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Oct 26, 2010

Sending out an S.O.S.

I have to admit that I was unable to review Saturday's loss to Navy, the post-game comments made by either side, or pretty much anything related to Notre Dame football until three separate events changed my perspective today.

http://www.allisonwagnerphotography.com/

The first took place in South Dining Hall, where I happily ate my go-to meal between law school classes after a long fall break without the mexican wraps I have perfected over the 5 years I have been eating there.  As I went right-right (you Domers know what I'm talking about) I saw one of my friends on the team.  After we talked and laughed and went our separate ways, I realized that I hadn't even thought about how badly the team had just gotten beat or how miserable I had been afterwards.  I know this particular player goes all out every game and invests a tremendous amount of emotional energy into every play.  If he can keep his head up and his spirits high, so can all of us fans.  After all, as fans, the only way we can contribute to the success of our team is by showing loyal support and getting loud at the games (I'll save my thoughts on our consistent failure to fulfill either of these duties as of late for another post).  I guess my message to everyone wallowing in their own pity-parties is this:  Help us Save Our Ship by keeping the faith and staying loyal.

The second took place when I got home from class and checked our blog for comments.  I wasn't expecting anything profound due to the pessemistic vibes I've been catching from ND Nation lately, but instead I read these words from a self-proscribed "Navy Type":

"As a kid in the 1940's I never missed a radio broadcast of Notre Dame's football games - never thinking that someday I'd be at a school that played them.  Some years later, then a Mid, I clearly remember sitting in the stands and feeling the deep respect we all had for ND.  Sure - we wanted to win, but no matter, we always came away with a respect for what ND was, is - and I know, always will be, not only in football, but in all you do."    -Jim ... USNA '54

Opposing fans don't usually post very nice things on enemy blogs.  Navy fans and Notre Dame fans don't follow the "usual" trend, though.  I'd like to thank Jim for reminding me of the big picture.

The third event was simple.  Since the weather is changing quickly in South Bend and shorts will no longer be an option in a few weeks, I went for a run.  Nothing in the world can compare to our campus on a crisp fall day when the leaves are changing and the crisp smell of autumn is in the air.  Nothing, that is, except the perfect moment when the Band of the Fighting Irish unexpectedly strikes up the Victory March just as you are passing between Notre Dame Stadium and Touchdown Jesus.  Let's just say my vision was a little blurrier during the remainder of my run.  I still have no idea how it happens, but every time I begin to doubt the continuing power of the Notre Dame mystique, a moment like that comes along and unexpectedly rocks my perspective back into focus.

We may have been shipwrecked by Navy on Saturday, and our football program may be sending out an S.O.S. right now, but something tells me that staying the course will prove worthwhile once we weather the storm.

GO IRISH!  BEAT HURRICANES!  
(No, not those Hurricanes, the Golden ones)

16 comments:

  1. Nicely put, man. Thanks for the much needed injection of perspective... & maybe even optimism.
    Also, nit-picky detail: Tulsa is one of those odd teams w/ a singular mascot - they're the Golden Hurricane, w/ no "s" (kinda like Stanford is just "the Cardinal").
    Here's hoping the Irish play inspired, pissed-off football this Saturday and help us forget their most forgettable effort in a long time.

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  2. Let me add. Ian Williams will recover.

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  3. Great reflection on this past weekend. Enough to make any Domer homesick for South Bend (who knew that was even possible?). I also read the comment from Jim following our defeat at the hands of Navy and it made me proud that even though we lost, we're still Notre Dame, and that's a pretty good thing to be. I'm glad the players are staying positive, even if their prolific fan base is not, but for those players that aren't feeling too hot, I'm in agreement with anonymous - I hope they take their anger and agression out on Tulsa this Saturday.

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  4. I have been watching ND football games since I was a freshman in 1964. I can not remember such a terrible loss. The defense was bad the offense was worse. This was a game against a team over matched by everyone's standards. We planned stale. We were slow. We did not even look like we were trying. I know we have lost other games badly. But they were usually to teams like USC or LSU. Teams with equal or better talent. This loss was just horrible. The game plan was poor the execution worse. ND needs atheletes who really want to win. These guys played flat against WMU. They did not show up against Navy. There is absolutely no way to justify their performance or lack thereof. Brian Kelly needs to be held accountable for a game like that. Just saying we stink or that Navy was the better team is the type of silly banter we have come to accept these days. bench a player if he doesn't do his job. If he wants to transfer then good riddens. The idea that being at ND gives you somekind of break from excellence is absurd. Where are the players who sacrificed their bodies so ND would prevail. I have defended this team for too long. Until they earn it on the field they get no more passes!

