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Old 01-05-2007, 02:49 PM
Rogthedodger Rogthedodger is offline
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Default Plenty of Notre (Sh)ame, To Go Around

Fool us once, shame on you.

Fool anyone, nine times? Well, that's no longer the fault of those casting the illusions.

Third weekend in December, I'm in Vegas, minding my own business. John Kelly had asked me to fill in on the panel on the Leroy's Sunday-night radio show on the local ESPN outlet, at the Riviera, so off we went. The Rebels were hooping it up that and night, so Kelly, Dave Cokin, and I didn't get started until 10 PM, Pacific - 'way past an Eastern boy's bedtime, but so it goes.

After busily carving up the NFL like a Christmas goose the opening hour, enjoying many laughs, we segued to the college bowls, for the second hour. The group assignment? Touch on all 32 Division 1-A bowl matchups. Okayyyyyyyyy . . . and off we went.

Though I couldn't have cared less about half the matchups, there was still much worthwhile discussion. Kelly likes to coax free selections from his guests on these presentations for his hosts of loyal listeners, and pressed me for a trio of bowl picks. I snapped them off, in chronological order - San Jose State, Minnesota . . . and LSU.

Ah, the Bayou Bengals. "You know," I began, "the Wall Street Journal has been running this line of jive recently about how the national softness in the housing market is unlikely to portend a national recession. You know, the 'This time, it's DIFFERENT' con.

"Yeah, sure it is . . . just like Charlie Weis saying the approach against Ohio State last year didn't work out, and he was looking to extend the amount of time he was going to use in implementing his game plan for LSU, and that would leave the players more relaxed, and things should be . . . different." Riiiiiight.

"Well, guess again, Charlie . . . it's NOT going to change anything, because LSU's skill people are far too fast for your overmatched secondary, and when LSU needs the deep pass, it's going to be there. How many times do we have to SEE this movie?"

I got fairly worked up over this . . . more than I was ever ruffled Wednesday night. Not going to rehash the game timeline - most or all of you saw it, and it would be a waste of time - but I will refer to certain glaring aspects, in support of the points I'm going to make.

LSU/Notre Dame was one of the greatest affirmations of fundamental football handicapping techniques you're likely to witness in your lifetime. Insufficiencies in the Irish secondary? Check. Dame's inability to cope with LSU's quick, athletic secondary? Check. Brady Quinn malfunctioning under likely pressure? Check. Irish running game put in the deep freeze once forced to play from behind? Check . . . and DOUBLE-check! The End. Drive home safely, and remember, the Irish have lost nine straight bowls, and counting.

I could readily see this, yet I'm a situational/technical-handicapping kind of guy . . . so I had to resist the allure of a touchdown-plus dog with a proven offense, off a bad game . . . off a bowl loss the previous year . . . against a fat favorite, playing what could be largely construed as a "home" game (LSU in the Superdome, for heaven's sake . . . ) fraught with potential distractions. I ignored all this - BECAUSE NOTRE DAME, DUE TO ITS UNIQUE POSITION, CONSTANTLY FINDS ITSELF IN TOP-PAYING BOWLS WHICH CONSISTENTLY ATTRACT STRONGER OPPONENTS THAN THE IRISH CAN REASONABLY DEAL WITH IN THEIR PREVAILING STATE.

EVERYTHING stems from this fountain of unfiltered truth.

Because they're Notre Dame, their singular BCS exemption gets the Irish kissed into games such as this . . . games they can no longer win, on a neutral or a foreign field.

Give Dame all the credit in the world . . . they're striving to do things the right way. But the last period of time Dame could consistently function at the highest level was the Lou Holtz era, source of their last national champions, the 1988 edition which went undefeated and picked off West Virginia in the Fiesta, behind QB Tony Rice. They followed that win up by losing but nine games in the next five seasons, but then the cracks began to show. The academic demands from Notre Dame's "front office" became more strict . . . no more Tony Rices. And it showed. After three more years, Holtz was gone, Bob Davie stepped in, and the merry-go-round broke down.

Wednesday night dredged up memories of the 1991 Sugar Bowl, in which the Irish hooked Florida. A parallel scenario in a lotta ways, but with a singular, critical difference: while Coach Holtz's kids lost to Michigan, Tennessee, and Penn State, that secondary was sufficiently talented to aid in the upending of the heavily-favored Gators by double digits. They would bend - but they wouldn't break if a good team simply stared at 'em.

Stiffened academics make it SO much tougher to compete, even for Notre Dame, in this era of reduced scholarship numbers. The biggest of the state schools whose programs have endured any occasional tempests and have come through stronger, with strong coaching staffs and sharp recruiters, will win the vast majority of the numbers games. Look at Ohio State, Michigan, LSU, Florida, West Virginia, Oklahoma, Penn State, Tennessee, Wisconsin . . . vicious competition for the same difference-making athletes. More than half of those institutions can be legitimate national title contenders in the right year, if the dice fall their way.

Boston College and Navy boasted the best academic graduation results among this year's 64 bowl teams. Both are admirable institutions with solid football structures . . . but you'll get old before you see either win a national championship in football, because their academic requirements are simply too stiff to assure access to top athletes at critical positions.

Nothing wrong with the hail, hailers . . . there's still plenty to admire about the program. But with a leveled playing field due to wider distribution of talent, and with the academic handcuffs on Cheeseburger Charlie . . . those expecting the Rockne/Leahy days to return will have a long wait.

