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Sunday, December 22, 2019

Pre-Bowl: Wager Lightning Round

Happy holidays everyone!  One week until the season ender vs. Iowa State, no time to relent yet... 

So far it would seem the ND football program is getting everything it wants for Christmas:

*  Chip Long - gone.
*  2020 recruiting class - in tact.
*  A very winnable bowl game - if they focus.
*  Seemingly all of their draft eligible guys saying they're coming back.

At any rate, consider this a mini-blog, mostly just to share the tie breaker quiz with everyone. 

And I think to myself
What a wonderful world...

Word for The Day

Used in a sentence:  As young Jerrence sat back in the Scotchlandia throne room, preparing for the annual family bacchanal of food, gifts and alcohol, he couldn't help but have a profound sense of seasonal déjàbrew :  

* the Black Russian years with his older brothers 
* the White Russian years with Buddy, when the daughters were toddlers ("you have your milk, girls and daddy has his") 
* And most recently, of course, the single malt years.

What would this year hold?  

Well, the Pilar-fueled eggnog was looking like a very strong Christmas Eve bet.

Quote of The Day

"Well, Jim, I haven't read any of your books but I'll have to some day because they must be good considering how well they sell..."
Nora Joyce to her husband, James

The same could be said of Jerrence, his blog and his spouse, The Fair Lisa.  

Except for the whole, you know, " well they sell" bit. 

The Wager - Tie-breaker questions.

Q1.  Pick the following bowl games versus the spread, including the Over / Under:

Bowl                          Line                                       Over / Under
Cotton       Memphis (+7.0) vs. Penn St.                (60.5)
Camping   Notre Dame vs. Iowa St. (+3.5)           (54.5)
Peach        Oklahoma (+13.5) vs. LSU                    (76.0)
Fiesta        Clemson vs. Ohio State (+2.0)             (63.5)
Outback    Minnesota (+7.5) vs. Auburn               (53.0)
Citrus       Michigan (+7.0) vs. Alabama               (59.0)
Rose         Oregon (+2.5) vs. Wisconsin                 (51.5)
Sugar        Georgia vs. Baylor (+6.5)                       (41.5)

Q2.  Vincent Van Gogh created approximately 900 paintings in the short time he worked, basically two a week over a tragically short, nine year period.  

But how many did he actually sell?

1)      1
2)     23
3)     112
4)     443

Q3.   The noted enigmatic filmmaker, Terrence Malick (he of “Days of Heaven,’ “Badlands,” “The Thin Red Line” fame) was born in the same hometown as Jerrence’s father, the late great Lawrence Corrigan.  

Name that town.  

Q4.  In Thomas Hardy’s Return of The Native, he spends approximately the first 50 pages describing in near mind-numbing detail, Egdon Heath -- arguably the primary character in his fatalistic tale of the dire consequences that a human being can suffer when they are determined to take on the Indifferent force of Destiny.  (And you thought being a Notre Dame fan was an exercise in futility.)

This character is:

1) Roger the shrubber’s ne'er-do-well brother-in-law.
2)    The randy village vicar.
3)   A barren moor of a village that the novel takes place in.
4)   The faithful dog of the sensual Eustacia Vye’s, the novel’s central female character. 

Q5.  How many false starts will be called on Notre Dame in their bowl game?

*  0
*  1
*  2
*  3
*  4+

Q6.    On which offensive series will they be called for their first false start?

Final Thought

Enjoy the holidays - big hugs and kisses from all of the Corrigans to you 'n yours.

But be smart.  

And be safe.

See you in 2020!

Tuesday, December 10, 2019

Week 12: Rashomon

"Why do we never get an answer
When we're knocking at the door..."

Dateline:  DeKalb, IL:  The one we call Shea and I are motoring our way to Iowa two Wednesday afternoons ago - road trip to see grandma Kay for Thanksgiving.  As is the protocol for such endeavors, we'll have a podcast or an audiobook playing to provide us with topical insight and unexpected inspiration.

This time it's Elton John's memoir, "Me" - a surprisingly witty, insightful and, dare I say well written,  account of both the perks and perils of global superstardom.  

Think that Jerrence only has gay friends, amyl nitrate and living in Surrey, England in common with Sir Elton?  

Think again.  There's also poor impulse control, a love for brightly colored feather boas and highly idiosyncratic creative processes.

What did you call coach Kelly?
Moreover, it being a memoir, an intrinsically one-sided perspective - one can't help but think about legendary Japanese auteur Akira Kurosawa's landmark film Rashoman that investigates the philosophy of justice as four people provide their different perspectives.

Possibly, perhaps probably, the other individuals involved in EJ's history would have similarly different points of view.

But for all it's anecdotes of scandalous behavior and celebrity references, at its end the book poses a single question underpinning John's entire adult life: WHAT IF he'd never been connected with Bernie Taupin, his near lifelong songwriting partner whose lyrics unlocked all that fabulous music?  Even John doesn't believe he had have the same life without that occurrence.

