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Wednesday, September 27, 2023

Ohio State: This Is Gonna Leave A Mark...

You're breaking my heart
You're tearing it apart.
So fuck you.

Dateline:  Valparasio, IN

Well that sucked.  

As I was finishing my usual Monday post-weekend routine of self flagellation... involving stretching, elliptical, lifting a few (light) weights and then seeking refuge in the sauna, where one can make an audit of the poor life decisions...  

I knew last few days were not one of those mistakes.

:03 from the perfect weekend. 

And, damn, the trajectory was undeniably set for optimization.  With great weather and daughter, granddaughter and three Class of '79 besties under our roof, the entire household was racking up the successes:

  • Thursday Productive golf lesson for Ryan?  Check.
  • Friday afternoon:  Amusing golf with the boys?  Check.
  • Friday evening:  Incredible dinner with the Alumni Hall gang?  Check.
  • Saturday afternoon:  Epic tailgate?  Check.
  • Saturday evening: Back to the house in time for kickoff?  Check.
  • Consistently making peepee on the potty?   No one likes a show off, Sloane.

But alas, the Big Prize was not to be.  And half a week later, Jerrence is still in mild shock.

Quote of the Week

"They're fighting for clicks. 
We're fighting for wins..."

                                       Dan Lanning
Head Coach, Oregon

This seemed to be the week of outraged coaches.  The difference between coach Lanning (and his swipe at Colorado / Coach Prime) and the Man-baby in Columbus is, Lanning's commentary was actually insight-based.

42-7, Prime.  Apparently this week, it was 'personal' for Oregon too.

Now I don't harbor the fantasy that these beat downs will push Deion into the woodwork as attention is his oxygen (although a girl can dream) but if it encourages other coaches to call out Sanders for his "I'm-Old-School-And-All-About-Me-School" rhetoric, I'm all for it. Presumably, this week Lincoln Riley is telling Lanning, "hold my beer, Dan..."


Word of the Week

Used in a sentence paragraph
:  Young Jerrence racked his brain, even as he tried to process what he had just read.

Ohio State scoring with :01 left in the game was gut-wrenching enough.  Learning that the Irish had only 10 men on the field for the final two plays was mind blowing.

There are tactical mistakes, made in real time, in every game.  The woulda / coulda / shoulda's and this game was no different: the calls on 4th and 1... not running Estime more... even the ill-fated screen pass that stopped a clock - all, to some degree, defensible. 

But this was an entirely different kettle of fish.  Calling it a gaffe didn't seem to quite capture the magnitude of the error.  Politicians and entertainers make gaffes.  This was something more... historical.  Biblical even.

Game 5 Thoughts

Opportunity... opportunity.
This is your big opportunity.

Sure, Laddie, these folks are odd but mostly harmless.  

Somewhere Brian Kelly has an 18 year old scotch in hand, a Cheshire grin on his face and he's thinking... maybe even given voice to... "you can't hang THAT brain fart on me!"

True dat.

Not that he ever earned the moniker, 'Big Game Brian.'

Somewhere else, Jack Swarbrick ought be thanking his lucky stars he didn't run into Cincotta after the game.  

If Savvy didn't appreciate last year's Drew Pyne critique (and he clearly didn't), he would've hated Jerry's feedback on Al Golden.

Other super-random-blinding-glimpses-of-the-obvious:

  • Not loving the green uni's.  At least that shade of green. But then again, I am color blind deficient. 
Audric, We Hardly Knew Ye...
  • The honeymoon is over.  Out-coached. Or maybe just out-experienced. In any event, this "L" is far more on the coaches than the players.  And it's gonna take a while to regain the public trust. Soundly beating Duke would be a nice start.
  • Players makes plays. Or they don't.  Jerrence has gotten fairly zen in his attitude, late in life, about these games.  We either show up and do it, or we don't.   It seems the reality is for this week, for all the times ND made key plays, there are a handful of other times when plays needed to be made and we just... didn't. (Note:  I'm sure OSU would say the same.)
    • The 4 and 1's
    • The missed FG
    • The dropped INT
    • The confusion on the play before the screen pass 
  • What we have here is a failure to communicate.  This horse has been beaten to death and may end up being as unknowable as Who Shot JFK, but 10 men on the field... twice?!  How does that happen?  Who, exactly, was in charge - and forgot to count? And who didn't get the memo?
  • Placekicking.  Speaking only for myself, maybe it's time to be less enamored with the strength of Shrader's leg and more concerned with his lack of accuracy.
  • How good is Ohio State?  "Not great, Bob."  Call it sour grapes but with a 17-14 final score, I can't say that I walked away all that convinced the Buckeyes are a top tier team.  Did we make them look that way?  Perhaps.  As coach Holtz said, "they're a good team, not a great team."  And probably the same can be said about us.
  • "Play to win."  Until you don't.    That was Freeman's mantra - we're gonna go for it.  Rightly (but probably wrongly) the screen pass on the last offensive series seemed to support that attitude.  3rd and 19 and rushing 3?  Not so much.
  • 3rd and 19. When the Corrigan - Spittler - Wadden - Cincotta braintrust (using the term extremely loosely) all scream, "NOOOOO" as they see the 3-man rush alignment, you know something is very wrong.  One man's opinion:  Even more than the subsequent 10-man debacle, that play was the fatal flaw and those three words are going to live in my personal infamy for a very, very long time. 

