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Saturday, October 19, 2019

Week 6: "On the right path..."

Guess I got what I deserved...

Dateline:  Union Pier, MI.  It is Saturday evening, USC game night, and as the Irish go into victory formation, the win has been secured.  

Time to reflect upon the last 24 hrs. or so.  

The evening prior, Jerrence had introduced the group to Redbreast (the whiskey, not the Irish post-tanning dermatological condition) and while proud to have exposed his compatriots to something new, he worried about the Law of Unintended Consequences.

Especially when learning that very morning, the group had expanded the product's daypart usage to the breakfast occasion.  

Somewhere, a Dublin-based brand manager was surely saying "I tried pushing that concept to senior management years ago - we crushed the research hurdle metrics - I knew someone would have the courage to execute it..."

"Redbreast Irish whiskey, ladies. Good. And good for you..."
Jerrence could, in particular, envision John Lohn doing advertising testimonials... his judicial robes a'flowing as he held a bottle and a croissant in hand, espousing the benefits of a balanced breakfast... 'the most important meal of the day'... probably saying something to the effect that "5 million Irishmen can't be wrong..." 

Of course there'd be CGI-enhanced twinkle to his eye.  And invariably a catchy jingle.  Already wildly charismatic, once they discovered the breathtaking range of John's acting skills, the mind reels where the broader product portfolio and marketing effort would go.  He'd likely end up like Flo from the Progressive Insurance campaign, hawking Redbreast mouthwash, Redbreast dessert toppings, Redbreast pet foods... 

"What do you mean you drank it all at breakfast?!"
But I digress.

Whatever progress in maturation Jerrence thought he witnessed the night before (a markedly subdued affair vs. prior years) the news of the morning swill seemed to represent something of a regression.  How very Senior Class Trip of them.

And more than a little ironic since the concept of maturity - rarely if ever associated with that group - resonated strongly with Jerrence when applied to the actual game.  He found Notre Dame's performance surprisingly comforting.  A workmanlike effort.  Poised.  Like they knew exactly what they were doing.  Well, except for Michael Young, whose brain-to-muscle synapses clearly didn't know what they were doing. At least not all the time.

Nonetheless, the outcome never really felt all that much in doubt to Jerrence.  And in that respect, he got what he thought the fanbase deserved - a solid, if unspectacular, win.  More decisive than the score might've portrayed.  

Now, a week off, and two weeks to prep for Michigan.  That, Jerrence wants to be a bloodbath. 

Word of the Week

Used in a sentence paragraph

There Jerrence sat, knowing he was in the midst of intellectual giants.  His heroes.


It was like being surrounded by Jean Paul Sartre, Samuel Beckett and Yogi Berra.  

With a great deal of alcohol. 

If he thought last week's discourse with Grules and Lini was mind-numbing (and it was), watching the ND-USC football game with this group was leaving Jerrence gorgonized.  It was safe to say they were articulating insights he'd never heard before.  Ever.  A tad frightened, he didn't need another reason to keep hitting the Irish whiskey.  And yet, they kept talking - what choice did I have?

Quote of The Day

"Objective considerations of contemporary phenomena compel the conclusion that success or failure in competitive activities exhibits no tendency to be commensurate with innate capacity, but that a considerable element of the unpredictable must invariably be taken into account..."

George Orwell

A rumored, unverified summary of coach Helton's post-game speech to his USC squad, Jerrence couldn't understand why the school would possibly be looking for another coach.  For 18-20 year old SoCal athletes, he appeared to be the consummate communicator. 

Game Observations

Till the morning comes, it'll do you fine 
Till the morning comes, like a highway sign
Showing you the way - leaving no doubt
Of the way on in or the way back out...

Um, coach... 
Ah, night games.  Till the morning comes, indeed.  

One could argue there was much to fret about, running up to this year's USC game:  

*  its mid-October timing, could 18-22 yr. old's stay focused?

*  midterms coming up the week after (more than a theoretical distraction, yes) 

*  the opponent having a Bye the week prior - ergo, two weeks to prepare.  

*  Let's not forget USC's talent level (almost inarguably superior, on paper, to ND's at most positions) and the fact they had to know they were playing for their coach's job - by all accounts a decent guy who's probably well liked by those athletes.  

In short, you knew SC would play hard and probably well. 


1.  Say what you will about both ND coordinator's game plans - we all would've loved to see ND crush SC - but it struck me they knew exactly what they needed to do to win.  Did it and probably didn't care what the national optics were.

2.   That said, not necessarily our head coach's best game - between going for it on 4th and 5 from mid-field (um, why?) and his Excitable Boy act on the final onside kick... eek.

