Standards from a cockeyed old alum ...
You can blame Chuck's reference in a thread below for whatever follows.
I'm old. I'm worn out.
I've been asking myself, what's the point?
So many people seem satisfied with chronically-inept special teams, a defensive coordinator who can't consistently defend the option and a red-zone offense that struggles mightily to score touchdowns no matter who plays quarterback, that I wonder why I should give a rat's ass.
So many people see a 2014 receiving corps (distinguished from TE) that will be headlined by an inconsistent Davaris Daniels and one other player who currently has double-figure catches, and think that "looks good."
Or a stable of running backs headlined by a tough-as-nails, join-you-in-a-foxhole kind of guy who surely will be on the cover of GQ long before he's ever on the cover of SI, one beast of a physical specimen who may be starting to show signs of brilliance, two enigmas and (at the moment) exactly zero recruits on the way, and think that "looks good."
Or a quarterback who's not currently enrolled at the University and who will have gone nearly 20 months without taking a live snap, backed up by two kids who have never taken a single live snap between them in college, and think that "looks good."
And I wonder if maybe it's not me ... maybe things do look good.
Believe it or not, I did think things looked good for our defense when we were returning eight (seven after Spond's retirement) starters from 2012. Sure, Te'o and Lewis-Moore and Motta were huge contributors, but we were heading into the fourth season of Kelly's rebuilding plan and we had the Frank Broyles Assistant Coach of the Year running our defense, so I figured we'd be at least as good on defense.
No, seriously. I did.
Just like I thought we'd be able to take a stud like Zach Martin and another stud like Chris Watt and run the damn ball against Purdue behind them. Then I found out Purdue decided to not let us run the ball against them, but graciously allow every other team on their schedule run the ball against them. Ungrateful fuckers. For that kind of attitude, we should take them off our schedule.
But I'm sorry, I can't help it. The biggest reason I can't keep myself from having high standards is that I became a Notre Dame fan when Ara Parseghian was the head coach. At an age when I didn't understand scholarship limits or recruiting or anything else, I just knew that Notre Dame was in the top 10, every year.
Things have changed. Scholarship limits, population shifts, television money, cheaters (ha! that one hasn't changed a damn bit), jumbotrons, field turf and spiffy uniforms.
I know all that, but I can't change my DNA.
But there's another factor. I was lucky enough to be a student for the '77 national championship season. My kids were raised on Notre Dame football -- very mediocre Notre Dame football, as they attended their first game in 1998.
When they became students at Notre Dame, I told them that life at Notre Dame is different when the football team is truly great. Not storm-the-field-when-the-team-beats-West-Virginia-to-keep-its-chances-at-bowl-eligibility-alive great, but truly great.
But I didn't try to convince them. I knew I couldn't.
Then last season happened. And they lived it.
We can debate the psychological implications all day, but the truth is indisputable. Notre Dame is different -- and I'll argue better -- when the football is truly great.
Not to diminish the Notre Dame experience of anybody who wasn't fortunate enough to attend during a season when Notre Dame made a deep and legitimate run at a national championship, but the food tastes less crappy, the wind blows a little more gently and the girls look a little prettier when the football team is on top of the college football world.
Students are more inclined to take road trips, and the trips are more epic, when the team is great. Seriously, how many former students are going to talk about their great trip to El Paso 25 years from now? Outcome of the game notwithstanding, I guarantee you that there are 25,000 more legendary tales from last winter's trip to Miami.
So I guess that's why I have standards. Because none of this "first Notre Dame head coach to win at least seven games in his first four seasons since Parseghian" crap means fuck.
Only true greatness does. And we aren't even fucking close.