Friday, October 31, 2008

Scary Thoughts on Halloween

OK, so I read this, and it scared me about Pitt:
A multitalented athlete, Cross was recruited by Wannstedt from Fort Scott C.C. as the nation’s second best junior-college quarterback. Fort Scott lost 24 straight games before Cross arrived, then won 16 of 24 games in his two seasons there.
Seriously, I don't want to see this guy tomorrow. Wild card players do not make me happy.

I am off to the Bend - if you see a drunk girl wandering campus and attempting to talk her way out of Excise Police tickets/arrests, it could well be me. Happy Halloween!

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Irish Blogger Gathering: Spooky Vision Edition

1. A loss to Washington would have been spooky, but we were able to pull it out. What was your favorite part of the victory?

My favorite part of the victory wasn’t one particular play - rather, it was the almost immediate sense that the game was going to be decidedly one-sided in favor of Notre Dame. Since I started watching ND games with any regularity about six years ago, this feeling has been sorely lacking.

Indeed, this game gave me the hope that sometime in the foreseeable future, there will come a time when I expect all of Notre Dame’s games to be decidedly one-sided in favor of the Irish. I don’t expect to see that this year, but I have hope that this day will come sooner rather than later.

2. Charlie's Nasties does a Duds and Studs segment to reflect on every game. Name one player/coach that could have done better against the Huskies and one player/coach that stepped it up.

Dud: Jimmy Clausen

It’s been said before, but I’m giving my “player that could have done better” award to Jimmy Clausen. Even without looking at the stats, Jimmy seemed to have a bit of over-confidence in his ability. While Jimmy’s increased confidence is a big plus for me (nice not to have the deer in headlights look of last year), there were multiple times during the game when Jimmy seemed to move from a proper level of confidence in his ability to pick the correct receiver and get the ball where he is supposed to territory into “Hi, my name is Jimmy Clausen, and I have figured out everything I need to know about being a college quarterback” territory. It’s a fine distinction, but one that will get Jimmy into trouble against a team that actually shows up to play against Notre Dame.

I will say, though, that it’s nice to give this dubious honor to someone who, had he had this game at this time last year, would have been my Stud.

Stud: Brandon Walker

OK, so he didn’t get asked to do much. And other people had better games than he did. But with new competition breathing down his neck, Brandon went out there and did his job effectively. Sure, he gets the award more because of his improvement from “bad” to “effective,” but I will take that sort of effective play any day over previous form.

My pick was cemented when I saw a highlight of him post-game, telling the press that he is on the team to help the team win. He went on to say that, if he is not the kicker who gives the team the best chance to win, he should not be kicking, and he would be the first person to congratulate whoever could give ND a better chance to win over him.

3. Halloween involves people abandoning reality for awhile to dress up and imitate something that they are not. Pick one Halloween costume with traits you would like to see from the Notre Dame football team the rest of the season.

I’m going with Knute Rockne - the team already has the uniforms, all they need is the attitude and ability to win pretty much all the time. They will have to come up with some of those old-timey helmets, though.

4. When trick-or-treating as a kid, there always seemed to be at least one house that handed out apples. What aspect of the football team this year is the biggest apple in your candy bag (aka biggest disappointment)?

There are people who hand out apples? Man, I appreciate the neighborhood I grew up in even more, where our complaints were saved for people who only gave out one piece of candy if they gave out snack size candies. And the parents could get beers from the neighbors when theirs ran out (seriously, that’s a good reason to snag a friend’s kid and go trick-or-treating back in the old neighborhood. And people wonder why I have such a lax attitude toward drinking...).

Despite just handing out my stud pick to Brandon Walker, I am most disappointed by the kicking game of this team. After the kicking ineptitude of last year, I expected that Coach Weis’s new position with special teams, the open competition for a kicker, and the potential of finding a kicker among the student population would result in an effective, if not above average, kicking game. Obviously, I have been disappointed here.

Hopefully, I will be able to look back on my answer to this question in a few weeks and see that this was the last time that this concern was of concern.

5. This year, October 31st is coincidentally also the opener for ND's Mens Basketball team (preseason against Briar Cliff). Say a few words about one player that will make have the biggest impact on the success of the team this season (apologies to non-bball fans, but I couldn't resist).

This is sort of like my knowledge of recruiting a couple weeks ago - sure, I pay attention to the basketball team, but it’s more in the “I cheer for the team, and can name a couple players, but, um, don’t ask me much else until it gets closer to tournament time, at which point I will start paying attention.” So, like the recruiting questions, I plead lack of knowledge and defer to people who actually know something.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Irish Blogger Gathering: Tailgate Edition

Welcome to Bad Trade, home to this week's Irish Blogger Gathering!