...I'm howling at the moon.

  • Can we ever get a game remotely clean game reffed? As one message board poster put it, the refs didn't cost us the game but some of those calls (or non-calls) were serious contributors.
Q. Grabbing the shoulder pads (and dragging down the DB) is not considered a hold?

Buddy's Buddy

Tough week to find a Buddy even though it's perhaps when one needs one most.

Remember last week when this blogger pined for a defensive candidate to challenge the two offensive studs? It turns out there was already one there, hiding in plain sight.

Benjamin Morrison.

How about this fun fact:  Big Ben held Marvin Harrison Jr., a slam dunk Top 5 pick in next year's NFL draft, to this stat line: 

3 catches, 32 yards, 0 TD's.  

Why this kid isn't getting any more national pub I'll never understand.  

If he were on Ohio St., Bama or LSU, the media wouldn't be able to stop talking about him.

But this week, Ben will have to share Buddy's affections... 

Most of us knew Morrison was very good, that wasn't much of a surprise.  The true revelation from Saturday night was at a position where excellence is practically taken for granted... arguably the one position where the ND fanbase can be fairly accused of feeling entitled:  

Tight End.

So, I give thee Mitchell Evans, heretofore best known for those 4th and 1 'tush pushes' but after this game, is quickly alleviating any fears of there being much of a pronounced drop off from the Michael Mayer Era.

And with a decidedly young (if high potential) WR group who are also fighting some injuries with their more experienced teammates (Thomas, Colzie), ND is gonna need him to keep channeling his inner Mayer. 

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

If you haven't been able to tell, I'm a Pete Sampson fan.  I think he writes with uncommon objectivity while still being able to be empathetic (sympathetic?) to the home team he reports on.

Weirdly, many on my primary ND website / message board, do not feel the same way.  Okay.  Everyone's entitled to their own opinion.

But it kind of makes Pete's reporting this week somewhat different -- unusually harsh in its critique of the ND coaching staff spitting the bit.

Almost as if this game was somehow personal for Pete, his criticism belying a fan-like angst.  Good for you, Pete.

So.  Without further adieu, some thoughts from Pete suggesting the Freeman learning curve is a little steeper than perhaps we thought a couple weeks ago.  

But it doesn't mean it still can't end, ultimately, in big time success.  To that end...

Am I the only one who doesn’t feel like the sky is falling? Notre Dame played a game against a perennial powerhouse with no noticeable talent gap. When was the last time that happened? — Jack R. (Notre Dame student)

Let’s look at it another way.

On Aug. 1, I tell you Notre Dame will start 4-1. It will put together an offense that’s historically productive. The defense will exceed expectations. That brutally difficult game at Clemson? Actually just a tough, winnable matchup. Also, USC’s defense is still struggling. Notre Dame will lose to Ohio State, but just by three points, and the teams look evenly matched. And there’s no red invasion of Notre Dame Stadium.

The first loss is always the most difficult for the Notre Dame fan base to process, but it’s hard to find anyone who didn’t think that loss was coming at some point. In our fan survey during the summer, just 1 percent of respondents selected 12-0. More than half chose 10-2, which still feels likely considering how well Notre Dame has played during a five-game sample. Yes, the pressure is on Marcus Freeman after last weekend with how it ended. But the season’s overall outlook feels on track.

