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Thursday, September 7, 2023

Tennessee St.: ...Changes in Attitude

First you learn the native custom,
Soon a word of Spanish or two.
You know you cannot trust them - 
'Cause they know they can't trust you...

Dateline:  Cyprus Room, 801 St. Louis Blvd.

Take a ride with me in the Time Machine.

It's circa 1978-79 and if you spent any reasonable time in or around the confines of 801 St. Louis, the gravitational pull of the domicile's Cyprus Room probably drew you in.

Abandon All Hope, Ye Who Enter Here
It's okay if you don't remember.  Memory loss was invariably an unintended consequence of that experience.

And while other places on campus were firing up the Grateful Dead... Pink Floyd... Supertramp... the musical stylings of Jimmy Buffett were, more times than not, the ambient sound one heard on-site.

To say it was a magical time doesn't quite do it justice.

So for this blogger, Mr. Buffett's passing this week is a little more impactful than some of the other cultural touchstones that are buying the farm these days.  And for a few reasons:
  • First, dying at 76 seems too soon, especially for a guy who seemed like he'd just live forever. 
  • Second, even though I haven't been to one of his concerts in decades, the music still holds up for me.  However saccharine one perceives his sound - he's certainly not everyone's cup of tea - he connected with a massive audience  and beyond his most recognizable hits involving margaritas, cheeseburgers and boat drinks (not that there's anything wrong with that), there was more substance than he got credit for.
  • Third, from a sheer marketing standpoint, his passing marks the end of one of the most remarkable business success stories in our lifetime:  achieving billionaire status on, essentially, the basis of one song with a quixotic, "screw it, let's run off and become pirates" lifestyle fantasy that has remained genuinely timeless. 

Bravo, Jimmy.

Somewhere, Loudon Wainwright is lamenting the tactical error of writing his one big commercial hit about a dead skunk.

Quote of the Week

"Tell Jimmy to keep me in his will!"
Warren Buffett
And yes, Jimmy had Berkshire Hathaway in his portfolio. 

Word of the Week

Used in a sentence paragraph
:  Jerrence recognized that his putting greater stock than was warranted in Notre Dame's two victories was something of high risk proposition.

True, both Navy and Tennessee St. were not terribly revealing opponents in terms of gaining great insight into ND's ultimate 2023 trajectory.

And yet, Jerrence subscribed to the adage that one can only control one's performance against the team's that are put on the field against you.

Especially when he watched Dabo Swinney's team commit to Clemsoning, as if it was their homage to 2015.  Jerrence was grateful that for all the times that Notre Dame had been convincingly beaten in high profile games, no one had turned the school's name into a similarly pejorative verb. 

Week 1 Thoughts

This ain't no hotel I'm writing you from... 
It's the Tennessee prison up at Brushy Mountain
Where yours sincerely is doing 5-to-8
Stampin' out my time makin' Tennessee plates.

Off the cuff observations...

.   Like a born again convert - that species of human that is both highly irritating and more than a little scary, I'm here to say this:  really proud of Notre Dame for scheduling this game.

It was not always so.   Like some of the Luddites that are still out there (and apologies if you still consider yourself in this camp), I was initially pretty disappointed that ND scheduled such a low level game - and broke their virginal record of only playing D-1 programs... until I was reminded that sometimes there's things more important than just a football game.  (I know - heresy, right?)

But giving Tennessee State a national audience and very likely, a lucrative check, far outweighs the downside.  Even if for one week, I cannot get on my moral soapbox about how lame Michigan's schedule is.

Plus, given the ascendent trajectory I perceive coach Freeman's career to be on, what makes Marcus happy makes me happy. 

2. Jet Lag.    Perhaps the only thing that concerned me, pre-game, was hearing that historically ND always planned for a bye week after the trip to Ireland.  

Not this year.  

And as someone who's experienced the effects of international jet lag - almost to a tragic consequence (if you've never heard Jerrence's asleep-at-the-wheel tale, ask me sometime), ND's energy level was a priority point of interest.   

So this blogger is willing to give them a pass on the early lethargy.  

