So Brady Hoke had a luncheon in Grand Rapids and decided to voice his displeasure over Notre Dame cancelling the Michigan series. More precisely, he claimed the Irish were “chickening out” of the series, much to the delight of the audience.
Hoke’s insertion of his foot into his mouth is simply begging for
analysis ridicule as is this entire article, so let’s just get to it.
Brady Hoke has long trumpeted Michigan’s three primary rivalries against Notre Dame, Michigan State and Ohio State.
Hoke is now entering his third season as the Skunkbears’ head coach. How does one “long trumpet” anything when they haven’t even eclipsed Ty Willingham’s tenure at ND?
If two years is a long period of time for Michigan, I think I understand why some rather obvious history is soon to be forgotten.
But now he’s losing one of them, at least for a time. And he’s clearly not happy about it.
“The Notre Dame game, that rivalry, which they’re chickening out of,” Hoke said Monday during the West Michigan Sports Commission Annual Luncheon at the J.W. Marriott in Grand Rapids.
The remark drew thunderous applause from the crowd.
Ok, fair enough, he’s angry, playing to a home crowd. Let’s see how he justifies this…
“They’re still gonna play Michigan State, they’re gonna play Purdue, but they don’t want to play Michigan”
Well, yeah, we are trying to, but that isn’t exactly certain right now.
You see, Hoke, your B1G commissioner decided to do this whole nine conference game thing that is kinda screwing up everyone’s schedule. Combine that with ND’s new ACC scheduling agreement and, surprise, there are some issues.
Want to know why we are trying to work around that with Sparty and Purdue? Some history for you, long trumpeter: Notre Dame and Michigan State have played 75 times, and only took 1995 and 1996 off since 1948. Notre Dame and Purdue have played 84 times, uninterrupted since 1946.
But Michigan? Oh, we’ll get to that in a bit.
Spoiler alert: Michigan has been a pain in the ass.
“I don’t know how they made that decision…
I don’t either, there is totally no history behind why we might decide to give Michigan the finger. NOPE, NONE AT ALL.
… I really do …
Hoke had to have done a shot mid-sentence or something. Or no one has the complete quote…you know what, I like my first idea better. Go home, Hoke, you’re drunk.
But anyway, that’s a great national rivalry game. It’s a great game.”
I’d argue it’s a regional rivalry, and really, I have a hard time saying it’s a rivalry because, let’s be honest, we both hate each other and each consider another school a bigger rival.
Not exactly a ringing endorsement of just what this series means to you and why all of us under the Dome are running away scared. I’m sure your beat writer will help you out…
Michigan has played Notre Dame 40 times, including every season since 2002.
..or maybe he’ll prove my point for me.
Michigan has treated us to three separate gaps in the past. After the 1909 game, we didn’t play Michigan again until 1942. After 1943, we didn’t face off again until 1978. Finally, we had a smaller two year gap between the 1999 and 2002 contests.
That’s 70 years total of scheduling gaps if you are keeping score at home. Or, to put it another way, Michigan has avoided playing Notre Dame for 56% of our 125 year football existence.
But man, uninterrupted since 2002 after these Michigan scheduling disruptions. How dare we.
But the Irish last year cancelled their games against Michigan from 2015-17, as they make the move to a scheduling alliance with the ACC.
ND, the dastardly villain, ditching the history of the Michigan series, chickening out for their new ACC friends.
The rivalry already was scheduled to take a two-year hiatus in 2018-19.
Small addendum: Michigan did that. That brings to the total to four different occasions in which Michigan, not Notre Dame, messed with the scheduling of the series.
Here’s the kicker: all Notre Dame has done so far is cancel two games — the exact same amount that Michigan already canned. But yeah, go ahead and blame us for chickening out on the whole thing. Solid logic there.
So, Michigan will host Notre Dame for the final time — at least, for the foreseeable future…
Now we’ve entered WWE-style promotion/hyberbole: “THIS WILL NEVER HAPPEN AGAIN…”
“…UNTIL IT HAPPENS AGAIN!”
