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Saturday, December 24, 2022

Christmas: Stay warm y'all!

I pray my wish will come true
For my child, and your child too... 

Dateline:  Flint Lake, IN

Everyone has their favorite Christmas story, don't they...   

The other evening, while supping with fellow Class of '79ers, the movie,"It's A Wonderful Life" came up in conversation - a fabulous film that's never disappoints despite its 76 year old age. 

I love that movie - but my favorite holiday story - perhaps because it fell on my birthday - involves the Castellini, Feifar and Corrigan couples, BBQ ribs, a great deal of wine and REO Speedwagon. 
The year?      2011.
The venue?   1155 N. Dearborn.
The cause?   Celebrating both the Feifar and Corrigan birthdays.
The vehicle?  The Champs Sports Bowl, Notre Dame vs. FSU.
The result?   Irrelevant.

"Did he say, REO?"
What was important was that, as the night went on the game ended, more wine got opened, Jerome expressed his desire in seeing REO at an upcoming Holiday Star Theatre, Merrillville IN concert and group reaction ensued. 

Judy's response - and I'm paraphrasing here, "No one's stopping you, Jerry."  (Implicitly, you're going alone.)

Well, one thing led to another as we extolled the virtues of 1970's Midwestern rock 'n roll and as the hour progressed toward midnight... when our host tells us, by the way, he's got a CNBC gig the next morning...

Wait. What?

...and as an homage to his beloved band, he's going to drop three Speedwagon references into his interview.

Hold on.  You're going to work tomorrow?  It's Friday before New Years. Why?

Fast forward 12 hours when a simple, cryptic is received, saying simply, "I made four."

Sure enough, the CNBC website video verified the achievement, although I did think it slightly inappropriate of Jerry to sign off the piece by telling the CNBC talking head, "I'm gonna keep on loving you."

Nonetheless, incredibly impressive.   Unless you think about the poor guy in Dennison, Iowa who's probably watching the segment and yelling, "Quick, Irma, grab a pen and write this down!  This Chicago finance expert is telling us that we've got to roll the changes and simply ride the storm out..."

No wonder we head into recessions.

Of course you could probably describe ND's 2022 season the same way.

Quote of the Week

The tragic irony being that Mr. Bourdain committed suicide.  Still, as another calendar year passes, words to take to heart - we're not getting any younger. And we can always be better.

Word of the Week

Used in a sentence paragraph
:  Jerrence could feel it coming a mile away.  The disgust.  The revulsion.

The self-loathing.

Why did he bother to invest anything, emotionally, in the college football recruiting process?  He hated that he allowed himself to get caught up in the decision-making processes - or lack thereof - of basically children, most of whom have trouble choosing their cafeteria lunch line options much less a college destination.

Which led him to think about the interminable  recruitment of Peyton Bowen, the 5-star safety who had made a commitment to Notre Dame virtually a year ago, while spending almost every weekend thereafter visiting a competing college.  

Jerrence began to wonder, despite thinking he had a reasonably well developed vocabulary, perhaps he had a looser grasp on that word's meaning than he realized.

Nope.  Jerrence had the definition right. It would seem Peyton was the one a bit confused about what a 'commitment' demands.

So what, ultimately, do we make of young Bowen, acknowledging the possibility that the lad by himself, may not singularly be the singularly colossal narcissist that appears? 
Is he Naughtious Maximus or Biggus Dickus?

I know where I land. 

RE-PETE (A shameless, illegal lift of Pete Sampson's weekly mail-bag)

One more 2022 Pete Sampson 'steal' of an article. 

Well, at least a part of one. 

After all, he is far more well equipped to provide an accurate summary of the 'state of the program, Post-Early Signing Period / Pre-Bowl Game than I can...


SOUTH BEND, Ind. — Thoughts on Notre Dame’s 24-man recruiting class that finished 9th in the 247Sports Team Rankings at the end of the first day of the early signing period.

1. Marcus Freeman got the Brian Kelly treatment on Wednesday, navigating a signing day press conference focused as much on where ND failed in recruiting as where the program succeeded. But this is where this program wants to live, measuring its recruiting success against AlabamaOhio State and Georgia. The Crimson Tide and Buckeyes were mentioned, unprompted, by OC Tommy Rees later when he talked about the WR culture the Irish want to build. If you’re going to take a shot at programs that sign 5-star talent in bulk, you have to be clear-eyed when you miss.

And although some criticism of Freeman might feel harsh considering this class was ranked #1 in the country when training camp opened in August, Wednesday’s reality check was healthy for ND football if it wants to really challenge for a title. To his credit, he didn’t exclusively wave pompoms, even though he’d earned the right to pat the program on the back. And that’s healthy, too, because there may be nothing more important for ND’s championship viability than perspective and context.

