Tuesday, November 30, 2004

The Weekend in Review

Dude, Where's My Coach?

NCAA Football

Toledo 49, Bowling Green 41: It may be the best rivalry in the MAC. Did I mention BGSU (not a state, by the way) was up 27-7 at the half, and had all the momentum? Well, that didn't stop Toledo from scoring 27 points in the third, and another 15 in the fourth. Defense, who needs defense? Meanwhile, look for Bowling Green's head coach Gregg Brandon to move up in the world some time in the next few years. Brandon was Urban Meyer's offensive coordinator at BG, and he helped develop the now-famous spread option attack Meyer uses at Utah.

Pitt 16, WVU 13: Are we sure we want to give the Big East a BCS bid? I mean, I know ND lost to Pitt, but honestly.

Texas 26, Texas A&M 13: The lowest point total one team can get in a football game (other than 0) is 2, right? Not in college. On the rare occurence that there is a safety on a two point try, one point is awarded to the team that scores the safety. Now, you think, why and how would the team going for two somehow run 97+ yards backwards into their own end zone? Ah, but it doesn't have to be that way. Texas went for the one-point kick, which was blocked. A&M picked it up and tried to run with it. Therefore, the refs ruled, this is now a two-point try. But then, the A&M player fumbled into the end zone, where it was recovered by another A&M player, who was down. One point safety!

Arizona 34, Arizona St 34: Hey, Arizona actually is a state. I could tell you what this does as far as setting ND's Insight Bowl opponent, but I'm too lazy right now.

Louisville 70, Cincinnati 7: I'll recall what the Lorain Morning Journal wrote earlier this year, as tOSU prepared to play the Bearcats: "Cincinnati isn't a pushover this year." Right. Well, Stefan LeFors did only have 79 yards passing, so you can't blame the Cardinals for running up the score... Or can you, when you consider Louisville is pushing for a BCS bid at #8 and may be trying to influence the pollsters? Still think human polls are a good idea?

Boise State 58, Nevada 21: Oh, Boise State (not a state) is also pushing for a BCS at large spot? Really?

Virginia Tech 24, Virginia 10: OK, I'll admit it. USC played one decent team this year, but that's it.

Tennessee 37, Kentucky 31: Yeah, but it took a last-minute touchdown to do it. Eh, a win's a win.

Syracuse 43, BC 17: Are you still sure you to give an automatic BCS bid to the Big East?

Missouri 17, Iowa State 14: Aw man, I really thought ISU belonged in the Big 12 title game.


Bengals 58, Browns 48: When you win a game like this, you say "Instant Classic." When you lose a game like this, you say, "where was the defense?" Then you say, "oh yeah, it was there on that last play, when Kelly Holcomb tried to throw a screen and Deltha O'Neal picked it off for the deciding touchdown." Well, I should give the Browns credit where credit is due. As Hal Lebovitz pointed out, they could have just quit on Butch Davis, but they played hard for 60 minutes. They didn't tackle well at all, but they played hard. I'm also very surprised that SportsCenter didn't throw up a "Most Losses While Throwing for 400+ Yards" in honor of Holcomb, who also accomplished the feat in that disasterous playoff game in '02. On a final note, I'm really surprised I'm still not having Fiesta Bowl flashbacks as TJ Houshmandzadeh caught 4 passes for 79 yards, rushed twice for 17, and was even thrown in to return a kickoff.

Colts 41, Lions 9: Maybe I just ate too much turkey, but for a while I thought I was watching Madden's Football 101 (not Bob Davie's Football 101). Jinx alert: You know what, I don't think I've seen the Peyton Manning Face once this season. Oh well, the playoffs are coming up soon, as is the cold weather.

Cowboys 21, Bears: I couldn't be happier for the way Julius played in the national spotlight. 150 rushing yards and two TDs. That's a great way to get the Stephen Jackson monkey off his back. When watching Dallas play the Browns earlier this season, I was extremely worried that Julius would be a bust - he looked extremely overmatched up to the point where he injured himself. But, with 231 yards in two games back from injury, I think it's safe to say he's going to be a good one.

Texas 31, Titans 21: When the NFL was planning realignment, Cleveland offhandedly suggested that the Texans be placed in the same division as the Browns. The reason? The old AFC central got two "gimme" games a year while the Browns were just starting out, so why can't the favor be returned by giving the Browns two "gimmes" a year versus the new Houston franchise? Well, that didn't happen, and it's a good thing for two reasons. One, as painful as it is now to watch division games, it's a great concept to have the only other three teams in your division be your three biggest rivals. Two, Houston looks pretty good this year. I don't think the Browns would want to face them.

Steelers 16, Redskins 7: Roethlisberger was 9-20 for 131 yards and no TDs. Hmm, maybe he's just on a good team.

Eagles 27, Giants 6: Sorry Ellen - again I didn't get to see this one. But, I'll chalk Eli's 6-21 performance up to "growing pains."

