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  • Is the Winning Move Not to Play?

    by John Vannie

    Lost in the euphoria of Notre Dame’s first opportunity to play for the national championship in two decades is the sobering truth that mighty Alabama of the Southeastern Conference represents the opposition. It is said that the battle-tested Crimson Tide could hold their own in the NFL, so the Irish might want to show up in Miami a week early and attempt to take on Northern Illinois in the Orange Bowl. Why not let Florida State play the role of the Washington Generals as Alabama adds another trophy to the SEC’s collection in a state where capital punishment is still legal?

    There are several reasons why no one would blame Notre Dame if it elected to stay inside the locker room on January 7. Alabama’s running game is the most devastating and powerful land force that has been seen on this planet since the German Wehrmacht rolled through Poland in 1939. Its running backs are rarely brought to the turf by fewer than three defenders. The Tide’s receiving corps is faster than the Jamaican 4×100 relay team. Quarterback A.J. McCarron has broken SEC passing records set by Peyton Manning.

    Defensively, Alabama is so powerful that opponents routinely punt on third down to avoid losing more yardage.  The linemen and linebackers are virtually unblockable, and only fail to make the tackle when they have to step around the broken bodies of their opponents on the way to the ball carrier. When Ronald Reagan proposed spending billions to deploy the Star Wars missile defense system in the 1980’s to provide an impenetrable aerial shield, it was only because the players in Alabama’s secondary had not yet been born.

    If that’s not enough, the legendary Alabama players who take the field during punts and kickoffs were the inspiration for coining the term “special” teams.

    Anyone who follows the SEC would tell you that the better teams in the conference would match up favorably with the 1966 Green Bay Packers, the 1975 Pittsburgh Steelers, the 1985 Chicago Bears or the 1993 Dallas Cowboys. The BCS should consider a running clock in this championship match to keep the score in double-digits, otherwise the beating suffered by the Irish might seem worse than five years of famine and pestilence in their native country.

    Tide Coach Nick Saban is an unparalleled motivator and master strategist. He is routinely consulted by world leaders ranging from Bill Gates to Bill Belichick. Saban developed a preference for Dos Equis well before it became interesting. To keep from getting bored in his preparation for Notre Dame, he is consulting on a part time basis with Congress to keep the country from going over the fiscal cliff. Once this latest championship game is history, Saban’s likeness will reportedly be added to Mount Rushmore. Notre Dame’s Brian Kelly, a lowly Irishman from Boston, will have all he can do to refrain from asking Saban for an autograph during the pregame press conference.

    Meanwhile, Notre Dame will field a ragtag collection of bookworms wearing shiny gold hats, lead by a bearded midget in a tacky green suit. The Irish schedule consisted of exactly zero SEC teams during the regular season, so they have no idea what they are getting themselves into. Their best player, Manti Te’o, is a mild mannered kid from Hawaii who obviously failed high school geography. He set sail for the University of Southern California only to end up in Northern Indiana, yet he is responsible for aligning his fellow defenders before each snap.

    I’ve heard of inspirational underdog stories before, but this game has nothing to do with Hollywood.

    In fact, Notre Dame fans should send the children to bed as the broadcast may evoke an “R” rating for excessive violence. I’m almost embarrassed to say that I’ll be there  and would not miss it for the world. Almost.

    49 Responses to “Is the Winning Move Not to Play?”

    1. Let’s not forget that David slew Goliath… 🙂

    2. Jvan
      You have outdone yourself – a true classic…instant HOF…even that Vannie guy would be proud

    3. Mark Napierkowski '88 says:

      Well said, Vannie. The lowly Irish have no shot at staying on the field with the all-powerful Crimson Tide. To that point, Alabama has decided to actually forego their allotted 15 practices and will instead hold a few casual meetings to prepare for their 2013 season opener against VA Tech. Rumor has it that they will sit their starters, and that some starters may not even suit up.

