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Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Week 7 (2012): Enjoy Every Sandwich

"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... " 

This is what crosses your mind when you have too much time on your hands:  

Like father, like son. 
If Manti Te'o and Skylar Diggins had a love child*, would it even be human?  More likely, super-human or supra-human.  Something Transcendental, Preternaturally Gifted and Other-Directed. A multi-cultural Force of Nature, equal parts Gandhi / Halle Berry / Jim Thorpe...

*It could happen... tragedy-based lust, selfless Save The World act (artificial insemination?)...

We shall call you Star Child.
And if the child was born in a presidential election year, could I immediately vote for him / her?  Or like the Dalia Lama, would he / she be simply - and swiftly - elected by spontaneous national acclimation?

I'm a super freak, super freak....
Star Child would be no magniloquent buffoon, cut from cheap polyester 
Honey Boo Boo cloth but rather a World Citizen, wise and just beyond his / her years.  Even Iran would like him / her.

The reason I bring it up is that each of them made the media rounds in a big way this week.  And they did not disappoint in making the University very proud (and the rest of us totally depressed at our comparative insignificance).

Have a listen here to Manti's 15 minute interview with sports talk show host (and resident west coast hard guy) Jim Rome, whom afterwards is reduced to a near speechless Chief Acolyte of Te'o. Pretty remarkable.

Where do I sign?
And I'm pretty sure Steven Levitt's next Freakonomics edition is going to trace Notre Dame's future precipitous drop in football recruiting to Skylar's graduation.  

But there is actually a serious point here:  these are two really special people and to have them on campus at the same time... wow.  Rare.  Enjoy it.  Appreciate it.

While we're at it, other questions that I have recently pondered...

See all those leafy things?
You're gonna get on that ladder...

1.  Could zombies be domesticated?
And if so, could they do my gutters?
It's not as if one ever sees them moving off terra firma.
And we've got a ton of leaves on our property.  

"Yum - I'll have yours!  I love it!"

2.  Naughty sounding foods - bangers & mash, toad in the hole, kumquats, sticky buns and (everyone's favorite) spotted dick - are they a sin to eat?

You should see the other guy... 

3.  How can the head butt ever be a viable tactic in a fight?

But I digress.

It was an interesting week... with #3 in a progression of high profile (and highly alliterative) opponents:

"Can I buy you a ginger ale, sailor..."

 v  Catholics vs. Convicts
 v  Catholics vs. Conifers
 v  Catholics vs. Cougars

But not just any cougars.  
Mormon cougars.  

This game could be trickier than we think.

Song of the Week
Holy War.  Like it or not, this game had larger ramifications - two football programs carrying the banner for their respective religious organizations entrenched in a doctrinal battle over key tenets driving the very foundation of life in the 21st century...
  • Caffeine-based hydration
  • Interesting, comfortable underwear
  • The right to have only one wife be the Merciless God of Man's Universe 

In the end the game didn't hinge on exactly Divine Intervention - the better team inevitably won - but it did seem like God was messing with us for awhile... testing our resolve, as it were, until He touched Theo and said, "Lead us, Little Man..."

And it gave me the excuse to pull out this old but awesome Matthew Sweet song.  Hope you like it.

Hmmm now does He love us?
I look around and all I see is destruction.
We're all counting on His Divine intervention.
When He comes, the sun shines…

Word of the Week

TURGID  adjective \ˈtər-jəd\

1  being in a state of distension : swollen, tumid <turgid limbs>; especially : exhibiting turgor
2  excessively embellished in style or language : bombastic, pompous

— tur·gid·i·ty  noun
— tur·gid·ly  adverb
— tur·gid·ness noun

  • Latin turgidus, from turgēre to be swollen
  • First Known Use: 1620
 Used in a sentence...  Brian's turgid oration, extolling the virtues of an authentic Mormon lifestyle, left the dinner party attendees aghast.

Random Observations Of The Game
Friday night 
Dateline:  Union Pier, MI.  In honor of this week’s game and the GOP presidential nominee, the Alumni Hall reunion is sponsoring Mormon Night. Or The Amityville Horror depending on how much Brian drinks.  

"Something Wicked This Way Comes"

"You know, Barb, back home I'm known as the white Alan Page..."

"You're sure this how the Mormons do it?"

"First of all, John, it's the Vagina Monologues, not Dialogues.
And it's a feminist play, not a 
documentary on the Thai sex trade..."

I jest.  Awesome time w the Alumni Hall gang – food, drink, conversation could not have been better.

What year is it exactly?!
En route to the Joyce Lot tailgater, we do a quick fly-by the ‘A’ Lot gang only to find... there is no ‘A’ Lot gang. Nothing. Niente. Zippidity-Doo-Dah.  How could that be?! Postural hypotension immediately sets in – that head rush or dizzying effect one sometimes gets when standing up too quickly or listening to Judge Lohn argue legal nuance for too long.  I steady myself.  Clearly there’s been a rift in the Time-Space Continuum as I find myself standing next to Spike, my freshman year roommate... the Shakepeare-quoting civil engineering major who almost got me kicked out of school in my first month for attempting to the climb the Dome...  he was awesome!

