Search This Blog

Saturday, January 4, 2014

Post-Pinstripe Bowl: The More Things Change...

Let's start this final recap with a holiday drink.

Cocktail of The Week

Black Russian (To Get This Season Over With)
  • 2 oz.  vodka
  • 1 oz. Kahlua (or Tia Maria)

Mix the vodka and liqueur in a shaker.  Pour into an old-fashioned glass with ice cubes.   Take a long, deep tug for your first sip and recall that this used to be one of your older brothers favorite holiday drinks.  You're immediately transported back to family Christmases long ago.  

I'm surprised he didn't try and tag you too...

Then you remember how that same brother got up early one Christmas when you were a wee lad and cherry picked everyone's best presents for himself.  (With four boys, Santa couldn't be bothered with wrapping all the gifts.  Instead we were all assigned a chair with our presents collected upon it.)

My other brothers and I were none the wiser until mom 'n dad came down and began opining that they thought Santa meant for a very different distribution of the gifts - and Yuletide Order In The Universe was re-established.

It was the first time I'd ever heard my parents use the expression 'criminal genius'.  As well as the first time Mother Teresa's School For The Problematically Gifted came up in conversation.

It would not be the last.

In point of fact, that failed attempt at The Perfect Crime ultimately led said brother down a lifelong path of cynicism and mistrust in many of our most important cultural institutions (you don't even want to know the Easter Incident)... but it also created in him a Reformers-like zeal for Truth Seeking and Fact-based Argumentation that he carries with him to this day.
Yes, a 'C' player!

Which brings us to The New Era Pinstripe Bowl and the harsh realities that the game forces one to confront after 13 games: 

1.   Our QB was never any better than a try-real-hard 'C' player. That in itself is not a hanging offense. Except, to quote Auburn's DC (who is presently prepping for a NC game), "In today's game you can lift all the weights you want, if you ain't got a QB, you ain't got a football team."  

You don't say.

2.   There was, at best, minimal player development.  You want to bitch about offensive play calling or defensive scheme?  Valid criticism. But the greater coaching crime was this:  outside of the OL, who improved? And whomever was responsible for special teams was flat out stealing a paycheck all year long.

3.  There was also no discernible player-led leadership.  Call it the real Te'o Void. (And being liked... or being a 'true Notre Dame Man'... isn't the same as being a leader.)

4.  Recruiting matters.  That's the good news.  Provided this current class hangs together (and there's no reason to say it won't), it would seem we're really close to near SEC-like depth.
Song of The Week.

From what I maintain is the best rock concert film ever - "Stop Making Sense" - a song whose signature lyric provides the perfect analysis of Saturday's game (and the '13 Season):

Same as it ever was.
Same. As. It. Ever. Was.

Word of The Week


:  One who senselessly repeats cliches and bromides, often due to mental infirmity.  (Kind of like a blogger, except that in that case, it's always a sign of mental impairment.)

Used in a sentence:  It's true that young Terry is something of an incorrigible verbigerator, but in his defense, it could be just a sign of impending schizophrenia.

Game Time Observations
Final, random thoughts...
  • The NFL would kill for this weather come Super Bowl game day. (So would Green Bay.)
  • A screen pass!  Where have you been all season?
  • A Max Redfield start!  (And the same could be said.)
  • Coordinator?  We don't need no stinkin' coordinator!
    • well maybe on defense
  • I feel sorry for the TV announcers who have to call this game.
  • I should've created a prop bet around the number of ND illegal substitutions, delay of games and burned TO's
  • Has empty backfield EVER worked for ND?
  • Rutgers QB is not good.  And yet...
  • What is the deal with this turf?!
    • did we, per chance, bring other spikes?
  • Our ILB's... so slow.
  • The 2nd Half kickoff coverage was just about the most pathetic effort at tackling all year long. (And that's saying something.)
    • does anyone coach this group?
  • K. Russell - the only DB who improved this year.
  • S. Tuitt - total enigma.
  • Kelly still hasn't cracked the code on bowl game motivation w a month off.  Of course, playing in the New Era Pinstripe Bowl may have something to do with that...*
*editorial note:  apparently ~16 guys had a serious flu bug so maybe coach gets cut a little break

Buddy's buddy

It's been a long season and I'm tired.  And frankly, the game was just not that interesting, perhaps because I'm not such a conscientious student of the game... but in my zeal to bring closure to a semi-reasonable season - and let some else do my thinking for me - who can argue with the bowl's choice of Zach Martin as the game's MVP?

