Saturday, December 31, 2005

The Bowls and Belichick U. | by Mark

In David Halberstam's excellent book on Bill Belichick, "The Education of a Coach", he dubs the coaches that have been groomed under BB as the graduates of "Belichick University".

It was noted recently that Coach Weis went to another grad, Nick Saban, to get advice on how to prepare for Weis's first trip as a head coach to a college bowl game. Weis pointed out that Saban told him to not make the same mistake that he had made, burning his teams out with too much work, both physical and mental, which led to a terrible start to Saban's bowl career.

It's hard to believe that Saban never won a bowl game while as Michigan State. In fact, he got his butt kicked - a lot:

1995 - a 45-26 loss to LSU in the Independence Bowl.

1996 - a 38-0 loss to Stanford in the Sun Bowl (this game being the only bowl win of Tyrone Willingham's entire head coaching career).

1997 - a 51-23 loss to Washington in the Aloha Bowl.
Saban finally learned his lesson, started to treat the bowl games as a "one-game season", and things changed for him at LSU:
2000 - a 28-14 win over Georgia Tech in the Peach Bowl.

2001 - a 47-34 win over Illinois in the Sugar Bowl.

2002 - a 35-20 loss to Texas in the Cotton Bowl.

2003 - a 21-14 win over Oklahoma in the Sugar Bowl (securing a national championship).

2004 - a 30-25 loss to Iowa in the Capital One Bowl (to fellow Belichick U. alum Kirk Ferentz).
Overall, Saban was 3-5 in bowl games. The members of Belichick U. that followed him as head coaches in college have done much better.

As of today, Kirk Ferentz is 3-1 in bowl games at Iowa, including his victory over Saban in his last game at LSU. Aside from the LSU game, his bowl record includes:
2001 - a 19-16 win over Texas Tech in the Alamo Bowl.

2002 - a 38-12 loss to Southern Cal in the Orange Bowl.

2003 - a 37-17 win over Florida in the Gator Bowl.
Al Groh is now 3-1 at Virginia. His only loss in a bowl game was to former Belichick assistant Pat Hill and Fresno State last season. Other than that game, his record is as follows:
2002 - a 48-22 win over West Virginia in the Continential Tire Bowl.

2003 - a 23-16 win over Pittsburgh in the Continential Tire Bowl.

2005 - a 34-31 win over Minnesota in the Music City Bowl.
As for Hill, going into todays contest with Tulsa, he was 3-3 in bowl games. Like Saban, he started out 0-3, but rebounded with wins in the past three years over Georgia Tech, UCLA, and Groh's Virginia.

The difference between the other members of Belichick U. and Weis is that they all worked for "The Genius" while he was the head coach of the Cleveland Browns. None of them were part of the glorious run of the Patriots that included 3 Super Bowl victories. We'll find out on Monday if that helps Weis in his first bowl game as a head coach.

Friday, December 30, 2005

Rubber Match | by Jay

The curtain now rises on a new football setting, and there at front stage are the Irish of Notre Dame and the battling Buckeyes of Ohio State. Notre Dame and Ohio State! This is the game the fans of the nation have awaited. This is the greatest test of two powerful gridiron machines, amply supported by replacements, which have rolled over all opposition and now find their victorious paths converge.

Carnival at its zenith: No detail of metropolitan madness, necessary props for football, has been omitted. There are rumors of counterfeit tickets. There are scalpers, professional and amateur, whose prices are said to fluctuate from $7.50 to $25, depending on the author of the tale...

Eighty-thousand fortunates will see the game. Many times that number will hear it described. An army of reporters will write about it. This contest has stirred city and commonwealth so completely that a President might pass these boundaries unnoticed...

Now [head coach Elmer] Layden and his assistants have no knowledge of any loophole in Ohio State's defense. It may be Notre Dame can gain over the Buckeye tackles. Passes may be completed, but only the game itself will answer whether the Irish can breach the Buckeye's defenses...

Of this you may be certain: tomorrow's victor will find few to question its claim to national supremacy.

-- Wilfrid Smith, Chicago Tribune, 1935

(and the letter that kicked off the series in the '30s, care of IrishLegends.)

Bucknuts did a nice series of article on all four previous Notre Dame-Ohio State tilts, starting with a great overview of the matchup, then an article on all four games:

1935 - Game of the Century

1936 - Rematch in South Bend

1995 - A Rivalry Rekindled

1996 - OSU Evens the Score
It still amazes me that the Fiesta Bowl will only be the fifth time Notre Dame and Ohio State have ever played each other. Here we've got two programs who've been in the football business from the very beginning of the sport, separated by a scant three hundred miles, yet through through the first half of the century ND was constantly trekking to Omaha and New York and Los Angeles to fill out their schedule (thanks, Fielding!). It seems like such an obvious regional rivalry, and I'm glad there are some stirrings about another series down the road.

If I Had a Hammer | by Jay

Still no word on outside linebacker Bobby Carpenter's availability for the Fiesta Bowl.

