A small, darkened hotel room. Curtains drawn tight. New Year's Eve '21 mere days away. A singular, elderly male figure lies prone on the bed. Coughing. He sees evidence of blood in his handkerchief.
An Edith Piaf song - La Vie En Rose? - plays somewhere, quietly, in the background.
It's the man's birthday and as he stares at the room's now-obvious-to-him garish motif, he recalls an Oscar Wilde quote, attributed to his final hours.
The Demise of a Blogger.
The part of Jèrrence that is a Complete Sympathy Whore would LOVE for the reader to have that mental image as part of the 'Jèrrence contracts COVID in France' storyline.
Um, actually no. It was more like...
The Family Corrigan having a wonderfully indulgent time for a week, eating and drinking through Paris (the bistros!)... then Reims (champagne country!)... on to Strasbourg (Christmas markets!) before coming back to The City of Light, two days before flying home.
But then French travel protocol intervenes... demanding one has a negative COVID test 24 hours before departing the country.
Ryan, I told you to cut her off...
Monday afternoon (~ 48 hrs ahead of departure): The family gets tested. Jèrrence has the only positive result in the group. Faster than one can say, "Every man for themselves, Pops!" the family re-books their tickets and blows town the next day before their test results could change.
Leaving Jèrrence alone. Unaccompanied. Alone.
Tuesday morning: Daughter Ryan calls and reports that her indulgent New Year's Eve at the Waldorf Versailles reservation, no longer usable, is in fact, non-refundable and would her father be interested in spending his quarantine there for the next three days and helping her with the cost... Jèrrence can immediately hear Kay Corrigan somewhere saying, "God doesn't close a door without also opening a window..."
Sure, Ryan, I'll help you out. That's what dads are for.
Oh, this is going to be hell...
Wednesday to Friday morning: With basically zero COVID symptoms, Jerrence isolates at the palace hotel which used to be Marie Antoinette's old crib, intermittently reading* and walking the grounds, mostly investing his time trying to divine... what exactly is it that the French do with their bread?!
Those croissants - flaky and yet buttery too!
It has to be the water.
So Mr. Concierge... garçon... "be a good fellow and send up another bottle of that Loire Valley stuff. And if you could be so kind as to make sure the vin pairs with that most delightful foie gras - that sh*t is awesome -s'il vous plait..."
Friday afternoon: Jèrrence tests NEGATIF and heads immediately to the Waldorf bar - to both celebrate and commune with his peeps - ordering something with Château in its name, and asking the waiter to make he cannot see the bottom of the glass for the next 90 minutes. He books himself on the earliest flight the next day.
We're on our way home...
We're going home.
*If you need a book reference, The Boys In The Boat, about the 1936 U. of Washington rowing team that beat Hitler's crew at the Berlin Olympics, is excellent.
In the end, we all have our own personal COVID war stories, don't we? This was mine.
Tres magnifique, no?
More seriously, let's hear it for vaccinations and boosters. I was extremely fortunate. Oh, and clean living. I'm pretty sure that played a big role too.
Quote of the Month
"Get back on the plane..."
New Year's Day afternoon, the text response received when Jèrrence informs Peter that, like Napoleon, he has made it back from exile and... while still on the tarmac.... Notre Dame has been outscored 17-0 in the 3rd quarter.
If only they'd have let me, Pete.
He's not The Oracle of Troy, MI for nuthin'.
Word of the Month
Used in a sentence paragraph: As Young Jèrrence crawled into bed New Year's night, he could not shake the Dickensian parallels from the last week that he thought he witnessed.
Tableau #1: Trianon Palace. The place where Jèrrence and Marie Antoinette both took refuge. A residence about which his brother, the insufferable family pollyanna, so aptly pointed out, "good luck - we all know how THAT ended for her..."
Thanks, Tim. So supportive. You're the that perennial ray of sunshine in an otherwise gloomy day.
Tableau #2: Fiesta Bowl. ND's shocking performance between the 1st and 2nd half proves metaphorically apropos of Charles Dickens' French revolution-centered 'Tale of Two Cities" novel. One could argue that heads should've roll in both places.
Jèrrence begins to rethink the wisdom of calling his wife Defarge.
Who would've thunk The Football Gods were Victorian literature fans?
