What? It's totally not a big deal to post a picture of Brian Kelly with his finger in the air, testing the wind....
When we started this "Not B1G 2012" week featuring That School in South Bend, our readership pretty much responded unanimously with some variation of "Who?" or "Why are we discussing a team that was last relevant in the first Bush administration?" or "Let plagues of locusts, boils, and stinging insects descend upon South Bend -- arguably the worst college town in America."
And, of course, you're right. If Illinois cannot have nice things, then That School in South Bend thinks it can have nice things for no real, demonstrable reason related to the present day. And luckily, for 23 years, they haven't had nice things. So congrats, South Bend University --- you're just like Illinois (right down to the pathetic performance in non-championship BCS bowls and string of terrible coaching hires!)
My father's favorite day in college football history was a week in which That School in South Bend, University of Miami, and Michigan (my dad was a Buckeye fan) all lost at the same time. That was at some point in the mid-1990s. Thanks to Rich Rod/Appalachian State, Davie-Willingham-Weis, and whatever's plaguing Miami, he's had many favorite days in college football history lately.
But I digress. This is the Potluck. We have to discuss That School in South Bend. And so we will do so, with questions dripping with thinly veiled contempt and loathing, and a menu inspired by the future diet of Domer "great" Daniel "Rudy" Ruettiger, who will soon be on a dining plan from the Federal Bureau of Prisons for his part in an insider trading conspiracy. (Well, he apparently paid a fine in a settlement and avoided jail time....still, we can dream of a day when Rudy gets locked up, right?)
So, follow us below the jump as we debate whether Brian Kelly is worse as a disciplinarian or as a weatherman, set the over/under on days until Gunner Kiel transfers (again), applaud the Domers for playing a schedule so difficult that HALF the teams on it were .500 or worse in the regular season in 2011, note that Rudy was a massive underachiever compared to literally hundreds of walk-on football players at B1G schools, and discuss what was on our mind the last time the Domers were national champions (Legos, potty-training, learning to ride a bicycle).....
Whatsamatta with you, Tommy? Not enough policemen around to assault?
1. 3 Slices of Bread, 2 Margarine Packets: Tommy Rees and Carlo Calbrese get arrested for public intoxication, resisting arrest, and battery on a police officer...Wide Receiver DeVaris Daniels gets cited for underage drinking (not a big deal in my book, but still).....Michel Floyd has multiple DUIs....eight players get arrested for underage drinking in July 2010 right.....there's a ill wind blowing through South Bend, and Brian Kelly's shortcomings as a weatherman (too soon?) are only apparently surpassed by his inability to enforce off-the-field discipline among his players. Have the off-the-field distractions started to become an issue with Brian Kelly? At what point does it start to negatively impact the team's on-the-field performance? Does it impact recruiting? And how much do you care generally about off-the-field issues when looking at a football team?
Ted Glover: Winning cures all ills, as we know. Short answer is yes, this has been very distracting for Kelly and the Irish. But at some point, when you add to that impressive list you compiled his sideline antics and the backhanded swipes at the team, it's already affected their on the field performance. It's been a rocky two years, but it's not too late to fix this. As to impacting recruiting, no it hasn't. They're recruiting as good as anyone in the country, so I don't see that as an issue right now. Could it become one? Yeah, it could. As to how much I care, well, I quit trying to be a moral arbitrator a few years ago. My life became much easier when I decided that if the coach was okay with a guy playing for him, fine by me.
KennardHusker: Kelly couldn't care less about drinking. Look, it may look bad on the team as it basically makes them look like a bunch of d-bag bros, but it does not really register as, 'bad' on the Irish radar. Until Notre Dame shows me that they care this is happening, then it will not start to affect on-the-field performance. Sadly, outside of outright arrests for felonies (you know, like battery on a police officer) I just do not see anything happening because it can get swept under the carpet too easily. The same, of course, could probably be said of any major university. Also, I see no scenario where this affects recruiting because basically all it points out is that there are a lot of parties football players are invited too. Not a ton of downside there.
BabaOReally: Off-the-field issues are not a problem unless the team plays poorly on the field. Then irate fans can use it as another reason to fire the coach. I haven't heard too many ND fans complain about Michael Floyd being suspended for zero games last year, so they don't care as long as the team wins (which puts them on equal footing with pretty much any college football fanbase).