First off, it's kinda cool that an offensive lineman gets recognized, especially one that started a record number of games. (I loved Kelly's likening him to Larry Bird, one who makes everyone better around him.)  

Plus, between the drops by the WR's, Tommy's inaccuracy and the defense's lackluster effort, who else would one nominate?  Brindza? 

The Wager

Cutting to the chase... the winner(s) are:  Ryan Corrigan and Brian Ward!  Here's how the final tie-breaker predictions shook out:

Checks will go out early next week (provided I have your latest addresses)...

Gerard / Bob S / Dennis / Randy, I don't have you recorded as having paid.  If I'm wrong let me know.  Otherwise, just send your $25 to Stable Boy, c/o Scotchlandia USA.  

Or get me when we see each other next.



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 
I could wait until all the Big Game gets played but patience is not a strong suit of mine...

1.  Bama.  Tide!  Rolled!  Almost as bad as Vegas got rolled when a 15 pt. underdog beats the defending national champ.  Surprising.  But awesome - when was the last time Big Nick had a 2-game losing streak?  Poor preparation or karmic payback after one their fandom named their baby, Krimson Tyde?  (She better grow up smokin' hot.  Or plan on never leaving the state.)

2.  Ohio State.  The Orange Bowl shouldn't have been as close as it was but a loss is a loss and it brought me great joy.  Urban also now has a 2 game losing streak, at least until their September feast of MAC schools next season.

And indeed I felt no small level of personal shame at the glee I took over Braxton Miller getting repeatedly (and progressively) the snot kicked out of him by Clemson's defense.  But then I had another scotch and took comfort in the knowledge that God loves all his flawed creations.  But most especially the ones that root against the Ohio State.

And by the way, I'm revising my personal Nine Circles To Hell to include Matt Millen. Unlistenable. Detroit Lion fans, I now better understand the multiple tortures you endured. One final thought: I'm really happy we'll never have to face Sammy Watkins...

3. Stanford.  One would've guessed The Cardinal might've re-thought their 4th and short strategy after last year. One would be wrong - that would've required a level of introspection and humility which David Shaw doesn't appear to possess.  And interesting (he says bitterly) that there was no hue 'n cry over this year's runner's momentum being stopped...

4.  Michigan. What a difference a couple months make.  Wolverine Nation (well some, anyway) are actually pining for RichRod.  And while I could personally care less, ND now re-possesses the best winning percentage in college football.

5.  Baylor.  Maybe it's because of their sickening need to run up scores on a season-full of patsies (seven games with 59+ points) but losing to 17 pt. underdog UCF was just... awesome.  Oh, and to a QB who was UCF's Plan B when they couldn't successfully recruit Tommy Rees.  Ouch.

6.  FSU.  Or Auburn.   I'll find joy in whichever one of you loses.  That's my special gift.

The Grinch's Gang
You'd think this time of the year, it'd be harder to find people exhibiting bad behavior.  Sadly no.

"I poke you I poke you I poke you!"
1.  Penn State.  You might think that Bill O'Brien bailing after only two years is the bad guy here - but I say "no, boozy boys... saggy farty boys!"  It is, in fact, the pathological Paterno Nation who are the tools here... so delusional they couldn't see the amazing salvage job this guy was doing.  So he said 'screw it, I don't need your unique brand of western PA psychosis' - took the big money and now gets to coach JJ Watt & Co. for the next several years.  Good luck with the Al Golden Era (talk about landing on your feet).

2. The Ohio State.  One day into 2014, one player suspension.  That's efficient.

3.  Cleveland Browns.  Firing your coach after one season.  Really? Surely you have a home run hire all set up... no?

Any idea what that kid just said?
4.  High School All-Star games.  I hate 'em.  Monuments to 18 yr. old self-absorption. As if they need any greater sense of entitlement. And yet I still watch 'em - so who's the pathetic one? This year's highlights:
  • The one kid who said, "I'm taking my talents* to the University of LSU..."
  • Another, Speedy Noil, who was so incoherent in his announcement that it led a coach to say (off-air), "the closest he's ever getting to a degree is adjusting his thermostat..."
*and thank you, Lebron, for giving the world this incredibly annoying phrase for all the 18 yr. old narcissists to mimic.