– in prime time this year, then conclude the series next year in South Bend.
Notre Dame: chickening out…three years in the future.
The teams had been operating under a three-year rolling contract — meaning, either program could cancel the series with three games’ notice. Notre Dame served Michigan athletic director Dave Brandon with that notice in the moments leading up to kickoff of last year’s game at Notre Dame Stadium.
You mean to tell me Swarbrick did something within the terms of the contract? Man, we are truly awful.
Michigan State and Purdue are scheduled to continue their rivalries with Notre Dame, at least for now. Although, the Big Ten’s new nine-game schedule, and Notre Dame’s ties to the ACC, could also make those games more difficult to play.
And we’ve now come full circle. The B1G and ACC scheduling restrictions could make the MSU and Purdue series difficult to continue.
But the Michigan series? NOPE NO POSSIBLE ISSUES, CHICKENING OUT.
In conclusion, to Hoke and any other Michigan fan pissed off about this:
This weekend marks the start of the 2013 march to victory for the football team. Fitting, then, that the team is guaranteed a victory in any event because they play with themselves [Editor’s note: Padre doesn’t always appreciate how certain phrases have changed over the years.] [Padre’s note: Get your mind out of the gutter, so Mark May’s can float by.] What used to be the old-timers’ game, the intrasquad scrimmage, or simply ‘the spring game’, has been officially exulted to The University of Notre Dame Blue-Gold Spring Football Festival. Some might think this a bit too much – but when you start with a musty log cabin and finish with a 19-foot-tall gilded statue of The BVM, nothing is too much in these old eyes.
This is a weekend for pure, unadulterated celebration. We cheer for both the True Blues and the Glittering Golds. It is the one game that does not force us to welcome a viper into our hallowed Stadium. And while we will watch the lads play to get a sense for how good they will be this season, we must still pause to consider the vipers. Well, not really the Vipers, since none of our opponents have adopted that moniker for themselves. Such symbols are not to be underestimated, for they represent the drive and inspiration of our enemies. So let’s look at monikers and mascots to gain insight into what lies before our Blues and Golds in just a few short months.
To begin, we make a distinction between moniker, which is the team’s nickname, and mascot, which is their emblem. Our own situation provides the perfect illustration of the difference. We are named the Fighting Irish. This symbolizes the contribution of the Hibernian people to our University from the very first day of its founding. It also symbolizes our teams’ will to fight its way to the top, despite ridicule and violent opposition. And if you don’t think that’s as valid now as it was 90 years ago, you apparently didn’t watch or listen to anything during the entire 2012 season. Our mascot is the Leprechaun. Irish folklore tells us that the leprechaun is a diminutive elf who makes shoes for other fairies, likes a drink, hordes gold, and is secretive and tricky. Though that certainly describes generations of our Alumni, the Leprechaun’s qualities which we prefer to emulate are his wit, his tenacity, and his loyalty to his own. Interestingly, Irish folklore also tells us that there are no female Leprechauns – feel free to add your own Catholic-prudery-parietals joke at this point.
Now let’s categorize our opponents by type, starting with those taking a totemic spirit animal. We have two birds: the Owls and the Falcons. Both noble fowl and fierce hunters…of rodents. Owls only come out at night to carry off field mice and they can turn their heads fully around to look backwards. We will be playing them by day, there’s not one lad on our team who could possibly be considered ‘mousy’, and the Temple Owls will spend a lot of time turning their heads as our defense intercepts their passes and returns them for touchdowns. Falcons are the fastest birds of the air and vicious killers…of bunnies. The Air Force Academy even brings a falcon to its games. They are able to do this because this falcon’s ancestors were captured in small nets and kept in a coop like chickens. Hence, this fierce hunter now chases a leather chew-toy and responds to its master’s gentle cooing. It also wears a hood to keep it blind – so too, the Air Force Falcons will never see the Irish coming.