Brian Gillis: The recent spate of player arrests in South Bend won't lead to the demise of Brian Kelly's program. It's a noble, but unfounded notion that such off field issues will negatively impact a program. Look no further than Gainesville and East Lansing, where Urban Meyer rode the momentum of more than 30 player arrests during his time at Florida to two national championships and Mark Dantonio enabled the likes of Glenn Winston, Chris Rucker, Mark Dell, B.J. Cunningham and the rest of the Rather Hall combatants to record consecutive 11 win seasons. Did either fan base even care about their programs' lawlessness? Once the Irish start winning, the same will be true of the Domer faithful. Brian Kelley's recruiting and coaching may ultimately lead to Notre Dame's downfall, but a few arrests won't (but I don't think that will happen - I still believe that Kelly is an outstanding coach and will bring the Irish back).
MSULaxer27: We discuss it seems ad infinitum here about whether certain programs throughout college football are renegade programs, whether certain coaches will do anything to win, how much control a head coach can truly have over 100 kids, some of whom are from extremely disadvantaged backgrounds (socially, economically, and sadly morally) among others. As far as my own alma mater goes, I have generally wanted a harsher penalty handed down in some situations than my school's head coach has given. So, I don't make my next statement lightly. I am deeply troubled by the fact that Brian Kelly still is employed by ND. Declan Sullivan's death was completely unnecessary. If Brian Kelly wasn't criminally negligent, he was most assuredly complicit in the death of another human being for which he had responsibility. I don't intend any snark with this, but I honestly and earnestly wonder how someone who has had a student die on his watch can deal with that. Knowing that, as an adult, your decision was directly responsible for the death of another human being. I guess "in loco parentis" doesn't mean as much as it once did. Then again we are talking about an institution that has actual gold in the paint on its helmets, while largely representing an organization that has its leaders take a vow of poverty (the church not the school). Incongruity, anyone?
Graham Filler: I always go back to 1990's Florida State when it comes to off the field issues. In case y'all don't remember, FSU was THE monster back then, and you'd find a virtual laundry list of infractions, felony or otherwise, among their starters and backups alike. There was no control, no oversight, and it began to harm the team and community. Naturally, it took awhile for this to shake itself out, but the lack of discipline (both from coaches and institution) eventually brought the program down to mediocrity.
So what do we know about Notre Dame's Outside the Lines issues? Well for one, they WISH they had half the success of that aforementioned FSU team. Sure, some of their players are idiots, and Brian Kelly isn't exactly known as a disciplinarian, but once ND starts winning games, all this is forgiven. Is it scary that so many of Kelly's players are getting in trouble? Absolutely. But hey, that's the nature of college football.
Manti Te'o isn't one of Brian Kelly's guys. Which means he has talent and hasn't been arrested....yet.
2. White Rice and Lima Beans: Manti Te'o anchors a Domer defense that could be competent by Big 12 or Big East standards. Of course, Te'o is also not one of Brian Kelly's players. Unfortunately for the Domers, Brian Kelly's players will man 3/4 of the secondary, making it a large question mark headed into a season in which Notre Dame actually faces more than 4 teams with good offenses -- a first for the program -- and even play some of them on the road! Of course, all the defense in the world won't help the Irish if the offense doesn't protect the ball (see: multiple 99 yard fumble returns against Notre Dame; Tommy Rees' 14 INTs), and improve the passing game (40th overall with 252.6 ypg) to take pressure off of talented RB Cierre Wood (1102 yards rushing with 9 TDs). Which brings up two questions: How high will the Notre Dame grounds crew grow the grass to slow down the powerhouse visiting offenses of Michigan and Stanford to give their defense a chance (a la vs. USC in the "Bush Push" game in 2005)? And will Rees be out of jail long enough to seize control of the QB position, or will Gunner Kiel end up coming in
to vacillate on his verbal commitment, uh, I mean, take meaningful snaps for the Domer offense this year?
KennardHusker: Oh sweet passive agressive goodness! All I think about when I hear the secondary is returning is Dennard lofting balls as high as possible at the end of last year's game and Domer Safeties nowhere to be found. Great memories... Wait, there was a question here? Um, I think Rees gets the nod still, but mostly because we need Kiel to have a run-in with the law before he's ready to start under center. Get to it Gunner! The punny jokes are waiting to be written.
BabaOReally: As far as the QB goes, I think Andrew "Voodoo Child" Hendrix will get the most playing time; I don't know if that is a good or bad thing for Irish opponents. I don't think "Hoosier, no wait, Tiger, no wait, Person from Ireland" Gunner Kiel will do much in his freshman year. There are rumors going around that his mom won't let him travel to away games (especially overseas!), so Kelly may choose to redshirt him.
Graham Filler: I'll just grab the QB question. What have we seen in the last few years from the Kelly quarterbacks? We've seen stretches of amazing accuracy, followed by forcing throws into coverage that the QB's look genuinely unprepared for. We've seen injury concerns from each signalcaller that takes the field.