Both of those latter thoughts seem to have connective tissue to Notre Dame's 2019 season, now essentially in the books:
  • Thought #1:  What if _________ (the team played in Sept. and Oct. like they did in Nov. / te Michigan game was played in normal weather / etc.) 
  • Thought #2:  Everybody is going to have their own opinion / feeling about a 10-2 season.  And not necessarily be incorrect.

Word of the Week

Used in a sentence paragraph

As young Jerrence pondered the 2019 season, he found himself confronted with more questions than answers - the most basic of which was this:  should this season be considered a successf?

Certainly, the tailgating was top notch.  And 10 wins - three years in a row! - was nothing to turn up one's nose at.  That 4-8 season wasn't that long ago.  Nor was the Charlie Weis Years of Schematic advantage Mediocrity.

Still, lingering above it all, casting a pall over the entire evaluation was... Ann Arbor.  And as much Jerrence would try to obnubilate that performance from his consideration set - such was the complete (and seemingly aberrant) epic fail by the entire ND program - he knew you couldn't.

Successful season?  He was inclined to believe it was, even if a part of him wasn't entirely sold. 

Quote of The Day

"They don't even look like the same team." 
Kay Corrigan
End 1st Quarter, ND v. Stanford

Fun fact:  Kay Corrigan has had Notre Dame football in her life, perhaps originally under duress, for longer than most of us have been alive.
Her hearing isn't what it once was.  Her memory definitely isn't.  But there's nothing wrong with her eyes.  

So when she opined "they need a leaper!" after ND was stonewalled on two goal line plays in the 2nd quarter - it required paying attention. 

You know what, mom, you're right!  Fortunately, the Irish false started on the next play, moving the ball back to the 6 yd. line and allowing Book to throw (to Kmet) for the TD. 

Game Observations
"We're faithful!
We all believe, we all believe..."

  Q.  If a (Stanford) Tree falls, in fact gets crushed, and there's no one around to witness it, does the student body still make a pathetic noise reeking of my-daddy-runs-a-small-Latin American country-so-this-game-really-means-very little-to-me-and-anyways-Rolf-and-I-are-going-clubbing-later-tonight entitlement?

A.  Damn right it does. 

Other observations:

1.  Game Night!  What's the expression - the only sure things in Life are Death & Taxes?

Perhaps that ought to be amended to include Notre Dame false starts, specifically on the first series of the game. 

But as Kay Corrigan likes to say, "God doesn't close a door that He also opens a window."

So... at-home gaming opportunity!  

Allow me to introduce False Start Bingo!  Of course every card would be randomly reshuffled to give each player a fair chance (though, personally, I'd be praying for Eichenberg cards)...

2.  Regression analysis.  Another popular perception is that in Kelly's offensive system, the QB's always regress in Year II - but is that really accurate for Book?

While that certainly looked true for the first two months of the season, the last five games - both statistically and via the eye test - would suggest Book is no longer following that pattern.  

Is that because of the competition?  The play calling? Whatever.  But you can't have it both ways and he's looked like a different guy the last month.  (Now whether you want him back next year to continue the data collection is another question entirely.)

3.  Why It Mattered.   Surely not because of bowl game implications - always seemingly ticketed to Orlando (now confirmed vs. Iowa State?! Really?)...

We've thrown in the towel too many times
Out for the account and when we're down
Captain Fantastic
From the end of the world to your town... 

No, think more about recruiting and the impending December 18th Early Signing period.  Finishing strong, no matter the ultimate BCS Playoff irrelevance, is still important.  If ND signs all 19 kids, as seems now likely, thank a 5-0 November as a factor.  

You sure you want to transfer? 
4. Depth charge.  I read recently that the NCAA, in its infinite wisdom (!), is going to re-look the 4 game redshirt rule, as it seems to be leading to too many players jumping into the transfer portal.  

The hypothesis being that once a player gets to his 4-game season limit before burning a year of eligibility, he's now making the determination - am I gonna play or do I bail?  And many are opting for the latter.

Are ND kids any different? 

Don't know.  Don't think so - the freshman really seem to be benefiting - Kelly is making great strategic use of the 'trial' period... witness local boy Isaiah Foskey's impact on the Stanford game.  

The kid will likely play a ton next year but for right now, he has the year to figure things out, get stronger and play when the upperclassmen wear down a bit over the course of the season.  

That doesn't make Kelly especially clver - or unique - one imagines most coaches are playing this game.  Still. well played, coach. 

5.  The Announcers.  I'm not much of a whinger when it comes to the quality of football announcer - I have a blissfully short attention span to thank for that and don't actually listen all that closely.  I certainly think the Tirico - Flutie (mostly the latter) gets a really bad rap - most of the ND Nation doesn't seem to grasp that they're supposed to be neutral in their analyses. 