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  5. ND's arrogance lies in its athletes are so heavily recruited that sooner or later their strength and skill will wear down their opponents. Just look at the defensive scheme. ND ran a 3-4 front seven the whole game (NT, 2 DEs, 2 inside LBs, 2 outside LBs/corners). Any team that gives up 80+ rushing yards to the fullback would have shifted to a 4-3 with 2 beasts in the gaps between the center and the guards. ND never did make that adjustment, and in addition, never put in a goalline defense. LBs making tackles after the runner crosses the goal line is a sure sign of not enough horses on the D line. How the D line coach or all the other coaches could not see that and make adjustments is sickening.

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  6. The tale is told of the locker room at B.C. a few years ago prior to the Eagles playing the Irish in Boston of a autumn evening.

    Quoth the coach to his players - "How many of you were recruited by Notre Dame?"

    Not a hand was raised.

    18-0.

    Nothing much has really changed, and I don't think it's Kelly's fault. Where is the leadership, where is the fight? Where is that ONE individual who gets furious at what he sees being done to his teammates and begs the coach to put him out there?

    There is no fight in this team and there hasn't been for a darn long time.

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  7. My God! You need to add an audio back. How about some sad, violin music? Maybe Stratovarius' "Forever?" Whatever . . .

    This team has played like crap. And they played like magnified crap vs. Navy. As an older alum, I can remember what Notre Dame football looks like. Unless you're, at least, a 33-year-old law student, YOU CAN'T!

    All hearts and flowers aside, there are plenty of beautiful campuses in this country where you can jog and get all emotional. Some even have real football programs, and teams that play with pride and a sense of tradition. Why don't you take a trip to Annapolis and jog around for some real inspiration, before writing your next commentary.

    Oh, how I miss the changing color of leaves on the beautiful Notre Dame campus. And, (oh) how I miss a real, kick-ass, top-ranked Notre Dame football team! You need to see a few of those in your lifetime.

    ~mpsND'72

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  8. Hey, Anonymous from the Class of '68, I'm a year younger than you, but I began attending ND games when Paul Hornung was running wild on a 2-8 team. I missed four years of games, including those marvelous wins in '66, because there was this little skirmmish going on across the Pacific I thought I ought to attend before fulfilling my life-long dream of going to ND (BTW, I never turned right when I ate at the South dining hall). Nevertheless, I've seen as much ND football as you, and I think you doth protest too much. While the offense at times looks confused due to Crist's decision-making, and the back 7's play too often reminds me of last year, this team has consistently displayed heart and effort in every game this year. You asked where the players are who sacrificed their bodies so ND could prevail, I would like to point to Manti, Ian, Carlo, Darius, Darrin, Rudy, Armando, Theo, Trevor, Chris, Zack, and yes, Dayne. I have, yet, to see any of those players take off a single play. Have they always been perfect in their execution? No, but that has as much to do with coaching decisions, as it does decisions they make on the field. To say last Saturday's loss to an excellent Navy team was the worst loss by ND since you were a freshman in 1964 is a bit much. I only need to point to last year's UConn game or the Syracuse game the year before when those ND players simply quit in the fourth quarter. Shall we revisit some games under Davillingham? How about some of those games under Faust? Yes, we lost to Navy, again, and for the second year in a row, the Navy coaching staff added a wrinkle (this time, a blocking scheme) that our triple-option novice coaches didn't forsee and should have. This team, however, plays hard to the end. Heck, Rees even led a TD in the fourth quarter. I, too, was so bummed by the lack of execution on both sides of the ball that I couldn't watch or read anything related to ND football until Monday. NDleprechaun's reminiscences reminded me of similar events I have repeatedly experienced when visiting campus. I only wish some of the brothers and sisters I served with could have come home and had to chance to see the campus in its autumn glory. There is no place like Notre Dame. On Saturday, Tulsa will discover what that Notre Dame mystique means. We are ND!

