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Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Week 12 (2013): It's Not Complicated

Who thinks throwing the ball to the other team is a good idea?
Another year.  Another round of woulda - coulda - shoulda's.  

But honestly, with the benefit of hindsight, what did we expect?  

We lost, minimally, one game we had no business losing (Pitt) and that was enabled largely by an inexplicable targeting call no worse than the Stanford one that was correctly overturned (and probably shouldn't have been a penalty at all).  Oh, and I saw a dozen worse hits this past weekend alone.  

And apparently, Michigan knows how to get up for only two games a year - us and Ohio State - but after that, they're not even a good MAC conference team. As one shrewd analyst suggested, Brady Hoke is the Chris Christie-looking, Ann Arbor version of Charlie Weis.

But look what we had to deal with:

1.  A mediocre-at-best QB.  Sorry but I don't subscribe to the 'where would we have been without Rees' rationalization.  You guys are all laudable Notre Dame men - but I wouldn't want you at QB either.  (Well, maybe Peter.)

Recall that I was the guy that said we're all going to be pleasantly surprised by Tommy this year.  Call me The Anti-Nostradamus.  Even as The Greatest 3rd String Notre Dame QB Since Joe Montana, he wouldn't have started at Northwestern.  

And don't even think about Northern Illinois.

Blame Kelly for a lack of back up plan - but who anticipates their starter to get kicked out of school?  And Nancy-Boy Kiel?  He was only recruited by, oh, everybody in the country. At any level, QB remains the most important position on the field and when Golson went hasta la vista, we were staring at a 9 win ceiling.  We just didn't know it.  Except Alvin.  Especially also when... 

2.  A D-line that had their starters together for a whopping 23 snaps the whole year.  Alabama and LSU could've maybe survived that.  But that's only because they carry, like, 100 scholarship athletes off the books.

3.  More injuries that took at least three other Defensive starters for, in almost every case, the whole year.  Where were we weakest this year?  Up the middle.  Who was hurt? Grace, Baratti (pretty sure he would've started over Collingsworth).  And Spond, of course. 

4.  And an O-line that by the year end, lost it's entire starting interior core.  Pretty impressive how well they pass blocked.  Maybe this explains, in part, their suspect run blocking. 

Much of this speaks, of course, to a program that is still building depth.  And it's not to make excuses for another year of some head scratching defensive schemes and play calling.  

Just trying to lay out a few facts as to the daunting hand the team was dealt to start with... 

Song of The Week.
 I was in Detroit for the weekend.  And I really like this song.  That's about the extent of any application this song might have with the Stanford game.  That said, Che might've been a Stanford Man, I'm not entirely sure.  Maybe the Executive Ed program, something to do with International Strategic Alliances, no doubt. 

But I'm sure there's some ND people out there panicking about the state of the football program.  I am not one of them.  Sometimes things don't work out like you planned...  especially in an attrition-driven sport like football.

He looked a lot like Che Guevara, drove a diesel van.
Kept his gun in quiet seclusion, such a humble man.
The only survivor of the National People's Gang.
Panic in Detroit, I asked for an autograph -
He wanted to stay home, I wish someone would phone...

Word of The Week
 (This one's for the entitled Stanford narcissists...)


:  One who habitually describes and / or regards something as unimportant or having no value.

Used in a sentence:  Like so many fans when their team's fortunes go south, young Terry's constant, detached dismissiveness of things sports-related earned him a reputation as the 'A' Lot floccinaucinihilipilificator.

Game Time Observations
Note the distinction - game time as opposed to actual game.  I didn't actually see the game live.  Instead had a commitment to a cousin's wedding in Detroit and throughout the course of the evening, while checking game updates and receiving odd texts, couldn't help but draw some interesting, almost parallel universe-type connections between The Game and The Family Affair.  The observations will be few - so as to not repeat (too much) that which has been said a dozen times already this season.

Lisa, that is not how it's supposed to be served.
The Westin Cadillac Hotel, downtown, is really nice.  And Jaylon Smith is really good.

Much of the rest of downtown Detroit is a kinda depressing.  As is Our Red Zone offense. 

My wife really likes her port (I told you, Ungie).  And Kelly really likes to pass. 

Each might want to consider doing both in greater moderation.

Of course, mom, they've got Grey Goose...

My mother, at 88, is still quite the party girl.  

And Tommy, at age 21, is still quite the untimely turnover machine.

I'm told that if Detroit could clean up it's corruption, the city would have a fighting chance for success.  And if you replaced 'corruption' with tackling in that sentence, the same could be suggested about ND football.

Okay, if these analogies are too Corriganesque for you, let me to give you a faster, simpler analogy to the game.  One that you'll all be very familiar with:  Ingmar Bergman's cinematic classic, The Seventh Seal.  Allow me to recap the Stanford game in this way: 

There's this Knight.  He comes home from The Crusades, fatigued and frankly, more than a little disillusioned.  It was a really long, tough, disappointing season.  He meets Death on a beach. Challenges him to a chess match.  One more game.  While fancying himself to have some skills, The Knight doesn't know that Death is private university-educated and Bobby Fischer-crazy good at the game.  Yikes!  Las Vegas immediately installs Death as a prohibitive favorite.  A mortal lock, one might say.

