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Saturday, December 12, 2020

Syracuse: Long Distance Runaround

"I still remember the dream there..."

Dateline:  Flint Lake, IN

Raise your hand if you remember the opening sequence to Taratino's "Inglorious Basterds" - where Christoph Wentz's Nazi visits the French farmhouse, know the locals are harboring Jews.

Now raise your hand if you remember what you had for dinner last night.  (Credibility check.)

No matter, let me remind you:  The scene involves a ruthless Nazi SS officer, nicknamed 'the Jew Hunter', interrogating a French farmer about whether he might be harboring any in his humble abode.  Both know he is.  

Suffice to say, it does not end well for those hiding under the floor boards.

I'm reminded of that scene as we attempt to socialize the new (canine) ward of the state, Jack, with our cats who, heretofore, have lived a fairly idyllic lake house existence.  

Now, Anne Frank-like, they live a quiet existence in basement storage - hiding... listening... to the pitter patter of the floor boards above them - knowing they're being sought.  With only a door / cat flap serving as their last line of defense.  

Here's Jackie!!!
Jack, affable lad and hardly a Nazi, is more than aware of their existence.  And desperately wants an introduction.  

But what might be his agenda - certainly nothing innately nefarious like Tarantino's Hans Landa.  Likely something more benign, a pet just wishing to have some friends with which to play.  And by 'play' we mean chase around the house, terrorizing the living sh*t out of them, driving them into lifelong kitty therapy.

Will we ever get to detente or even better, symbiotic harmony?  Dare to dream.  But, as the 2020 season begins to come to a close, it serves to remind one of yet another of the smart decisions Brian Kelly made this past year - punting Chip Long and establishing Tom Rees as OC, facilitating a hramonic partnership not only with DC Lea but also OL coach Quinn.   

"Big deal," you say, it's the players that play the games. Consider that, on both sides of the ball, there's still not a plethora of 1st round draft choices:  Mayer, ultimately very likely.  Eichenberg, perhaps. JOK and Hamilton on the D, almost for sure.  So how are they hanging with the very best of college football's elite? Because ND 2020 is a 'whole is greater than the sum of the parts' equation - and gee, might that be about coaching / leadership being on the same page?

Word of the Week

Used in a sentence paragraph
:  Young Jerrence wasn't quite sure - in the vast majority of Life, he often found himself never quite sure - what was driving his emotions at the end of the game.   
After all, it wasn't his final home game.

So what was it?  The premium celebratory Japanese whiskey he was sucking down throughout the 4th quarter?  

Or perhaps its unorthodox pairing with the family size bag of Cheddar Jalapeńo Cheetos, not your usual Michelin-rated recommendation.  He couldn't tell.

Nonetheless, Jerrence found himself experiencing a paroxysm of positivity over ND's finishing their regular season undefeated: a combination of happiness  / surprise / pride over a total program performance during the most unforeseeably trying of conditions.  Everything thrown at 'em, they handled. No big deal.  

Suck on that, Big 10.  And you wonder why we don't want to join your cheesy conference. 

Quote of the Week.

"It's good to know that it may not be that important to play 13 or 12 games

Jack Swarbrick

They don't call him "Savvy Jack" for nothing.   And I trust he will shove it down the BCS Committee's fucking throats in future years when this additional data point rubbish comes up. 

Game Observations.

At this point, what to say anymore about this team?

Hello, old friend... 
Truth be told, Jerrence has never been a big advocate of sports-related research, being rather more a disciple of the pervading societal "if I think it and it serves my argument, it must therefore be true" school of fact-based support.  

However, this week an exception was made.  It's been my perception that more times than not (and for whatever reason) ND tends not to show up (at least for the entire 60 minutes) on Senior Day - so last weekend's 1st half performance, while a tad unnerving, wasn't wholly unexpected.  But was it actually true?   Kinda, yeah:

2020        45-21  W   Syracuse
2019        40-7    W    Boston College
2018        36-3    W    Syracuse
2017        24-17    W   Navy
2016        31-34    L    Va. Tech
2015        19-16    W   Boston College
2014        28-31    L    Louisville
2013        23-13    W   BYU
2012        38-0    W    Wake Forest
2011        16-14    W    Boston College

1)  That the last three years represents a 121 - 31 pt. differential probably speaks to how good this graduating class has been.  Still, weird that it's no sure thing that ND will keep its focus for a game that one would think they'd be motivated to play their best...