    4. Mark from NH says:

      Well Done! The Las Vegas line opened up with Alabama 8.5 point favorites and I love it! I have supreme confidence in this team and they play so much better with a chip on their shoulder when no one else (outside of ND Nation) believes in them. Go Irish!

    5. Geoffrey '73 says:

      Nightmares of the Orange Bowl and Nebraska, a year or 2 before the 1973 National Championship!

    6. olwhatshisface says:


    7. Bob Howsam, Jr. says:

      Vannie you’re the man!

      Not only are the Irish huge dogs, the artist formerly known as Vanderbilt (a true powerhouse in it’s own right)’s head coach awoke from his coma just long enough to vote Notre Dame 4th in the country. Nice.

      I sincerely believe the Bearcats would’ve beat the Gators if Kelly had stayed to coach that game. We’ll never known, but we do, thank God, get the opportunity to see if BK accomplish what every great ND before him did. I venture to say that none of those other coaches faced such a formidable opponent.

      After its win over Georgia, Barrett Jones talked at length how much the Bama O line enjoyed rushing the ball down the Bulldogs throats even when they knew it was coming. Don’t think for a minute his comments were missed by any of the Irish defenders.

      I look forward to the analysis of the big game, but for me, there’s only one true key. Can the Irish D physically hang with the Tide’s punishing O line and stop the run? I believe they can, but Kelly may need to rotate some fresh bodies in to keep them fresh.

      I can’t wait until January 7th.

      • The difference between Georgia’s defense and ND’s defense is that Georgia has had problems with the run all season. ND has been able to effectively and consistently stop the run… especially in the red zone. Barrett can run his hole all he likes, but, I sincerely do not see Alabama gaining more than 150 yards (between Lacy and Yeldon) against the Irish front seven. If they do, I will be awfully surprised.

      • Barrett also said that his team doesn’t “…have stars. That is why I love this team.”, so, we know for a definitive fact that he is dellusional. I mean, the only logical conclusion is that he must be if he doesn’t see that Yeldon, McCaron and Lacy aren’t team stars.

    8. ND Chicago says:

      Georgia gave up over 350 yards on the ground and almost won!!! I guess that great SEC defense isn’t played in Georgia. Although they’re still a very good team, this Alabama team is not nearly as good as their two most recent National Championship teams. Having said that, they’re still the champs and it will take a great effort to defeat them. If ND is turnover free and plays the D they’ve played all year it won’t take a miracle for ND to win, despite what the SEC kool aid drinkers (and ESPN) claim.

      • Georgia yielded 350 yards rushing to Alabama because its interior line is not that great and has been suceptible to the run all season. Look at how South Carolina gashed them – 230 yards. Most teams have been able to take Georgia’s interior line to the woodshed the entire season.

    9. Vannie,
      But, but don’t they actually play the games? ‘Would you recommend the players to suit up and actually play their lives on that field?

    10. “Saban developed a preference for Dos Equis well before it became interesting.”

      Loved that line. I also love the spot we are in, the heavy underdog against the mighty SEC. The only thing I would change is have Bama be #1 and us #2, but other than that, I couldn’t have it any other way. The setup is perfect for “upset” city.

      Go Irish!

    11. IrishGrassHopper says:

      Closest thing I have read to the great Jim Murray’s work and style since he passed. Nicely done!

    12. Simply an amazing job of writing what many of us have been thinking. I’m looking for an Irish typical game of defense and just the right amount of offense to stymie the vaunted Alabama. They are not anywhere close to the level of last year..

      Go Irish

    13. ndgoldandblue says:

      I love the sarcasm, but, with the exception of fans from the SEC and Notre Dame haters, not too many people are predicting a blowout. Most of the objective pundits feel that the two teams are fairly even with only a slight edge going to Alabama. Of course, none of them will go as far as to say that Notre Dame will win it, but I haven’t heard any of the experts predict a blowout. Everyone’s predicting an Alabama victory, but a Notre Dame victory isn’t out of the realm of possibility. In short, to most outside observers, it isn’t a case of Rocky vs. Drago; it’s more Rocky vs. Creed in the sequel. Creed was the favorite, but Rocky could pull off the upset. That wasn’t the feeling in part 1.