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  9. FYI: this mainly goes out to Anonymous, Class of '72. No, TheNDLeprechaun is not a 33 year old law student. Heck, I'm 22, and a girl at that (believe it or not, we ladies started going to ND right after you graduated). So excuse me if our ages prevents us, in your eyes that is, from appreciating the former greatness you believe is Notre Dame football. This is simply untrue. Just because I wasn't alive while you were in attendance, doesn't mean I am unaware of the precedent set by the Irish squads you saw from the stands. What I am aware of, however, is you clearly don't appreciate that my four years of collegiate experience at Notre Dame coincided with quite possibly the worst four consecutive years of Irish football. We had a terrible coach, poor players (in both skill and attitude), and correspondingly awful records. But you know what? My classmates stayed in the stands until the last chords of the alma mater floated away. Despite graduating, we come back for every game we can. We start blogs in support of Our Lady's loyal sons. We do not abandon our team, just because of a couple losses. We do not treat the wonder associated with Notre Dame's campus (what I thought was shared by all alumni) with sarcasm and disgust - and for your information, I have been to Annapolis, in fact, one of my best friends attended the Naval Academy and is now a SEAL. It's a great place. But it's not Notre Dame. Not even close. I would like to formally apologize to you that the members of this blog didn't respond to the Navy game with open negativity and calling for BK and the player's heads on silver platters. But in case you weren't aware, this is an Irish fan blog. The key word in this title being fan. Which clearly you are not. Sure you were a fan during their glory years, but when times get tough - you walk away. Please, go ahead. Run even. It's alumni like you that give Notre Dame its reputation of hubris and arrogance, and it's time that stopped. Times are different. The team is different. The fans are the one thing that haven't changed, yourself excluded. And you know what? I'm proud to be one, our loss to Navy and all. I hope the rest of you are too.

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  10. Hey, IrishGirl10:

    Sure. You know what real Notre Dame football is all about. Maybe you saw some old video. And, for sure, you saw "Rudy." (Now, that is "real" Notre Dame football.)

    The fact is, if things aren't corrected - and maybe they'll never be corrected - you will NEVER know real Notre Dame football. You will never know it, until you've seen and been a part of a National Championship Season. That is a cold, hard fact for you, IrishGirl10.

    Like it or not: it's not a "winning record;" and,; it's not "winning a bowl game." (Not even a meaningful one.) It is WINNING IT ALL. You know the words:

    "What though the odds be great or small, Old Notre Dame will win over all." Nice tune, isn't it? Good background music for a home game party.

    There is no room here, or on any other board or blog, for excuses anymore. For you to suggest that I - or any other alum, for that matter - is not a "fan" of the football team, because we think that "our" football program has been in the tank for way too long, is nothing but specious. This goes beyond being a "fan." This is about a Tradition that is looking more and more like it's going the way of the Irish Deer. (Look it up.)

    Maybe you want to settle for tradition (lower-case t) like, say, Northwestern, or maybe Stanford, or how about Boston College?! Hey, look at all their alums and "fans" who get all hyped-up for Homecoming. (How fun is that?!) And (MY GOD!) if they win that game and go to a "Big Bowl" in the same season, that is really something! That, IrishGirl10, is tradition. You want that? Fine. All the rest of us will just lower our expectations, and eventually we'll all die off.

    But, eventually you'll have to change the words to the "Fight Song." Maybe something like:

    "What though the odds be great or small, Old Notre Dame will always stand tall."

    And, while her loyal sons and DAUGHTERS go marching along, you can stand up and cheer. HOORAY!

    God Bless Ya, IrishGirl10! I'll raise a glass to you this weekend . . .

    ~mpsND'72

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  11. I'm a passionate Notre Dame fan. Always have been. Like many of you, I demand perfection. Expect it - whether right or wrong. Like many of you, I'm upset with the loss. Disenchanted.

    But in reading this post - and the comments - it's quite clear. It is easier to complain than it is to remain positive. Any talking head can tell us the defense was bad, or offense was poor, or the scheme was terrible. None of you are telling us something we did not already know.

