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Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Week 11 (2012): In The Land of Hope & Dreams

"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 probably nearly 100% accurate:  round about the time that Bruce Springsteen was belting out "this train - dreams will not be thwarted, this train - faith will be rewarded..." at The Sprint Center in Kansas City on Saturday night, Oregon's kicker was plunking an eminently makeable field goal off the left upright.  Minutes later, Stanford's guy was drilling a similar chip shot and it was 'Party on, Wayne! Party on, Garth!' in South Bend.  And, I suspect, in a lot of other places.  

"Kiffin said what?!"
What a long strange trip it's been, right?  And in yet another harmonic convergence, we had the opportunity to see "Lincoln" on Friday night (great movie, incredible performance by Daniel Day-Lewis) which also emphatically drove home 
-  the value of perseverance
-  the danger of taking your adversaries too lightly 
-  the benefits that accrue when one creates a single-minded plan to achieve a worthy objective.

Themes one could apply to ND Football 2012.

Song of the Week

This song's for you, Manti.  We have extolled your many legitimate virtues over the past several weeks, sometimes with more irreverence than others.  The excellence of your play on the field has always been undeniable and to see you interviewed is to see a young man ridiculously, and authentically, selfless.  But as your ND career ends, the one thing that jumps out is that you will be The Gift That Keeps On Giving to those that come after.  And what better metaphor for that than a 'ripple in still (some would say 'stagnant') water'.

                                                                        Reach out your hand if your cup be empty.
                                                                        If your cup is full, may it be again.
                                                                        Let it be known there is a fountain,
                                                                       That was not made by the hands of man.

                                                                       Ripple in still water,
                                                                       When there is no pebble tossed,
                                                                       Nor wind to blow.
Awesome when performed by The Dead. And when covered by Jane's Addiction, no less anthemic and inspiring. Just like you, Manti. 

Word of the Week

  • ely·sian adjective, often capitalized \i-ˈli-zhən\

1  : of or relating to Elysium
2  : blissful, delightful

First Known Use
  • 1579
  • Ancient Greek paradise reserved for heroes to whom the gods had granted immortality. Homer described it as a land of perfect happiness at the end of the earth, on the banks of the Oceanus River. From the time of Pindar (c. 500 BC) on, Elysium was imagined as a dwelling place for those who had lived a righteous life.
Synonyms: celestial, empyreal, empyrean, ethereal, heavenly, supernal
Antonyms: chthonic (also chthonian), hellish, infernal, plutonian, sulfurous, Tartarean

Used in a sentence... The dream of Notre Dame football returning to #1 ranking at year end was, for many, an elysian fantasy never thought achievable. 

Random Observations Of The Game

*   Dateline:  Kansas City, MO. Laid out on a couch at Chateau du Ungie.  The prior evening's revelry, capped with a 3am bourbon-fueled conversation with Mark and Matt appears, in hindsight, a tactical error.
*  But it's Senior Day!  And Phillip Phillips' "Home" is once again in evidence.  That kid must be printing money with all the usage of that one song.
*  Zeke Motta is carrying a sledge hammer. And I'm not even gonna ask why.  He looks like he knows how to use it.
*  Kappie's mom is a big girl.
*  And Tyler's dad is long drink of water!
*  Manti introduced. And the crowd goes wild.  Rightfully so.

What would Sigmund Freud think of Manti?  He'd augment his hierarchy of human psyche, that's what!  
Let's review:

I.  Id:  the part of the personality that contains a human's basic instinctual drives, often unresponsive to reality. Unconscious by definition.  See Dillon Man.

II.  Ego:  the rational component of the personality that seeks longer term benefits than the Id. Actions are often semi-conscious.  See Morrissey Man.

III.  Super-Ego:  the organized part of the personality that includes one's ideals and applies critical judgment to one's actions.  Sometimes appears more conscious than it really is. Utterly contradictory to the Id.  See Sorin Man.

IV.  Manti:  the fully conscious, inclusive and character-driven part of the psyche, imbued with more integrity than is natural.  Understands it's wholly superior to the other stages of the psyche but hangs with them anyway. 

