the fact is there shouldn't be anyone in the Notre Dame fanbase that isn't feeling extremely optimistic about the future of the football program.

Here come the Irish.

Quote of the Week - I

“What worries me, given the non-regulated nature of it right now, is its impact in recruiting. I think it’s going to be a mess. Recruiting this year is going to have some really horrible NIL dimensions to it."
Jack Swarbrick

In August

Quote of the Week - II

"I don't think people really say it this way, but let's not make a mistake: 

We have free agency in college football."
Lane Kiffin

After the Early Signing period this week. 

Recruiting / Bowl Game Thoughts

A couple thoughts...

1)  It'd be easy, and forgivable, to view this week's Signing Day as a bit of a disappointment.  A couple of WR's bailed (one in an especially sleazy fashion) and a high potential Safety flipped to his more local, Florida, school.  Shit happens

And this year, it seemed to happen to virtually everybody.  As the above quotes are intended to suggest, it's hard not to think of the Woodward and Bernstein quote, "Follow the (NIL) money." 

Yet, I have to believe that ND is not on the precipice of a dystopian future where their 'not playing the game' costs them countless 5-stars.  Will it cost them some?  Maybe.  Probably.  But ND is always going to appeal to a different type of kid (family).  And Freeman's repeated emphasis on aggressive recruiting effort portends a staff is that may not win every battle but it won't be because they are outworked.

2)  For anyone who thinks Kyle Hamilton and Kyren Williams are... what exactly?  Disloyal... poor leaders... not truly 'Notre Dame men'... because they've opted out of the bowl game?

I think you're being unfair.  

And stupid.

First of all, the bowl games - sadly - have become so marginalized with the BCS playoffs as not have relatively little importance.

Secondly, with a new coaching regime, ND is playing with house money in this game.  Short of getting blown out - something Oklahoma St. seems incapable of doing - there's virtually no downside.  

In fact, quite the opposite:  play loose and have fun.

And that goes for the team and the viewing audience. 

The Wager 

For the 10 finalists - here's the tie-breaker, amounting to 23 total points...

Section I:  Pick the winners, including the spread (1 pt. each) PLUS the Over / Under (1 pt.).
  • 18 points possible 

      Bowl                            Line                                                    Over / Under
1.  Peach.                Pitt (+2.5)  vs.  Michigan St.                          (57.0)
2.  Taxslayer.         Wake Forest (+5.0) vs.  Texas A&M            (58.0)
3.  Cotton.              Cincinnati (+13.5) vs.  Alabama                    (58.5)
4.  Orange.             Georgia vs.  Michigan (+7.5)                         (44.5)
5.  Outback.           Penn St.  vs.  Arkansas (+2.5)                       (46.5)
6.  Citrus.               Iowa (+2.5)  vs. Kentucky                              (44.0)
7.  Fiesta.               Oklahoma St. (+2.5)  vs. Notre Dame          (45.5)
8.  Rose.                 Utah (+6.5) vs.  Ohio State                             (66.0)
9.  Sugar.               Baylor vs.  Ole Miss (+1.0)                              (54.5) 

Section II:  For the Notre Dame game only.

-  How many false starts will the Irish have?  (1 pt.)
-  On which series will the 1st false start occur?  (1 pt.)
  • 2 points possible

Section III:   Who Wants To Be An Arts & Letters major?

Q1Who wrote the poem, “Ode on Intimations of Immortality from Recollections of Early Childhood”, whose protagonist speaks of his infinite love for the natural world while worrying about those who forget the purpose of their existence?

1) Brian Kelly
2) Elon Musk
3) William Wordsworth
4) Matt Lindon

.  Disney+ recently released the Jimmy Chin documentary, “The Rescue,” about the daring, race-against-the-clock rescue in 2018 of 12 boys and their coach from deep inside a flooded cave in Northern Thailand during monsoon season.  

Because of their lack of skill involving the niche cave diving avocation, which unlikely twosome did the Thai Navy SEAL’s reluctantly have to call in for help?

1) Lini & Ungie
2) Jared & Invanka
3) Beyoncé & Jay-Z
4) Two middle aged Brits

Q3. Every autumn, The MacArthur Foundation awards its Genius Grants to 20-30 individuals for their exceptional creativity, a track record of significant accomplishments, and / or potential for future creative work.  

And every autumn, Dr. Tím Tím patiently waits by his phone in his Philadelphia garret for a Foundation call that’s never going to come.  