    Besides being a passionate Notre Dame fan, I'm a passionate American. I'm a history nerd. And in losing to a service academy, I'm reminded of something. The men that destroyed our Irish do not have million dollar paychecks awaiting them. They are not wrapped up in the agent scandal gripping the big powers. What they show on the field, they invariably show in Afghanistan, Iraq and anywhere else evil harbors. They come from a lineage that stormed Normandy, withstood Korean/Chinese charges below the 38th Parallel, and bled in the jungles of Vietnam. Some probably spent time in the Hanoi Hilton. Or were tortured by Islamic extremists. Or were executed by the Waffen SS in Belgium.

    And why does this matter? What is the connection? We need to take a lesson from the academies. Navy lost 43 straight, but still showed up, with guts and tenacity. Army will do the same - as does Air Force.

    I firmly believe it is at times like this, we need to learn from the academies we so often beat - and show some character, some quiet confidence and resolve.

    All the whining, finger pointing and stating of the obvious does zero good. Personally, I would rather stay positive, for my mental health, then mire myself in ugliness. In getting upset over something me - AND ALL OF YOU - have ZERO control over. And that's how Notre Dame performs on Saturday. Unless, of course, you are a member of the football team or coaching staff, what you or I think means nothing.

    Except for ourselves.

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  12. Wow, I'm not sure where to begin. I think the complexity of this discussion just goes to show how powerful and mixed the emotions of those who care about ND can be at times, which is a good thing.

    I tend to agree with those comments pointing out that this is FAR from our worst loss in history, especially considering the several low-points we fell to in the recent past.

    I would also like to point out the list of players Anonymous '68 mentioned. Much of our team lives and dies with every play, and overgeneralizing the entire team as one without fight or heart is just plain ignorant and unfair to those players who literally sacrifice their bodies for the team we all cheer for. (Our ever-growing list of players on IR did not get there by playing badminton)

    As far as the comments made by "mpsND'72" I must admit that I am utterly confused. You make great points at times, yet you're remarks trend towards the boorish and borderline insulting attitude that is stereotypical of many misguided and overzealous alumns. First of all, questioning my generation's ability to appreciate the glory of Notre Dame Football just because we have never actually witnessed a National Championship is absurd. While some of us have idolized Notre Dame all our lives, others of us have spent hours doing actual research in the Notre Dame Archives on campus. In both cases, our sense of history is much more complex than what can be gained from watching "Rudy." Most importantly, though, I'd like to remind you that winning does not define Notre Dame. In fact, it never has. Notre Dame did not rise to greatness due to winning football games. Plenty of power-house programs at football-factory schools had already mastered that, and continue their ways today. Notre Dame rose to greatness due to the WAY the Fighting Irish won football games. The fight, the heart, the inspiration, and the glory that have been reflected by our loyal sons on the gridiron throughout our history are tied into that intangible, indescribable, almost unearthly spirit that makes Notre Dame what it is. My reflections in this post were meant only to give a glimpse of the power that has a knack for resurfacing at the most opportune times whenever I need to be reminded of its constant presence. You know, the whole Lou Holtz "no explanation will suffice" thing...

    In conclusion, I hope all you alums do raise your glasses in a collective toast to IrishGirl10 (gotta love her fire) this weekend when you think of all the modern-era fans who have never WITNESSED a National Championship, but still BELIEVE in the continuing glory of Notre Dame Football. If not, at least appreciate our recognition of the fact that our school has something no other school has regardless of the numbers on the scoreboard.

    Go FIGHTING Irish!

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  13. NDLeprechaun:

    It's good to believe.

    ~mpsND'72

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  14. We are ND. Notre Dame is Our Lady's school. I grew up in Michigan a big Notre Dame fan. My parents took me to the prayer conferences starting when I was in 6th grade and I fell is love with Notre Dame. My mother loved her Catholic faith and Notre Dame and I know that is where I get it from! My mom passed away in 2003 and on her grave marker are the words "And our hearts forever, love thee Notre Dame." I had the blessing to be accepted into the graduate program at Notre Dame last year and when I received my students ID, I cried like a baby, tears of joy that my dream of being an official Notre Dame student was finally a reality. Notre Dame has true fans and even during the 3 win season, the stadium was still sold out and full. USC would not have that if their season was on the rock and Notre Dame had the highest graduation rates overall in all sports (men, women) in the country last year and Notre Dame does not cheat to win. We can win with class and lose with class. I want Notre Dame to win again and I was upset and frustrated also last Saturday. I realized that I could not do anything about it so I ran a 5K race that night and I talked to my priest at my church who happens to be an ND graduate, and he said to me remember it is only a game.

