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  • Wonder, Think & Know: Numero Uno Edition

    by Mike Coffey

    As the late great Mike Royko once said, some things you wonder, some things you think, and some things you just know. And I know the occasion of ND being number one in the polls for the first time in over 6,000 days merits a special edition here.

    Notre Dame being #1 in the GSR shouldn’t be news to anyone — that’s water-is-wet territory. But I think it’s good for the sport that the #1 team in the classroom is the #1 team in the polls and might end up #1 in the nation for the season. College football needs that kind of standard-bearing, because if we’re left to the tender mercies of the Ohio States, Michigans, and LSUs of the world, we’ll sink deeper into the cesspool. I really hope the MSM picks up on this the way it should, because the mewling about how if you ain’t cheating you ain’t trying does no one any good. Sanction the bejesus out of the rule-breakers, because ND’s shown that it can be done the right way.

    Manti Te’o’s story gets more amazing to me every time I think about it. He came for his official visit the weekend we lost to an awful Syracuse team in terrible weather, but he committed anyway. He could have left for money aplenty after last season, but hung around. Now he anchors the best defense in the country, and is two victories away from a National Championship ring. Talk about reaping what you sow.

    I don’t care if there are pictures of Matt Barkley’s right arm hanging off of his body connected only by a single tendon. I’ll believe he’s not playing when SC takes their first snap in the game, and maybe not even then. Lane Kiffin is so full of shit his eyes are brown.

    Speaking of Lane, I love watching SC fans gurn as they hope against hope for a coaching change. Sorry kids, ain’t gonna happen. What kind of a quality coach is going to take a job facing three more years of scholarship reductions? Face it, you’re going to have to ride LK as far as he can take you through the rapids before you jettison him, and we’re going to watch and enjoy every nanosecond. Hope the mythical three-peat-but-really-one-peat was worth it, because the waitress just bought the check. $10 for one more song adds up after a while.

    Some of the youngsters out there have no idea how deep the ND hate can get. What you’ve experienced the last couple of years has been a lot closer to pity than animosity. But now you’re gonna see it in all its raw form, because there’s nothing college football fans hate more than a successful Notre Dame team. And it’s glorious. Don’t fear it, don’t shy from it, don’t be ashamed of it, embrace it. Feel the hate flowing through you. They’re not going to like us no matter what we do. You can’t please everyone, so you got to please yourself.

    A lot of you complain that NDN folks ask too much of the program. Well, think about how you’ve felt for the last 48 hours since Oregon and Kansas State fell and it became obvious the Fighting Irish would assume the mantle of #1. During my ND career, that’s how we felt all the time. Even when we weren’t #1, we were contending strongly for #1, and we knew we’d be there eventually. While I was a student, we were ranked in the top 25 for all 59 games, and ranked #1 for at least 19 of them, not to mention one entire offseason. That’s why we bitch, because we were too far away from that for too long. Now we need to stay here.

    I don’t think Maryland and Rutgers are being very smart. All of these moves are predicated on the lucrative nature of the Big Ten Network. But that network is based on a constantly-evolving content delivery system. People are fighting cable costs by creating their own version of a la carte programming, and five years from now, the television marketplace may not look at all as it looks today. When the formerly-Integer graduates can pay money for the BTN without requiring their local market provider to carry it, what exactly will the Terps and DORKS bring to the table other than being another mouth to feed? As soon as they decide you’re expendable, you get expended, so you gave up ACC tradition for some short-term ducats.

    The entire concept of 16-team conferences is ridiculous. Why bother being in a conference with someone you hardly ever play? No 16-team conference has stayed that way for long — it’s just too unwieldy. Patience is a virtue with the conference reshuffling — the system will implode, and a new and better one will rise out of it.

    17 Responses to “Wonder, Think & Know: Numero Uno Edition”

    1. “During my ND career, that’s how we felt all the time.”
      No kidding. I remember feeling bad for the Class of ’93 when it became clear they would go their ENTIRE FOUR YEARS without a NC. The horror! Every loss was a crushing blow.

    2. GraceHallChapel86 says:

      “I don’t care if there are pictures of Matt Barkley’s right arm hanging off of his body connected only by a single tendon. I’ll believe he’s not playing when SC takes their first snap in the game, and maybe not even then. Lane Kiffin is so full of shit his eyes are brown.”

      Extremely well said. I would also commend you on your remark about ND haters. It is downright irrational, and it goes beyond football. I saw a guy slamming ND for using the mascot “Irish” in reference to minorites like Manti. Just unbelievable stuff. I am loath to say it, but I’m afraid there’s some Catholic hating going on in the mix.

    3. george kaplan says:

      67 through 71. The loss to SC in 1970 was on my 21st birthday . Also 74. Not my birthday this year.

      • Geoffrey '73 says:

        The loss in 1970 still hurts. I happened to be on the South Quad near the flagpole when the bus from the airport returned late that night. I ran into some of the football team and they were really hurting. That night even the weather was against us. The monsoon rains that started at half-time made for treacherous conditions for catch-up football. Hopefully, the weather will not change at half-time this year.

    4. martinjordan says:

      Kudos to Pat Holmes for the excellent work he does with the athletes on the accademic side. These kids take real classes and get real degrees and that’s a great selling point to recruits.

    5. Class of “66. We got jobbed by the PAC 8 officials at SC in 1964 costing our class a chance to witness a National Championship. We did win the ’66 championship but I had graduated. Some of my classmates – Nick Eddy being the most prominent was on that team as a “red shirt” senior.

      I was at the Redskins game yesterday in ND garb and got 4 congratulations and one “Go SC”. I like those odds.

      Congrats to Brian Kelly and the team on an outstanding season and it ain’t over yet!

