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Tuesday, March 16, 2021

BCS Playoff: Meet The New Boss, Same As The Old Boss

Warning sign! Warning sign!
I see it but I pay it no mind
It's saying something and it's not very nice.

Warning sign of things to come...

Dateline:  Flint Lake, IN

Turn the page, they said.  
2021'll be different, they said. 
It can't get any worse, they said.  

"Light at the end of the tunnel."


And that was even before St. Peter's roll call started kicking in.
  • Hammerin' Hank
  • Frau Bl├╝cher
  • Baron von Trapp
  • Screech
  • Ferlinghetti (google him, Business majors)

And don't even get me started on those Jewish laser beams from outer space.  I've watched the movie "Munich. " I  know all about the Mossad's ruthless tactics.

I'm not taking anymore calls
Well maybe from Larry King...

...not anymore you're not, John.

And, of course, Irish Chocolate.  My favorite memory of the kid...

Plus, if I understand this correctly, my Green Eggs 'n Ham are now a potentially culturally insensitive breakfast? 

Maybe the expression, "it's always darkest before dawn" does apply here.  Because night follows day follows night etc, one knows that intuitively.  Duh. Nothing unexpected about it.

And so it follows that the same could be said about ND's prospects against Alabama in the BCS semi-final.   When you're playing against a team that suits up a few Extra Terrestrials, what did anyone expect was gonna happen?

So, rather than weep 'n wail 'n gnash our teeth, why don't we celebrate a really fun season during a really awful year. 


Word of the Week

Used in a sentence paragraph:  As Young Jerrence watched the 1st quarter of this year's BCS semi-final unfold, in depressingly similar fashion as the 2012 BCS Championship debacle, he couldn't help but revisit that game in his head.

It'd been such a pleasant pre-game experience, tailgating in the Orange Bowl parking lot with longtime friends, the Florida weather being a welcome respite from the usual January NW Indiana hellscape.

But all good things must come to an end, they say.  In both game's cases, rather quickly.  At least this year, Jerrence appreciated that the outcome was not unexpected.  And that he didn't have to listen to 50,000 southern troglodytes yell "Rollllll Tiiiiide!" until his ears bled.

Quote of the Week

"When you're not getting high, the days are soooo long.  
It’s a real shocker."
Dee Dee Ramone

...and that's why, Dee Dee, I've always have my pal, The Macallan, as my wingman when watching Notre Dame - Alabama playoff games.

One needn't have those contests feel any longer than absolutely necessary.

As an aside, Dee Dee's insight appeared as a part of a memoir / history of Talking Heads, written by their drummer, Chris Frantz.  

Spoiler:  David Byrne is absolutely the weird, self-obsessed, is-he-on-the-spectrum, credit-grabbing tool that he looks like.

But I digress.

Which, in turn, sent me to re-look a coffee table book - a pictorial history of CBGB - given to me several years ago by my daughter Ryan... CBGB - ironically standing, actually for Country, Blue Grass and Blues - is (was) arguably the birthplace and epicenter of the punk / alternative rock movement of the mid-1970's.  From its very beginning, it'd be charitable to call it, aesthetically, much more than a dump.  

But counter-intuitively, with apparently one of the great sound systems for performing, an astonishing number of influential bands played there, some (Ramones, Talking Heads) more logical fits than others (Alan Jackson, Spinal Tap).

Feel free to sprinkle this new knowledge at cocktail parties to impress friends and family.

"There's nothing else in this crazy world
Except for cars and girls..."

Four, no five, things in this crazy world...
"... oh and wine."  Cars, girls and wine.

And, um, occasionally, really good Indian food.  So.  Cars, girls, wine and a curry.

And of course, ND football.  I mean, duh, right?

So, nothing else in this crazy world except cars, girls, wine, tandoori and Go Irish.

Game Observations.

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

1.  Ever hear that expression, "it takes a lifetime to build a reputation and only a minute to destroy it" (or something to that effect).  Such seems to be ND's lot in life during the Brian Kelly Era.  Winning 10 games is simply no longer good enough when one loses, in fairly uncompetitive fashion, The Big Game.

If public opinion were a Monopoly game, ND would be going back to Start.  Do not pass Go.  Do not collect $200.  And on the poor side of town board game.

Spirits were high pre-kickoff

In one respect, that's probably a good thing.  High standards. Striving for excellence.  And at least there does seem to be a collective acceptance that ND is a solid Tier II 'almost elite':
  • The 'no doubt about it' ELITE:  Bama, Clemson, Ohio State
  • The Next Cut:  Oklahoma, Georgia, Notre Dame, Texas A&M (maybe), LSU (maybe)
  • Blue Bloods Looking Very 'Last Century':  Texas, USC*, Nebraska, Penn St., FSU
*very likely to jump back up if they ever get the coaching hire right.

Where you never want to hear 'oops'

2.  I was recently watching a YouTube video of a robotic laparoscopic prostatectomy*, as one does on a wintry Saturday afternoon in Indiana when there's no Gruley novel to read... 

