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Thursday, July 26, 2012

Week 11 (2011): Livin' On A Prayer

Happy Thanksgiving, all!

Pop quiz:  if you were going to guess, post-2009, who would be persona non grata at a Notre Dame football game… would it be:


Chuck Weis

Jon Tenuta

Bon Jovi.

Anyone from New Jersey
All of the above

Up to last week, my money might’ve been on “e” – so it was both interesting and heartening to see Charlie Weis’s favorite Jersey rocker, Jon Bon Jovi, feted at half time as an honorary band director.  Maybe he got the gig because he scored some blockbuster weed for the horn section… I dunno. But certainly the song that the school (and evidently the football team) has chosen to embrace was on clear display:

“Take my hand, we’re halfway there.
Ooooh living on a prayer…”

"O-S-C-A-R... T-o-m-m-y..."
Which is fitting because we clearly remain a work-in-progress (are we even half way there?) and prayer does seems to figure prominently in our offensive scheme. And unfortunately, our prayer has a first name.

That should not be good news to any of you. But more (of course) on Tommy later.

Song of the Week                             

The problem with this time of year is you start to see on TV all the big rivalries and the conference championship games – which invariably leads to watching the really good programs play. Making it abundantly clear how far Notre Dame still has to go. So with that insight in mind, we dredge up great Midwestern rock from the 80’s… Milwaukee’s own BoDeans and a song that’s about being being adrift and being unable to let go. 

I was lucky for a long, long time
I never felt much pain
A mess of clouds came over me
The night it finally rained
In my hand there's a silver heart
It says you belong to me
But it's empty and used up
I'm sailing off to sea.

Going down, going down
Swallow an ocean
Going down, going down
With true devotion…

Seems about right to me in describing a Notre Dame football program and its fan base.


      ·         Senior Day – pretty cool w the parents and significant others greeting the kids.
      ·         Music – no Ozzy, no White Stripes… Irish tuneage, reminiscent of the cult classic, “Boondock Saints”.  Boston. Brutal. Deadly effective.  With obnoxious BC on the receiving end of terrible, swift retribution.  Perfect!


Sadly it was just a tease.

Observations from The Game

      ·         Uh oh, Mayock is quoting Sisyphus. Early.  And Hammond is acting like he understands the reference.   You’re not fooling me, Tom.
      ·         Why do our 1st drives seem so easy?  Maybe because, in this case, it was all Jonas Gray.
      ·         Ben Turk – boom!  Mr. November!
      ·         Interesting how Tommy is challenging his receivers to catch everything one handed.
      ·         6:23 1st Quarter – dropped Rees INT #1.
      ·         Nice to see Ruffer has finally rounded into 2010 form.
      ·         Punt returns.  If we’re not even going to try to run ‘em back, why don’t we attempt an occasional punt block?
      ·         All of BC’s players look like they should be working at the local pizza joint…

                                                  “Yo, Manny, Bobby, Max…”

      ·         Q. How many times have we had to take a time out immediately AFTER a TV time out?   A. virtually every game.
      ·         13:44 2nd Quarter – dropped Rees INT #2.
      ·         Jamoris w the HUGE 3rd down stick.  I wonder if he ever gets called ‘Jam’?  If he were a running back they could say, “That must be Jam ‘cause Jelly don’t shake like that…”
      ·         Pineapple Express!  Robbie Toma continues the ‘one-handed flying snag’ trend.
      ·         Tommy is going to get one of our receivers killed.
      ·         BC’s linebacker, Kuechly, is freaking everywhere.
      ·         In passing situations, why do we rush only three when our LB’s couldn’t cover Dillon Hall receivers?
      ·         1:29 2nd Quarter – dropped Rees INT #3.
      ·         Brindza’s kickoff’s are reminiscent of my tee shots. (OB at the most inopportune time.) That poor man.  And our punter has the touch of a blacksmith.  So I guess we are special in that respect.
      ·         What scares me?
a)      Clowns (as you know)
b)      Films by Lars von Trier
c)       Herman Cain’s job interview protocol
d)      Tommy Rees rolling out

     ·         Mike Golic, Jr. is getting manhandled.
     ·         “4x a charm…” Tommy finally throws an INT.  Most noteworthy, beyond his throwing blindly into quadruple coverage on a screen, the pass wasn’t anywhere near the intended receiver!  Yikes.
     ·         As good as our D-line is going to be next year, our DB’s are going to be scary.

If Saturday’s Game was a movie poster, it’d be… “Fargo.”


"Fargo.  A lot Can Happen In The Middle of Nowhere."   

Even with the benefit of several Bloody Mary’s, South Bend in November is a pretty desolate place.  Where funny* things happen.  Like starting seemingly every single drive inside your own 5 yd. line.  Or your best RB getting his knee blown out on a seemingly innocuous hit.  Whatever.  We survived.  8-3.

But if ever a game could’ve used a wood chipper, this one was it.

*funny strange, not funny ha-ha.

Word of the Week

Gloaming.    gloam·ing
noun \ˈglō-miŋ\

·         twilight, dusk

Origin of GLOAMING:  Middle English (Scots) gloming, from Old English glōming, from glōm twilight; akin to Old English glōwan to glow
·         1st known use:  before 12th century
·         Synonyms: black, blackness, candlelight, darkness, dusk, dark, gloom, murk, night, semidarkness, shade, shadows, twilight, umbra
·         Antonyms: blaze, brightness, brilliance, day, daylight, glare, glow, light, lightness

Used in a sentence…  With the gloaming of Notre Dame’s football season came the familiar thud of high expectations crashing to earth.

