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Thursday, May 30, 2013

Putting the 'OFF' in off-season

"These are the times that try men's souls. 
 And their annual ND football wager."
                                                   T. Paine

True story:  Back in 1982 I dated a woman from my office who had a  friend teaching high school in some godforsaken outpost of upper state New York. Buffalo, perhaps.  The teacher was using Mike Royko's terrific profile of Richard Daley and Chicago machine politics, "Boss" as part of a civic lesson. As Fate would have it, the book contained a few off color words - nothing one can't hear weekly on "Glee" these days and Royko was nothing if not factual - but it set off a few of the locals parents into literary vigilante mode.  

One woman in particular, fearing the moral foundation of the community on the verge of being rend asunder, led a crusade to get the book burned banned.  (Overreact much?)

The teacher, naturally, became the center of this controversy... news of which reached Chicago. My lady friend shared a press clipping with me via inter-office envelope (remember those?).  I, of course, was outraged on behalf of the put upon teacher and scribbled back a fast, top-of-mind suggestion to the effect of... and I'm paraphrasing here... that the woman was clearly a cave dweller and should be put to sleep.

No big deal.  A hyperbolic recommendation I've made on more than one occasion. About many of you.  

But this is where the story takes an unexpected twist:  my office friend sent my remarks back to Cave Dwelling Woman.  

Are you insane?!
More to the point, how'd she get her address?!  Questions that baffle me still to this day.

Suffice it to say, CDW did not take the sentiment with the cavalier, metaphorical spirit with which it was intended.  In fact, having probably never ventured far beyond the shrubbery of her village's boundaries, the Chicago postmark apparently communicated only one thing*:  Al Capone's city.  And the near certainty that there was now a Chicago mob hit out on her


This wouldn't have been all that bad, relatively speaking, except the target in question thought the local teacher had put the hit out and he was now in a fairly meaningful jam.  Questions were being asked. Allegations were being made. Clarifications (not to mention, apologies) were required.  

Done. Done. Done!

*This was, after all, pre-Michael Jordan Era after which when you said 'Chicago' anywhere in the world, his name was the first thing played back.

One of the many amazing things about this story is that my office management never found out about it, I didn't lose my job and a promising communications-based career was not cut short.  Now you might logically conclude that I dropped that curious young woman like a stone...  

But you'd be wrong - I married her.

So, in a life littered with more Encounters of The Bizarre Kind than mathematical probability would dictate, this one remains permanently on my short list.  Accordingly, there were a few lasting takeaways:
  1. Whenever communicating anything (especially to Lisa), recognize there is often a critical, secondary audience.
  2. Never call anyone a cave dweller unless they are, in fact, living in a cave.  Like maybe Tom Hanks in 'Castaway'. Or The Count of Monte Cristo. 
  3. Never suggest anyone should be put to sleep unless they're a fairy tale character. Like an ogre.
  4. Sometimes events take a turn that one just never sees coming.
  5. Embrace forgiveness - and second chances.
Those last two insights bring us, finally, to Everett, Eddie V., Tommy, coach Kelly and a way-more-interesting-than-is-necessary Notre Dame off season...

So What To Make Of Everett Golson?
When I first heard of Everett’s crime of “poor academic judgment” – incidentally the best “we’re a private school and we're not saying nuthin’” euphemism since the 1974 “dormitory violations” that sat down Ross Browner, Willie Fry, Luther Bradley, Al Hunter et al for a year – I couldn't help but think back to the time when my oldest daughter, then a wee lass, got in trouble.  Not a particularly uncommon occurrence for her except that this particular time I hit her with the inevitable, “what do you have to say for yourself” and she replied “Well, daddy, I guess I just made a poor decision.”

I'm done talkin' until I speak to my legal counsel!
Two thoughts ran immediately through my mind:  1) had she been talking to her uncle Mike?  And  2) well played, young lady!

The point is, I didn’t know if she indeed made a rash, dumbass decision or whether she was a burgeoning criminal genius .. was she genuinely contrite or just telling me just what I wanted to hear?  (Turns out that it was a 50-50 mix:  she sincerely regretted getting caught and would've said anything to end that particular conversation.)

And that’s where I’m netting out w Everett… we’ll see. He certainly isn’t the first student to get busted for cheating and with the extraordinary amount of time investment required in being a scholarship athlete (much less the star QB), it’s quite easy to believe his crime had more to do with poor time management discipline than an irreparably flawed character.  But who knows – he’s gonna get a shot at redemption… a 2nd chance this offense merits… and we’ll see if he takes advantage. It’s not a total walk in the park he'll get reinstated. 

I also believe that outside of Stanford and BYU (religious moral standards), no legitimate D-1 program would've kicked him out.  There would've been some kind of Mickey Mouse football punishment like sitting out the 1st half in the Appalachian State home opener. And if you're Michigan, in that particular example, maybe not even that.

