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Friday, September 18, 2020

Duke: Uncut Gems

 "I've been waiting for a long time now..."

Dateline:  Chicago, September 12, 2020.   

So last Friday night, I found myself staring into my freezer, listening to some circa 1990's ambient pygmy music*, as one does after an evening out. 

I know there's limoncello in here somewhere.

It seemed a sound idea at the time, having just come from a client dinner where Tuscan varietals ("I don't ever want to see this glass empty, my good man...") was on order early and often.

Turns out it was the Indiana refrigerator that contained the aforementioned digestivo, not the Chicago one.  Son of beetch, sheeet.

Pretty emblematic of 2020:  sooo close to being what one expects.  And yet, not

Kinda like Saturday's game.

* Deep Forest, if anyone was wondering.

Word of the Week

Used in a paragraph:  As Young Jerrence watched the approach of the presumed 2020 Notre Dame football season in The Age of COVID, he wondered if the games would really lift the fugue he felt himself under for the past six months.                                                          
Who am I?                                                                           Where am I?                               

Why is that strange woman in my house keep asking me to hang paintings? 

And when's the Macallan being served?                                                                                                        
Existential Crisis here I come.

Quote of The Week

Not exactly a quote but in a month, you'll think you wrote it. 

Game Observations

Groovy times are here again... 

Football's here - huzzah!  Here goes nothing, my thoughts on last week's game...

1.  Ian Book . Putting aside the Kelly contract extension news, if Ian doesn't get it together, his  inconsistency is the very definition of a coach killer.  Just as the local press has likened with the Bears QB, "Dr. Jekyll and Mitch Trubisky," so too our man Ian. Please God, no.

2.  The in-stadium vibe.    Interesting. Love the seating strategy. 

"She lives in a single..."

3.  The WR's.  The flip side of the Ian Book coin - were they getting open or not? I read once that an offense can either rely on the players getting open on their own or they can be schemed open (e.g., misdirection, pick plays).    It would appear the inexperienced guys, at least until Austin / Lenzy return, are going to require the latter.

4.  The OL.  Before one sets the torch to the "these guys suck - again!" pyre, know this:  this year's OL scheme is fundamentally different than last year's.  Might want to give them a couple more games.  And they did go 4-for-5 on short yardage downs.  I'm not sure they converted four all of last year.

                                                                        Cincotta couture

5.  Young guns.   Was it lost on anyone that the new dudes - Kyren, Mayer, Wilkins, Foskey - were arguably the most eye-catching impressive. 

6.  Special teams.  The very definition of irony:  the one group of the team it doesn't appear one has to worry about. Who'd a thunk.

Love thee, Notre Dame... 

7.  Going Forward.   Something to watch for the next few weeks:  on one hand, the coaches have carte blanch to play anyone anytime, no matter how young, since no one's losing a year of eligibility. On the other hand, these guys had no Spring practice and precious little meaningful August work together (and didn't it show).  So in games that might seem well in hand (like hopefully vs. USF), who plays?  Probably the 1st stringers...

8.  NBC team.  I never hated Flutie as much as the rest of you. He may not have been the sharpest tool in the shed but was he overtly a hater?  I thought not.  So, on that minimalist criteria Tony Dungy is undeniably an upgrade.  And yet, he's not exactly Mr. High Energy... no Mike Mayock Insightful Analysis... is he?  Still, like a warm cup of hot chocolate.

"your lips move but I can't hear what you're saying..."

Question of the Week

Back to pilfering from The Athletic / Pete Sampson's weekly ND Mailbag.  Week 1 is merely a data point, not a trend.  Right?  Right?  Bueller?  Bueller?  Far too early to make any sweeping judgments.  And yet... 

What has been your favorite overreaction from game one?

Eric D.

As long as Notre Dame goes 3-0 does anything really matter until we get to Florida State?

Derek E.

To me, these two questions go together because the biggest overreaction to Notre Dame’s opening game would be to roll with “a win is a win” and believe nothing matters during the month of September as long as Notre Dame starts 3-0. If Notre Dame is good enough to hit its ceiling, nobody around the program would accept that perspective. The “does anything really matter?” philosophy would have stopped Brian Kelly from benching Brandon Wimbush for Ian Book two years ago, which sparked the offense for a run to the College Football Playoff. It would stymie creative thought and breed complacency. It would stop a program from going 34-6 during the past three-plus seasons. It would also stop the program from improving to the point that would allow it to run the table through October or challenge Clemson in November.