Week XI   BUDDY Award.
   I think we can all agree that no one on offense was going to be winning this week’s BUDDY…. And maybe it was because of all the pre-game pub about this particular game pitting (perhaps) the two best LB’s in the country against each other – one who went to Lini’s high school if I’m not mistaken – but it seemed to me that Manti Teo came to play.  Big hits, assignment sure, he stood out as much as anyone in a group that played well generally all day long – in a game that never should’ve been as close as it was.
Schadenfreude of the Week.

      ·         Oregon.  Could it be bad karma due to their unleashing heinous “uniform fashion by Nike” upon the world? Could it be that despite our constant mocking, Lane Kiffin is the skilled, bastard child of John McKay and Pete Carroll?  Nah.  Actually, we’re just seeing that Matt Barkley really is as good as was advertised two years ago. But take heart, as good as this is making USC look now, it virtually ensures that Barkley will bolt to the NFL next year.
      ·         State of Oklahoma.  Wow – talk about spitting the proverbial bit.  Oklahoma and Oklahoma State (really, to Iowa State?!) both gag, virtually ensuring an all SEC BCS.
     ·         Ohio State.  Two programs down on their luck.  I dislike them both. Penn State wins. And Happy Valley rejoices before getting back their present off-the-field ugliness…. But it got me to pondering the other classic battles

Epic Battle
What We Learned

Sweater vests
White socks

While both represent timeless fashion choices, a sweater can cover lack of ethics better than a sock can mask amorality.


Chicks dig both bad boys and good.

Especially when their net worth exceeds that of most small countries.


In the Hell-On-Earth that is high school, there are no winners in the battle between disgruntled, revenge-minded students and their janitorial staff.  


Stay out of others’ rivalries. 

Especially when the rivals are, like, 9’ tall and from another planet.

Abbott & Costello
Frankenstein, Dracula & Wolfman
In the battle for an America’s affection, ‘Unattractive & Stupid’ beats ‘Sympathetic But Evil’ every time.

Even, sadly, when you want Evil to win.
Terry’s Tool Time.
·         Jim Boeheim, college baskeball division.  Faced with your own “Oops, my long time trusted assistant has been diddling little boys” scandal, your response was immediate, total denial with a “I’m not Joe Paterno” response.  Real professional.  Irrespective of what anyone thinks of Paterno – and he’s supposed to be a peer of yours in the coaching world, Jim – calling him specifically out just underscores how classless you are.
·         Urban Meyer, college football division.  This is a proactive shout out, knowing that you’re lying your face off with the “there’s been no offer from Ohio State...” statement.  You WILL be the next OSU coach, you WILL bag about $40MM in doing so and you WILL undeniably recruit in an extraordinarily successful fashion, living comfortably in the ethical grey area you enjoyed in Florida (and where Columbus OH calls home).  If there’s a fair and just God, He – in the earthly manifestation of the NCAA – will slap the bejesus out of your new school with bowl sanctions and scholarship loss.  Just to give you the challenge you will surely say that you lust for.

"Ndamukong, dude, I think they knew you were lying..."
      ·         Ndamukong Suh, pro football division.  Undeniably talented, articulate and dirty. Just didn’t realize you were so dumb. Or undisciplined. Your team is down by only 7 pts. early in the 3rd quarter and you decide to unhinge precisely after your teammates have held the Packers to a field goal from the 3 yd. line?  There’s that Nebraska education hard at work. But that’s not why you’re a tool. No, that’s because you think the rest of the viewing public thinks we’re dumber than a box of rocks with your  “I was just trying to separate myself from the opposing lineman…”  excuse.  Was that before or after you repeatedly bounced his head off the turf like a nutcracker?  Hope you like watching next week’s game from home.

Pop Quiz #2
Which luminaries on this distribution list lived in the following estates during their college years?    

 "Little Xanadu"
 "Little Nirvana"
 "Little Blenheim"

Answers to be provided next week.

Final observations

"Who do you think Tommy was aiming for on that pass?"
      It’s both a blessing and a curse that every weekend in the autumn I watch Tommy Rees on Saturday and Aaron Rodgers on Sunday.   Talk about ‘The Agony & The Ecstasy’.

Without belaboring the obvious, my point is merely this:  certainly in the NFL and probably to a large extent in the college game, the difference between good and great teams is the play of the quarterback.  In those games where a team isn’t hitting on all cylinders, you need a guy to make a play.  Keep a drive alive. Or sometimes something really special.  We don’t have one.  Not at least one that actually gets to play. And to be fair, Kelly’s offensive system demands skills different than what Tommy has.  So, with an eye toward next year, something has to give, yes? 

My suspicion is that Kelly wrote off this season after the Michigan loss and geared everything to a 8-9 win season, get to the Champs Bowl (or whatever we are predestined to play in), take advantage of the extra practices and try and finish recruiting strong. Essentially, mostly play not to lose and live to fight another day.

2011 Schedule.
     3   South Florida                 L
    10  @Michigan (NIGHT)         L
    17  MSU   LINIPALOOZA!!    W
    24  @Pitt                             W           
      1    @Purdue (NIGHT)   W
      8     Air Force              W
     15    OPEN
     22    USC                      L   
     29    Navy                    W
     5    @Wake Forest          W
     12   @Maryland (D.C.)      W
     19   Boston College        W
     26   @Stanford (NIGHT)

2011 Wager status

The good news:  we definitely have a winner (so we can dispense w all that rubbish about donating the funds to charity). The bad news: it’s not going to be the “9”ers. Sorry, I’m just being a realist. (Any of team ‘8’ want to switch picks w me?!  I didn’t think so.) 

And I spent that $67.50 on a Black Friday midnight binge.

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