Much of my confidence going into the most recent game stemmed from the fact that it was far, far away. In the middle of nowhere, to be precise. The team has played spectacularly in foreign venues…and no so well at home. Make no mistake: The Irish are undefeated at home. It’s just that the play has seemed so fraught, the victories have been so harried. There has been much speculation about this phenomenon, but in these last few days when we see and hear so much about the spirit-world, the cause of the problem has become absolutely clear to me. The Stadium is possessed.
Not by The Devil. But by a devil, or demon, or phantom. Not a phantom whistle. But a pernicious force set on trying to hobble the Irish on their march to victory.
Everyone remain calm. There is a simple and centuries-old solution. I will perform an exorcism.
The priest vests in surplice and purple stole – or blue, gold, or green – but absolutely not cardinal, crimson, maroon, or any other shade of red, or that abomination of yellow called maize. Having before him the stadium possessed, which should be empty if there is any danger, like a cleft opening in the earth, the grass turning to plastic, or the scoreboard becoming a projection screen; he makes the sign of the cross over it, over himself, and the bystanders from the athletic director’s office, sports information, and the general counsel, and then sprinkles all of them with holy water from St. Mary’s Lake (not St. Joseph’s because no one is sure what comes out of the power plant sluice). After this he kneels and says the litany. All present are to make the responses.
After each invocation: “Deliver us, 0 Lord.”
From all sin,
From your wrath,
From the snares of the devil,
From anger, hatred, and all ill-will,
From all lewdness,
From lightning and tempest,
From the scourge of earthquakes,
From any Michigan school,
From any California school,
From any school which worships big feral cats,
From the Jesuits,
From all athletic conferences,
From the residue of the last three coaches,
From the mockery of ESPN,
From most Northern Indiana weather,
After each invocation: “Lord, save your people team.”
From fumbles and interceptions,
From missed kicks,
From unsportsmanlike conduct,
From false starts,
From face masks,
From any palpably unfair act,
After each invocation: “We beg you to hear us.”
That you guide and preserve your team,
That you preserve and keep our Head Coach and all ranks of the coaching staff,
That you humble the enemies of our team,
That you give peace and unity to the whole of Irish fandom,
That you restore to the true Irish faith all who have strayed,
That you lift up our voices to cheer from start to finish,
That you grant everlasting blessings to all our benefactors (sorry, required),
That you preserve the sprouting grasses from frost and desiccation,
That you make even the angry old people with blue hair stand and cheer,
That you restore to your team home-field advantage,
Priest: Do not keep in mind, 0 Lord, our offenses or those of former coaches, nor take vengeance on our sins.
God, whose nature is ever merciful and forgiving, accept our prayer that this stadium, bound by the fetters of sin, may be pardoned by your loving kindness. Holy Lord, almighty Father, everlasting God, who once and for all consigned that fallen and apostate tyrant to the flames of hell, who did crush that roaring lion (or panther, as the case may be): hasten to our call for help and snatch from ruination and from the clutches of the noonday devil this stadium made by Coach Rockne. Strike terror, Lord, into the opponents who seek to lay waste to your vineyard (really, more of a field). Fill your team with courage to fight manfully against that reprobate dragon (or panther), lest he despise those who put their trust in you, and say with Pharaoh of old: “I know not God, nor will I set Israel free.” (Not entirely sure what the Egyptians or Israelites have to do with this, but we’ll go with it). Let your mighty hand cast the demon out of your stadium so it may no longer hold captive this team whom it pleased you to make victorious, and to redeem this season.
Then he commands the demon as follows:
I command you, unclean spirit, whoever you are (although I have some strong guesses, and the letter W figures in), along with all your minions now attacking this stadium: Tell me by some sign your name, and the day and hour of your departure, which better be tomorrow before 3:30 eastern time. I command you, moreover, to obey me, I who am a minister of God despite my unworthiness; nor shall you be emboldened to harm in any way this stadium, or the team, or any of their possessions…I mean fans.
Next he makes the sign of the cross over himself and the stadium possessed, places the end of the stole on or near the gold thrones, and, putting his right hand on the bricks, he says the following in accents filled with confidence and faith:
I cast you out, unclean and silent lack-of-spirit, along with every costly penalty, every turnover from hell, and all your foul companions. Be gone and stay far from this stadium of the Irish. Hearken, therefore, and tremble in fear, you enemy of the faithful, you foe of the Irish race, you begetter of loss, you robber of victory, you corrupter of justice, you root of all evil and vice; seducer of men, betrayer of the nations, instigator of envy, font of avarice, fomenter of discord, author of pain and sorrow… Whoa, were talking about a mild stadium bug here, not USC. It think that should do it.
All the above may be repeated as long as necessary, until the stadium possessed has been fully freed.
Or one solid trouncing of Pittsburgh should do the trick. Let’s see…there was a 60-6 drubbing once. But I don’t think this defense is inclined to give up the two field goals.