But, and this is a big but, the Notre Dame fan base has been waiting to beat Ohio State in a moment like Saturday night for 30 years. And Notre Dame was one snap and one defensive lineman from making that happen. The angst hinges on how Notre Dame lost, not the final score. The Irish haven’t had the home-field and the quarterback advantage in that kind of game in your lifetime, Jack (assuming you’re not a PhD student). That’s a lot of pent-up demand. Splitting with USC and Clemson, then running the rest of the table still feels like a good bet. But getting that shot against that Ohio State team … there’s a reason the night felt like the biggest at Notre Dame Stadium since the Bush Push. This wasn’t just about the game; it was about pushing back on 30 years of hurt.

Ironically, last weekend was the most watched Notre Dame game on NBC since Florida State in 1993.

Source:  The Athletic
September 27, 2023

Cocktail of the Week

This week we draw on The Bard, William Shakespeare, for inspiration.

A fellow not known for as compelling of a storyteller as he is, not particularly known for happy endings.

And the fact that the key betrayer in the story is named Marcus, well, draw your own conclusions... 

Orange Julius Caesar
Julius Caesar (circa 1599)
By William Shakespeare

Friends, Romans, upperclassmen:  with pals like this, who needs enemies?  Shakespeare's Julius Caesar reads like a luxuriantly extended definition of the word, "backstabber," as the title character's rise in power inspires those closest to him to plot his assassination. 

Though Caesar gets top billing, he actually appears in on;y a handful of scenes; the real star here is Marcus Brutus, proving that sometimes a secondary player can walk away with the show.  

Sneak a little mother's milk into an old-fashioned breakfast recipe - and trust us (no, really you can trust us), the result is pretty killer.
3 oz.  orange juice
2 oz.  milk
1.5 oz.  light rum
1 tspn.  granulated sugar
1/4 tspn.  vanilla

Have your closest frenemy load all the ingredients, plus a handful of ice, into your blender.  Only after he removes his fingers, get to whirring.

Serve in a Collins glass.
Source:  Tequila Mockingbird
Cocktails  With a Literary Twist
by Tim Federle

 Schedule 2023

We're past the point of arguing whether the Notre Dame football brand is still relevant - the networks say it is and as conference realignment has shown us, theirs is the only opinion that matters.

But four night games is a row?   Including the next two away games?  Hope the coaching staff has a plan for managing that quirk... 

'Cause boogie nights are always the best in town...

26            Navy (Dublin, Ireland)                W

2                  Tennessee State                         W                                   THE CALM BEFORE...
9                  @NC State                                  W
16                Central Michigan                       W
23               Ohio State        NIGHT              L
30               @Duke             NIGHT

October                                                                                                       THE STORM.
7                @Louisville      NIGHT
14                USC                  NIGHT
28             @Pittsburgh 

4            @Clemson                                                                                    BEFORE       
18            Wake Forest                                                                               FINISHING...  
25          @Stanford

Wager 2023

Team 12 Wins, you deserved better. 


ND Lacrosse God



Kevin Corrigan


A Corrigan as national champ?



Brian M.John P., John L.


Matt Kavanagh


The first of the Kavanagh clan, his career mirrors that of how an 11 win season might be construed - undeniably excellent, just not quite good enough.

DarylDave M., Peter, Ray


Pat Kavanagh


Nobody embodies 'tough' more than this guy... suggesting a 10 win season, with all the unknowns on the team (e.g., WR's), may say more about the team's fortitude - and future - than two losses might.



Brian W, Jay, BillRyan, Matt, Garrett, CincoBucks,  

SullyRaz, Ted, Lini, Jim B.,  Spit the Elder,  Spit the Younger, Mike B., Bryan


Chris Kavanagh

How would a 9-win season be viewed?  The guess here is "wow, that year was crazy, a little unhinged, certainly unpredictable!"

Which seems to be the most perfect description of the youngest Kavanagh. 



Jim S., Bob J.,  

GutschJim T.Jerry P., UngieCoat Man, Alex, Mike G., George


Sergio Perkovic.

The pride of Bloomfield Hills, arguably the Austin Carr of his era (check out sometime how he singlehandedly brought the team back in a NCAA semi-final vs. Denver).

Yet no one remembers him in light of the team's recent success.  Just like no one will choose to remember an 8-win outcome.


Albert, Jerry W.,  Feif, Blair


Liam Entenmann

7 wins, ugh.  No one would be happy with that - yet out of it may reveal a preternatural performance or two (ala our man Liam in Philadelphia), setting up an optimistic 2024 scenario.

Dare to dream.



Gerry Byrne


Nothing optimistic about 6 wins or less.  Just looking for someone to blame.  In this case, why not point the finger at the former 2nd in command to Corrigan, architect for a top tier defense strategy who (got tired of waiting and) left for the top job at Harvard.