2)  Another semi-random point:  can we put our Braden Lenzy optimism to bed, at least for this year?  Any time a guy's singular competitive advantage is speed - and he has hamstring problems, I'm guessing he's in trouble.

Hey can you hear me now
As I fade away - and lose my ground...

3)  One thing that has consistently jumped out about this team is their toughness.  Throughout the past weeks we've pointed how hard the RB's run, never going down on first contact.  NBC loves Tommy Tremble (justifiably so).  And on defense, Jordan Botelho just looks - and hits - like a loon. 

This toughness seems to extend to the walk-on's as well - witness Matt Salerno getting lit up like a Christmas tree and basically saying, 'that all you got?'

This song's for you, Matt...

And sometimes I despair the world 
Will never see a man like him...

4)  Chew on some of these Class of '21 fun facts:

Buddy's Buddy.

Here's another factoid from Saturday's game - or something approximating accuracy as I heard Matt Fortuna say it (so it must be true) but didn't write it down (hence, directionally correct) but you'll get the gist: 

 In the 1st half, Ian Book was something like 21-29 for ~ 250 yards.  Pretty impressive, no?

And that includes 5-6 undeniable, "even Bramblett would've caught that" drops.

At times, it looked like he was the only guy who actually wanted to win, certainly (again) for the entire 60 minutes.  

You hear the so-called experts talk about 'stacking success'... if that's the case, Book and ND are looking pretty solid heading into post-season play.

So.  And easy choice this week.

The United Colors of Benetton

And you know who else is any easy choice to be Buddy's Bud?  Our man Jerry Wills.  

The former scourge of the Sorin basement, Senior Bar bartender par excellence and Corrigan family favorite has recently been laid low by COVID... currently hospitalized, in pretty tough shape and could use all the positivity the world can offer.

So if you're religiously inclined, please say a prayer for Jerry.

If you don't lean so much in that direction, send some positive karmic vibes his way.

Even as we write this, we know he's gonna beat this, of that I'm sure.  But let's not make it any harder than it has to be.  

I won't bow
I won't bend
I won't break
Tough it out. 

You got this, JW.  

And if you'd like to reach out to him and remark about the unnecessarily melodramatic measures he's gone to just to get his beloved NY Giants to start playing well, let me know and I'll give you his contact information.

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

Inasmuch as Mr. Sampson didn't post a mail bag this week - slacker - we're doing the next best thing and repurposing an article from the past week.

And fitting that this week's journalistic 'theft' should be about Ian Book.  He was the main story last week, continues to be the main story (vs. Trevor) this week and win or lose, will surely be the main story for as long as the Notre Dame post-season goes on.