Fiesta Bowl (and January) - Very Random Thoughts
1) Fiesta Bowl Okay, so I didn't watch the 2nd half of the game. I'm 65 now and believe the world needs to accommodate me.
2) BCS Championship. After watching UGA v. Alabama, is anyone still wishing we made the playoffs?
3) Ch ch changes. Was it a risk hiring a first time head coach? Absolutely. Has ND had success hiring first-timers before? Not in our lifetime. Does that make the Freeman hire, one game into his tenure, a bad decision? Not in the slightest.
But boy, the subsequent coaching staff carousel is getting me a wee bit dizzy.
Don't you feel like trying something new?
3) Recruiting. Allow me to channel my inner ND Message Board douche - more on them later - and opine upon an area to which I don't know f*ck all about... and talk a little about recruiting. All without the benefit of Sully's in depth analyses and/or Lini's mind-numbing statistical linear regression tables...
* Players (Notre Dame). A+. Hamilton and Williams were always going to leave. Austin leaving is semi-tragic (for him) but not terribly surprising - at least he's leaving with his degree.
Anyone else in the transfer portal likely represents a Darwinian opportunity to upgrade.
Retaining Foskey and Patterson was huge.
* Players (High School). A-. How much do I hate the current NIL, let me count the ways. And come to think of it, I don't think I even liked my own children when they were 17-18 years old, much less a group of habitually entitled teenagers who wouldn't know the meaning of 'commitment' if it ran 'em over in the street.
That said, despite getting played by a couple WR recruits, the class ends up ranked #7 nationally with arguably the best LB haul in the country. And 2023 trending even stronger.
All things being equal, amidst some significant coaching turnover, pretty damn good.
"That $30M "NIL money" we spent had absolutely nothing to do with getting our top ranked class..."
* Coaching Staff. A. First off, what a weird year for coaching musical chairs. (Who knew that Tommy Rees was in such high demand?)
A lot of youth on the staff - Harry Hiestand notwithstanding - but if getting aggressive, enthusiastic recruiters was the priority, it sure seems like 'mission accomplished.'
If Buddy had been in a rock band, I think he'd have been a drummer - not the frontman or the charismatic lead guitarist. Maybe the cool, stoic bass player.
And if he were a drummer, he'd have been more Charlie Watts than Keith Moon or (eek) Ginger Baker.
Steady. A little surprising in a shy "I think there's more going on with him than what meets the eye" way. But overwhelmingly dependable, if given to perhaps occasional lapses in decision making.
Sound like anyone you watched this year?
Thus, the season's final (and maybe the year's consummate) Buddy award winner is Jack Coan. While one could make an argument that perhaps the coaching staff gave up a little early on Buchner - one bad half in Vicksburg - the fact is, Coan was everything ND needed him to be.
And for the Fiesta Bowl defeatists, it's not like he called for, or audibled into, 60+ passes. And maybe if the defense got a stop or two in the 2nd half...
But I digress. A terrific transfer success story and a guy who always represented the university and the football program extremely well.
Oh! And a Pat Tillman award winner to boot. How can you not get behind a guy like that?
RE-PETE (A shameless, illegal lift of Pete Sampson's weekly mail-bag)
I'm sure you have a great many questions with the end of the 2021 season. Things like:
Why didn't Buchner play in the bowl game?
Is Harry Heistand past his prime?
Why don't we recruit the transfer portal more?
Why are green olives the only ones that get stuffed with bleu cheese never, the Kalamata's?
Oh! And when are we ever going to see another book from Gruley? He moves to St. Petersburg for what - his cutting edge foodie scene or to find a Wednesday night hockey league he can dominate?
All valid and necessary topics that merit further legitimate political discourse. But because I do have a smidgen of respect for intellectual property rights (and I also can't afford Albert's fancy Boston legal fees), we can't answer them all. So we'll only continue to address (read steal) one Sampson Mailbag topic, and in this instance, seemingly the single remaining staffing question:
The next defensive coordinator will be?
To be determined. And it might not be determined next week, either.
