Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Irish Blogger Gathering: Heart of Darkness Edition

It's our turn to host the Irish Blogger gathering here at OC Domer. To catch you up, Subway Domer had the idea of establishing a group of bloggers who would post their answers/thoughts each week in response to a common set of questions posed by a member of the Gathering. Subway Domer was first to pose the questions. That inaugural edition of the Gathering can be found at this link. My own responses from last week can be found here. I must admit that thinking up what are hopefully thought-provoking questions is harder than coming up with pithy/snarky answers!

I'm not sure if we ever set a definite rule on the format, but Subway went with five questions last week, and I think that set a good precedent, so I'll go with it.

Why the Heart of Darkness? If you've read the original book by Joseph Conrad, or at least the Wikipedia entry for it (like me), you know that Conrad explores the depths of the human subconscious and psyche, and depicts what happens when man crosses the line of civility and gives in to his baser instincts. In this gathering we're going to explore the deep recesses of our Blue & Gold Domer souls. If you haven't read the book, you may have seen the 1979 movie, Apocalypse Now, starring Marlon Brando as Colonel Kurtz. The Horror! The Horror!

Here are this week's questions:

1. Who was your first Notre Dame hero?

Notre Dame quarterback Tom Clements. As a kid I became hooked on Notre Dame while watching the Sunday morning Notre Dame highlights shows, with Lindsey Nelson. "After an exchange of punts, Notre Dame has the ball at their own 24 yard line, first and 10." The quarterback back then was #2, Tom Clements, and I thought he was terrific. Clements was a three year starter for the Irish, leading the team to the National Championship in 1973 and being voted first team All-American in 1974. His name has popped up as a potential candidate the past couple of time Notre Dame has been searching for a coach, and I always thought he'd be a great fit, with his connections back to the winning era under coach Ara Parseghian.

2. When was the first time the Fighting Irish broke your heart?

In 1974. Notre Dame was leading the USC Trojans 24-0 as the first half was coming to a close, a great day to be an Irish fan watching the game on TV. USC scored with just seconds remaining in the half, to make it 24-7. USC's Anthony Davis (Booooo! Boooooo!) returned the second half kick-off for a TD, and the Trojans scored a total of 35 points in the 3rd quarter on the way to scoring 55 straight points in less than 17 minutes of playing time. USC beat the Irish that day 55-24, breaking my ten year old Irish heart and making me cry. I know it isn't completely rational, but it's because of that day that I still hate the Trojans. Hate 'em. I should probably get help.

3. Let's suppose for just a moment that for whatever reasons the Notre Dame football program begins to slide into what looks like long term mediocrity, or even long term suckitude:

  • NBC doesn't renew the television deal, and the package offered by the Versus network makes it clear that remaining independent will mean a lot less $$$ than joining a conference and sharing in their TV deal. Should the Irish join a conference? If so, which? Why that one?
If remaining Independent means significantly less $$$ in the General Fund, I believe the University would have no choice but to join a conference. The University needs the football program to generate as much revenue as reasonably possible to support the rest of the athletic department and to fund other priorities of the University. The obvious choices are the Big Televen or the Big East, and maybe the ACC. The Big Televen has a lot of attraction based upon geography, but I don't think it's the best fit. Those schools are all enormous public schools, while ND is a smaller private school. The next best fit geographically would be the Big East, but those are still mostly large public universities. Although not as obvious geographically, I'd go with the ACC. The presence of Boston College, Duke, Miami, and Wake Forest would put Notre Dame with more schools that have a lot in common with the University as a whole. Also, as a conference it would provide a pretty exciting football schedule and make for some terrific new and renewed rivalries.
  • Over time, Notre Dame becomes the football peer of Duke and Syracuse, lucky to win four games a year, rarely posting a winning season. What should the University do? Drop football? Join a conference (or a lesser conference)? Drop down to Div-IA (the FCS Division)? Schedule 12 cupcakes each season?
If, for whatever reason, Notre Dame found that it could not find enough talented student athletes (real STUDENT athletes) to field a truly competitive football team, I would explore joining the Ivy League or an equivalent so that the program could retain it's integrity as an academic institution and compete against other schools with similar philosophies about the relationship between academics and athletics.
  • The Indiana legislature has been taken over by a coalition of tee totalling, non-violent religious groups that outlaw both beer and football, and the University is forced to end the football program. To which college football team do you switch your allegiance, and why?
Wow! Who came up with that question? I don't think I could ever be nearly as loyal to another team as I am to the Irish. Of course, rooting for USC or UCLA (the local teams here in SoCal) is out of the question. If either of my kids were attending a college with a football team, they would probably become my #1. I used to really like Penn State and their adherence to tradition, but I don't like the direction the program has headed with off the field problems in recent years. Right now, the team I really pull for after Notre Dame is the Fresno State Bulldogs. They'll play any team, any time, any where. They play in the Central Valley in California, and my wife has a cousin on the coaching staff there. Go Bulldogs! (Coach Danny Brown is the defensive coordinator there and has been fighting brain cancer. If you can think of him and maybe light a candle at the Grotto for him it would be much appreciated).

