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Friday, September 17, 2021

Week 2: Holy Toledo? Holy Sh*t!!!

Dateline:  Flint Lake, IN

Tell me how do we get this thing started...

It's impossible to have a game on this particular date - even without all the understandable media coverage - and not think about where you were at the time.


We were living in Italy.  Jerrence at the FCB Milan office.  3pm'ish... why is everyone gathering around the office TV monitors?  Very surreal, especially from 4000 miles, a continent and a few cultures away.  I doubt there's anyone who's more than a single degree of separation from someone with a 9/11 story, tragic or hopefully, of the 'near miss' variety.  

Here's mine (and I hope I've got this correctly):  my brother Tim's mother-in-law (an incredible person BTW) was going to walk over to the WTC that morning to get some theatre Hottix for the evening.  

The Plan:  get in line early for the ticket booth's 9am opening.  

Instead, she decided to have another cup of coffee at their Washington Square apartment - Hottix could wait. 

And with one spur of the moment decision, a multitude of lives changed for the better.

Closer to home for many of you is the Jimmy Dunne / Sandler O'Neill story, told several times by now but, originally, as part of a 60 Minutes segment in 2002.  Have a look, especially if your tear ducks need a quick cleanse. If nothing else, a reminder that Americans can come together.

Welcome Theodore...

The point is, on last Saturday especially, our attachment to a football game can seem pretty fucking trivial.  Because it is.  

An unexpected close game against a heavy underdog is the very definition of a 1st World problem - "wow, we sure 'escaped' that one." 

As if we even have a clue what it really means to escape anything.

The good news is that, other than being at the age where all the pop cultural icons of our youth are dying, we're also at the age where our own offspring are starting to go forth and multiply - providing much needed perspective in very tiny packages.  

And what's better than that?  

That is, besides Ohio State and USC losing on the same day...

Quote of the Week

"A child can teach an adult three things: 
1) to be happy for no reason 
2) to always be busy with something and 
3) to know how to demand with all his might that which (s)he desires."
                 Paolo Coelho

You can perhaps look at this pithy insight two ways:  

1) Even at our age, we still need to be taught things, only now the lessons are coming from our grandchildren 


2)  If you thought we were great parents, wait til you see the Class of 79's mad grand-parenting skills.

Word of the Week

Used in a sentence paragraph
:  As Young Jerrence's post-tailgate Bloody Mary euphoria began to wear out, he was starting to see the ugly truth. 

No, he wasn't referring to his viewing partner - the one known as Feif - but rather the unattractive state of Notre Dame's O-line. 

Perhaps coach Rees didn't think he needed the artifices which so many other seemingly less talented teams required:  the jet sweeps and flea flickers etc.  

Well coach, Jerrence thought, think again.   And I suggest you do it really quickly.

Game 2 Thoughts

It's been, effectively, two years since we've been able to have this scene:  the sublime mixture of friends, family and whomever Peter & Bonnie met in a bar the night before.


On top of the weekend going so well... perfect weather, perfect Friday night guests...

Just a regular Friday night with the Belknaps

Then came Game time.
Like the castle in its corner
In a medieval game
I foresee terrible trouble
And I stay here just the same...

"Friends, Domers, Countrymen, lend me your ears
I come to bury (Kelly / Freeman / Quinn), not to praise him (them)..."

Oh boy.

1)  Was it me or did Kelly's post-game press conference demeanor scream, "we are so fucked."

So, Jugdish, going to the big Econ tailgater tomorrow?

2)  In hindsight, perhaps we should've recognized that when Castellini headed over to the nearby Economics Dept. tailgater, that, maybe, our collective focus on Toledo was not entirely what it needed to be.

3) Tyler Buchner.  Putting the lad into the game on his own 4 yard line, for his first action IN TWO YEARS, seemed an interesting call:  Shrewd?  Courageous?  Desperate? 

4) The Behrens Bloody Mary.  Worth the two year hiatus. 

Hey, pops, don't bogart that bloody...

5)  Houston Griffin.  How come, it seems, we invariably recruit the disappointing 5-stars?

Pop Quiz: name that movie (from the year we graduated).

6)   Kyren Williams.  Maybe it's time to admit his fumbling no longer represents a surprising aberration. 

Game Quote #1"A traffic cone would slow the rusher better than (Tosh) Baker." 

Game Quote #2 "Coan moves in geological time."

(Somebody missed their true calling as both an analyst and wit.)

7)   Cain Madden.   Dude, we're not at Marshall anymore.