What are you looking at, ref?
3.  Targeting.   I've given hope that this rule will ever be evaluated consistently but Saturday's game had to represent a low point in blowing not one but two obvious calls. 

When the home viewer can clearly see the direct launch contact on Devyn Ford (and in Antonio Carter's case, hitting the shoulder pad first), but the refs do not... that's bad

What conference did the refs come from?  Dunno.  Tough to speculate a conspiracy theory here, just good old fashioned incompetence.  Unfortunate that it's going to cost Carter the 1st half of the NC State game.

4.  101 Club.   No, not the shot of beer-a-minute exercise that should've gotten me a DUI were it not for the smooth talking skills of persuasion from that silver-tongued devil, J.A. Castellini, at the end of our Junior year...

No, this refers to the number of points ND's scored in it's first two games.  Will it sustain?  Assuredly not.  Does it speak to the potential of the offense to, minimally, put up 30+ points a game?  I'd be disappointed if it doesn't.

5.  Agnosticism.  Is Sam Hartman an agnostic?  On the field, you better believe it.  Check this out:   in Navy, 8 different receivers had receptions, vs. Tennessee St., it was 9.   The man is playing no favorites.  Experienced QB + newbie WR's... makes total sense. Just really nice to see.

6.  Quick hitters.   
  • Is ONE really the loneliest number?  ND had only two penalties - one of which, the targeting, was total rubbish.  Hence, averaging one per game so far.
    •  Past ND teams would have more than that on the first drive.
  • We have a punter!  (Good to know, you can go back to the bench now.)
  • We have TE's!  (And the best one may be the guy who's still rehabbing.)
  • Wither Merriweather?  Still MIA.  But does it even matter?  (Not yet.)
  •  Do we have a back up QB?  Maybe, albeit not to Hartman's level. Let's hope Angeli gets more opportunities to play (though not likely for the foreseeable future).

Buddy's Buddy

I believe it was the noted philosopher and theologian, Dr. Theodor Seuss Geisel, in his breakthrough treatise on discovering God through a properly balanced, if somewhat non-traditional, breakfast offering... where he summarized the secret to a happy, morally fulfilled and actualized life:

I am Sam.  

Sam I am. 

Was Sam Hartman the equivalent of the green eggs 'n ham so unappetizing to Seuss's protagonist?  Probably not - the other metaphorical breakfast options for ND being even less appealing. 

But we've now tried.  

And we like! 

For ND Nation in 2023, we are all Sam.

Synthesized in a mere :38 sequence of the game.  A recap: less than a minute left in the 1st half.  

Ball on ND's 20 yard line.
  • Hartman to Gi'Bran Payne for 3 yards (:05 elapse)
  • Hartman to Mitchell Evans for 18 yards (:09 elapse)
  • Hartman to Mitchell Evans for 18 yards (:04 elapse)
  • Hartman to Mitchell Evans for 13 yards (:09 elapse)
  • Hartman to Jaden Greathouse for 24 yards (:06 elapse)
  • Hartman to Holden Staes for 4 yards, TD!  (:05 elapse)

Six plays, 80 yards, TD, :38.  

I'm a believer. 

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

Insofar as last week's game basically represented 'holding serve' albeit in a 40-love fashion (to keep the tennis analogy going), I'm looking to Mr. Sampson again, for some reality-based insight - how does one interpret what we've seen so far? 

This is September, after all.  

Lotta ballgame left.

  So Pete, what say ye?

I know Notre Dame is good. I don’t know how good. It’s not clear whether Marcus Freeman knows, either, and it may not be until about 3:30 p.m. on Saturday afternoon in Raleigh after facing NC State. The Irish looked nearly perfect against Navy, but there was plenty to pick apart from their performance in a 56-3 win against Tennessee State. Freeman talked about missed assignments, plural, on the first drive and the Navy “hangover.” There was a snap on which Notre Dame’s defense was missing an interior lineman and played with 10 men. There was a special teams turnover and another miscue on a big return. That kind of stuff turns the matchup with NC State into a migraine. It’s also the kind of stuff that’s within Notre Dame’s control to eliminate. 