Or you might possibly have seen the sequel...
A bunch of stuff then happens.  Various players come and go. There's some trickery,  a bit of deception, some of which works better than others. 

Towards the end, The Knight gets a little desperate.  It doesn't help.  Game over.  

The End. (Though The Knight did beat the spread and Vegas took a beating.)

Buddy's buddy
As much as I'd like to find someone of singular high performance to recognize, I can't.  I've read that apparently Dan Fox played a whale of a game - but how does one nominate him when Stanford ran like a hot knife through butter virtually all game long?  If one were rewarding quality over quantity, one might be inclined to recognize Mathias for the one open field tackle he made.  Cumulatively.  All season long.
It's pronounced Glen-MORE-an-gee...

And we really weren't on offense enough for anyone to (positively) distinguish themselves. Folston might've.  If we tried to run.  But we didn't.

But there was one creature who distinguished themselves last weekend, Bella Behrens - the Corrigans' hostess while in The Motor City... an excitable, 130 lb. lass who knows her way around a single malt, mushroom & pepperoni pizza and high stakes college football.  

Hello, perfect female.

 The Schedule
August / September
31    TEMPLE                         W  
  7    @Michigan                       L  
14   @Purdue                           W 
21   MICHIGAN STATE         W 
28   OKLAHOMA*                L  
  5   ARIZONA STATE (Dallas)     W 

19   USC                                         W  
26   @Air Force                              W  
 2     NAVY                             W  
 9    @Pitt                                 L  

23    BYU                                 W 
30    @Stanford                         L 

The Wager
And then there were... The Elite Eight

At least for now.  We're still in the process of determining a tie breaker protocol.  If you've got any interesting thoughts, please share.  

One pilot test concept involves a series of questions spanning 
  • one's favorite ND bloggers 
  • best REO Speedwagon song ever
  • the cinematic significance of Herzog's "Aguirre: The Wrath of God" (start studying your Klaus Kinski filmography now) 
  • an extra credit essay on "Gin: Vodka's More Interesting Colleague."

The intent is to be both challenging and edifying so the winner(s) feel a true sense of accomplishment. But as I said, it's still a work-in-progress.

Finally, if your name is not highlighted in yellow, I don't have you recorded as having paid.  If I'm wrong - a lot of money was exchanged while alcohol was involved so it's a distinct possibility - give me a shout.  Otherwise, just send your $25 to Stable Boy, c/o Scotchlandia USA.



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…)

Kevin C, Ray, Dave M


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.

Terry, Peter, Ted, Mike G, JayJPDaryl, Jerry W, Dennis

Raz, Jim S, Jim T, Bob S, Tim C, Jerry C, Mike C, Tom, Randy, Tim SBlair,  Kevin M, Shea, Mark


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. 

GarrettBryan, John, Brian, Lini, Jerry P, Ryan C, Matt



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?


Schadenfreude Winners 
On the biggest college football weekend of the year, one knew there was going to be plenty of awesome heartache to choose from.  And like my Thanksgiving eating habits, I'm trying mightily to practice moderation...
Not so sweet home, Alabama...

1.  Bama.  What a way for a 3-peat to end.  Not with a bang but with a "...WTF just happened?!" 

Hey Tide, roll that.

2.  USC.  Not a surprise, losing to UCLA and derailing the "keep coach O" movement.  Getting routed was a nice touch, however. Enjoy it while it lasts everyone - I don't think Sark is a bad choice as the new head guy*.  If nothing else, they'll be recruiting machines.

*Of course, I was a big Mark Richt and Butch Davis advocate as well.

3.  A&M.  Not a great week for Kevin Sumlin.  First it comes out that you've been politicking for the USC job for, like, a month. Then you get taken to the woodshed by Mizzou, ending what little relevancy your team had this year.  And with Johnny Football surely buggering off to the NFL in a month, your SEC future isn't looking exactly all that sparkling.  So is that new 6 yr. extension a reward or a prison sentence?

Lane's Lads

When the biggest games get played, the stars come out to shine. So do the tools.   Especially when their behavior is so often both inexplicable and inexcusable.

First, chocolate or vanilla?  Oh, and one point or two?
1.   Brady Hoke.   Judging by the lack of widespread outcry, I may be surprisingly alone on this opinion... but going for two points - because your seniors wanted to - instead of taking your chances in OT was just about the dumbest thing I witnessed this past weekend.  (And I'm looking at coach Saban.)

Two points to be made here, Brady:  1.  You may not have felt you could stop Ohio State BUT THEY WEREN'T STOPPING YOU EITHER and 2. (As my wife has reminded me on many occasions), letting your players make the decision?!  WHO'S THE PARENT HERE? 

2.  Mike Tomlin.  Check out coach Mike doing the E Street Side-Shuffle.  Maybe that "I had my back to the play" excuse is not so air tight after all...