The Ceremonial Passing of the Car Keys...
Focus.  Shaking off intense feelings of disorientation, off we go, only to have Ghost Of Christmas Past #2 appear (what was in that wine last night...)  

Louis Knoble IIIXXX.  Yikes. 

(If Chris Coraggio shows up, I am checking myself into the nearest clinic.) 

He doesn’t. 

Thereafter, much merriment ensues.

Game Time and off to The Morris Inn tent.  No Ungie this time but we do have Barb.  A trade up?  Almost assuredly.

1st Quarter
-   Everett still concussed, Tommy starting.  Okay, all you ‘what would happen if Rees played more’ advocates, be careful what you wish for…
-   Tommy-to-Tyler!  Score one for alliteration! And Mayock talks about pre-snap recognition.
-   11:52 and Mike Golic, Jr. gets his first False Start. Right on time.
-   Later that drive and Tommy “I only have eyes for you” Rees almost gets his 1st INT when he forces the ball into Eifert.  As we sniff the red zone.  Also right on time.
-   Yet another opponent effectively using the screen pass. Maybe there’s something to that play…
-   INT sails right through Dan Fox’s hands.  Halfway through the 1st quarter and there’s that eerie feeling this is gonna be one of those ‘woulda, coulda, shoulda’ games…
-   Te’o’s dad had not missed many meals.  And whoever got him seats on the end of the row knew what they were doing…
-   Tyler would look really good in a Packer uniform next year…
-   Our defense is relentless.
    2nd Quarter
      Good news:  Troy Niklas wants to hit someone this game. Bad news:  Just not until well after the whistle.  I guess that’s a start.
      Tommy “he gets us into our offense so much better” just burns a TO for not getting us into our offense.
      Danny Spond just keeps getting better and better.
      Matthias Farley with Dumbass Penalty #2.  Is it me or does this team just not look 100% focused?
      Davaris, your face mask was almost impaled with that pass.
      Mayock says. “No TD for BYU.”  The replay official begs to differ. Yet another sign this is not looking like our day.
      A Hendrix sighting – woo hoo!  Then… poof!  Gone.
      Boy, does Theo Riddick run hard.
      Brindza misses another FG, this one a glorified PAT.  I am NOT liking how this is going…

    October's a pretty special month for a lot of reasons, not the least of which is one gets to wear pick without fear of sexist reprisal.

    Did you know that ND has a commemorative tree for Cancer Awareness, planted (fortuitously) behind the Morris Inn?

    Pretty cool.

    3rd Quarter
          -    ND dodges a bullet involving what looked like a clear off-sides on a BYU punt, thus adding to the list of rules I don’t actually understand.
    -   We’re #114!  Our PR is literally no better than last year. At least we don't fair catch every one.
    -   Tommy rolls right.  He takes off!  He’s running. And running. And running.  For no gain.
    -  The Stadium noise is not unlike a church.
    -   Riley Nelson is… not good.
      Theo!  Legs that literally never stop churning.
      1st and goal from the 7.  Three running plays into the heart of the defense.  That tells you all you need to know about Kelly’s risk tolerance w Tommy in the red zone.

    4th Quarter
      I’m starting to think there’s something to that whole “conditioning as competitive advantage” thing, particularly along the lines.
      Kapron L-M has had an awesome day.  How nice would it be if he kept that up for ≈3 more months.
      The Stadium finally wakes up!
      BYU’s QB is irritatingly mobile.
      Eek!  BYU receiver wide open – and gets missed by a mile.
      Play of The Game?  Sack of BYU on 1st down, out of FG range and one of my favorite whipping boys (Carlo!) a big contributor!
      Interesting in that final, time-consuming drive of the game, Cierre was almost exclusively The Guy.
      Let the record show:  after that 1st series of the game, Mike Golic Jr.’s name hasn’t been mentioned.  

    Summary Thoughts
     This game (and how it played out) shouldn't have been a big surprise to anyone. Keeping a team of 18-22 yr. old's focused for 12 weeks is nearly impossible. (Just ask Pete Carroll.) It’s why the rest of the college universe treats September like pre-season.
      The fact that ND won - coming from behind - when they clearly weren't hitting on all cylinders is a huge testimony to the coaches.  This is exactly the type of game ND loses in the last decade.
      Last week I thought future success was all about turnovers.  This week, I’m adding Red Zone as a predictor.  Right now, we suck, especially w Tommy. And if it doesn't get better fast, we have no chance next week.
    -    We also have no chance if offensive play-calling doesn't get more creative. Which may mean taking some risks. Which would be fine if ‘Miami Everett’ shows up instead of ‘Stanford Everett’…
      You know you have a good defense when giving up 14 points is perceived as disappointing. 
      Regardless of the QB, a passing attack based on ‘throw it really high and hope Tyler / TJ catches it’ doesn’t seem sustainable.
      The young DB’s finally looked like it. I actually take that as a comfort. And a reality-check. No one gets complacent. They've got things to work on and it’s now on film.  Presumably, they’ll get better.
      We've proved we can come from behind but probably not by a lot (14+ points). We’re just not built that way.
      Are we over-rated at #5?  Maybe. Probably.  A little. But the real question is who cares?  If they win 10+ games w their schedule, they’re BCS-bound.