Certainly, there have been a bunch of overreactions from the opening weekend — about Ian Book, about the offensive line, about the receiver position. But I also think there’s some truth in most of those. And remember, overreactions don’t have to be exclusively negative. The idea that Michael Mayer should replace Brock Wright and Tommy Tremble right now is an overreaction. The idea that Kyren Williams shouldn’t rotate is an overreaction. A call to start Isaiah Foskey over Daelin Hayes is an overreaction. Mostly, I just want to see how these things play out over time. But there is no question that Notre Dame’s staff feels like the opener was more of a starting point than something to be satisfied with right now. There’s so much room to grow, and that’s a good thing.

To not see that or push for that would be the worst kind of overreaction.

Another reason why you should subscribe to The Athletic / read Pete Sampson:

Cocktail of the Week


Nothing screams the start of the football season / autumn semester for students like that first trip to the bookstore.  In my personal experience...

Texas Instrument calculator?  Um, why?

Pocket protector for one's many colored pens?  Um,we may not have jobs when we graduate but we English majors will still have our dignity.

But for those very same students, that means reacquainting oneself with literature's most important works... 

Rabbit, Rum
Rabbit, Run (1960)
By John Updike

Boy gets girl, boy gets girl pregnant, boy walks out in the end.  

Or rather, at the beginning of John Updike's seminal Rabbit, Run where we meet a former basketball star who, at the ripe old age of 26 (hey, this is the late 1950's) decides his midlife crisis has arrived a bit early and goes hunting for greener pastures. 

Duh - his nickname is Rabbit, after all.

                                                                                                                           Another tough semester for the Engish major.

The first in what would become a career-defining series that explored manhood in a changing America, Updike's book inspires a rum-based bevvie to get your tail twitching. 

*  2 oz. spiced rum*  2 oz. carrot juice
*  1 oz. lime juice
*  1 oz. simple syrup
* Carrot-top greens, washed, for garnish

Pour all the liquid ingredients into a shaker with ice and shake for 5 seconds. 

Strain into a coupe glass and garnish with the carrot-top greens.  

Hop to it!
Source:  Are You There God? It's Me, Margarita
by Tim Federle
The Season 

12                     Duke       W
19                     USF
26                    @Wake Forest


  3                    Bye
10                    FSU
17                    Louisville
24                    @Pitt
31                    @Ga. Tech

7                CLEMSON          7.30pm    / NBC
14                    @BC
21                    Bye
26 (Friday)        @UNC
5              SYRACUSE            TBA    / NBC

Wager 2020 - Taking the Leap..
Nothing says so much about the Class of '79 - or maybe just this Class of '79 - as the group of prognosticators who...

  • Guessed more than 12 wins
    .  News flash:  there is no extra credit in this pool.  And if Book keeps playing like he did last week, you're not going to have to worry about it anyway.
  • Provided more than one guess.   Um, this isn't test of one's portfolio management skills.
  • Publicly providing no guess.   Consciously objecting, JP?  How terribly 1960's of you.
"14 wins, that's two more than 12, innit..."

Free thinking iconoclasts.  But I love you all.  More than anything, it would seem to speak to the vast majority of folks, including myself, believing the season will get played essentially without interruption. 

Talk about a faith-based approach. 


Archetype (Embodies)



Marcel (Lunacy).


This construct, not officially Jungian... would surely exist had Carl met Dave.  New Jersey meets California with a sneaky, sly madness and a dollop of WTF.  The result?  A "he did not just do that" kind of guy.

Yes, he did do that.  He'll go for 14 wins if you let him.  


Gary (14)

John (14)

Moon (14)

Raz The Elder (13)

Peter (13)

Gutsch (12)

Bob (12)

Jim S (12)

Bryan (12)

Marcel (of course)


The Magician (Power).


 "Dreams really can come true" albeit in somewhat unfathomable ways, defying common belief... the Magician is a true Visionary where one sees ND running the table, at least to the point of making it to the ACC Championship and, likely, beating Clemson at least once.












The Hero (Mastery).


 Primarily motivated by proving their worth through courage and determination, this archetype suggests an ND season where nothing is easy and considerable success is achieved despite daunting, unforeseen obstacles.


Rev. Mark


The Ruler (Control).


 This is all about Dominance through Intimidation.  Confident, in control.

For ND, a solid year where an authoritarian mentality may not get them all the way to the BCS finish line. 





Mike G


The Jester (Enjoyment).