Ohio State coach Jim Tressel said the X-ray of linebacker Bobby Carpenter’s leg showed improvement, but he did not say whether Carpenter would be available Monday. Carpenter did not practice with the team Thursday and would probably have to get on the practice field by Saturday if he hopes to play.
I sense some gamesmanship going on. In chatting with my radiologist father-in-law over the holidays, I learned that a broken fibula can take anywhere from four to eight weeks to heal, depending on the severity of the fissure, and since it's a break near the ankle, he's probably nowhere near 100% yet. (I also learned that if a fibula is broken at the proximal extremity, or the capitulum fibulae, it would be more severe than if it's broken at the corpus fibulae, especially if the fibers of the anterior ligaments and tubercles are damaged as well. Here, Jay, let me show you some MRIs as an example...)

If no. 42 can't go, it's going to affect our gameplan significantly. Bobby Carpenter's probably a shade faster than A.J. Hawk, and he led the Buckeyes in sacks this season (8.0) from the outside linebacker position. Two freshman would split time in his absence: former ND recruit Lawrence Wilson ("God wanted me to go to Ohio State instead") and James Laurinaitis, whose dad Joe is also known as Road Warrior "Animal" on the WWE Smackdown circuit.

They're nowhere as experienced as the veteran Carpenter, so don't expect any springboard seated sentons to be uncorked on Brady if Laurinaitis is in the game. On the other hand, do expect Charlie to seize upon the talent dropoff and exploit it. I'm thinking Fasano on a crossbody block, springing Darius on a screen who executes a diving elbow drop over the goal line.

Black Tie Affair | by Pat has been doing a great job putting up photo galleries of the recent Irish practices in Arizona and featuring quotes from the players and coaches at the media press conferences held after each practice. Check out the photo galleries here and here.

Many of the quotes cover the standard pre-game questions about the skill of the opponent and how each player/coach is approaching the bowl game. But yesterday's presser ventured into the social aspect of the bowl week and Weis offered up this gem on Coach Latina.

On his plans for New Years Eve for him and the team...

"Oh, it is my favorite. I have to go to a black tie dinner. (Laughter) You can just tell this is something I am really looking forward to. Our whole coaching staff is going to it. But the best part of it, there is one really good thing about it, John Latina has not been in a tux since he got married. So I am really looking forward to it and we are going to make sure that we take a lot of pictures of that because he has been whining about it.
Did they get a tux for Coach Mendoza, too?

Thursday, December 29, 2005

"Quinn to Win" | by Jay

And it's official: Brady's coming back for another year of Charlieball:

"It really is best for me to come back for an extra year, get the tutelage from coach Weis that you can't receive in the NFL. He's not there anymore. He's here now. So why not utilize that as long as you can and go for every goal that you want? I want to win a national championship, and I think our team has the ability, without a doubt, to win it (in 2006), especially with the people we have coming back on offense and defense."

Weis was elated to hear Quinn's words, but not surprised.

"All I know is Brady and I have had extensive conversations," Weis said. "Like everyone, he's going to get squeezed by a lot of people, because he had such a prolific year. Why wouldn't those agents try to sniff around to try and get a part of him?

"He wants to set his sights at the top. Let's hope that people respect his wishes. He's one of my favorite guys, because of how he handles himself, not because of how he plays. And I think when he says it, you can believe it, because that's the way he is."

Back to the beginning | by Pat

A nice story yesterday in the Chicago Sun-Times focusing on Brady Quinn and his Ohio hometown in the Chicago Sun-Times. One of the more interesting excerpts deals with just how Brady Quinn ended up wearing the Blue and Gold.

Instead, a chance meeting at the start of middle-school football set Quinn on the road to Notre Dame. A new family named Ndukwe had moved to Dublin, and its 12-year-old son, Chinedum -- ''Nedu'' to his friends -- arrived for his first day of practice.

''I was the only African American out there, and not a lot of people were talking to me,'' recalled Ndukwe, now a Notre Dame safety. ''Brady was there, and he had just gotten back from Florida with his family, so he was very tan. I thought he was a Native American, so I also thought, 'Hey, that's good. I'm not the only minority around here.' Then he came over and introduced himself and started talking to me, and we've been friends ever since.''

The two later would star at Coffman High School in Dublin -- Quinn as quarterback, Ndukwe as his fleet wide receiver. But of greater importance, Ndukwe's father, Stephen, would include Quinn when he took Nedu to visit an elder son who was an undergraduate at Notre Dame.

''The influence of Stephen Ndukwe in how Brady got to Notre Dame cannot be overstated enough,'' Ty Quinn said. ''As a young boy, Brady always had Notre Dame pennants and stuff in his room. Then in high school, the school didn't show tremendous interest in him, but coach Willingham was interested in Nedu.

"And then I'll never forget, after Nedu went to South Bend and committed, Stephen came home and got me out of bed at 1 a.m. to talk to me. We drank beer for an hour or so, and he told me that he had told Willingham he should be taking a long look at Brady. And then he was telling me that we should make arrangements to go to South Bend as soon as possible to try and seal the deal. And that's basically how Brady got to Notre Dame.''