    Post game
    Meanwhile, back at the SW Michigan ranch... 

    Surf 'n turf.  More wine. More laughs.  And a small, mechanical sheep that does alcoholic pudding shots and barrel racing.  Where did that come from?!

    I'm told it's The Sport of The Future.

    If This Week's Game Were A Movie Poster, It'd Be... Memento 
    "Some Memories Are Best Forgotten"

    Let's face it - this was not a game (or a win) that anyone is going to want to spend much time reminiscing over.  We got the 'W'.   Pretty ugly.

    Let's move on.  

    Nothing to see here.

    Buddy's buddy

    Coach Kelly says Tyler Eifert, I say Theo Riddick.  End of story.  

    Particularly in light of all the quiet 'why does he play so much' speculation over the past weeks, he was practically a one man wrecking crew in the 2nd half.  Even without a home run gear, the little bugger never stops fighting for the extra yard. And with our suspect O-line (yes, I'm still not buying 'em as a huge strength), that's an awesome trait to possess. Theo, consider me a big fan.

    Tool Time
    "We're not monsters. We're just ahead of the curve."
    As we all know, tools come in all shapes and sizes, almost like a Forrest Gump box of chocolates.  Except you do know what you're gonna get:  bad behavior, low character, poor judgment and really lame excuses after the fact. And it’s a sad day (or week) when one can’t find easy pickings for tool candidates and I am loathe to go back in time to pull out nominees (I’m looking at you, Matt Holliday and KC Chief fans) but here’s a couple, proving no one can hold it on the road for even a single week:

    1.   Shakeel Rashad.  UNC LB who, while he’s running onto the field,  blind sides a Duke WR as he’s lining up! Have a look here.  First of all, it’s Duke. And unless it’s Christian Laettner, Tool Hall of Fame, Class of ‘92 (in which case it’s open season), that’s about as cheap as you can get.  
    2.  New York Yankees.  They were my team growing up and when it suits my purposes, still today.  But saying that after your sustained, near biblical post-season hitting collapse, the local NY Stadium boos contributed to your early exit … well that’s just weak.
    3. Pat McQuaid.  President of  the UCI (Union Cycling International) declares the moral high ground, stripping Lance Armstrong of his 7 Tour de France titles, saying there's no place for him in their sport. Yet... of the 21 riders who finished behind Armstrong during those seven years, 20 of them have been caught doping.  I'd say, Pat, Lance has exactly the right place in your sport.

    Schadenfreude Winner.

    Week 7 - so many 'near misses - yet I can still find someone's shortcomings to celebrate.  I'm special that way.
    1. Zach Mettenberger.  Can one experience schadenfreude for a person's failure?  You're darn tootin' you can!  After LSU's QB went 11-29 for 97 yds., I'm finally understanding coach Miles' vitriol toward our young Gunner.  It's not arrogance, it's envy.
    2. South Carolina.  So much for national championship aspirations, Steve.  Or even SEC division titles. But you'll probably get to work on that golf game a little sooner.
    3. MSU.  There may be many in this group that don't agree but if I just go on coaching esteem, D'Antonio v. Hoke, I'm always going for the latter. And I'm still bitter about that Little Giants rubbish.
    4. WVU.  Good news:  one less candidate for Te'o to worry about for the Heisman. Bad news: as of now, they're predicting KSU to be our BCS bowl opponent.  Eek.

        2012 Schedule.
    1    @Navy (Dublin)            W
    8    PURDUE                       W
    15  @MSU                          W
    22  MICHIGAN                  W
    6    MIAMI (Soldier Field)*          W
    13  STANFORD                           W
    20  BYU                                       W
    27 @Oklahoma
    3      PITT
    10    @BC
    17   WAKE FOREST
    24    @USC
    *Linipalooza III

    Wager 2012.

    Terry / Jim S / Brian / Blair / Jerry P, have a seat.  Teams 8 and 9... 'Dead Man Walking'.

    The fact is, there's at most only two games ND won't be favored in from here on out.  Not that they can't stumble but the way they play defense, tough to see 'em choke against the first three November opponents.

    We'll see.


    ND-Scorsese connection 

    Contestant’s prediction



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




    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?)
    BryanTedRayTim S, Bob S

    Jay, JohnPeterRazKevin MTim C, Mark

    Jerry C, Matt, Jerry WJim BTomMike CJim 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 

    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

    Returning to the faux Holy War theme, does anything describe our defense better than these three four weapons of The Spanish Inquisition?

    Fear, surprise, ruthless efficiency and an almost fanatical devotion to the Pope.

    And nice blue uniforms.

    (Don’t miss the ironic reference to ‘uncle Ted’…)

    How could we lose?

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