This week’s IBG is hosted by Keith over at Inside the Irish from NBC Sports. And I have to say, Keith really threw out one doozey of an IBG. So much so that I had to really consider whether or not I would even answer the questions this week. So here goes nothing…
1. Obviously, Saturday night’s game is massive. Win, and the Irish get to nine wins after starting 0-2, and you can make a really persuasive argument that they’re deserving of a BCS berth. Lose, and ND only makes incremental progress over last year’s 8-5 record. Three potential outcomes: Win, close loss, ten-point loss. How does your takeaway for the season change?
Win: Just another step in the process. We’re all demanding that Notre Dame get back to playing championship-level football, and this would be a step to doing so. A big step, no doubt, but big relative to what? Tough to say. How big of a step is a win over a highly-ranked Stanford relative to a coaching staff managing to get both the offensive and defensive lines to play very well on a consistent basis? What’s the bigger step?
Close loss: A disappointment. A bummer. But would it be heart-breaking? Tough to say. Michigan was a close loss this year and it’s eaten at me ever since. But what if it were a close loss in the sense that we just got out-played, but in a very scrappy performance kept it close enough that Stanford was never comfortable until the game ended? A disappointment, to be sure.
10+ pt Loss: Also a disappointment. But probably no more than what’s described above. Maybe just because I hate losing in a binary sense. I simply hate losing. And there aren’t really moral victories to be had in losses.
2. Right now the Irish have 15 prospects committed to the 2012 recruiting class. Let’s assume every starter with a year left is coming back (Cave, KLM, Cwynar and Slaughter) and the Irish end up signing 20 recruits. That’ll make 93 players technically available for the 85-man roster (With Mike Ragone potentially being No. 94). Assuming Te’o and Eifert are back next season, what reserves do you invite back for a fifth year? Why?
Crist: Nope. Ship has sailed. Wish he were a jerk so that I didn’t feel bad about it.
Goodman: Nope. Relatively sure we can find someone else who can fair-catch punts.
Walker: Nope. He’s still with the team?
Golic: Probably. But I’d be really curious to see what his strength numbers look like. They’d better have a damned good trajectory.
Clelland: Probably. I like having OTs. OTs who haven’t been played much but have been around the program for years could be very useful in injury situations.
Hafis Williams: No. We can throw another body at the problem if a problem arose where we’d need a Hafis.
Brandon Newman: No. Funny dude though.
Ragone* (Sixth Year): No. Frankly I think he should probably retire from football at this point.
3. If you ran the website NDNation, what would you do with it? It’s the most prominent Notre Dame hub on all of the internet, but it’s got a very vocal faction of readers/fans that seem to control the agenda — most often with a significantly negative point-of-view. What would you do if that was your website?
I’d shrink it.
First, let me say, I believe that the operators of NDN have the best of intentions. They simply want ND to win. Just as I do.
Further, NDN is the silverback of ND websites. At least in terms of traffic. We’ve been linked to from the front page of Yahoo, the Washington Post, Deadspin, The Big Lead, etc… and none of that linkage has ever come close to throwing as much traffic towards HLS from a single link as the typical link from NDN’s recent news widget.
And I was also a frequent commenter on their boards. That was until I’d 1) gotten banned under their old “tier” system of “special people in Rock’s House, everyone else to Cartier” because I tried to point out to “JVan,” one of the ops, that his “rationale” on a particular point he’d made was based entirely in mythology, folk lore, and victory march lyrics and not in actual quantifiable facts. After my banning to Cartier, I was eventually allowed back into Rock’s House for whatever reason (I think they changed their tier system again), but at that point I’d tired of the charades.
The problem with NDN is that it’s gotten too big. It’s big to the point that there are quite a few commentators who seem to only “contribute” to the discussion in hopes of winning approval from either the Board Ops or some of their more “influential”. Commenters like this one. Eager beavers. Yes-men. People who, conciously or not, are attracted to the discussion, and “participating” in the discussion only because NDN is big, and they feel like if they can throw their “yeah, I agree” type posts under someone else’s, they’ve managed to give themselves a voice. Even if they aren’t really formulating any opinions of their own, and only squawking NDN talking-points. And particularly if they can’t seem to demonstrate an ability to articulate an original thought for themselves.
And the problem with that is it falsely reinforces the beliefs of the influential members of the site and/or Board Ops, which are almost universally negative towards the current state of the ND football program. Which in turn falsely “validates” the notion that those influential posters and board ops don’t actually need to bother with real facts to manage to analyze the state of the program, any particular games, or even the simple strengths and weaknesses of the coaches.Because, as you see, those members feel quite confident that they “know it when they see it.” And the yes-men love to help them feel that confidence, so long as they get to be included in the crowd.
