Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Irish Blogger Gathering: Tailgate Edition

Sarah at Bad Trade is hosting this week's Irish Blogger Gathering, and she has chosen that most venerable of American sporting traditions - the tailgate party - as this week's topic. So grab a brat and a beer and enjoy this week's B.S. session. My answers follow below, Sarah's original post and the responses of the other members of the IBG can be read over at her place.

1. You're having some beers and brats outside Notre Dame Stadium, just chilling with friends. If you could have one Notre Dame player or coach drop by to share a drink, a brat and some stories with you, who would it be?

George O'Leary, without a doubt. I'm sorry, that wasn't nice.

My first thought was Father Ted Hesburgh. He's not a player or coach, although I could perhaps bend the rules to make him an honorary coach or something here at OC Domer. Fr. Ted is a bit of a name dropper (it's actually pretty funny how many names he can drop into any given conversation, the guy knows EVERYBODY), but he really is a fascinating guy to chat with and he really did transform Notre Dame into the University we know today.

But I want to be true to the original question, so I would have to go with former Notre Dame offensive line coach Joe Moore. Joe Moore was on Lou Holtz's staff from 1988 (National Championship year) to 1996 and was certainly among the best assistant coaches ever associated with Notre Dame. Coach Moore's tenure at ND ended when new head coach Boob Davie let him go and somehow managed to get the University sued and held liable for discriminating against Moore based on his age. That was probably the first sign that Davie wasn't cut out to be head coach at ND. At any rate, Coach Moore was seriously "old school" and it would be awesome to give the guy a cold beer and let him tell the uncensored history of Lou Holtz's tenure at Notre Dame. I would also love to hear Coach Moore's expletive-laden analysis of why the current Irish offensive line can't run block worth a damn. Maybe we could figure out a way to get Coach Weis and Coach Latina to join us? Coach Moore died of lung cancer in July of 2003. A couple of nice articles about his legacy and career can be found here and here.

2. What was your best experience ever with a tailgate party?

I don't get to a lot of games, so I don't do a lot of tailgating, but the one that sticks in my mind is 2005 at Stanford. That game was on the Saturday of Thanksgiving weekend. We rented a big Chevy Tahoe and drove to Northern California. As a belated birthday present we picked up my mom and took her with us into San Francisco and spent a great day in the city on Friday (Pier 39, Alcatraz, cable cars, Lombard Street, etc...) capped off by the Notre Dame pep rally held in our hotel.

On Saturday we headed down to Stanford for the game. Because Stanford's fans are totally weak, tickets to the game were readily available (I still get mail from the Stanford athletic department today trying to sell me Stanford tickets), so my two brothers were able to get tickets too. Although our plan to meet before the game for some tailgating was woefully thin on details, we miraculously managed to park within just a few feet of each other in a grove of trees not too far from Stanford Stadium. I had purchased a tiny gas grill before we left Orange County, and we all chipped in with bringing food and drinks.

It was a perfect day for football, cool and crisp. We fired up the grill, broke out some cold drinks, and had a great time. My daughter was wearing her "Play Like a Champion Today" yellow T-shirt, my son was in his #10 Brady Quinn jersey, and we were all tossing the football around. We don't get together as a family very often, so having my mom, both my brothers and their wives, and Mrs. Domer & the OC Kids there and enjoying a great afternoon made it a really memorable day. To top it all off, the Irish beat Stanford that night (in a game that was closer than it should have been), and we were all there for the post-game ceremony when they officially began ripping up the turf and tearing down the old Stanford Stadium so they they could build a newer, smaller one for their fans to stay away from in droves. We still have some of that turf tucked away somewhere.

3. There are lots of great tailgate experiences around the country - what school's tailgate tradition do you most want to experience?

They say that game days at the big SEC schools are absolutely amazing, but the place that sticks in my head for no obvious reason is Penn State. I've heard that Happy Valley is just an amazing place to visit for a game. We have some friends who went to Penn State, and my experiences hanging out with them at parties and backyard barbecues leads me to believe that those Nittany Lions know how to tailgate. To me, Midwestern tailgating bundled up in a sweatshirt against a little November chill seems more authentic than tailgating in the South in 90-degree heat, and I think eating a brat and chugging a beer in Happy Valley would just be a lot of fun.

Of course, there is something to be said for tailgating in Southern California. Hard to describe though.

4. Indiana decides that their drinking laws are far too un-draconian (I'm from Wisconsin. I don't understand these things like "kids aren't allowed in bars," "your parents can't give you liquor if they are supervising" and "no alcohol purchases on Sunday"), and drinking is now forbidden on Saturdays. The Excise Police stop by your tailgate, and proceed to dump out the liquor you were attempting to hide from them. What do they pour out?

Well, if we're in our usual low-budget tailgate mode, we're looking at some Corona beer (with slices of lime), and some excellent California wines for the ladies (possibly a nice Zinfandel and some Pinot Grigio from Napa and Sonoma counties). If we're tailgating upscale, there will be some nice vodka for mixing Cape Cods, and things are gonna get ugly if they find that bottle of Johnnie Walker Black Label because that stuff is way too expensive to be pouring out on the ground.

5. OK, I couldn't leave it alone completely. How do you feel about the impending end of the Coach Willingham era at Washington?

Look, it's a crappy thing to say but I have to admit I feel a little vindication as an Irish fan and alum. But that's only because the University was unfairly accused of racism when they fired him. The bottom line is that Coach Willingham was not getting the job done in recruiting or on the field. If he had brought in better talent and won more games he'd still be the head coach and they'd be sizing him up for a statue outside the stadium next to Ara's. But since he and his supporters brought race into it, it has become necessary for TW to be publicly exposed as a poor football coach so that Notre Dame put those charges of racism to rest. When politically correct U of W fires Willingham after he has destroyed their football program, that should be the end of the matter for both ND admirers and detractors.

In a way it's unfair for the current players and Coach Weis to be dragged into this. It's not their fault that Willingham was fired - but it somehow falls to them to defend the University's honor by beating Coach Willingham and the Huskies. It's kind of weird, really. But I would bet that Charlie and the team aren't thinking about Ty Willingham at all. I am sure they are just worrying about playing with energy and speed and executing their assignments so that they can get to 5-2 on the year.


eldrain said...

Please leave the political crap out out of your otherwise excellent blog.

OC Domer said...

Eldrain - It's my blog! I'll blog whatever "crap" I feel like blogging! If you don't like the political posts, then by all means don't read them. If you can't handle even the mere presence of a few non-football posts at OC Domer, then don't let the door hit you in the ass on the way out. I'll gladly refund the full cost of your subscription.

Andy said...

OC clearly separates his political takes under separate blog entries with clear headings showing the content. So, readers can choose. For me, I find all of OC's work very informative. Keep it up.

Anonymous said...

what is up for the stanford game? will be out for game and want to tailgate.