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Sunday, September 2, 2012

Week 1 (2012): Erin Go Bragh!

"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... " 

As many of you may have seen, scientists in Geneva announced this summer that they had found a new subatomic particle that they were 99.999999 percent sure was the elusive Higgs boson, nicknamed the God particle. 

Although I have no earthly idea what that means (even though it was foretold by both the Mayan and Dan Brown in his wonderfully convoluted "Angels & Demons" novel / film), I am over-the-top excited. It gave me much to ponder:   how existence began, the structure of the universe, the difference between bosons and fermions...

But I digress.  About the Higgs boson: apparently it's the only manifestation of an invisible force field, a cosmic goo that permeates space and imbues elementary particles with mass. Raising many questions:
  • Does it provide evidence of the existence of parallel worlds? 
  • Do any of those worlds have ND back on top?
  • Do any of those worlds not include Les Miles / Urban Meyer / Lane Kiffin / Lee Corso?  
Song of the Week
Not so much football thematically correct as country aligned, call this week's choice represents both a link to last week's "Wind That Shakes The Barley" reference as well as a (tangential) homage to this week's opponent's sacrifice, who when they're not driving us mad with cut blocks and 8 minute drives, are putting their lives on the line in the name of our freedom.  Probably very few of you will recognize the name of Mary Black - I discovered her on our first tour of duty in London in the mid 90's - an Irish folk singer, who was (is) something of a national icon. Sadly her recognition never quite made it much beyond the North Sea.

"Above the narrow Belfast streets
An Irish sky looks down and weeps
At children's blood in gutters spilled
In dreams of freedom unfulfilled
As part of freedom's price to pay
My youngest son came home today..."

Beautiful sad song.  There's a gross misconception about the Irish, that we're a preternaturally happy, besotted, jocular lot.

We're not.

But this week's game demonstrates we're totally willing to make exceptions.

Word of the Week
Truth be told, my relationship with the concept of Maturity has been a historically promiscuous one.  Both consistently disappointed due to a shared lack of commitment to the other. For this reason, I love the word 'fecund'.  In equal parts, its use could get one labelled 'art house pretentious' or have your mouth washed out with soap by your mother.  It's also the perfect word when describing anything to do with Ireland, a country visually stunning - green fertility everywhere! - and intellectually, creatively powerful, the historical land of Beckett, Yeats, Joyce, Shaw, Synge, Wilde, et al.

Plus, the Irish love to throw around the f-bombs with such stunning frequency that one never knows whether they're being articulate or profane. So they've got that going for them as well.

fe·cund adj \ˈfe-kənd, ˈfē-\

  1.  fruitful in offspring or vegetation : prolific
  2.  intellectually productive or inventive to a marked degree <a fecund imagination> 
— fe·cun·di·ty  noun
 See fecund defined for English-language learners »
See fecund defined for kids »

Origin of FECUND
  •  Middle English, from Anglo-French, from Latin fecundus — more at feminine
  • First Known Use: 15th century
Synonyms: cornucopian, fat, fertile, fructuous, fruitful, lush, luxuriant, productive, prolific, rich
Antonyms: barren, dead, infertile, sterile, unfertile, unfruitful, unproductive

Used in a sentence...  The fecund versatility of Chuck Martin's offense continually kept the Navy defense off balance.

Observations Of The Game
Not so much, you, Gary...
  • David Feherty! Sideline reporter! 
  • Gary Danielson describes Golson as a true freshman. Hmmm. Out of deference to my daughter, must resist making Purdue joke. Nonetheless, this doesn't bode well for reporting accuracy today.

