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Thursday, December 24, 2020

ACC Championship: Always Look On The Bright Side of Life

Come down to the manger
See the little stranger... 

Dateline:  Flint Lake, IN

Jerrence was recently watching a six-part documentary on the origins and, ultimately, amicable dissolution of the Monty Python troupe - with the latter sequence covering their film making ventures.

Fun fact:  

-  The Holy Grail was produced only after receiving significant funding from Pink Floyd and Led Zeppelin.
-  Life of Brian was produced only after receiving significant funding from George Harrison. 

"Life of Brian" was the middle film of a 3-movie Python oeuvre, inspiring most of the world's organized religions to LOSE THEIR FREAKING MINDS over the tale of a young lad who happened to be born in the same town / same day as Christ and goes to become confused as The Messiah.  

He was not the messiah but in point of fact, just - according to his mother - a very naughty boy.  (That the name Brian has gone on to be associated with those born with overdeveloped god complexes is just one of the film's many ironies.)

At any rate, as the film chronicles the unfortunate Brian Cohen's parallel life with Jesus, we witness the actual Sermon on the Mount where the unlucky sods in the far back row of the crowd just can't quite hear those pesky beatitudes correctly.

I think it was "Blessed are the cheesemakers."

What's so special about the cheesemakers?

Well, obviously it's not meant to be taken literally; it refers to any manufacturers of dairy products...

So, events can be rife with misinterpretation even in the most serious of times, much less something as - dare we admit this - inconsequential as a football game.  Last Saturday's contest was a colossal disappointment, to be sure, but making any sweeping proclamations about the ND football program is high risk. 

But go ahead anyway.

Word of the Week

Used in a sentence paragraph
:  As Young Jerrence watched the game, he realized he'd actually heard more about Trevor Lawrence than he'd actually witnessed
.  At least the 2021 version of the QB.

But by the middle of the 2nd quarter, Jerrence knew there were good prima facie reasons  that QB is considered the most impactful position in football.  And with a legitimate 5-star talent at the QB position like Lawrence, it was painfully obvious that impact clearly magnified performance, offensively and on the defense. 

Quote of the Week.

"It's the hope that kills you

Ted Lasso

A couple things:

1)  In this dumpster fire of a year, I don't have it in me to go full MikeyDogs (inside ND message board reference, don't try to figure it out) and weep / wail / gnash my teeth and bitch about Kelly or the coordinators or whatever.  The team got beat by a better team, with a better plan and a generational QB.  It happens.

But yeah, as a fan, it is the thinking "we've turned a corner" and getting bitch slapped that hurts.  Doesn't mean that the team still isn't really good.

2) Recognizing that I'm a bit of a closeted Anglophile... if you want a really fun, funny, sweet limited series w surprising depth to watch, check out 'Ted Lasso' on Apple TV+.   The overall 'fish out of water' conceit is completely unoriginal:  American football coach is brought in to coach a losing British soccer club, hi-jinx ensue.  But it's really very good and great to end the year on something not so dark.

Game Observations.

That rich guy you've been seeing must have put you down.
So welcome back, baby, to the poor side of town...

No one really wants to talk about the actual game, do they?  Personally, I'm trying to wash it from my brain.  Okay a few thoughts:

1.  Clemson is very, very good.  Their coordinators are really, really good (especially Venables) - there's a reason they bitched about possibly playing FSU the week before this game.  

They knew the extra week to scheme represented a competitive advantage.  And boy, did it show.

2.  Lawrence is genuinely a generational talent.  And seems like a very decent kid as well.  (I hate that I don't hate him.) 

But I can't recall the last time one someone that highly touted come out of HS and was almost immediately great, basically from Day One.  

Who knew he could run like that?  Clearly not the Irish.

3.  Far be it from me to throw a fellow kicker under the bus but... that chip shot miss was big. And Book's 4th down miss of Davis on the following drive was even bigger.  

Moral:  you're not going to get that many chances against teams like Clemson and Bama.  If you don't convert, kiss it goodbye.

4.  Would those points have changed the outcome?  No.  But one of the reasons the world loves to scream 'overrated' at Notre Dame is because those games become uncompetitive so early.  

