A friend of the blog - we'll call him Matt (because that's his name) - recently sent me this joke:
Q. Why did the chicken cross the road?
A. To die alone in the rain.
Matt, you're supposed to be Mr. Glass Half Full, not Nihilist Matt. Leave that to the pathologically depressed, like the tools on my ND football message board.
That said, I loved it.
But the underlying essence of how one reacts to Matt's joke is this: everything is relative. How one perceives something is deeply personal, whether it's a joke or a football player, a team, a specific game. It's like the time I attended one of Gruley's book signings and he shared that his agent was of the opinion that, when coming up with marketable plot lines, "Pedophilia is always a winner."
I'm pretty sure the audience got his point - that there was a consistently fertile consumer appetite for stories that involve very dark behavior - that's not to say that some of the laughter resulting from Bryan's observation didn't have an uncomfortable undercurrent - should I really be laughing at that?
So it is with Notre Dame football as we move to the final chapter of the 2022 book: how should I be feeling about this year's product?
What part of "don't utter a sound" was unclear?
Did it leave you feeling good, bad, or indifferent?
8-4. Maybe 9-4.
And what is the driver of that opinion - your views on the coach(es)? the players? the system? the culture?
For me, 2022 had far more good than bad. But then, I'm an optimist. I choose to believe the aforementioned chicken's backstory involved it doing something quite heroic - perhaps sheltering a bunch of chicks from some predator, only to be mortally wounded and/or die a solitary death.
You know, in the classic movie hero tradition, like John Kasinski's dad figure in "A Quiet Place."
Sorry, no sequel for you, John.
But, hey, to each his own. What there is no difference of opinion on: the continued excellence of the Stayer tailgate operation. Thanks again, boys!
Quote of the Week
"Kids, don't buy drugs.
Become a pop star and they give 'em to you for free!"
Aging pop star, Love Actually
As my mum used to say, there's a time and a place for everything. Unfortunately, ND had a few too many "that's not the time" occurrences (fumbles, missed reads, missed tackles, soft coverages) Saturday night. And that, children, is how you lose a game.
Word of the Week
Used in a sentence paragraph: Jerrence knew what he watched wasn't a fever dream - after all, he'd seen the USC - UCLA game the week before.
Still, the performance of the Trojan QB was striking. Caleb Williams was really, really good. And Jerrence, typically not at a loss for words, was having trouble articulating just how vast was the difference in QB play between the two programs.
At the risk of being too reductive, he also saw how fundamentally more important that position was than any other in the sport. In this case, literally the difference between winning and losing.
Jerrence's even more simple epiphany: If a team does not have an elite QB, you're pretty much fucked.
Game 12: Thoughts
It's same old song...
I, for one, am tired of being every USC QB's submission on their winning Heisman Trophy application.
Other than that, after 12 weeks, I'm pretty observationed out. Okay, perhaps a few more:
* A Tale of Two Plays. There were two plays early on that seemed to portend, at least on offense, the attitude each team was bringing to their offensive philosophy:
1) USC's 1st series: 3rd and 2 on their own 33, Riley uses play action and misdirection to a wide open TE that goes for 31 yards. Five plays later, USC 7-0.
2) ND's 2nd series: 4th and a long 1 on SC's 27 yard line. Rees sends in (for maybe the 8th time this year?) the Mitchell Evans sneak. Everyone knows it's coming, including USC. They overload the middle. Evans gets stuffed. SC marches down the field and before you know it, 10-o, and ND, not built to play catch up, can never quite recover.
* I don't think you can accuse Freeman of not having the players ready. Not sure you could say the same thing about the two Coordinators.
Rees clearly had zero trust in Pyne - until he had no choice.
With two starting DB's out and facing Williams, Golden may have a little more of an excuse - where he felt he had to play five DB's and hope the running defense didn't get exposed. Wrong.
* At the risk of sounding like sour grapes, do we ever get reasonable officiating in The Coliseum? I'm not convinced we win but it would've been nice to see a few of those blatant holding calls against USC be made. Of course, I still have PTSD from our Senior Class Trip game... and Paul f*cking McDonald.
* The Off-Season's Going To Be Fascinating. If there's any kind of silver lining to the SC loss, it should now be apparent to The ND Powers That Be that the college football 'rules of engagement' have changed forever. Or at least until the NCAA or some governmental legislation brings some level of regulation to what is, effectively, The Wild West.
If ND chooses to stick their heads in the sand on where this is going, the Stayer tailgates are going to be the only thing that's elite on Game Day Saturdays.
* Going Forward, Recruiting Now Means Recruiting Your Own.
As an unabashed fan of the Early Signing Period, I find it gratifying that one is no longer put through 2+ months (December-to-February) of 18 year olds fucking with my emotions, as they decide where they want to play college football.