I beg you, let’s get through this weekend before re-analyzing Notre Dame’s schedule. Going to Clemson will still be incredibly difficult. Duke will still be a trap game after Ohio State. One of the best parts of college football is not knowing what the heck is going to happen week after week. And we definitely still don’t with this schedule. Please refrain from using “College Football Playoff implications” in all stories for another two weeks.

Source:  The Athletic
September 6, 2023

Cocktail of the Week

What would Jimmy Buffett do? Actually, what might he be doing right now, in The Great Beyond?

Other than possibly twistin' up a fatty, or dropping a gummie, he'd likely be hitting the 'mix' button on the Cuisinart blender for something boat drink-y.

And while the novel below doesn't scream Florida - except for the book banning part - the triple rum cocktail sure does.

Here's to you, Jimmy!

The Bluest Mai Tai
The Bluest Eye (1970)
by Toni Morrison

In 1970 Toni Morrison was a successful editor of textbooks and a former English teacher when, at nearly 40 years old she published this groundbreaking and unflinching novel, set in her native Ohio.

Though she'd eventually go on to win the Pulitzer (with a Presidential Medal thrown in for good measure), Morrison's account of incest and racial identity was so true and unapologetic that it's still banned in some circles to this day.  

Shake your blues away with a drink as sweet and complex as Morrison's history-making prose.

2 oz.  white rum
2 oz.  dark rum
2 oz.  orange juice
2 oz.  blue pea flower (sold in the tea section)
1 oz.  lime juice
1 oz.  orgeat syrup
Orange wheel, for garnish

Pour all the liquid ingredients into a shaker with ice and shake for :05.  Strain into a rocks glass over fresh ice.  Garnish with an orange wheel, take a sip and go change the world.

Source:  Tequila Mockingbird
Cocktails with With a Literary  Twist
by Tim Federle

 Schedule 2023

26            Navy (Dublin, Ireland)                W

2                  Tennessee State                         W
9                  @NC State
16                Central Michigan
23               Ohio State
30               @Duke

7                @Louisville
14                USC
28             @Pittsburgh 

4            @Clemson
18            Wake Forest
25          @Stanford

Wager 2023

Did anyone's wager hinge on this game?  I think not.  See you next week. 


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.


Jerrence, JP,  Brian W.BillRyan, Matt, Garrett, Cinco, Bucks,  Sully, Raz, Ted, Lini, Jim B.,  Spit the Elder,  Spit the Younger, Mike B.


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

For what is considered, officially, Week 1 of the college football season, a pretty damn productive weekend for Team Schadenfreude!

That said, I was so hoping to include Colorado getting pasted in this group - Jerrence's Old School sensibilities cannot quite reconcile with Coach Prime's operating model (more on that later) - and I just don't have the heart to get excited about TCU losing.  Certainly not in the first week, anyway.  

Still much to celebrate!

Strange apparition
Haunting my brain.
There's some permissions
Of a dream that got cremated. 

Better luck next year, Clemson / LSU.

  • Clemson.  One could argue that having Clemson win would've been in ND's best interest, for strength of schedule purposes and for when we run them off their own field in early November... but this blog isn't for rationale, strategic thought (and if you haven't figiured that out yet, we should talk).  So, getting physically manhandled by Duke... Oh Dabo, you got some esplainin' to do.
Fun fact:  Clemson had six 2nd half drives and never punted or scored.   That's not easy to do. 

And somewhere DJ Uiagalelei is saying, "Do NOT even be thinking about hanging that offensive shit show on me!"

Nevermind the football game, I once caught a fish THIS big!

  • LSU.   Is it a surprise that the Tigers lost to FSU?  Not especially, the Seminoles were predicted to be pretty good this year.  Does it make it any less enjoyable?  Not one freaking bit.  And the fact that they got rolled... priceless
And somewhere Brian Polian is saying, "Do NOT even be thinking about hanging that special teams shit show on me!"

  • SEC!  SEC!   The three marquee Power 5 matchups (Florida vs. Utah, S. Carolina vs. UNC, and of course, LSU) were all losses for the SEC. And none of them were close.
For The Greatest Conference In The Known Universe, not a great start.