Said Mark Crabtree, Quinn's final varsity coach at Coffman: ''The Ndukwes are the hidden heroes of the story at Notre Dame for a couple of reasons. First, it was Stephen who seemed to see the final path of the scholarship there for Brady. Without Stephen, I think Brady would have wound up at Michigan. Second, Nedu has been playing defense, where he never played a snap in his high school career. And now, while Brady gets so many accolades, rightly, for what he has done, Nedu gets overlooked as one of the mainstays of an improving Notre Dame defense.''
I think I speak for all ND fans when I say 'Thank you Mr. Ndukwe".

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

I'll take Grab Bag for $500 | by Pat

One of the minor perks of playing in a college bowl game is that every player who participates is awarded a gift bag by the host bowl committee. It may not seem that that big a deal to most people, but in the realm of college students, handouts are always welcome. Especially handouts that won't land your team on probation. This year the gifts will be even more expensive than last year as the maximum allowed dollar value of the goody bag was raised from $350 to $500.

So, what will the Fighting Irish and Buckeyes be bringing home with them from Tempe? Well, the official Fiesta Bowl Gift Package includes:

• Sony PSP
• Bulova men's watch
• Commemorative football
• Fiesta Bowl dart board and snack-filled duffel bag
Pretty decent take and I'm going to take a wild guess that the PSP is the item that will interest players the most. I'm also going to take another wild guess and assume that the snack in the snack-filled duffel bag will be of the Tostitos variety. Call it a hunch.

If you're curious how the Fiesta Bowl haul compares with the rest of the bowl games, here's the full list of all bowl game gift bags.

Game Week | by Pat

With the entire team now in Tempe and kickoff just under a week away, the Christmas break is officially over and Coach Weis is making sure that everyone knows that.

"We know it's going to be a tough test, but I can tell you this: We didn't come here just to drink margaritas," Weis said. "We came here to play a football game, and it's been well-documented that Notre Dame hasn't won a bowl game in over a decade, and we're hoping to change that."
Jim Davidson of The O-Zone took some pictures of the Irish as the team charter arrived in Tempe as well as some shots of the Fighting Irish running through their first practice under the warm southwest sun. Check them out here.

Monday, December 26, 2005

Notre Dame is Comin' to Town | by Jay

Charlie had a Christmas Eve presser to talk about the Fiesta Bowl, along with various and sundry other items (including the stellar grades our guys posted this last semester). You can read the presser transcript here, but if you have a half-hour to spare I recommend checking out the full video provided by Irish Eyes.

Interesting tidbits abound. Perhaps the most welcome news is that DJ Fitzpatrick is back to 100%. Charlie also ran down some of the Fiesta week schedule of activities for the team, including taking the whole squad to the bowl tomorrow night.

They'll be watching from the stands this time.

Fiesta Forecasting | by Jay

Here's a cursory Fiesta Bowl pick based on average points scored and given up by both teams.

First off, the raw data:

Ohio State's Schedule
vs OSU
Gave up
vs OSU
gave up
Miami (Ohio) 14 33.73 -19.73 34 23.45 +10.55
Texas 25 50.92 -25.92 22 14.58 +7.42
San Diego State 6 26.92 -20.92 27 27.08 -0.08
Iowa 6 30.55 -24.55 31 19.00 +12.00
Penn State 17 35.18 -18.18 10 16.45 -6.45
Michigan State 24 33.82 -9.82 35 28.73 +6.27
Indiana 10 22.52 -12.52 41 32.82 +8.18
Minnesota 31 36.18 -5.18 45 28.55 +16.45
Illinois 2 17.00 -15.00 40 39.55 +0.45
Northwestern 7 31.82 -24.82 48 32.45 +15.55
Michigan 21 28.82 -7.82 25 19.27 +5.73
OSU averages



Notre Dame's Schedule
vs ND
Gave up
vs ND
gave up
Pittsburgh 21 24.27 -3.27 42 22.09 +19.91
Michigan 10 28.82 -18.82 17 19.27 -2.27
Michigan State 38 33.82 +4.18 38 28.73 +9.27
Washington 17 21.55 -4.55 36 30.64 +5.36
Purdue 28 30.00 -2.00 49 28.09 +20.91
Southern Cal 34 50.00 -16.00 31 21.33 +9.67
BYU 23 33.45 -10.45 49 28.73 +20.27
Tennessee 21 18.64 +2.36 41 18.64 +22.36
Navy 21 32.64 -11.64 42 25.73 +16.27
Syracuse 10 13.82 -3.82 34 26.82 +7.18
Stanford 31 24.45 +6.55 38 30.64 +7.36
ND averages



The "averages" lines shows each team's strength adjusted by its schedule, i.e., Ohio State is -16.77 points better on defense than what its opponents usually score, and +6.92 points better on offense than what its opponents usually give up. ND is -5.22 points better on defense, and +12.39 points better on offense.

Let's apply those adjustments to the point per game (ppg) totals that the Irish and the Buckeyes usually put up. Offensively...

OSU offense ppg
ND def adj

OSU Offense
ND offense ppg
OSU def adj

ND Offense

And for the defenses...