...and reveling in the DaVinci technology.  Which makes it abundantly clear that it's almost impossible to be super successful if you don't have the high end tools.

*hey, we're shooting a prostate cancer ad

Gee - might there be a football analogy to be had, I thought?  Maybe. Certainly there's a mutual precision element.  And trust.  You gotta trust the guy putting the team together and calling the plays.

But it does ultimately come back to the capital equipment.

3.  What's the common thread with all those Tier I team? They've got that capital. Inarguably, driven by recruiting.   It's not (much of) an exaggeration to say the first three get virtually everyone they want. (Fun fact:  Bama signed 10 out of the top 50 recruits this year.)

4.   One could make a strong argument that no school's recruiting was more damaged by COVID (and the year long 'no visit' rule) than Notre Dame.  ND recruits nationally.  Indiana is not a hot bed of talent. Neighboring Ohio has always been a tough pull.  Michigan seems to have as much cachet in Chicago (though it's always escaped me why) as ND.  ND needs a national pool, one that's inevitably competing with the local favorite, be it an SEC team or kids just not really wanting to leave the dreamy west coast.  

In that context, what ND did last year is awfully impressive.  

5.  Marcus Freeman.  Proving to be the best recruit, BY FAR, of this year.  Already a recruiting dynamo, he's ironically - perhaps unwisely - making people forget about Clark Lea even before he's even coached a game.  Funny.  And they call the NFL the Not For Long league... 

6.  And while that's all well and good, let's keep in mind there's more important things to concern ourselves than a football game... 


Buddy's Buddy

As I recently intimated to my good friend and confidant, Alvin, I've found myself manifesting clear evidence of maturation.

Not quite yet of the don't-talk-with-your-mouth-full variety but one involving a "perhaps I was overly harsh in my estimation of you when I was a youth" self-awareness.   (Though every 5 year Reunion suggests I wasn't that far off the mark on many of our classmates 40+ years ago.)

Whatever.  Maybe it's just the recognition that people, over time, do in fact have the capacity to change.

So I present to you, Exhibit A:  Phil Mickelson.  A fellow who's known a lot of success while demonstrating in the past, a positive public persona that didn't always quite reconcile with the shakier anecdotes one occasionally heard from insiders.  And accordingly, led me to think him a colossal douche for the vast majority of his career.

But, as alluded, I've... evolved.  And so, apparently has Phil.  So it's nice to see a guy with a sense of humor on a public stage when their performance doesn't match expectations. Maybe something ND fans could all learn from.  Probably not.

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

If you were like me, watching the Alabama game, you found yourself gasping saying - more than a few times - 'Son of beeetch!  Sheeet! We have NOBODY on our team like that.'

Said with little consolation that neither did Ohio State or any other college team in the country.  Maybe one or so on a few teams but not stockpiled, like nuclear warheads, in mass quantities as Alabama seems to do.

So recruiting would seem to be a relevant topic to share this week from Mr. Sampson's latest mailbag.

And by the way, I know many of you have become The Athletic zealots.  Fabulous - well worth the investment.  But may I also encourage you to listen to the weekly (and sometimes more often) Sampson - Fortuna podcasts.  Interesting guests, solid inside intel from two guys who are around the program on an almost daily basis.

Plus reading is so bourgeois.  Unless it's a Gruley novel. 

But I digress.  This week a 2-fer.  The first, because it's about recruiting (of a sort) and speaks to a likely not-so-hypothetical, our basketball coach.

And the second is all about Jerrence's Hierarchy of Needs - specifically, whence tailgating?

Cocktail of the Week

The Gothic nature of that final BCS game, combining with a similarly ghastly winter season call for something especially... dark.


Almost preternatural in a WTF-just-happened, kind of unfathomable way...  the almost spectral nature of Alabama offensive stars made this book seemed especially apropos.

The Greyhound of The Baskervilles
The Hound of the Baskervilles (1902)
By Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

Okay, which one of you wants to play The Hound? 
A prequel of sorts, this haunted hound howled onto the scene nearly a decade after Sir Arthur killed Sherlock Holmes by pushing him off a cliff in The Final Problem.   

Despite Conan Doyle's wish for his more serious fiction to be taken, well, more seriously, this return of Sherlock proved such a hit that he brought the crime fighter back for good - along with the ever wise Watson, who figures prominently in this ghoulish tale of ghost dogs.

Put down your pipe (looking at you, JP) for a smoked-salt Greyhound that's so delicious, it's criminal.

*  smoked sea salt, for cocktail rim
*  Chipotle pepper flakes, for cocktail rim
* 2 oz.  British gin (e.g., Beefeater)
*  4 oz. Grapefruit juice
*  1 tsp. hot sauce

Rim a Collins glass with the salt and pepper flakes, add ice and the liquid ingredients, and stir.  

SourceGone With The Gin
Cocktails With A Hollywood 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
19               ACC  'ship             L

1                Alabama                L

The Wager.

It's safe to say, 2020 brought us many firsts, some better than others.