We're still waiting for a Brady Quinn or Jimmy Clausen to come out of the Kelly system, which is undeniably successful on the college level. There is a large chance that Tommy Rees isn't that guy. But the percentages say that guy will come along sooner than later; Powlus, Quinn, Clausen...All monster recruits with big arms who had college success. ND is built to recruit the next big Oaks Christian QB recruit.
Chadnudj: Wait, Graham, did you just call Ron Powlus, Brady Quinn, and Jimmy Clausen "monster recruits with big arms who had college success?"
/pauses to laugh maniacally for 20 minutes.
//wipes away tears from his eyes
Oh, where were we? Oh, the Irish QBs. One will be in jail, another will play before getting replaced quickly by an enraged Brian Kelly, and the last one will play and be ineffective. Pretty much standard operating procedure in South Bend for, oh, the last 20 years.
Spring Game? Or definition of a no-win scenario for Irish-haters?
3. Salisbury Steak: Wow, the Notre Dame schedule is daunting. They might actually have to play what most non-Big East/ACC teams would consider a typical conference schedule. The "Irish" have a "neutral" game in "Ireland" against Navy... have home games against juggernauts like Purdue (7-6 in 2011), Miami (6-6 in 2011), Pitt (6-7 in 2011), Wake Forest (6-7 in 2011), and an Andrew Luck-less Stanford....and even face Boston College (4-8 in 2011) on the road. (To be fair, they also host Michigan and BYU, and travel to Michigan State, Oklahoma, and USC). With such a difficult slate, what's your prediction for Notre Dame? Will they overachieve and get to face the ACC's 5th place team in the Belk Bowl? Or will Domer fans be disappointed, and end up in the Pinstripe Bowl against the Big 12's 7th seed?
Ted Glover: You can make an argument that Notre Dame will have a tough time getting to the 6 win threshold. Kelly has to do much better than that, or the warm seat will become white hot. It's tough to say they took a step back in 2011, but they didn't make progress, either, and this schedule is daunting. Get to 10 wins with a good bowl this year, which is just as possible as 5 or 6, and I think Notre Dame fans would take that every time.
BabaOReally: I predict that Notre Dame will still be thought of by some as a perennial powerhouse after they lose six games (including a so-so bowl) in 2012.
Brian Gillis: Please, enough about Notre Dame's difficult schedule. Year in and year out, the Irish are celebrated for their tough schedule, despite countering playing Michigan and USC by scheduling the rest of their games against the service academies (all of them), a more often than not sorry Boston College team and the dregs of the Big Ten (no offense to the Boilermakers, but there haven't been a lot of title contenders in the decades between Bob Griese and Drew Brees - or in the decade since Brees, for that matter). Sure, Michigan State seems to give the Irish fits every year and Stanford has been great the last two seasons, but where were they before Jim Harbaugh? Granted, Notre Dame's schedule this season is among their most difficult and they should be lauded for scheduling teams like Oklahoma, but how difficult can their schedule really be when Wake Forest and Pitt are cited as examples of "the nation's toughest schedule?"
MSULaxer27: The Irish play by their own rules. "Hey! Our Olympic, non revenue and basketball teams are having difficulty making their respective post seasons as we are independent. Let's join a conference so we have a better chance of getting those sports in." "Football, nah. We cherish our 'independence'!" Except they'll take the Big East Bowl slots if they are available. Nice set up if you can get it. Notre Dame cares about Notre Dame. Quite frankly, I look forward to the day that ND is as relevant as Lehigh or Fordham or Cumberland in the national football conversation.
Graham Filler: I apologize for this remark, but this is a 10-2 Notre Dame team (talent wise) that's going to go 8-4 this year...and every year until they join a damn conference.
There is no mythical advantage. There is no easy schedule for Notre Dame. There is no home-field advantage. There are perpetual losses to Oklahoma and USC. There are no bunnies where you can rest your starters. It's an all season sprint and Notre Dame thinks they can obtain success because dammit their Notre Dame...and it's a fallacy.
Join a conference, develop knowledge of the teams you play, their systems, the away issues. Travel less, pick up some Indiana/Illinois bunnies. That's how ND steps up into 10 win territory.
Chadnudj: Again, fully HALF of the Domers' schedule is played against teams that were .500 or worse in the regular season in 2011. Another game is against Stanford WITHOUT Andrew Luck. I get the "ooooh, they play Michigan and Michigan State and USC and Oklahoma" slobbering....but they ALWAYS play Michigan, Michigan State and USC. Even including Oklahoma, you're telling me the Domers' schedule is as tough as playing the B1G conference slate?
Hear that sound, South Bend? It's the world's smallest violin playing a sad song just for you...which probably is inadvertently inflating your out-sized sense of self-importance.