Going into halftime 20-13, or even 24-13, the narrative is completely different.  

And maybe the resulting collective Irish self-doubt.

5.  Like 2018, those TD's right before halftime are freaking killers.  

6.  Could losing Patterson matter that much to our O-line?   Hard to believe.  And yet...

Buddy's Buddy.

The last two times the Irish have lost - a week ago  and October 26, 2019 against Michigan, I've been struck by one commonality:  

Epic fail by every single group:  

*  Offense

*  Defense 

*  Special teams

*  Coaching, game planning

Jack, what part of 'fetch me a drink' is unclear?
I have no explanation, no theory, for it.  How, in those games, does almost no one show up?  Weird, huh?  

Well, I'll tell ya who did show on Saturday - my wingman, Jack.   

He came to play.  Literally.   

So we've got a few things to work on before January 1st. 

Thanks for Christmas
Thank you for the winter friendliness that snowing down...

RE-PETE (a shameless, illegal lift of Pete Sampson's weekly mailbag).

This is probably as close as we'll ever get to having our Pulitzer Prize-winning classmate write an Op-Ed for this blog.

We'll have to settle for him submitting - and receiving an answer - a question to Mr. Sampson's weekly ND mailbag.

And it's not a question without it's long-term, existential implications for ND in their quest to move past 'basecamp' to summit the CFB mountain.

Thanks, Bryan. 

I doubt that private jets or better recruiters or some other magic will suddenly get us multiple five-stars each year. Is there any appetite for lowering academic standards for recruits? I’m not advocating this, but if your stated goal is to win national titles, then you need five-stars.

Bryan G.

Ah, the natural recruiting follow-up question. And no worries, Bryan, it makes perfect sense to wonder about this every so often. How could you not?

But the answer is no, there’s no appetite to adjust academic entrance requirements downward. In fact, I think people would be surprised how accommodating Notre Dame can be to football when it comes to getting prospects into school. The question is less about who can get admitted and more about who can actually make it when they do arrive. That’s where the real work comes for both player and program, with a huge assist to the academic services available. Because there is quite literally nowhere to hide at Notre Dame for these football players if they don’t have the academic foundation to make it. And once a player starts to fall apart academically, it can be very hard to get him back on track. Sometimes those prospects fail out. Sometimes they end up in an academic misconduct mess. Very rarely do you get the best out of the player himself, which leaves Notre Dame having spent an incredible amount of time and effort for minimal returns on the field.

If you’re going to start taking more at-risk prospects academically, you almost have to create academic tracks and majors for them to inhabit. And at that point, aren’t you giving those prospects knock-off Notre Dame degrees? I don’t know how Notre Dame could look itself in the face and not see the potential hypocrisy there, selling an elite degree in recruiting only to leave those players with cut-rate diplomas.

I’m not saying there’s nothing Notre Dame can do to help the academic grind here. Having so many players push for a degree in three and a half years is an incredible ask. Maybe allow more virtual class attendance to loosen the missed class policy. But in terms of taking the shine off a Notre Dame degree? I don’t see any appetite for that, regardless of the football implications.

Source:  The Athletic (12/24/20)

Cocktail of the Week

It's Christmas time which means teeing up those annual unsolvable holiday discussions, like what exactly is the unnatural substance that makes up fruit cake or what makes a Christmas movie a Christmas movie?

I used to think that latter topic couldn't be a terribly difficult debate - hello, Christmas, snow, feel good, Santa, angels, Stars of Bethlehem, positive moral to the story etc - but of late someone always brings up Die Hard because it happens at Christmas.  

Excuse me but for my money, I draw the line at a body count of 73 in terms of throwing the film into the "It's A Wonderful Life" consideration set.  

Unless, of course, "Yippee-kay-yay, Merry Christmas, motherf*cker" is part of your family's patois. (No judgment here.)  

In which case happy holidays, go with God.

The point is, there does seem to be a considerable voting bloc that's open to a broader, um, definition of the Yule-time spirit... so if it can include Hans Gruber, I say why not the Cookie Monster?

