Madame Defarge throws around words like 'pilot program' and 'beta test.' Like she's the captain, the driver, the CEO of the house.
You not the boss of me.
But, of course, she is. It's just that periodically, in terms of leadership style, one would like to see her be a little more Lincoln and a little less Mugabe.
On this particular occasion, the daughter we call Shea has announced that, even before the presidential election, she is - and I'm paraphrasing here - "getting the f*ck out of Dodge" and headed back to graduate school at the American University of Paris.
Bon jour, je suis Jacque
Which is resulting in a foster parent opportunity for Jerrence and The Madame involving Shea's dog, Jack - while she gets herself settled in Paris over the initial several months.
It's a responsibility both of us happily embrace, albeit one with decidedly shorter term implications for one of us (Defarge) than the other. She has rather taken to the footloose and fancy free lifestyle of the Empty Nester, seemingly already fulfilled by her cats and chickens.
In contrast, I have been attempting to play the long game, ever since Buddy shuffled off this mortal coil a decade ago. Call it "The Jerrence's Gambit" and it has, decidedly, not been a winning strategy.
Until now. When I call her attention to, "what about The 'you get a lake house, I get a dog' agreement of 2019?"
Mugabe Defarge laughs.
But here we are now, and attitudes change. Jack has become a market test... perhaps leading to a long term new product introduction which we'll call, for working purposes, Buddy II: The Sequel.
Jerrence wondered - if Defarge can soften, could the ND 'torches and pitchforks' crowd similarly relax their strident opinion toward Brian Kelly - whom this writer happens to believe is currently doing one of the all-time great coaching jobs under circumstances no one could ever prepare for.
From what I'm witnessing of America these days, probably not. But a girl can dream, can't she?
Word of the Week
Used in a sentence paragraph: As Young Jerrence watched the North Carolina offense make fast work of the Irish defense over their first two drives, he could already envision the jeremiad that would be emanating from ND Nation across the country.
Every subway alumni 'expert' would be sprinting out of their mother's basement to howl at the moon, blaming Kelly and beginning their "I told you he can't win a big game" screeds and re-visiting the coach's apparently unforgivable (and singular) dalliance with the NFL eight years ago. Morons.
Quote of the Week.
"This isn't torture, it's vivisection..."
Picture Clark Lea in a deerstalker cap, clinically analyzing the crime scene - coolly deducing what needed to be done to rectify things. Then putting a straightforward plan in place, having Watson et al execute in the most quintessentially British, emotion free fashion.
Clean. Clinical. And walking away, without fanfare. Job done.
That was your UNC game 2nd half defense.
So before we end and then begin
We'll drink a toast to how it's been.
...A few more times that I can say
I've loved these days.
1) Let's start by recognizing how much freaking fun this season's been. How fun the team is. How easy to root for - guys who've shown up after years of having the silent 'disappointment' label attached to them.
McKinley - Davis - the LB's - the RB's - Crawford (injury) - even the OL. And to some extent, Book.
Come what may the rest of the year, what a weirdly, ironically positive experience ND football has been in a year most of us just want to be over. Soothing tonic, indeed.
2) We all (now) love Ian Book. And who doesn't enjoy watching him channel his inner Michael Jordan / Steph Curry unconscious level of play.
But Ian, buddy... pal... about those 'I'm feeling it'- 10 yards shovel passes - deep in our own territory - only up by one score - plays?
How about we not do that again? Like, ever.
3) As fine - and as important - as pooch punting / pin the oppenent deep in their own territory skill is, me thinks it's never a great thing when your punter's primary competitive advantage is his tackling ability.
4) Okay, who among us didn't have an audible, involuntary, "fuuuuuuuuuuuuuuck" when Kyle Hamilton got tagged for targeting?
Which, incidentally, was a good call even if one finds oneself increasingly conflicted about how that penalty is adjudicated.
6'4" safety vs. 5'10" WR - how is Hamilton not going to lower his head to take the guy down?
5) Beyond The Game.
"For the brotherhood..."
It's easy to lose sight that beyond the games we see on TV, there's actually real people, real lives... and occasionally, real tragedy.
ND's last TD drive, basically with game in hand when they called this formation. I don't know if this was a conscious tribute nor do I necessarily understand the significance (4 TE's has something to do with it) it's intent, at least afterwards, was to send a message of consolation - we're thinking of you - to the Plantz family whose son Zac (a class of '15 Morrissey Man), was killed in a car accident early Thanksgiving morning in Naples, FL.
The family is especially close to the football program, having a father who played for ND back in the day, and two other sons who walked on.
6) Kyren. When King James calls you out, you know you've really hit the national 2020 zeitgeist.
But for those of us that have been watching the program this year, this is nothing we didn't know already. And while every ND narrative seems to begin with Ian Book's ascendance to Joe Montana-like deity, one could make a strong argument that Kyren is, in the purest sense of the word, this year's MVP.
