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Tuesday, October 31, 2023

Pitt: Taming of the Shrew(s)

You can waste your time on the other rides
But this is the nearest to being alive
Let me take my chances on The Wall of Death...

Dateline:  Flint Lake, IN

Let me start by saying the Feifars can stay at the Corrigans any time they want, especially when they come with whiskey and 50 point victories.  But more on that later.

It would not be the worst metaphor in the world to say that watching ND football this season has been akin to a thrilling, occasionally nauseating circus ride... one where one gets off the contraption mildly disoriented and not entirely sure if one actually liked the experience.  Until later when you're asking, can we do that again?

One would imagine that's what living in Dillon is like.

Anyway, that sense of confusion was strong (and consistent) for much of Saturday.  And yes, I'm not proud to say alcohol was involved.  Lots and lots of it.  

From ND football => USC vs. Cal (end of game) => The Killer Shrews (1959) with food somewhere intermittently...

Confusion #1:  How'd we end up with so much of the tailgate stuff in the back of our car (and now in front of us)?

We're not taming that, are we?
Confusion #2:  How did we get 58 points? (I swear I was paying attention.)

Confusion #3:  How did Cal score 49 points?

Confusion #4:  When you were talking about Shrews, Tom, you weren't referencing Shakespeare, were you?

Confusion #5:  And how do you know so much about Elvira, Mistress of the Dark?

Confusion #6:   When did that bottle of rye get so empty?

The moral of the story:  at this point in our lives and in particular, this football season, there are a great many unknowables.  Best just to accept it and move on.

In this case, on to Clemson!

Notre Dame, do this:  get a win by playing great opportunistic defense, protecting Hartman, running well enough to move the chains (i.e. give the D a breather) and for Godssakes stay out of 3rd and short situations!  (Hey, it's not like the team is going to emerge with a new identity 10 games in to the season.)

Quote of the Week

The expectation is greater than the appreciation..." 
                         Dabo Swinney

Perhaps you heard... the Clemson coach lost his mind on a talk radio show this week, after "Tyler from Spartanburg (pop. 38,732)" pointed out the apparent incongruity of Swinney's $11.5M salary juxtaposed to the team's current 4-4 record.  

The coach had some thoughts about that: 

As the internet is wont to do, scads of cretins 1st Amendment zealots lined up on both sides of the argument:
  • Pro-Dabo:  They've won 2 championships in the last seven years, with 11 wins just last year, so lighten up Francis, Dabo's correct - everyone has a down year.
  • Anti-Dabo:  This is exactly the attitude of an entitled, over-paid coach who's lost the plot. 

One could safely argue that there's credence in both points of view. One can also safely assume Clemson will be extremely motivated on Saturday.  And that we didn't need - so thanks a whole freaking lot, Tyler from Spartanburg.

Word of the Week

Used in a sentence paragraph
:  When Jerrence saw the gift, a full unopened bottle of premium rye whiskey, he knew he was in trouble.  It wasn't like he didn't know what he was getting into having invited Tom, a Dillon Man, for a game-watching sleepover.  

There'd be no getting behind the wheel of a car for anyone so all bets were off on where this evening was going.  

Jerrence understood that the most daunting challenge now facing him was going to be ascending the stairs later that evening... and looking at the glint in his friend's eye as he asked, "Are you gonna open that bottle or what?",  he was already feeling like Tenzing Norgay to his friend's Sir Edmund Hillary.

Where did all this come from?

And it had already been an eventful day for Jerrence, having mistakingly accosted - 'assault' is such an ugly, legally-charged word - some poor high school girl attending the tailgater with her parents and relatives.  Welcome to Notre Dame, young ladyNote to self:  next time you sneak up on a woman whom you're sure you know in order to give 'em a big welcome smooch, perhaps don't.

At the time, he thought Defarge took the news rather well - hey, honey, if police show up at our door, they're not trick or treaters and they're not looking for donations. I'm expecting them.

