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Tuesday, August 16, 2016

What Say Ye?

Mediocrity puts me at the TOP of the bell curve!  Thats's good, right?
My wife, the fair Lisa, makes me a better person.   Of that there can be no debate.  There is also little question that highly targeted skill is her most irritating quality.  I mean, since when did sustainable mediocrity no longer become a legitimate aspiration?

Case in point:  I had an uncle pass away recently - shed no tears, he was nearly 97 - but the thought of attending his funeral was, to be candid, a fleeting, quickly rejected, one. 

Until Lisa said, "Well I'm going..." 

Alrightee then.  After 31 years of marriage, personal shaming is still an impressively powerful lever.  So we saddled up the buckboard and headed to the Quad Cities.  

And of course, it was the right thing to do:  Kay was indeed happy that we "represented",  I genuinely enjoyed having a few beers with my cousins (Hello! Irish wake!) and afterwards, my needed sense of societal self worth was now off the charts - having conveniently forgotten about my initial "but I'd rather be golfing this weekend" character flaws.   Thank you, Lisa.

"Now there's our leader..."
But the life lesson arising from that series of circumstances got me to pondering how in the sporting world one repeatedly hears... ad nauseum... about certain athletes (typically a team's star players) that "make those around them better."  

Better how exactly? I've never understood. But everyone says it with such certitude, like it's a real thing, so it must be true.  

So as one ponders what victory number on which to lay your ND wager, it would seem to me that the Irish may need a lot of that 'rising tide lifts all boats' kind of effect. There's an awful lot of young but largely unproven talent running onto that field come September 4th - who's gonna lead 'em?

Word of The Week

"Whaddya say, girls - best 2 of out 3?"
ledecky (v) - to be defeated in such a soul crushing display of domination that it makes one not only rethink the years of hard work spent getting to world class irrelevance but also forcing one to give greater credence to the notion that aliens might indeed walk among us.

Used in a sentence:   The last time UM played ND, the Wolverines were so thoroughly ledeckied that it was clear that the Michigan AD was prepared to make a deal with the devil - any devil, even the world's most socially inept - to restore their program to national prominence. 

"I got a suite and you got defeat..."

Quote of the Month

"No one in this world, so far as I know - and I've searched the records for years, and employed agents to help me - has ever lost money by underestimating the intelligence of the great masses of the plain people..."

H.L. Mencken

This probably has nothing to do with football betting.   Or presidential elections. 

All You Need To Know To Place Your Bet...

I.  Camp Buzz

Lifted from Pro Football Focus:

Gone are seven players selected within the first 4 rounds of the 2016 NFL draft. That’s one of the largest talent drains as you’ll see in the entire country and it’s a testament to Brian Kelly’s recruiting that they’re still ranked #11 in our preseason polls. A QB competition looms once again in South Bend, but it’s unlikely that decision is what ultimately decides ND's destiny.


Grading-wise, all signs point to Zaire for the QB competition. The offense has run like a
well-oiled machine in nearly every game Zaire has been a part of. ND really can’t go wrong with either as Kizer graded out positively as well in 776 snaps last season.

With another stud O-line in the works and Folston returning at RB, the only question mark is who will be catching passes for the Irish.  They lost 2,152 snaps at the WR position from a season ago with Torii Hunter Jr. being the only returning player who saw meaningful time. Hunter will be thrust into one of the starting spots while sophomore Equanimeous St. Brown – who only took 47 snaps a season ago – looks poised to take the other.


Realistically the chances of ND making it to the playoff this year comes down to the front seven. If they can find a way to pressure the QB without relying solely on the blitz like then they’ll be a force to contend with. That is a big “if.” Senior Isaac Rochell will slide inside more this season where he should be more effective as he simply lacked the burst to win the edge consistently. On the outside, not a single player returns with a positive pass rush grade from a season ago.  Eek.

Even with a lackluster pass rush, there is reason to believe that this secondary could be the best ND has had in the Kelly era. S Drue Tranquill had graded out positively through the first three games before tearing his ACL while Max "Le Grande Tease" Redfield has been solid if unspectacular the past two years. If there is one name to keep an eye out for, it’s CB Cole Luke.

Biggest star: LT Mike McGlinchey

You’d be hard pressed to find any O-lineman, even in the NFL, that can be classified as a “star,” but if every position got equal billing then McGlinchey would be that guy. He has 1st-round talent though his chances of ending up there will depend on how adeptly he takes to the LT position. Ironically, if Zaire wins the starting job, McGlinchey have switched positions away from the blind side, but he’ll still form on of the best double team duos in the country with LG Quinten Nelson.