3.  Jay Jacobs (Auburn AD).  Proclaiming it'd be "un-American" to leave an SEC team out of the BCS Championship because the conference's seven year run at the top.  Well, gee, Jay, entitled much?  Why do the rest of us even bother playing?  But you're right on one thing - Mizzou deserves to be in the championship.

4.  Stanford.  One thing I really, really appreciated about The Cardinal or The Tree, whatever it is they call themselves these days:  like ND, the players manifest almost none of the histrionics that the rest of football - college and pro - indulge in on a play-by-play basis.  They just line up and go.  And when the play's over, they get up and do it again. Amen.

That said, calling themselves (or their style) "Intellectual Brutality" is incredibly pretentious.  And not particularly original:  I had a prof tell me that in 1978. And I'm pretty sure it wasn't a compliment inasmuch as the observation accompanied his suggestion that my prose had 'gaps of logic that Jerome Heavens would've killed to run through'.  Asshole.

Cocktail of The Week

Breakfast of Champions

  • 2 oz.  bourbon (whatever brand you fancy)
  • a mug half-filled with yesterday's instant coffee
  • Whipped cream from a can

Add the bourbon to the coffee.  Stir.   Spray a healthy portion of the whipped cream on top. Have a whippet chaser.  

Wow, that was awesome!  Why haven't I always gotten lit up on Thanksgiving morning?  

Have another.  

Wake up on the dining room table with your children staring open-mouthed at you, and your wife slowly shaking her head.  Think to yourself, "Hey, at least things can't get any worse."

Then realize you're all out of whipped cream.

Recruiting Time!
We've got nothing let to play for - unless you call The New Era Pinstripe Bowl, The Hearts of Palm Dallas Bowl or The San Diego Country Credit Union Poinsetta Bowl (The SDCUPB) worth bothering about.  

And I actually do, if the game gets played around my birthday - and means hanging out with Feif, drinking Lini's wine and debating favorite REO songs while our wives ponder what exactly they thought they were getting into ~30 yrs ago...

Otherwise, we're into coming-down-the-back stretch-recruiting time... and if there was ever a silver lining to the valiant effort our boys came up with Saturday night, it was recruiting related.  Which is to say we didn't embarrass ourselves and send recruits running for other schools.

But with anywhere from maybe 5-6 spots open, it might be interesting to review who ND is sitting on... not an exhaustive list but the primary targets, it would seem are:
  1. Nyles Morgan, ILB.   Total stud, at a position of huge need, from nearby Chicago. Yet, he's only warming up to ND now. Which may actually be a really good thing.
  2. Nile Sykes, ILB. Another Chicago kid, evidently having a fantastic season. Some think he's as good as Morgan.  And inasmuchas they're friends.  We stand a pretty good chance of getting both.  (And boy, do we need 'em.)
  3. Michiah Quick, WR.  The good news: he's a god who's liked ND a lot for a long time.  The bad news:  he's from Fresno where ND's track record for closing the deal is terrible.
  4. Alan Lazard, WR.  Very highly rated and presently an Iowa St. commit.  But don't hold your breath: a theory is that he loves ND but won't be able to reconcile reneging on his dad's school.
  5. Charles Nelson.  A small, fast WR from Florida (is there any other kind?) being pursued,
    Slot Receiver., Comedian..
    possibly as a fall back to the academically challenged Isaiah McKenzie (which is looking increasingly dubious the more times the lad re-takes the SAT...)
  6. Matt Elam, DL.  A large Boy-Man, described a lot like Louis Nix four years ago, which is to say a little flaky, a lot lazy and likely in need of a consistent kick in the ass to reach his potential.  Still, beggars can't be choosers for ND when it comes to the D-line.
  7. JuJu Smith, S.  His name alone makes him my 'must have' recruit.  That and he's supposed to be a superstar at a position we're god-awful at.
  8. Peyton Hendricks, S.  Apparently a good-to-very good (but not necessarily great) prospect who'd be nice in any year but maybe really a need if JuJu doesn't come-come.
  9. Tyler Luatua, TE.  Supposedly one of the top 1-2 TE's in the country and considered an inevitable commit for the past three months... but he hasn't (and one has to wonder why at this point).  One could also argue we're pretty deep at a position with pressing needs elsewhere.
It's a popular notion to suggest that practically speaking, Golson and possibly Tuitt are the most important 'recruits' this year.  Hard to refute that.  Everett appears to be green lighted for re-enrollment mid-December although one never should assume too much when it comes to logic involving ND Admissions. (They let us in, after all.) 

And there's a kernel of logic attached to Tuitt returning - improve your draft stock with a better senior year - though it's hard to see him coming back.  (6'7", 320 lb. linemen, who can run, don't ever really go out of vogue, do they?)

Quote of The Week

"Good advice is something a man gives when he is too old to set a bad example."

Francois de La Rouchefoucauld, 17th Century French nobelman

A theory that neither the ND coaching staff nor the 'A' Lot patronage are, as yet, in danger of disproving.

Final Thought - I

Disappointing football season.

Outstanding tailgate season. 

Get over one, celebrate the other.

Final Thought - II

Masterpiece Theater

An 801 two-parter:




See you next year!

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