    I have been blessed to be able to run 16 marathons and have run two Sunburst Marathons that finish at the 50 yard line of Notre Dame stadium and the best part of the marathon was when I could see Mary on the dome and "Touchdown Jesus" and the fight song giving me goose bumps as I entered the stadium and when I finished running, kissing the grass at the 50 yard line. Notre Dame is Brother Isaac and Fr. Steve Gibson, and Fr. Hesburgh, who I had the pleasure of meeting and reading to him last summer. My professors were amazing and I am so blessed to be a part of this AWESOME university. I wish I was there to light a candle at the grotto right now and jog around the lakes. United we stand, divided we fall. Notre Dame, let's stand together and keep the faith. This is the marathon and we are half way there. Let's not give up hope and I pray that Notre Dame will return to glory in football soon. Remember the green bumper stickers from 1977? God made Notre Dame #1. Well that is true, because God made our Lady number one and we might not be number one in the polls, but Notre Dame will always be number one in our hearts and because Our Lady is number one! GO IRISH and God love Notre Dame and all her alumni and fans!

    Dane

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  15. giraffe63 wrote:
    Question: When coach Kelly came onboard I was more than excited, but as I watch him on the sidelines he reminds me of Bobby Knight.
    Can the soul of the team, a quarterback, get constantly belittled, humiliated, embarassed, scorched, ranted at and improve? What must it feel like when you know the coach is ready to pounce on every imperfection? And how are the other players reacting when they see and hear their QB constantly lit up? Have they already built a we vs. him mentality? Has Kelly always been this mean spirited on the sidelines? He might have gotten away with it because the teams he coached were not on national TV, but frankly I'm embarassed watching his emotional diatribe in front of 80,000 fans and millions more on TV. One of my greatest memories was early in Coach Holtz career at ND, a field goal kicker missed a critical FG which would have won the game. When he came off the field Holtz was waiting for him and cradled his helmet. If you were a recruit watching you had to say, that's my guy. The RKG needs to be the coach first. And by the way Mr. Kelly, please identify your young warriors as young men,not kids. Kids don't go to war.

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  16. Giraffe:
    I am yet to witness any words or actions coming from coach Kelly that I would consider even remotely close to embarrassing, belittling, or humiliating. I have seen an energetic football coach, and I have seen players responding positively to that coach, but I haven't seen anything that would even allow me to see where you're concerns are coming from. I know for a fact that as a whole the players have a better relationship with our current coach than the players on any of our recent teams did. Remember, there's a big difference between being "mean spirited" and "spirited." This is the game of football. If, as you say, our "young warriors" are not kids, then surely they must not feel belittled by good coaching.

    Side note: As honorary coach of the Blue Gold game a few years back, Lou Holtz grabbed 3rd string QB Zach Frazier by the face mask and chewed him out for a solid 2 minutes after he threw a meaningless interception. Let me reiterate that this took place during a spring practice game. Everyone I've talked to who has ever played football loved every second of it (I'd like to hear Mr. Frazier's thoughts though).

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2012 Notre Dame Football Schedule

2012 Notre Dame Football Schedule
Overall
12-1
Home
6-0
Away
4-0
Neutral
2-1
DateOpponent / EventLocationTime / Result
09/01/12vs. Navy Dublin, IrelandW, 50-10
09/08/12vs. PurdontNotre Dame, Ind.W, 20-17
09/15/12at SpartyEast Lansing, Mich.W, 20-3
09/22/12vs. SkunkbearsNotre Dame, Ind.W, 13-6
Shamrock Series
10/06/12vs. Da UChicago, Ill.W, 41-3
10/13/12vs. TreesNotre Dame, Ind.W, 20-13 (OT)
10/20/12vs. BYU Notre Dame, Ind.W, 17-14
10/27/12at Oklahoma Norman, Okla.W, 30-13
11/03/12vs. Pittsburgh Notre Dame, Ind.W, 29-26 (3OT)
11/10/12at Backup College Chestnut Hill, Mass.W, 21-6
11/17/12vs. Fake Worest Notre Dame, Ind.W, 38-0
11/24/12at U$C Los Angeles, Calif.W, 22-13
1/7/13vs. AlabamaBCS CHAMPIONSHIP
(Miami, Florida)
L, :(