But hey, if one can give Dennis Ryan and Mary Flaherty even a minute of unbridled hilarity, ya gotta do it, right?

Nonetheless, Jerrence felt safe and secure in his downstairs TV room hovel. The roller coaster ride of the day wasn't quite over - we still had more football, an exceedingly bad 1959 horror film and Defarge's Screwball ice cream dessert to ingest - but as the 2nd half progressed, the Irish took control and his friend Tom continued to amuse, Jerrence at least felt an unexpected equanimity to the day's proceedings.

But maybe that was just the Elijah Craig rye talking to him.  After all, Jerrence began to notice he could no longer feel his feet.

Game 9 Thoughts  

Down where the drunkards roll...

  • Sam, about the hat... um, never do that again. 
    Hartman I'm thinking we really need Game 1-4 Sam this coming week.
    • The good news: the beard looks like it's coming back.  And possibly the long ball.
    • The bad news:  two more INT's (the 2nd was a pretty terrific play by the Pitt player) and an offense that still seems to take a while to get in gear. 
    • The best news: judging by the number of women, young and, well, not so young... who brought your name up unprovoked at the tailgater, your future is looking pretty damn bright regardless.

  • Next Man Up
    .  Not only is our defense really good, it's really deep.  Witness losing both of your starting CB's by the start of the 2nd half -- and not even noticing it.  

In fact, their replacements accounted for a pick-6 (easy) and another INT (spectacular).

  • Watts The Frequency, Kenneth?
Fun fact:  So far, Xavier Watts turnovers (INT's, fimble recoveries, forced fumbles) has directly led to 34 points which, correct me if I'm wrong, is about, oh...

Two games worth of ND Offensive scoring production. 

  • Angeli Time
    .   Obviously, the data points are scant but lets give him his props - he looked really good.  
Probably not gonna happen this week but if he gets a couple more quarter's worth of play time (incl. the bowl game) over the final three games, it'd be a nice variable to have a better grasp on before hunting the portal for another Sam Hartman (or more likely, Sam Lite).   

  • The TailgateOnly one more.  They say, time flies when you're having fun.  Has this football season been fun?  It's had its moments.  Certainly trending well of late.  And that one tailgate left in mid-November (traditionally attended only by the few, the proud, the cognitively challenged), it needs to be said:  OUTSTANDING performance by the Stayer Six once again this year:  Jay, Bob, Tim, Peter, Jerry, Jim.   
        So thank you. 
    • But this last one was a hoot. 

To be sure, there's a lot going on in this picture:
  1. Jerrence is with more St. Mary's College seniors, his new besties from Nashville, than he was in his entire four years at Notre Dame.
  2. You can count at least two more consumers to the "This is The Greatest Bloody Mary I've Ever Had" Club.
  3. The person these young women actually came to see... can be found when one looks very, very closely at the cell phone being held:  the erudite Raymond Edward Volk - with a picture from his gangster ND Band days.  How they found that...  hmmm.

Buddy's Buddy

There's been a few people that have been easy targets for ND Nation criticism as they stumbled through the middle third of this year's schedule.   Al Golden, for one, springs to mind. 

On balance - and maybe this is what this year was always going to be about - there's also a number of players who've shown steady, dare I say significant, improvement, arguably over-delivering on whatever one might've called the pre-season 'consensus' expectation.

One guy that has come storming up from behind the pack  in this regard is Chris Tyree, this week's Buddy Bud.

Back-to-back weeks with TD's including receptions over 40 yards in each game. The punt return - 90% of it being his effort over any great blocking scheme - gave a still shaky offense at least a little early breathing room.

Interesting anecdote that tells you a lot about the kid's character:  when asked to make the switch from RB to WR last Spring, he went to Jaden Greathouse, a freshman, to get insight on playing the position.

The fact is, every week's he's getting better, looking like the singular stretch-the-field threat and with a still inexperienced WR room, becoming more valuable by the day. 

