I've got some ideas for upcoming posts, but I just had a collection of random, non-football, non-Irish thoughts that I wanted to get off my chest.
1. The NBA Draft is tonight, I guess. Yawn! Heck, I did not watch a single minute of the recently concluded NBA playoffs or finals. That's a lie. I specifically tuned in to watch the last two minutes of the final game, just to see the confetti fly. Even that was a let down. The NBA Finals featured the next great Superstar (LeBron James), carrying the Cavaliers on his back, against the "Dynasty" that is the San Antonio Spurs and Tim Duncan. And I didn't care at all. So how am I supposed to care about the NBA Draft? I don't. I used to like the NBA. Sort of. Not really.
2. Which brings me to Kobe Bryant. As a sports fan living in Southern California, I listen to local sports talk radio. For weeks now I have been subjected to an almost non-stop barrage of Kobe Bryant coverage. One station proclaims itself the Official Keep Kobe station. The other brings me Kobe Watch 2007 every afternoon. Really. Apparently Kobe is unhappy. Who knew? Kobe wants new friends to play with. Better friends. Or he is going to take his ball and go play somewhere else. If his Daddy lets him. Or maybe he'll just stay inside and not play ball with anyone. Boo hoo. Cry me a river, Mr. Millionaire. Yes, Kobe's angst is a story. But it's not a wall-to-wall for a month story.
3. Didn't basketball used to be a Winter Sport? Why can't the NBA wrap up it's season before June? Or before May for that matter?
4. Speaking of the Lakers. Laker owner Jerry Buss is a well-known poker player, and he was in Las Vegas this week participating in the World Series of Poker. One of the events he played in was Event 41, Seniors No Limit Holdem. There were over 1,882 players in the $1,000 buy-in event. The top 153 players finished in the money. Jerry Buss did not finish in the money, but OC Domer's Dad did, finishing in the Top 50 and earning over $6,000! Congratulations Dad.
5. The Ducks (who are apparently a hockey team in Orange County) won something called the Stanley Cup recently. How does that taste, Canada? Buffalo? Detroit? Long Island? Yes, that's right, Lord Stanley's Cup will be spending the next 12 months getting some sun on the beaches of Orange County. I totally understand hockey in cold weather climates - South Bend, Canada, North Dakota. Makes total sense. Hockey in Southern California has never made any sense to me. There are no frozen ponds in Orange County. Ever. If you ever wore a real hockey sweater around here, you'd be sweaty and unbearably smelly in ten minutes. How can hockey possibly be popular here? But it is. At least, it is for those who can afford to buy Ducks season tickets and who can't think of any better way to blow their money. Go Ducks! Hey, Los Angeles, how did the Kings do this year?
6. Orange County sent two teams to the College World Series this month. Representing the OC in Omaha were the UC Irvine Anteaters and the Cal State Fullerton Titans. The Titans have a long and impressive CWS history, including four championships, but UCI pretty much shocked the world this year. Los Angeles teams in Omaha included ... well, no LA teams made it this year. In fact, no other teams from California qualified for the CWS. So college baseball powers USC, UCLA, Stanford and Cal all had to stay home and watch Fullerton and UCI on T.V. Better luck next year.
7. Speaking of baseball in Orange County, the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, who have been playing baseball in Orange County since 1966 notwithstanding their stupefying slap-in-the-face name change, are playing really well this season. Despite being swept in three games by the Royals over the weekend, the Angels' 49 wins are the most of any team in baseball right now, one win more than the Red Sox who have been just ahead of the Angels in that race for most of the season. The Angels currently have a 5 game lead in the AL West. For those keeping score at home, the Los Angeles Dodgers (the OTHER baseball team in LA) are in third place in the NL West and have 44 wins so far. The Angels and Dodgers have played each other six times this year and the Angels have won five of those games.
8. How are the Angels doing it? Colin Cowherd of ESPN radio has been making fun of the Angels for a couple of years now, because we value our home-grown "hot minor league prospects" over high-priced, over-the-hill free agents. And Colin has a point about about Bill Stoneman's amazing reluctance to pull the trigger at the trading deadline each year. But just so we're clear, right now our "hot minor league prospects" are tearing up Major League Baseball. Here are some of the Angels' prospects who are making major contributions to the winningest team in baseball today: John Lackey, Ervin Santana, Jered Weaver, Francisco Rodriguez, Mike Napoli, Chone Figgins, Howie Kendrick, Casey Kotchman, and Reggie Willits. That's not all of them, but those are the biggies right now. Say what you will about Stoneman, but player scouting and development for the Angels looks pretty good right about now.