Dolphins 24, 49ers 17: And the "Don't Be That Guy" Award goes to Miami this time around. In a "you can't make this up, but you probably should have seen it coming" twist of events, Miami outscored San Francisco 17-14 in the fourth quarter. Coming into this game, Miami had scored 17+ points in a game only 3 times this year. San Francisco has gotten 14+ in a game 8 times, but that doesn't help when you've given up at leat 21 points in every game you've played. (Note: I'm writing this on Monday Night, so hopefully TMQ doesn't scoop me.)

Jets 13, Cardinals 3: So, if you don't give up a lot of points, you don't have to score a lot? Huh.... (Or, should I ask, 'so, if you play crappy teams, you don't have to score a lot?')

Patiots 24, Ravens 3: If Bill Bellichick coached the Ravens, Steelers, or Bengals right now, I'd be in the deepest pits of depression. One, this is a guy Cleveland fired (fortunately, he was gone before the Baltimore franchise started). Two, while I'm sitting through tons of poor football coaching, here's a guy who's doing all the right things - playing guys on both sides of the ball (fun to do, and fun for teammates to watch, especially when they succeed), stressing team players over talent and perceived stardom, and knowing exactly what it takes to win. Basically, I would have a hard time hating this guy, and that would tear me apart to see him do all these things while wearing black and purple.

Packers 45, Rams 17: I was really bitter about having to see John Elway in the pregame piece. Then, I realized that Mike had to put up with an entire game full of Brett Favre butt-kissing. I'm sorry you had to see that, Mike.

Coaching Carousel

  • Yep, Ty is gone. Credit goes to The Backer for breaking the story. Check out the Irish Trojan's Blog for a timeline of the events. (It's days like this when I wish that I would have taken Dave up on his offer to let me become a full time blogger.)

  • I found out myself at about 1:30 Tuesday afternoon. I was still at lunch, my dad had just gotten back. Somehow our lunchtime conversation involved a comment about him putting in a resume for the Florida coaching job (since, as a state university, it's a publicly posted job opening). I get a call from him, "Looks like I don't have to put my resume in at Florida - I can put it in at Notre Dame." "You're kidding!"

  • Kevin White will discuss with the players whether or not they want to go to the Insight Bowl. At the time of this writing, I'm hoping for a scoop from one of my on-campus sources.

  • Butch Davis resigned from the Browns Tuesday, and OC Terry Robiskie was named interim head coach. No, I do not want Davis at Notre Dame.

  • Rumor has it that Norm Chow has accepted the head coach position at Stanford. This likely leaves Washington for Ty.

  • I just got off the phone with the fired up old woman from NSS who's also an ND fan. She had just heard the news at about 6:15pm on CNN. She felt bad that Ty was blamed for the close losses. However, she retold a story about her row 16 seats at a game this season. She paid attention to Ty the whole time, and she became increasingly upset that he coached by body language and a "Devil Stare," and not by actually telling the kids what they did right or wrong. She also told me, for approximately the 75th time, that she has quit donating to ND ever since her husband, the ND grad, passed away. Her husband at timed donated $100, but she says she simply throws away repeated requests for funds.

Random Thoughts on Sports Announcers

Joe Buck: I wanted to like him because of his dad Jack. But, I had trouble standing the Buck/McCarver team. It turns out, I just hate McCarver. Put Buck in the football booth, and he's a great annoucer.

Al Leiter: A great pickup by Fox during the playoffs. I've learned so much about being a pitcher from just a few short series. I don't know how he'd do in a two-man booth, but I definitely found him very interesting.

Steve Lyons: Quirky, but that's Psycho for you. Being the "second team" color guy is the perfect spot for him.

Steve Kerr: Started as a commentator on TNT last season. He's a natural. If you didn't see him play in the finals two years ago, you wouldn't have guessed he was a rookie.

Steve Beuerlein: Ah, yet another Steve. Beuerline is in his rookie year as fourth-string commentator for CBS. There are times when you can tell he's new at this, but he shows signs of being a solid color guy.

Mark Price: In his first season doing local broadcasts for the Cavs. Rough around the edges, but it's freaking Mark Price. I idolized this guy growing up.

Lewis Johnson: NBC's ND sideline reporter, he was in the studio for last Saturday's Grambling (not a state)-Southern game. Didn't appear to be overmatched at all. Can this guy replace Tom Hammond and/or Pat Haden in the booth?

Miscellaneous Ramblings

  • Indians re-sign Bob Wickman. The Tribe needed a reliable veteran at the back end of the bullpen after last year's woes. As a major plus, Wickman isn't Armando Benitez, who Cleveland was also after.

  • The new Sony MP3 Walkman looks pretty cool. But judging by the commericials, the Walkmans can only play crappy covers of otherwise decent songs.

  • Congrats to ND Women's Basketball. Thanks to a 6-0 start, and losses by UConn, Tennessee, and Texas (the team that beat Tennessee), the Irish have climbed to #3 in both polls. I could be wrong (and I know I'm lazy), but I believe this is the highest they've been since the national championship season.