One play - and not his 4th Quarter 47 yd run - typifies this value:
Bad snap from Correll as UNC blitzes, Williams picks it up. As Book scrambles to escape, Williams sees what's unfolding and comes back to help and becomes the outlet pass. Result: TD out of what could've been a disaster. "Book's a magician!" they cry. Maybe so but Williams was the assistant getting his ass sawed in half to make the magician look good.
UNC averaged 564 yards per game on offense. ND held them to 298.
UNC averaged 43 points per game. ND held them to 17.
UNC averaged 234 yards per game, rushing. ND held them to 87.
UNC averaged 5.6 yards per carry. ND held their star tailbacks to 4.4 yards per carry (less if you include the QB's runs).
Who's your daddy, Tar Heels? That parentage, at least for last week, would appear to belong to Clark Lea.
How often have we whinged about 'where the f*ck are the half time adjustments?!'
(Answer: too numerous to quantify.)
And let me throw this out there... with games against (potentially) Trevor Lawrence, Justin Fields and / or Mac Jones, ND is going to go only as far as Lea and the defense take them. So let's hope he (and they) has three more games of Next Level excellence in them...
Boy, you're gonna carry that weight...
RE-PETE (a shameless, illegal lift of Pete Sampson's weekly mailbag).
If one hasn't caught on by now, this is a coach Lea-centric blog. Deservedly so.
So as one might anticipate, this week's The Athletic Mailbag had a great many queries related to his future - is he Vandy bound / why doesn't ND open up the checkbook / why don't they name him head coach RIGHT NOW!!!
That is to say, some questions more grounded in lucid, sanity-based thinking than others. All that aside, who am I to attempt to swim against the topical tide, more broadly, regarding the future of ND's defense...
If Clark Lea leaves, do you expect Mike Elston to be the next defensive coordinator? Seems like it would offer some continuity, reward a guy who’s been incredibly loyal to the program, and be popular in the locker room and among former players.
I don’t know what Brian Kelly’s next step would be if Clark Lea departed, but if Mike Elston gets the nod as Notre Dame’s next defensive coordinator it shouldn’t be because of staff loyalty or locker room popularity. It should be because Elston is the best person for the job. It should be because he’s ready to run the Notre Dame defense. That’s it. Is Elston prepared for that next step? I’m not smart enough to know the answer to that. But if he’s not, you wonder if he’s ever going to be in the mind of Brian Kelly at Notre Dame.
That said, if Kelly decided to go in another direction for a fourth time in spite of Elston’s prominence on staff, I would be surprised if Elston packed up and left Notre Dame because of it. He has been here for all 11 of Kelly’s seasons and coached under Kelly at Cincinnati. He has recruited well and developed better. His family is settled in South Bend, and that’s in a profession that rarely affords such personal stability. And Notre Dame is winning a lot of games and paying its staff well. There are a lot worse places to be in the world of college football than at Notre Dame as the associate head coach. Elston’s career goal is to be a head coach at some point. Can he do that without being a coordinator first? Plenty of examples in college football suggest that he can.
Would I interview Elston if I was Kelly for the defensive coordinator post? Absolutely. One would assume his view of how to run a defense has evolved under Lea and Mike Elko the past four seasons. In other words, he’d be a better candidate today than he was when Kelly turned to Elko following the 2016 season.
But there are other names to hypothetically consider. Kelly liked Jon Heacock at Iowa State during the program reboot a few years back. Despite what happened in the Camping World Bowl, Heacock is well regarded in college football. Would Kelly reach out to Jay Bateman at North Carolina? He was a candidate for Notre Dame while still at Army. One name I think Kelly should contact is Cincinnati defensive coordinator Marcus Freeman. The Bearcats’ defense has been outstanding under Freeman, so much so that Notre Dame hired cornerbacks coach Mike Mickens last offseason. Freeman’s likely goal is to be the head coach at Cincinnati when Luke Fickell moves up, so relocating to Notre Dame may not help pave that career path. But the former Ohio State linebacker would be an interesting interview if Kelly is looking for a fresh perspective at defensive coordinator.
To the reader who suggested Derek Mason as a replacement for Clark Lea: Kelly accused Vanderbilt of “bad football” three years ago for cut blocking. And Mason responded, “Brian Kelly can take his comments and keep it moving. If he’s got something personal with me, he can come see me.”
So maybe not a great staff move, there.
Source: The Athletic (12/2/20)
Cocktail of the Week
I recall - vaguely, as it was 40+ years ago - an 801 housemate advising me, "watch out for that sambuca stuff, it's a personality altering drink..."
Wisdom clearly rooted in his personal experience, I got to think about that statement after watching ND's transformation, defensively, from 1st half doormat to unexpected, "we shall impose our will upon thee" Terminator.
I couldn't help but recall similar sambuca-fueled transformations (on more than one occasion) during our senior year. And the metamorphosis wasn't just one involving personality. It turned linear thinking, mild mannered, dare I say normal (using that term extremely loosely) Accounting majors into... superheroes. Nay, gods.
C-Man. In this world but not of it..