Notre Dame is focused on four candidates right now: Cincinnati Bengals linebackers coach Al Golden, Boston College defensive coordinator Tem Lukabu, Minnesota defensive coordinator Joe Rossi and former Rutgers head coach Chris Ash. Of the four, Ash is the most available, having spent last season as the safeties coach for Urban Meyer in Jacksonville. He has also been the defensive coordinator at Wisconsin, Arkansas, Ohio State and Texas during his career. He has not overlapped with Freeman, but Ash has worked with Luke Fickell, who is one of Freeman’s closest coaching contacts.
Your follow-up question here is probably obvious: What’s taking so long?
The Bengals sticking around in the NFL playoffs has been a factor because it has slowed the process of interviewing Golden for the position. The former Miami and Temple head coach has yet to come to South Bend to interview in person this month. The NFL coaching carousel could make him unavailable if there’s a defensive coordinator job open. But there has been plenty of due diligence on Golden to date, which even goes back to when he was a candidate for the Notre Dame head coaching job 12 years ago.
Lukabu and Rossi already have good jobs, with neither running to make a change. Rossi just signed a contract extension last month that pays him $800,000 annually. Although Notre Dame can pay more, this wouldn’t be a Group of 5 coordinator moving up to the Power 5 in terms of compensation.
Ash entered the mix this week. He’s the most available and very experienced. While Meyer’s NFL stint was a disaster, having experience under Meyer at Ohio State — particularly from a recruiting standpoint — could be a bonus. Ash’s run at Rutgers, where he went 8-33 and 3-27 in the Big Ten, included working with offensive coordinator John McNulty, who is now Notre Dame’s tight ends coach.
OK, so back to your follow-up question. What’s with the delay?
Freeman has publicly stated that whoever is hired will run Notre Dame’s defense more than he’ll run his own. That’s not usually how this works. The players adapt to the new coordinator, as opposed to the new coordinator adapting to the players. It’s not that TBD DC won’t have influence on what’s called and how the system evolves, but he’s going to have to meet Notre Dame much more than halfway in terms of scheme. Is every defensive coordinator candidate willing to do that? Probably not.
As for the running backs coach job, look for interviews to take place next week. Offensive coordinator Tommy Rees will drive the selection of candidates, although it’s not clear where he’ll turn first. He is familiar with Lou Ayeni at Northwestern, who is well regarded around the Big Ten. Regardless, recruiting will be priority No. 1.
Source: The Athletic
January 28, 2022
Nothing's gonna touch you in these Golden years...
Cocktail of the Week
For those of you who have lost interest or are presently distracted (it's taken me six weeks to write this so you know I am), we're continuing with the 'Jèrrence in France' theme.
Wait until you read the blog after Jèrrence visits Russia!
Fun fact: Jèrrence likes his Kir. And his naughty French novels.
Dangerous Liaisons (1782)
By Pierre Choderlos de Laclos
Before it was a late-80's Oscar winner starring Glenn Close, John Malkovich and Michelle Pfeiffer, Dangerous Liaisons's danger-doing characters appeared in a stage adaptation inspired by the scandalously sexy 1700's era novel.
If one can imagine hiding the cover of Fifty Shades of Grey while riding public transportation, one would relate to this book's most Dangerous readers - including none other than Marie Antoinette, who couldn't get enough of its lusting lovers.
A story told entirely in scorching hot love letters, one will savor this inky-black drink that's dangereuse to the last drop.
1 oz. crème de cassis
1 oz. lemon juice
1 teaspoon activated charcoal (optional, for color)
4 oz. champagne
Combine the crème de cassis, lemon juice and activated charcoal in a shaker with ice and shake for 5 seconds. Strain into a coupe glass, top w champagne and share with your (nearest) love.
Source: Are You There God? It's Me, Margarita?
More Cocktails with a Literary Twist
by Tim Federle
Schedule - 2022
It's never too early to be thinking about next year's wager...
3 @Ohio State Marcus Freeman's alma mater
17 California (Berkeley) Aaron Rodgers still has eligibility
24 @North Carolina
8 @BYU (Las Vegas) Catholics vs. Mormons
15 Stanford How many more ND visits for David Shaw?
5 Clemson Dabo returns to ND Stadium
19 Boston College Phil Jurkovec returns to ND
26 @USC The Lincoln Riley Era begins
Congratulations, Jay (and in directly, Peter)! I think I speak for all of us when I say no one is a more worthy winner or more in need of the money (feeding that Fever Tree tonic habit ain't cheap)... 😎
And FWIW, despite being Bottom Tier bad when it came to predicting ND's Fiesta Bowl false start tendencies, you can thank the great state of Kentucky and their Citrus Bowl performance for putting you over the top.
