by Mike Coffey
I was working at one of my kids’ fundraiser Sunday morning, and a fellow parent who knew I was an ND alumnus came over to chat about the loss Saturday night. He’s a B1G grad, but of a school we never play, and we share a mutual loathing of those in Ann Arbor, so the commiseration was mutual.
One part of the conversation, however, got me thinking because I’d seen a similar sentiment expressed on Rock’s House in the 24 hours after the game:
HIM: I still don’t understand why you’re so pissed about this.
ME: Why would I not be? We lost to !@#$ing Michigan.
HIM: I understand why you’re pissed in general. But you’re REALLY pissed. Didn’t you say to me a couple weeks ago this probably would be a two-loss ND team without your quarterback? You were already figuring they’d lose two games, so why get so mad when they lose the first one?
He’s certainly correct about my prediction to him. My general feeling, expressed to many over the summer, was that ND would go 10-2 with both losses being within the “big four” on the schedule — Michigan, Oklahoma, Southern Cal, and Stanford, probably in that order of probability. So technically, yes, I thought Michigan was the game on the schedule ND would most likely lose. By that logic, perhaps I should be more philosophical about the Irish being 1-1.
But it doesn’t work that way, because we have no fate but what we make. There are no letters in Belshazzar’s palace proclaiming Notre Dame tasting defeat in the Big House or any place else. When foot meets pigskin to start a game, it’s 0-0, and anything can happen. Granted, those things happen with varying assigned probabilities, but nothing with a probability greater than zero should ever be discounted. A second consecutive trip to the BCS title game after this season certainly was unlikely. But it was not impossible, and to cavalierly dismiss the lost chance simply because of the low probability isn’t the way I roll.
In fact, that’s probably the reason I’m still angry about the loss. Notre Dame had a chance to win their most losable game of the season, and thanks to poor performance on defense and mind-boggling incompetence in game-planning on offense, that chance passed them by. It’s downright foolish to expect ND fans to be sanguine in the loss because Everett Golson isn’t here and we were going to lose games anyway and blah blah blah. We had the chance to win, and due to avoidable errors, we didn’t.
I refuse to sleepwalk through this season, giving it up as a mulligan simply because the starting quarterback got himself suspended. That’s loser talk. We have a fourth-year player and 20-plus-game starter at the position, and very few true freshmen being asked to go above and beyond. If this staff can’t properly put together game plans to maximize their talents, that’s on the staff, not Golson.
Losing to Michigan doesn’t preclude Notre Dame from having a great season (although the stats since 2000 may say otherwise). The only thing that will stop the Irish will be themselves. And I certainly won’t be happy about that no matter what I predicted in August.