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Friday, December 1, 2023

WF / Stanford: Jerrence In The Bardo

When the sickness takes you...
When the fever holds you...
When your reason leaves you...
Tell me, how can you know?


Dateline:  Flint Lake, IN

Would you like honey in your tea, dear?
Jerrence had no idea where Defarge got the Soviet Era hazmat suit.  

But he knew she was a woman of uncommon resourcefulness - not to be trifled with. Between her Girl Scout contacts on the Dark Web and her prowess with FaceBook Marketplace, Jerrence wouldn't have been surprised to see an M1 Abrams tank ("we needed one...") show up in the driveway some day.

So he wasn't going to be asking questions that had no practical relevance anyway.  

And besides he had more pressing issues on his mind. Like, literally pressing: a splitting headache, sore throat and increasing fever and aches...  all of which were rapidly making any fitful sleep impossible.

Ever since he had tested positive for Covid -- the little purple bars on the self-test virtually screaming "Leper!" -- his wife had treated the sick room as basically Chernobyl Reactor #4, periodically monitoring Jerrence in an almost palliative fashion -- left unspoken was a "bummer for you but I'm not going down..." mercenary attitude. Although to be fair, it was tough to gauge her bedside manner under all the kit she was wearing.

It wasn't until much later when he saw her laptop's search history, "controlled burn" being at the top of the list, that Jerrence understood just how aggressive Defarge was considering the required "remedial action." 

Defarge's frugal spending habits suggested she thought herself a child of the Depression Era, now Jerrence was sure he had it wrong:  she's more of a Black Plague Survivor kind of girl.  And some virus-stricken spouse wasn't gonna ruin her holiday plans - she had the Costa del Sol and Paris in her sights.  

Notre Dame metaphor alert...
J:  Hey, hon... torching the bedroom seems a bit of an overreaction, yes?  Can't we just launder the sheets? 

D:  Don't worry, I think we can salvage the rest of the 2nd floor. 

J:  Or we could just buy new ones...

The concept of a 'controlled burn' stayed with Jerrence through his convalescence, and as coherence became more normalized he returned to thoughts of blogging:  it began to feel like a very apt metaphor for the tough decisions that ND football management was going to have to confront, post-2023 season.   

There were definitely areas that required cauterizing without setting the whole program aflame.

Once again, the off-season was going to be very interesting. 

Quote of the Week

"If you could just bear with us for about three weeks -- we're just going to go and revive our drummer by punching him in the stomach.  He's out cold..."
                       Peter Townshend

There's a 2023 Notre Dame offense analogy in there somewhere, I think.

Word of the Week

Used in a sentence paragraph:  Young Jerrence, possibly still feeling the effects of his recent illness, couldn't quite believe what he was now reading:  

An insider reporting about a WR who's opted out,"He (the player) knows there is going to be change either way now. He'd rather just have more of a say in what that change will be."

"More of a say?" WTF?!  The odds are, the player is a freshman!  Jerrence's mind reeled - he knew WR's  were divas but this... while his synapses still weren't firing completely, a few words immediately sprung to mind about the unnamed athlete:  rash, immature, pusillanimous

He wondered, what ever happened to the notion of fighting through adversity?

Game 11-12 Thoughts  

The battle outside ragin'
Will soon shake your windows
And rattle your walls
For the times they are a-changin'

So much information already flying around the internet - you don't need me to rehash all of it. Plus, dear reader, you already assuredly have your own summary thoughts about the season that was. Far be it from me to interfere with those.  Here's a few of mine:

Last home game tailgate:  the mainstays. 

Stayer.  A month shy of turning 67, the ND football season remains, for me, ultimately about friends. (Why do you think I write this drivel?)  And to that end, this year was outstanding.  Loved seeing everyone. Wish I saw you all more often. Love seeing everyone's children, the grandchildren, the friends of friends, the people we met in Nashville bars... 

We gotta talk about Sam
.  The central character in this year's story, his final chapter yet to be written, let's call it what it was:  not as good as we'd hoped on the field, could not have been better off of it.

We all kind of live (and die) by the wins and losses but it still is a kick to me to see our athletes be articulate, demonstrate good sportsmanship, show class... 

Hartman's waiting outside the Duke medical tent to offer some consolation to opposing (and future ND?) QB Leonard might actually be my favorite moment of the year.  

And Hartman's enthusiasm for being at ND never seemed faked.  He was here only one year but that he still gets Notre Dame Man to me.  Sorry, coach Clawson.

Consider him a big plus for this year.

We gotta talk about the coaches
"Chansi, we hardly knew ye."   

