So much excitement at this time of year about the Grand Tournament! Especially this year since our team is, indeed, so grand! Yet, I am always disturbed by the fixation with these so-called “Brackets.” In that they are gambling, I remind you all that this is illegal – unless you’re an Alum in the stock market who makes lots of money and donates most to the University. In that case, gamble away. In another regard, these brackets somehow seek to make an academic science out of what is merely a sporting event. Setting aside the tired old mathematical improbability of having the much-vaunted “Perfect Bracket,” pay heed to this old scholar’s observations.
* There is no such thing as “Bracketology.” On the presumption that this is an attempt at creating a very academic-sounding word meaning the “study of brackets,” you can’t shove an English word and a Greek suffix together and sound smart. Keep the ology part, but start with αγκύλη. This is the Greek word meaning bracket. Hence, the proper term would be “Agkulogy.” Sure, it’s a mouthful…but so is Gonzaga.
* A tournament with 64 places for competitors should have – wait for it – 64 teams. Perhaps I’m being too literal; but adding four ghosts to begin the competition is rather ridiculous. First, 64 is more than enough. Second, where do we stop with the ghosts? If the principle is something along the lines of “the more, merrier” or “giving more teams a chance to compete” then we’re on a slippery slope to a 96-entry 64-team tournament. Hell Heck, at that point, forget the regular season, and just play a year-long tournament. I’m sure Bracketologists could figure out how to do it.
* In a certain regard, the tournament can be rather surreal. For instance, our team just defeated a direction and will next play the head of the household staff. Elsewhere in the tournament are playing: a Great Plains bovine species, the center of ancient Jewish worship, God’s loving watchfulness, and two dead Jesuits. Ahhh, I hear some say – you are being a hypocrite, Padre, for isn’t playing Notre Dame rather surreal as well? If you know anything about my University and our teams, you know very well that when you play the Fighting Irish you are also playing against The BVM…literally.
* Finally, I can never fill out these brackets, because I always loyally put the Fighting Irish as Champions. This is our Faith, this is the Faith of our University. Thus, may I sternly remind all of you Loyal Sons and Daughters who have filled out one of these brackets: if you have failed to put the Fighting Irish as the Champions, you have sinned against God and His Mother. And when They fill out Their brackets-of-life, you’ll most assuredly want to be a Champion…or at least in the Sweet 16 if you went to a Jesuit school.
Son, in 199 years of religious study, I have only come up with two hard, incontrovertible facts: There is a God, and I'm pretty tight with Him.
Now I’m going to tell you a whole lot of things I’ve kept to myself for years. None of you ever knew me. I was along before your time, but you all know what a tradition I am at Notre Dame. And one of the most important things I ever said was, “Friends, sometime when my University is up against it and the breaks are beating the students, tell them to go out there with all they’ve got and win at everything for Padre. I don’t know exactly where I’ll be then, friends,” I said, “but I’ll be looking right over your shoulder.”