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Saturday, August 18, 2012

August (2012): Prediction Time

"There is a fifth dimension beyond that which is known to man. It is a dimension as vast as space and as timeless as infinity. It is the middle ground between light and shadow, between science and superstition, and it lies between the pit of man's fears and the summit of his knowledge. This is the dimension of imagination. It's an area which we call the 'A' Lot... " 

Our parent's are cousins!
Hi all!  There was a moment a few weeks back - sometime during my daughter's description of the NW Indiana biker wedding that she worked at, as part of her summer catering job.  It came after the part where she told me how the wedding party wore their very best Sunday-Go-To-Meetin' leathers, with their names especially embroidered on the back, like "Road Kill" (the groom) and "Skid Mark" (the best man)... Before she could recall the rest of the wedding party ("Painful Rectal Itch" as the ring bearer, perhaps?), my mind began to race to things more... relatable, if not any less traumatic. Like the impending ND football season.

Song of the Off Season
It's difficult to even begin to talk college football without navigating through the toxic waters of L'Affaire Sandusky.  Tawdry on so many levels and yet, I keep thinking, this could've happened anywhere. (And before anyone says 'not Notre Dame', I'd remind you 'hello, Catholic church...').  For as long as all of us have been alive, there's been athletic program dictators, football and basketball, at countless colleges... some more benevolent than others... (though as someone pointed out to me recently, a benevolent despot is still despot).   At any rate, Don Henley's "End of The Innocence" seemed a perfect theme for this college off-season, and probably not only for the town of State College. Even if it hasn't seemed to quite sink in for them yet.

Remember when the days were long
And rolled beneath a deep blue sky
Didn't have a care in the world
With mommy and daddy standin' by
But "happily ever after" fails
And we've been poisoned by these fairy tales
The lawyers dwell on small details
Since daddy had to fly

Word of the Off Season - Opprobrium

noun \-brē-əm\
1.         something that brings disgrace
2a        public disgrace or ill fame that follows from conduct considered grossly wrong or vicious
  b        contempt, reproach

  • Latin, from opprobrare to reproach, from ob in the way of + probrum reproach; akin to Latin pro forward and to Latin ferre to carry, bring — more at ob-, for, bear
  • First known use: 1656 
Synonyms: dishonor, disgrace, reflection, reproach, scandal
Antonyms: credit, honor

Used in a sentence:  Penn State’s Board of Directors came close to going ahead with the misguided plan to appeal the NCAA sanctions despite national opprobrium.

If The Off-Season Were A Film Poster, It'd Be...

                            "What's the worst you've ever done?"

Put this right next to Brokeback Mountain as films that none of you will likely ever see... Kevin Bacon as a convicted pedophile newly released from prison and his struggles with assimilating back into society.  An indie film fave, mass market - not so much.

It pains me to be this literal but if ever an off-season was colored by a single scandal, this is the one.

Early Thoughts On The Team
You all have probably kept up to date as well as I have but allow me to throw out a few key areas to ponder  as you make your forecast:

  • QB.  No Tommy for the 1st game and maybe (probably, hopefully) ever. The way Kelly threw out a recent stat that Golson's only thrown 1 INT in 160 passes so far suggests he's gonna be the man under center come Sept. 1st.  The good news: he's got two games to improve before the really serious competition kicks in...
  • WR.  Can we clone Eifert?!  Not a lot of sure things in this position; talk of several freshmen being pleasant surprises but they're still freshmen.  Could see the RB's (of which they look ridiculously deep) catching a bunch of passes of splitting out wide if no one steps up. 
  • CB's.  And we thought last year's bunch were bad.  These guys can't be worse (can they?!) but they will be unproven.  Better hope the front 7 comes through with a pass rush that takes some of the pressure off the secondary.
  • What You Should, Maybe, Feel Good About.  Presuming no devastating injuries, O-line looks really tough with the RB's going at least 3 deep.  D-line and LB's also look to be really solid, if not super deep.

Tool Time:
Neil Young once famously sang Rust Never Sleeps. Neither do, apparently, high profile, self-absorbed tools. Witness:

ü  State College. You clearly don't grasp the concept of moving on. Nor do you understand the more you talk, the more it just keeps getting worse.
ü  Ryan Dempster. Filibusters his way out of a trade to the Braves for a high potential pitching prospect the Cubs could've really used. Then doesn't want to be portrayed as the bad guy. "Had to do what's best for my family..." Huh? For a commitment that will last all of 3 MONTHS before you become a free agent!   I lived in Shanghai by myself for longer than that.
ü  Dwight Howard.  After a year of (unsuccessfully) dictating his own trade, he blows off his own youth basketball camp - while being apparently healthy enough to check out a couple Dodgers games. I didn't think anyone could make LeBron's exit strategy look good by comparison. Bravo!
ü  Hope Solo. Could you please get over yourself?  Brandi Chastain (she, of the 2 World Cup wins, 2 Olympic gold medals (and a silver) achievements) offers a professional opinion - which she was hired to do, by the way - about the relative laxness of the US Women's defense in the early part of the tournament.  And you go all Scorch The Twitter-verse on her.  Please go away.
"Sam, you cannot improve on perfection!"
ü  Sam Raimi / Bruce Campbell.  You're remaking your own genre masterpiece, "Evil Dead"?!  Seriously?! Why not remake "Gone With The Wind" why we're at it... 