9. I really enjoy the Colin Cowherd radio show. I have a commute that averages about 90 minutes each way, and Colin is by far the best sports talk on the radio during my morning commute. College football is his favorite sport, and the NFL is #2. He makes a point to talk about football every single day of the year. And he is knowledgeable, opinionated, and fairly reasonable on the topic. He isn't perfect, but it's a very entertaining way to spend an hour in gridlock. At any rate, Colin recently announced on the air that he is getting a divorce from his wife, who is the mother of their two children. It is none of my business, but I was pretty disappointed in Colin. He has stated repeatedly that the divorce is mutual and very amicable, and I hope that is the case. He has moved into a new home within a mile or so of his kids, so that he can spend quality time with them. But I have to say that I think it is selfish and cowardly to marry a young woman in her prime, saddle her with two kids, and then walk out the door to pursue your own happiness. What the heck is she supposed to do, Colin? You are, as you put it, an international radio icon. You are at the top of your profession, a nationally known celebrity within the sports world, you're fit, reasonably well off financially, and glib. No doubt you won't have any trouble finding other women. Your soon-to-be former wife won't have it so easy. While I am sure she is still a beautiful woman, she isn't 22 any more. No matter how amazing she is, she's about to start her life as a single mom, a divorcee with two very young children. And nothing says "marriage material" like a diaper bag and a screaming toddler. So enjoy your nights out drinking with your new buddies Colin, and try not to think about the mother of your kids at her wits' end trying to get the kids to go to sleep so that she can have a few moments of peace before all the craziness starts again tomorrow.
10. I had to register at Facebook.com yesterday. I was seeing a lot of referrals from that site, but without being registered I couldn't see exactly how I was being linked. That's pretty annoying. So I registered. Turns out a Penn State fan was linking my earlier post about PSU's integrity problem. For what its' worth, I think they got my point.
11. I've been trying to register at Domer Domain, but I'm getting the feeling my application has been rejected. They posted a nice link to my Zach Frazer piece a couple of weeks ago, and I tried to register to participate in the discussion, but they still haven't activated my registration. Must be an exclusive club.
12. I'm glad to see that Kelly Green has re-vamped the site and gotten back into the game. Their posting had gotten pretty sporadic and juvenile over the past year or so, and I stopped visiting. But they've added some new contributors, spiffed up the graphics, and are posting thoughtful material again.
13. I hope OC Domer readers in other parts of the country (and, indeed, the world!) are not being subjected to the non-stop coverage of Paris Hilton that we in Southern California are enduring. I'm glad she's out of jail, but only because I'm sick of the hysterics that surrounded her being in jail. Grow up Paris. You're 26 years old, not 13. Time to act like it. I can't believe I just blogged Paris Hilton.
14. Tony Parker and Eva Longoria are getting married. I'm happy for them. They seem very much in love. But I wonder: Where do they go from here? Each of them is likely at the peak of their professional careers and personal earning power. Tony Parker just won the MVP of the NBA Finals. Eva is the hot little number on one of TV's hottest shows. But Tony is not Michael Jordan, or even Charles Barkley. He isn't going to cross over to be a huge success as a television personality or commentator. Eva is attractive, but she's no great acting talent. When her looks begin to fade, she will be done. In my opinion, it's all down hill from here. It reminds me completely of the marriage of Rick Fox and Vanessa Williams. Will the marriage hold together when all they have left (besides the pile of cash and the mansion) is each other?
15. OC Domer International. I'm up to twenty six countries on the list of international visitors to OC Domer. But visitors from Poland remain my most loyal international readers! Hello Warsaw!
16. July 4th is coming up, people are gearing up for long Holiday weekends. So I want to send out an early "Happy Birthday" to the U.S. of A and Old Glory. Long may she wave!
Thursday, June 28, 2007
I've got some ideas for upcoming posts, but I just had a collection of random, non-football, non-Irish thoughts that I wanted to get off my chest.