ND defense ppg
OSU off adj

ND Defense
OSU defense ppg
ND off adj

OSU Defense

Finally, let's average ND's offensive adjusted score with OSU's defensive adjusted score (and vice versa) to get a score prediction for the game:

OSU Offense

ND Defense

OSU Score
( 27.33
30.01 )
/ 2
ND Offense

OSU Defense

ND Score
( 21.14
27.21 )
/ 2

So, that give us a (rough) final score of Ohio State 29, Notre Dame 24. Oddsmakers, by the way, have Ohio State a 4.5 favorite right now.

Saturday, December 24, 2005

Merry Christmas to all | by Pat

...and to all, a good night.

Thursday, December 22, 2005

Konrad commits | by Pat

By and large considered the top tight end recruit in the country, Konrad Reuland recently committed to Notre Dame and became the latest recruit in a stellar class that is rapidly approaching maximum occupancy. The 6'6" 240lb recruit had offers from just about every school in the country but selected the Irish over finalists USC, Ohio State, and Nebraska. It has been a few years since Notre Dame has been able to go into USC's backyard and land a recruit high on the Trojan wishlist, but apparently that is exactly what Coach Weis was able to do with Reuland. The odds were definitely not in ND's favor from the start as Reuland's quarterback last year at Mission Viejo is current Trojan freshman Mark Sanchez.

"Even two years ago," Reuland said Thursday night on CSTV's 'Tom Lemming's Generation Next,' "I never imagined myself playing for Notre Dame.".....

"Playing with Mark would have been awesome," Reuland said. "In the end I had to go with my heart and what I felt deep down inside.

"The place that stood out to me was Notre Dame."
Of course, one of the reasons why Reuland wouldn't have imagined playing for the Irish is due to the fact that he only started playing football two years ago. As a freshman in high school, Reuland attended Mater Dei high school where he played on the varsity basketball team that won the state championship and ended the season ranked as the nation's 3rd best team. But Konrad then transferred to Mission Viejo where he soon got noticed as a tight end for the perenially strong Diablos. He still plays basketball (#33), but football is his focus now.

As a tight end recruit, Reuland's accolades are a result of his ability both as a pass-catching tight end and a physical blocker. As Weis has noted about current Irish tight end Anthony Fasano, many tight ends can catch and run, and many can block, but very few can do both successfully. From all of the various internet reports, it appears that Reuland is among that select group of versatile tight ends.

It helps that Reuland looks to be the reciepent of some quality coaching. His high school coach is Bob Johnson, the director of the Elite 11 quarterback camps and father of former USC QB Rob Johnson. While some recruits are not exposed to offenses anywhere near the complexity of those taught in colleges, I think it's safe to say that Konrad has and that will only help him adapt faster to the teaching he will receive at Notre Dame. It also helps that Reuland spent time before high school in Germany living with relatives. I'd imagine that if you can learn physics in German, a college playbook isn't all that daunting.

Reuland is the 25th known verbal commitment to the Irish, and seeing as how that is the maximum number allowed in a single recruiting class, I figure it's worth going over the numbers one more time.

First off, Will Yeatman is not included in the count as he is technically a lacrosse recruit, despite his future plans to play football. He will be counted in the scholarship equation in 2007, but not now. That leaves the 25 other known verbal commits to Coach Weis and the Fighting Irish. James Aldridge and Chris Stewart have already been announced as early entry students, which means that they will enter Notre Dame in a few weeks and not officially count in the 2006 recruiting class tally. Fellow verbal George West is also rumored to be an early entry possibility but nothing official has been announced yet. If West does indeed join Aldridge and Stewart -- and we should find out for sure shortly as the spring semester is not that far away -- then this current recruiting class will have three remaining open slots for additional players. With offensive lineman Matt Carufel still considered a heavy favorite to pick the Irish (the current take is that he will make his choice public at the US Army All-American Bowl in early January), that leaves two seats open. The most likely candidates to fight for those spots are Florida offensive tackle Sam Young, Oklahoma defensive tackle Gerald McCoy, Colorado offensive/defensive tackle Butch Lewis, and California wide receiver Terrance Austin.

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Season's Thanks | by Pete

Mr. Charlie Weis
Football Team -- Head Coach
University of Notre Dame
C113 Joyce Center
Notre Dame, IN 46556

Dear Charlie,

Thanks a lot. I know that right now you're probably dissecting tape, talking to recruits, or some other general coaching activity, and I know you're not reading a football blog. The mere fact that I assume Notre Dame's coach is actually spending most of his day doing coaching type-things just shows how far the program has come in just one short year.

But to reiterate, thanks, Charlie, thanks for this year. I'm a senior, and as such, I've had the luxury of witnessing the entirety of the Tyrone Willingham era. Yes, I bought into it all at 8-0, but I was a freshman, and I also bought into the "Dude, they never card" and "Seriously, she's really got a great personality" philosophy. But I was there when it all came crashing down, where we all felt duped by those eight wins, and I spent the next two years swallowing smug grins from opposing teams' fans and 30+ point losses two or three times every year.

Then you came onto the scene, you took the reins of a team that everyone said couldn't do anything, that everybody said didn't have the talent to compete, and you made them do lots of things, and this nothing team is six points, even a single fourth-down-stop versus USC from playing in the national title game. With Ty, we were a single fourth down stop from . . . well, we never had the chance to have a fourth down stop against them, so who knows what would have happened. Wouldn't have been good, I'm sure of that.