Keep it up, Chris.  Please

And I, for one, hope he comes back next year.

One additional 'honorable mention':  Jaden Mickey and his Pick-6.  Not the most difficult play to execute - the ball was thrown right to him - but to ultimately hear that his mom has stage 4 colon cancer whose now in hospice care... to have her be able to see that on TV... pretty great.

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

At the risk of repeating myself, this has to be a wacky year for college football pundits.  

And as the season moves into November, I'm betting they love the unpredictability.  Here on out, every weekend is going to have a few really big games - and virtually every game is defacto meaningful*.

One also starts to look ahead to what happens after the season, which, practically speaking, starts in a month:  coaches getting let go, coaches getting hired away, early signing period mid-December... a lot of stuff starts happening fast.

In that vein, we're grabbing a nugget from Mr. Sampson about the one assistant coach that no one wants going anywhere. 

*Okaymaybe not Alabama vs. Chattanooga

Al Golden should be a Broyles Award contender. Probably a finalist.

He’s also a reminder that public perception of assistant coach hires is completely worthless. When Marcus Freeman targeted Golden, the former head coach at Miami and Temple was perceived to be a retread, a failed head coach who didn’t sizzle in recruiting. After building a top-10 defense, Golden may be able to call his shot on his next job, whether that’s NFL defensive coordinator or college head coach. Turns out, message boards were wrong at a level not seen since Brian Kelly hired some offensive line coach from the University of Tennessee.

The dream scenario for Freeman would be obvious — Golden returns to Notre Dame for a third season. And Notre Dame should do everything it can to make that dream a reality.

The Athletic
October 30, 2023

Cocktail of the Week

If we're going to make confused Shakespearean references - I swear that when Feif suggested watching a killer shrew, he was making an allusion to the Bard, not Elvira.

And we'd be watching Elizabeth Taylor as Kate, not Ken Curtis as Jerry Farrell, the actor who would become legendary as Gunsmoke's Festus.

That's what mainlining Manhattan's for six hours will do to one.

In the spirit of that, here's a toast to an author whose shrew was somewhat higher brow than the ones you're gonna find on Svengoolie. 

Henry VIII's Whiskey Slash

The best leaders aren't afraid to make unpopular decisions. Like King Henry VIII, if you're a Real Man you have to be ready to ditch a pope, behead a wife who can't give you a male heir, or divorce one who's just kind of ugly.

In Henry VIII, or All Is True, Shakespeare and his co-writer John Fletcher dramatized the king's smooth Man-euvering from Wife #1 to Wife #2.

Breaking up is hard to do, but only if you're a pussy. This whiskey cocktail celebrates the alpha male's right to slash any inconvenient ties that bind.  Like a sacrament.

Or a neck. 

*  2.5 oz.  rye whiskey
*  0.5 oz. simple syrup  
*  1/2 cup lemon pieces
*  10 fresh mint leaves 
*  Maraschino cherries

Slash the mint leaves into little pieces.  In a shaker, muddle the lemon pieces with the mint leaves and simple syrup until they cry out for mercy.  

Add ice and the whiskey.  Shake hard and strain into an old-fashioned glass over ice.  Stick 3 (or more, if you're feeling the urge) maraschino cherry "heads" on an olive pick, for garnish.

Fun fact:  The original Globe Theatre burned to the ground diring a 1613 performance of Henry VIII when a cannon shot, meant to herald the king's greatness in Act I, blew up in his face. Karma. 

Source:  Shakespeare, Not Stirred 
Cocktails  For Your Everyday Dramas
by Caroline Bicks, Ph.D
and Michelle Ephraim, Ph.D

 Schedule 2023

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            W

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

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

Wager 2023


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.PeterRay


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, BillRyanMattGarrettCincoBucks,  

SullyRaz, Ted, Lini, Jim B.,  Spit the Elder,  Spit the YoungerMike 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.

This week's nominees are proof positive that joy can still be elicited, depending on the circumstances, even when a loss (or in Michigan's case, even playing a game) is not involved.

