How things have changed. I find myself in the position of defending the Notre Dame Fightin’ Irish. I almost feel unworthy of such a venture. I did not attend ND. As a matter fact at one time I tossed barbs in the direction of Notre Dame. I remember taunting my dad when Texas jumped out to a lead in the famous “chicken soup” game. God taught me a lesson that day: cheer for the Irish or keep your trap shut! That was the late 70’s, and I wasn’t even a teenager. I can’t be held responsible for my actions. I cheered for Archie Griffin and the OSU Buckeyes. Yeah, I admit it. Whew! I feel better now that that skeleton is out of the closet.
At some point in the 80’s being associated with Ireland seemed en vogue (probably had something to do with Guinness stout). My Anglican/Slavic heritage would not allow a direct connection, so I involved myself with so many things Irish: the Dady Brothers, the Irish Festival, Bailey’s Irish Crème, Guinness, and ultimately Notre Dame. I remember feeling sorry for the plight of Gerry Faust. I reveled in the arrival of Lou Holtz. Then I married an Irish/American lass, and now I have attended more Fightin’ Irish games than any human being with my resume should be allowed. Perhaps I should let this cup pass, but I think not. Wu and JD, (wow – after decades of calling you by your nickname that rhymes with Smooch, I am jealous of the Salinger reference for your blog ID) I have to respond to your assertions of “excruciatingly overrated” and Boise State versus ND.
First: excruciatingly overrated? Hmmmmm…..I need to take back what I said yesterday. Actually, I think ND is perfectly ranked: number 11 in both the ESPN and CNN coaches poll. We all knew the number two ranking in the pre-season polls was a little shaky. Wu you are right when you say that ND is not up there with the big boys. But look at numbers twelve through twenty-five: West Virginia, Arkansas, Virginia Tech, Wake Forest, Texas, Rutgers, Boston College, and Tennessee to name a few. Does ND deserve to be ahead of them? Before you answer think about this: The Volunteers lost to Penn St. in the Outback Bowl by a score of 20-10. ND beat the Nittany Lions 41-17. BC needed Navy to implode in the last two minutes of the Meineke Bowl to win 25-24. The Irish topped the Midshipmen 38-14. What about West Virginia you say? Yeah, they needed one of the largest comebacks in bowl history to beat Georgia Tech by three. The Irish went on the road to beat the Ramblin’ Wreck in their season opener. Overrated? I think not. The Irish’s three losses: LSU, Michigan, and USC – all teams in the top ten. The Irish’s ten wins were against teams they should have beaten. And they did. Can USC say the same? The real crime is if the Irish fall below fifteen in any poll.
Charlie Weis overrated? Hmmmm….sounds like a frustrated Bills’ fan who has an ax to grind with the former offensive coordinator of the AFC East rival New England Patriots. Actually, Charlie Weis takes everyone’s best shot. You want overrated? Let’s start with Pete Carroll. The USC coach gets his boys sky high for ND. The Trojans use the Irish for a blocking sled. Then what does USC do? They lose to UCLA. By the way ND beat the Bruins. And oh yeah FSU threw UCLA around like rag dolls in the Emerald Bowl. With your National Chan’ship hopes on the line how do you NOT get your players to win that game. More overrated? How ‘bout Lloyd Carr? Man, can he get his guys up for a game against the Irish. How ‘bout OSU? How’bout the Rose Bowl? People wanted Michigan in the title game. The fourteen point deficit in the Rose Bowl was not indicative of how poorly they played. Yeah – how poorly Michigan played…not how well USC played!
On top of that Lloyd and Carroll don’t have one obstacle that Weis encounters on a daily basis: academics. I haven’t researched any empirical evidence (Wally please help me here), but does anyone think the student-athletes at Michigan and USC have the same expectations as those at ND? Last time I checked Brady Quinn was NOT taking ballroom dancing this year. Or that he needed to spend some time off-campus at a hotel, so that he could get away from the pressure. Hmmmm…who paid for the room fees? Wu you make a great point that ND doesn’t have the horses in the NFL like Florida, Miami, and Auburn. Only Julius Jones, Luke Pettigout, and David Givens (when healthy) come to mind. ND has some limits that those other institutions don’t have. Do I think Jamarcus Russell is an above average college quarterback? Heck yeah! Do I think he might have a solid NFL career? More than likely. Could ND have recruited him? Therein lies the rub. Weis is dealing with that everyday, and it doesn’t help that Ty Willingham spent more time on the golf course than on the recruiting trail.
On to Boise State. I love the Boise State story. Who doesn’t? I cheered for them. Who didn’t outside of the state of Oklahoma? I am confused as to how the Boise State scenario would serve as an argument FOR the BCS. Wouldn’t it do just the opposite? Wouldn’t it make you say: “Man I wish the Broncos had a shot at those big guys.” I would have loved to have seen it; especially if Pete Carroll had to try and get his guys up for the likes of Boise State. As it stands now the Broncos will probably get filed under the category of a fluke. They played a weak schedule and beat one (Oklahoma) maybe two (Oregon State-USC’s other loss) tough opponents. Unless they follow up this season with another strong showing, no one will give them any credibility. Not at least the credibility that George Mason earned by winning four games in a tournament.
Before we get all gushy about Boise State, let’s put things in perspective. How do you think Boise State would have fared if they started out the year on the road against Georgia Tech? Then they played Penn State the next weekend. After that they did battle with Michigan. And on the seventh day they rested on the road against Michigan State. To round it all off they travel to SoCal and play USC. Would Boise State have survived that schedule unscathed? If they can survive, all the more power to them.
Thing is Boise State is 13 and 0 and all they are is a blip on the screen… as are too many other schools. Give me a playoff. And make it sixteen teams – one from each conference and five at-large. Forget the baby steps. If we are going to do something, go all the way.
I tried to take Wally’s advice and “move on.” But this topic is really too good to let die. Besides, after four consecutive nights of less than five hours sleep I finally feel rested enough for lucid thought. Who said sleep is overrated(Crossword Pete)? Maybe I’m having some sort of Ray Kinsella thing. Hey DaD!!!! Go Irish!!!!
By the way, I am calling everybody out. You can very easily sidestep this one by saying: “Oh, he’s having another rant.” Or maybe I am Jack Nicholson and “you can’t handle the truth!”
Damn, I’m thirsty! Time for a beer!!!!!