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Wednesday, October 3, 2018

Week 5: Coffee Is For Closers

Well the stage was set, the sun was sinking low down,
When they came to town to face another show down...
The lawman cleared the people from the street
All you blood thirsty bystanders, will you try to find your seats..

At the start of the 4th quarter of last Saturday night's game, I turned to my host and patron-for-the-evening, the erudite Bon Vivant & Raconteur, Bob Rasmus and said, "I think I'm going to write this week about Culture.

Not the "hey, Bob, our classmate is wearing a salmon-colored pullover when the rest of the ND fanbase is in either blue or green, I didn't realize he was so terribly cultured..." kind of Culture.

No, we're talking about football program culture - that ability for a program's leadership to embed a successful value system, work ethic and system process that permeates both team and staff while enduring through each year's turnover of players and periodically, coaches.

Wisconsin seems to have it - witness the last ~ 25 years of Alvarez-originated success. And it's not just the consistency of win-loss record, though that's been solid, by and large.  It's in the way they play, the kids they recruit, their approach to the game.

And ever since their coming (and subsequent going) of Jim "Greetings, Earthlings" Harbaugh, Stanford definitely has had it.   

I'm kinda envious.

Even if I have very little positive associations related to that school.

In chronological order... 

Stanford anecdote #1:  1974, a junior in high school and having not yet had the complete Notre Dame Kool-Aid entirely ingested, I suggested to my mother that I might possibly wish to apply to Stanford, among others, along with good ole du Lac.

To which she inquired, and not rhetorically - wow, how you gonna pay for that?  

"Stick to Mother's plan, Terry..."
Followed by immediately sharing, and I'm paraphrasing here, that she didn't spend 10 years in New Jersey Hell... and a 14 hour drive from South Bend... to have her last Notre Dame-bound son bugger off 2000 miles away to college when she was finally within a comfortable 4 hour drive of Catholic Educational Heaven.

Um, well, alrighty then.

Stanford anecdote #2:  It's February 1977 and I'm with my close friend and confidant Jerry (because, of course, everyone I know is named so).  

We're in the Morris Inn, conveniently situated (almost) at the center of ND's campus.  It's Sophomore Literary Festival week and we're hanging with Ken Kesey and his wife.  As one does. 

I'll get up and fly away...
Ostensibly, Jerry and I are chaperones for the Kesey's while they're on campus but right now he's, um, 'unwinding' (Jerry, do we need to get a towel under the door - this is the Morris Inn...)  and regaling us with stories about being a scholarship wrestler at U. of Oregon, participating in the Stanford LSD experiments (and subsequently with Alan Ginsberg, Neal Cassady and the Grateful Dead, leading the Merry Pranksters on a road trip with enough acid to get the entire country trippin'), and getting fleeced by Michael Douglas when he sold the rights to One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest."

Pretty fascinating experience, at least from what I can remember. 

Stanford anecdote #3:  Circa mid-1980's, as a young Brand Mgr. at Quaker Oats, I was asked to go recruit at Stanford for the company's summer internship program.  (Spoiler alert:  students leave California for the midwest, even for just the summer, about as often as that Nigerian prince pays off on his promised email largesse.  This trip would be no exception.) 

If only that lack of success was the day's big disappointment. 

No, I'd say that award went to the interview process itself:  having to spend roughly eight hours talking to the scions of Captains of Industries / Rulers of Small Countries, who were only too willing to share with me how awesome they were, how many other lucrative career options they had, how this interview was actually akin to investigating a pro bono position because they were ALL ABOUT helping the less fortunate...

"Yo slick, you do know you're supposed to be selling yourself to me, not the other way around - you pretentious über-entitled narcissist... but hey, final interview question:  if I were to reach over and just smack the living shit out of you, what would you do?  Hypothetically speaking."


Okay, where was I going with all of this?  Just super happy about beating them.