Highlights from my 5-Year High School Reunion Last Saturday

  • The night started with dinner at bar #1. Nothing interesting there. I drove over to the hotel where some people were staying for the night. We left are cars there and walked to bar #2, home of the reunion.

  • The reunion was scheduled for 7-11pm. The ND-USC was scheduled to kickoff at 8pm. No problems, it's a bar - there's bound to be a TV, right? Well, there would be, if we weren't in the private room on the third floor. Dah.

  • Saw a few people I've seen recently, others I haven't seen in 5 years. At least after 5 years, most people had given up their years old little kid grudges.

  • Did I mention the beer at this place was free? Good times.

  • Ran into my first girlfriend from age 14. She's now married with a kid, with another on the way. (Neither are mine, geniuses.)

  • Also there, of course, was my friend and "Professional Student" CJ. CJ started at the U of Dayton in '99 and is still there. On a positive note, I was invited to relive college parties by taking a trip down to UD.

  • Rumors have been confimed that my cousin is now engaged. Naturally, he left it to our grandma to spread the news.

  • My Buddy Matt made a cameo appearance, in from Seattle for the weekend. With an engineering degree from Purdue, a master's at Case Western, and a job at Boeing, he easily won the most impressed looks.

  • I was able to find two TVs on the second floor, but both were showing the Cavs game. Fortunately, a few ND fans showed up around the end of the Cavs game, so they were able to switch a TV over for the second half. I caught SC's drive to make it 20-10, then left after ND failed to cut into that lead on their next drive.

  • After much reminiscing, my next trip down to the second floor didn't happen until after the game. I asked one of the ND fans the final score, unfortunately. Noticing my ring, she asked what class I was in. "'03." Feeling old, she replied, "'95."

  • After my cousin, CJ, "Merc", and I closed out the party with the bartended. Afterwards, we met most of the class back at bar #1.

  • Of course, back at bar #1, everyone wanted to dance. I don't blame them - the cover band there was great. CJ and Merc tried to get me out on the floor, but I resisted. A random guy at the bar felt my pain. "I get bugged to do that all the time. You just have to wiggle and giggle." Sounds like a new catchphrase.

  • The night ended around 1:30 as the cousin needed a ride home after a 3-state day (flight from Arizona to Michigan with the fiancee, the a lone drive from Michigan to Lorain). So, I decided to call it a night, too. Good times.

  • Yes, things were much more fun than I've writting. I'm just a little too distracted by Jeopardy! right now. Suffice it to say, this may have been the best non-ND weekend I've had since graduation.

kankasports KankaNation Hall of Fame

It's back! Voting for the second annual inductions into the KankaNation HoF will start today. Ballots will be due by 5pm on December 31st. All readers of KankaNation are eligible, whether or not they're regulars. To vote, email a list of up to 10 candidates to kanka@kankasports.zzn.com.
This year, as our readership has increased slightly, I will say that it takes 5 votes for a player to make the Hall of Fame. However, anyone who received votes last year, but did not make the HoF, will start off with 1 vote (therefore requiring only 4 people to vote them). Last's years winners and vote getters can be found here.

Wednesday, November 24, 2004

ND Football 2004

Issue 11: USC

Ladies and gentlemen, these are your seniors. I see selfless position changes, often ending in a loss of playing time, walkons who have gone beyond the call of duties, others who have never seen the gameday sidelines, and above all 4-5 years of hard work, sacrifice, and perserverance. Fans, before you cheer against the Irish to enact change, ask yourself if these players deserve the boos for what they've been handed. Underclassmen and coaches, before you go out there Saturday, ask yourselves if you're willing to do everything you possibly can to get a win for your teammates. Now, on to the preview.

USC Rush Offense vs. ND Rush Defense

Reggie Bush, right? Nope, LenDale White. Bush does average 60 yards per game on the ground, but it's White who leads the team with 85.9 YPG. Throw in backups Desmond Reed and Hershel Dennis, and you have a team that averages 179.5 yards per game on the ground. Oh yeah, and it's Anthony Davis day at the Coliseum.
On the other side of the ball, the Irish have one of the best run defenses of the country. The strength of this team is its front 7, and this front 7 is giving up 95.5 yards per game on the ground. They're definitely stronger than the Pac-10 run defenses USC has come against up to now. However, if the ND offense can't keep its defense of the field, it could be a long day for the front 7.

ND Rush Offense vs. USC Rush Defense

Consistency to a fault. Darius Walker had a good day two weeks ago, but more often than not he's right around his 75.4 yard average. Right behind Walker is Ryan Grant at 57.4 yards per game. Walker has 6 TDs on the ground to Grant's 5. Throw in a single 14 yard rush by Marcus Wilson, and there's your Irish rushing attack.
USC is giving up a stifling 69.2 yards per game on the ground. Granted, that's against teams not known for their running attacks, but opponent's defensive averages have often been all too indicative of ND's performance. USC's tackle leaders are linebackers Lofa Tatupu and Matt Grootegoed. Tatupu has 74 tackles, 12 for loss, while Grootegood has 53, 12.5 for loss. Again, this is a very active defense.