Note that I didn't say 'where they want to go to school.'
Not that many of them don't genuinely agonize over the decision. It's just there's also a ton that seem to love the attention sucking up and are more than susceptible to late season enticements, some more ethical than others.
Now throw the players already on your roster, especially the really good ones, into this equation.
NIL + Transfer Portal = Unabated Free Agency (see Addison, Jordan). One would like to think that the valued, star athlete that ND attracts probably isn't going to cut and run for another program (more likely to the NFL) but one has think mid-tier schools are going to get decimated by the elite programs being able to show their stars a path to success and riches.
Have you ever noticed that there's a lot of variations on the concept of irony?
There's grim irony.
And tragic irony.
Even funny irony.
I'm not sure how one labels this week's version but it feels inescapable that this week's Buddy ought to go to our much maligned QB, Drew Pyne, who had arguably the best game of his life - and no one outside of his family will remember it.
If you hadn't seen the game and looked up his stats on Sunday morning and saw this:
23-26, 318 yards, 3 TD's, 1 INT.
You'd say "ND won, probably big." Actually, more likely the first thing you'd say was "Who dosed my coffee" but you get the point.
Yes, he had a self-inflicted fumble at THE MOST inopportune time - a mistake that almost surely will haunt him longer than it should - but by and large, he did more to keep ND even close than anyone else (looking at you, defensive front seven).
And yes there were misreads that took some drive-continuing plays off the table (and I completely discount his INT, at end-of-game desperation time).
And not that this changes anything long-term in coach Freeman's assessment... but let's give the kid his due for this week. He played to a level that should have been good enough to beat USC.
He's not the reason ND lost.
I played the fool
I did just what you expected
P.S. We understand your decision.
RE-PETE (A shameless, illegal lift of Pete Sampson's weekly mail-bag)
On the whole, I hope we'd all agree that we've got a lot to be thankful for - even as some of us may be going through some legitimately very tough challenges.
But the fact is, the uneven performance of the 2022 Notre Dame football team ought to be on the bottom rung of anyone's list.
The team remains something to be proud of, and as an excuse to hang with, well, most of you :) , it's been another terrific year.
If there’s an institutional takeaway from this season that is above Freeman’s pay grade, it’s figuring out the transfer portal. And program sources have indicated a willingness inside Notre Dame to rethink how much the football program can get involved with college football’s analog to free agency and how quickly the institution must move on potential Irish targets.
Notre Dame will always be a four-year institution built on developing high school talent over the long haul. That’s fine. That’s good. That’s the culture Freeman wants. A source indicated Freeman leaned into that message before the USC game, talking up Notre Dame’s ownership culture instead of USC’s rental outlook. That should be how Notre Dame builds its program moving forward.
But after losing to USC and Marshall, two programs with 20-plus transfers on the roster, there’s a chasm between where those programs are and where Notre Dame is in the market. There’s no reason taking four transfers (at the skill positions — all due respect to kicker Blake Grupe and punter Jon Sot) needs to undermine Notre Dame’s culture. Some inside the university are concerned a transfer who spends one year at Notre Dame gets the same degree as a student who spent four years here. And that’s fair, to an extent. But it’s not like Freeman wants to turn Notre Dame into a college football pit stop. He wants to “enhance” the roster where he can, when he can.
The Irish didn’t need one Brandon Joseph this season; it needed three. Freeman needs help making that happen.
Source: The Athletic
November 249 2022
Cocktail of the Week
Man, if ever a game harkened back to past times (and not particularly good ones at that).
More like dystopian times where ND was always undermanned while SC was rolling out another elite QB (with seemingly a prestigious award also on the line).
It's never worked out too well for ND, historically.
What to do? Drink up, Shriners.
Brave New Swirled
Brave New World (1932)
By Aldous Huxley
Imagine a world dominated by antidepressants and governmental control over reproductive rights.
Written in the 1930's, Brave New World could've been copy-and-pasted from today's headlines.
Huxley penned a dystopian world in which embryos are pre-programmed for certain behaviors and needs, and technology is so revered that "Oh my Ford" is a commonplace utterance.
While Huxley was an outspoken fan of psychedelic drugs, you can legally freeze your own brain with this swirly smoothie featuring a surprising aphrodisiac: watermelon.
Hey, what you drink (and who you drink it with) ain't nobody's business but your own.
* 1 oz. vodka
* 1/4 oz. lemon juice
* 1/2 oz. melon liqueur
* 1/2 tspn. granulated sugar
1 cup seedless watermelon, chopped into course cubes
Add the vodka, lemon juice, sugar, watermelon and a handful of ice to a blender, running until smooth. Pour into a cocktail glass and float the liqueur on top.