Thursday, June 21, 2007
This blog has not generally been devoted to critical coverage of other universities' football programs, with the occasional notable exception. But Penn State deserves some heat today. I used to respect Penn State. I used to consider the Nittany Lions to have a lot in common with the Fighting Irish. They respected tradition, with their old-school uniforms and their old-school coach. I felt that Penn State was one of the schools that "got it" with respect to the "student" part of the phrase "student-athlete," like Notre Dame does. I used to think that Joe Paterno ran his program with integrity. In recent years, my perception of Joe Pa and PSU started to erode, as evidence began to accumulate that getting star players on the field and winning games was a higher priority than setting a good example and doing things the "right way."
But today I am over Penn State. The scales have fallen from my eyes, and I clearly see that PSU is just another big state school with a big-time football program driven by over sized expectations and demanding alumni. Penn State is no different from Florida State, Oklahoma, Arkansas, or Tennessee. In fact, the Lions would probably be every bit as comfortable in the SEC as in the Big 10 + 1.
In scanning the news this morning I came across a story that makes no sense to me. Apparently, Penn State will permit players who have been expelled from the "university" to practice with their football team even while still expelled from school. From the article:
Two Penn State football players ordered to stand trial for their roles in an off-campus fight were expelled from school for part of the summer but will be allowed to take part in preseason practice.Translation: At least two of the players allegedly criminally involved in a frightening Spring melee will be "expelled" from Summer school (which starts July 3rd) but will still be eligible to practice with the football team when it starts Fall practice two weeks before the end of the Summer session from which they have been expelled. Is that even legal? Does the NCAA permit persons who are not enrolled at a university to practice with the football team for said university? And even if it is legal, can this be seen as anything less than a total sellout? The punishment for these players is that they don't have to go to class this Summer but they still get to play football. Wow, that's harsh.
Defense attorneys ... said ... their clients will be expelled for the second summer semester, which begins July 3.
[The attorneys] said the players will be eligible to participate in preseason practice, which begins around Aug. 5, a little less than two weeks before the end of the second summer session.
Maybe the story is being reported wrong. And I don't want to get into a debate about the guilt or innocence of the accused players. But if you are expelled from school, doesn't it seem like a fundamental principle that you should be expelled from the extracurricular activities at the school as well?
But lest you think Joe Pa has lost control of his team and his players, be warned that you too could find yourself picking up litter in Happy Valley if you misbehave. Or if your teammates misbehave. Now that's accountability.
It's time to go, Joe.
Tuesday, June 19, 2007
The last thing a 43 year-old man with a wife, a mortgage, and two kids needs or wants is to become a recruiting dork. I don't want to become that guy who watches grainy YouTube game video of high school juniors, pretending that he can form an intelligent opinion of whether a particular junior would be a good fit for the Notre Dame football team two years down the road. That way lies madness. I feel about as qualified to editorialize on the success of Charlie Weis' recruiting efforts as I did to write preview articles on Spring practice.
Nevertheless, I do keep a contstant watch out for any news which might be a signal of how well things are going out there on the recruiting trail. One such indicator which recently came to my attention was Scout.com's Top 100 Recruits list for the Fall class of 2008. I commend it to your review, and I'm sure others will have more in-depth analysis for the truly sick. But some quick numbers crunching at the macro level reveals a few tidbits worth mentioning.
- Signing day for high school students who probably finished their junior year of high school last week is still eight months and a full senior season of football away, yet Charlie Weis & Co. have already secured public verbal commitments from five players in Scout's Top 100.
- Those five players are ranked at #40, #50, #65, #74, and #88 on the Top 100 and include one 5-star and four 4-star players (according to Scout.com).
- In addition to the five players already verbally committed to the Irish, seventeen other players in the Top 100 list Notre Dame among their "Schools of Interest."
- Thus, fully 22% of the players in the Scout.com Top 100 are either committed to Notre Dame or have an interest in Notre Dame.
- The seventeen players showing interest are ranked 5, 8, 13, 19, 24, 27, 28, 30, 33, 34, 39, 42, 55, 62, 68, 70, and 75. Eleven of these players are ranked at 5-stars, while the remaining six are 4-star players.
- All eleven of the 5-star players showing interest are ranked higher than the highest ranked player already committed to Notre Dame (TE Kyle Rudolph at #40).