      Duke: “You beat that man like I never saw no man get beat before, and the man kept coming after you. We don’t need that kind of man in our lives.”

    14. I’m a little ticked off !! Irish were supposed to be 13 pt. underdog! Let’s settle for at least 12. It will make the Dos Equis moment even more interesting. GO IRISH !!!

    15. Mr. Vannie: I really didn’t think we had much of a chance until I read your article. The key will be to get the Alabama team to read it, too!

    16. Here come the Irish: “a ragtag collection of bookworms wearing shiny gold hats, lead by a bearded midget in a tacky green suit”. LMAO so hard I still have tears running down my pants!

    17. Why did Alabama lose to Texas A&M (who has lost 2 Games) if they are so mighty ? Your article doesn’t make sense. How could they play in the NFL when they lose to a second rate college team.

    18. Great piece of writing. Really good fun. But like Fox news, credible entertainment with a false premise. Obama won.
      So will ND.

    19. Love this piece of writing – Bravo!

    20. we’ll show up

    21. Can we please keep the politics off these message boards.

    22. Whitecoat says:

      The only thing I am happy about is that we are not playing at home.
      ND ’62

    23. GraceHallChapel86 says:

      So incredibly well said it’s difficult to add anything to it. Satire is intended to bring perspective and yours does the job admirably.

    24. ND 31
      Tide 20
      There really isnt anything else to say

    25. Gary Canori, '72 says:

      The game should be close, but if it turns into a bit of a high scoring affair, I believe ND has the fire-power to win. Golson can put points on the board either with his feet or arm, and Riddick & Wood have the speed to break some long scoring runs.
      I think the game may be decide by the ND defensive secondary.

    26. Biggest Fan says:

      The pundits are forgetting…

      The Tide lost a game this year.

      Georgia was not beat by The Tide. They were beat by poor clock management

      And Teo cannot be blocked!!!

    27. Biggest Fan says:

      Will Diaco be with us next year?

      • Bob Howsam, Jr. says:

        No way, no how … unless Kelly and the administration are willing to offer Bobby D head coaching quan. He’s ready to take the next step, and as Assistant Coach of the Year, he’ll never command more money. There are so many teams looking for college coaches it’s ridiculous. Even Golic could get one if he wanted one, and that’s saying something. 🙂

        • Bob Howsam, Jr. says:

          So much for what I know. Either Diaco passed on BC or BC passed on him as the job went to Addazio. I have to believe BC simply decided to go in a different direction, but who knows?

    28. Games are nice, but theoritical match ups debated by pollsters, computer geeks, and other pundits create so much more interest. It create far more interest if ND did what was right for all of college football and didn’t play. That would make the game much more legendary.

    29. Bob Howsam, Jr. says:

      The hardware collection continues. Kelly wins the Home Depot Coach of the Year and Eifert wins the Mackey. If there was a Rollie Fingers Award, Rees would win that. If Manti pulls the upset and wins the Heisman, it’ll be a clean sweep. And when we finish it off by giving the Tide the Heisman, we can all die happy.

    30. I for one don’t think we have seen ND’s best all-around game.

      I think Alabama will see it

      Go Irish

    31. tigerpaw066 says:

      Hmmm….Last time these two teams met in a bowl game, it was kinda similiar. Mighty ‘Bama and the underdog Irish. I believe the Irish ended up national champions in ’73

    32. JV
      The title should be…. the Winning Move Not to Play? and the shutout of ND students attending the NC game.

      ND Juniors and Seniors were given the death sentence on tickets this year…some say 2500 …some say 3000 allotted to ND and Saint Mary students. ND got 17000 tickets in hand… Sorry if I am off topic here but as a parent of a ND Junior it is way sad to hear they “lossed” in the lottery.

      Please tell me you do not feel remorse for the student body with the tickets at a 37% success rate for ND undergrads…as stated by the ticket office. I think it is a true shame that we give so little to our base of student-fans to not be there for the NC in Miami. If we got 17000 we should make sure our students get the seats first off.