It's been an incredible year, and I think it's one that Notre Dame and college football fans across the country will remember for a long time. People aren't saying that nobody cares about Notre Dame anymore, and people aren't saying that Notre Dame can't keep up in college football anymore, and it turns out that talented players do want to go to Notre Dame...they just need a reason. Most, if not all, is due to you, Charlie. You get "it," and you've brought "it" back to where it belongs.

Thanks for giving the great players on this team a chance. You gave players like the Shark, Stovall, and Quinn the opportunity to show the world what they could do when given the opportunity, and they've risen to the occasion. Beyond the millions of dollars you've made them by not burying them under poor coaching schemes, you've got all of us believing that they're some of the best in the country. And they deserve that, because they are.

Thanks for teaching college football that you can win -- and not just "at any cost". You've reminded us time and time again to readjust our perspective, which is something most Notre Dame fans sorely needed. From keeping your promise to Montana to congratulating USC on a tough win (I still don't know how you managed to do that) to showing the respect deserved of Navy and their alma mater, you've gone a long way towards pushing college football back toward games and school pride, rather than boosters and kinesiology. College football is a better place because of it, so thanks for reminding us.

Thanks for making people respect Notre Dame again. When I used to wear my gear around, I would get looks of pity, people seeing Notre Dame as nowhere near its former self, a real fall from grace. Talks about the team during Christmas break would include questions like "Man, what happened this year?" and "There's such a thing as the Capital One Bowl? Really?" Nowadays, I get big grins and questions like, "Heck of a year, huh?" and "Do you think you can make a run next year?" Trust me, coming from near the center of Pennsylvania, this is greatly appreciated.

But most of all, thanks for making me feel for Notre Dame football again. During games like the 38-0 Michigan game, the 37-0 Florida State game, and (take your pick of one of) the 31-point losses to USC, I found myself in a similar position every game: seated on the bench, head in my hands, wondering how soon I can go home from this masochism. I stuck around to support the players, because they needed it more than ever, but those were some of my deepest and darkest days as a Notre Dame student, mainly because I stopped caring about the games. I went because I knew it was the right thing to do, but I didn't think about it that much. It's been two months since the USC game, and I still let out an audible groan whenever I picture that ball grazing past Wooden's arm into Jarrett's hands. I don't think I'll ever stop groaning, and in a weird way, that feels really good. I care again, along with countless others, and I owe that to you. Thanks.

When you first showed up at Notre Dame, you shocked the "molder of men" mindset by saying, "You're going to have a hardworking, intelligent, nasty football team." We've all seen the hard-working, the team is playing intelligently (yes, eleven men belong on the field), and by God, I'm comfortable calling this team nasty. Charlie, you've taught this team to expect to win, and you've given them every opportunity to do so.

I'm trying really hard to not be cheesy or get all warm fuzzy on you, so I'll just leave it at this: it's been an incredible year, and Notre Dame has made leaps and bounds as a football team, and the credit goes to you, Charlie. I'm not sure what will happen against Ohio State, they're a great team, but I'm resting easy knowing that Notre Dame can play with any team in the country, rather than dreading a possible embarrassment in front of a national audience. I owe that to you, Charlie.

In summary...thanks for making me hate the fact that I have to graduate before next season.


A Grateful Senior

You Love Us, You Really Love Us | by Jay

As promised, we sent Orson (in his finest buckskins) to accept an award that we won earlier this week. Here's the text of his acceptance speech on our behalf.

O-si-yo, Weblog Voters. O-si-yo, First Nations. We bring you peace. Your giggles carry through this hall like the call of the lonely buck for his mate. This is the native dress of someone's people, so act straight. And yes, we've got the legs to carry this off, so stop gawking unless you're willing to take the merchandise home, sailor.

We would first like to accept this award on behalf of the good men behind Blue-Gray Sky, which has traveled across many rivers and fields to find itself here under the banner of heaven today. It is a blessing to both the people of the Notre Dame tribe and to all of those who ride the fruited plains with it. They are full like a ripe pomegranate with the pride of their people. Let every asgehya and asgaya rejoice.

We would also like to state that this tribal outfit is drafty in the most surprising places. That is all.

We would also like to thank those who watered our horses and signalled their way to victory: our readers, whose posting and support was constant like the rains in the land of the skunk, deserves much thanks. Wado, friends. Also deserving thanks is EDSBS, whose two lone tribesman carry such burdens in their pants as to earn the nickname "They who need hose reel for manpipes". Again, wado, friends.

Any one else who braved the cold plains of the internet to earn our victory, much
thanks. A victory for one tribe in the nation, though, is a victory for all. Ride away then with a piece of the trophy reader, and follow it as it wanders like the goose through the clear skies of the limitless internet.

And now we are going to change into something more comfortable immediately following this speech. Like a muu-muu or something other than this glorified mini-skirt. Peace, friends.
Thanks to everyone who voted for us in this meaningless contest of mouse clicks. Now, let's rotate this prize through the blogosphere, Stanley Cup-style, and give everybody a little taste.