USC Pass Offense vs. ND Pass Defense

Have I mentioned Reggie Bush yet? I didn't bold his name there, so apparently I have. Last year, Derek Curry had nightmares trying to cover him man-to-man. I'd almost suggest putting an extra DB in to spy him, but do we have a DB that good? Besides, if you pay too much attention to Bush, their other receivers will get you. Matt Leinhart, with a 65.7 completion percentage and 23 TDs against 5 INTs, has plenty of options. Dwayne Jarrett is averaging 4 catches and 58.8 yards per game, tight end Dominique Byrd 3 catches and 49.2 yards, and WR Steve Smith is healthy again. He's only averaging 82.8 yards per game. If you're looking for touchdown men, it's Jarrett with 10 and Bush with 6.
Are DB-heavy formations the answer for the Irish? Well, first of all, the Trojans are "only" averaging 255.3 yards per game, while the Irish are giving up 261.2 per. Plus, more DBs in the game means less linebackers and down linemen. In ND's case, the backers and linemen are their best defensive players. Base 4-3 Man Zone anyone? I have no idea. Their best hope lies in a good pass rush, lead by end Justin Tuck.

ND Pass Offense vs. USC Pass Defense

I really could just copy and paste here. Brady Quinn has hit 20 different receivers. Watching the USC game a few weeks ago, the announcers mentioned that the overactive USC linebackers often leave the seams wide open for the tight ends. Watch out for Anthony Fasano and whomever else is healthy in this one.
The Trojans give up 197.2 yards per game in a pass happy league. Their defense averages 4.2 sacks, 1.7 INTs, and 4.7 pass breakups per game. Oddly enough, the INT leader is Grootegood, so be smart on those short passes. (Of course, he could just be a Ray Lewis type linebacker: an oversized safety who plays robber all day then takes too much credit when the D-line tips passes to him.)

Special Teams

Placekicker Ryan Killeen has been average at best. He's 7-16 on field goals this year, including two misses from 20+, 2 from 30+, and 5 from 40+. His long is 42... and he's 2-7 from 40 plus. Are none of the USC coaches paying attention to this guy's range? Of course, they could just have a "why punt, our defense will stop them anyways" philosophy. Speaking of punting, Tom Malone has an average of 43.7 per and a long of 62. Of course, he also has 9 touchbacks.
Returns? Does the name Reggie Bush sound familiar? Bush is most volatile on punt returns, where he has a 16.7 average and 2 touchdown. On kick returns, he has an average of 27.2 yards per on a team that averages 24.4 per.
Meanwhile, the Trojan kick coverage teams have been average. The punt coverage team is solid with a 5.2 average, while the kick coverage team is giving up 20.5 per. Neither has surrendered a TD.
DJ. Solid. 10-13 on field goals with a long of 47. A 42.3 punt average with a wind-aided long of 67 and 26 of 62 punts inside the 20.
I think we finally may be starting to figure out this whole return thing. Give us another 6 games or so and... wait, what's that? This is our last game? Crap. Anyways, Carlos Campbell has been a diamond in the rough with a 27.5 average on kickoffs and a long of 41. Chase Anastasio has an 18.2 average and along of 40. On punts, Carlyle Holiday has an average of 11 yards per return and a long of 68.
Coverage teams have been up and down. Well, kick teams have been mostly down. They give up 20.9 yards per return, while the punt teams are giving up 6.8 yards per return.

Look for a big game from
Everyone, especially Fasano, Grant, and the entire front 7

ND 20, USC 17: Who said being an optimist was easy?

Tuesday, November 23, 2004

The Weekend in Review

Dave vs. Kanka Edition

NCAA Football

tOSU 37, Michigan 21: Someone said last Thursday that the team with the most to lose always seems to lose this one. Again, that was the case. Meanwhile, Ted Ginn, Jr.'s fourth punt return TD of the year is turning the Cleveland-area product into even more of a local legend.

Florida 20, FSU 13: Say what you want about Ron Zook - he got to go out on top in this one. Meanwhile, both Wyatt Sexton and Chris Rix were given fair chances to suck it up in this one.

Iowa 30, Wisconsin 7: Well, apparently I overrated Wisconsin this year. Shows what I know. Of course, when you spend all year covering up a weak offense with a great defense, you're bound to be in trouble when the defense has an off day (or two straight off days in this case).

Clemson 29, South Carolina 7: When I saw the fight, I smiled and thought about the good old times with Lou. Unfortunately, the end of Lou's career won't be good old times - South Carolina and Clemson decided to pass up any bowl offers as punishment for the fight, ending Coach Holtz's career on somewhat of a sour note.


Jets 10, Browns 7: That's the kind of year it's been for the Browns. Phil Dawson hadn't missed a field goal since October '03, and he goes 0-2 in this one. Also on Sunday, the Knicks beat the Cavs, and Kaz Matsui apparently came to Cleveland to give CC Sabathia a kick squar in the nyuts. Enjoy it, Dave. (Hey, at least I got the fantasy win.)