It's fair to say this season had already become something of a referendum of Freeman's leadership abilities, in-game decision making notwithstanding.  

The off season has amplified that spotlight on him, his staff and the chemistry within.

Personally, I'd be cautious about drawing too many dystopian conclusions to all of the portal activity - and its implication re the coaches. Not that it's going to stop any of the message board knuckleheads from playing Chicken Little.

Freeman doesn't strike one as a rash decision maker, maybe new to some of the decisions but not one that doesn't do the critical thinking.  So maybe we let this play out at least through January? 

Then panic.

We gotta talk about recruiting.   Lost in all of this week's turmoil is how strong - and seemingly (!) solid - this year's recruiting class appears to be.  As is the Class of '25, witness today's commitment by stud safety Ivan Taylor.

Net:  The Lord, or NIL, giveth.  And the Lord, or NIL, taketh away.  College football has gotten very confusing.


We gotta talk about the portal
 There is absolutely no value in bitching about it.  It's here and it's not going anywhere.  We're already seeing kids bail - some possibly surprising (Staes?) and many not so much (Merriweather).

Hey, it's a new ballgame - much like when free agency came to the pro's - and it's going to stress football programs / athletic departments / Admissions in ways they maybe never saw coming - though they should now.  

And to be relatively objective, ND has not played the portal game badly to-date (being the opperative word) - likely more beneficiary (Hartman, Jean-Baptiste, Harper, Shrader) than penalized (even losing Logan Diggs in the RB room didn't seem so bad).

Who are the winners?  The sports writers, for one!  Talk about a content-rich environment... on the particular ND site I subscribe to, as one not inclined to over reaction, I find it amusing to see the posters (many of which I'm convinced still live in their mother's basements) whinge about a possible ND portal recruit not being good enough - and then if / when they don't sign, complain that the administration TOTALLY dropped the ball.  

Welcome, indeed, to the Silly Season.  Buckle up.

Eye of a hurricane
Listen to yourself churn...

Buddy's Buddy

Given that this post is something of a 2-fer, I see no reason why Buddy can't have a few pals this week.

And for the nominating committee, the awards should be pretty unequivocal, since both stood out in both games.

I love it when that happens.

So without further adieu... 

1) Javontae Jean-Baptiste.  Frankly, he should get this recognition just on his name alone.  But otherwise has been arguably the best DL for the Irish all year long.  And his blocked kick return - featuring the Stiff Arm of the Year (2:50'ish mark below) - was icing on the cake.

2)  Audric Estime.   Remember back when we were all bumming over focusing almost solely on getting Will Shipley's commitment and ultimately, having to settle for Estime?  

Yeah, about that...  what a player, what a representative of the university.

Oh and one last shout out:  we rarely, if ever, recognize the coaches but it seems apropos to hail the job Al Golden did this year, Defensive Coordinaire extraordinaire and living embodiment if Louis Tully segued into a football career instead of becoming the Ghostbusters' accountant.  Snubbed for the Broyles award - ridiculous - he nonetheless had ND ranked 8th in total defense despite having zero high draft choices (Ben Morrison notwithstanding) playing.  Bravo, Al / Louis

And since we're on the subject of Life Imitating Art...

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

I would imagine that Mr. Sampson's mailbag overfloweth these days.

Unless you're a BCS playoff-bound (or under consideration) program, there is a lot of chaos in college football.

And within the ND program

Where to start?

How about with what everyone is probably asking themselves WTF...

Why the about-face from Marcus Freeman stressing the importance of offensive continuity, then letting go of Chansi Stuckey shortly after? Also, how much of the wide receiver roster issue this season falls on Stuckey? The cupboard was quite bare following Del Alexander, and while I would have liked to have seen more growth from Tobias Merriweather I would say the wide receiver recruiting the last two cycles has been strong. — Quinn O.

From a process point of view, it’s difficult to understand why Freeman handled the situation like he did. Either he wasn’t honest on Monday when he pushed the idea of consistency or he didn’t know the receivers weren’t developing. The former wouldn’t be the first time a head coach wasn’t completely truthful in the media (a professional hazard, I get it). The latter would be a red flag of program management. Neither are good outcomes, but the first option is palatable. The second would give me concerns that go well beyond whether Merriweather is developing or not.