Word of the Week

Used in a sentence:  As young Jerrence watched Jerry Tillery increasingly take over Saturday evening's game, after essentially three years of uneven, nondescript performances...  he wondered about this year's startling transmogrification - and what possibly could be its root cause.  

It was then that Jerrence remembered money - especially when it comes in seven figure, guaranteed signing bonus increments - can be a powerful motivator. 

Quote of the Week 

"If in the first act you have hung a pistol on the wall, then in the following one, it should be fired. Otherwise don't put it there."

Anton Chekhov
Writer, playwright

Who knew da coach was a fellow lover of Russian literature?!  If Dexter Williams was Brian Kelly's metaphorical "pistol",  then kudos to him for not only showing it in Act I of Saturday night's contest but firing it - repeatedly - throughout the rest of the game.

Game Day Review

Come on, saddle up, boys
We're gonna ride into town 
We're gonna get a little out of control...

Maybe it was the brisk autumnal air.  Maybe it was the tailgate jambalaya.  But I may get a little out of control as I've got a few things to comment on.

1.   Everyone hates Doug Flutie. I get it. He's not a big enough homer and he doesn't always get the players' names correct.   But he's often correct in his analysis - like when he said Book had an easy QB sneak off the right guard on that 4th down play.  Of course, ultimately that criticism is not directed at Book. 
Feeling better, Khalid?

2.    What does one suppose the Over / Under is on the number of times Khalid Kareem is helped off the field this year?  If one extrapolates from the games thus far, I'm guessing 30.

3.   For all of those who were ready to tar and feather coach Quinn and the O-line, how ya like me now?  

272 yards rushing.  Against Stanford.  

When's the last time we saw anything like that?  And outside of the first series of the 2nd half, pass protection was amazing.  

Bravo, boys.

4.  Houston Griffith.  Probably gonna be a star, ultimately, but Not Ready For Prime Time right now. Seems like every 3rd and long pass goes his direction.

5.  Chase Claypool could make an NFL team as a Special Teams guy right now.

That, my friends, is how you do it...
6.  I love Drue Tranquill.  Warrior.  Plays 3/4 of the game with a broken hand.

7.   Book.  As impressive for the throws he didn't attempt as those he did.  

BTW, here's a question for the group (plagiarized from a message board):  what former ND QB does he remind you of?

 > Tom Clements.      Small'ish.  Mobile. Good decision makers.  Clutch.
 > Kevin McDougal.  Totally underrated.  All he did was win.
 > Joe Montana.        Too soon?  Other than they both have (had) coaches who wouldn't play them...

8.  Our big, white TE's. Frankly, they all look alike to me.  But they are good.  Maybe not yet Tyler Eifert-good but give 'em some time.

9.  Taunting.  I have a different understanding of the definition than the refs.  I thought a taunt actually had to be directed at someone on the other team.  

What a lame call - and what I hate most about that type of penalty, it's adjudicated without any sense of context - like when a kid scores the game tying TD in the closing seconds and gets flagged for excessive celebration. ND just basically iced the game and you're going to call that...

10.    A really exciting thought:  Book has started exactly 3 times, collegiately.  Ever.  The other skills position players are no more experienced.  

Think what they all could be by year's end, playing together.

Lovely Rita Meter Maid - ND trending...

Buddy's Buddy

When you win a game like Notre Dame did Saturday night, one is not hurting for strong candidates to be Buddy's pal for the week. 

How can it not be Jerry Tillery?  By the end of the game, he was the ultimate closer.  (And probably made himself a ton of money if he can even remotely maintain that level of performance.)

Or how about Miles Boykin, Book's clear go-to guy?  He only had a career night.
Or even Book, himself?  The guy has become the proverbial Straw That Stirs the ND Drink, looking more poised after two games than one might have any reason to expect.

But I'm thinking this week has to go to Dexter Williams.    Coming off a 4-game, double secret probation he showed patience and vision on his runs, allowing blocks to set up and then hitting the hole. 