Falcons 14, Giants 10: Well, Ellen, I finally got to watch a Giants game. Eli Manning had poise, I'll give him that. But I wouldn't put the blame of all those drops entirely on the receivers - on each of those drops, he threw the ball behind his receiver. Should NFL receivers still catch those? Sure, probably. Gee, you'd really think I was more of an expert on dropping the ball.

Packers 16, Houston 13: If you missed the second half, you missed a lot of the action. And I definitely missed the second half. David Carr put together a great first half. But, apparently he fell apart in the second, as Brett Favre went to work. Final tally - master 383 yards, student 164.

Where are they now? ND Edition

Nick Setta: Participated in a tryout for the Broncos along with four other kickers.

Julius Jones: Ran for 81 yards in his return to action last Sunday. Julius had 30 carries while Eddie George had 3.

Gerome Sapp: Special teams/occassional DB for the Colts, he has 20 tackles on the season.

Ruth Riley: Plays with the Colorado Chill of the NWBL during the WNBA offseason.

Kelley Siemon: Well, she's now Kelley Deyo, and she's an assistant basketball coach at Liberty College.

Niele Ivey: Just signed with the Spanish team Mann-Filter to play during the WNBA offseason. Special thanks to reader Tara Pillai for the update on Deyo and Ivey.

Apparently I'm Still Doing a Mailbag


What are your thoughts of a Peyton v Eli superbowl in the future? Would it
be a crazy day of face making? Who would Archie and The Other Manning
Brother root for?
- Ellen, Colonia, NJ

Wow, that would be a crazy day of face making. My guess is that this will be the debut of the Eli Manning "I can't believe this is the one time my brother chose not to choke in the playoffs" face. Meanwhile, I wouldn't be surprised if Archie sold advertising on his body, since he's bound to get more face time than the Coors Light twins in that Super Bowl.


Has Notre Dame hit rock bottom yet? First I thought they did with Bob
Davie, then with George O'Leary, now with Ty Willingham. Are they there
yet? I am eager for upward movement.
- Ellen, Colonia, NJ

Well, the 19-30 Joe Kuharich/Hugh Devore was nothing to hang your hat on. Plus, at least the current team isn't following the John Cooper philosophy of "Get away with everything just like the Florida schools but suck anyways." Of course, maybe I should say that ND has hit rock bottom, because that means things can only get better from here.

ND Bowl Predictions

BowlAffiliationProbable TeamProbable Opponent
Fiesta BowlBig East 1BCCBS Sportsline predicts Utah.
Gator BowlBig East 2West Virginia - the Big East may be tempted to screw over BC to give ND this spot, but after WVU CoachRich Rodriguez's whining over ND's Big East bowl tie-ins a few years ago, there's no way WVU gets passed up for this spot.Florida State (Miami/Virginia?)
Continental TireBig East 3/4Pitt or ND - depends on which bowl has the most pull.North Carolina (ACC 4/5)
InsightBig East 3/4Pitt or ND - is it possible this one would outdraw its "big brother" Fiesta Bowl?UCLA (Pac 10 4)
Liberty BowlMountain West 1 (At-Large if Utah goes to BCS bowl)Looks like this one goes to MWC #2 Boise State.Louisville (C-USA 1)
Emerald BowlPac 10 (Not enough eligible Pac 10 teams)Navy has already accepted the Pac 10 spot.CBS Sportsline predicts Wyoming. (Normally MWC 3)
Silicon Valley BowlPac 10 (Not enough eligible Pac 10 teams)Toledo. I believe that it's already been agreed this spot will go to a MAC team - they only have 2 bowl tie-ins but deserve more.
Houston BowlSEC (Not enough eligible SEC teams)CBS Sportsline predicts UConn.Texas Tech (Please no!) or Iowa St (Big 12 5/6)
Independence BowlSEC (Not enough eligible SEC teams)CBS Sportsline predicts Troy.Texas Tech (Please no!) or Iowa St (Big 12 5/6)
Hawaii BowlWAC (Not enough eligible WAC teams)CBS Sportsline predicts Akron.UAB (C-USA 3)
Las Vegas BowlPac 10 (Not enough eligible Pac 10 teams)Apparently, this one also has a MAC "backup tie-in." CBS Sportsline predicts Miami U.CBS Sportsline predicts New Mexico. (Normally MWC 2)

Miscellaneous Ramblings

By no means "miscellaneous" - congrats to the Irish women's basketball team for winning the Preseason NIT. En route to the championship, the Irish knocked off #6 Duke 76-65. The finals, a 66-62 win over Ohio State was highlighted by 3 notables: 32 points by tournament MVP Jackie Batteast, a 12-0 Irish run to end the game, and a block by Batteast on what would have been a tying 3-pointer with 2 seconds left. On the same day they climbed to #6 in both polls, the Irish went to 5-0 by knocking of Colorado State (hey, Colorado is a state) 69-47.