4. Fresh Apple: The movie "Rudy" is the heart-warming, inspirational tale of a non-recruited football player who perseveres and eventually walks on to his school's football team, geting the opportunity to make two plays at the end of a meaningless blowout at the end of a season. In other words, it's the same story that has occurred thousands of times on other college football teams, except frequently the walk-on actually make more significant contributions to his team (see: Zeke Markshausen, Karl Mecklenburg, Jordan Kovacs, Blair White), and doesn't end up facing securities fraud charges. If you could make an inspirational sports movie about a completely ordinary occurence with your team, what would it be? Who would you cast? And what would you entitle it?
Ted Glover: Screw the underdog, I'm an OSU fan. I cheer for Darth Vader and the Empire. Mua...MUA...MUAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!!!
BabaOReally: I would like to make a movie about the student manager that used to make sure that Joe Tiller had a cup of ice to chew on. I would call the movie "The Avengers 2".
Brian Gillis: I've never seen Rudy. Never will. I'm not sure why any self-respecting person would. The closest I've been to the movie was listening to Joe Montana discuss it with Dan Patrick last year, when he debunked some of the more memorable scenes in the movie. That, I enjoyed.
Graham only watched this movie because he's a Steven Soderbergh fan.....yeah, that's it.
Graham Filler: Voiceover: There was once a young man, bereft of direction, only knowing one thing:
(music plays as 18 year old Kingston Smith gyrates at The Poke, a low class male strip club in Detroit)
Woman: Yeah baby, shake it for Brandilynne! Here's another dollar.
(Kingston takes the dollar, puts it in his g string...and sighs)
Voiceover: But little did Smith know...his future was shaking an opportunity in front of him.
(Brady Hoke accidentally walks into The Poke after hearing about a buffet special)
Hoke: Free steaks?! Free steaks! Wait, what the hell?
(As Smith works his magic on the stage, Hoke and his assistants exchange glances)
Mattison: I've never seen such fluid hip movement.
Hoke: And we are lacking depth at the Free Safety spot, someone who can really lay the wood...er
(Hoke approaches the stage to the tune of "It's Raining Men")
Hoke (while throwing dollars, he's not cheap, shit, look at what Michigan is paying him): Son, how would you like to play football at the University of Michigan?
Smith: (Scooping up dollars) But Coach, I've never picked up a football.
Hoke: That's okay son, we're recruiting you to tackle dudes. And, yeah...
(Soaring orchestra strings to the tune of "Bad Romance")
(Scenes of Smith slamming ballcarriers and picking off balls and making the NFL)
Liam Hemsworth stars in -
Magic Mike 2: The Walk On
Shouldn't this statue have been a fountain, streaming spittle from Holtz's lips?
5. After Dinner Cocktail, a.k.a. toilet bowl moonshine: Notre Dame last won a national title in 1989. Were you born in 1989? Do you remember 1989? If so, what do you remember?
Ted Glover: Yeah, I was born. I was actually in my third year of a 22 year military career. By December of that year I was in Warrant Officer Candidate School down at lovely Ft Rucker, AL, learning to be a helicopter pilot, having narrowly missed the Panama invasion. I remember Mike Tyson lost to Buster Douglas while I was in WOC School, and Joe Montana and the 49ers destroyed John Elway the Broncos in the Super Bowl.
John Cooper was only 0-2 against Michigan, and my youngest daughter wasn't going to be born until 1992.
Is it a nice feeling knowing that one of my children has lived her entire life not knowing what it's like for Notre Dame to win a major bowl, much less a National Championship? Yes, yes it is.
KennardHusker: In 1989, I was 4 turning 5 and outside of some beginner books, phonics flash cards and chilling being awesome playing with the massive Lego's set I had, there isn't much interesting about 1989. So the last time Notre Dame was relevant nationally, I was playing in my room with preschool toys. That is a whole lot of awesome right there.
Graham Filler: It was 1989. I was six years of age. I was in the 2nd grade being taught by the wonderful Mrs. McMaster.
Here's what I remember about 1989.
In 2nd grade, we had a writing assignment. It was simple: just review a current event and write a paragraph about it.
My favorite athlete was, of course, Mike Tyson, who had recently been sent to jail for some kind of sexual misconduct against his now ex-wife Robin Givens. I was utterly confused about the whole process and I let my 2nd grade teacher know about my confusion.
"Mike Tyson is my favorite athlete and now he has to go to jail, so he can't box anymore. He got in trouble for having Oral-B sex with a woman. I don't understand why Mike Tyson got in trouble for brushing his teeth."
Apparently my teacher cried a little from laughing so hard.
I also spiked myself into the ground, head-first, doing an accidental bike flip when showing off for a cute Mexican girl. Six stitches.
What were we talking about?