3. Braden Lenzy. Coincidence that he's wearing Rocket Ismail's number?  I think not.

4.  Michael Young, WTF?

5.  Jon Doerer (more on him later).  52 yds., against the wind. And he bisected that bad boy. To come away with no points, after Young's spasm, would've been... bad.  Such a lutch kick.

And what a smooth stroke - reminiscent of a Ward Hamm fairway 3-wood.  Pure

6. The O-line shows up, long may that last.  If they can run like that next week...

7.  Markese Stepp is tough but did it seem to anyone else that ND was tackling really high, trying to go for the ball?  

Just put him down on the ground.

8.  For all you pining for "why did we pass on Stepp, he wanted to be Irish", how can you not be impressed with Tony Jones?  

Every single week, he just shows up.  

And excels.

How you like me now...
9.  Let's face it, every game is going to be a referendum on Ian Book.  As football savant, Raz, put it so succinctly this week - he is what he is.  

Which is certainly good enough to run the table (provided everyone else stays healthy).   

10.  Finally, "Fun with Numbers" - interpret these as you wish:

  • Ian Book, 14-2 as a starter.
  • Brian Kelly, 7-3 vs. USC.
  • Notre Dame
    • 26-4 in their last 30 games
    • 15 straight home wins
    • 16 straight wins when favored - and they will be favored in all remaining 2019 games
    • This year, 3-0 vs. teams with a bye the week prior (and they have 3-4 more of these this year)

Question of the Week

This week's Mailbag Q&A plundered from The Athletic, directs its attention to recruiting, a much beloved-but-virtually-ignored topic by this blogger: 
A couple of big commitments over the weekend has Notre Dame’s skill looking noticeably improved in the 2020 and 2021 classes. What are the biggest factors for the turnaround to getting higher-rated talent in lately? Biggest surprise: Incredible progress shown by Drew White and Asmar Bilal to steady uncertain linebacker spots.
James R.
Let’s tackle these questions together, starting with the top targets for 2021. That’s where the recruiting calendar is for Notre Dame because there’s little room left in the 2020 haul and even fewer viable targets. The big 2021 names to know are running back Will Shipley, cornerback Jakailin Johnson and offensive tackle Landon Tengwall. Notre Dame is in pretty good position to sweep those three, with Shipley, a five-star prospect from North Carolina, the best bet. He’s a devotee of Christian McCaffrey, whose college position coach was Lance Taylor. Johnson is a teammate of five-star 2020 commitment Jordan Johnson (no relation) at DeSmet in St. Louis. Tengwall attends Good Counsel, which produced freshman cornerback Cam Hart and former captain Sam Mustipher.
Let’s say Notre Dame swept this trio. That would give Notre Dame 11 prospects ranked among the top 102 prospects in the current 247 Sports Composite. Last weekend’s commitments, receivers Lorenzo Styles and Deion Colzie, rank No. 102 and No. 51, respectively. How would basically 11 top 100 prospects stack up to previous Kelly-era classes?
The 2013 class with Jaylon Smith had just four ranked in the top 100 (Smith, Max Redfield, Greg Bryant and Hunter Bivin). The most under Kelly came in the 2011 class with six (Aaron Lynch, Ishaq Williams, Stephon Tuitt, Ben Koyack, Matt Hegarty and DaVaris Daniels). If Notre Dame finished with 11 prospects ranked in the top 100 next cycle it would be more than the previous three classes combined.
You’re probably sick of recruiting analysts telling you that next year’s recruiting haul is really the one where Notre Dame will clean up, but for once it feels legitimate. Notre Dame is so far ahead of the game with its early commitments, notably quarterback Tyler Buchner, that it should stay there. That’s not saying Notre Dame will sign a class of 22 four-star prospects. Notre Dame will have to dig, project and hope on some guys. It’s going to have to find the next TaRiq Bracy, Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah and Tommy Tremble. That’s part of recruiting, too. But Notre Dame should do that with the wind (and the wins) at its back.
Surely, a 27-5 record the past two-and-a-half seasons is helping fuel this recruiting run. So, too, is last year’s Clemson game, because it basically turned Notre Dame’s recruiting approach into “We need our Trevor Lawrence and Justyn Ross,” which turned into Buchner, Styles and Colzie as commitments. Credit Chip Long, Lance Taylor, Del Alexander, Jeff Quinn and Tom Rees on the recruiting trail. The Irish are much more aggressive on that side of the ball right now.

Buddy's Buddy

We kickers know what you say about us behind our backs.  

Sissy boys.  Poncey hairdressers.  F***'ing weirdos. 

