Friday, May 22, 2009

Happy Memorial Day! Please Remember to Honor our Veterans.

Happy Memorial Day weekend from the entire staff here at OC Domer! (Um, that would be me.) I hope everyone has a terrific holiday with family and friends, and that everyone reports back here on Tuesday safe & sound (if exhausted and a little sunburned).

But please remember that Memorial Day belongs to our military veterans, and try to find some time to honor them this weekend, whether it's Old Glory flying proudly in the spot normally reserved for your big Notre Dame flag, or attending your local Memorial Day parade, or just inviting a lonely veteran over for a beer and burger at your family barbecue. You'll both be glad you did.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Irish v. Army in the new Yankee Stadium? Very cool.

The New York Times is reporting that Notre Dame Athletic Director Jack Swarbrick has been in very preliminary in discussions with the Yankees about playing some Fighting Irish football in the new Yankee Stadium, and considers Army an obvious opponent given the historical context.

Very, very cool. I have no idea how the new Yankee Stadium would work as a college football venue as far as views and sight lines, etc..., but the idea of playing there instead of the Meadowlands is very intriguing. Wake up the Echoes!

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Charlie & Me & Michigan State

I don't want this blog to turn into "all Twitter, all the time" but I was pretty irritated with Coach Weis this morning. I woke up to seven text messages from Charlie, and I have to vent a bit about them. The subject is Michigan State, and I am a little disappointed in Coach Weis' apparent attempts to both (1) lower, and (2) raise expectations at the same time. Here are Coach Weis' Twitters from this morning, followed by my own muddled thoughts as I was still wiping the sleep out of my eyes.

Good morning. Day 3 of Michigan State. A beautiful day in South Bend, sunny and warm.

I won’t be surprised to see people in the pool when I go home today. Everyone is in good spirits as summer approaches.
Hey, I'm glad it's a nice day in South Bend. They had a long Winter and a lot of crappy weather this Spring. I am also always glad to read that Coach is hunkered down in the Gug watching opponents' game film. Nothing prepares you like preparation, or something like that.
Having watched multiple games on Michigan State, I was very disappointed in last year’s game. The defense held us in the game…

... but offensive production, including critical turnovers, cost us a chance at a big win on the road.

Yeah, Chuck, we were all pretty darned disappointed in last year's Michigan State game. Thanks for reminding me about how I felt that day. Here's an excerpt of my thoughts following the loss:
You can parse those numbers all you want, but the bottom line is the Irish offense was mostly unable to control the ball and move the chains, which meant the Irish defense spent too much time on the field trying to stop MSU's very effective running game, and eventually was worn down by Javon Ringer & Co. Just like I knew they would if the Irish "O" couldn't keep the MSU "O" off the field. Mix in some turnovers, missed field goal attempts, and Red Zone futility, and you have the perfect recipe for a very unsatisfying defeat.


But I don't get, I don't get, I don't get, I don't get, I don't get, I don't get, I don't get WHY THE FIGHTING IRISH OF THE UNIVERSITY OF NOTRE DAME STILL CAN'T RUN THE FOOTBALL!!!!!?????? I just don't understand it. I'm not going to analyze match-ups and videotape and break down the X's and O's of why. That shouldn't be necessary because I hold it as an article of faith that NOTRE DAME SHOULD BE ABLE TO RUN THE FOOTBALL!! We should be able to recruit talented, large, smart football players and teach them to consistently push around the smaller, less talented, less smart players from other schools. That our offensive linemen can't consistently win the battle at the point of attack is a FAILURE.
And what was that about "costing us a chance for a big win on the road." I understand that context is important, and that in the context of the post-2007 debacle, the Michigan State game may have looked "Big." But when you are Notre Dame, beating Michigan State, whether at home or on the road, should not be counted as a "Big Win." Beating Sparty should be routine. Ho-hum. Another day at the office. Next! Losing to MSU is Big. Beating them? Not so much.
These are the types of games where one big play can make the difference.

Down 13-7 in the 4th quarter, one big play can turn a loss into a victory.

Each year a few games will come down to this. Who will make that one big play to determine the outcome?
This is the group of messages that really got under my skin. Michigan State should NOT be the type of game where one big play can make a big difference. It's Michigan Freaking State! These are the types of games that shouldn't be close in the fourth quarter. It absolutely should not be 13-7 in the 4th quarter. It should be 24-3 or 28-7 in the 4th quarter, and Notre Dame should be running the ball, moving the chains, and grinding down the opponent as the clock continues to run. There should be no doubt, and no suspense. No big play will make a difference because by that time the game is OVER.

