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Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Week 8 (2012): Breaking Bad (And by 'Bad' I Mean Good)

"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... " 

"Is This Not Why You Watched?!..."

I was. Wildly.  At least for the final 8:00...  but like the attendees at the Colosseum, I'm mindful that one watches sporting events for a variety different reasons, not the least of which being to witness a mauling.

And the run up to Saturday evening's game had me unsure as to whether we were to be Maximus or lion food. Sooner Nation's bat-shit-crazy attitude toward Northerners, Catholics and ND Losses That Occurred During The John Steinbeck Trashed Us Era left me unsettled.  

Those of you who went to the game were braver folks than I.

Every pundit with a media credential had us getting pounded. "Good defense but never be able to keep up with Oklahoma's hitting-on-all-cylinders offense..." Truth be told, last year's USC game didn't exactly inspire confidence that our coaching staff was up to the task of getting these guys prepared for a this-time-we-mean-it really big game. 

But hey, I guess that's why they play the game.

Song of the Week

Given the locale and the opponent, it's irresistible drawing on the Old West gunslinger 'Showdown At The OK Corral' metaphor. Just wasn't too confident we'd be the one left standing at the end of the duel. Score one for the guy(s) in the White (or gold) hat!  And who better to bring that imagery to life than Arizona's favorite son, Alice Cooper?  At least he's my favorite son of Arizona.  And I think my mother's as well, due to their shared Christian values, love of desert golf and appreciation for the opportunistic use of fake guillotines in a stage show... 

“Step into the street by sundown,
Step into your last goodbye.
You're a target just by living,
Twenty dollars will make you die…

My shots are clean and my shots are final.
My shots are deadly and when it's done
You're as stiff as my smoking barrel.
You're as dead as a desert night.
You're a notch and I'm a legend…”

Word of the Week

CHURLISH  adjective \ˈchər-lish\

1  of, resembling, or characteristic of a churl : vulgar
2  marked by a lack of civility or graciousness : surly
3  difficult to work with or deal with : intractable <churlish soil>

— churl·ish·ly adverb
— churl·ish·ness noun

First Known Use of CHURLISH
  • before 12th century
Synonyms: boorish, clownish, classless, cloddish, loutish, uncouth

Rhymes with CHURLISH:  girlish

Used in a sentence...  Given the Sooner fan base's churlish behavior in the week preceding the contest, their game day hospitality was a pleasant surprise to the ND fans who traveled to Norman. 

Random Observations Of The Game

1st Quarter - Weathering The Storm

-   Oklahoma comes out no huddle and really up tempo. Just like their candy-striped crowd.
-  Okie center snaps to... no one!  Sweet!  I'll take it!
-  ND's turn.  3 and out. So much for 'put 'em immediately on their heels' play calling...
-  Herbie, The Voice of Reason as he points out our 'bend but don't break' defense.
-  Cierre!  62 yds!  Was he even touched?!  (Suck on that, Brent.)
-  Even when Brent is complementary to ND, he is phenomenally irritating. 

7-3, Notre Dame.
    2nd Quarter

      ND blitz!  Te'o?  Te' ouch!
    -  Herbie again:  "they could see that Te'o was coming.  Clearly the message was not delivered..."
    -  Early word-o-week nominee: gesticulate.  (Anyone notice how Oklahoma's players seem to be always showing an over-the-top reaction on every single play...)
    -  Bob Stoops, whining early and often.
    -  Daniels WIDE OPEN and Everett doesn't. even. see. him.  Really hope we're not going to be talking about that miss later.
    -  10-3, Notre Dame.  6:00 left and we're looking pretty steady.
    -  ND gives up 1st rushing TD.  Or not.  10-6, ND.
    -  Brent:  "Bob Stoops is not very happy."  Thank you, Columbo. 

      3rd Quarter

            -    1st drive, all Everett.
            -  Kyle, Kyle, Kyle... what are we gonna do with you?
            -  Uh oh, Brent's off his meds and quoting obscure Elton John. Herbie, DO NOT be an enabler...
            -  1st down from our own 2 yd. line.  Stanford!  Deja vu!   And not the good kind.
            -  Everett running and passing, passing and running... and just getting crunched. 
            -  Tommy in...  And passing to... who else?  Tyler!  
            -  10-6, Notre Dame.  3rd Quarter Time of Possession advantage, 11:30 to 3:30.  
                That's gotta make the defense happy.

      4th Quarter

      - Oklahoma's secondary is pretty darn good.  And #1, Jefferson, is a beast.
      - 14:00 left and Kyle makes it interesting.  Perhaps more so than is necessary.  13-6, Notre Dame.
      - 10:40, Red Zone for the Sooners and their specialty QB, Lurch, is in the game.
      -  4th and 2.  Pass. Awfully tough to stop.
       -  Lurch scores. C'est la vie.  13-13.  Lisa is removed from the viewing area due to her bad mojo. 
      -  2nd and 2... play action!  Golson to Chris Brown, 50 yds!  The gods are pleased w my sacrifice!
      -  5:00 and Golson scores!  20-13, ND.