We are the champions, my friends...
Schadenfreude of the Week
While this edition's recognition remains mostly (still) college-oriented, reveling in the joy of someone else's loss - in this case invariably a season ending one - can be likened to having dessert after my wife's wonderful Linguini Catherine.
As much as I consume, I can always find room for a rich, 'I really shouldn't be eating this' cannoli.
And by 'cannoli' I mean a Dallas Cowboy loss. The more embarrassing, the better.
1) Alabama. Nice of you, Nick, give the other children a chance to win once in awhile. Even dull-witted Kirby.
2) Michigan. Be careful what you wish for, Wolverines. It would appear the Emperor has no khakis.
3) SEC. Enough with 'our conference is so good every inner conference loss is better than everyone else's wins' rubbish. And you collectively went 6-8 in your bowl games this year.
Net: you've got two really good teams. After that, you're just like everybody else
4) Dallas Cowboys. Any Packer fan could've warned you about Mike McCarthy. Not sure we could've done the same about Dak Prescott's time management.
Stop me if I've said this before...
Flint Lake, this time of year, has a very Fargo vibe to it.
And not just a prideful, "hey we're North Dakota's largest city and home to the FBS national football powerhouse North Dakota State University Bisons" feeling.
More like a Coen Brothers-type Fargo. Simple on the outside, more than a little menacing within. And with all the uncertainty in the world today - I just read that even Joe Rogan himself has doubts! - one just can't be too careful.
And given that I haven't yet talked Mademoiselle DeFarge into getting a dog - something about her 'come talk to me when you're retired' rejoinder still cuts deep - I find myself pondering what is it that will send a message to the outside world that Maison de Jérrence should be approached with just a tad more caution?
Wait. I think I know.
But the Corrigans don't have any trees...
And while it may not keep the local Gazpacho police from our door, I'm pretty sure most other NW Indiana ruffians will get the hint. God knows they all look like young Steve Buscemi's.
1) Antonio Brown / Bruce Arians.. I don't think anyone would argue with the notion that we have, or are perilously close, to a national mental health crisis.
But when that psychosis is mixed with years of entitlement and enabling?
Whew - that can make for a serious cocktail of lunacy.
That Antonio could weave his magic on the Buccaneers and their head coach, Mr. "When I say 'one misstep and you're out' I'm really talking about an extraordinarily wide sliding scale of permissiveness..." Arians.
The same guy whose finger on the pulse of his team declared mid-January "I'd be shocked if Tom Brady retired."
But I digress.
You are a walking cautionary tale to us all, Antonio.
"One of us! One of us!"
2) ND Message Board. I'm in an unhealthy relationship - and no, I'm not talking about my now decades long fascination with the growing number of Dillon Hall degenerates that cross my path - each and every one seductively charismatic in sort of a Jim Jonesian "Hey kids, I've just made a fresh batch of Kool-Aid, who's thirsty?" kind of way.
Well since you mention it, my throat is a little parched, Mr. Jones.
No, I'm referring to a sick proclivity to repeatedly (okay, obsessively) log into my ND Insider's Message Board, thinking there'll be "breaking news"... only to find the pithy insights of the board's legion of twits representing two classes of Know It All:
a) The "Are you still alive?!" fossils who harken back to their halcyon days in Holy Cross Hall during the Daryl Lamonica years, or
b) The Gen X alumni, students during the Willingham years who had a friend of a friend's sister who lived down the block from someone who delivered mail in Granger to Mike White's neighbor's house who SWEARS that Bob Stoops was signed up to be ND's head coach until Charlie Weis played the "I lived in Flanner and once beat Matt Lindon in frisbee golf" card which, in retrospect, was a COMPLETE lie but seemed credible at the time because during Charlie's interview Park City got dumped w 20" of pow the night before and no one goes to work the next morning when the snow's that bitchin' and anyway Matt left his cell phone at home and Trace knew better than to answer any call to her husband from a 574 area code...