8)   I heard of a classmate - they call him The Milkman (why, I do not know - nor do I wish to) who has recently taken up knitting. 

A curious decision, I thought. 

Until the middle of the 4th Quarter, when the higher order benefits of crocheting came to me as if in a dream... 

9)  Drew Brees?    Early returns seemed... positive.   Y'all know that can't possibly last, right?  Not with Purdue coming up this week. 

Buddy's Buddy

In a game like Saturday, you'd think there'd be any number of worthwhile candidates, albeit none from the offensive line collection.

And I suppose there is, starting with the unsung heroes - the Stayer Lot tailgate hosts, alphabetically:  Behrens, Belknap, Castellini,  Flaherty, Rasmus, Sullivan (there in spirit).  

Truly the best manifestation of anything approximating a return to 2019 normalcy.

Then there's also one of the trainers, Mike Bean, doing his 'pull the finger' thing.  (I seem to recall that being an especially favored party gambit of Lini's at 801, albeit with significantly less success.)  With subsequently, Jack Coan throwing a perfect pass on the next play to win the game.  

"I got your dislocated finger right here, bub."

I'd also argue that JD Bertrand would be a more than defensible choice:  the kid has been a revelation, averaging 11 tackles and being pretty much an assignment sure, heat seeking missile at LB.

But knowing the late, great Buddy as we did, we know he'd have one, and only one, choice: Myron Tagovailoa-Amosa.  

Not only did he make the game-saving play, literally, but he did it on a day where the country was remembering... honoring... the greatest single loss of life on American soil.  

And he was doing so in the midst of the most personal of similar circumstances: the day his father was being buried 4300 miles away.

Sometimes Life is too damn ironic for its own good.

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

Mr. Sampson didn't have his usual mailbag this week - I suppose one cannot blame one's sub-contractor's non-delivery when one isn't compensating them for their efforts.  Or that they even know you're taking their content. 

What he has done in his latest article is outline what most would consider the three biggest questions confronting ND after two games:
  1.  How will they manage the Coan - Buchner usage?
  2.  Can the defense stop giving up big plays?
  3.  Just how big of a fix is required for the O-line fix?
Those may have been presented in inverse order of priority - so for this week, let us therefore dwell on the latter:

Offensive line overhaul or just an adjustment?

The Irish are now unabashedly rebuilding on the offensive line during a season when the program’s premier position hoped to simply reload. Such is life with a group that returned just 31 career starts at Notre Dame and another 31 on the Group of 5 level from graduate transfer Cain Madden. Add in injuries to left tackles Blake Fisher and Michael Carmody, and the Irish are scrambling to make the best of a bad situation.

Only three Power 5 programs (Mississippi State, Arizona and Washington) average fewer yards per carry than Notre Dame’s 2.66. Only Rutgers has allowed more tackles for loss per game among Power 5 programs than Notre Dame’s 10. And no Power 5 program has allowed as many as Notre Dame’s five sacks per game. These are not the markers of an offensive line ready to lead a drive toward the College Football Playoff. On top of that, there’s the immediate matter of blocking Purdue’s George Karlaftis.

There won’t be any mass changes moving forward, with Kelly adamant center Jarrett Patterson doesn’t need to become left tackle Jarrett Patterson. But Kelly is open to rotating more at the guard spots, where Madden and Zeke Correll have been works in progress.

“We probably should rotate a little bit more inside, because we’re playing too many plays,” Kelly said. “And those guys, the load on them is a lot. They’re young players. So maybe you’ll see a little bit more of a rotation inside, but we’re playing our best five and now our best eight.”

That means freshman Rocco Spindler could see his first career action against Purdue, with veterans Andrew Kristofic or John Dirksen also possibilities. How much playing every snap is an issue for Correll and Madden is unclear ­— Notre Dame didn’t rotate Aaron Banks or Tommy Kraemer last season — and any change may be more performance-based than fatigue driven.

Regardless of what Notre Dame does at guard, the Irish will start their third offensive line combination in as many weeks if Carmody’s right ankle sprain keeps him sidelined against Purdue. Kelly said he’s a game-time decision. Fisher is already out through October following surgery to repair a meniscus injury suffered at Florida State.

On top of all this, Kelly said Notre Dame’s entire offensive operation was accountable for the 10 sacks already absorbed by Jack Coan. That includes Coan himself.