I'm fully behind ND handling it like they did. 

Buddy's buddy

I don't expect to get much (any) support for this but...  it's time for me to make amends with Tommy Rees and let him know, "I'm behind ya, old sport!" And not just as a gratuitous sop for my mother. 

Next Man Up.  Or Only Viable Option, take your pick. 

For you Andrew Hendrix advocates... really? The pre-med student who can't seem to read a defense?  Answer me this:  would you even let him read your hospital chart?

And Malik Zaire? He still believes The Rock is named thus because that's where Rockne's plane crashed... so I personally doubt he's quite ready.

No, this is a Redemption-themed blog.  No doubt, Tommy's gonna need help... like a running game (are you listening, George / Greg / Tarean / Amir?) and some dependable receivers (TJ? Davaris? Troy?).  But the O-line ought to be pretty stout and the defense should keep things close... Right?  Right?

So at this time of the season, before Tommy can throw nary an INT, I'm here to say that I think he can be good enough*. And maybe, just maybe, this is his time to be Buddy's buddy.  

At least until his first 2 INT game.  I don't possess Buddy's remarkable powers of loyalty.

*Damning With Faint Praise 101

Song of the Week
 A song that sums up the present ND Nation 'could we be any more freaking snake bit' gestalt, Social Distortion's "Bad Luck" - a paean to having Fate seemingly continually conspire against you...

Tough to pick which version is better, hard rockin' or acoustic, but I prefer the latter.  This one's for you, Dimmy.

"Thirteen's my lucky number, to you it means stay inside.
Black cat done crossed my path, no reason to run and hide.
 You're looking through a cracked mirror. No one really knows the reason why
Your enemies are gettin' nearer. Gonna hang down your head and cry... 
You got bad, bad luck..."

This Season's Betting Construct
All this is merely a set up for the true practical matter at hand... considering your 2013 forecast... due in roughly 90 days, which just got significantly more... variable... than a week ago.  Consider the following philosophical continuum as a vehicle for plotting your evolving attitude toward this year's likely fortunes: 



School of Thought / Representative Quote




The Self-Indulgent & Excessive

“You don’t develop courage by being happy in your relationships every day.  You develop it by surviving difficult times and challenging adversity..”

Man up! We’re still BCS bound even w/o Everett and Eddie! Go Irish!  (And stop bogarting the wine skin, bro…)



The Logical

“Face the facts of being what you are, for that changes what you are…”
Epicuris is an incorrigible drunk but he’s right about this still being a very good team.  That said, losing Golson has to cost us a game or two.



The Realist

“I sit astride Life like a bad rider on a horse.  I only owe it to the horse’s good nature that I am not thrown off at this very moment…”

I don’t have a clue what’s gonna happen but the odds alone suggest we’ll win 7-8 and go bowling in Shreveport. 



The Skeptic

“The wise have always said the same things, and fools, who are the majority, have always done just the opposite…”

Epicurus is delusional. Everett is a significant loss. The entire ‘O’ was built around him. Bet high at your peril.



The Cynic

“What I like to drink most is wine that belongs to others…”
The high point of the year is gonna be the ‘A’ Lot experience.  AgainNot that that's a bad thing.



The Nihilist

“A casual stroll through the lunatic asylum shows that faith does not prove anything…”
Honestly, why bother with any of this?  Life beyond ‘A’ Lot is a wretched, futile existence - devoid of meaning. May I have another Bloody?


If this helps...
August / September
31    TEMPLE           
  7    @Michigan                       
14   @Purdue                          
21   MICHIGAN STATE            
  5   ARIZONA STATE (Dallas)         

19   USC                                       
26   @Air Force                            
 2     NAVY                     
 9    @Pitt                      

23    BYU   
30    @Stanford               

*NOTE: Linipalooza - NEW DATE!

Cocktail of the Week
It's not been a banner last few weeks, this seemed apropos...

The Sad Texan
  • 2 oz. Jack Daniels Old No. 7 
  • 8 oz. Big Red soda
  • 2 dashes Bittercube cherry bark vanilla bitters
This isn't rocket science.  Just mix the ingredients in a big glass and add ice. If you can't find Big Red soda, move to Texas. (Unless you're from California, apparently you scare them with your free thinking ways...)

Enjoy on a summer day while listening to The Smiths.  Or Morrissey.  Or a sad country song about a dead dog.  Or an ineligible QB.  Cry.  If tears end up in your drink, add more bitters to counteract the saltiness.  Or, if the tears turn to choking sobs, just drink the Jack straight.

After that, suck it up and get ready for the 2013 season.  


Start me up
1.  LA Lakers.  Who can argue with this one, outside of Jack Nicholson and Dyan Cannon?  Second only to the Heat in being the target of widespread domestic loathing, you've now got a team with a seriously debilitated Black Mamba and the prospects of Dwight "There Is No I in Team But There Is a Me" Howard as your future cornerstone. Good luck with that.

