Fe! Fi! Fo! Fum! I smelled the blood of…a steak sandwich at the Knights of Columbus. Ah yes, the family made yet another trip west to South Bend for a college football matchup. Dare I say this event is taking on an annual nature. Don’t know what I have done right to receive these blessings, but I do appreciate it.
As part of game day on the Notre Dame campus one tradition is to take in the steak sandwich at the K of C. Funny how in this capitalist society we live in, the Knights have been able to maintain a $6 charge for the sandwich and drink of choice. I can’t remember the price ever being anything different, and I see no visible evidence of decrease in sandwich quality. Certainly the Knights could increase the price…to say $10, and people would still gobble up the victuals.
While others in the country watched as Wisconsin and Minnesota battled for the Paul Bunyan Axe, and Purdue and Indiana battled for the ‘Old Oaken Bucket’, the Irish and the Blue Devils of Duke University squared off in a matchup of possibly the two worst teams in Division 1A football. Entering the contest ND and Duke ranked 115 (out of 119) or lower in the four major team statistics – rushing yards/ passing yards gained and allowed. For twenty-six minutes the combatants lived up to their billing as they bumbled through a series of personal fouls, dropped passes, and bad snaps. Then the Irish managed to put together some offense before the half and grabbed a 14-0 lead.
At times Jimmy Clausen showed promise. The frosh completed 16 of 32 in difficult weather conditions – three for tds. The big story of the game was that the Irish established a running game to the tune of 245 yards. Robert Hughes looked solid as he gained 115 and scored a td. Uncle Charlie will take the positive and continue to build.
Gotta respect Weis. He’s the same man with a 2 and 9 team as he was leading his team into the Sugar Bowl last year. Weis is experiencing the clash of a series of elements. There are the two poor recruiting classes brought in prior to Charlie’s tenure, the omnipresent academic requirements at ND, and as Crossword Pete/Monty has so astutely noted, Charlie is finding out there is a difference between being a great NFL assistant and being a good head college football coach. For the last two years Weis has used players well-versed in the basics by Ty Willingham; the same basics his players struggled with earlier this year. If nothing else the toil of ’07 will give Charlie a fresh perspective on the poetry of Emily Dickinson: “Success is counted sweetest by those who ne’er succeed.” Judging by the rings he boasts on his chubby digits Charlie has experienced success. But if he is anything like his former boss, Bill Belichick, Weis lives in the present, and those rings are nice memories and that’s it. Of course those rings make for effective recruiting tools also.
While on the topic I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the efforts of Crossword Pete/ Monty and Mary Alice. Monty and the Mrs. have spread the good word of Fightin’ Irish football. They have made it possible for a bevy of ND fans to experience their first game in South Bend. They have also provided game day babysitting, lodging within a thirty-minute drive, and it is rumored that Monty prepares a mean pre-game breakfast and post-game buffet.
Continuing with the props – while I ambled the campus, JD scored us ducats for the March 6th Springsteen show. JD – You da Man! I did some digging and found this from the last time JD and I saw the Boss.
In case you were wondering…the ticket price from that show: $19.75.
Before I forget – I guess not too many people saw the Paul Bunyan Axe game. Seems that the Big Ten Conference limited the transmission of the game. The Big Ten Network?!?! First the NFL network and now this? “Ain’t that America, you and me, ain’t that America something to see – little pink houses for you and me.”
The dismal win-loss record has not taken any luster off the ND mystique. Throngs still flocked to the campus bookstore for their ND gear and souvenirs.
We managed to parlay the trip into some additional sports viewing. The ND women’s soccer team hosted the first two rounds of the NCAA Women’s College Cup / The Road to College Station. In Friday night’s opening match Ella Masar scored in overtime to lead Illinois over Louisville. Later, Kerri Hanks proved why she was the ’06 national player-of-the-year. The junior forward had three assists in leading the Irish to a three nil win over Loyola-Chicago.
Soccer and women’s sports in general usually make fodder for bashing as an inferior endeavor. I too grow impatient with the flopping at the professional and international levels of soccer, but I also enjoy the game as well as all other games. I enjoy the execution of a sacrifice bunt just like I enjoy a screen pass or the pick ‘n’ roll as well as a forward checking back to receive the ball and crisply one-touching a pass to an overlapping teammate. The players in Friday’s matches played the game with an impressive level of grace and athleticism. It was refreshing to watch a sport played at such a high level devoid of all the fanfare and hoopla of other popular sports. The women play for the pure competitive nature of the sport.