Tempting though it was to devote this week's IBG to a certain Molder of Men, I figured I would give the guy an undeserved break, and go for a topic near and dear to my heart - the tailgate party.

As Homer Simpson once said: "We're not here for the game - the game is nothing, the game is crap, the game makes me sick! The real reason we Americans put up with sports is for this: Behold! The tailgate party! The pinnacle of human achievement! Since the dawn of parking lots, man has sought to stuff his gut with food and alcohol, in anticipation of watching others exercise."

While I may disagree with Homer's opinion on the game (sometimes), I have no quarrels with loving a good tailgate party. Plus, the Notre Dame tailgate experience is on everyone's mind these days. And so, without further ado, this week's questions.

1. You're having some beers and brats outside Notre Dame Stadium, just chilling with friends. If you could have one Notre Dame player or coach drop by to share a drink, a brat and some stories with you, who would it be?

I considered going with someone long dead, but then I realized I wanted to have a chat with someone of a more recent vintage - Lou. You know he would have some great stories from his days as coach that he doesn't normally tell to alumni groups or the like, and he just seems like he would be able to kick back, chill, and fit right in with whoever showed up that day to tailgate. Plus, how cool would it be to say that Lou stopped by your tailgate?

2. What was your best experience ever with a tailgate party?

I forget who said it, but I remember hearing a quotation from someone talking about the perfect sorts of evenings that you can only have at a bar - where everything, for a short moment, is absolutely perfect, and you are keen enough (after a couple drinks) to realize how perfect things are for you. I had one of those moments at the 2005 Notre Dame game at Purdue, during my last year in law school. Having discovered how much the Purdue tailgate scene sucks two years earlier, a few friends and I headed down to West Lafayette early in the morning to snag a spot on someone's front yard, overlooking Ross-Ade. By midday, most of my close law school friends were lounging around the tailgate, drinking, eating, and just enjoying a beautiful day. We watched other games on a neighboring tailgater's television and sold exorbitantly priced cases to some Purdue fans who ran out of beer. There wasn't anything overly special about the tailgate, but it was exactly how I picture a good tailgate in my mind, and that made it perfect.

3. There are lots of great tailgate experiences around the country - what school's tailgate tradition do you most want to experience?

The list of places I want to go and tailgate is about as long as the list of places one can go and tailgate. However, there is one place that I have wanted to experience since a South Carolina fan told me about it a few years ago - the Cockaboose! Sure, it's not the most traditional experience ever. And it's not tailgating in the sense of eating out the back of your car before a traditional rivalry game. But I love the idea of sitting around in a caboose before a game, watching television and sipping a cocktail.

4. Indiana decides that their drinking laws are far too un-draconian (I'm from Wisconsin. I don't understand these things like "kids aren't allowed in bars," "your parents can't give you liquor if they are supervising" and "no alcohol purchases on Sunday"), and drinking is now forbidden on Saturdays. The Excise Police stop by your tailgate, and proceed to dump out the liquor you were attempting to hide from them. What do they pour out?

Well, the Guinness went long before the Excise police showed up. There's at least one bottle of scotch still about half full, my pre-mixed margaritas, that bottle of hurricanes that I have been carrying around for two years that no one has ever drunk, and SoCo punch. And a lot of Miller Lite and High Life, for use in various drinking games.

5. OK, I couldn't leave it alone completely. How do you feel about the impending end of the Coach Willingham era at Washington?

Fine. Just fine.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Irish Blogger Gathering: Bye Week Edition

Welcome to my latest entry in the Irish Blogger Gathering, hosted this week over at! As you will see, I copped out on two answers, but I know virtually nothing about recruiting, so I figured my answers to those questions would add absolutely nothing to the conversation.

1. With our beloved Irish on the bye this weekend, how much college football will you be watching Saturday and what games are you most looking forward to

I really don't know how much football I will be watching on Saturday. My sister (a fellow Domer) is coming to visit me. And yes, she's only coming because neither of us has Notre Dame football to watch, as we do on a typical fall weekend. That said, the chances of us eventually ending up at a bar watching football are probably somewhere in the 90-100% range.

As for other games, I'm looking forward to Purdue at Northwestern, the original alma mater. Northwestern is getting close to bowl eligibility, and the more places I have to go this December and January when it gets cold, the happier I will be, and this one looks winnable for the 'Cats. Other games I will at least check in on while sipping a beer are Pitt-Navy (to keep up a weekly trash talking fest with a Pitt fan) and Michigan-Penn State (mostly to see exactly how many points Penn State can ring up on Michigan). Yes, those are all crappy games to want to watch, but I don't care.