But the Stanford game put in sharp relief just how well prepared those two guys are - how much effort they put into knowing the players and the context.  

Tim Brando and Spencer Tillman?  Awful. When they weren't displaying their lack of upfront research - at least learn how to pronounce their names - they were playing kangaroo court judges - passing prolonged judgments on plays that had been adjudicated several minutes earlier.  

I mean this in the nicest possible way:  just shut up and broadcast the game. Please. 

6. Bitch, bitch, bitch.   While I like to consider myself a glass-half-full kind of guy, there's a couple more things I have some questions about:

* That field was god awful.  And dangerous.  And amazed there weren't any INT's because of players slipping.  Hey Stanford, you're one of the most expensive colleges in America.  You got a $28 billion endowment.  You think you could pony up a few bucks for a Division I-level playing surface?

* Apropos of nothing, when - and why - did Danny Wuerfful get an award named after him?   Apparently for Community Service.  And apparently something Drue Tranquill won last year.   And apparently something Jalen Elliott was nominated for - which is nice because, with all due respect, he's not been particularly good on the field this year.

7.  Back To The Future.  Forgive me if I'm repeating myself but...

Probably unfair to put that on young Mr. Lenzy but... the big play similarities are hard to miss, especially with that #25 flying down the sideline.  Braden, put on 10-15 lbs. of good weight next year and you're gonna be a beast.

Because every blog needs this...
8.  Mike Brey 2.0?   I recall one of our Stayer hosts telling me years ago that he and his son ran into our head basketball coach at the Joyce Center where the coach told them something to the effect that his ongoing employment with ND involved three deliverables:  1) graduate your players, 2) avoid any scandals, and 3) make the NCAA tournament every few years.

Easy, peasy, lemon squeezy, right?

Now clearly football is a different animal for ND Nation but are we at a similar point w coach Kelly?  

1) graduate your players
2) run a clean program
3) make a go at the BCS playoff every few years 

Which is not to suggest that achievement of those three objectives should be considered under-achieving - I happen to believe the college football deck is largely stacked against ND on that last deliverable (though there is clearly a significant portion of ND fandom (alumni) that would absolutely believe that).

And besides, who would you rather have had in the interim?  Chip Kelly?  Tom Herman? Dan Mullen?

Question of the Week

One last call out to anyone not  subscribing to The Athletic - you're really missing out.  The Pete Sampson - Matt Fortuna podcasts (typically 2x / week) are especially insightful.

That said, from this week's Athletic Mailbag, a topic that's been on everyone's mind for pretty much the entire season...

Buddy's Buddy

Q.  Honestly, how often does a long snapper gets recognized... for anything? 

A.  Even less than kickers.

And when they do, it's usually for screwing up a snap on a punt or a placement (recall a few weeks ago... Va. Tech...)

They are the equivalent of ecru, the eggshell paint color, whose raison d'etre is to not offend, basically to not even be noticed.  So it's nice, nay extraordinary, to call out a guy in his final regular season game as a collegian (yes, he'll probably play 10 years in the NFL) who toils in blissful obscurity.
Who's your daddy, Stanford... 

So John Shannon, come on down, you special team demon you...

Fumble recovery?  Yep.

Downed punt inside the 5 yd. line - leading to a defensive TD?  Got that too.

Oh, and otherwise flawless on his #1 responsibility - snapping the ball.  

Nice way to go out.

Cocktail of the Week

It is approximately 2:30pm - about half an hour before kickoff and Jerrence eyes the two bottles of Cabernet on his mother's kitchen counter - one a magnum, the other your basic 750ml.

"Mom, I'm gonna open the smaller bottle, okay?"

"No. The BIG one."

Long pause.  Alrightee then.  Every day is party time at The Senior Star Independent Living home. 

The Island of Dr. Merlot
The Island of Dr. Moreau (1896)
By H. G. Wells

Though this classic has been in print for over a century, and inspired no less than five feature-film adaptations, author H. G. Wells wasn't even aware that he was writing science fiction.  

Terry, Jim and Jerome greet their Mapleton St. guests
He preferred the term "scientific romances" (which, ironically, is exactly what many call a night on Tinder).  

Speaking of monstrous half-animals:  this book finds our narrator shipwrecked on an island devoted to the devious deeds of one Dr. Moreau, whose idea of a good time is playing Frankenstein with creature / human / hybrid experiments.

Throw your own luau with a Merlot-based island cocktail that'll have you howling at the moon. 

*  2 oz. Merlot
*  2 oz. pineapple juice
*  2 oz. simple syrup
*  1/2 oz. orange juice
*  1/4 oz. lime juice
*  Bacon, for garnish

Pour all the ingredients into a mixing glass with ice.  Stir for 10 seconds and then strain into a wine glass over fresh ice.  Garnish with a piece of bacon.  