We have two feral cats: the Panthers and the Cougars. These are essentially the same thing, just living in different locations, and they survive by killing baby deer…and rodents. They scavenge rotting carcases, too. Big cats tend to play with their food before going in for the kill. As a result, panthers occasionally lose their prey after a long fight they seemed sure to win. I am told the term ‘cougars’ now more frequently does not refer to mountain lions, but means ‘lecherous older women’. Which is odd, because I thought that was what they called the USC Alumnae Association.
And then there are the Wolverines. The wolverine is the largest weasel in North America. The wolverine lives in a filthy, stinking hole. When you don’t play with the wolverines anymore, the cry crocodile tears. During the Civil War, General George Armstrong Custer led a brigade called The Wolverines. The 2013 season will be the Michigan Wolverines’ last stand against the Irish – and it should go just about as well for them as Custer’s Last Stand went for him.
Next we have those opponents with human mascots. There are the Boilermakers who are named after what they have historically done. You will note, they are not called the ‘Gamewinners’. There are the Sooners, also named for what they have historically done. In this case, the original Sooners were cheats and thieves who staked illegal claims to open land before others who followed the rules. They often snuck into unclaimed territories under cover of darkness or by the light of the moon. For this reason they were also called Moonshiners. As they sneak out of Indiana by night, the Sooners will need plenty of moonshine to forget about what they Irish will have done to them. And finally there are the Spartans, killed to a man at Thermopylae, decimated once and for all by the Romans. We’re Roman Catholics – need I say more.
Not all monikers and mascots make good, solid sense. We face two of these; first, the Sun Devils. At one time, Arizona State competed under the name ‘The Normals’. Finding this uninspiring, they created the notion of a sun devil, which exists only in their stadium and their minds. Stranger still, the mascot is named ‘Sparky’…because the sun showers sparks? No need to worry because, real or imagined, devils get exorcised by priests, and we’ve got plenty of those. By the way, exorcism is an act of casting out for good – similar to what Professor Swarbrick did to Arizona State. Second, back for more fun, is the Cardinal, a color represented by a tree. I have an easier time explaining the Holy Trinity than I do this combination. A color is an abstract idea like, say, a phantom whistle. A tree doesn’t do much intimidating except fall. But if a tree falls in a Stadium, does it whine?
Finally, we square off against two opponents who are old enemies. Like us, these two have rather complex combinations of monikers and mascots. First is the United States Naval Academy, which fights under the name the Midshipmen. Fair enough…not much to say here…that’s who they are and what they do. The West Point cadets call themselves the Black Knights, which is much more fearsome. But in reality, midshipmen sail the boat – they use Marines to do the fighting. Further confusing the matter, their mascot is Bill the Goat. What, I hear you ask, do livestock have to do with the Navy? Sailors used to keep goats and other animals onboard to slaughter and eat. Just like we did at Notre Dame when we had a farm; and just as we will figuratively do in the Stadium this year.
And then are the Trojans. Named for a people steeped in treachery, whose most notorious act was snatching a bride from her wedding. Such theft, dishonesty, and trickery never works out for the Trojans. After they kidnapped Helen, they lost the ensuing war; after they stole a victory from the Irish, they lost the whole bloody season. The USC Trojans have for a mascot a horse named Traveler. This they pattern off the famous Trojan Horse, something they also stole. Which was one of the worst tactical decisions in the history of warfare – rather like calling a timeout when your team is inches from the goal-line and about to score. Ultimately, the Trojans are some of history’s great losers. And we welcome USC to bring that spirit of Troy to our Stadium.
As for this weekend, I’m sure we’ll have a Football Festival, but the weather is anything but Spring. Since they are all my loyal sons, I can’t root for either the Blues or the Golds. Hence I will be rooting for the Greens…in this weather, under this blue-grey sky, I’ll root for anything G-G-G-Green.
“When criticizing a Catholic institution, be sure to troop out quaint stereotypes so that your comments contain vague accusations of sacrilege or apostasy, and the humorous implication that its leaders are, in fact, just bad Catholics.” At least that’s what I presume is written in the general press conference guidelines down at Arizona State. Or maybe the athletic director has one of those desk calendars that gives a new piece of advice for every day of the year. But if that’s the case, he really should have checked the calendar for October, where on the fifth day of the month it is written, “If you mess with the Golden Calf, you get the horns.”