01-05-07
Nelson Lardner
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Old 01-05-2007, 03:01 PM
stevo stevo is offline
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Default Plenty of Notre (Sh)ame, To Go Around

I would of loved to hear that show.

Good stuff Mr Memory.
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Old 01-05-2007, 03:15 PM
wolfman wolfman is offline
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Default Plenty of Notre (Sh)ame, To Go Around

paul horning (sp?) said the same thing about 5 years ago and got roasted. even though horning, nor the article above, mentioned race, it was basically understood they cannot bring in the inner-city talent they once could.
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Old 01-05-2007, 03:25 PM
Mr Memory Mr Memory is offline
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Default Plenty of Notre (Sh)ame, To Go Around

Hornung was blunter about it -- but the consistent over-the-head placement of Irish teams in the current bowl structure consistently leaves the Irish in near-impossible situations. But so long as the money in the BCS bowls is so, so huge -- that ain't changin', because the
administration isn't turning down the loot, which they need share with NO ONE ELSE.
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Old 01-05-2007, 05:00 PM
blogguy blogguy is offline
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Default Plenty of Notre (Sh)ame, To Go Around

With your blessings Mr. M, thought this might be a good place to stick the "stat score" from LSU/ND into the mix. Forgot to do that the other night. It confirms what you were saying about the talent differentials here.

Actual Score: LSU 41, Notre Dame 14
Stat Score: LSU 37, Notre Dame 19
Turnovers Even

Rushing: LSU 245 yards, Notre Dame 143 yards
Passing: LSU 332 yards, Notre Dame 148 yards

Went back and dug up the ND/OSU data from last year's Fiesta Bowl

Actual Score: Ohio State 34, Notre Dame 20
Stat Score: Ohio State 40, Notre Dame 18
Turnovers: Notre Dame wins by 2

Rushing: OSU 275, Notre Dame 62
Passing: OSU 342, ND 286

The Buckeyes lost the turnover category, which prevented them from making best use of their yardage advantage. There's been some talk about how this LSU team compares to OSU. Last year's OSU team was slightly more impressive in the key stats than LSU was in the head-to-head matchup (+22 "stat" points to +18)

From the Notre Dame perspective, clear evidence as you stated above that they don't match up well with the sports super powers, and aren't likely to with a finesse approach that lacks the needed volume of athleticism. Statistically speaking, they've been on the wrong end of two of the biggest bowl routs of the past two seasons.

In fairness to ND, they could have drawn more manageable opposition within the BCS mix. They would have seemed less helpless probably vs. Wake Forest, or Boise State. The sport wants them to be a superpower, and they're not. These matchups with real powers are hopefully making that clearer to everyone...blg
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Old 01-05-2007, 06:17 PM
neilm neilm is offline
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Default Plenty of Notre (Sh)ame, To Go Around

Exactly Blogguy....

They drew a terrible matchup....

I'm Irish but also a realist...

LSU is #5 in my power rankings, ND is #29 so they performed about where they should have...

Against #33 Wake, they most likely would have won....
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Old 01-05-2007, 07:56 PM
Mr Memory Mr Memory is offline
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Default Plenty of Notre (Sh)ame, To Go Around

I would have paid three figures for a ticket to Boise/Dame.

They'd have beaten Wake.

Wake hasn't beaten a Top-5 team since '46 . . . NINETEEN-FORTY-SIX.

Know Dame doesn't rank that high, but it's indicitive.
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Old 01-05-2007, 08:51 PM
blogguy blogguy is offline
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Default Plenty of Notre (Sh)ame, To Go Around

They may have beaten Wake...but Wake would have covered, lol...

Got to back my Berle teams against the finesse teams, then hope I don't fumble in the red zone all night...

Then again...Notre Dame hasn't won many bowl games lately...

Guess who's won more bowl games this century? As long as you hold your nose and count the 2002 Seattle Bowl as a real postseason game...
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Old 01-05-2007, 09:36 PM
namathfan namathfan is offline
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Default Plenty of Notre (Sh)ame, To Go Around

Is there a way to email an entire thread?

Thanks.
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Old 01-05-2007, 09:37 PM
namathfan namathfan is offline
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Default Plenty of Notre (Sh)ame, To Go Around

Found it .
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Old 01-05-2007, 10:13 PM
Mr Memory Mr Memory is offline
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Default Plenty of Notre (Sh)ame, To Go Around

Blog -- As mature as Wake was, this season, don't doubt it . . .
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Old 01-05-2007, 11:51 PM
count zero count zero is offline
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Default Plenty of Notre (Sh)ame, To Go Around

Good article and thread.
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Old 01-06-2007, 01:17 AM
TheIguana TheIguana is offline
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Default Plenty of Notre (Sh)ame, To Go Around

Before the bowl pairings were announced I told my buddy that I hope The Irish(who I am a big fan of) get Boise because Boise will be a dog and will beat the Irish. His reply was I hope they get someone like LSU who will be a 7-8 pt fav and kill em. With both agreed and were quite happy with the outcome and probably the easiest bet of the bowl season.
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Old 01-06-2007, 02:44 PM
Midnight Rambler Midnight Rambler is offline
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Default Plenty of Notre (Sh)ame, To Go Around

Speed kills. Notre Dame has very little of it. Thought that they give up on the running game a little early in the second half. Good article though - right on the money.
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Old 01-06-2007, 05:34 PM
Mr Memory Mr Memory is offline
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Default Plenty of Notre (Sh)ame, To Go Around

Fez's house posted a link, to this . . . and the hits just keep on coming . . .
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