Not fair but so what.



This is lacrosse 'when it was a club sport' territory...



How are the fencers looking this year?


Schadenfreude of the Week.

One wonders whether this year - with seemingly precious few truly great teams - could this be The Year of The Upsets That Really Aren't Upsets?  

(Sounds like... parity?)

Or is just going to be The Year of Celebrating Ill Will On The Historically Entitled?

Then there's the case of Colorado, a program no one ever cared about a year ago but now has much of the country reveling whenever it gets payback for a gangsta attitude it hasn't even earned yet?

Karma strikes again. 
  This is all you need to know about the culture coach Prime is developing:  
On Monday night, the Ducks released a cinematic recap of the game, and made sure to include some closed captions for the trash talking done by some Buffaloes players ahead of the clash. 

At one point, Colorado CB Shilo Sanders, son of the head coach, could be overheard threatening Oregon’s team and head coach Dan Lanning, “I’ll beat the f--k out of every one of y’all and your coach,” Sanders could be heard saying. “Why y’all so little? We finna run through y’all ass.” 

So that's your definition of Old School, Deion?! 

Clemson.  I know this hurts ND's strength of schedule but the heart wants what it wants.

And the fact that, if you're going to lose, missing a 29 yard FG in the last 2:00 is definitely the way to go for Full Schadenfreude Effect.  

Note to Dabo: missed FG's are a Florida State tradition, not yours. 
    Denver BroncosCall this a half-hearted call and less directed at its team than its $18M coach, Sean Payton.  

    After declaring last year's head coach as having done "the worse job in the history of the league," (which might be factually true but you don't say that aloud outside of your own house), what do you call losing by 50 points and getting 70 hung on you?
    Karma's a mean motor scooter, Sean.  But apparently, the football gods do not hold a grudge - they've given you the Bears next week. 

    Terry's Tools.

    One would think with last week's profound disappointment that Jerrence would be overly zealous in his search for the truly moronic - so he could mock and belittle to make himself feel just a little less bad.

    You know, typical bully mentality.

    But alas, I just don't have the will to be cruel on such a widespread basis.

    Although for The Cretin From Columbus, I can make an exception: 

    1)   Ryan Day.   I can say this, credibly, having spent much of the weekend with a 2 year old and a bunch of 66 year olds whose maturity ceased decades ago - so I have more than a little familiarity with arrested development: 

    Coach Day, Grow The Fuck Up.

    You're trying to play the "Oh we're so aggrieved (um, you'tr one of the most entitled football programs in the country), a geriatric with a lisp said mean, disparaging (accurate) things about my team, everyone hates us (true) and it's us against the world" card - and I'm gonna get super emotional about it on national TV after I came out on top in a game I had zero business winning.

    Child, please.  You're the proverbial 'born on 3rd base, thinks he hit a triple' coach.   Have some class.

    Check out Pseudo Lou's response to being called out here.   (Freaking hilarious and completely on point.)

    Real Lou's actual response:  “(Day) doesn’t want to talk about Michigan, 0-2. He doesn’t want to talk about the big game coming up against Penn State and against Michigan again.  Ohio State’s a good football team. I don’t think they’re a great football team. He can go after me all he wants...”

    Amen, witness.

    2)  JT Daniels.   Is it fair to pick on a former 5-star / #1 rated QB in his class, whose assured Path to Glory got derailed almost before it started?  

    Maybe.  Maybe not. Call it, at minimum, a sad situation but when it's a fellow who seemed to have everything on a platter and when a little adversity (including injury and competition) came his way, seemed to cut and run... I'm taking the shot. 

    Five years after starting at USC as a freshman, he's now on his 4th school.  

    There's only one constant variable in all of those situations.  

    Final Thought.

    You've got to pick up the pieces 
    Come on, sort your trash better
    Pull yourself back together... 

    But hey, after a week or so of righteous indignation (or whatever stage of the grieving process one wishes to consider oneself), perhaps it's time to... move on.  

    To that point, one thing that occurred to me while observing the teeming masses of the tailgate was this:  I've had the benefit of going through almost all the important life stages with a vast number of this blog's readership:

    • Senior Bar!
    • Graduation (we made it!)
    • The Single Years
      • Boston
      • Chicago
    • Marriage!
    • Parenthood - the early years
    • Parenthood - the late years
    • Grandparenthood

    Can't imagine a better bunch to have navigated all of this with.