4. While on campus on a football Saturday you stop by the Knights of Columbus building to get your traditional steak and gristle sandwich. You also take the opportunity to pop inside the building to use the restroom before following the band over to the stadium. While waiting in line for the bathroom and watching the endlessly running Rudy on the K of C television you make the acquaintance of an older gentleman with a beard. He's rather short, but very energetic for his obviously advanced age. You allow him to cut in line in front of you. When he comes out of the restroom, obviously relieved, he thanks you and and then steps in really close to you and whispers in your ear. "I'll grant you two wishes. The first - Notre Dame will beat any team you choose for the next ten seasons. The second, the Irish will also lose for ten straight years to any team you name. Quick now, what two teams will they be?!" You blurt out your two answers, and he disappears into the crowd. What two teams did you pick, and why?

If I get to pick, we beat the USC Trojans every year (see my answer to #2, above).

If we have to lose to one team for ten years (that Leprechaun has a wry sense of humor about him) I would pick the University of Texas Longhorns. In my Gathering answers last week I picked Texas as the team with whom I would like to create a rivalry. I can't stomach losing to our traditional rivals for 10 years (USC, Michigan, Michigan State, Boston College). I don't want to be owned by a weak sister (Purdue, Stanford, Duke, Navy, etc...). If we have to lose, let's lose to a classy program with some tradition. Losing to Texas shouldn't kill our recruiting in any of our big recruiting regions, but playing Texas each year should help our exposure in the South even if we're not winning. Also, losing to a good team won't kill us in the polls, especially if we're beating USC.

5. I'm a terrible predictor. I'm pretty good at analysis, but I'm no good picking games because I almost always pick the Irish. But we need to get on the record here. Notre Dame has games left against North Carolina, Washington, Pitt, Boston College, Navy, Syracuse, and USC. Pick the winner of each of those seven games. Assign each pick points based upon your level of confidence in the pick. Most confident pick gets a 7, least confident pick gets a 1. Each value 1 through 7 must be used once. A perfect score of all picks correct would be worth a total of 28 points. The member of the Irish Blogger Gathering with the highest point total wins a prize of my choosing at the end of the regular season. In case of a tie, the tiebreaker is the member who has the best overall season based on quantity and quality of posts to their blog from now through the end of the season, as voted by the members of the Gathering.

Okay, from lowest confidence to highest (1 to 7):
  1. Irish lose to UNC this weekend. Butch Davis is a good coach, the Tar Heels will be sky high, and they are the best team we've seen this year.
  2. Irish beat Boston College.
  3. Irish beat Pitt. (They hate when you call them Pitt).
  4. Irish beat Navy, starting another streak.
  5. Notre Dame loses to USC. Unlike the Michigan game, we're not closing this 38-point gap in one season.
  6. Irish beat the Washington Huskies as part of the Ty Willingham Farewell Tour.
  7. Irish beat woeful Syracuse.
That's it! Members of the Irish Blogger's Gathering, post your replies to this week's questions on your blogs, and put the link to your post in the comments section to this post so everyone can find them. And, if there are any other Notre Dame bloggers who would like to participate, contact Subway Domer and he'll work it out for you.

Note: To make it easier for others to access the other Bloggers' posts, I'm pasting them here with links as I get them.

Charlies Nasties post is here.

Frankie V's post from the UHND Blog is here.

Subway Domer's post is here.

Answers from the Bad Trade blog are here.

"Her Loyal Sons" is in the house.


Anonymous said...

Never ever posted on a blog. We seem to be the same age.
Tommy Clements, Sunday morning highlights,(after church) Linsey Nelson, USC game, Anthony Davis, J.K McKay, and of course our current announcer, Pat Hayden.

Pops said...

Nice work OC. Here are my responses:


Now back to that thing called school...

Frankie V said...


ND Correspondents said...

Nice work OC. Check ours out:


Subscribe and comment often!

SubwayDomer26 said...

Great questions OC Domer! Subway responses are... wait for it... here: http://subwaydomer.blogspot.com/2008/10/irish-blogger-gathering-heart-of.html

Anonymous said...

Huh? Versus offered ND a TV package? I thought ND was in contract with NBC for at least another 5 years.