You’re right that the roster situation Stuckey inherited was a disaster, which the coaching staff knew. The receivers didn’t take the full step forward Notre Dame needed with Sam Hartman, which feels wasteful considering the investment in the graduate transfer quarterback. How much of that is on Stuckey? Some, for sure. But didn’t Chris Tyree go from a bit part to a lead role this season? Much of that credit goes to Tyree, but Stuckey helped. Stuckey had Jaden Greathouse and Rico Flores ready to go against Navy. Yes, they came from sophisticated offenses in high school, but that’s not enough to get a freshman wide receiver prepped for college. When injuries devastated the position — Jayden ThomasDeion ColzieMatt Salerno, Greathouse — it made a bad situation almost unworkable. Merriweather clearly did not develop, but it’s not like Stuckey didn’t keep giving him chances despite very little return on that investment of reps.

So yes, the cupboard was quite picked over the past couple of years. For a freshman to lead the receivers in snaps is not healthy. Oddly, the biggest mistake Stuckey made was with a player who didn’t see a snap. Notre Dame needed Kaleb Smith from Virginia Tech to be a reliable boundary receiver for Hartman. Instead, he walked away from football in April.

What makes the decision on Stuckey even more perplexing is that his recruiting was at a level that was getting Notre Dame closer to having a College Football Playoff-caliber receiver room. And he recruited into the headwinds of a run-first offense where receivers had just one 100-yard game over two years and quarterbacks finished with less than 200 yards passing roughly half the time. And his evaluation of the freshman class appears to have hit on Flores, Greathouse and Faison. That’s a good conversion rate, even if Braylon James was a huge miss. Sources indicated during spring practice that James was incredibly raw and wouldn’t factor this fall. He didn’t.

Look, there are three sides to every story. I’ve heard some version of all of them this week (and a few others). And it’s still hard to figure out exactly what happened.

Bottom line, Notre Dame shouldn’t have a hard time attracting a quality wide receivers coach. But it’s going to have a hell of a time rebuilding a quality wide receiver room because of this move.

 Source: The Athletic
December 1, 2023

Cocktail of the Week

If ever a drink needed to have a medicinal benefit, it'd be this week. 

And given the state of this blogger's mental acuity (or lack thereof), the piece of literature associated to that drink also needs to have lots and lots of pictures.

Simple ones.  With primary colors.  

Much like this blog.

Goodnight Moonshine
Goodnight Moon (1947)
by Margaret Wise Brown

While it's hard to imagine anything as tender as Goodnight Moon being groundbreaking, at the time of its publication nearly all children's books focused on fairy tales or moralistic stories.  

Margaret Wise Brown, who had studied early childhood development, had a hunch that young children would enjoy a close look at the everyday objects that made up their little lives - though not everyone understood what the author was going for, at first.

With millions of books sold and even more bedtimes hastened, Wise Brown gets the last laugh - and yawn.   You will, too, with a sleepy-time drink that'll send you jumping (or snoring) over the moon.

*  2 oz.  whiskey 
*  4 oz. brewed camomile tea 
*  3 oz.  warm milk
*  1 oz. honey 

Warm the whiskey for :20 in the microwave.  Place all the ingredients in a mug and stir with a spoon.  

Serve with a Moonpie.

Source:  Tequila Mockingbird 
Cocktails With a Literary Twists
by Tim Federle

 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                                        L                                          BEFORE       
18           Wake Forest                                    W                                        FINISHING...  
25          @Stanford                                        W

Wager 2023

Do close your eyes to see miracles?
Do you raise your face to kiss angels?
Do you float on air to hear oracles?

Winner!  Winner!  Chicken dinner! 

Congratulations to the 10 fellows below who accurately forecasted a 9-win season.  I'm sure there's a level of conflicted-ness to your success.  Get over it - you shouldn't have picked nine wins in the first place if it was gonna make you feel bad.  That's just masochistic.

In any event, I'll be sending out the tie-breaker pool as soon as the bowl pairings come out.  (It'll be the same contest as we've done historically:  pick a bunch of the bowls with the spread + a few English major / pop culture trivia questions that your grandchildren could easily google the answer to. 

Otherwise, for those below whose name is not highlighted, I'd appreciate it if you could send me your $25 entry fee. (And if you gave me the money and I forgot, of course let me know.)


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, Feif


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., 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 might've thought that, Jerrence having gone through a relatively significant virus, tippy toeing through The Bardo, where one confronts revenants who reveal to him What's Important In Life.

And like Marley's ghost, they'd surely tell Jerrence, "Hey maybe you want to lighten up on taking such a visceral thrill out of other's misfortune. Life's too short. After all, it's just a game, those teams are filled with players who have families too..."

You might think that.

You'd be wrong.  But it's a nice thought.  Good for you.