Recruiting Time!
We're in what's affectionately called the 'dead period' (where schools cannot have face-to-face contact with the recruits - but that doesn't mean there's movement afoot!

The buzz suggests that ND is going to be extremely discriminating with likely no more than 1-2 spots left for a truly elite player.  And I mean elite.  Like no kiddin' around Tom Feifar / Bryan Gruley-level special... 
  1. Nile Sykes, ILB.  A position of need, committed to ND on the banquet weekend and is very good friends with...
  2. Nyles Morgan, ILB.   Announced today - he's ND bound! Woo hoo!  Athleticism returns to the ILB position! (Presumptively suggesting it was ever there in the first place.)  Beyond the sheer upgrade he figures to represent, you can also expect a near endless stream of Nile Rodgers Parliament Funkadelic and Chic references. The gift that keeps on giving.
  3. Tyler Luatua, TE.  Committed to ND!  But still taking calls from 'Bama and USC.  Hmmm.
  4. Michiah Quick, WR.  One of those 'elite' that ND will take regardless of when he decides but after Oklahoma's impressive aerial performance this week, tough to see him saying no to that.  Unless Stoops leaves for the Brownies...
  5. Braden Smith, OL.  Another elite OL guy that would be icing on the cake of an already impressive O-line haul.  Supposed to be considering an official visit to ND in January (perfect - South Bend is so beautiful that time of year). Given that TCU (huh?!) seems to be the primary competition, his linear thinking deficiencies may actually work in our favor.
  6. Charles Nelson.  The smallish slot WR from Fla... word was that he wasn't digging the cold weather he experienced over the banquet weekend (wait til he sees February in northern Indiana!) but still has ND on his final short list.
  7. JuJu Smith, S.  The good news:  we're supposed to be in his top 2-3 and is best buds w Luatua.  The bad news:  Sarkisian hired his uncle and he's a SoCal kid and all insider buzz suggests he's a virtual SC lock.  Son of beeetch.  Sheeet.
  8. Alan Lazard, WR.  Said he's solid with Iowa State.  Good for him - how refreshing that an 18 yr. old sticks to his commitment. (And spare me the '40 yr. decision' rhetoric.)
  9. Matt Elam, DL.  A mutual decision to go their separate ways and given ND's enormous need at this position, that probably tells you all you need to know about the coach's concerns about this kid's fit with team culture.
  10. Peyton Hendricks, S.  Verballed to Texas Tech after (allegedly) being told his window for committing had elapsed.  Could he still flip?  Maybe.  But probably not.
Golson's back - yay!  Tuitt's likely not - c'est la vie.

Presuming that this not going to be a "Kelly flirts with the NFL" year, recruiting ought to end up a) very strong and b) free of 'who'll renege' drama.  Huzzah.

Quote of The Week

"Fear not for the future, weep not for the past."

Percy Bysshe Shelley

Easy for him to say (both Eton and Oxford were juggernauts during his time there) but might be as apt a summary of the 2013 ND football season as one can find.

Final Thought - I
2014 is the the final 'A' Lot year before supposed 'progress' plows it under. Looking ahead to next year's schedule w a couple observations...

30     RICE                                 Labor Day weekend -  see all two of you who'll probably show up

  6     MICHIGAN (night)           Linipalooza V weekend?!
13     Purdue (Indianapolis)
27     @ Syracuse

  4     STANFORD                     After 11 yrs. Shane Skov finally moves on
11     NORTH CAROLINA      Elijah Hood comes to ND...
18     @ Florida State                  Game of the year?  Let's hope so.

  1     Navy (Fedex Field, MD)    Two weeks to prepare for that accursed offense
  8      @ Arizona State
15     NORTHWESTERN        Our Michigan State replacement?  I'll take it.
22     LOUISVILLE                  Sans Charlie Strong & Teddy Bridgewater!
29     @ USC                              No Marquise Lee! (And probably a bunch of others...)

Final Thought - II
I'm feeling a bit tapped out. So until next season.  Or at least February... Great seeing all of you this past year!