      -  They're doing it again.  Brent & Herbie. Talking like the game is over. 

      - Te'o INT!  Kyle bi-sects the goal posts!

      -  Q.  Is it possible that we're watching this on some kind of tape delay so the announcers look more prescient than they really are?

      -  More phantom Oklahoma snapping! 

      -  And I need more grog to slake my victory-starved thirst! "Innkeeper, innkeeper - wine and fresh horses!"

      -  And Big Game Bob looks impassively on. 
      -  Ken Stills, Power Tool.
      - And Brent's final play call:  "Landry Jones is in trouble."  As usual, he's a day late and a dollar short.

      -  30-13, Notre Dame.  Signature Win

      Summary Thoughts
      Trying not to repeat myself from past observations... 
      1. Who among you are not tired of ND always giving up the cheap TD at the end of big games to make the game look closer than it really was?  So it was finally nice to get a late, meaningless TD so history records a bigger margin than was really the case for the first 52:00.
      2. Kelly is smarter than I've given him credit. To be blunt. I also wonder if he's a chess player as Saturday night - and maybe the season - now looks like a grand exercise in patiently setting up opponents in order to do other 'winning' things later.  With that defense, he can get away with it.  Let's hope the 'O' isn't a mirage.
      3. The coordinators are not getting enough credit.  And I'm okay with that. I'm beginning to worry about losing Diaco sooner than we all expected. Please stay a couple more years, Bob. Wait for the good HC job, not the first one.
      4. And this includes Longo.  4th Quarter conditioning has been remarkable.  Most ND teams we've watched in the past 10+ years crawl to the end of the game, hoping to hang on.  This team gets stronger, better.
      5. Tommy is the best #2 guy in the country.  But, barring injury, he should never start again.
      6. TJ Jones, unsung hero.
      7. Manti llikely won't win the Heisman but he's definitely punched his ticket to NYC.  Where he'll rescue a terrified kitten from a tree, be canonized in a fast track ceremony and receive a global humanitarian award . 
      8. Just think if we had a viable punt return.
      9. I don't expect a letdown this week - that was the BYU game.  But I'm not sure anyone should expect we turn into an offensive juggernaut either.
      10. We're not the best team in the country - 'Bama just seems on a different level - but this team really can compete with virtually anyone else.

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

      "There's A Time For Playing It Safe...""

      This game was not going to be won without some offense and given the vanilla nature of the offensive game plans to-date, one couldn't blame the media world for being overwhelmingly pessimistic toward ND chances.  But coach Kelly is a sly one. And by pulling more than a few pages from the Lou Holtz playbook, increasingly kept Oklahoma's defense off balance, exploited tendencies at the most opportune times and took more than a little rsik basically put the game in his QB's hands - none more than on that 2nd and 2 after the Sooners tied the game.

      Fantastic call.  And I speak for all of us when I say it's about time that play worked.

      Buddy's buddy

      Happy Halloween!
      While already having tipped my hand as this week's recipient, it would be remiss of me not to minimally acknowledge the efforts of the line play on both sides.  

      Mike Golic, Jr., if you're only ever remembered for one play, it should be your block on Cierre Wood's 62 yd. TD dash.  Bravo.

      And D-line, you owned Oklahoma. Turning their offense into a one dimensional and their linemen into hapless, broken lumps of whatever that region is known for (clean coal?!)... you guys were, again, spectacular. (And Gabe Ikard is now seeing a therapist for his embarrassing - and very public - premature snapulation issues...)

      But that was merely the amuse-bouche to the evening's main attraction, Everett Golson.  Frankly, Oklahoma is the caliber of opponent that other ND QB's simply don't have the skill sets to win against.  We needed you to step up in a big way, in every way (physically and mentally). And you did. Long may this continue. Buddy would be so proud...

      Tool Time
      "We're not monsters. We're just ahead of the curve."
      Sometimes I worry that climate change, while ravaging the rest of the globe, will also dry up what has long looked like a near infinite supply of Tools to highlight.  Then I see God in my grilled cheese and I know it's gonna be all right.

      Just witness this week...

       1.   Cam Newton.  Weakness of character has long been the hallmark of The Tool.  And Cam, the poster boy for the Rules-Don't-Apply-When-You're-Freakishly-Talented is case in point.  Cam's hit a little adversity for the first time in his career - they're losing and he's a primary contributor - and he's sad. So he pouts.  He folds like a house of cards because he can't do his 'look at me I'm Superman, I'm an entertainer' shtick.  Grow up. 