At our victory party at the Linebacker last night we filled our trophy Cup with Long Island ice tea, drank it down, hooked up with a couple St. Mary's girls to the dulcet strains of "I Think I Love You", and woke up in front of Oak Hill with a nasty hangover and a severe case of frostbite. The Cup, however, was still intact. We now pass the Cup to Everyday Should Be Saturday, to the land of gator chomps and jean shorts. Enjoy a full bowl of kamikazes on us, guys (but you better rinse that sucker out first).

When you guys are done with it, pass it along to another worthy sports blog, and let us know where it's going so we can update the "Where's the Cup" chain.

Do we have a consensus? | by Pat

As the awards and all-american honors keep rolling in for Jeff Samardzija, he's an easy pick for one of the most dramatic breakout years in Irish history. His rise is production and publicity has been meteoric as he transformed from seldom used "possession receiver" to consensus All-American.

But hold on a minute. You see, you can't just call yourself a consensus all-american. Despite the fact that Jeff Samardzija has been named to eight different All-American teams, he is still not by definition a Consensus All-American yet. So just what will it take for Samardzija to be awarded the "Consensus" label and become the 79th Fighting Irish player to earn this honor?

Well, to be named to the official Consensus All-American team, it appears that a player must be named as a 1st team All-American by at least three of five select All-American lists. Those chosen All-American lists are the ones produced by the Associated Press, the Football Writers Association of America, the American Football Coaches Association, the Walter Camp Foundation, and The Sporting News.

The fifth and final list was released yesterday by The Sporting News and Jeff Samardzija was named as a 1st Team All-American wide receiver. However, among the other four "official" lists, only one, the Football Writers Association of America, also named him to the 1st Team. That means that Jeff only nabbed two 1st team honors and therefore will fall short of earning the Consensus tag. This despite also being named as a 1st Team All-American by, CBS,, and Sports Illustrated.

But it wouldn't be college football if there wasn't some loophole programmed into the system to give everyone some wiggle room. And in this case, a repeat of what happened with the 2004 team may just be that loophole. Last year, only four offensive lineman reached the 3 of 5 limit with two other lineman each being named to two teams. Rather than flip a coin, both were named to the Consensus All-American team.

That situation appears to have repeated itself with the 2005 lists at wide receiver. Southern Cal's Dwayne Jarrett was a unamious choice to all five 1st teams (another debate for another time), but the 2nd WR chosen varied from list to list. As previously mentioned, Samardzija was named 1st Team by The Sporting News and the Football Writers Association of America. The Associated Press and Walter Camp foundation decided to nominated Oregon State's Mike Hass. And the American Football Coaches Association in somewhat of a surprise selected Georgia Tech's Calvin Johnson. That means that only Jarrett reached the 3 of 5 limit and Samardzija and Hass tied with two selections apiece.

It then leads me to believe that, assuming they follow protocol from last year, both Samardzija and Hass will be named along with Jarrett as Consensus All-Americans. The official list will be released in early January so we'll have to wait until them for the final word. Personally, I don't see any reason for leaving either of them off the list. If Samardzija does get named to the Consensus All-American list he will be the first Irish player to earn the title since Shane Walton after the 2002 season and only the 2nd Irish player since Bobby Taylor in 1994.

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

the Graduatin' Irish | by Jay

The NCAA came out with its report on graduation rates yesterday, with a new calculation that takes into account transfers (the Graduation Success Rate, or GSR). Here's ND's release per

In football, Notre Dame achieved a 96 GSR rating, with only the United States Naval Academy (at 98) ranking higher.

Here are the top 10 for football:

Institution Football GSR
1. U.S. Naval Academy 98
2. Notre Dame 96
2. Wake Forest 96
4. Clemson 94
5. Vanderbilt 93
6. Northwestern 92
6. Stanford 92
8. U.S. Air Force Academy 91
8. U.S. Military Academy 91
10. Boston College 89
10. Rice 89

For the full report across all sports, check out the NCAA release, which features a handy searchable database of schools and their results.

Our opponents this year, by the way: Navy 98%, Stanford 92%, Washington 75%, Syracuse 75%, Purdue 70%, Michigan 68%, Southern Cal 55%, Ohio State 54%, Pittsburgh 48%, Michigan State 41%, and BYU 40%. (I wonder if the new calculation takes into account LDS missions for BYU. Doesn't look like it.)

Monday, December 19, 2005

Six Pickin' | by Jay

In case you thought the Pick Six was over...nuthin's over until we say it is. By the way, BGS = morons: we didn't realize until now that the BCS doesn't do an end-of-the-year poll after the bowl games. (Did you know that? It's one of those things you wouldn't think about unless, you know, you were setting up a pick'em contest based on poll rankings.)

The AP, of course, does have a final poll, and since we like the idea of extending the P6 until after the bowl season (you know, after Texas knocks off Southern Cal), we're switching back to their rankings. Next year we'll do AP all the way through.

Updated standings here. Blogpoller's division here.

Combo Athlete | by Pat

Coach Weis and the Fighting Irish football team gained another football recruit last week when Will Yeatman verbally committed to Notre Dame. But in a unique twist to the standard recruiting story, Yeatman committed to Coach Corrigan and the ND lacrosse program.