      • Mike Coffey says:

        What about alumni and other people who have donated for a lot longer than three years whose money helped make the education of those students possible?

        Is it your position that the first 8,000 tickets should go to students?

        17,000 wasn’t going to be enough to satisfy everyone, so I think ND did the best it could distributing them, with the exception of Anthony Travel.

        • Mike
          Three points … all yours.

          1.”What about alumni and other people who have donated for a lot longer than three years whose money helped make the education of those students possible?”

          I for one can’t buy the theory of alumni helping to defray costs of an ND education no matter how much money. Maybe for the under representented in the class of undergrads it is true. I would say you might be right. I am not on the list of parents who benefit from alumni making the education possible. We pay full tuition at 53K a year for an undergrad and we are very far from even being comfortable or just Ok with finances. Our choice was to do whatever it takes to get our first born son to ND if he was accepted and the choice and our efforts have never been regreted. As far as alumni status goes and donation counting…I wish someone would poll the alumni on how they felt about 37% of current ND students getting a chance to view a National Championship versus 63% getting left out.

          2. Is it your position that the first 8,000 tickets should go to students?

          Well Mike my heart says yes to 8,000 tickets going to students of the 17,000…my mind says those students who have bought season tickets for 4 years should have been put at the top of the list. Actually all students who bought season tickets from freshman year and up the line to senior year should have been in the lottery mix…no matter class year. From there you work down from Seniors with a full season ticket history to Juniors and Sophomores and finally Freshman. The number 8,000 would be obviously reduced from attrition…some ND students do not buy a season ticket and some ND students never go to a game – given the diversity of our ND student body with very distinct and noble paths for being here, not including football.

          3. “so I think ND did the best it could distributing them, with the exception of Anthony Travel.”

          Do not know the details of your exception to this travel firm but I can say ND did not do it’s best in student distribution. 17,000 ND ticket allotment….2500 or 3000 students getting tickets (reports vary). If you moved that number to 4000- 4500 and got priority to upper classmen with a full history of season ticket buying (an added 1000 to 1500 tickets) – I would not be posting right now. At that range we are talking about a quarter or more of ticket allotment going to students. Students who have been throught it all at ND…the ups and downs of the football program for 1 and 2 and 3 years.

          Can you honestly tell me that is not within reason? If everyone wasn’t going to be satisfied by the 17,000 ND allotment why make the kids, our students, be the first ones on the chopping block. Seems to me they should have been the last to not get a chance at a first glimpse of a National Championship title game since 1988.

          We love ND and always will but this ticket allotment pertaining to the student body is just wrong.

          • Mike Coffey says:

            37 percent is a pretty good number when you consider 13 percent of alumni requests will be fulfilled through their lottery.

            Sorry, we’ll just have to agree to disagree.

    33. Jack McGee says:

      Some nice satire here today; clever.
      Let’s take a sobering look at the facts: Sabin is a football genius and will assume nothing; Sabin has several excellent weapons in his backfield, fewer in the receiving corps. However, I think he will try to exploit his aerial game immediately and his greed will be his undoing. The Irish have not been aggressive in pass defense (see earlier post on “Rope a Dope” defense); on this day they will be going for the ball like they never did this season. The Tide likes to throw to the flats. So, as Ma’ Kettle used to holler in the old movies:
      ” Come and get it, boys.”
      God bless the Irish.

    34. It’s about time Alabama had a real challenge!
      Looking forward to getting a sec team out of their! GO IRISH!!

    35. Biggest Fan says:

      Too may award banquets…Too much press and distractions. Now that week is over and next is final exams and Christmas break. The team needs to put the blinders on and focus on ‘Bama with no distractions. This will come down to coaching and, right now, I am aconvinced we have the best staff. Make it happen, Irish!!

    36. Biggest Fan says:

      So fa, Diaco stays. WI is the scarry vacancy because of the Alvarez connection.