What is the award amount that he’ll never see?

1) 10 Bitcoins, valued on the day of the award announcement
2) $625,000 over 5 years.
3) $250,000 of art-based NFT 
4) $1,000 coupon at the MacArthur gift shop.  

  • 3 points possible

It bears re-stating that beyond winning a cool $1,000 you'll be the recipient of the prestigious Artie award (to be held by me) while joining the pantheon of past winners:
  • 2020:  Mark Ungashick
  • 2019:  Tim Corrigan
  • 2018:  Brian Mullins
  • 2017:  Bob Jank, Mark Ungashick
  • 2016:  No winner (funds donated to charity)
  • 2015:  Jim Belnap
  • 2014:  Al Brunett
  • 2013:  Brian Ward, Ryan Corrigan

Re-Pete (Shameless steal of a Sampson / The Athletic article)

Journalism which ought to fill one with great optimism.

(And how rare is that these days?)

SOUTH BEND, Ind. — Lamar Mickey walked back into his house with hot wings, baked beans and fries, prepared to meet the third Notre Dame coach who was scheduled to visit his family but the first to actually show up.

A week earlier, Brian Kelly was supposed to be there, but he canceled the day he bolted for LSU. Brian Polian was supposed to come instead, but the special teams coordinator had postponed the visit on the morning it was supposed to happen, unsure he’d even still be at Notre Dame. Those visits were supposed to come three days after Notre Dame’s regular season finale at Stanford.

Instead, Lamar and his son Jaden, the four-star cornerback from Corona Centennial (Calif.) High School, were left to try to make sense of a process that had gone sideways. So they called Marcus Freeman, who was still Notre Dame’s defensive coordinator, and explained Jaden planned to visit Oregon and Washington that weekend. Maybe a trip to Northwestern, too.

Freeman told the Mickey family he was meeting with athletic director Jack Swarbrick the next morning. And that Freeman felt he had a chance to replace Kelly as head coach, even as a 35-year-old with no head coaching experience. Freeman only had one request.

“If I get the job, I need you to cancel those damn visits,” Freeman said, as Lamar remembers.

Freeman got the job. Mickey canceled those visits. And a day after his introductory press conference, exactly one week after those Kelly and Polian cancellations, Freeman arrived at the Mickey home to eat hot wings, baked beans and fries. Defensive recruiting coordinator Chad Bowden recommended the menu. Lamar picked up the food. And the night became a reminder of why Freeman feels like the right man at the right time for Notre Dame.

Freeman made it easy to trust him in a moment when honesty could have felt like an act. That’s because Freeman had been accessible to the Mickey family over the past year. Jaden felt so comfortable with his new head coach that he spent the dinner asking about single-digit numbers and what early enrollment looked like. His mom asked about how Joanna Freeman was handling her new role as the head coach’s wife. The fact Freeman had yet to coach a game didn’t come up.

Notre Dame’s new head coach has a lot going for him, even without a head coaching resume. But it’s that accessibility that could make the 21-man class the Irish signed Wednesday the start of something new instead of the last gasp of something old.

A class ranked No. 7 on Rivals and 247Sports — that’s the highest the Irish have rated on national signing day in nine years — could have been a reason for defiant celebration. Kelly used to talk about “distinctions” and “shopping down a different aisle” on signing day. It took him almost a decade to embrace the idea Notre Dame could sign top-five classes.

It took Freeman one week.

This is all believable not because Freeman says it, but because he understands the work to make it happen.

“If these kids don’t know who the head coach is and have a personal relationship with the head coach, you’re at a disadvantage,” Freeman said. “I want these guys to be able to access me at all times, communicate with me directly on my phone, and understand this is going to be a very personal relationship.”

To underscore the point, Freeman said four-star linebacker Jaylen Sneed was calling him during the press conference. It’s unlikely Sneed ever had Kelly’s number. Kelly didn’t recruit with that non-stop human touch, one that can make the difference. Quarterback Steve Angeli had never met Kelly until he committed. Mickey only had one interaction with Kelly, after he’d already committed. Notre Dame almost lost Tyson Ford to Oklahoma because of that relationship-building failure. Ford had done about a half-dozen video calls with former Sooners head coach Lincoln Riley before he’d interacted with Kelly.

These are mistakes Freeman won’t repeat as head coach because he knows they will limit what Notre Dame recruiting can be, which means they would also limit how much Notre Dame can win. There’s a reason why the Irish linebacker haul included four four-star prospects. Linebacker is Freeman’s position.