Breakout player to watch: DT Jarron Jones

Two years ago it was Jones, not Sheldon Day, who graded out the highest along the D-line. Last season a torn MCL cost him basically the whole year. At a hair over 6'5" and 315 lbs, he's is one of the most physically imposing DT's in all of college football. If he can add counter or two to his prodigious bull rush, Jones should be in for a big year.

Bottom line
The 'O' will be a dynamic top-10 type unit no matter who starts at QB. The 'D', however, will have to see some guys take huge leaps forward to keep pace. The schedule may be a tad easier than it was a season ago with only one team on the schedule currently in the PFF top 25 (Stanford), but they’ll face some legitimate tests early in the season with Texas and Michigan State in Week 1 and 3. If they can get through those unscathed, expect another 10-win season.

Causes for Optimism
-  QB's
-  RB depth
-  Left side of OL
-  Nyles Morgan
-  Daelin Hayes (maybe)
-  Better red zone offense
-  Special teams (don't underestimate it's value)

-  Pass rush
-  Safety play (will Max ever be 'max'?)
-  Inexperience across the board, especially at LB / WR
-  Finding the #2 and #3 WR (not incl. the TE group)
-  Lack of takeaways
-  Breaking in a new C, RG
-  Defense allowing big plays 

II.  The 2016 Schedule (Ignore at your own peril, trap games abound!)

3       @Texas                  Austin here we come...
10     Nevada         
17     Michigan State      Linipalooza VI!
26     Duke                      The (Corrigan) boys are back in town...


1      @Syracuse       
8     @NC State         
15    Stanford             Alumni Hall reunion!
29   Miami                 


5      @Navy     
12     Army 
21     Va. Tech 
28    @USC    

What Does 2016 ND Football Success Look Like To You?

I've taken the liberty of putting my brother Kevin down for 12 wins - because he always goes for 12 wins.  Foolish?  Impulsive?  Perhaps. But I've also learned that he has memberships at five Napa / Sonoma wineries.  And I've tasted his stock of 2002 Joseph Phelps Insignia (talk about being 'real and spectacular', that stuff is phenomenal)... so he's surely sitting somewhere in the Bay area, no doubt smugly wondering who's the fool now, Blog Boy?  

Point well taken, Kev. 

Which Nic Flick R U?

Why ND Relevant


Raising Arizona

Genius from start to finish. And be honest – you never thought it’d be as terrific as it ended up being.

Kevin C. 



Über clever direction meets surprising performances even if one is a bit confused by the overall journey.


Leaving Las Vegas

By all objective measures a high quality performance.  So why does one now feel so despondent?

JP, Matt, Ray,


 Con Air

At times both awful and awesome, but with enough enjoyable lines (and stuff getting blown up) to distract one from the disappointment of what could’ve been something really special.



  National Treasure

Nowhere near great. But one finds oneself looking back on it more fondly than is justified. 

And if no one’s around... satisfying enough that one’ll watch it when it comes on late at night.

Jim T 


The Wicker Man

You've seen this movie before.  Literally.  And you weren't that impressed the first time.  

You're cognizant that you've entered The Disaster Zone - where career legacies are re-written.  And never for the good.


Ghost Rider

Oh dear Lord.   You feel physically ill just watching this – and knowing it’s not an   aberrant 'one off' performance.

and under

 Season of the Witch

We’ve fallen and we're not getting back up.  

How incredibly sad.

What's on The History Channel?

Recruiting Update!

This time of year, reporting on recruiting is kind of ridiculous.  18 years change their school choices about as often as they change their clothes. And with considerably more pressure. 

For all the disadvantages that ND surely has in that environment, one thing it seems they've sold exceptionally well is the perception that once you've got that ND degree,  you've got it made.  I recently saw this quote from a highly regarded CB prospect out of SoCal:  

"The most appealing thing about ND is the academics and how different it is.  People say it's boring but it's not.  It's about school and football but it's more than that. You're going to school with millionaires and billionaire kids so you'll be set up for life just based on the connections you make throughout your time there..."

Set up for life. Who am I to tell the lad otherwise?  And good for ND for selling that perception.  But one does wonder whether these kids grasp the "but you gotta put in some work too" part of that equation.  And whether that contributes to the academic disconnect for some of them when they finally realize effort actually is required.

Final thought:  I think it's safe to say that ND is getting the hang of the whole social media thing when it comes to recruiting.   Now if they'd just get the hang of the basketball facilities matter thing. 
If the Cubs can figure it out...

Schadenfreude of the Montb 
"Celebrating The Misfortune of Other Teams Since 1956"

Chad Le Clos.  

As in, "Le Clos but no cigar". 

Every American knows, Chad, you don't tug on Superman's cape.  Ever.

Or perhaps a more pedestrian "don't piss off Darth Vader" analogy is more appropriate. 