Not unlike France's attitude toward the USA.  Until they need us to save their asses from the Germans. Then it's all "hey, you're our oldest and most beloved ally.  We like you way better than the pompous Brits.  Can we send you some croissants?  Some Chateau Margaux perhaps?" 

So when a game's close and you can't quite put away an opponent, you're all "Hey, what's your name - you got this!  You da man! Rock solid. Let's party!"

Yeah, right.  Well know this -  we merely tolerate you (someday many of you will be working for us). But mostly because you're a lot bigger than us and could break most of us like a twig.

Never in doubt... 
That said, this year there's some justification for that attitude.  After all, ND was depending on a guy who couldn't keep the ball - off a tee - within the 53 yard boundaries on a kickoff.  How much faith could one have in him in putting it between two goalposts only 6 yards apart?

Well, Jon Doerer says, "I got your faith right here, bub."  

Bravo, Jon.  You are indeed the man.  And this week's Buddy's buddy. 

Very cool that you also got the game ball. 

Death or glory, just another story...

Jon chooses glory. 

Cocktail of the Week
A few weeks back, Jerrence and his wife were strolling down the Promenade des Anglais in Nice, as one does, when they passed a hotel with a plaque declaring that James Joyce had spent considerable time there, writing Finnegan's Wake - his final work.

And no doubt drinking.  A lot.  Reminding me of a joke from visiting Dublin years ago - where any (every?) bar proprietor could make the claim "James Joyce drank here!"

Well. of course.  Because James Joyce drank everywhere.  And apparently, not just limited to Ireland.  (How many hotels had to re-forecast their liquor supply after his writing residences ended?) And given that Irish whiskey played a prominent role in last weekend's activities, the following seemed apropos. 

Portrait of the Artist as a Young Drunk
Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man (1916)
By James Joyce

For any reader choosing between a life devoted to either the priesthood or art (and really, who hasn't?), Portrait will resonate mightily.  Employing a nifty stream-of-consciousness narrative, Joyce's first published work follows young Stephen from age 5 all the way to when he decides to flee home, with each chapter's reading level increasing in complexity right alongside Stephen's own life predicaments. 

Whether you're the praying kind or not, this nutty flavored cocktail from a friar-shaped bottle will have you on your knees. 

* 2 oz. Irish whiskey (may I recommend, perhaps, Redbreast?)
* 2 oz. Frangelico
* 1 oz. Baileys

Pour all the ingredients into a rocks glass over ice.  

Then stir your drink - and count your blessings.

Source:  Are You There God? It's Me, Margarita
by Tim Federle
Wager 2019 - Taking the Leap..

                                                          Oh it's not as bad as it seems!
                                                          Oh it's not as crazy as my dreams...

Suddenly, the "11 win loons" don't look so crazy.

TC’s Keanu Analogy
ND Connection

The Matrix
 Okay, so I didn't entirely get this film's concept - just like I probably won't understand if / how we get to 11+ wins.  

But in our 'ends justify the means' world, who cares?  We won't.  The film's financial backers certainly didn't... 

Brian M
John P
Pat B

Spit the       Elder
Jim S
Daryl M
Dave M
Peter B
Paul B


 If one viewed this film in greater esteem, I wouldn't disagree.  I mean, Keanu + Sandy Bullock + Dennis Hopper + Jeff Daniels?  Hello...

The point is, like this film, 10 wins would be considered very satisfying to if not all, a lot of folks,  including me.

Dave G.
Bryan G
Tim C
Kevin C
Joe S
Bob J
Spit the  Younger
Jim B
Ward H
Jerry W
Tom F
Tim S
Mike G
Brian W
Dennis R
Ryan C


John Wick
 All you need to know is they killed his dog. Even for the professional hit man, that's harsh. 

All bets are off after that. 

Like this movie, a 9 win season will leave you conflicted - it could've been so much better.

But damn there's some fun bits mixed in.

Bill B.
Jim T.
Jerry P
Mike C.
Joel G.
Kevin M
Alex S
Gary H


Bram Stoker’s Dracula
Will you be happy with a 'regression to the mean' type season?

Of course not.

Just like I had such high hopes for this film - utterly ridiculous in every way possible, where one walks out thinking "WTF was that?" -- similar to a 7-8 win season.

John L
Ray V



Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure
No one would ever call this great cinema but it was a bit of launching point for Keanu - and that's what one would hope 5 wins would be for ND... something to build on.


4 or less
The Replacements
Not, in fact, a bio-pic of the influential Minneapolis band (which, Keanu as Paul Westerberg would be BRILLIANT) - but rather a really bad football flick, even Keanu couldn't save this disaster.  

Honestly, there's no defense for this movie - just like a 4 win season.