      • The loss in ’64 to USC was compounded by the no-bowl policy. We wanted to play Alabama so badly but it was not to be. So sad…..

    6. Happy for you that you’ve enjoyed the last 48 hours, you’ve earned it. I’m even happier for those fans who’ve enjoyed the last 3 years, sensing that we were indeed on the right track.

      It’s not that you (not you personally, but “yous guys”) ask too much of the program, it’s that you sometimes ask for the wrong things and even more often lack the humility to recognize that people who come up with different answers aren’t stupid or less passionate. The same lack of humility as the guy in Hoosiers who tried to get Coach Dale fired (coincidentally played by the same actor who played Dan Devine in Rudy). “Are you sayin’ Jesus Christ can’t hit a curveball?!?!”

      This isn’t intended to be an “I told you so” post. It’s a question of whether anyone’s learned anything. What will the reaction be the next time a new coach only improves the regular season record by only 1 game increments in his first 2 years? Will we focus too much on micro issues like playcalling, soundbites, and sideline demeanor or will we focus on the macro changes that are going on behind the scenes?

      • Mike Coffey says:

        Well, the next time a new coach decides after two years to run a more balanced offense, allow his defense to carry the team when it’s a strength, and start teaching instead of screaming, we’ll think he’s doing just fine.

        • Oh he hasn’t done any teaching the last 2 years? Damn, you really DO sound like that know-it-all fan from Hoosiers. That coach also screamed like an a-hole a lot more at the beginning of the story than he did towards the end. I don’t know this for a fact but I’d wager Kelly screamed much more his first 2 seasons at Cincy than he did in his 3rd. We’ve seen this movie before (figuratively and literally). It’s Management 101.

          By “more balanced” I think you mean “more imbalanced favoring the run.” I don’t mean that sarcastically. Many people prefer that strategy, and many others prefer getting the ball in your best player’s hands. Neither opinion is inherently wrong, both have merits for open minded fans. In the end, I don’t care much for overanalyzing playcalling. I’m sure there is some alternate universe where the 2011 Irish run the crap out the ball and still finish 9-3 or 8-4, while a portion of the fanbase is irate that their stupid coach stubbornly wasted the talents of the best WR in college football.

          • Mike Coffey says:

            Nowhere did I say he hasn’t done any teaching the last two years. And I’ve watched enough and taught enough that I’m comfortable saying I recognize out-of-control when I see it. There’s a reason he’s calmer on the sidelines this year, and a suggestion by higher-ups at ND to him that he be so probably had something to do with it. But I give him a lot of credit for having the self-awareness to recognize a problem and fix it. It’s a skill his three predecessors lacked.

            By “more balanced” I mean correcting an imbalance towards the pass he showed the last two seasons. When you have an immobile quarterback who doesn’t have a strong arm, any offensive gameplan where you pass more than you run is not a good idea. Not only are you’re making yourself one-dimensional and easier to defend, if your fastest player is a running back, you’re removing him from the equation unnecessarily. We saw that a lot of the last two seasons. This year, they seem to be taking advantage of their stable of running backs, not to mention a quarterback who makes the defense account for him. That’s not “running the crap out of the ball”, that’s making use of all your tools to win games, not just some of them because it’s the way you feel comfortable. That’s smart game-planning. That’s winning football. That’s good coaching. Again, I give Brian Kelly full credit for recognizing the error and correcting it.

            • Your exact words were “start teaching instead of screaming.” That’s a classic example of a false choice. If that’s not what you meant then choose your words more carefully next time.

              I think a lot of people are pantywaists on the screaming issue. Sadly most great football coaches are miserable SOBs. The day they hired Kelly I told a coworker “He seems like an asshole – and I think that’s exactly what they need!” His demanding personality, warts and all, was necessary to change the culture and change it he did.

            • Mike Coffey says:

              I have no problem with a coach being an asshole provided that he or she is adding some value. But when you ask a player to do something beyond their skill set and then scream at them because they failed, that’s being an asshole to no valid purpose.

              If it would have made things clearer to say “start teaching instead of screaming on the sidelines”, I’ll do that next time. I figured the rest of the sentence went without saying, as the sidelines is the only place the screaming was public.

        • So, nothing. You haven’t learned anything.

          The kids who were playing like crap in year one — those losing to Tulsa, getting trounced by Navy and humiliated by Stanford — needed to be yelled at. That is teaching. I’m sorry. If you want to have a tea party or you want to play cards, fine. If you want football, expect coaches to yell at you.

          This year’s kids are more mature and they’re playing much better. That’s why Coach Kelly isn’t screaming at them week in and week out. This year’s kids aren’t fumbling after going on 90 yard drives time and time again. That’s why Coach Kelly isn’t screaming at them.

          Cause and effect, Mike. Think about it.

          • Mike Coffey says:

            We lost to Tulsa because the coach eschewed an in-range field goal attempt by a kicker who had yet to miss that season in favor of a backup QB throwing a pass into the end zone when he’d already thrown two interceptions.

            We lost to Navy because our defensive coordinator got flummoxed by the veer.

            They’re playing better, no doubt about it. But they’re still making mistakes. The difference is instead of flying off the handle at those mistakes, Brian Kelly is talking to them.

            Cause and effect.

    7. Jake in DC says:

      I too was at the Redskins game yesterday in full Notre Dame regalia and received five congrats and no “fight on b.s.” stuff. Ran into one guy with a Baylor jersey (RGIII replica) and he asked how I liked their game against Kansas State. What was I going to say? “It’s a shame you crushed the last hope of an aging relic?” No….I said I enjoyed it very much and thank you for showing the media that Collin Klein is nowhere near the footba;; player Manti Te’o is. And he actually agreed. Very good sign.

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