1st Quarter
Breakfast. The most important meal of the day.
  • 1st play of the Golson era:  hand off to GA III for 11 yds.  Everett's a god!
  • 1st drive (and yes, I understand it's Navy) and I already have feelings for Golson I never had for Rees.
  • Missed PAT.  Geez.  I still have eligibility.
  • Called mom, The Ultimate Tommy Supporter.  One more drive and she'll be a part of Team Everett.
  • Texting w. Mike, Ryan and her boyfriend in a San Diego bar.  6am local time. The few, the proud, the mentally challenged.
  • Navy, 4th and 1.  Manti!
  • The crawl on the TV just showed that Temple crushed Villanova, 41-10. I'm already worried about next year's opener.
  • 3:49 and the first River Liffey reference! 
2nd Quarter
  • ND is 3-for-3 in the red zone.  Versus last year, that's a percentage improvement of... infinity.
  • INT.  Bad decision by Golson. Too confident?  Let's hope this is a 'teachable moment'.
  • Drive-extending face mask by Shembo. Just like the FSU game. Good to see he's learned discipline.
  • Bizarre, fluke fumble returned for Notre Dame!  TD!  Could this be a cosmic karmic signal?
  • Johnny Lujack and Davenport, IA mention!  And yet, disappointingly, no reference to those young lads who tirelessly mowed his lawn - for a pittance, I might add - enabling his future success...
  • Calling all lawyers, aspiring lawyers and fans of Judge Judy!  Halftime talking heads announce that Michigan's starting RB pleads his DUI down to "operating a vehicle while visibly impaired".  Huh? Can someone - anyone! - explain the distinction...
3rd Quarter
  • Navy LB celebrated for his 3.89 GPA in Systems Engineering.  I'm pretty sure the Grace / Flanner Hall engineers on this distribution list didn't have a 3.9 collectively.
  • Who is are Special Teams coach?  Which is to say, who was... 
  • Davonte Neal's 12 yd. punt return just eclipsed the cumulative total of 2011 return yards.
  • Everett's gonna have to grasp the concept of  'touch'.
  • Manti - INT!  Can he play CB?
4th Quarter
  • Pretty good pass rush but they're going to have to be better at closing the deal.
  • From his own end zone, Ben Turk displays perfect form! And drives the punt 31 yards.  Ugh.
  • Ishaq - 2nd big hit today leading to a turnover.  Boy, it would be nice if he started living up to the hype.
  • Cam McDaniel's pretty good.  Not that anyone is ever going to know it.
Summary Thoughts
  1. One cannot be disappointed with Golson. 
  2. Hard to feel very confident about the secondary. They will (should) get better but one can only hope the pass rush continues to improve.
  3. If today is any indication, special teams will cost us at least one game.
  4. The running game was really impressive. Fast, tough, with really nice vision.
  5. It may be only one game but one should feel good about the game Kelly called. Smart. Played to obvious strengths. Best of all, didn't try to be unnecessarily clever.

If This Week's Game Were A Movie Poster, It'd Be...

"Between Land and Sea, There Is A Place 
Where Myths Are Real"

Maintaining this week's Irish theme, this charming John Sayles film demonstrates that in Ireland, the line between Reality and Mythical is indeed a blurry one.

What the movie doesn't tell us is what happens to The Magic outside of Eire... guess we'll find out this month.

Buddy of the Week
It's been two years since Buddy shuffled off this mortal coil... and since shuffling was Buddy's primary gear of motion, he would've been impressed with the overall speed of the team we saw on Saturday.

That characteristic unites a short-list of candidates for the Week 1 'Buddy' that includes Stephon Tuitt, Everett Golson and Manti Teo. All could be credibly argued for.  But this week's recognition gets shared by Theo Riddick and George Atkinson III.  "Cierre who?", you cry!  Over 200 yds. rushing between the two... showing speed, power and vision. And no turnovers. The help they provided Golson alone was huge but in reality they also took pressure off all the inexperienced WR's and gave the O-line a little relief in not having to sustain their blocks for quite as long.  Well done, gentlemen!

Cinema dell'Inferno
In prior exchanges of correspondence, it was suggested that should 2012 the football prospects go south in a hurry, alternative forms of entertainment (with which to have excuses to maintain the tailgaters) should be explored.  A film program was proposed.

Despite yesterday's success, that scenario is not out of the realm of possibility so I've taken the liberty of suggesting the seminar schedule:

       Film                                              Opponent                          Theme
1.   Deliverance                                   PURDUE                    Could be worse. Could be canoeing in the South.
2.   Seventh Seal                                MICHIGAN               Playing chess with Death. Who's got next game?
3.  The Last Wave                              MIAMI                      It's the End of the World.  Let's surf!
3.   Grand Illusion                               STANFORD              "Always look on the bright side of life..."
4.   Iron Sky                                         BYU                            Nazi's in Space!
5.   Wings of Desire                          PITTSBURGH           Angels walk among us!  And they're even nice to Dillon guys.
6.   A Clockwork Orange                  WAKE FOREST        Everything is better with a little Ludwig van...