“When we look at it and evaluate pass protection, I think everybody says, ‘Well, how’s your offensive line doing?’” Kelly said. “We don’t feel like we’re in a bad position on the offensive line, we have to be cleaner and better and communication across the board with whether it’s a tight end that’s in protection or back or quarterback in terms of identifying who he has to throw off of.

“Think there were a couple of occasions where we didn’t pick up a corner blitz, and that’s generally not on the offensive line. And then I think we had a situation where we misidentified where blitz was coming from. So, a little bit of everything.”

Cocktail of the Week

What can I say - I'm a slave to a literary theme.  Perhaps more so, quite often, than is necessary.

And this week it's 9/11.

Not that there are many books out there on the subject that can be linked to a cocktail.  But this blogger found one.  And the fact that so much of his readership are fans of Manhattans, well that's just value-added. 

Extremely Drunk And Incredibly Close
Extremely Loud And Incredibly Close (2005)
By Jonathan Safran Foer

From the boy wonder who put the "it" in "literature," this follow up to Foer's debut novel, Everything Is Illuminated was among the first works of fiction post-9/11 to use the tragedy as a major plot point.

In this case, we follow nine year old Oskar, whose father perishes in the Twin Towers, and who embarks on a New York City trek to find the missing lock that may or may not match up with a mysterious key.

Critics were divided - but then they hadn't tasted this twist on a classic Manhattan.

*  2 1/2 oz. rye whiskey
*  1 1/2 oz. sweet vermouth
*  1/2 oz. red wine

Pour the whiskey, sweet vermouth, and red wine into a mixing glass. 

Fill with ice and stir for 10 seconds.  Strain into a I Love NY mug and serve with a side of 'big apple.'  

SourceTequila Mockingbird
Cocktails With A Literary Twist
by Tim Federle


 5                     @Florida St.    W
11                    Toledo      W
18                    Purdue
24                    Linipalooza X - FRIDAY NIGHT!
25                   @Wisconsin (Soldier Field)

 2                    Cincinnati     
 9                    @Va. Tech 
16                    BYE            
23                    USC
30                    UNC

6                    Navy          
13                  @UVA               
20                  Ga. Tech
27                  @Stanford

The Wager 

Here's a thought to ponder over a wee dram:  

Could Albert actually have been overly optimistic this year?


Archetype (Embodies)



Miracle On Ice


To be clear, ND running the table wouldn't come remotely close to approximating the USA ice hockey victory over Russia in '80.  

Nothing in my lifetime will beat this.  Nor will anything exceed the guilt I still have for ruining this for Castellini.

Still ND going 12-0 seems similarly tough to envision with the little we know right now.


Brian M.


John P.

Bryan G.

Gary H.

Pat B.

Dave M.


Kerry Strug

One final vault.  Hit it, basically perfectly, and your country wins the gold medal.

No pressure.  Oh and you just tore two ligaments in your ankle on your prior attempt - you can barely walk.

But apparently, you still have one more sprint in you.  Boom!  Done.

ND winning 11 games is not really analogous to this but right now, it's looking just as iffy.


Jay F.

Bill B.

Bob J. 

Dave G.

Peter B.

Jim S.

Jim B.

Daryl M.

Dennis R.

Mike C.


Super Bowl III


In hindsight this probably wasn't nearly the shocker it was at the time - but it sure made the NFL sit up and take notice.

At this point in the Kelly regime, ND winning 10 games is no longer unexpected. 

And yet, they have a similar imperative (as the AFL did) to do this in order to get the football world to really buy in that ND is elite again. 

Sloane B.
Phillip S.
Jerry P.
Kevin M.
Jim T.
Tim S.
The Dim One
Bob S. 
Blair R.
Alex S.
Ted C.
Tom F.
Randy R. 
Mike G. 


NC St over Phi Slamma Jamma


The 'improbable' relevance to ND success gets shakier as the win total gets lower... 

A great game but unless you had money on it (I didn't), it was a fleeting feel good. 

Relevance to 9 wins? None. But on this continuum this is where this sits.


Brian W.

Garrett R. 

Mike B.

John L.

Ward H. 


Villanova over Georgetown

 In terms of improbability, you could probably flip this game w NC State's victory - they were both pretty awesome in a vicarious way.

These rankings all being relative vs. the others, it's feeling 8'ish even if it probably deserves better.  



Albert B.


ND over Miami, 1988 

Was this improbable at the time?  Depends on who you ask - and if they're honest.

Miami owned ND in the '80s.

And yet, Holtz & Co. made everyone believe.  

Impressive, definitely.  But on a scale of 1-10 as unlikely, maybe a 7.