Yes, Coach, every year a few games will come down to that one big play. But those games should NOT include the Spartans. They should include Michigan (once they get their act back together), USC, and the BCS Bowl game. The Notre Dame faithful ought not to be sitting on the edge of their seats praying the Rosary that Jimmy Clausen can find Golden Tate in the corner of the end zone to pull out a "Big Win" against Sparty.
These are the games you need to win if you want to compete for a National Championship.
No, Coach. Games against Michigan State are the games you need to win if you are Notre Dame. They are the games you need to win if you want to keep your job as NDHFC. If you want to compete for a national Championship, these games need to be satisfying, boring showcases of Fighting Irish dominance. If you want to compete for a National Championship, these games have to become gimmes, and the games against USC and other elite programs are the games that will define your place in Notre Dame history, for better or for worse.

Friday, May 8, 2009

Top 10 College Football Coaches

After doing a little research, here is what I have come up with as the Top 10 College Football Coaches:

  1. Pete Carrol (USC)
  2. Mark Richt (UGA)
  3. Rich Rodriguez (UM)
  4. Lane Kiffin (U. Tenn)
  5. Steve Sarkisian (U. Wash)
  6. Charlie Weis (ND)
  7. Les Miles (LSU)
  8. Bill Stewart (WVU)
  9. Nick Saban ('Bama)
  10. Urban Meyer (UF)
I have to admit, there a few surprises on this list, but you can't argue with the data.

Maybe I need to be a little clearer. I saw this article at today about college football coaches on Twitter. They break it down by conference, but don't give us the really important stat: How many Twitter followers does each coach have? So I went and looked at each coaches' Twitter page and the list above is the Top 10 coaches by number of followers. Is there any meaning to be derived from this ranking? Maybe a little. I think the list reflects at least three factors: (1) Personal popularity quotient of the individual coach (See "Pete Carroll"); (2) Degree to which the coach and his program embrace new technology for reaching out to fans (and recruits)(See UW's Steve Sarkisian) and (3) Intensity of the fan bases following each program (See all those SEC schools on the list).

To complete the exercise, here's the list again with hyperlinks to each coach's Twitter page and the number of followers for each coach.
  1. Pete Carrol (USC)(17,393)
  2. Mark Richt (UGA)(3,959)
  3. Rich Rodriguez (UM)(3,953)
  4. Lane Kiffin (U. Tenn)(3,651)
  5. Steve Sarkisian (U. Wash)(3,301)
  6. Charlie Weis (ND)(3,190)
  7. Les Miles (LSU)(2,773)
  8. Bill Stewart (WVU)(2,009)
  9. Alabama ('Bama)(1,896)
  10. Urban Meyer (UF)(1,729)
(Note 1: The Alabama Twitter feed isn't Nick Saban's - It's a collective feed for the staff as a group. If it was just a Nick Saban feed I would expect his ranking to go up).

(Note 2: If you actually have a full and rewarding life, don't start following football coaches, or especially football bloggers, on Twitter. Nothing good can come from it.)

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

The Transparency President

So, President Barack Obama came into office loudly proclaiming "transparency" as a touchstone of his administration, calling forth a "new era of open government." He's gonna set up a website where average citizens can track where every dollar of stimulus money is being spent. His Attorney General issues a memo to all agencies requiring them to operate under a "presumption of disclosure" when evaluating requests for records under the Freedom of Information Act, and "not to withhold records simply because they can technically do so."

Following through on these promises to the American people, the White House has announced that the $328,835 snapshots of an Air Force One backup plane buzzing lower Manhattan last week will not be shown to the public.

Er, wait a minute. That's not really following through on promises of "transparency," is it? That's more like a cover-up and stone-walling. Hmmm.

Of course, the President has broken many, many promises before, but many of those lies broken promises have been justified on the grounds that those promises were just campaign promises and thus don't really count. But these weren't campaign promises. These were statements made by the President of the United States within hours of being sworn into office.

So all that hoopla about open Government and transparency? What Obama really meant was that he was going to be "open" about things that happened during the Bush administration and would be transparent about releasing classified interrogation documents and privileged legal memoranda authored by attorneys in the Bush Justice Department. With respect to his own White House, Obama clearly reserves the right to withhold any information he wants to, laws like the Freedom of Information Act be damned.

Sorry about the confusion.