So let’s apply a little bit of both to Notre Dame’s 24-man recruiting class.

2. All these things can be true at once: Notre Dame hit a higher Blue-Chip Ratio (83.3 percent of Irish signees were at least four-star prospects) yesterday than at any point under the previous coach. Yet Kelly’s new program out-recruited his old one, which is one of the reasons he bolted ND in the first place. ND hit all its biggest needs, including a banner receiver haul despite the 2022 passing offense hardly serving as an effective billboard for the position. The Irish will have just one 5-star prospect on the roster next season. Alabama will have more than a dozen. Freeman has signed back-to-back top-10 classes, something Kelly basically conceded was impossible.

Notre Dame signed an excellent class that can return to the College Football Playoff.

Notre Dame had an all-time class slip through its fingers, a potentially title-contending haul that once may have included Keon Keeley, Peyton Bowen and Dante Moore.

Hey, college football is a complicated and conflicted sport to follow. College football recruiting is, too.

3. Before getting into what Notre Dame is doing in NIL and what it’s not, take a moment to acknowledge Freeman and his staff are recruiting into gale-force headwinds in that realm. There are no six-figure deals for Notre Dame prospects, although there can be six-figure deals for Notre Dame players once they’re on campus. That has forced Freeman to walk a public tightrope on which he both leans into NIL and pushes back against it.

Freeman: “If you’re coming here because of NIL, it’s probably not going to be the best place for you, and it’s not going to be the place you choose.”

Also Freeman: “We continue to let the recruits know that you’re going to be able to capitalize off name, image and likeness at Notre Dame as good or better than anywhere else you’re looking at. And we believe that and we’ll continue to sell that. And if that’s important to you, and that’s what attracts you to ND, then this is a place you choose.”

Neither quote is wrong. It’s that Freeman has to make both right at the same time.

4. Until Notre Dame changes its stance on NIL as a university, the best move for Freeman is to do a different kind of recruiting evaluation, figuring out which prospects will be most swayed by NIL and adjust accordingly. When Notre Dame hosted 4-star receiver Jaden Greathouse on a visit, the Texas product told the staff he didn’t need to hear more NIL pitches because that wasn’t why he liked the program. Other prospects Notre Dame recruited led with NIL questions on recruiting visits. Which type of player do you think is more likely to sign with Notre Dame?

This is a new level of scouting, and it’s a tough ask for Notre Dame to nail this in the first cycle where NIL led the recruiting discourse. The good news for ND is that Freeman acknowledged the staff has to scout a little differently moving forward. It’s not that they need to avoid all prospects interested in NIL, but they have to be prepared to have recruitments like those of Bowen, Moore and Keeley go sideways.

“I think every kid you’ve got to look at and say, ‘OK, why did we get him?’ Or, ‘Why didn’t we get them?’” Freeman said. “And that’s something we’ll do as a staff is say, ‘OK, every recruit that signed here, why did we get them? What was important? OK, the kids we didn’t get, why didn’t we get them? What was important? What could we have done differently? The ones that de-committed? Why did they de-commit? What can we have done differently?’ And some of them, we might have to say, ‘It wasn’t the right fit. It’s OK.’ And some, we’ve got to look and say, ‘We’ve got to evaluate the way we’re recruiting, what we’re selling, how we got to the point where they didn’t want to come here then de-committed.’”

5. Will Notre Dame change its stance on NIL as a university after the past week? Jack Swarbrick went on a podcast with the Golics and called Notre Dame a “champion” of NIL. That’s partially true. Notre Dame may be a proponent of NIL as a theory, but it hasn’t fully embraced NIL as a practice. That’s not saying ND needs to get into the same sandbox as OregonMiami and Texas A&M. But it would be a mistake for the school not to reevaluate its overall stance on NIL. It’s not going away.

Swarbrick has lobbied the federal government for a fix. That feels like the right approach to the legal issue facing the NCAA under new leadership. But it’s also on the wrong timeline, considering NIL will affect next year’s recruiting class even more than it altered this one.

6. As for the class ND did sign, it’s hard to remember a haul with this much balance that also hit the program’s biggest needs. Rees navigated a thorny QB recruiting landscape and found a four-star solution in Kenny Minchey, a player who might prove to be the best QB Notre Dame signs over a 4-year window. Chansi Stuckey took a WR room and overhauled it in one cycle, with four high school prospects, one graduate transfer and two guys named Kaleb Smith. Deland McCullough signed the highest-rated RB the Irish have landed in more than 10 years, despite a room that doesn’t offer automatic playing time. Overall, it’s the kind of class at the offensive skill positions that should let the Irish go into games against the likes of Ohio St. and USC without thinking about ball control and time of possession quite so much.