      The famous Dr. Rasmus...
         2.  Kenny Stills.  If you saw the game, this requires no explanation. But for those who may have stepped out freshen their victory libation, let me paraphrase advice Dr. Rasmus gave to young master Stills:  

           "If you're going to woof at the opposition, you might want to make sure.. 
            *  you actually scored 
            *  your score actually matters 
            *  your team is actually winning 
            *  you actually bark like a real dog, not a chihuahua or cock a poo

      Words, I think we can all agree, to live by.

      3. Lane Kiffin.  Where to begin?  Showcasing the dubious ethics to have a player switch jerseys for a one-play competitive advantage... in a game you win by 50?  Or is it the clueless way you blew a 20 point lead and then gave this quote, "I was surprised we kept screwing up..."   Really?  No one else was.

      4.  Whomever Decided That Gunner Kiel Stayed Home So More Administrators Could Attend.  And I'm assuming the administrators we're talking about were not Jenkins, Swarbrick, Burish and / or Affleck-Graves.  A small issue perhaps but very disappointing.

      Schadenfreude Winner.

      Week 8 - quality over quantity:
      1. Florida.  Has anyone else grown tired of the sweeping SEC love?  So Florida won a bunch of games, several far uglier than any of ours and they get praised for their athletes blah blah blah. (Funny how one never sees the word 'student' anywhere near the athlete reference but I'm off point.)  Glad you lost. Now go away.   Oh, coach Muschamp, if Brian Kelly got caught making these kinds of faces, it'd be national news...
      2. Wisconsin.  Brett, it's been awhile.  Good to see you again!
      3. Oklahoma.  The Civil War is over too. You guys need to learn to let go. 
      4. Rutgers.  At the risk of offending any of the esteemed New Jersey constituency, your being undefeated got a little tiresome as well.
      5. USC.  I know this hurts us in the BCS computer ratings and lessens the mutual 'big game' stakes of the Thanksgiving weekend game... but it's just ridiculous how much I enjoy seeing them lose. I'm talking-in-tongues ecstatic. Oh, and USC, I've got leaves in my yard smarter than your coach.
      Speaking of which...

      The Evolutionary Continuum*

                            Lane      Swiss     Amoeba          Dillon   Peking                  Te’o - Diggins
                            Kiffin      Army                               Man     Man                       offspring 

      *one man's hypothesis.

      The Gospel According To The Coop

      It's about this time each year that my gift for Notre Dame-related divination reveals itself through song.  Both blessing and curse, I come to 'see' ND Prophecy through various artists and their writings.  Two years ago, Pink Floyd, last year the Stones. And this year the estimable Mr. Cooper.  These words are simply too clear not to be taken seriously:

      Prophecy foretelling…


      Don´t always know what I´m talkin´ about
      Feels like I´m livin´ in the middle of doubt
      Cause I´m eighteen
      I get confused every day

      The Recruitment of 
      5-star head cases

      School's Out

      Well we got no class
      And we got no principles
      And we got no innocence
      We can't even think of a word that rhymes

      SEC Target Athlete Profile

      Hello, Hooray

      Ready as this audience that's coming here to dream.
      Loving every second, ev'ry moment, ev'ry scream.
      I've been waiting so long to sing my song.
      And I've been waiting so long for this thing to come.
      Yeah - I've been thinking so long I was the only one.

      Everett Golson's 
      "Oklahoma moment" 

      No More Mr. Nice Guy

      I used to be such a sweet, sweet thing
      'Til they got a hold of me.

      I opened doors for little old ladies,
      I helped the blind to see.

      I got no friends 'cause they read the papers.
      They can't be seen with me and I'm gettin' real shot down

      And I'm feeling mean.

      Philosophy Change 
      With The ND defense 


      I'm your top prime cut of meat, I'm your choice, I wanna be elected.

      I'm your Yankee doodle dandy in a gold Rolls Royce, I wanna be elected.

      Kids want a savior, don't need a fake,
      I wanna be elected...

      The Manti Te'o Heisman coronation

      Be My Lover

      She asked me why the singer's name was Alice.

      I said, listen baby - you really wouldn't understand...

      The Advent of Creative Naming In The 
       Athletic / Entertainment Industry

      Ballad of Dwight Fry

      See my lonely life unfold, I see it everyday
      See my lonely mind explode
      when I've gone insane

      I wanna get out of here
      I wanna, I wanna get out of here
      I gotta get out of here

      Swarbrick's Big East 
      Exit Strategy Epiphany

      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                            W
      3      PITT
      10    @BC
      17   WAKE FOREST
      24    @USC
      *Linipalooza III

      Wager 2012.

      Buh-bye, Team 8.

      For the first time, the idea of no one winning the pool - for all the right reasons - becomes more than just a possibility.


      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 CMark

      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 

      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 - 

      When did the Steelers change their nickname to the Killer Bees?

      Or were the Coen Bros. simply filming in Pittsburgh?

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