So, I was wearing my ND tie today, and I realized that many ND ties have famous quotes on the back of them. So, I turned it over, and sure enough, there was a very famous ND quote on the back: "The University name and logo featured on this product are trademarks of the University of Notre Dame."

KankaNation-related Things I'm Thankful For

  • "Loyal KankaManiacs" who actually read what I write.

  • Friends who would listen to me even if I didn't have a website.

  • People who LOOOOVE me.

  • The fact that, when I wake up the next morning, it's still just a game.

  • A loving family, roof over my head, and a good job - even though I may complain about all from time to time.

  • The fact that, no matter how bad I think things are here, I could be risking my life in Iraq instead.

  • The fact that the friends I do have in Iraq right now have managed to stay safe.

  • Lou Holtz, the '97 ALCS, NFL Week 17 2002, the Joe Montanas of the world and especially the Rudys, the Indians farm system, the Cavs of the early '90s and mid-2000s, the '48 Indians and Browns' first 20 seasons, die-hard fandom, hope, and "next year."

Finally, part of one of Dave's comments from the message board:

"I'll put this here because we should all be thankful to this great man. I have always loved Lou. Ok, so it's bordered on an obsession at times. Aside from the '86 Mets, the only other team I've ever truly identified myself with has been ND football, and it's largely because of Lou. He was so charismatic, so good at preparation, and so open in his love for ND. He just made everyone feel it. He brought in talent like Rocket, Rice, Zorich, Mirer, and Bettis. He wasn't ashamed of football greatness, and the way it made Notre Dame look. He embraced it as part of God's plan. (it's getting little dusty in here). Christmas 1994, all I wanted was the hat that Lou wore on the sidelines: navy blue, ND over IRISH on the front, Reebok on the back, all stitching in gold. The following summer, I wrote Lou a letter to ask if he'd still be wearing that hat in '94. He wrote me back, saying he wasn't sure. Lo and behold, he switched hats, and the Irish faltered badly. When Lou retired from ND, I retired Lou the Hat, and still it sits in an honored place in my room. God Bless Lou Holtz."

Thursday, November 18, 2004

Weekend in Review II

by Dave Schmitt, Special to KankaNation

Last weekend, Ellen and I, along with other luminaries such as the Cronk, Lisa, Katie Alpha, Kerrie, etc. attended the wedding of Stephanie Cook and Ryan Alvanos in Perrysburgh, Ohio. Good times, good times.

Steph’s mom and uncle picked us up at Toledo Airport late Thursday night and brought us to Ryan’s house, where everyone was gathered. We were told Steph didn’t want to stay much longer, as it was getting late, so we’d just stop in and say hi really quickly. As soon as I walk in, Ryan’s dad offers to get me a beer. Steph shot him a look, and that ended that. Next stop was the hotel. The official hotel, where we all stayed, was pretty sweet. There was a baseball conference going on, which meant coaching seminars lots of new equipment lying around everywhere. It had two pools, a game room, a pool table, a gym, and a mini putting green for use with plastic little-kid putters.

Friday morning, Ellen left early to go shopping with Steph and her cousin, who hates shopping and is apparently the female version of me. I’ll let Ellen comment more on her. I’m leaving Ellen for her, by the way. I arose around noon, and wandered over to a sports bar that Ryan recommended for lunch. Lots of truckers, big screens, etc. I sat alone at the bar, read a newspaper, ate a great burger, and drank a very cold Amberbock. I was that guy, and proud of it. Afterwards, I walked over to K-Mart to pick up a few things, and then back to the hotel. I stopped to hit around the little-kid golf balls, and then back to the room. Much to my disappointment, there was no ESPN Classic in the hotel rooms. But there was a kick-ass episode of “Law & Order” on, so that almost made up for it. Now’s where things get good. After Ellen returned and got changed, we met Kerrie and Brad in the lobby to head over to Steph’s on our way to the rehearsal. When we got to Steph’s, she informed us that the rehearsal would be really boring, and if Brad and I wanted to stay at her house with her uncles and cousins, we could. Booze was promised, making the decision easy. We walk in the house, and as soon as they pull away, Uncle Dan says, “alright, let’s see what Marty (Steph’s dad) keeps in his liquor cabinet.” Unfortunately, there was no beer, meaning I was forced to drink gin and tonics, which turned out to be not so awful. There was a very old bottle of scotch that we thought better of opening; this will become crucial later on. Highlight of the booze session: cousin Daniel (age 10) stating that his dream in life is to be the quarterback at Michigan, and then proceeding to say that he wishes Carlyle Holiday was still the ND quarterback because “he’s terrible.” Impressive kid. The rehearsal dinner was very nice, featuring Bass on tap, an excellent buffet, and the realization that I hadn’t drank anything non-alcoholic all day.

