Better late than never…or something…right?
Anyways, this week has been rather brutal. Thankfully I got some time to unwind at last night’s Rangers game, but once I returned I too damn sleepy to think of anything to write. I made an executive decision to punt the Roundup to this evening, likely making Biscuit’s head explode that I put baseball as a higher priority than football writings.
Either way, the delay actually gave me something to write in this intro which is the delay itself. Writer’s block solved, I guess.
Oh well, you’re here for the links and beer anyways right? Let’s get to it.
This might be the most Southern Cal thing ever. Dr. Dre has made a donation to Southern Cal. For Academics. Seriously. Making this even more hilarious is the juxtaposition of this news release the very next day.
Johnny Baseball? So here’s one advantage to delaying the Roundup. I am able to include Johnny Manziel’s antics from the Padres game last night, including his recreation of his Alabama game-winning pass.
It’s nice when stats work out in your favor. Check out this preview from one of the minds at Football Outsiders. Spoiler Alert: Notre Dame is still damn good.
USF is apparently excited about Aaron Lynch. However, I’d be slightly concerned with
his weight loss not working out during his year off if I were them. But, hey, hopefully the attitude change his coach sees is true because the kid has loads of talent that shouldn’t be wasted.
A look into the college football future. I don’t know about y’all, but all I read in this piece was that ND makes a lot of title games.
And now, your moment of STOP USING PHOTOSHOP FOR THE LOVE OF GOD. This week’s entry, Preston Pehrson of Georgia Tech.
Before we start, I’d like to make a quick note about this section. Mostly because Slate wrote something mind-numbingly dumb on the topic.
You see, I’m not trying to “beer snob” it up in this section. Nor am I picking beers because OMG HOPS Y’ALL. I’m more in line with several of the opinions noted here.
Those that have read a fair share of Roundups know that I have suggested some “mainstream” beers either tongue-in-cheek or simply because I was in the mood to that week. My whole goal here is to either:
- Be funny (rare)
- Share a good beer I’ve discovered/liked/consumed liberally
- Ask readers for beer suggestions
Because quite frankly beer is good and expanding horizons on said beverage is equally awesome. It’s really hard to go wrong here.
With all that being said, this week I am making good on my promise to go back into the craft beers. Hilariously enough, I had planned on “easing” back into it with a rather simple local lager before I even read the Slate insanity.
That brew would be Rahr’s Blonde Lager from Ft. Worth, Texas.
Admittedly, the distribution is quite limited (but I’m sure you can find similar in the same style), but if you are ever in DFW or at a Rangers game you’ll be able to find this rather easily.
Yes, my baseball team actually serves legit local craft beer (looking at you, Yankees).
We have a controversy! There is a tear in the seamless garment of our unity. Ugly voices are raised in shouting and discord. Someone has messed with the Stadium! And this time it’s serious – someone has messed with the tickets. Alumni and Subway Alums, put the lead pipes and letter openers down; this doesn’t call for violence on your part, because this has nothing to do with your tickets. You will continue to be given one-sixth of the tickets you request at twice the price you expect. This time the catastrophe has fallen on the students. A brief summary of events in this vast injustice is in order first.
All students can buy season tickets at a “reduced” price.* Each undergraduate class year occupies a quarter of the student section, stretching from the north end zone to midfield under the press box.** Within a subsection, each student is assigned a row and seat number that corresponds to a faded glyph on a worn wooden board. Students generally, but not always, try somewhat successfully to locate themselves around or near said faded glyph for portions, but not all, of the game. In essence, the row and seat number is a vague suggestion that keeps a certain subtle order to the overarching chaos of the student section. Yet, the seat number is not, in fact, a seat, since no one sits in the student section, except during halftime – if they’re not standing en masse to throw dessert items at each other.
In recent history,*** students quite literally camped out in an unruly and booze-fueled queue outside Ned Joyce’s sports big-top. In this way, the first semi-comatose senior on the ground when the ticket office opened in the morning, received the best seat in the Stadium; and so on down the line until that last “football-is-vulgar” freshman deigned to pick up his tickets so the other kids in his section didn’t make fun of him. Then that was forcibly organized into a controlled camping event, complete with chaperones and distracting non-alcoholic games. Then this became an early evening picnic where students listened to live music (the only way to hypnotize them into obedience), and there were stickers and a lottery and a drawing – like a big parish bingo night, only for people a quarter of the usual age. Finally technology advanced to the point that each student is given a number of the beast some sort of lottery number that allows them to apply, register, PAY IN FULL, and later pick up the appropriate tickets. So as you can see, at an institution where tradition is prized above all else and preserved at all costs, there is absolutely no rhyme or reason to the ever-evolving student ticket policy. I call it the Heraclitus system, because all that is constant is change.