So Charlie gets the job.
The point is why would anyone sane waste their time on this group of tinfoil-hat-wearing-loons who, predictably, CAME OUT OF THE WOODWORK after ND's 2nd half collapse with their "I knew Freeman was a bad hire! Why'd we rush it, we should never hire someone without head coaching experience" proclamations."
And you don't even want to get their takes on the "Freeman botching the coaching searches" topic.
But here's the sad part: I actually pay for this message board. Which would therefore seem to make me, technically, something of a card-carrying masochist.
Like I said, not healthy.
That said, all of their questions aren't entirely without merit - the administration's glacial vetting process of ND coaching staff hires would seem to merit some criticism...
3) Novak Djokovic. Rock on, Australia! From the Serbian School of "Rules, Schmules, I'm Chasing A Record", Novak has no time for details like country mandated pandemic policies.
4) Tennessee State Representative Jeremy Faison. Not that I have much experience in this area but if I were so upset as to confront a referee about a bad call, pantsing him would not have been my first thought.
Unless said egregious refereeing had involved, say, a Senior Men's Night competition.
Then again, this was Tennessee.
5) Lincoln Riley. Taking a page out of the Jimbo Fisher 'admit nothing' playbook. Couldn't you just have said "this is exactly why I came to USC..."
5) Stephen Ross. Brian Flores, former head coach of the Miami Dolphins, says that owner Stephen Ross offered to pay him $100k for every loss during the 2019 season in order to ensure the team getting a better draft position.
The same Stephen Ross who's name is on the U. of Michigan B-school.
Paying big money to lose. Sounds like a true Michigan Man.
6) Green Bay Packers. With a special teams unit that interprets that term in the same way as Jerry Lewis' telethon kids were also called 'special.'
And whose slogan should be "Finding new and creative ways to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory for over a decade..."
7) Speaking of BOHICA...
This chart harkens me back to freshman year of college when one meets their first few hardcore 'New Yorkers'. What was your first reaction? Let me guess - and I can say this as one who spent 10 formative years in northern NJ...
1) "Dude, can you take the volume down several notches?! I'm standing like 3' away from you."
2) I get that you think Manhattan is The Center of the Universe but you can't even differentiate between any state that starts with a vowel.
But fast forward a couple years. Four of us spend of Spring Break, skiing in Utah.
Three lads - two Long Island / one Long Beach Island (NJ) with a now transplanted Iowan.
If memory serves, none of the first three had ever been west of Chicago.
Simply stated, one of the very best weeks of my college life. (Of course this was the year before putting Coatman's car into an extremely snowy median near Cheyenne, having an 18 wheeler repeat the same maneuver maybe 20-30 minutes later - almost on top of us - and generally putting a bit of a damper on that follow up trip. Some Utopian experiences just cannot be replicated.)
Memory #1: Stopping in Davenport, IA at mom and dad's for a meal before driving the next 20 hours to Salt Lake City.
I believe the clinical evaluation for the ND travelers' condition would've been best described as "high as balonies."
But for Kay Corrigan, these boys were unfailingly polite and with such impressive appetites!
She's loved them all ever since.
Memory #2: Driving through the hellscape that is Nebraska at night. (Nebraska during the day is probably just super but at night, it may as well be the moon.)
Memory #3: Heading directly to the Park City slopes and immediately seeing women skiing in just shorts and bathing suit tops.
We are definitely not in Kansas anymore, Toto.
Memory #4: Crashing at Willy Skinner's in Salt Lake. And ever since, having almost any Grateful Dead song trigger a memory of that week.
Some folks trust in reason
Others trust in might...
Memory #5: Watching ND's only men's basketball Final Four appearance vs. Duke. Starting in the morning at a bar and ending, well, late. Shooting pool and drinking a lot. What a day.
The Rusty Pelican, Denver CO (March 25, 1978)
Let me sleep on it...
I'll give you an answer in the morning.
Hot patootie, bless my soul...
Praying for the end of time
So I can end my time with you...
Bombastic. Operatic. How could one not like that Bat Out of Hell album?
RIP, Mr. Loaf.
Trivia answer: U2, Kenny G, Madonna and Michael Jackson.