Run, Forrest, run.

This isn’t about being athletic; this is about being a running back.  He also had some tough between-the-tackles runs where he kept his feet moving, broke some arm tackles and picked up 5-6 yards when other backs would've gotten 2-3. 

A whole lot nicer to be in 3rd and 3 than 3rd and 7.

His ability to hold up for 21 carries was also encouraging.  He'd never carried the ball more than eight times in a game, and he got banged up in the two games last season where he did get that many. But not last week.  Long may it last!

Baby's on fire... 

Wager Time!

We like ourselves, now don't we?
5-0.  Who'd a thunk it?  

Clearly the 12-0 / 11-1 smarty-pants did...

Well isn't that just special.

Talk to me after Blacksburg.


TC’s Russian Equivalent
ND Connection


Fyodor Dostoevsky

Who doesn’t love a Russian novel?  

What they lack in brevity they make up in ‘set your hair on fire’ pessimism.  

And Fyodor was The Man.  (Anyone who can write "The Idiot" 150 years ago gets my vote for prescient genius.)

11+ wins would be Dostoevsky-like excellence.

Dave M., John P., Brian M, Joe S.


LiniDaryl M.Raz the ElderJayBryanTed



First of all, dogs rule. 

Dogs in Space even more so.  Especially the first, and when they end up giving their lives in such heroic fashion, well... 

Like a 10-2 season, you probably wouldn't have cheered for Laika at the time but in hindsight, you’re more impressed with the outcome than you expected.

JPJerry CiJim T., Dennis, Tim S.,  Jerry P.Graham, Brian W., Kevin C.Peter, Coat-Man, BucksGutschJohn L.Spit the Elder,, Spit the Younger, Ryan


Sergei Federov

Is he the greatest of Russian hockey players?   
400 goals, 554 assists. MVP, Selke winners. 

He’s gotta be in the conversation.  

But, as my (then 10 yr. old) nephew once said, he was “that stinkin’ Federov” for many - so you have to be a little conflicted about him and his impressive career. 

Probably like 9 wins will leave you.

Jerrence, Bose, LindonianFeif, Jim S., Jim B.GerardMike C.,  Tim C., Bob J., Pat C., SheaBill B.


Vasily Zaytsev

Battle of Stalingrad.  

Germany v. Russia. 
Two snipers.  

The original Larry Corrigan ‘root for a tie w lots of injuries’ scenario.

(And boy did they deliver on that.)

So, not unlike a 7-8 win season, while you maybe appreciate Vasily's effort - - you really want no part of  the experience. 

Ray, Alex S.,  The Brothers RasmusMike G.Paul B.



Nesting dolls

As a wee lad, I received one of these as a gift from a family friend.  

I can still recall my little WTF confusion... as well as a visceral "you gotta be kidding me" disappointment. 

Not unlike what 5-6 wins would feel like.


4 or less


Any way you look it (him) this is bad. 

Really, really bad.

As would 4 wins.

Schedule - 2018

1      Michigan                          W
8     Ball State                          W        
15    Vanderbilt                       W
22    @Wake Forest               W
29    Stanford                          W

6      @Virginia Tech                     
13    Pittsburgh - Alumni Hall / Union Pier reunion                      
27   Navy (San Diego)                              

3      @Northwestern -- Razmatazz!                      
10     Florida State                               
17     Syracuse @ Yankee Stadium                              
24    @USC      

Schadenfreude of The Week

It's not that I no longer take deep, guilt-free pleasure in the athletic misfortune of ND's FBS peer group, it's just that not very many of them spit the bit this week though many tried (looking at you, Michigan).   Son of beeetch.  Sheeet. 

1.   Penn State.  Truth be told, in this week's "Why can't the earth just open up and swallow them both" contest, someone had to win and I really wish it wasn't Team Anti-Christ.  