2nd?  No fear of that
1) USC
.  Going into the ND game, the Trojans were 6-0.  Ended the season 7-5 and needed to score 50 points (against Cal) to win the one game they did.  

Oh, Lincoln, you have some esplainin' to dooooo...

BTW, the blog's first annual Little Miss Schadenfreude award goes to... Mary Flaherty.   I have never seen anyone quite as euphoric as Mary, post-USC loss to UCLA.  So proud of you, Mar. 

2)  The Ohio State.   While it distresses this writer to have anything good to say about Michigan - and one can only hope there's karma coming in the playoffs / off-season... but it's fair to say that just about the only guy having a worse November than coach Riley is Ryan Day.

And I'm here for it.  

UM didn't even throw a pass in the 2nd half against your Buckeyes.  

The Wolverines basically treated your team like they were Nebraska.

2) Auburn.
   Of course I wanted you to beat Bama.  4th and goal from the 31!  Probability of winning at that point?  99.9%. 

And yet.  You had to go with the 2 man rush, give the Tide's QB FOREVER and single cover their lead WR.  If ever a team deserved to lose, you're it. Divine intervention wasn't even necessary...

3) J-E-T  Jets!  
 I haven't forgotten about you!  You've become, basically, the professional equivalent of Iowa: a great defense and an offense that couldn't score against a strong wind.  

And the cacophony of New Yorkers weeping and wailing and gnashing of teeth - as the actual football being virtually unwatchable - is sweet, sweet music.

As for Aaron ("no one's paying attention to me!") Rodgers, keep pushing that "I'm coming back" narrative...  

Behind that Offensive line, it'll be must see TV if you do return.  Like a train wreck.

4) Colorado
.    Much like USC, you started the year so strong... 3-0 and ended it 4-8.  The program seems to have recruits de-committing in droves but coach Prime, I'm sure you're not bothered.  The year's been a success for you. 

Terry's Tools.

Remember when one used to hear the adage that our country is one big melting pot?

And then some smart ass - probably a General Program major - said, "no it's more like a toss salad - where every group is mixed together but retains its individuality..." 

Ugh.  How very Anne Blanford of that person.  (I didn't feel the toss salad, I didn't taste the toss salad, I was the toss salad...)

But I digress.  The truth is, the variety in this week's Tools is the very essence of a Tool toss salad.  And not a Dillon Tool toss salad either -- which, come to think about it, would probably be a pretty interesting dish.  One envisions an unusual raspberry vinaigrette, some esoteric fruits and cheeses with a Chilean wine that would pair perfectly with it.  Yum.

Where was I?

1)  Senator Blutarsky 7 Years of College Down The Drain award.   

2)  Biggest Douche in Europe award.  Dale Houghton, come on down.  As if British football supporters didn't already have a well deserved rep for being complete reprobates...

3)  Not Dead, Just Restin' award.   The headline:  "Crematorium Finds 90 Year Old Woman Still Alive in Body Bag After Being Pronounced Dead."


The details:  90 year old Norma Silveira da Silva had been admitted to a hospital in Brazil in very poor condition (ya think?!).  The hospital reportedly issued a death certificate later that evening, having succumbed to a 'urinary tract infection.'  

A crematorium staffer subsequently collected her body a few hours later and noticed that her body was still warm to the touch.  When he opened the bag she was breathing very weakly - and as she was no longer conscious, she couldn't ask for help... tried to breathe and couldn't.

So, yeah, she did ultimately die.  And as one might expect, the family is not happy.

4)  Dodged A Bullet award.  Meet Dante Moore, 5-star recruit and serial NIL grifter. He of the standout 11 TD, 9 INT freshman year (including three Pick 6's)... in the portal.  Who could've seen that coming?!

Look out JT Daniels, someone's gunning for your transfer track record!   

PS:  Grandma Moore's take on Dante's UCLA experience:  

"Chip Kelly was on the way to ruining my grandson. I thank God Dante saw it almost immediately. There was no room for a pocket passer at UCLA. The plays he called for Dante were ridiculous. He honestly didn't know how to coach or call plays where Dante could light up the field. You never got to see the real Dante. I do wish UCLA the best but you'll never succeed until the administration accepts that Chip Kelly is embarrassing the entire program and school."

So what I hear you saying, maam, is you're not a Chip Kelly fan? The mind reels if you would've had the Gerad Parker Experience.

5)  Does That Mean My Offer Is Rescinded award?   Speaking of UCLA... not a great month for the program.

6) You Can't Fix Stupid award.

Final Thought.

December 4:  Portal opens.

December 20:  Early signing day.

January 1:  Bowl game.

And God knows what happens in between... 

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