2. Not to look too far ahead… but in looking at the 2009 schedule, do you think the Irish will be set up for a title run if they continue to improve each week as they are doing now?

Definitely. I haven't spent much time looking at it, but the schedule next year alone sets up well for the Irish in terms of wins. The Irish drop games to San Diego State, North Carolina, and Syracuse for games against Nevada, Washington State, and Connecticut - I think the Irish would beat all of the latter teams this year, and that would be the same for an improved 2009 team. The only team that would scare me with regard to an improved Irish team in 2009 is USC. Even that part of the schedule is better next year than this - Notre Dame gets USC after the bye week, which I hope means the Irish will be rested and very ready for USC, much like the 2005 season.

If the Irish keep improving, I personally don't think that there will be any trouble in making a run for the title in terms of players. Sure, the defense might not be to the level I would like, but an even more improved offense would allow the defense to operate at something less than perfect, which would still translate into wins.

3. If you could take 1 recruit we missed on from each of the last 4 years (1 from each year), who would they be and how differently would this team look like right now if we had gotten that 1 player each year? (Note, the players should be players the Irish either led for at one time or were at least a finalist for).

I'm not a recruitnik, so I am not even going to take a stab at answering this question. Sure, I pay a little attention to it (what else am I supposed to do during the offseason?), but it's not something I even pretend to know. And yes, I realize that this is the internet, where lack of knowledge is a great qualification for commenting on anything and everything, so I should answer. But I'm not going to.

4. If Notre Dame could only land 1 more recruit on each side the ball in this recruiting class, who would you like it to be? (Again, it should be someone we have a reasonable chance with).

See my answer to No. 3.

5. If you could take one of Notre Dame’s bowl losses since the 1994 Cotton Bowl win over Texas A&M and turn it into a win, which one would it be? Why? And What if any impact do you think that win would have had on the Irish.

Fiesta Bowl, 2005/2006. On a personal level, I was there, and it would have been GREAT to win, if only to run around Tempe that night in a better mood than the mood I had running around Tempe that evening. But it also would have capped a great year for the Irish, and I think that the Irish were a better team than Ohio State that year, and should have won the game.

Moreover, I think a Fiesta Bowl win would have given the 2006 version of the Irish a boost of confidence that the team seemed to lack much of the time during the 2006 season (if nothing else, I think that Michigan score would have ended up much less lopsided).

Monday, October 13, 2008

Unrelated to College Football

This is absolutely unrelated to college football, but I still feel it is necessary to post it. Seriously, painted over roadkill is important for your Monday viewing (dis)pleasure:
So what was the artist's inspiration, one might ask? It probably centered along this profound thought upon finding the roadside remains: "Ewwww . . . I'm not touching that."
Then again, perhaps if you view it as a metaphor for the season of Notre Dame's upcoming opponent, it is related to college football. Oh yes, the Washington insults start here and now.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Irish Blogger Gathering: Heart of Darkness Edition

The second edition of the Irish Blogger Gathering, this week featuring questions from OC Domer. And here are my responses - enjoy!

1. Who was your first Notre Dame hero?

I didn't grow up with ND football. In my childhood world, the Chicago Bears were the team to watch. In an era of bad/horrible Bears teams, one player stood out - Chris Zorich. He always showed up, played hard, and made Sunday a little more enjoyable. Long before I paid any attention to Notre Dame, I had a favorite player who happened to have gone there.

2. When was the first time the Fighting Irish broke your heart?

I still don't like to think about this one. October 15, 2005. The week before, the mood on campus was incredible - everyone knew ND could beat USC, and it was all anyone could talk about. The pep rally was held at the stadium, Corso couldn't speak from the in-stadium set because his words were drowned out with chants of 0-6 whenever he started, and my friends and I had gone out every night that week (I'm not sure how this made it different than any other week in law school, but it sure felt different). There was no possible way that the game could live up to the hype - and then it did.

I was near the field in the student section, so I didn't have a great view of what happened at the end of the game. All I knew was, the ball came loose at the other end, I looked up at a scoreboard that read 00:00 with ND up 31-28, and I headed for the field. A few seconds and one Bush Push later, I had gone from the greatest elation I have ever felt regarding ND football, to heartbreak.

And I still haven't re-watched the end of that game.