Regardless of how it all turns out, signposts like the Top 100 allow me to sleep a little better at night, knowing that our current coaching staff is working extremely hard to bring to Notre Dame the talent we need to return to the upper echelon of college football programs. Instead of worrying about recruiting, now I can worry about whether or not recruiting success will actually translate to wins on Saturday.
Tuesday, June 12, 2007
Numerous sources are reporting that Zach Frazer, the Notre Dame quarterback who recently learned he was the fourth player trying to squeeze onto a depth chart that only had room for three quarterbacks, has been given permission to contact other schools in order to explore the possibility of a transfer. The news did not come as a surprise, as it has been widely speculated for months that one or more disappointed quarterbacks would transfer once Coach Weis narrowed the QB race from four to two players at the conclusion of Spring practice.
While most expected that Evan Sharpley would stay at Notre Dame to play baseball and finish his education regardless of the Spring results, and that Jimmy Clausen would stay at Notre Dame for at least a full year (Spring-Fall-Spring) before even considering a transfer, many felt that Frazer or Demetrius Jones (or both) would look at possible transfers if they found themselves at #3 or #4 on the depth chart (behind Freshman Clausen) heading into the 2007 season with highly-touted recruit Dayne Crist scheduled to arrive in 2008. The only surprise was that Coach Weis only partially tipped his hand by naming a final three quarterbacks rather than a final two, as he had said he hoped to do. Cynics have suggested that Coach Weis changed his mind and kept three quarterbacks in the mix for the 2007 season because he was concerned that he would lose two quarterbacks to transfer during the Summer, leaving the depth at quarterback dangerously shallow. More charitable observers take Charlie's word at face value and believe that all three remaining quarterbacks are in fact in the hunt for meaningful minutes in 2007.
But what of Zach Frazer? I can only wish Zach all the best. When they write the book on the Charlie Weis era, Zach Frazer should have a small chapter in it all to himself, as he was a pivotal character in the Weis story. Zach was the first big recruit landed by Coach Weis. Zach was the answer to the question: Will this former NFL assistant coach be able to bring premiere talent into the Notre Dame program when competing against experienced college head coaches in the recruiting wars? Zach Frazer was a high school junior with a big arm, big numbers, and big hype. He was rated four stars at both Rivals.com and Scout.com. His verbal commitment sent shock waves throughout the Notre Dame community and throughout college football. It served notice that Coach Weis was a serious, energetic, and aggressive recruiter. No longer would Notre Dame wait, and wait, and wait before finally tendering offers to 4- and 5-star athletes. From now on, we were going to get into the hunt early and force other programs to play catch up. With one verbal commitment from Zach Frazer, Coach Weis (and Zach) changed the perception of Notre Dame's talent level. Zach took the Irish from being a program of mostly 3-star talent with some 4-star athletes sprinkled in, to being a program with 4-star talent sprinkling in some 5-star players. After his verbal commitment, Zach continued to help build the program by actively recruiting other top talent to come to Notre Dame.
By all accounts he has worked hard on the field and in the classroom while at Notre Dame, and has been an exemplary representative of the program and the University. While Zach may still choose to remain at Notre Dame to fight for the quarterback job and get his degree, I would expect that an athlete with his talent and drive would want to pursue a chance to start at QB for somebody. And I would also assume that a 4-star Notre Dame recruit with good health and good character, who has studied under Coach Weis, would have ample opportunities available to him. Teams that have been reported to have an interest in Zach include Rutgers, Connecticut, Miami, East Carolina and Louisville.
I, for one, will miss Zach if he decides to leave. I remember how excited I was when he announced his verbal commitment to Coach Weis and Notre Dame. Under Bob Davie and Ty Willingham, such early commitments by top players was almost unheard of, and it was the first sign (to me) that Coach Weis really was going to turn the program around. I really looked forward to seeing Zach play for the Irish.
But, just as Zach's arrival heralded a new era for Notre Dame football, so will his departure. Zach's recruitment and commitment indicated that the talent level of the Irish program was about to improve significantly. The inability of such a highly-regarded recruit to crack the top 3 of the Irish depth chart at quarterback indicates that the transition to premiere talent has largely been accomplished. It is noteworthy that the Irish are losing a very good player, and a very good young man, because the talent on the team has just gotten better. If Frazer leaves, the Irish will be young at quarterback, but still deep and talented. That has not always been the case with recent transfers.