2.  Detriot Red Wings.  Sorry, Grules / Jim.  Give Chicago this one. You made them win the game twice.  And hasn't the city suffered enough in every other professional sport? You still have Miguel Cabrera. 

This is very  nice, Sergio but
have you cleaned your room?
3.  Sergio Garcia.  Appreciating that there are a substantial number of Tiger-haters in the audience, I enjoyed how the Players Tournament ended - especially when it involves whiny Spanish millionaire golfers who still live with their parents well into their 30's. Plus if you're gonna make a racist joke at a dinner covered by the media, could you at least find something more original than a fried chicken reference?

Crash's Cretins
In advance of the Baz Luhrmann re-make of The Great Gatsby, I opted to re-read the book. Great story.  And little did I realize our favorite USC coach was, even in the 1920's, a popular archetype... buried in the character of Jordan Baker, ironically a professional golfer described thusly...

1.  Lane Kiffin.  "She was incurably dishonest - she wasn't able to endure being at a disadvantage... and given this unwillingness, I suppose she had begun dealing in subterfuges when she was very young in order to keep that cool, insolent smile turned to the world..."

2.  Brady Hoke. After ND cancels a couple games due to their new ACC-related commitments, he accuses the Irish of chickening out... apparently not being cognizant of UM's cancelling future games in the series first. Oh yeah, then there's Michigan's proud history, led by legendary racist / Catholic-hater Fielding Yost, of blackballing ND from the Big Ten for roughly 50 years... ironically leading to ND's national following by forcing the team to barnstorm the country just to get anyone to play them.  (Did we skip rivalry history class the day they were teaching Notre Dame, Brady?) You're rockin' an impressive Fred Flintstones look; I just didn't think you were really prehistoric.

3.  Julie Hermann / Rutgers Administration.   To quote a Letterman staff writer, "Those Who Can't, Teach.  Those Who Can't Teach, Teach Gym. Those Who Can't Teach Gym Are In Positions of Authority at Rutgers."  

3.  Geno Smith.  Falls to the 2nd round of the NFL draft, then fires his agent because of it.  The Jets and you are a perfect match, Mr. Accountability. 

4.  Dwayne Wade.  Capri's?!  Really?

5.  NCAA.  .Sanctioned a female collegiate golfer for impermissible benefits when she washed her car on campus - and used university water.  Made her remburse the school $20.  (Apparently she was washing w Evian.) One can't make this stuff up...

6.  ND Nation.  Clearly not everyone but you know who you are.  For those of you frustrated - and there seems to be many - that the school should drop the hammer on such a pedestrian offense... which part of the academic cheating is not a big deal to you?  One man's opinion:  treating plagiarism (or whatever it was) like a parietals violation or a DUI is extremely flawed thinking. You can't get on your moral soapbox and do the "ND does things the right way" and "it's a 40 yr. decision" thing then NOT view academic malfeasance differently. Sorry.

Word of the Week:
MALNEIROPHRENIA (n) - mal-neero-fren-ee-a

: A state of depression that occurs after having a nightmare.

(Sensing a theme yet?)

Used in a sentence... After I dreamed that Notre Dame's star QB got kicked out of school for poor academic judgment - who even knew that was crime - I developed a crippling case of malneirophrenia.  When I realized it wasn't a dream at all, it got even worse.


10 commits into the 2013-14 cycle and the highlights, so far, are:
  1. Eddie Vanderdoes - as Jay Leno once mused about the dead, "They're not late. They're not coming."  Neither is Big Ed.
  2. Next year's offensive line haul is going to be a big strength.
  3. We're recruiting someone named JuJu.  Sweet!  (See how I did that?)
  4. And another guy named Budda!
  5. We're gonna need a couple QB's.

Now for something completely different, how Bama handles recruiting:

Quote of the Week

"I'm astounded by people who take 18 years to write something. That's how long 
it took that guy to write 'Madame Bovary' and was that ever a best-seller? No."
Sylvester Stallone, who wrote 'Rhinestone' in ~13 minutes

Expectations are a bitch.  Sometimes things, like football programs, take a little longer to turn around than everyone thinks (or would like)...

Final Thought -I
Already thinking about 'A' Lot prep...

Final Thought - II

Lest I forget... a sincere thanks to all of you whom I cajoled (coerced) into supporting Ryan with her recent  "Yoga For Hope" charity event.  Not only did you help her exceed her fund raising goal - substantially - but it contributed to a really neat, special day for her... the outing was held in the Petco Park outfield - how often does one get go all 'downward facing dog' - sober - on major league turf?

I know she's planning on thanking you all directly but on behalf of Lisa & I , we really appreciate your participation.

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