“I’m excited to be part of he program,” Will Yeatman said of his decision to come to Notre Dame. “I committed to coach Corrigan.

It’s funny I haven’t even talked to coach Weis yet. I’m going to call him in a little bit. He’ll probably read your article before I even talk to him.
A standout in both lacrosse and football, Yeatman plans on playing both sports at Notre Dame, but is coming into the University on a lacrosse scholarship. An All-American attackman in lacrosse and a tight end in football, Yeatman had scholarships from across the country from schools hoping he would choose them for either lacrosse, football, or both. The 6'6 255lb San Diego athlete ultimately narrowed down his list to Notre Dame and Maryland, his mother's alma mater, before selecting the Irish. As a football recruit, Yeatman drew offers from Nebraska, Michigan, Maryland, Arizona, Arizona State, Colorado, Boston College, Duke, and North Carolina.

In the end, the offer from Notre Dame to play both sports was enough to sway Yeatman to come to South Bend.
"It's a great fit," Yeatman said. "Notre Dame is a great academic institution and it has a rich athletic tradition. I'm really excited about the prospect of playing there."
Yeatman was recruited to Notre Dame as a tight end, but other schools saw him as a possible offensive lineman. For now it's safe to assume that Yeatman will stay at tight end, especially if he keeps up with the lacrosse as it can't be too easy to gain the weight needed for offensive line when you are running around as much as the average lacrosse player. Yeatman recognizes this and highlights the positives of his multi-sport cross training.

"Lacrosse is a great sport to help with my footwork (in football)," Yeatman said. "Maybe, too, the physical nature of football can help out in lacrosse."
The expected route for Yeatman from lacrosse recruit to football tight end is a bit roundabout due to NCAA regulations on how scholarships can be awarded. Since Yeatman is coming into Notre Dame on a lacrosse scholarship, he can practice, but not play with the football team in the fall. In the spring, he will play with the lacrosse team during their regular season. However, the following fall in what will be his sophomore year, Yeatman will have his scholarship moved from a lacrosse scholarship to a football scholarship. At this time he will be free to play for the football team, as well as the lacrosse team. His scholarship though will count in the 85-scholarship limit placed on the football team.

In the meantime however, Yeatman's scholarhip will not count against the 25 per class scholarship limit imposed by the NCAA. This means that the signing of the future tight end will not affect the number of offers left for the recruiting class of 2006.

Saturday, December 17, 2005

Say, mister, can you help a fellow domer who's down on his luck? | by Jay

BGS reader Jamie sends us this tale of ticket lottery woe. Enjoy.

Need One

I can’t feel more like a loser.

It’s Friday afternoon. I’m hungover and sitting in my boxers with my black socks still on from last night. And now I’ve got the chorus to Crowded House’s “Been locked out” on repeat in my brain.

Ten minutes ago, a 20-year old kid gleefully told me I was “unsuccessful” in the Fiesta Bowl ticket lottery, which is a lot like saying Kerry took silver in '04.

It wasn’t supposed to be this way. See, I’m connected.

Not in a “Patrick McCartan, I-can-get-one-of-the-only-four-black-coaches-in-America-fired” kinda way, but in a “I’ve-sat-on-the-fifty-with-Chuck Lennon-against-BC and watched-the-aformentioned-coach-continue-to-believe-halftime-adjustments-are-illegal” kinda way. I can call Lou Nanni – well, I guess anybody can call Lou Nanni – and he sometimes calls me back. I’m hooked up.

Besides, I wear the jacket (see photo from the '04 USC game. The smiles tell me it was taken pre-game). At Notre Dame, we revere our athletic achievements with such reverence that we don’t have varsity letter winners; we have monogram winners (as I love to explain to anyone who will listen). I did not wrestle often. And I never wrestled well. In fact, guys on the team would get into fights over who got to wrestle me at the end of practice when they were exhausted ("I got Reidy!")

But I still earned my monogram, which is SUPPOSED to give me some juice over normal students (some of whom probably could have beaten me in a wrestle-off for tickets). Yet, the 20-year-old told me Monogram Club members got no special treatment in the Fiesta Lottery. First, I got no wrestling groupies (actually, none of us got wrestling groupies, which is a hazard of attending a school where women find guys with mangled ears unattractive). Now, I get no tickets. THEN WHY THE HELL DID I GET MY ASS KICKED EVERY DAY FOR FOUR YEARS?