“Your staff will follow the leader, right?” Freeman said. “If I’m the hardest-working, and I hope we’re all hard-working, but if I’m the most aggressive in trying to form relationships with these recruits, I hope I set an example for the rest of our staff that this is how we’re going to do things. Right?

“We’re going to outwork everybody in the country. We’re going to do things that no one else has done. We want to be unique in how we develop relationships.”

It’s clear Notre Dame’s staff will follow. Ten months ago, the Irish staff tried to defend Kelly in a video call with reporters, pushing back on evidence the head coach wasn’t involved enough in recruiting. No such defense of Freeman will ever be necessary. And Freeman’s push, supported by a stronger recruiting staff, should be the reason why.

Freeman laid down a marker this cycle about what Notre Dame recruiting can be. Those who pick it up will fit into this new era. Those who don’t, won’t.

“It motivates you, for sure,” said recruiting coordinator Mike Elston. “You don’t want to let him down. You don’t want to be outshined by the head coach who’s got 1,000 other things on his plate, and you’re really responsible for being the head coach of your position and the talent that comes into it. If you have any pride at all, and you want to impress the boss, then you’re going to work at that level, if not more. I think you’ll see that across the board.”

None of this is to say Notre Dame should apologize for a recruiting class that played to the program’s strengths, adding to a young offensive line with five more commitments, bulking up at tight end, continuing to grow along the defensive line. The Irish should feel good about what’s coming. Notre Dame should also know it has a head coach willing to pull the program further in recruiting, with the support of a staff happy to help him get there.

Notre Dame signed one top-100 prospect on Wednesday. Texas A&M signed 14. Alabama signed 13. Georgia signed 11. Ohio State signed seven.

That counts, too.

“As a competitor, the way he recruits and the way he goes about it, it raises our entire program’s level,” said offensive coordinator Tommy Rees. “And I don’t think that’s going to change, obviously, that’s only going to go up.”

It has to at receiver, where Notre Dame landed four-star Tobias Merriweather but lost four-star C.J. Williams on Monday night and watched three-star Amorion Walker flip to Michigan on Wednesday morning. That meant a class that wanted three or four receivers finished with one after the first day of the early signing period. The Irish don’t have a scholarship receiver in the junior or sophomore classes, with three potential hits among freshmen.

That’s the kind of recruiting misstep Notre Dame can’t afford. It’s one Freeman won’t tolerate.

“I saw it for the last 11 months that he’s somebody that’s going to raise the level of recruiting at Notre Dame,” Rees said. “As competitors, you don’t want to be the black sheep, you don’t want to be the one that’s not carrying the weight.

“As an entire staff, we’re gonna be challenged and pushed to recruit the highest level. And that’s why I say we’re not going to stop attacking the best players in the country, that isn’t going to stop. To me, that’s as exciting as anything that’s going on in the program right now.”

The 21 recruits who signed with Notre Dame on Wednesday felt that. The seven verbal commitments in next year’s class — including borderline five-star defensive linemen Brenan Vernon and Keon Keeley — feel that. If Freeman can take that energy and repurpose it across Notre Dame’s entire recruiting board, how the Irish recruited this cycle can be a launch pad instead of a finish line.

When Freeman arrived at the Mickey home last week and saw Lamar for the first time, the father of Notre Dame’s top cornerback commitment wasn’t sure how to react. Freeman wasn’t in a Notre Dame pullover; he was wearing a tailored suit. Freeman wasn’t just a defensive coordinator; he was running the entire show. Lamar asked if they should hug or just shake hands. Freeman went in for a hug.

“Same person,” Freeman said, “new role.”

Then, over wings, Freeman recapped one of the wildest weeks in Notre Dame football history. He applied it to how he chose Notre Dame over LSU a year earlier. He talked about what’s coming next for Notre Dame football. It was all so relatable, so easy for the Mickey family to process.

They didn’t need an introduction to Marcus Freeman when he showed up on their doorstep as Notre Dame’s new head coach. They already knew him. And that’s the entire point.

Source:  The Athletic
December 15, 2021

Schadenfreude & Tool!


What are the odds of him going away, never ever to be heard from again?

I know.  Unlikely.

But a girl can dream, can't she?

Final Thought

Happy holidays everyone - hope you're all getting to spend it with family, friends  - with those you love.  

Go Irish!  See you in 2022!