It seems that we’ve had to cancel an athletic engagement with Arizona State because we’re joining our new conference. The same thing happened to Michigan, whose athletic director was quite literally served with papers right before last season’s game… “When criticizing a Catholic lawyer, be sure…” To Michigan’s credit (which is fleeting and flimsy at best) their official statement simply said that the Wolverines may not want, nor ever again have time in its schedule, to play the Irish. No need to worry – they’ve thrown the 30-odd-year tantrum before.
All this for a conference? And one in which we aren’t playing football? Well, we’re playing some football, but not officially playing all our football… “When conference affiliations are negotiated by a Catholic lawyer…venial and mortal games…never on Friday…” With so much spleen being vented by those we’re leaving behind, one must wonder what sort of friends and neighbors we’ll have once we’ve moved to Atlantis. Why not give our conference the name of a mythical geographic location, since geographic designations have become really quite mythical in conference names? And so here is my impression of our new Atlantean opponents:
University of Maryland – We’ll get them out of the way first, since they’re getting out of the conference. I like the name of the state; I might have named my University Mary Land, had it not already been taken. I like the Catholic history of the state. I like that their mascot has the fine Latin name “Testudo.” But I can’t say I like their judgment, since they’re moving to a conference whose Latin name would best be rendered “Naufragio” – shipwreck.
Wake Forest University – We were just introduced to these fine Southern gentlemen this past season. Wake Forest sounds like the name of a country club – and this one admits Catholics. They play football like the play golf: stately pace, no rush, light contact, no rude remarks, nothing unsportsmanlike, and complimentary baked goods when it’s all over.
North Carolina State University – Professor-Emeritus Holtz used to coach the football team here, so they can’t be all bad. Of course, I don’t think he held a professorship at that point in his career…because I’m not sure N.C. State has professors per se.
Clemson University – They have a rock named Howard. Their stadium is called something like “The Valley of the Shadow of Death,” which is nice and Biblical. I think they have a tiger. But I know their players can take a punch.
Syracuse University – For a brief period, we had that portly man who didn’t understand that a football team must also play defense if it desires to win; nor did he understand that a team cannot lose half of its games and still make the playoffs as a wildcard…because we don’t have wildcards or playoffs. Before him there was that other fellow who wasn’t any good either. Suffice it to say, Syracuse was a problem then – they will not be a problem now.
University of North Carolina – We’ve played them 18 times. We’ve lost twice. Please refer back to the discussion of the portly man who didn’t do defense or winning.
Duke University – As long as the ball is pointed at both ends and not round, I have no problem playing them.
University of Virginia – I didn’t know they played football.
Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University – What a cool name.
Georgia Institute of Technology – They’re engineers, so you might think they wouldn’t be much trouble – like Purdue. And in fact, they really aren’t much trouble…on the field. Their fans’ behavior is another matter entirely. They like to throw fish at us. Once again, “When insulting a Catholic institution…” Yes, we eat fish on Fridays. And the Georgia Tech wrecks also like to throw booze bottles at us…Touché, Yellow Jackets.
University of Pittsburgh – The bottomless Pitt. The games go on forever and we apparently can’t escape playing them.
Florida State University – This one feels unpleasantly like an incipient USC. The Seminoles are usually a challenge and their fans are so very crass. Also just like the Trojans, they have a gelding for a mascot – and he rides a horse, too.
State Penitentiary University of Miami – Really? Meeting Miami once in a while is fine, but getting into the pool with them can only lead to us having to towel off a nasty slick that clings. Yes, we’re Catholic – we believe in forgiveness of sins. But there has to be penance first. For the Hurricanes’ own good, we’ll penance them hard.