This was once again illustrated for me personally when relatively infamous Rocks House poster “ACross” called me out. It seems he feels I’m not a very nice person and that I have an axe to grind with him and members of Rocks House. Which is false. I only have an axe to grind with people who can’t form original thoughts and/or refuse to use facts as a basis for analysis and thought-leadership. ACross declared his thoughts about me on Rocks House a few weeks ago, claiming I was bitter for being booted from the board. Which I was informed of about 6 different ways within 5 minutes of each other. I thought that odd, given that I’d not actually been booted from that board, so I went on Rock’s House and posted a response to ACross asking him to clarify. I also invited him to come on over to HLS and let me know what he thinks of me here so as not to clutter RH with what is apparently a dispute he’s having with me in his head.
In the course of that thread building in Rock’s House, “Cash” came to discover that I am the operator of HLS and “domer_mq” on Rock’s House, and decided to take a swipe at a post NDTex had written on HLS. And in the same thread, “JVan” went ahead and replied to my stance that I only demand that people use a factual basis to develop arguments with his patented “I know it when I see it.” He then went ahead and locked the thread so I couldn’t reply. Oh well. So much for an opportunity to debate the merits of his theocratic approach to college football fandom.
Again, I don’t really believe these guys are “bad guys.” I think they’ve just lost track of what it is they’re doing. It’s less about encouraging discussion about Notre Dame football on that site so much as it is about building consensus behind an agenda which they apparently also privately discuss on another site entirely, out of the view of most of the Rock’s House’s audience.
As we mentioned before, nothing throws traffic around in the ND blogosphere like NDN. So we fully realize that our answer here may well cost us all that traffic. But our mission all along at HLS has been about being part of the overall discussion around Notre Dame and College Football and hopefully improving it. And for all the traffic that NDN throws, practically none of the traffic coming our way from them actually reads our content anyway. This season, the average reader coming to HLS from a link on NDN sticks around for about 1 minute. To put some context around that, over the same period, our average reader coming to HLS from a link on Twitter will stick around for about 7 minutes. Which audience do you figure is actually reading our stuff? So while we’d love to think of NDN’s linking to HLS as a nod towards offering alternative points of view, we can’t help but notice that practically none of their audience is reading our points of view anyway. And besides that, we can’t help notice that any content on HLS that unambiguously disagrees with a NDN “talking point” never gets linked at all.
Assuming NDN really does want to promote great discussion around ND Football (and I choose to do so), we’d shrink it. Get rid of anyone who tends to do nothing but make sure they agree with Cash or Across or Bonger on whatever they’ve decided to post. It would help mitigate the echo-chamber that tends to convince them they really do “know good football when they see it” and allow people making a good faith attempt to provide alternate points of view to do so without being shouted down in a cacophony of internet geese.
4. You’re Brian Kelly. You spent last recruiting class successfully upgrading the front seven of the defense. Over the next two recruiting classes, what position groups do you absolutely need to upgrade to get the Irish over the BCS hump?
1) Defensive Backfield: If your opponents can’t run and can’t pass against you, winning games gets a lot easier. The easier winning becomes, the easier it is to reach the BCS.
2) Offensive “Athlete:” We really, really need a game-breaking player or 2 on offense that no only creates some perception of match-up problems for defenses, but also has the ability to run away from everyone once he has the ball.
5. I’ve seen dozens of analogies used to describe the current state of the quarterbacking position at Notre Dame. What’s your favorite, or the one you think is the most appropriate?
I’m constantly reminded of the scene in “Beautiful Girls” where the main character is describing his girlfriend as a “Good, solid, seven and a half.” In everything. That’s really sort of where we are with our QB situation. Sure, there are things that might drive you mad, but there are a lot of other things that are being done very well on average. Still, we all know it’s possible to find someone, somewhere, who could be a “10,” but we’ve got to attract a “10” in the first place. Supermodels, Will. Supermodels.
6. Get out the crystal ball. Even after an unimpressive weekend, the Irish are right around a seven-point underdog to Stanford. Do the Irish leave Palo Alto victorious?
When watching Stanford versus Oregon, I was rather unimpressed with new David Shaw’s management of the game. To me, it looked like he was just hanging on and hoping Andrew Luck could lead the team to victory, without any real adjustments in-game. But it turns out Stanford is even stronger in the 3rd quarter than the Irish this season, outscoring opponents by 97 points (versus ND’s 64). So perhaps I was wrong about that. But in that one game against Oregon, when the Ducks really started rolling, there still seemed to be little adjustment defensively by Stanford, and not enough athletes in their defensive backfield to keep up with the spread offense. So I’m going to hope that ND’s own version of the spread can get going, the Irish revive the “warp speed” of a couple of weeks ago, and the Irish win a close game, 30-28.