Terry's Tools

I'm sure some of you will be happy to see that I'm branching out beyond Mr. Mickelson... 

Don't hold your breath.  Like those boys on Brokeback Mountain, I can't quit you, Phil. 

But until he pulls another shameless, "Hey look at me!  You're not paying enough attention to me!" stunt, I'm going to have to seek my poor decision makers elsewhere.

Fortunately, this week, I've got a few.

1) Coach Prime.   That Deion Sanders is a pretty good coach is becoming increasingly tough to argue.  Equally difficult to debate is that he's achieving this early success without doing anything terribly underhanded.  

Cold, yes.  Illegal, no. Thank you, NCAA, for turning college football into semi-pro ball (and for some athletes, pretty damn lucrative at that) but the guy does seem to be playing by the rules.  Such as they are.

No, the bone I have to pick with Sanders is with his post-game rant, where he went on about how a strong black man leading a room of predominantly black men is threatening.  

First, threatening to whom?  Unclear.  

Second, why make the narrative - after a super impressive win, after all - about race but more specifically, all about you, Deion, and your strong blackness?  Seems a missed opportunity to make the win more about, I don't know just spitballin' here... the team.

Finally, I wonder what Marcus Freeman and Eddie George think about that statement.  In a sport that's gotta be 75% African American to begin with... they're not talking about themselves.  Period.  Much less about being threatening.  

If your intent was to make the point that there should be more black coaches running D-1 programs - no argument there - perhaps try making the case without it being so Deion-centric.

The really unfortunate part:  "Coach Prime" ain't going away anytime soon.  For the media, like Trump, he is their crack cocaine.

2) NBC.  Remember the halcyon days when Saturday's on NBC for an ND home game amounted to a little pregame chatter, halftime commentary about what transpired and ultimately, at game's end, seeing the players sing the alma mater (or at least sway to it) with some final comments and a plug for the Sunday night pro game. 

Well, seemingly, kiss that tableau good-bye.

NBC now thinks itself the Big 10 network (even though they actually aren't) with ND being reduced to the warm up act. Last Saturday seemed especially egregious: West Virginia vs. Penn State wasn't exactly Must See TV - and yet every chance they got, it seemed "lets talk about what happened today in the Big 10 and tonight's matchup..."

There's no doubt the network paid a boatload to get their foot in the door of that conference and were always going to market the bejesus out it.  Still, disrespectful at best.  Breach of contract at worst?

3)  NCAA.   As if one needed yet other reason to call out the world's most incompetent, worthless organization.  Here's this week's contribution nonetheless:  meet Devontez Walker.

Mr. Walker enrolled at North Carolina in January as a transfer from Kent State - his 2nd such move. 

Due to NCAA policies for players who transfer multiple times, Walker had to submit a waiver asking the NCAA to allow him to play right away, which was a decision made to get closer to his family and his ailing grandmother. 

It was viewed as a largely procedural measure in what many felt certain to be a quick approval.

But no.  Two days after Walker transferred, the NCAA tightened the rules - telling no one - and now, leaving the athlete basically fooked as he awaits an appeal.

Somebody give Mr. Walker JT Daniel's phone number.

I don't think anyone's gonna notice, do you?
4) Zheng & Wang.  No, not the famous Siamese twins - that would be Chang and Eng (and why would we be calling them out 150 years after their passing -- even by my low standards that'd be a long time to carry a perceived grudge.

No, we're talking about two heretofore obscure Chinese construction workers who, looking for a shortcut last month, DESTROYED PART OF THE GREAT WALL by driving heavy machinery through it.

Oops. How do you say 'irreparable damage' in Mandarin?

Final Thought.

NC State.  Not gonna be a lay up. 
  • Hartman's history vs. the Wolfpack is not especially good.
  • Gonna be warm and maybe wet (50% chance of rain).  ☔️ 
  • 50.5 over/under with ND giving 7.
Weather notwithstanding, I'm taking the Irish and the giving the points, 35-24.

No I didn't get rich, you son of a bitch
I'll be back just wait and see
'Cause my whole world lies waiting behind door #3

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