Perhaps this is karma, paying me back for missing a bowl game to which I had a ticket. In December 1991, four classmates and I drove down to New Orleans for a bowl of cereal with Steve Spurrier. Ah, The Big Easy. Just thinking about that glorious trip makes me want to hurl, just for old time's sake. I have since learned that I am allergic to Hurricanes (took three subsequent trips to confirm the diagnosis; I believe in being thorough, medically), but back then I couldn’t get enough of the sugary poison. And Cherry Bombs! What heavenly host planted the seed of inspiration for a man to soak marachino cherries in grain alcohol and then sell them on the street for a dollar apiece? Alas, there is a much steeper price to pay for such nectar. I woke up New Year’s morning on the floor of an “aromatic” room in the luxurious Days Inn, stepped over ten of my fellow thrifty buddies and found the bathroom. Where I spent the majority of the next eleven hours. It wasn’t so bad, though. I mean, I eventually had nothing left to vomit, so the last 160 minutes were just dry heaves (which is a great ab workout, by the way). But at least I could see the TV from the cold tile floor, so the day wasn’t a total loss. And my mom even believed me when I explained missing the last bowl game of my college career because, “I got ahold of some bad crawfish.” But then my Uncle Gary told her that was a euphemism for too much booze. He seemed upset later when I asked my aunt about that strange blonde lady I’d seen him kissing in NYC.

All I want for Christmas is to be sitting in a Tempe hotel on January 3rd, hungover, wearing boxers and my black socks from the night before.

Jamie's a good friend of ours and a terrific writer. He also wrote a hilarious book about his days as a Viagra salesman.

Friday, December 16, 2005

Film Session | by Jay

In case you haven't seen this Buckeye team up close and personal this year, ESPN Classic is showing three of this season's Ohio State games tomorrow, including both of their losses:

• 9am (ET), Ohio State at Penn State (L, 17-10)
Quote from Buckeye Commentary: "Put simply, the offense was an abomination at Penn State. Some of our problems can be attributed to Penn State's D and coaching staff, but we are so easy to defend. Our arsenal of plays may reach double figures in number."

• 3pm, Ohio State at Michigan (W, 25-21)
Quote from Buckeye Commentary: "Anytime you can go to Michigan, win and roll up nearly 420 yards of offense, it's always a very good performance. The offense did just that on Saturday. From the opening drive which they promptly took 80 yards for a TD, the offense was humming for most of the day...Troy Smith and Antonio Pittman were clearly the catalysts..."

• 6pm, Ohio State versus Texas (L, 25-22)
Quote from Buckeye Commentary: "Still, the D was nearly flawless after the first 2 series of the game. Forced fumbles and 2 INTs gave the offense prime field position most of the night. All 3 linebackers were excellent with AJ Hawk showing why he's the best LB in the country. The front 4 did yeomen's work by tying up the Texas OL so they could not release to the 2nd level. There were some other breakdowns (tackling and assignments) but all in all, a good performance, one that would win most games."
Set your Tivo, and be sure to give us your armchair scouting report. (Oh, and if you want to see a really great game, '88 ND-Michigan is also on tomorrow on Classic at 7am. I bet Gillette misses again.)

Do you feel lucky? | by Jay

Starting today you can call the ND ticket office to find out if you've won Fiesta Bowl tickets in the lottery.

We're curious how everything shook out, so we threw together this highly unscientific poll. (We also posted it over on NDN, so if you've already answered there, don't double up on the response.) Only enter if you sent in an application.

Take the Poll.
Enter once per application sent on your behalf (for instance, if you and your spouse both sent apps, take the survey twice).
Results shown here: Running totals.
Thanks for the response. This poll is for entertainment purposes only and the last time we checked, it was not certified by the accounting firm of Price Waterhouse.

Hope everybody going to the game is able to come up with tickets. And if you hear of any extras, let us know.

Thursday, December 15, 2005

the Edge | by Mike

Young man, there's a place you can go
I said young man, when you're short on your dough
When you think about it, you have to admit that bowl season is one big bundle of absurdity. Silly bowl names (the Pioneer PureVision Las Vegas Bowl! the San Diego County Credit Union Poinsettia Bowl! the Gaylord Hotels Music City Bowl!), Dangerfield-worthy bowl committee blazers, puerile (in a bad way) actions of an outraged fanbase, pissed off that no one was impressed with their marquee victory over 7-4 Fresno State (if that last bit left you wondering if something can be puerile in a good way, the answer is yes), and all manner of crazy pageantry, both sublime and silly.

With Teds' comprehensive review of the Buckeyes fulfilling our duty to provide legitimate analysis of the game, we're now free to present our contribution to bowl season inanity (inspired by the inimitable House That Rock Built). Here's our breakdown of factors that, though certain to have an impact on the game, the oddsmakers appear to have overlooked:

Ohio State
Notre Dame
Heisman Trophies



Distinctive Fashion Choice



Distance from Ann Arbor

192.83 miles

177.73 miles
Rock/Pop Alumni


Ted Leo
Gameday Tradition

Play, like, a tuba today

Play Like A Champion Today
Wide Receiver's First Name



Cornerback's First Name


Wu Tang Lyric

"Rumble with patrolmen, tear gas laced the function"

"We return like Jesus, when the whole world needs us"

90's Lombardi Award Winner


First round draft choice who said he was retiring from the NFL early to become a doctor became a...

Third-string ESPN analyst


Artistic Alumnus

Roy Lichtenstein

Investment Strategy

Straight cash, homie

Berkshire Hathaway


the gold standard
(Even William Jennings Bryan digs this one)

Novelty Song

The Dead Schembechlers,
"Bo For 24"

Marco, "The Day The Losing Died"

That looks like a 9-4-1 advantage for Notre Dame in these critical areas. Adjust your bets accordingly.