Source:  Are You There God? It's Me, Margarita
by Tim Federle

Wager 2019 - Taking the Leap..

                                                           "'Cause like the gambler says
                                                                      Read 'em and weep..."


Well done, Team 10!  Show 'em what they've won, Vanna...

Um, actually nothing. Yet.  

They've merely progressed to the tie-breaking lightning round where they'll demonstrate their bowl game betting abilities, knowledge of the Dadaist art movement while providing an ND false start forecast.  

Go get 'em!

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                  L                             

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

Schadenfreude of The Week

Championship Weekend!

No problem finding teams to cheer against - and revel in their close-but-no-cigar disappointment.

That said, some of those teams may be easier to celebrate (Alabama) than others (Utah) - but who am I to judge?

1.  Alabama.  Are we seeing The End of an Era?  I think I speak for everyone when I say, let's certainly hope so.  And if the old adage "defense wins championships" still holds true, it's really not looking good for the Crimson Tide.  Three of the last four times they've played a ranked team, they've given up over 40 points, losing all three.  Can you imagine if Notre Dame had that track record?  Paul Finebaum and the ESPN Game Day crew would be all over that like a cheap shirt.

Roll this, bitch. 

2. Michigan.   Truth be told, as much as I find a great many (not all, Shea!) of the Wolverine supporters as debased, knuckle-dragging cave dwellers, they're also on a materially higher evolutionary stage than the Ohio State fanbase - a singularly loathsome, vile bunch of Dr. Moreau-esque cretins.

So, short of a rogue meteor rocketing out of the sky and turning The Big House's playing field into the world's largest sand box, someone was going to come out of this game as a schadenfreude winner. 

Let's start a rumor:  Jim Harbaugh to the Carolinas Panthers! 

There he goes again... 
3.  Utah.   So much of the college football world screamed "no way!" when the Utes were on the cusp of making the BCS Playoff.

Turns out they were right.  (Somewhere, Clay Helton is saying, "Hell, I could've done THAT.")

Terry's Trolls

1)  Nick Saban.   Karma's kinda a bitch, isn't it coach?   

After being considered the greatest coach since Bill Belichick, it's amazing what happens when you no longer get all the southeast's best athletes... and when you do, they get hurt.

What's a genius to do?

Apparently, complain.  A lot.  Like, all the time.  To wit:

* complained in September about the student section leaving before the end of the game (glad he wasn't ND's coach during our college years!) 

* complained in October when someone (SEC?  Network TV?) dared to schedule an 11am kickoff time (hey, Nick, every game can't be a Saturday night CBS telecast). 

* And the best - a week ago, complained when, at the end of the game, Auburn lined up their punter at WR, causing a confused Alabama to take a penalty -  allowing the Tigers to retain possession and win the game.  


"That was really unfair!"

No, Nick, that was really clever.

2)  Dabo Swinney.  Everybody loves Dabo.  Until they don't.  And that time may be drawing near. Go back a year ago... one couldn't imagine there being a soul outside of Alabama who didn't rejoice in Clemson's taking Crimson Tide to the woodshed in the BCS championship.    

But the world doesn't like a team who stays in the winner circle too long... so even after last year's big win - their second championship in three years and third appearance in the final game in four years - one had to wonder if the Dabo-Clemson pendulum, in the court of public opinion, was going to start swinging the other way.

Apparently Dabo thinks so when he declared last week, Rodney Dangerfield-style, "hey, we get no respect..."

I like you, coach. 

But if you want to gain some credibility, you might want to drop schools like Wofford and The Citadel from your schedule and beef it up with someone better than Texas A&M...

3) Freddie Kitchens.  "Pittsburgh Started It."  

Really, Freddie?  As my wife has said to me too many times to count over the past 34 years, "who's the adult here?!"  

Um, me, Lisa.  But but (insert daughter / niece / nephew's name here) they provoked me... 

...typically followed by her suggesting there was significant plant life with higher emotional intelligence than I.

But I digress.

And will anyone really wonder, Freddie, if you're a one-and-done head coach?

4) Broyles Award Committee.  Question for the audience:  how does Clark Lea not make the cut of the Top 15 assistant coaches in the country?  Asking for a friend. 

BTW, if the passing game coordinator for LSU doesn't win it, the fix is in. 

Final Thought

If you buy only one book this Christmas season... well, of course it should be Gruley's Purgatory Bay.  

But since that novel won't actually be available for consumption on the 25th - a bit of tactical marketing error there - may I interest you in a recently released book of essays by the fabulous Brian Doyle, perhaps ND's best writer, non-class of '79 division.*

The New York Times recently had a wonderful review of the book - take a couple minutes to read and have your life enhanced. 

*sorry to inflame all of you Nicholas Sparks zealots.