ND topped Illinois two nil in the tournament’s second round. For their efforts the Irish earned a sweet sixteen date with the UNC Tar Heels. The Heels are coached by Anson Dorrance who has done nothing but win. Dorrance has coached the Heels since their inception in 1979. In that time UNC has won nineteen national titles. Yeah, you read that right: 19. Those are Wooden-like numbers. Actually, maybe we should change it to Wooden had Dorrance-like numbers.
More College Pigskin: Sad to see that the Oregon Ducks are the latest to contract the terrible twos; sadder still to see that Dennis Dixon will be lost for the season. He is an exciting player to watch, and I looked forward to seeing him play in January. Here’s hoping Kansas can avoid contracting the woes of the prior #2 teams in the country.
I’m trying to figure out if the current state of college football works for or against the BCS. I love the fact that the only undefeated teams remaining are Hawaii and the Jayhawks, but how does this get straightened out? Mizzou and Kansas will meet next weekend. Of course if any of these teams made it to and actually won the title game everyone would be up in arms saying they didn’t deserve it. Their win was a fluke. I couldn’t disagree, but if one of these teams fought their way through a 16-team tournament, there would be no doubting the credibility. Then again one of the three will more than likely get pounded in the title game by LSU, and the ol’ boys club – better well known as the NCAA- will have no problem with that.
College Hoops – no doubt the coaching staff and players at Davidson cried when they reviewed the game tapes from their recent game against UNC. For thirty-six minutes the Wildcats had the #1 Heels eating out of the palm of their hands. They played patiently at both ends of the floor and frustrated Roy Williams’s squad. Then Bob McKillop’s group hurried a couple of shots, started chasing a little on the defensive end, and the Heels are too good to not take advantage of that. Games like that will go a long way in preparing the ‘Cats for March. I can easily see Davidson getting to the Dance, and depending on their draw, advancing to the second weekend of action. Davidson also plays UCLA and Duke this season.
The Blue Devils have brought in a solid recruiting class that will contribute right away. Expect Greg Paulus to rebound from a difficult ’06-’07. The junior never really recovered from a pre-season foot injury last season. The addition of freshman guard, Nolan Smith, should help lighten the ball-handling responsibilities. Paulus struggled last year as the team’s only true ball handler. Jon Scheyer and DeMarcus Nelson can put it to the floor, but anything beyond two dribbles is a crap shoot for them. Then Josh McRoberts stepped out to help, but that was at the expense of offensive rebounding. A healthy Paulus with Smith coming off the bench bodes well for Duke in ’07-’08.
Now that the Celtics have finally lost, we can look ahead realistically. The Celts don’t play San Antonio or Phoenix until February. Those games could go a long way to proving how good of team Boston is. December eighth matchup with the Bulls could be interesting.
Recent developments have to have Tony Dungy croonin’ like John Fogerty. What with Marvin Harrsion out, Peyton getting an acute case of color blindness, Dwight Freeney going down for the season, and to top it off Adam Vinatieri missing four consecutive field goals, Dungy must be thinkin’ there’s a ‘Bad Moon Risin’.
Belated props to Tommy Etsler, Jamie Schneider and the boys’ and girls’ soccer teams of Spencerport High. The boys’ team earned a shared sectional title while Schneider’s squad won the AAA crown outright.
More props to the Greece Arcadia girls’ soccer team who won the NYS class AA title. In all, three Section V schools (Arcadia, Mendon, and Caledonia-Mumford) qualified for state final games in five different classifications. This is one year after three Section V teams (Livonia, Aquinas, and York) won state titles.
Just about the time I was feeling some sympathy for the New York Yankees, they go and make overtures to Mike Lowell. It has become popular of late to refer to the Sox as the new Evil Empire, but let me ask this: are the Sox going after Torii Hunter? ‘Cause last time I checked Andy Phillips was supposed to be the first baseman of the future for the Yankees. Maybe that’s not the case. Maybe Jacoby Ellsbury isn’t the new center-fielder for the Sox.
Note to M. Lowell: please give lengthy consideration to what you are doing. Maybe you want to contact Judas Damon and see how he feels about the extra year he got in his contract; especially after he became the guy the Yanks replaced in late innings for defensive purposes. Mike – there will not be enough novenas for you to bring on the intercession necessary to release you from an impending date with purgatory.
Tough week for Scott Boras – first he takes the demotion from A-Rod. Now Kenny Rogers has decided he knows when to hold ’em and knows when to fold ’em. Is it possible something in the sports world can make sense?
Coming soon: the first ever Clipboard awards. Join the community as we award the top performances of 2007.
It’s 10:52 and it can’t get any uglier for the Bills.