7. Credit Mike Mickens for keeping Notre Dame’s cornerback recruiting rolling, too. It’s a position where previous staffs had believed the Irish could not sign top-100 talent regularly. Instead, after getting Ben Morrison and Jaden Mickey last cycle, the Irish got Christian Gray and Micah Bell in this one. And that’s after losing Jayden Rhett to Georgia early in the process. Gray is the highest-rated corner to commit to Notre Dame in more than a decade. There was no settling at the position, just a push to maximize the talent on hand. If that leads to a few transfers because older players have been beaten out by younger ones, that would now be seen as healthy.

8. The most interesting prospect Notre Dame signed? 4-star athlete Brandyn Hillman, who was more of a 3-star recruit until the Irish got involved. Then again, he started his senior year with an offer from Norfolk St. The 6'1", 191-lb high school QB feels like more of a college safety, the kind of transition DC Al Golden welcomes.

Hillman isn’t Bowen. But like Rees landing Minchey at QB after missing on Moore, taking Hillman when Bowen waffled is good board management by Notre Dame’s recruiting staff. The Irish didn’t just fill a hole with Minchey and Hillman — they got athletes the staff believes can be potential starters.

Source:  The Athletic
December 22, 2022


The winners. Or in Survivor-speak, The Final Three. 

* Brunett
* Ward
* Garrett

Let the best man win.  And for those of you who wish to play along at home, you'll find the final tie-breaker questions below.

Also, for those of you who haven't ponied up - would appreciate it if you'd do so (if your name is highlighted, I think you've paid).   I could be wrong on either front, paid or not - just let me know. 

Pick the winners, with the spread, and the over/under.





"Never in the field of human conflict was so much owed by so many to so few..."


Brian M.John P., JPBlayney


"Success is not final, failure is not fatal, it is the courage to continue that counts..."

Lini, TheoSloaneDave M.Peter


"Diplomacy is the art of telling people to go to hell in such a way that they ask for directions..."

Bob J.Gutsch
Jerry P., Bill, Bob S.,
Mike C.Pat B.,
Jim B.Tim S.,  Feif,
Mike G., Phillip S., GeorgeMike B.,  Shea


"Never, never give in..."


BryanMattJerry C., DarylGrahamJohn  Jim T.Alex, RandyPat C., Gerard W.


"History is written by the victors..."




Albert, Garrett R.

Brian W.


"When you get a thing the way you want it, leave it alone..."



"The best argument against democracy is a 5-minute conversation with the average voter..."



"If I were married to you, Mr. Churchill, I'd put poison in your coffee.

If we were married, I'd drink it..."




"He has all of the virtues I dislike and none of the vices I admire..."



"If you're going through hell, keep going..."


Schadenfreude of the Week

Not a lot of options to pick from since the last time I posted.

Oh, wait.

The PAC-12 championship game.

Utah v. USC.

That'll do.

1) USC.   Just because the game occurred three weeks ago, doesn't make the Trojan's blowing their BCS Playoff chances - and getting crushed doing so - any less delicious.

Terry's Tools

This time of year, when one thinks of 'holiday tools', I'd like to believe we're envisioning more of the Christmas bar variety.

So many instruments. So varied.  All so singularly committed to making our lives a little cheerier as we celebrate surviving another year, with friends, family, loved ones.

Unfortunately, that's not what this section's all about.  Thus, I give you a different kind of holiday tool

The mood ring counter is all a-glow... 

1) JT Daniels.   Remember him... the NEXT GREAT USC QB?  

Transferring again.  Let's recap:
  • 2018-19:   USC
  • 2020-21:  Georgia
  • 2021-22:  West Virginia
  • 2023:        Rice?

Meanwhile, Cam McCormick says, "Hold my beer."

2) Deion Sanders.   Not for the reason (um, Dylan Edwards) you might think...   

Hey Coach Prime, just because it's a common (if typically under the radar) practice for new coaches to not honor existing recruiting commitments - or scholarships, doesn't make it any less of a completely douchey move. 


3) Xavier Babudar
.   AKA The Wolf Fan.

Fellow fans were worried last week when he wasn't at the Chiefs - Texans game.

Turns out there was a good reason:  While traveling to Houston for the game, he got arrested for allegedly robbing a bank in Bixby, OK. 

Presumably he didn't pull a Marvin Barnes and wear his game day Chiefs outfit while pulling the job. 

Final Thought.

Stay safe this holiday season!

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