Here's another one:  A single pool winner, without even the requirement of a tie-breaker.  
Which is unfortunate given the amount of reading I've recently been doing, of late, on Guglielmo Marconi and as previously alluded, arcane music history...

Q1.  Where in North America did Marconi establish his first successful tower for wireless trans-Atlantic communication?

Q2.  Who, in legendary rock lyrics, was "Norway's bravest son?"

Perhaps next year.  

At any rate, congratulations Ungie!  It is fitting that he should have affixed his prediction in the Pat Tillman archetype, a solitary hero.   And you know how when a song comes on and it immediately reminds you of a person or a place or a moment in time?  
  • The person:  Ungie
  • The time:  Senior year
  • The place:  The Torch
No doubt because of the general theme of out-of-control mayhem and Mark as singular man of action... 

And while charging a stage isn't exactly like charging an enemy bunker, there was a certain leadership quality involved in the moment...  and the song's specific reference to a fungo bat being waved in a extraordinarily threatening fashion might have something to do with why both song and man remain, indelibly, among my faves. 

Saw my guts and my glory
It'd make a great story
If I ever could remember it right

Let me just say I've never seen anyone more gazelle-like.


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



Misery loves company, so the adage goes.  

Probably the only thing, at this very one specific point in time, that ND Nation and Buckeye Nation might have in common.  


Let's hope that never occurs again.

1)  Ohio State.   Stop me if you've heard this one before, ND gets beat comfortably by a superior southern team in a bowl game and the world reacts.  "Overrated," they cry!  The next week a seemingly more credentialed team gets beat by an even larger spread and the public essentially says, "move on, nothing to see here..."

Buckeyes, you got smoked.  And for all the talk of losing your tailback so early - surely that would've made a big difference! - I didn't see him playing defense.  Actually I didn't see many Buckeyes playing defense.  And that was with Bama's Devonta Smith playing only half the game.

Terry's Tools.

Does anyone (else) get the feeling that, like our friend COVID, bad behavior is mutating... metastasizing? 

Sadly, not only does there not seem to be any obvious vaccine for many (any?) of these manifestations, it would seem quite apparent that the offenders aren't terribly interested in a cure.

Oh well. Bad for Society! Good for this column!

1) Jeremy Pruitt.     The now ex-coach of the Tennessee Volunteer football team...  

He's the man who gave new meaning to the expression of "Supersize me!" - after it was learned that the program was giving out cash to recruits via McDonald's bags.

And while Mr. Pruitt is no longer coaching at UT, the good news is he's got a 2nd interview with Burger King's Promotion dept.

2)  Les Miles.  Somewhere Bobby Petrino is thinking, "Les, this is not a competition."

3)  Alabama.  Were you aware that, since 1993, the Yellowhammer State* had outlawed the practice of yoga? Erudite, intellectually curious thinkers that you are, I'm sure you did.   

Apparently, it has something to do with combating the almost subliminal subversive influence of the Hindi. 

Well, cutting edge progressives that the state's legislators are, they've repealed that law!  

Well, actually, not all of the law... you still aren't allowed to use any of those weird, foreign words associated w yoga exercise.  The Hindi's language* being a clear gateway to Islamic terrorism. 

So, ixnay on the namaste y'all.  

*Hey, Alabama, you might want to focus on mastering the English language before you worry about other tongues. 

If only if those students had somewhere to go...
4)  ND Students.  At least the handful of you that attended the men's basketball team's NC State game this past week and felt empowered to yell 'Fire Brey' at the end of the game. 

Please clarify:  were you exercising your 1st amendment freedom of speech rights or your more secular, inalienable rights to be not-quite-ready-for-adulthood-dumb-asses?   Hey, I've been there.

But perhaps. show the guy a little respect. I'm pretty sure Swarbrick watches the games too.  As does the Board of Trustees.  I'm guessing they don't need your counsel. 

5)  ND Fandom.   NBC announces that next year's ND football telecasts will be replacing Tony Dungy as Mike Tirico's analyst partner with Drew Brees.  The good news:  he's arguably one of the most selfless, decent human beings that's walking the planet right now.  The bad news: HE'S A PURDUE MAN.  HE'S CLEARLY ANTI-NOTRE DAME!!!

So what's the over/under on when those ND fans leave their mother's basement to scream their outrage at NBC for making such a heinously flawed choice in broadcasting talent (read WHY CAN'T WE HAVE BRADY QUINN?!)

I'd put it at halftime of that first home game.  And I'd take the under.

6)  Cat In The Hat.   Since we're talking Dr. Seuss these days, hey Cat-in-Hat, what part of 'unlawful entry' don't you grasp? 

And bringing a couple of circus mutants to terrorize children, as part of your home invasion, does not count as a diversity employment program.   

Knowing you, you'll probably hire some expensive lawyer (Rudy on Line 1) and get the charges knocked down to a misdemeanor community service.  


Final Thought

Long December and there's reason to believe
Maybe this year will be better than the last...

Maybe.  Maybe not.   But getting my vaccination in a couple days so perhaps.

Stay safe, everyone.   And Happy St. Patrick's Day!