Accuse me of loosening the rules, yet another signal of the gradual, downward spiral of the very tenets that hold our society together.

Perhaps.  But tell me you're not loving what's happening in Los Angeles and Ann Arbor even without an "L" next to those two programs. 

1) MichiganBut they didn't even play, you say!  And I say, when you become the Houston Astros of college football, a stink that's not going away for a VERY long time, that's a loss bigger than any single game.

Michigan Excuse bingo

2) USC.
  But they didn't even lose, you cry!  

Didn't they, though?

Needing 50 points and a failed, final 2-pt. conversion (and 4 turnovers from Cal) to win isn't exactly winning, is it?  

I didn't check their blog comments this week but I'm gonna go out on a limb and guess their alums aren't booking tickets to any of the Jan. 1 bowl sites. 

3) OklahomaWhere the wind comes sweeping down the plains...   

To be fair, losing to Kansas this year (apparently) is not considered tantamount to the high humiliation that it used to be.  But it is a loss, and probably not their only one this year and as they stand between ND and a top 10 ranking, which is probably what the Irish needs to qualify for a Jan. 1 bowl, I must root for you to go down.

Source: The Athletic projection (as of 10.31.23)

4) Colorado
.   If every loss means the chance to see less of Coach Prime, consider me all in. 

And about your son, coach:  maybe a little more form tackling and a little less head shots with the obligatory preening... 

...and maybe he might stay in the game and, um,  contribute.

Terry's Tools.

Let's be honest, this week the Tools section could be devoted entirely to 'that school up north'...

Or maybe just to the state of Michigan.  

Or those with Michigan connections.

But occasionally - not often - one tries to show some self-restraint.

Besides, Ann Arbor is going to be in the news for a very long time.

Who's that next to you, coach?
1)  Connor Stalions.   I don't believe one needs to elaborate on this gentleman's candidacy.  Suffice to say, unanimous winner of this week's Niedermeyer Killed-In-Battle-By-His-Own-Troops award... and it seems to get worse every week, for him and the school, with each new revelation.  

The Tool Committee recognizes his 500 page manifesto as a very nice touch, almost like unnecessary extra credit.  

But maybe next time, Connor, you don't put it on your school's server.

All the Federales say
They could've had him any day
They only let him slip away
Out of kindness I suppose...

2)  Michigan State.  Ambition can often be a dangerous thing.  

So to the leaders in East Lansing, don't let your reach exceed your grasp.  You already own the collegiate Sexual Assault title, going for the Neo-Nazi crown is probably one you want to re-think.  

Especially when you're losing 42-0 to your in-state rival. 

PS.  And blaming it on the 3rd party vendor is kinda lame.

PSS.  Also, that signage below Hitler ("We Never Drop The Ball"), is just too ironic.  I think I see a ball dropped...

As the joke goes, "what you mean 'we' kemosabe?"

3)  Pat Narduzzi / Deion Sanders.   If there requires any greater proof of how college football has seamlessly transitioned to semi-pro ball (and there doesn't), it's the increasingly pervasive attitude of Power 5 coaches who no longer fall on the sword over their team's shortcomings after a loss, rather now adopting a very mercenary "these guys are replaceable - and will be..." attitude.

Extra points awarded to these guys for transparency. 

Or just not giving a sh*t. 

Final Thought.

"Enjoy every sandwich."

The Julie Rittenhouse service is this weekend.   Some of us will be able to make it, most others will be there in spirit.  

It comes at a time when we're all pretty healthy right now, although a few of us are not.  

This weekend feels very important from a football standpoint - beat Clemson and the football program transitions from a potentially disappointing 2023 season to something much more to be pleased with, and proud about.  

But let's recognize that caring about a football team is one of the great indulgences we all have in our lives - and I think about it a lot because I do care and I know how ultimately silly that is. 

So keep Julie in your thoughts on Friday - and your friends / family the rest of the time.