*Students currently pay the same amount for tickets that I used to charge for four years of a Notre Dame education.
**There’s some provision for graduate students, law students, and future masters of business administration. It’s wedged between the upper and lower classes. Like an ocean liner, state rooms above the grad students, steerage below.
***When the Stadium was built, we couldn’t even fill it. Then the War put a dent in the number of students available to cheer during games. After that, the ticket office, the Prefect of Discipline, and the rectors had a couple of systems. And then we went coed.
That brings us up to date. Now back to this week’s travesty. It has been announced from on high that during this coming football season, within each class section, seating will be “general admission,” or what I like to call “free for all” or “every man for himself” or “last one in is a rotten egg” or “this is how people behave on a sinking ship.” Have you ever seen the San Fermin festival in Pamplona, Spain – it will look something like that, only with yellow-clad ushers replacing enraged bulls. The impetus behind this most recent change is to allow the truly ardent fans direct access to the seats closest to the field. In this way, the Stadium will be louder and the team will win more (more than 6-0 at home?). And this is where the fur flies.
The great and powerful authority that orchestrated and announced this change is the Leprechaun Legion. This is the student organization dedicated to increasing…for lack of a better term…school spirit at all sporting matches. They publicize, advertize, excite, urge, cajole, give away free food and clothing, demand, guilt, and herd in order to increase student attendance at athletic events. They also want to augment, raise, lift, amplify, and otherwise make bigger the intensity and volume at each of these events, all in the name of helping our Irish teams win. This is all for the greater glory of Notre Dame, and the Legion deserves our unreserved thanks. However, in this case, the Legion determined that there was a problem with the student section, investigated other student sections, devised a solution, sold it to the Athletic Department, and then dropped it on the students like an unwanted but permanent dorm room guest.
My first question is, when did Notre Dame students have a problem with unpopular decisions and rules being unexpectedly announced with no student consultation and enforced from above? That’s how this place has always worked, people! That’s how I set it up. At least this time the decision was made by your fellow undergraduates, not some unnamed and inaccessible Administrator in the Office of Continual Improvement and Never-Ending Betterment.
My second question is, who on God’s green earth could attend a Notre Dame home football game and NOT realize that there are serious problems with the “level of excitement” in the Stadium? In a monastery, Great Silence is the period of night after the last chanting of psalms and before sunrise. In Notre Dame Stadium, Great Silence occurs shortly after kickoff, during every timeout, and frequently on third down. If the Legion has a way to fix that, who could ever complain?
The issue is whether or not Great Silence emanates from the students, or is possibly caused by a lack of enthusiasm on the part of the students. I would argue that the interminable timeouts, during which the winners of Mishawaka coloring contests and employee non-used-sick-day awards are trotted into the north end zone, are a greater problem than the students. It has rudely been put to me that Notre Dame’s “wine and cheese” alumni-and-friends base is the problem – I take that as an insult to my own and my University’s French heritage. Will general admission in the student section get the cadavers in the gold thrones to cheer? Is it a good idea to alter the one cheering corner of the Stadium in an effort to inspire the rest?
Yet, my third question is, who’s averse to trying to get the Stadium back on its collective feet? A football game is like Mass – you’re supposed to be in the pew before the priest comes out of the sacristy, and you’re supposed to stay until he’s gone back. When High Priest Kelly is leading his acolytes onto the field, many student-parishioners are still in the parking lot…literally. And just like Mass, you’re there to sing and respond actively, and to pay attention to the sacred actions – not to chit-chat or visit with friends. If that’s what you’re here to do, don’t bother the worshipers. Stay in the vestibule of the upper seats and gossip away. And so, is it terribly unjust to allow the true-believers to sit closest to the object of their devotion?
Sure, the power-lushes want to maximize happy hour and still be able to stagger to a seat where their double-vision won’t be too badly impaired by heads in front of them. You’ll figure it out – you got into this University after all. Sure, some students want football tickets more than they want a diploma; this is their season. For those who don’t care so much, content yourselves with joining your closest friends for one of only 24 extraordinary, nationally televised spectacles of pageantry and drama that you will ever see – you’re only ten rows higher than you might have been had the lottery-gods favored you. Sure, some students will cut their “total football weekend experience” short in order to stand in line for their ideal seats. But how many true fanatics can there be out of a mere 8,000; how much space can they take up when we already pack you in hip-to-hip, knees-to-backs? And don’t we want those carrying the most water for the team closest to the field?