Ian Book seals his Notre Dame Stadium legacy, with more history left to be made
By Pete Sampson
SOUTH BEND, Ind. — At 6:55 p.m., Ian Book walked up the Notre Dame Stadium tunnel for a final time, flanked by his family after snapping pictures and swapping hugs. They had soaked up these moments from field level after No. 2 Notre Dame’s 45-21 victory over Syracuse, on an afternoon that will be remembered for the four years that preceded it and the four weeks ahead. But for this moment, at least, Book got to think about making history of his own at a college football program where almost everything has already been done.
On Saturday in front of a family, friends and faculty crowd of just 6,831, Book threw for three touchdowns and ran for another two. He won his 30th game as Notre Dame’s starting quarterback, breaking a four-way tie with Brady Quinn, Ron Powlus and Tom Clements for the school record. He also helped Notre Dame (10-0, 9-0) to its fourth 10-win season in a row, another first at place where firsts are hard to come by.
For updated coverage of Saturday’s CFB games, see The Athletic’s breaking news headlines.
“Bittersweet, definitely a little emotional but I just took it all in,” Book said. “I definitely took a step back and just embraced everything. It’s been an unbelievable journey. I remember my first day on campus, and now I’ll never forget my last game in the stadium.”
There’s a legacy at stake for Notre Dame’s senior class, the backbone of the program’s revival over the past four years, which have included two undefeated regular seasons. Beat Clemson in the ACC championship game on Dec. 19, and Notre Dame football would have another first, taking league hardware home from Charlotte. Win twice beyond the ACC championship game, and this team may be remembered as one of Notre Dame’s greatest, playing through a pandemic and clearing every hurdle in its way.
A national championship in this season of coronavirus testing, canceled games and incomplete seasons would come with an asterisk, no doubt. But that asterisk would mark the champion as having persevered during the most difficult circumstances. It would multiply the significance of the achievement, not diminish it.
To get there, the Irish will need more from Book, who carried them much of Saturday amid an off-brand performance from coordinator Clark Lea’s defense, while the offensive line was shuffled and reshuffled. The Orange produced two 100-yard running back performances, the first two the Irish had allowed all season.
Notre Dame went with its third offensive line configuration in three weeks, then shifted twice more during the game. Tackle-turned-guard Josh Lugg started at center for the injured Zeke Correll, who had replaced the injured Jarrett Patterson. Career reserve Dillan Gibbons got his first start at right guard in Lugg’s place, who had been replacing Tommy Kraemer. The regular right guard was supposed to be an option only in case of emergency, after having an appendectomy two weeks ago, but Kelly said Kraemer pushed to play some in his final home game, and he got some work in the second quarter.
The final results didn’t meet Notre Dame’s late-season standard of constant improvement, though Kyren Williams and Chris Tyree both eclipsed 100 yards, with Williams going over 1,000 for the season. Javon McKinley turned in seven catches, 111 yards and his first three touchdowns of the season.
“It’s extremely gratifying to go and finish the season the way we did,” Kelly said. “The individual things for me, that doesn’t come into the conversation or my thought process. It’s about finishing for our seniors, a win at home, getting Ian Book into the record books as the winningest quarterback in the history of Notre Dame, solidifying our position in the College Football Playoff picture. Those are the most important things.”
Despite an uneven start in which Notre Dame trailed 7-3 early in the second quarter to a team that has now lost eight consecutive games, the Irish did enough to retain the benefit of the doubt. Book’s 28-yard touchdown run, followed by two touchdown passes to McKinley, gave the Irish a 24-7 working margin by halftime.
After another Book touchdown run and another scoring connection with McKinley in the third quarter, Tyree applied some gloss to the box score with a 94-yard touchdown run midway through the fourth quarter.
The freshman’s sprint meant the Irish didn’t have to answer questions about style points. When the next College Football Playoff rankings come out on Tuesday, the Irish should remain a comfortable No. 2. It also meant Kelly got to call timeout with about five minutes remaining to sub Book out of the game on his own to an ovation, a treatment afforded to Manti Te’o in his home finale during the BCS championship game run of 2012.
“He’s a ballplayer. He just does stuff no one can imagine really doing,” said tight end Tommy Tremble. “Like we said, all-time winningest quarterback at Notre Dame. He’s a baller.”
Notre Dame is probably starting too late to mount a serious Heisman Trophy campaign for Book, not that the quarterback seems all that bothered by it. His numbers are what they are, 15 touchdowns against two interceptions to go with 465 yards rushing and another eight scores. It’s a statistical step back from the last two seasons, which only matters when it comes to glamour awards.
It’s the 30 wins that carry the most weight, including the double-overtime takedown of Clemson in November. If the Heisman Trophy is handed out for moments over touchdowns, perhaps Book will have a chance to move up the pecking order two weeks from now against Trevor Lawrence and Clemson. It would make for an unforgettable legacy to become Notre Dame’s eighth Heisman Trophy winner and return the program to the top of that award’s all-time list, no matter how long a shot that appears.
But that’s not first on Book’s list of priorities heading toward the ACC championship game.
Or beyond it.
“I want to win a national championship and if you hear my name, that is what you think of,” Book said. “We still have to go do that, so that’s what I want.”
In a career that has been an overachievement by every metric, that would be the ultimate for Notre Dame and its all-time winningest quarterback.
As Ian Book headed up the tunnel for a final time, he could ponder all that, the last five years of wins and losses, a redshirt and a quarterback competition. It’s been a lot to take in. There’s more to come. The question is how much.
Source:  The Athletic (12/5/20)

Cocktail of the Week

What the nation knows as the 'Toasted Almond' cocktail, the Corrigan family knows, for obvious reasons, as the 'Toasted Daddy.'

It is that time of year when a man's attention turns to holiday cocktails and the veritable cornucopia of frothy, festive options that will make one warm inside - physically, psychologically,  and if one consumers enough, spiritually.

With that in mind, this week's libation:

Tender Is The Nightcap
Tender Is The Night (1934)
by F.Scott Fitzgerald

This is arguably the work closest to the author's heart.  Fitzgerald himself was said to have written to a friend:  "If you liked The Great Gatsby, for God's sake, read this.  Gatsby was a tour de force but this is a confession of faith."  (Or, as we'd probably say today: 5 out of 5 stars, would recommend.")