ND over Clemson, 2020

This victory - as necessary as it was for the program - gets somewhat devalued in terms of improbability:

1) ND was genuinely really good last year.   And playing at home.

2) Candidly, no Trevor Lawrence.



ND over Florida St., 1993


After the '88 Miami win, with Holtz still in charge... while never a 'lock', beating FSU was certainly no great surprise.

And ultimately tempered by spitting the bit the next week against BC.



If anyone wishes to play down here... 


3 my guest.



At least for this particular section of the blog, Saturday was a great day.  Exceptional even.

Had Michigan also lost, I'd still be drinking.  But that's probably God's way of subtly saving me from myself.  He moves in mysterious ways, I'm told.

And hey, it's only Week 2 - there is still so much of the season to go. This football season, outside of Tuscaloosa, is shaping up to be a decidedly weird year.  Buckle up.


1)   Ohio State.   tOSU cannot really be considered an ND rival in the truest sense of the word. We play them only very periodically and unlike with Michigan, there isn't much of a Venn diagram-like overlap in the students or athletes each school recruits. 

Yet, or maybe because of that, I find that program as detestable as any in the country.

So when they lose, it's party time.

My, my, my I'm so happy... 

2)  Texas.  "We're not in Alabama anymore, Toto coach Sark..."

3)   USC.   In light of the subsequent news of Clay Helton getting fired - he was, after all, The Gift That Kept On Giving - this outcome is perhaps more bittersweet than usual.  

Still, it was inevitable - the only bummer being it had to be at the hands of Stanford - and I'm not entirely averse to getting my Christmas presents a little early.

Terry's Tools.

This week's celebration of idiocy, poor decision making, flaunting of most 1st World social mores and behavior more typically associated with the long-term incarcerated... brought to you by the makers of Tools Beer whose Hunter S. Thompson-like mission statement references ''making stoopid an art form for 40+ years" and "any sissy can make wine."

Be proud, Dillon Hall.

Notably, this represents this blog's first advertisement - woo hoo! - and while not to be considered as what we might call in the profession, um, 'paid media', it is a baby step forward.

You have to start somewhere.

And what better Brand for this week's candidates to be associated with....


1) Parker Lewis.    You know it's not going to be a good day when on USC's opening kickoff, their kicker gets ejected for targeting.  

It's even worse when they look at the tape and see that might've represented the Trojan's best hit of the day.

Oh and now that Helton's out - it's always the kicker's fault - Brian Kelly will have faced five (5) different USC coaches in his 12 years (and surely six in 13 years in 2022).  Sooner or later, they're bound to get it right.

2). Anne Helen Petersen.    First off, Millennials are burned out?!   Since when?

Hello, you haven't even hit your mid-30's.  Talk to me after you've survived your children's middle school / high school years. I'll show you some real PTSD.

And now someone - Ms. Petersen - is suggesting that it's their parent's fault.  Which is to say, us.

Something to do with the prevalence of intense, overbearing parents who try to turn their children into 'mini-adults' too soon - placing them in  inappropriately early social situations with adults so as to fast track them for ultimate Life success, presumably through an elite college... or some such. 

The end result being a loss of unique personality and sense of self as the offspring become virtual mini-me's.  Or something like that.

If you could see yourself now
It's not my fault, you used to be so in control

I dunno, maybe there's something to that. It's possible that perhaps Madame DeFarge and I created a veritable tinderbox of achievement-based tension and angst in those early, formative years... 

3) Peacock TV. Suffice to say, Notre Dame's beta test into the world of streaming platforms was not an unmitigated success.  First, there is the issue of charging your fanbase for a service they were accustomed to getting for free... and when the actual feed is roughly 90 seconds behind Real Time (and more importantly, social media) that's a big problem. 

4)  Meanwhile back in the real world... 

Final Thought

Fun fact
:  I was named after Notre Dame football coach Terry Brennan, a fellow with a fairly non-descript five year run as the head guy, 1953-57.  I always wondered why my dad was so impressed with him - assuming he was the driver of said decision - and why my mom agreed even agreed to it.  

Gee, dad, couldn't you have picked someone a tad more... credentialed?

Plus, in our family, if it wasn't a saint's name, it wasn't making the short list.  Perhaps our dad used the middle name loophole (a gambit this blogger successfully co-opted a generation later). 

But what didn't make the attached summary was that Brennan was also the coach of the team that broke Oklahoma's 47 game win streak. Huzzah!  So he had that going for him.  Which is not insignificant.

Well done, mom and dad.

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