Almost Shakespearian in impact at any house party. To wit, did you know the forest was Shakespeare's favorite place to send young people looking to change, break free, fly from authority.
Not unlike 801 St. Louis's Cypress Lounge.
There was Hermia and Lysander, the forbidden lovers in A Midsummer's Night's Dream, who jump Athens walls and escape into the woods.
The wacky As You Like It trio of Rosalind, Celia and their clown friend - who defy the iron-fisted Duke Frederick by running away to the Forest of Arden.
But I don't have to tell you that, learned reader.
Even if you never snuck away from home for that level transformative experience, you probably lied to your parents about a late-night study group so you could meet up with friends in the park to swig Jägermeister. From National Honor Society Goody Two Shoes to Bad Boy, if only for a night or a weekend.
Which brings us to this week's libation - replacing that heavy, calorie-laden drink with its lighter, more insidious cousin, sambuca.
And if you really want to feel like deity, light that bad boy up.
The Forest Flier
* 1/2 oz. 151 proof Spirytus (or grain-neutral spirit of equal or greater proof) * 1/2 oz. Sambuca
Shake the ingredients with ice. Strain into a mini Solo cup. Or, if setting on fire, a shot glass.
Source: Shakespeare, Not Stirred
Cocktails For Your Everyday Dramas
by Caroline Bicks and Michelle Ephraim
19 USF W
10 FSU W
24 @Pitt. W
31 @Ga. Tech W
7 CLEMSON W
14 @BC W
26 (Friday) @UNC W
5 SYRACUSE 1.30pm (CST) / NBC
12 Wake ForestCancelled
Matt - Sully - Bose - Gordo...
...your table is ready.
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.
Raz The Elder (13)
Jim S (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.
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.
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.
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' s
cenario. 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.
Now things begin to get really interesting.
When not playing becomes tantamount to a loss (see below).
The one downside - though we've overlooked it this week - is that with two conferences now completely irrelevant - one has to dig deeper to identify those teams whose losses make you happy.
Oh who am I kidding - finding joy in Team X losing? Like falling off a log for Jerrence.
Okay, UM has been on this list for so long that one begins to wonder whether their leadership thinks the Schadenfreude recognition is some kind of loyalty program where one accrues points for frequency of use.
Like when coach Harbaugh wants to take his team overseas next year... we can use these points as frequent flier miles, right?
And it should be stated upfront, bailing on the Ohio State game doesn't garner you any benefits either. You're still going to be a 2 win team that can't seem to manage itself on - or off - the field.
2) Texas Don't think we forgot about you, Longhorns! Your commitment to expensive mediocrity is a comforting balm to those of us who've seemed to escape the 'over-rated programs of years past' designation.
And now it sounds like you're, once again, chasing Urban Meyer. Or Shelley Meyer. (I'm not sure which.) But still, kinda sad.
And yet, not.
3) Ohio State. "But we didn't even play," they cry! Exactly. Talk about a team resting on its reputation. What's the expression about athletes that are continually hurt - "ya can't make the club from the tub..."
While I'm fully expecting to be on the wrong side of this decision, "You reap what you sow, Big 10 leadership" and a team that only plays a 6 game schedule, rife with mediocre conference opponents, should merit zero consideration vs. the ACC / SEC guys who've played nearly twice as many games.
Just one man's opinion.
While my breakthrough concept - The Power of Positive Hating - has been retired for several years now (like Iran and it's nuclear program), deemed too volatile to be trusted in irresponsible hands.
To which, I'd be that poster child for potential abuse. (I can still hear my mother saying, "if you don't stop doing that, your face is gonna stay like that...")
And yet, there are those wannabe's out there, evangelizing a gospel they neither know nor understand. Just being... stupid. This week's preachers:
1) Kirk Herbstreit. Truth be told, I'm a Herbie fan. I think he, more than most, is pretty fair in his assessment and when ND's been good - like now - he's generous in his praise. But this week's BCS playoff ranking show was not a good look for him - he essentially accused Michigan of likely ducking Ohio State, undermining tOSU's chances of making the BCS playoff.
While not necessarily inaccurate - bummer for you, Wolverines - there are some things you just don't say in front of a microphone.
2) Big-10 Leadership. There's a reasonable chance Ohio State doesn't make it to the conference required 6 game threshold, notwithstanding Herbstreit's baiting Michigan into a 'must play' decision next week. The fact is, UM's got a COVID outbreak and it may not be their decision to make. But fear not, money talks and that conference will be damned if they're going to leave serious cash on the table:
Wisconsin Athletic Director Barry Alvarez, chairman of the Big Ten’s return-to-play task force and one of the most influential figures in the conference, told the Detroit News’ Angelique Chengelis on Wednesday that the league could re-examine eligibility requirements if Ohio State falls below the six-game threshold.
Congratulations to our very own Bryan Gruley, having seemingly now transitioned from hardened Midwesterner to laid back Floridian... is beginning his glide path toward whatever we call work in our 60's as he departs Bloomberg into (hopefully for us) near full-time, kick ass novelist.
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