No matter your political leanings, one gulp of this and you'll be more than brave enough to fight The Man.
Source: Tequila Mockingbird.
Cocktails with a Literary Twist
by Tim Federle
3 @Ohio St. L
10 Marshall L
15 LINIPALOOZA XII
17 Cal (Berkely) W
8 @BYU (Las Vegas)W
29 @Syracuse W
19 Boston College W
26 @USC L
How prescient that the Churchill quote chosen for the 8 Win group would be "history is written by the winners."
And I wonder how each of them would describe this year:
* Rasmus the Younger?
In any event, good on you fellows for clearly recognizing the balance between the excitement of a new, charismatic coach and a healthy skepticism toward the challenges of any new coach transitioning into the Notre Dame Way.
Do I really believe that was your methodology? Of course not. But, as Winston said, it's your history to write.
So, Team 8, time to start brushing up on your bowl game prognostication. The Athletic's best guess as of this week:
And for those who care, they think ND is looking at a December 30th Gator Bowl contest against the 194th ranked* Mississippi State Bulldogs.
* US News & World Report University ranking.
"Never in the field of human conflict was so much owed by so many to so few..."
Brian M., John P., JP, Blayney
"Success is not final, failure is not fatal, it is the courage to continue that counts..."
Lini, Theo, Sloane, Dave 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., George, Mike B., Shea
"Never, never give in..."
Jerrence, Raz, Mark,
Bryan, Matt, Jerry C., Daryl, Graham, JohnJim T., Alex, Randy, Pat C., Gerard W.
"History is written by the victors..."
Albert, Garrett R.
"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
This being rivalry week - not to mention lots on the line regarding BCS Playoff positions - one would think the Schadenfreude candidates would be falling all over themselves.
Actually, not as much as I'd hoped. But that's probably because I so desperately wished to have USC headline the roll call.
Disappointed but not dismayed. There's always other losers out there.
1) tOSU. In the annual Larry Corrigan "Root For a Tie with Lots of Injuries" Bowl, I honestly didn't see you as the Schadenfreude winner.
But that's why they play the game, right?
Plus bonus style points for the way you did it: a) making JJ McCarthy look positively Heisman-esque and b) showing that renowned Buckeye mental fortitude and completely collapsing in the 4th quarter.
2) LSU. Nice job, Brian Kelly. Your reward for gagging this week is getting Georgia next. Don't take this in the wrong way but I hope they hang 50 on you. But I'm sure the Tiger fam-uh-lee will provide the empathetic support you so richly deserve.
3) Clemson. At this point, it really doesn't matter that this loss diminishes our own strength of schedule. I just want misery for everyone.
4) "ROI! ROI!"
So you know who's not a tool? Drew Pyne.
The kid did everything that was asked of him, to the best of his (fairly limited) ability.
Wish him well in his future endeavors. Hope he's getting his ND degree.
Unlike the other idiots cited below.
I don't know you but I think I hate you
You're the reason for my misery
1) Caleb Williams. Being a generational QB talent and a complete tool can be mutually exclusive. It can happen. For example, I don't recall Trevor Lawrence being a bad guy. Quite the opposite, in fact.
But Caleb, hoo boy. Despite being an east coast Washington D.C. product, you're looking more like pure SoCal douche.
The passive taunting. The profane fingernail polish.
2) Chris Fowler. I'd like to think I'm one of the last guys who gets caught up in the "ooh the announcers are terrible... they hate us" but Fowler... I gotta say, sharing your love for Anthony Davis as a young lad growing up?
Both creepy and journalistically unprofessional.
Could you at least pretend to be objective? Yeesh.
As for you, Kirk Herbstreit... I generally like you but man, try studying a little more before the game.
3) Antonio Brown. Is it right to make of those who are clearly unwell?
Probably not. But I've never tried to hide my flaws.
Okay, that's not entirely true.
But to catch you up: in the last 24-48 hrs., an arrest warrant has been issued for Brown in connection with a domestic abuse charge.
He's barricaded himself in his house -with guns - in a standoff with the police.
You do you, Antonio.
4) Things that make you say, "hmmm."
Maybe he's guilty, maybe he's not. But taking seven weeks to come to a determination - where he stays eligible to play the entire time?!
“Drummer seeks musicians to form band.”
46 years ago, 14 year old Larry Mullen posts an index card on a bulletin board of the Mount Temple Comprehensive School in Dublin, Ireland.
Paul Hewson, Dave Evans and Adam Clayton sign up.
They called themselves 'Feedback', then 'Hype' and finally, U2. And the rest is history.
It will be interesting to see if, with a year under his belt (and one would think some earned credibility), does Freeman post his own index card on the school bulletin board - looking for maybe a new member or two for his band?
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