Here, we're all about having fun and seeing the glass half full.  8 wins could mean an undefeated season in a truncated, pandemic affected season.  Or it could just be '8 more wins than any of those Big 10 wussies had...' 

Either way, we had a pretty good time. 




Jim T


The Creator (Innovation)


 With a desire to create something new and exceptional where there previously wasn't, does a 7-win season indicate some unforeseen growing pains w a new OC and several inexperienced skills position players.  

A season where less than a full slate is played could still be a successful one, setting up a great '21 campaign.



The Explorer (Freedom).


Manifesting a palpable inner drive to push themselves outside their comfort zone - it's a "we understand the risks we're taking!" attitude.   Unfortunately ND can't overcome them all, whether they're internally or externally driven.



The Sage (Understanding).


 Seeker of Truth, Knowledge and Wisdom, this archetype may suggest a 'I told you it was a bad idea to play a contact sport during a pandemic'  scenario.  The 2020 season gets cancelled halfway through. "But, still, we were 5-0..."



The Outlaw (Liberation).


This figure digs anarchy, with a "you not the boss of me" disdain for rules. For the ND season that may suggest a 'go for it' mentality where the wheels ultimately come off - either from a team meltdown or a season's premature cancellation.


3 or less

The Innocent (Safety).


 A positive personality that craves safety while wishing for all to be happy.  Honest and with no ill-will... no agendas... they believe everyone has the right to truly be who they are.

Unfortunately, in an ND football context, The Innocent sees virus spikes with students back on campus and by the end of September, feels prudence demands that the plug be pulled on the football season. 


Mike C


Schadenfreude of The Week

Unlike tools (see below), the harvest here is still pretty slim.  The good news is it's only going to get better!

SEC starts in another week.

Big10 in October (sometime)

Pac12 - we're waiting... 

  • FSU.  Hello, old friend.  
  • Iowa State. I'd like to say this pains me but it really doesn't.  Like many places, Iowa is geographically divided in it's team loyalties.  To grow up in the eastern half of the state, destined to become an erudite bon vivant / raconteur, you are 'Iowa Hawkeyes' all the way.  The 'other' state school is for, well, the hayseeds.   
    • On the bright side, probably didn't do a lot for their head coach's profile as The Next Big Thing in the short term.  And gives him a chance to redeem himself and still be considered  for ND's head coaching position (2022-23?).  

Terry's Trolls

Trolling for tools is a lot like tending a garden.  I deduced that, indirectly, from reading Jerzy Kosinski's 1970 novel "Being There" - a satire (or so we thought) about a simple minded gardener who rises to great political influence.

One quote in particular stands out, "...if you love your garden, you don't mind working in it, and waiting.  Then in the proper season you'll surely see it flourish."

Welp, it's football season and the idiot harvest is indeed flourishing.

  • Skip Bayless.  I think we can all agree there's enough vitriol - and stupidity - going around these days.  Some of which may have legitimacy on both sides of any topic.  The reality of depression, clinical and otherwise, shouldn't be one of those bones of contention.  Like cancer, there's likely not a soul on this blog distribution that is more than one degree of separation from someone they care about who's battled this.
So when Skip, card carrying douche to begin with, called out Dak Prescott as a weak leader for his public admission of his struggle with depression AFTER HIS BROTHER RECENTLY COMMITTED SUICIDE... honestly there are no words for that level of lack of character.  Okay, maybe 'presidential.'

  • De'Andre Baker.  New York Giant 1st round draft choice, 2019.  Waived by the team ~18 months later after being arrested on four counts of armed robbery with a firearm - from a January incident.  Why would he do such a thing, you ask - he had $1.9M of his salary guaranteed over the next two years - after already receiving $6.2M last year.  A lesser man might opine that's your Georgia education hard at work - I would never take such a cheap shot.  That said... 
  • Elizabeth Holmes.  Everyone's favorite Silicon Valley sociopath who's now claiming stupidity - "I didn't know what I was doing was wrong" - as the foundation of her Theranos scam defense.  In professional circles that's what's known as The Constanza Gambit.

  • Taco BellSign of the Apocalypse?  Now offering their own wine.  (What pairs with the Burrito Supreme?)  Truth be told, like The World's Most Interesting Man, I rarely have fast food anymore but when I do, it's often Taco Bell.  But wine?!

  • California.   This may be an unfair assignation but I'm a little bitter.  Thanks to you, I now have to check this every day.

Final Thought

So on and on I go, seconds tick the time out
There's so much to know and I'm on the road to find out

Seems about the right sentiment after Week 1.

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