"Cierre... Justin.  You're from California...
how could you NOT have one of these?"

In advance of this series, I'll be holding a Purdue halftime town hall debate on the following statement:

"DUI's have been responsible for deaths. The only things weed has killed are large pizzas..."

Compare and contrast. Cite examples.

Tool Time
"We're not monsters. We're just ahead of the curve."

    Denard Robinson.  For the record, I'm a big Denard fan, he of the tragic shoelace tieing disability and the dirigible passing style. But calling out Usain Bolt and saying you'd beat him in a 40 yd. dash... child, please.

    NCAA. Not only did you completely whiff on properly closing the UNC academic scandal ('no rules were broken') but with the hint of a new USC payment scandal, does anyone have confidence you'll 'bring the pain' that Mark Emmert has been promising?  In a word, no.
    • Floyd Mayweather.  Betting $3 million on the Wolverines, getting only 14 points?  Gives new meaning to the term 'brain dead'.
    • Lance Armstrong.  Everyone in our family wore a yellow Livestrong bracelet at one point - we've had cancer touch a lot of the family, sometimes better than others.  So in a sport where, literally, if you ain't cheatin' you ain't tryin'... color me unsurprised but still disappointed
    • Skip Bayless.  Musing about the possibility of Derek Jeter being a PED user because he happens to be having a great year at the age of 38 smacks of pathetic no-one's-paying-attention-to-me desperation.  (There's a reason for that - you're a hack.)  Oh and where was this insight when Jeter's batting average dropped 100 points in May and June?
    "When danger reared its ugly head,
    he bravely turned his tail and fled..."
    • Allen Pinkett.   It's not so much that what you said was so unbelievable or heinous - behind close doors, there's more than a few people that certainly agree with your sentiment (if not the precise words chosen) - it's that you had multiple chances to rephrase, redact, run away (!)... but you didn't.
    On top of Pat Forde's thoughtful defense this week of Notre Dame's standards, as well of his reference to "future medium-security detainees" at other schools, it does prompt the question, 'what exactly does the future suggest at some of these programs?' and an idea for a neat new game!  One I call "Predict The Career Track..."

    Now I've scrambled them up so don't be fooled... mix 'n match - any number of possibilities certainly exist. (Answers will be published in next week's issue!)






















    Schadenfreude Winner.
    Inasmuch as Week 1 in college football is typically 'bring on the cupcakes', there isn't a lot to work with.  Be that as it may...
    1. Michigan.  I love my younger daughter dearly but her school's fan base might wish to re-calibrate their expectations. Kudos for scheduling a really tough game early - welcome to our world, Big Blue. You can be sure that'll never happen again - next year's non-conference foes revert back to Central Michigan, Akron and UConn.  On the bright side, think of all the unnecessary 'Denard for Heisman' advertising money you're going to now save the state.
    2. Boise St.  I was cheering for you, Fighting Spuds, but having you out of the 'BCS buster' conversation before September is kinda nice too.
    3. Boston College.  For a college with a lovely academic reputation, BC might have the most cretinous fan base in the country, north of the Mason-Dixon line.  For that reason, it's always a good day when they lose. Even when its to Miami.

    Wager 2012.
    The collective prognostications would suggest a 2012 theme along the lines of "Mediocrity, Thy Name Is du Lac".   Of course, that label doesn't really do justice to a) the difficulty of the schedule (widely accepted as the toughest in the nation) and b) the relative youth of the team.  But this exercise is not about lame rationalization, it's about 'show me the money!'  Or a sliver of the $800 pot.


    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
    Coach Kelly, as you return to U.S. soil with one game and an impressive victory under your belt, now is not the time to play it safe.  Channel your inner Batman!  The Christopher Nolan / Christian Bale one, not the George Clooney / Val Kilmer version.

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