Saturday, Ellen was at the salon by 9am, so I went to breakfast with the Cronks around 11:30 at Cracker Barrel. What an institution. Chad Pennington claims to want to open one in New York because he misses it so much since leaving the south. If he opened one in midtown Manhattan, I’d go every day for lunch. For $6, I got scrambled eggs, bacon, fried cinnamon apples, 2 types of biscuits, hash browns, and something else, which I forget right now. Awesome.

The wedding itself was not your typical wedding; it was at some type of Christian church, but we couldn’t figure out the denomination because it did not state it anywhere. The service included a song written and performed by Ryan’s clone younger brother, a ridiculously long poem written and performed by Ryan’s English professor, and a bizarre homily of sorts by some wacky preacher cousin. Very long service for it not being a Catholic mass. Anyway, Cronk was getting game updates through the internet on his super-high-tech phone. Unfortunately, his phone died from doing this so continuously, and he had to get play-by-play from his dad on Lisa’s phone on the way to the reception. You know the rest of the saga of this unfortunate game. I only got to be “that guy” at the reception with my earpiece radio for the final kick as we were walking in, so that sucked. On to the reception: this was a pretty standard wedding reception, but with one absolutely treeeeeeemendous addition, for which I can obviously thank Ryan: pour-it-yourself beer kegs. No waiting at the bar for the bartender to pour you a beer. No tipping necessary. Just two kegs (covered up with a cloth to make it look more tasteful) sitting on a table in a back room, with both Killian’s and Coors Light. Oh sweet mercy. I realize that as a man, when I get married someday I will have make most concessions and go with the flow, but this is a definite non-negotiable must-have. The only time I didn’t hit this up every 15 minutes was for about an hour when Cronk and I were engaged in a VERY intense conversation about the future of ND football on the other side of the room (looks like Spurrier’s out now, sorry Cronk).

Now for the scotch story: about halfway through the reception, I’m standing around talking football with Cronk and Brad when Uncle Steve comes over to say hi. He says, “Brad, Dave, it’s a good thing we didn’t open that bottle of scotch yesterday. Marty tells me now that he bought it the day Stephanie was born, and that they are going to drink it soon in celebration of their little girl getting married. Wow, we really dodged a bullet there, huh?!”

Wednesday, November 17, 2004

The Weekend in Review

Grilled Cheese Edition

NCAA Football

Auburn 24, Georgia 6: Is there a reason why this team shouldn't be number 1 right now? If there is - schedule strength, whatever - please speak up now, I'd like to know.

Michigan State 49, Wisconsin 14: Wait, what? An MSU blowout was the beginning of the end for Minnesota, but Wisconsin just seems too good to follow in their footsteps. Time for tOSU to play spoiler against Michigan - the team with the most to lose always seems to lose that game.

BC 36, West Virginia 17: Well, I've been saying all along that West Virginia was overrated, but... ugh.

Boise State 56, San Jose State 49: Amazing game. San Jose State really showed up to play in this one, even with the 9AM local start. SJSU obviously doesn't listen to all of ESPN's hype surrounding Boise State. (Although, in their defense, the Broncos do have a solid QB and a great offensive system for their conference.)

Iowa 29, Minnesota 27: For those of you who don't get to see four or more Big Ten games a week, I'll tell you this - Iowa freshman QB Drew Tate will be one to watch in the future. He's just the kind of mobile QB that has killed ND twice this season.

Texas A&M 32, Texas Tech 25: My fingers are still crossed that ND doesn't play the Red Raiders in a bowl game. A basketball game, I'd love to see that (maybe Yonto can land me courtside seats), but a football game against their pass-happy attack - no thanks.


Steelers 24, Browns 10: Out coached, out played, out classed. Jeff Garcia is the ultimate gamer - at 6'0", 190 lbs. he has to be - so maybe the fault lies on Terry Robiskie. Robiskie was Kellen Winslow's position coach at "the U" (go figure, huh Butch?) and to my knowledge does not have too much previous coordinator experience. No wonder he commented that he had to cut the playbook back 50% when Winslow went down. There are other tight ends on the roster - Aaron Shea is having a great season - so don't blame the injury. While we're at it - you can collect all the great running backs and mobile QBs you want, but if there's no line to block, they can't go anywhere.
I've said it before, but it bears repeating. Ben Roethlisberger is the real deal - but a traditionally great line and a great receiving corps has definitely helped his quick progress.

Bears 19, Titans 17: Craig Krenzel puts up mediocre numbers on a team with no offense, but he keeps winning thanks to defense and good breaks. Sound familiar?

Rams 23, Seahawks 12: OK, when do they play the second half? Wait, what? Field goal battle? "I'm confused!"

Packers 34, Vikings 31: Great ending to this one. Minnesota scores two late TDs to tie it up, only to see a magnificent catch by Tony Fisher on the sidelines set up the game winning field goal for Green Bay.

Cardinals 17, Giants 14: In other news, Eli Manning will be named starter effective next week. Can Luke Petitgout and the Giant line help Eli make everyone forget about Big Ben?

Patriots 29, Bills 6: Well, if you hold the opposing QB to 76 yards passing, you'll probably win. It's that simple.