So, on balance, it’s not a bad group of football opponents. And moving to Atlantis will be good for basketball and all our myriad athletic teams. There are a couple of unsavory characters in the bunch, but every conference has its skunks at the family picnic. Still, I feel as though I’m forgetting someone or something. But I’ve gone through all the universities and institutes of technology. Whatever could I have left out…oh, that’s right…
Boston College – I’d make a nun joke or a snide fish-eaters comment, but those are only humorous when ridiculing a Catholic institution.
This week, the Michigan State football chaplain got himself in a bit of trouble for making a public boast about the Spartan basketball team, that was of questionable taste (to say the least). I know this is as much of a shock to you as it is to me – not that a priest has a filthy mouth, but that Michigan State athletes would welcome a man of God without trying to boil and eat him. I’m sure you also had the same initial suspicion that I had: a priest with low manners joining freely with our enemies must be a Jesuit. But keep in mind that Jesuits are characterized by dangerous intelligence. Michigan State players are not.
Much of my confusion was cleared up when I was informed that said chaplain is a graduate of the University of Michigan. What does one expect from a Wolverine but an angry snarl…and a grunt? At the very least, we must applaud the missionary zeal that has led him from Ann Arbor even deeper in partibus infidelium to East Lansing. This whole episode has given me cause to think generally about the ministry of the team chaplain, and to consider specifically issues of proper, upstanding conduct on the part of these ministers of Holy Church. We have so many of these Grace-Coaches here at Notre Dame, that our congregational post-nominals might as well be written CSChaplain.
Since St. Sebastian first took his turn as goalie for the Roman archery team, we have celebrated the Athleta Christi Nobilis, the Noble Champion of Christ. In these enlightened times, we no longer smite or slay; we limit our exertions to defeating in sportsmanlike fashion our opponents – who nonetheless remain enemies of our souls, bent on our utter destruction. It is for the coach to be like the military commander in this athletic combat. It is for the chaplain to be like the spiritual Department of Defense Inspector General, preaching, correcting, rebuking, and encouraging in season and out of season. Both coach and chaplain should manifest a love of the athlete as well as a love of the game. But while the coach can get away gutter-mouth exhortations peppered with barnyard language, locker room imagery, and hyperbolic threats of grievous bodily harm (all bellowed at ear-splitting full volume with eyes bulging and veins popping), the chaplain must set his mind on things that are above. Here are a few guidelines for appropriate sports chaplain conduct.
Fight the GOOD Fight. By all means cheer, jump up and down, and shake your fist at the opposing team. But leave the violent challenges out. With a very few exceptions, a chaplain would be returned to the dust from which he came if he ever tried to take on a strapping college athlete of any sort. Your Heavenly Dad might be able to beat up his dad, but after a real fight, priest, you’d be collecting your teeth with broken hands. And don’t be crude. Insult all you want – I’m French, my people created the art of insult. But draw some lines that exclude bodily functions and obscenities. Remember: that the end of your days, you may have to kiss your Blessed Virgin Mother with that mouth.
God made you to LAUGH. Like Abraham’s wife Sarah. But like Sarah, make sure that everyone’s laughing with you. We’re talking about sports and it’s good to be passionate about your school and your team. Skewer, lambaste, satirize, and lampoon the other school and the other team. You can even go after a couple of the opponent’s star athletes for shoddy performance or public foibles. But don’t get too personal. Even though it’s hard to believe at times (especially in the case of Michigan), the people on the other side of the field, or court, or stands are just that…real human people. They are all children of God (though at USC they are very naughty, dirty children). And be prepared to take all the abuse that will, rightly, be shoveled your way. Even Michigan State fans are capable of wit, albeit ham-fisted and ungrammatical. But don’t respond to vulgar baiting, don’t join with an opponent who is steeped in filth. Tangle with an Alabama fan once, and no matter how much ritual washing you perform, the stench will linger upon you for months.