David Wolke, Chris Olsen, and Matt LoVecchio left the program when they realized that they would not be the starting QB at Notre Dame. David Wolke was a 2- or 3- star recruit who left when he lost the back-up QB job to Evan Sharpley after Spring practices in 2006. He is now competing for the starting QB job at Western Kentucky University. Chris Olsen (star ratings unknown) abruptly transferred to the University of Virginia in August of 2003 when he held the #2 position on the depth chart behind starter Carlyle Holiday. The loss was surprising, but may have had more to do with the performance of freshman Brady Quinn than anything else. Olsen's brother, tight end Greg, decided to transfer to the University that shall not be named within days of Chris' decision. Chris eventually earned a starting job at UVA for the 2006 season, only to lose the job midway through the year. LoVecchio, a 1-star recruit, transferred to Indiana University in the Summer of 2002 after losing his starting job to Carlyle Holiday. At IU he eventually became the starter and put up decent numbers while leading the Hoosiers to a total of five wins in the 2003 and 2004 seasons combined.
Prior to the arrival of Charlie Weis, Notre Dame was losing 1- 2- and 3-star quarterbacks to transfer when they learned they either weren't going to be the starter (LoVecchio) or weren't going to be the primary back-up QB (Wolke, Olsen). Notre Dame now expects to lose a 4-star quarterback who can't crack the top 3 positions on the depth chart. That is a dramatic change, and we ironically owe that change, at least in part, to Zach Frazer.
So Zach, if you decide to go, I just want to say thanks, good luck, and I really hope you play your way onto the field somewhere. As long as it isn't the University which shall not be named.
ADDED 6/13: OC Domer welcomes our new visitors from NDLNA.com, DomerDomain.com, Subway Domer and Irish Universe! A special thanks to Subway Domer, Sir John at Domer Domain, and Irishman at Irish Universe for the links and the kind words.
AND ANOTHER THING (6/13): Some commenters at DomerDomain (and at NDNation.com) think my thoughts on the possibility of Demetrius Jones and/or Jimmy Clausen transferring are unreasonable. I think we all agree that Sharpley probably stays at ND no matter what. He's older, and he plays baseball. Would Clausen transfer after just one year? Is that crazy talk? Two words for you: Zach Frazer. Frazer is transferring after just one year in the program. Why wouldn't Clausen? If Clausen found himself behind Frazer or Jones going into the Fall of 2007, and if either of those guys had a monster year for the Irish, and if the Spring session in 2008 merely solidified Jones or Frazer as the starter, with Dayne Crist as the new kid on the block, why wouldn't Clausen transfer? Is it because he's a more loyal Notre Dame man than Zach Frazer? No, as soon as Jimmy Clausen concludes that he isn't ever likely to be "the man" at Notre Dame, he will be gone. Clausen plans to play in the NFL, and you don't get to the NFL by sitting the bench. The same reasoning holds true for Demetrius Jones. A lot of people assume that Demetrius will simply change positions to wide receiver if he isn't going to be the Irish QB. Why would anyone assume that? He has said he wants to be a quarterback. If he is talented enough to play QB, why would he be any less likely than Clausen or Frazer to transfer for a chance to be a starting QB? I could very well be wrong, but I don't think my analysis is unreasonable. As for Coach Weis' motives in narrowing to 3 QBs instead of 2, I'm willing to take him at his word, as he's always been a straight shooter. But I felt I owed it to the readers to point out a very common theory, especially when that theory makes some sense.
TWO MORE WORDS (6/14): Rick Clausen. Jimmy's brother Rick transferred from LSU to Tennessee for playing time reasons. Who thinks that the most talented of the Clausen brothers wouldn't follow suit if that is what he thought he had to do to get onto the field? Would it be after one year? Two years? Who knows? I personally think (TOTAL B.S. SPECULATION ALERT!!) that the Clausens and Weis have an understanding that Jimmy would give it two years at Notre Dame before transferring. That's a possible redshirt year and one year of eligibility burned, which would leave him one year of eligibility to burn on transfer and two years to play wherever he landed.