Terry's Trolls

1.  Lilli King.  This may surprise you but I think it's time for this champion of clean Olympics to just shut up.   Yes, you're 19, you put your money where your mouth was and all of Life is utterly black and white to you. But the circumstances behind some of the doping suspensions are not so East German-Lance Armstrong calculatingly clear cut (e.g., the Olympic committee banning substances that were legal for years) and secondly, it's a slippery slope.  Be careful.  One unfortunate medical prescription and you could be the next internet meme. 

2. Hope Solo.   You guys lost. Deal with it.  Show some class. If one is going to assign responsibility for why U.S. Women's soccer team didn't defend their Olympic title, you might want to look a little closer to home than Sweden.  

And you didn't exactly bring your 'A' game to Rio, now did you?  

3.  Kohei Uchimura.  There's a lot of things in this world that mystify me, like auto-erotic asphyxia - WHAT IS UP WITH THAT?! - but recently the whole Pokemon Go craze has got to be near the top.   So when I read that the Japan's (the country that also gave us Hello Kitty) 6-time world champion gymnast (and two-time Rio gold medal winner), lands in Rio and almost immediately racks up ~ $5,000 in roaming charges playing... 

 4.  Baylor.   "Watch out, you might get what your after..."  

After about three straight months of horrific news coming out of Waco, we get last week's headline:  "Baylor  OL played full season while under  investigation for sexual harassment." Finally getting arrested for felony stalking this summer. 

Oh. Really.  And this following the interim coach Jim Groce declaring that Baylor doesn't have a culture of bad behavior while ex-coach Art Briles muses that he's still mystified as to why he was fired.  

Talk about a program that needs to be 'rent asunder'.   And soon. 

"I call this The Contemplative Swan..."

5.  Jim Harbaugh. Yes, with your cupcake schedule, your Wolverines are already the fashionable choice for a playoff berth this year.  

And yes, I am resentful that you, apparently, can do in one year what ND's been unable to sustain for 25 but... for just one minute could you stop being  




Buddy's Buddy

It is fashionable to talk about 'once-in-a-generation' athletes - Jordan, Tiger, Spittler - but objectively, does anyone compare, within their sport, to Michael Phelps?  

And don't even be bringing that weak Usain Bolt argument... 9 gold medals merely gets you a distant tie for 2nd place in the gold medal metrics race.  

Katie Ledecky?  Pretty awesome but let's see her do it for the next 12 years... need I remind everyone of The Missy Franklin flame out? 

Here's Mike's Olympic numbers over 16 years:  Five competitions, 23 gold medals,  28 total medals, 2 DUI's, 1 famous bong hit.  

And putting down Chad after all his ridiculous pre-race gamesmanship was awfully satisfying.  Well done, Mike. 'Coming-out-of-retirement' mission accomplished.

Cocktail of The Month
"Match that innovation, Wharton!"
With the heavy Olympic influence of this blog, unfortunately my book didn't have a Chariots of Fire cocktail adaptation. Otherwise we'd no doubt be queuing up the Vangelis and extolling the virtues of something Pimms-based.

Instead we're going with one of my least favorite films - curmudgeon thy name is Terry - but most personally endearing cocktails, albeit in very infrequent doses. 

Or when I'm at The Big House around that interesting friend of Belknap's.

And since I did introduce earlier the idea of aliens being amongst us...

Long Island E.T.
E.T. (1982)
Directed By Steven Spielberg

The rare outer-space saga that favors love over laser beams, Spielberg's extra-special terrestrial was history's top-grossing film for over a decade - until the director's own pack of dinosaurs stomped all over his record, that is.  You'd have to be from Mars to remain dry-eyed during this boy-meets-alien tale, which features a young Drew Barrymore as the little sister of lead Henry Thomas - whose weepy audition tape for "Elliott" is floating around online and really has to be seen to be believed. 

But I digress. 

One of the movie's more memorable sequences finds Elliott suddenly inspired to kiss a girl during science class.  Do your own chemistry experiment with this '80s take on the kitchen sink cocktail:
  • 3/4 oz. light rum
  • 3/4 oz. vodka
  • 3/4 oz.  gin
  • 3/4 oz. tequila blanco
  • 3/4 oz. triple sec
  • 1/2 oz. lemon juice
  • 1/2 oz. orange juice
  • '80s era cola (e.g., Tab) to fill
Combine all the ingredients (except for the cola) in a shaker and dry shake briefly.  Dump the whole thing over fresh ice in a Collins glass and fill to the top with the cola.  Now chase with a handful of Reese's Pieces.  

Drink quickly. Wait 15 minutes.  See God. Make your ND bet. Rinse and repeat. 

Final Thought - I
Even tailgaters need a training camp... 

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