Schedule - 2019

2      @ Louisville                W                    
14     New Mexico                W          
21    @ Georgia                     L                 
28    Virginia                        W                            

5      Bowling Green            W                           
12    USC                               W                                          
19     OPEN                                   
26   @ Michigan                                    

2      Va. Tech                                     
9      @ Duke                                      
16     Navy
23    Boston College                                          
30    @ Stanford                          

Schadenfreude of The Week

Here we go - so much joy, so little time to fully revel:

1.  Texas.  As suggested last week, whomever lost between the Sooners or the Longhorns had to be celebrated.  

And while it probably doesn't matter any more, BCS-wise, nice to see the teams in front of ND fall back.

2.  USC.   I can double dip on this, can't I?  Whether it's by 3 or 30, always a joy to see the Trojans go down. For Jay, Mike, Dave, Joe and any other SoCal resident, I hope this was a glorious week. 

3.  The state of Michigan.  For at least the past decade, I've had a bit of a man-crush on the U. of Wisconsin* - so to see them complete the trifecta and crow about it, pretty fab.  

And guess what Michigan, the next few weeks aren't looking appreciably better. 

*after today's loss to Illinois, less so.
May I suggest "Starvation Lake?"

4.  Stanford.  Strength of schedule be damned at this point, seeing you get smoked - by an awful UCLA team - is just fantastic on so many levels. Where's that smirk now, coach Shaw?

5.  Florida State.  We've been down this road earlier this year.  Happily then, happily now.  Pounded by Clemson this week - bummer for you to have to play them immediately after they almost get upset.  

So now, cue widespread fan apathy. 

But probably not the widespread coach buyout talk apathy.  

Terry's Trolls

Stop me if you've heard this before but...  

God bless the SEC.

And the NBA.

At least in the context of providing a near limitless supply of people who confound, appall and disappoint - the truly committed cretin.


"Hi mom, um, can you put dad on the phone..."
1.  Connor Bruce Croll.   It used to be that SEC batshit crazy involved poisoning your rivals' beloved tree, which in and of itself is pretty twisted because a) it's a tree - what did it do to you, pal and b) where's your sense of ecological responsibility, shit-for-brains?  But one must hand it to the SEC, they are a competitive lot... so to see the story of young Mr. Croll, an Alabama fan who phones in a stadium bomb threat at the LSU - Florida game. Well, that's some Next Level stupidity. 

Now the lad is facing up to 20 years of prison (and my favorite part) without or without hard labor - as if that distinction is a high priority for the kid at this point.

Hard to think the 'joke' - apparently his motivation had to do with a friend losing a big bet on the game and he was trying to influence the outcome (?) - is gonna be met with a mere slap on the wrist given a stadium of 100,000 had to be evacuated.  

And only weeks into his freshman years - ouch. (And I thought getting caught by campus police climbing ND's administration building two weeks into my freshman year was problematic.)

I don't think that's edible but some teams celebrate differently... 
2.  UGA / UVAYou had one job. I knew you (and I'm looking at you, Kirby) couldn't be trusted.

Of course what I'm talking about is ND's zero margin for error when it came to Strength of Schedule and possibly still being a viable BCS Bowl candidate.  

Which evaporated in a nanosecond when both of them lost last weekend.  

So, short of a million-to-1 dominoes of upsets involving Clemson / Bama / Ohio St. / LSU (and even then I doubt it), it's hello Orange or Cotton Bowl! 

3.  LeBron James.  I've been pretty busy the last week so I must've missed the news that LeBron was appointed US Ambassador to China.  Or China's Ambassador to the US. Hard to tell.

Fast summary:  Daryl Morey, the Houston Rockets GM, tweets support for the Hong Kong protesters - in a league that has been very progressive in supporting free speech among its players, a seemingly reasonable thing to do, what with the Chinese government's heavy handed approach to the territory where the 'one country, two systems' approach is supposed to be valid until 2047.

Except LeBron took issue with it, chastising Morey as "uninformed" and in a most condescending of fashion, suggesting the GM ought not to opine on subjects he wasn't fully grasping.

Yeah, like LeBon is Mr. Asian Political Nuance.  

But what did we learn from Watergate?  Follow the money.  Which, of course, explains Ambassador James activism.

4.  Oklahoma Cheerleading (?) Pep (?) squad.  Perhaps you ought to stick to basic gymnastics. 

Final Thought

I can't imagine what would possess someone to try something like this.  Unless perhaps one were, say, in their early 20's, living in Boston and driving to New Jersey to see one's college friends... then I guess I could see it. 

Can you put on "Lonely Hearts" - the long version?

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