3. Let's suppose for just a moment that for whatever reasons the Notre Dame football program begins to slide into what looks like long term mediocrity, or even long term suckitude:

A. NBC doesn't renew the television deal, and the package offered by the Versus network makes it clear that remaining independent will mean a lot less $$$ than joining a conference and sharing in their TV deal. Should the Irish join a conference? If so, which? Why that one?

I'm going with keep the Irish out of a conference if the only concern is monetary. I just envision lots of backlash from the alumni and fans, not to mention years of bad press ("ND can no longer claim they ever acted out of anything other than greed").

If you change up the equation - for instance, if a college playoff system was implemented, and the only way for Notre Dame to participate would be to join a conference, I would be all in for joining up. In that situation, I would obviously go with whatever conference offered the best possibility for entry into the playoff system on a regular basis. Most likely, that would be the Big Ten (although the Big East or ACC would probably not field as strong a field, I assume that any college playoff system would take polls and strength of schedule into account, and this means the Big Ten is probably a better place to be).

B. Over time, Notre Dame becomes the football peer of Duke and Syracuse, lucky to win four games a year, rarely posting a winning season. What should the University do? Drop football? Join a conference (or a lesser conference)? Drop down to Div-IA (the FCS Division)? Schedule 12 cupcakes each season?

I like the idea of joining the Ivy League, but in my own selfishness, I am going with scheduling 12 cupcakes a season. What can I say? I like wins, and I don't really care who they come against.

C. The Indiana legislature has been taken over by a coalition of tee totalling, non-violent religious groups that outlaw both beer and football, and the University is forced to end the football program. To which college football team do you switch your allegiance, and why?

Easy - Northwestern, because I went there for undergrad. As an undergrad, I went to the games, but football was not a priority in my life at that time (unlike now). In reality, I probably pay more attention to Northwestern football now than I did when I went there, even though my allegiance has been to Notre Dame from pretty much the moment I stepped on campus for law school. Plus, Northwestern can use all the fans it can get, and a tailgate pass for the season is approximately the same cost as a tailgate pass at Notre Dame for one game.

4. While on campus on a football Saturday you stop by the Knights of Columbus building to get your traditional steak and gristle sandwich. You also take the opportunity to pop inside the building to use the restroom before following the band over to the stadium. While waiting in line for the bathroom and watching the endlessly running Rudy on the K of C television you make the acquaintance of an older gentleman with a beard. He's rather short, but very energetic for his obviously advanced age. You allow him to cut in line in front of you. When he comes out of the restroom, obviously relieved, he thanks you and and then steps in really close to you and whispers in your ear. "I'll grant you two wishes. The first - Notre Dame will beat any team you choose for the next ten seasons. The second, the Irish will also lose for ten straight years to any team you name. Quick now, what two teams will they be?!" You blurt out your two answers, and he disappears into the crowd. What two teams did you pick, and why?

First wish? Beat USC for ten years. Second wish? Lose to USC for ten years. Note that the second time, the older gentleman did not qualify my wish with "the next ten seasons." All us lawyers and our loopholes.

5. I'm a terrible predictor. I'm pretty good at analysis, but I'm no good picking games because I almost always pick the Irish. But we need to get on the record here. Notre Dame has games left against North Carolina, Washington, Pitt, Boston College, Navy, Syracuse, and USC. Pick the winner of each of those seven games. Assign each pick points based upon your level of confidence in the pick. Most confident pick gets a 7, least confident pick gets a 1. Each value 1 through 7 must be used once. A perfect score of all picks correct would be worth a total of 28 points. The member of the Irish Blogger Gathering with the highest point total wins a prize of my choosing at the end of the regular season. In case of a tie, the tiebreaker is the member who has the best overall season based on quantity and quality of posts to their blog from now through the end of the season, as voted by the members of the Gathering.

Here they are:

1 - Least Confident - Notre Dame over USC.
2 - Notre Dame over North Carolina.
3 - Notre Dame over Pitt (and if anyone has two tickets they want to sell me, I will love you forever!).
4 - Notre Dame over Boston College.
5 - Notre Dame over Navy.
6 - Notre Dame over Washington.
7 - Most Confident - Notre Dame over Syracuse.

Oh yes, that's right, I just picked Notre Dame to win out the season. Consider that Kool-Aid drunk.

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Football Saturday!

Two burning questions this morning, prior to the Stanford game.

1. It's 9:00. Is that too early for a beer?

2. Supposing it is not too early, how does Miller Lite taste with Fruity Pebbles?

The answers?

1. Of course not. If I was at the game, I would have started drinking at least an hour ago. Probably two.

2. Bad. Just bad.