1st Quarter

*  Excitable Boy, Cam McDaniel unwisely takes the kickoff out of the end zone.  And of course there is a penalty. Yet another drive starting from inside our own 10.  At least its familiar territory.
*  Wake has a player named Nikita!  That's a little intimidating.
*  4th play, option pitch to Cierre and it's "good night, Irene!" 68 yds., ND 7-0.
*  Kapow! Carlo - channeling his inner Jersey thug - lays out the Wake RB. 
*  Kelly is rockin' a classic grey sweatshirt.  While I applaud his pragmatism, it's Senior Day. There are parents here!  Where's your sense of decorum?
*  Repeating Mayock (as I am want to do):  when Golson sets his feet, he throws a great ball.
*  Tyler, looking more like a small forward, boxes out his defender on an otherwise fairly mediocre fade.  TD!  ND, 14-0
*  Manti misses a tackle.  Things you don't often see...
*  John Godman, "All he does is catch touchdowns..."  ND, 21-0. 
    2nd Quarter

    *  ND confidently running bootleg out of their own end zone, wow how things have improved.  
    *  When once we'd almost hurl seeing our QB's break out of the pocket, now it's kinda cool.
    *  70 yd. drive from inside the 10 (again) and Everett's feeling it.  Perhaps more so than is necessary:  INT on an inexplicably dumb throw.  
    *  Stephon Tuitt. Prime Time.  Sack #12.
    *  Double reverse that goes nowhere.  Why do it?  And why show it?
    *  Theo is a terrific receiver.
    *  Pump fake, TD pass on a rope to TJ.  Might be the best pass he's thrown all year.  ND, 28-0. 
    *  A 7 yd. punt return!  Where'd THAT come from?!
    *  Brindza, FG.  ND, 31-0.


    *  Hines Ward seems to be loving the marshmallow barrage.  Doug Flutie, less so.  But the objects are probably coming at him with greater pace than Hines'.
    *  Fun fact (you'll certainly hear again on Saturday night):  ND has outscored their opponents in the 2nd half, 134 - 46.

    3rd Quarter

    "Tyler, I knew Ken MacAfee...
    and you're no Ken MacAfee.
    You're waaay better!"
          *  Davonte is making me really nervous.
          *  Tyler Eifert - the new all-time leading TE receiver!  Bravo!
          *  Brindza, wide left.  I kinda knew it wouldn't last. 
          *  Tommy in.  Smart move.
          *  A Jake Golic sighting!  Evidently someone thinks this game is out of reach..
          *  News flash!  Cierre Wood is really good.  And GAIII is really fast.  ND, 38-0.
          *  Nice leather gloves, Tom Hammond.  Could you look any more the weanie boy?

    4th Quarter

          *  13:27 left and the best part of the game occurs. Kelly orchestrates a curtain call for his key seniors on defense.  And that probably tells you everything you need to know about how improved the player - coach relationship has become.
         *  Do I have to watch this last bit?!
         *  A Hendrix sighting!  
         *  That didn't last long. 
         *  Excellent usage of the slo-mo replay on Kelly's Gatorade bath. 
         *  And solid strategy on the player's part - it's not like Kelly is gonna get angry at Te'o...

    Summary Thoughts

          Rome wasn't built in a day, though if it had been a Notre Dame football fan they'd have been ticked off it wasn't. But aren't we all happy now?
          If one is a NY Giants or GB Packer fan ("we few, we happy few, we Band of Loons"), one embraces the value of playing your best football at the end of the year. Especially regarding ND's QB, that certainly is looking the case. 

    Year I                            Passing            %       Yds.    TD       INT     QBR
    E. Golson                    151 – 256         59.0     1918    11          5        132.1
    J. Clausen                    138 - 245         56.3     1254     7           6        103.9
    B. Quinn                      157 - 332         47.3     1831     9         15         93.5
    R. Powlus                    119 – 222         53.6    1729    19          9        139.2

    *   Nice to see the defensive 2nd teamers, not let up.  Certainly the 'points allowed' success has become a real source of pride.

    *  If it were me, I'd be having a conversation with Cierre about staying for his 5th year.

    *  Things that concern me going in to The Coliseum: 
        a.  Davonte Neal's decision-making
        b.  Chris Brown's hands
        c.  Kicking off to Marquise Lee
        d.  Kyle in the clutch

          *  I don't especially worry about us giving up the long pass play.  The question, for me, is whether USC / Lane can be patient enough to take advantage of the short stuff that ND is so comfortable giving up.