My only complaint with the new student ticket policy is that it doesn’t apply to the rest of the Stadium. Imagine how the House that Rockne Built would rock if the bitter and the mute were relegated to the upper deck where they could grouse about kids-these-days in hushed tones while their buttocks went numb from four hours of sitting. This is a Stadium, not a museum. At Notre Dame, traditions here are traceable back decades and even centuries, not to the last time someone tinkered with the system. If students spend too much time complaining that every minor change and potential improvement constitutes a slap in the face to all that we have held sacred per omnia saecula saeculorum, they’ll start to sound like…GASP!…alumni.
Everyone who wants a ticket will have a ticket. If we try really hard, the Stadium might become a place where our team loves to play and our opponents fear to tread. If we do that right, we could very well have another undefeated home stand, and all will be right with the world. Now go back to complaining about things that truly will never change – the weather, finals, and parietals.
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.
Well, it’s been a bit of a rough ride for the 2012 recruiting class. Last year, Tee Shepard was only on the roster for a few hours. Aaron Lynch departed after the 2011 campaign. Gunner Kiel decided to head elsewhere. And this week, Davonte Neal and Justin Ferguson decided to depart as well.
Attrition has definitely set in. These days, it’s an annual expectation. Thankfully, the Notre Dame Football program is healthy enough to handle it.
That may sound a little strange, especially since we (1) aren’t used to that line of thinking these days and (2) Brian Kelly has made several references to a lack of depth in 2012. However, it’s the truth.
Consider the fact that after Lynch left, our defensive line was still a dominate force in 2012. Despite not having Tee Shepard to fill some huge holes in the secondary, the Irish still managed to hold it together. We still have three more years of Golson with Malik Zaire waiting in the wings, softening the loss of Kiel. While our WR corps isn’t as stocked as I would prefer, I have little doubt Kelly and company will be able to use the talent available to compensate.
Further consider the recruiting mindset of Kelly. He wants to land a QB every year. He is constantly looking for what he calls “big skill” players that could possibly fill a couple of different roles if needed. A solid group of starters at any position isn’t enough — he wants them two-deep for constant depth and to keep his roster in a state of constant competition.
This season, we have seen the fruits of those three years of recruiting labor. Despite the attrition that has hit the Irish, we still find ourselves only able to offer well below 20 scholarships to the class of 2014 because we are so close to the maximum of 85 scholarships for the entire roster. While every player that leaves the Irish is definitely a disappointing loss, it now opens up a precious roster spot for a potential fifth-year, an extra offer to an elite recruit, or even the chance to reward a deserving senior walk-on.
So as far as attrition goes, I’m going to use a rather infamous Kelly quote: “Get used to it.”
Some guys might leave for personal reasons, but we are also seeing our former blue-chip recruits leave simply because they don’t think they’ll get the playing time they want. That speaks volumes for the level of talent Notre Dame now has. A couple of years ago, if a huge get in the recruiting class had a guaranteed three or four years of playing time. That simply isn’t the case anymore.
So bring the attrition on. “Next man in” as Kelly would say. This is exactly where we want to be.
I guess this counts as WAC attrition. Idaho and New Mexico State are fleeing the WAC for the Sun Belt. The Sun Belt is also grabbing Appalachian State (HEY MICHIGAN) and Georgia Southern from the FCS. Care to take a stab at which group is the better get?
And the 2014 National Championship game will transfer to… DALLAS! Win-win for me. Either Notre Dame makes a title run in my backyard or I’m renting out my house, making a mint, and going on vacation.
Johnny Football is gone. From Twitter. Wait, what did you think I was going to say?
Southern Cal has lost another player. This time, due to injury.
The NCAA might be able to use a little attrition themselves. Someone else has apparently dropped the ball in the Miami case.
This qualifies as what I like to call “Saban-style attrition”. Four players are gone from UCLA. One for violation of team rules and the other three…well, this article outright calls it “roster maintenance”.
My beer choice is also suffering from some attrition because I’m still cleaning out my beer fridge of brews that have been donated for one reason or another. Considering I have a Vegas trip coming up to save money for and because I’ve been ridiculously busy for work (because of the Vegas trip, the main reason I’m there is because of work), I have had little motivation to go buy more beer as of late.
Ok, it’s probably not attrition, it’s being lazy and cheap as hell, but I don’t care.
On the chopping block this weekend: Dos Equis.
Stay thirsty, my friends.