Be prepared for the rain to come, the stream to rise, the wind to blow, and your house to fall down. Because it will. You can’t win ‘em all. The chaplain’s most important work comes right after the defeat. Comfort the afflicted, instill hope, and never, ever, give up on your athletes, your team, or your school. It’s not just football chaplains who have to be prepared to take hits. There’s always a lot of talk about team spirit. Well, if a chaplain isn’t keeping up his team’s spirits all the time, but especially in the darkest moments, he’s about as useful as a diploma from an SEC school. Sports are metaphors for combat; so never forget the example of a true combat chaplain, Father Aquinas T. Colgan, who always told his troops staggering back from battle, that as long as you’re alive, “Every night’s a New Year’s Eve; every day’s a payday!” He was a good Irishman, Fr. Colgan…but alas, he was a Carmelite.
Above all, no matter what the sport, no matter whether the team wins championships or is the doormat of the league, the chaplain must always give his athletes all his heart, all his soul, and all his strength. Brothers, take the tennis chaplain as your model – for, of us all, only the tennis chaplain truly serves.
P.S. If there is any chaplain out there who has mastered all of these virtues, please tell this occasionally crass, usually barbed, sportsfan-sinner how to do so.
How perfect it is for the long victory march to arrive at this place, at this time, with these men! How fitting to face the fiercest foe, the blackest blight of the dark decade now left behind! Twelve is an ancient number of perfection – and perfect the Fighting Irish will be, as no other team in the land! With one more struggle, with one more heroic charge, with one more win Notre Dame will have climbed to the summit of an undefeated season.
But one enemy stands in the way – and let him! For to achieve this zenith without defeating the adversary who dragged us down to the nadir would fail to be a climax. This is the opponent that has cheated and abased and maligned the Irish for too many long years. This is the opponent that has handed the Irish more defeats and robbed them of more championships than any other. Yes, this is the final battle against the last, worst, most desperate and despicable rival of them all.
Whatever may come tomorrow, there will be one more game. But not this year. It will be against a powerful opponent. But not this one. We must finish what we started here and now with a signal victory that signifies our days are getting longer, our sun is shining brighter, Notre Dame is triumphant once again and golden is our fame.
And these men can do it. For these men have done it. They have beaten this, their archrival, on their field, before their fans, as part of this long and arduous trek back up the mountain. This coach has done it. He has outmaneuvered and outwitted his most outrageously duplicitous opposite number at this time of year on just this sort of night.
But what is more – so very much more – is that this team, leader and lads alike, has battled against eleven formidable foes, through games that have stretched well beyond their allotted time, in stadiums friendly and hostile, in daylight and darkness, in masterful performances and determined bids to win on the final play. And they have never lost.
For this team has never failed to believe. When nearly all others did not believe that this very result was even possible, this team, leader and lads alike, never gave up and never faltered in their boundless hope. But why would they? Their University was founded on nothing more and nothing less than a daring hope. These men of Notre Dame represent to the nation the hope that educational and athletic excellence can and do march hand in hand. But they do so with humility, not arrogance. This is not a group of chest-thumpers and big-talkers. This is a group that has worked and struggled and lost – only to return again and again, year after year to the battle, armed with that most indomitable weapon: Hope.
We are so close now to tasting the sweetness of ultimate, conclusive victory. Perhaps we are already enjoying a foretaste of that incomparable confection. But let us not forget that the bitter bile of loss lies not far away if we fail to defeat this enemy which has caused us to taste the foul tang of failure too often. The team must fight on every down, capitalize on every opportunity, deny every advantage to the adversary. The Irish faithful in the coliseum tomorrow night must cheer and support the team with full hearts and full voices – as must every student, alumnus, and believer around the country, if all of us are to taste the sweetness of victory.
For this is the life we have chosen. To believe in an ideal. To hope against the odds. To remain loyal when all others have fallen away. Notre Dame is reviled when its fortunes fade. Notre Dame is doubted when its lot improves. But not by those who believe, never by those who hope, for whom life is not one endless progression of success building upon success, but a tempering, harrowing march that makes the ultimate victory worth the fight, and makes the fight that much more heroic.
And so we have arrived at this place, at this time, with these men. We would have it no other way. Let the charge sound and let the battle be joined! Let the hope that first created Notre Dame 170 years ago surge in every loyal heart!
Nostra Domina Victoriae, Ora Pro Nobis!