Saturday, September 08, 2007

It is September 8, 2007 and at this point all I have left to which to look forward in this college football is what I am going to bill as the futility bowl. Notre Dame and its catastrophically dreadful offense travels to the Big House to face the tragically inept Michigan defense next Saturday. Both will be coming off embarrassing losses when they meet.

Conventional wisdom tells us that one team will win its first game of the year in this confrontation. The trouble, however, with conventional wisdom is that it is precisely that. Conventional. I don't believe that either team is capable of winning a football game at this point. I don't think either team deserves to win.

Alas, if I were a betting man, I would have to put my money on the Wolverines. Not only because they are the home team, but because the Notre Dame medical facilities will be overwhelmed this week. After the time they have spent on the field in the first two games, I expect at least a half dozen or so members of the Notre Dame defense to be hospitalized for exhaustion. As a result, they will have a tough time fielding an 11 man defensive unit against Michigan.

What I find mind boggling is the extent of the dreadfulness of the Notre Dame offensive line. I remember growing up watching outstanding offensive line play for the Fighting Irish every year. I guess I got as used to it as I did to Red Sox collapses in October and leaves changing color. It's just one more thing that makes me lament the passing of the years.

This current crop of offensive linemen are basically stealing $130,000 from the university. It's not fair, I suppose to shred 18-22 year old kids for not meeting expectations, but then I guess I'm a terrible person. These guys can't run block and they can't pass block. They can't pick up the blitz, but then I can't figure out why opposing teams even bother to blitz Notre Dame, since they haven't shown any capacity to contain even the most basic defensive fronts.

It's also impossible to evaluate the young running backs with defensive linemen and linebackers pouring through the front line as if it weren't even there. It is not impossible to evaluate the performance of Travis Thomas, who still blows. It was, however, awfully nice of him to commit the personal foul on the Penn State punt that seemed to change the momentum of the game in the first half.

Notre Dame did show some signs of improvement. They came oh so close to scoring their first offensive touchdown of the year. Clausen looked good on that drive. I thought Weis should have abandoned the short passing game plan a lot sooner than he did. I think that has been the fatal flaw in this Notre Dame season to date. In their first two games, Notre Dame has always seemed on the verge of having a plan A. They are currently organizing search parties to find traces of a Plan B as we speak.

I am not going to call for Weis' dismissal. Nor am I going to get all nostalgic for the Ty Willingham era. I'm not even going to get slightly nostalgic for the Ty WIllingham era. So what if Weis won with Willingham's recruits? So what if Willingham is 2-0 at Washington this year? Those are nice facts, but they ignore the bigger picture.

Willingham might have recruited the players Weis led to back to back BCS appearances, but he didn't manage to win with thos recruits when he had the chance. While Weis has yet to beat USC, at least he coached a team that fought USC down to the wire once; in his three years at Notre Dame, Willingham never managed to beat the Trojans, a feat that is doubly impossible when you never get within 26 points of said adversary. And Willingham's most successful season came in his first years, with players recruited by Bob Davies. So forgive me if I don't tear up as I remember the Willingham era's abrupt termination.

I do have to question Charlie Weis' judgement. Seeing footage of Jimmy Clausen arriving at his signing press conference in a white Hummer limousine thanks to the ESPN telecast this evening vexed me greatly. Take a limo to the prom. Take a limo to a wedding. Don't take a damn white stretch Hummer to sign a letter of intent. It makes you look like a total douche. Especially if you fall short of expectations. As a coach, it's on Weis to stop foolishness like that from dragging a kid down before he even gets to campus.

Another sparkling example of poor judgement on Weis' part was his decision to pursue the malpractice suit against the doctors who performed his gastric bypass surgery. I understand the anger that would remain after he nearly died from the surgery. But after the first trial ended in a mistrial because the doctors intervened to save the life of a juror who was having a heart attack, it was time to punt on the legal system. That was a bad omen, and there was no way people weren't going to be prejudiced going into a jury pool, no matter what we pretend about the legal system and impartiality.

There are some who would say showing up in the white stretch limo is like talking smack before the first game of a fantasy season. However, when your running backs are LJ, Cedric Benson and Travis Henry and the best player on the opposing team is Laurence Maroney, it's hard not to talk trash. Of course, there is a distinct possibility that I could recant this time tomorrow with Tony Romo as my QB, but I doubt it.

Since my last post, I've been doing some thinking about the whole John Cougar Mellencamp problem. I realize I have absolutely no influence with any group of people anywhere in the world as I write this, but I think it's time we called for a boycott of Mellencamp. Let him go back to his little pink house and get misty as he remembers Jack and Diane. He can come out of his cave to help the farmers, but the rest of the year he should just lurk in his lair.

God knows, he must have made enough of whoring his terrible little ode to America to hock shitboxes which will be recalled in 2 years for Chevrolet and appearance fees for events that would have been better served had he stayed at home that he's not going to go hungry. Plus the longer he stays out and visible, the less effective he'll be as a spokesperson for the Democratic drive for the White House in 2008.

You'll have to forgive me for violating my ban against obscenity. Notre Dame taking a second consecutive savage beating has taken the jam out of my doughnut. Hell, I'm sitting here wasting a Saturday night blogging when I could be getting drunk. It's even taken the wind out of the Orioles "tuning up" Red Sox pitching in the words of the guy I go to for my Red Sox info.

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