Schadenfreude Winner of the Off-Season

One team you can guarantee won't be showing up on this list in the season is Penn State.  Too much 'schaden' and absolutely zero 'freude' for my taste.  But that doesn't mean there weren't screw up's to celebrate!  And let's start with those schools still under the NCAA microscope:

  1. North Carolina.  The academic scandal that will just not go away.  Rumor has the administration is going  to offer up more football crimes in the hope of having the NCAA not go a-looking at the basketball team.  Good luck with that...
  2. Miami. Why the NCAA is dragging their feet on this is anyone's guess, but the naughty (and majorly indiscreet) booster scandal has not gone away.  Tick tock.
  3. "Even by my stamdards, those uni's
    are really, really, ridiculously ugly..."
  4. Oregon.  Team Nike is supposed to be hammered soon for some serious violations, not the least of which has to be Fashion Crimes Against Humanity for the myriad of outrageous uniform combinations they roll out each year. Which, of course, leads to

We Need To Talk About Kevin ND's Miami Game Uni's

"Mom, those helmets just want to make me go nuts..."
Ugh.  If ever there will be a cause to drink at that game, that'll be it.  That said, I think there's a bit if an (understandable) overreaction.  It's one game a year, at most.  Consider it a throwback uniform in reverse.  And what do you think the 50+ yr.olds were saying when Devine broke out the green jerseys back in '77?  No doubt something, I'd imagine, along the lines of WTF?!  But I don't recall any of us being too bothered.

But then again we won that game, 49-19.  And maybe that's more the point.

Looking Toward Ireland

While its doubtful that any of you heading to the Emerald Isle will be seeing much in the way of culture beyond golf courses and pubs (as least you'll be getting fresh air and the mother's milk known as Guinness), may I suggest the following if you can find the time:

  • Watch "The Wind That Shakes The Barley" before you go.  Even if you don't.  Talk about 'Fighting Irish' - awesome movie that'll give you a real* sense of the complexity in the Irish Republic's fight for freedom. 
    • *not a Liam Neesom-as-Michael Collins, Alan Rickman as Eamon de Valera way
  • Check out The Dublin Gaol museum.
  • The Guinness plant tour is fascinating (and there's freebies at the end)
  • Stroll around Trinity College and pretend it was going to be your safety school if you didn't get into ND
  • Gaze upon The Great River Liffey (sobriety optional)
  • Drink in a pub that James Joyce frequented (that's easy - he hit them all!)
  • Embrace your "inner Irish"... which leads me to

You Know You're Irish If...

2012 Wager.
As previously alluded, this year's theme is All Things Scorsese:  awesome filmmaker, not well versed in stories with happy endings.  Who better to use as a template for this year's predictions?


ND-Scorsese connection 

Contestant’s prediction



Sweet, compelling mystery that shows the virtues of faith and resilience. Everyone walks away happy and pleasantly surprised.


JP, Lini, Dave



Awesome film about fulfilling one’s potential and realizing your dreams… even if it is becoming a gangster.  (Q.  Does ending in Witness Protection qualify as a happy ending?)
Bryan, Ted, Ray, Tim S, Bob S

Jay, John, Peter, Raz, Kevin M, Tim C, Mark

Jerry C, Matt, Jerry W, Jim B, 
Tom, Mike C, Jim T, Mike G, Garrett R


The Departed

A terrific story about two Boston Irishmen’s different destinies set from childhood. So very close to a happy ending. And yet, so far.
Terry, Jim S, Jerry P, Brian, Blair R

Kevin C, Alvin, Randy



Taxi Driver

Mentally unstable Viet Nam vet w. wildly unrealistic delusions of heroism.  He’s a total loser, albeit an incredibly dangerous one. Sadly everybody knows it (incl. Rick Reilly) but him.




Final Thought

As we enter a season with great uncertainty at key positions (including the coaching staff) and a killer schedule, Optimism appears in short supply.

Yet it bears remembering that just when you're told something can't done, some Notre Dame guy finds a way...

Send me your predictions and I'll update the grid.

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