That said, PSU is an acceptable surrogate - and if you're gonna lose, why not have it due to your head coach calling the worst possible play at the worst possible time.  So I have that. Which is nice.

Terry's Trolls

To be honest, this week's candidates are a fairly lame bunch, most of whom's bad behavior wouldn't even get them a sniff at a Dillon Hall resident's invitation. 

But I still believe that ignorance and poor judgment in the public space shouldn't go unrecognized, dammit. 

Being fundamentally 'every day stupid' suggests an attention to details that, outside of our country's legislative branch, is rare.  
And needs to be celebrated.

He's not saying 'we're #1',  is he?
1. Earl Thomas.    Okay, I really don't know who's the tool here - Mr. Thomas or the Seattle Seahawks - maybe neither though I'm very willing to assign blame to all parties - but after he held out, then reported, then broke his leg / ending hs season and making him a 30 yr. old free agent in the off-season ('hello, veteran minimum') , somebody must've f****ed up.  

Clearly, Earl has a strong point of view on who.

2.  Steve Bartman, Part Deux.  I'm willing to cut almost any fan a break in the heat of athletic passion.  But for godssakes, man, have you no sense of context or history?!

He's baaaaaaaccckkk.
The season is winding down in a very tight NL Central race.  The Cubs aren't playing particularly well - they haven't clinched anything; they need this game.  

Wrigley is rockin' with a playoff atmosphere when a foul ball is hit, 1st base side, and as it drifts toward the seats, Anthony Rizzo draws a bead on it, reaches out and... some clown takes it from him.

Let's recap:  Cubs.  Playoff stakes. Close game.  Foul ball.  Fan intervention.  Hmmm.  

Dude, really?  Perhaps he was from Philadelphia.

3.  ND Message Board Idiot.  This week's "can't we just enjoy this for :30" moment:  some guy starts a string where he begins to fret that Book has too much eligibility left, jeopardizing the Phil Jurovec Succession Plan and inviting thoughts of a Gunner Kiel-like transfer.  Good God.

4.  James Franklin.  As my wife constantly says to me, to increasingly irritating effect, "Who's the adult here?"  

So, coach, when you go after one of your student fans who respectfully challenged you on your - and let's be frank, here - dumbass decision on 4th-and-5 to run the ball, ending the game...  

Well, that was a bit of an over-reaction, wasn't it?

Cocktail of the Month

As we move into autumn and begin the countdown to the end of the year, what does that mean?

Interesting new movies!  We've got film stars galore!

* Mr. Robot as Freddie Mercury
* Christian Bale as Dick Cheney
* Tom Hardy as some weird, Marvel snake hero

And Emily Blunt as...
Bloody Mary Poppins
Mary Poppins (1964)
Directed by Robert Stevenson

Mary Poppins took a turbulent flight on her way to the big screen, beginning with Walt Disney's 15-year quest to secure the film rights from Australian novelist P.L. Travers.  Their cat-and-Mickey Mouse negotiations paid off, and audiences came out in record numbers to see Julie Andrews in her cinematic, Oscar-sweeping debut.  

 Your turn to work some magic:  try saying "supercalifragilisticexpialidocious" after tipsily toasting the original tough-love nanny.  

Our bloody-good, British-gin twist on a legendary libation doesn't even require a spoonful of sugar.
  • 4 oz. tomato juice
  • 2 oz. dry London gin
  • 1 tbls. fresh grated ginger
  • 1 tsp. celery salt
  • 1 tsp. apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tsp. black pepper
  • 1 tsp. cayenne pepper
  • 3 dashes Worcestershire sauce
Combine all the ingredients in a mixing glass and stir well.  Pour the whole thing over ice in a Collins glass.  Get ready to float on air.

Final Thought

Marty Balin, RIP.

Look what's happenin' on the street... 

Volunteers.  Let's hope this doesn't also end up describing the state of our interior Offensive Line.

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