    If This Week's Game Were A Movie Poster, It'd Be... Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure

    "History Is About To Be Re-Written By Two Guys Who Can't Spell"

    Or maybe this is just the caption for Matt and Terry's excellent adventure in Kansas City this past weekend. No matter.  A couple guys are re-writing history at ND (and I have no idea their spelling prowess).  No one saw this year coming.  And yet, the team stands looking at one very winnable game - no slam dunk to be sure - in order to play for the national championship, in a year where everyone's proven themselves to be flawed.

    Who's Bill and who's Ted? I'd probably nominate Brian & Manti.  It seems to me that without those two guys having some kind of Vulcan mind-meld, none of this happens.

    Buddy's buddy

    Celebrity co-award presenter...
    Nuke Ungashick!
    Record setting day for Everett.  But he's not the call.  Not on Senior Day. This week we're recognizing the guy who a) got the party started with a 68 yd. TD dash and b) may also have played his final game in ND stadium (though apparently there may still be some wiggle room on him coming back for his 5th year).  

    Cierre Wood, come on down! This also gives me the excuse to add another song in his honor.  I, for one, hope you return.  But if you don't, thanks for the memories - including the ones we hope you'll be making in the next two games.

    Portrait Of The Artist
    As A Young Tool
    Tool Time

    I thought - and still do - that we Class of '79'ers were blessed with going to ND during an athletic Golden Age:  a national championship in football, a Final Four in basketball, a quality hockey team (not that any of you who went to the games could actually remember it afterwards). And don't even get me started on The Juggernaut That Was Fencing... 

    But I digress.  I've come to believe that we live in a similar Golden Age of Tools.  So many to document, so little time.  Historians may end up looking back at the early 21st Century as The Power Tool era, kinda like the Industrial Revolution except with immense advances in humans who are total jerks.  Take, for instance, this week:

    1.  Lane Kiffin.  You are my rock, my "Mr. Dependability".  And when you threw Matt Barkley under the bus after your team was totally outplayed (and one must add, out-coached) by crosstown rival, UCLA, you just demonstrated your full-on commitment to being devoid of even a scintilla of character.  

    2. Chicago Bears.  Getting embarrassed on national TV by the 49'ers is not justification for toolhood.  It's happens.  Although to be fair, it kinda happens to you more than one should reasonably expect.  But when senior management (Ted Phillips?) made Pro Bowl kicker Robbie Gould apologize for reaming the Park District Board for what everyone on earth knows - that the Soldier Field turf is the worst piece of... dirt - well, that was just embarrassing.

    3.  Jeffrie Luire.  I don't follow baseball until September so my general interest level is probably on the lower side.  But what he's doing to the Marlins, gutting the team (and lying to his players in the process) after getting the locals to pony up for a new stadium, is near criminal.

    "You said rape twice."
    "I like rape."
    4.  Jerramy Stevens. There's nothing 'near' about this guy - he's a total criminal. Former Washington Husky star TE and subsequent vagabond NFL'er, in the span of a little over a decade, he's been arrested 10 times, spanning charges of rape, sexual assault, reckless driving, drug possession, DUI, felony battery... the latest being his recent assault of his fiance (the equally psychotic Hope Solo) where they, in perfect poetic symmetry, married later that day.  Wow.

    Schadenfreude Winner.

    Week 11 - who couldn't predict these?
    1.  K-State.  Never was wild about your loading up on JUCO's to begin with, coach Snyder. And Optimus Klein blowing the Heisman was just icing on the cake.
    2.  Oregon.  Now does this accelerate or decelerate Chip Kelly's bailing to the NFL?  And the fact that you lost at home, that's... awesome!
    3.  USC.   Proving that occasionally one can have one's cake and eat it too... I get to celebrate SC losing... AGAIN (!)... and ND still ends up #1.

    Recruiting Carousel
    All's quiet.  Which is probably a good thing.  

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

    Wager 2012.

    It's official - no one wins.  And everyone wins!  

    I'll be taking any and all suggestions for Sandy-related donations... JP has started the ball rolling with a terrific one, The Breezy Point Disaster Relief Fund, which totally works for me.  If any of you have a strong point of view about an alternative, give me a shout and we'll get this money sent.

    I can't even freakin' believe the pool ended this way!  And I really loved the movie 'Hugo'...


    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?)
    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 

    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 - Ode To A Fallen Icon

    As told through haiku...

    Hostess in dire straits? 
    Referendum Sixty-Four.
    Perfect mountain home!

    Final Thought - II 

    Hey SI, I got your jinx right here!  (Oh, and by the way, 'miracle' my ass.  This ain't no Willingham / Weis mirage...) 

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