With that in mind, this week's libation:

The Muppets Make Manhattans
The Muppets Take Manhattan (1984)
Directed by Frank Oz

Everyone's favorite marionettes-slash-puppets return for their take on the old Mickey-and-Judy "let's put on a show!" trope.  Here, Kermit & Co. celebrate graduating from college with a show tune revue that gets such great buzz, they decide to take the show to Broadway - despite their fretful leader's misgivings. 

Shot on location in New York and with everyone from Liza Minnelli to Joan Rivers making cameos, this film also introduced the Muppet Babies in a dream sequence that proved such a hit, they got their own Saturday morning spin-off cartoon.

Whether bound for the big time or not, you'll be sent off with a song once you get a taste of this Big Apple Manhattan.

*  2 oz.  apple brandy
*  3/4 oz.  sweet vermouth
*  1/2 oz.  apple juice
*  1 1/2 tsp. honey
*  3 dashes baked apple bitters
*  green apple slice, for garnish

Combine all the ingredients (except for the apple slice) with ice in a mixing glass and stir well.  Strain into a cocktail glass, garnish with the apple - and serve with a side of bacon (with apologies to Miss Piggy).

Source: Gone With The Gin
Cocktails With A Hollywood Twist
by Tim Federle

Peace on earth 
Can it be...
Years from now
Perhaps we'll see...

12                     Duke               W
19                     USF                 W
10                    FSU                W
17                    Louisville       W
24                    @Pitt.             W
31                    @Ga. Tech    W

7                    CLEMSON        W    
14                  @BC                W
26 (Friday)  @UNC             W
5                  SYRACUSE         W
12                Wake Forest        Cancelled
19               ACC  'ship             L

The Wager.

So now 12 becomes the high end... easy come, easy go.

And the Rev. Ungashick is looking pretty good right now. Whether he wants to or not.


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



Sometimes the best schadenfreude comes to those who wait.

And most certainly, the later in the season, the higher the stakes - so yeah, who doesn't like a spectacular crash and burn?  

To be sure, a nation of ND-haters is having the time of their lives right now.

1)  USC.   This one would feel especially cruel insofar as the Trojans' loss wasn't a humiliating ass kicking but rather just their latest dalliance with flip-a-coin-do-we-or-lose mediocrity.  Getting beat by a team that was a replacement for the rightful opponent who bailed due to COVID.  A game they coulda-shoulda won.  And yet, didn't.  Remarkable in its similarity to almost every other game they played this year.  

How ya feeling about coach Helton and program now, Trojan Nation?

Terry's Tools.

If one is a subscriber of The Athletic - and I encourage all to do so - the ND site also includes a podcast offering, during the season twice a week, where Pete Sampson and Matt Fortuna deconstruct the games, occasionally bringing on guests for added insight.

This past week they spent considerable time noting how overwhelmingly down the ND fanbase is about even being in the BCS Playoffs this year.  And accordingly, how vast the loss of perspective toward this year's achievement.  There are dozens of marquee college brand names that haven't even sniffed the playoffs (looking at you, coach Harbaugh). ND has made it two out of the last three years.

Net, one could be persuaded to point the tool spotlight at ourselves, tell us to stop being self-absorbed, whiney bitches - I won't (it's Christmas) but it would be prudent to realize a couple things:

* ND is arguably way past Base Camp, metaphorically speaking, even if we're still getting killed when we near the summit.

* If Bama / Clemson / Ohio St. are living at Camp 4, ND is probably close to being consistent Camp 3 trekkers.  But still realizing  that last hike to the top is a bitch.

Okay, this week's tools:

1) BCS Playoff Committee.     I'm still bitter about Ohio State.  (If Clemson doesn't roll them by 20 I will be extremely disappointed.)
Your thoughts on Ohio State, Commissioner Martini...

2)  The Big 10.

3) Kyrie.   I love Sir Charles.

Final Thought

Hey let's not lose sight of the bigger picture, Merry Christmas everyone.  

Please keep Mr. Wills in your thoughts and prayers.  He's more important than anything this blog writes about...

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