Set on the French Riviera with a cast of teen starlets (meet Rosemary), philandering psychiatrists (hi, Dick), and women on the verge of a nervous breakdown (poor Nicole)... 


...Tender Is The Night echoed the very themes that haunted Fitzgerald's own life story.

Step away from your entanglements with a Riviera-worthy "Rosemary" spritz.

*  2 oz.  Aperol
*  3 oz.  Prosecco
*  4 oz.  club soda
*  1 rosemary sprig, plus additional sprig (with stem) for garnish

Place the Aperol and rosemary sprig in a wine glass and muddle - tenderly, of course. Add the prosecco and club soda over ice.  Garnish with the additional on-stem rosemary sprig.  

Source: Are  You There God? It's Me Margarita
More Cocktails With A Literary Twist
by Tim Federle  

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

The Wager.

10 games into the season and only now are getting to the really meaningful stuff... let the games begin.

Food for thought:  with the Promised Land now well in sight, consider whom the Irish are going likely to have to go through:

Clemson =>  Ohio State => Alabama.  

Has anyone, ever, run a gauntlet like that?  Watch and behold, World.


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



  As my brother Mike might say, last week was merely the amuse bouche, the metaphorical culinary glimpse, of Things To Come.

The amuse bouche taste doesn't last long and in this case, is even less consequential when so many of the teams don't even play.  It's like having the food cart wheeled by you and the waiter says, "nope not available this weekend..." So we have a taste of what they've got and move on.

1)  Michigan.   But they didn't play!  So what.  They're still ending their year 2-4.  Stick that on your cv, coach Harbaugh.

2)  BYU.  Almost by process of elimination, you're the only meaningful loss to celebrate. Beggars can't be choosers. So terribly sorry, Mormon Nation.  

And unfortunately, your losing didn't exactly advance the cause of all those other teams playing outside the Power 5 conferences.  Making you even less popular in the secular world of college athletics.  So there's that.

3)  Miami.  Getting boat raced, 62-26, by UNC today obviously represents the double bonii for ND - watching one of America's most loathsome, punk ass, low character team* get embarrassed, literally run over... by a team that the Irish steamrolled only a couple weeks earlier. 

Great for the BCS Committee perception to be sure. But I'm here mostly for the profound humiliation of da U.   

*one man's opinion. 

Terry's Tools.

This is supposed to be the time of year when one looks upon others more kindly... more forgiving... more accepting of other's questionable behavior, where one has the capacity to say, "I don't agree with what you're doing but I defend to the death your right to do it, no matter how stupid or dangerous it is..."

Yeah, right.  Maybe in Canada.

Have you been a coma for the last four years?

1) LSU    Sometime tools can be amusing (see Exhibit A, Dillon Hall Class of '79) even when perhaps they don't intend to be.                                                                                                                                   So
 when the 3-5 LSU Tigers announced a self-imposed bowl ban (akin to a 'you can't fire me, I quit' proclamation) this year, one could go the cynical 'WTF?!' route - not even the Poulan Weedeater Bowl wanted you.                                                                                                                                 But only because I'm feeling especially holiday magnanimous, I prefer the  "well played, LSU."
That said, the nation isn't laughing with you, they're laughing at you. 

Hey, IU... ya fucked up.  You trusted us.
2) Big-10 Leadership.  As predicted (pretty easily) last week, the Big 10 checked their ethics at the door, embraced the 2020 operating principle of  Actions-Having-Consequences-Is-More-Of-A-Guideline-Than-A-Rule and changed their by-laws to green light Ohio State into their conference championship game vs. Northwestern.

Hello, the BCS Final Four.

And bend over, Indiana Hoosiers.   

* I will never be a Pat Fitzgerald fan (especially when he becomes the next Bears coach) but I'll make an exception for this game.

3)  Kyrie Irving.   Among us fanboys of Idiot Savants, Kyrie is something of a mythical creature (not to mention a poster child for the quality of a Duke education), he as leader of 'the earth is flat' truthers as well as committed conspiracy theorist involving the JFK assassination (the Fed was behind it) and Bob Marley's death (CIA, duh).  

Now he's refusing to talk to the press in advance of the 2020-21 season, declaring "I don't talk to Pawns" - showing off his mad Netflix skills (we've seen The Queen's Gambit too, KI) as well as deft media relations savvy. News flash, Kyrie:  no one wants you to talk. 

Final Thought

Apropos of absolutely nothing other than just... neat.

Bruce, Michael, Vin, Kareem...

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