Transaction Wire

Giants sign free agent Omar Vizquel. The real end of an era in Cleveland - the last big name from the mid-'90s powerhouses is gone. Meanwhile, the fat dorks at Baseball Primer keep on keepin' on - all they can do is blast Vizquel's stats because they don't have the athletic ability to compare to his magic. On another note - are there any good shortstops left in the AL? For my money, the best defensive shortstops are playing for California's 3 NL clubs - Vizquel, Khalil Greene, and Caesar Izturis.

Washington "Nationals" sign Vinny Castilla and Christian Guzman. Castilla will provide veteran leadership - hey, with no farm system, it's not like he's blocking anyone, anyways. Guzman's move, meanwhile, finally forces the Twins to play someone with talent in their middle infield.

Tigers sign Troy Percival. The Indians were looking for a closer as well, and Percival was the best one out there. Apparently, though, the Tribe was looking more in the salary range of Armando Benitez (hey, he did help them in the playoffs so many times in the 90s). The good news is, with the signing of Percival, the Tigers will probably make Ugeth Urbina available. Urbina, sought after by the Indians last year, again could be an option at closer for the Tribe.

Here's Looking at You

It's former Notre Dame male clarinet Mike Siembor (farthest to the right in the left picture. confused?) , and Golden State forward Michael Najera.

Miscellaneous Ramblings

Recently, some MSU football players were arrested for creating and exploding homemade bombs. Apparently, the official name for a homemade bomb made in a plastic container (I'm thinking 2-liter pop bottle) is a "MacGyver bomb." Who knew?

While doing the ND basketball mini-preview, I noticed that Katy Flecky wasn't listed on the women's roster. Hmm, I thought, wasn't she in Yonto's class - she didn't graduate yet, did she? Turns out she, too, has left the team for personal reasons. Too bad, she was a good one. Too bad, also, that I never got a chance to meet her....

Link of the week: http://whudat.com/tags.html Rap stars and "What Their Mommas Named Them" - in other words, their "real names."

In ND/Chicago Bears news, the Bears released the versatile Mike Gandy to make room for a young stud lineman coming off of the injured list. The Browns could sure use a player like Gandy. Also, on November 10, Darrell began a 21 day period where he will be able to practice with the team while still on injured reserve. At the end of that period, the Bears will have to remove him from the IR list and make a roster move for him.

In case you missed it, here is my rant on the new band CD.

As I type, the #11 ND women's team is locked up in a tight one against #6 Duke in the NIT semifinals. Go Irish. The winner plays the winner of tonight's Arizona-tOSU game this weekend.

While watching the USC-Arizona game, the announcers mentioned that USC's active linebackers often leave the seams wide open for the tight ends. Anthony Fasano, anyone?

Finally, an NSS rambling, from Tuesday night's meeting. One of the ladies their was the wife of an ND grad. "They keep asking me for money. Bill always used to give, but I didn't go there, so I didn't give money any more." This woman must read NDNation, though. She was going on and on about the "Ty stare." She's not sure how long he'll still be around, and she said he reminded her of Dan Devine. Funny she should mention Devine - my thoughts on Ty were always "At best, he's a Dan Devine" - won one championship, but the alumns and fans never thought he was good enough. (Yonto, if you're reading this, I'd love to hear what The Coach thinks of Devine - he did give him the DC spot and everything.) She also mentioned that she remembered one time when the students actually tarred Devine's house in the middle of the night. Please, no one get any ideas.

Important Announcements

  • I'm still looking for a guest column for the second half of this week. Email it to me preferrably by 5:30 pm eastern Thursday. If you can get it to me by 5:30 Friday, I can have it up over the weekend.

  • Remember that KankaMatic Baseball re-signings are due at the end of this month.

  • Next month, we'll again be voting for the KankaNation Hall of Fame. More details as we get closer to December.

  • Finally, we're going to start the KankaNation Top 25 with football, not basketball. Email me your NCAA football top 25 by 3pm eastern each Sunday for the rest of the season. If you can't get to a computer easily between the end of the games Saturday night and Sunday afternoon, let me know and I'll try to rearrange the schedule. We'll start with basketball once the season is done.

Sunday, November 14, 2004

Pitt 41, ND 38

Say what you want about this game. I'm just sick to my stomach for these seniors - on the field and off.

Quarterback: It was a decent day for Brady Quinn, all things considered. Quinn wen 15-26 (57.7%) for 259 yards and 3 touchdowns. He also had two interceptions - one his fault (thrown into traffic) and one not (tipped). He was sacked only once and had a key scramble late in the game.

Running Back: Well, when I'm wrong, it's not always a bad thing. Ryan Grant and Marcus Wilson had average days - 48 and 6 yards respectively. But, Darius Walker proved that Pitt still has no run defense. Walker had 112 yards and 2 TDs, and it looks like his ability to find the holes has returned.

Fullback: Josh Schmidt had a catch for 16 yards. Where have he and his great hands been all season? Rashon Powers-Neal also had a TD catch on a well-run play.

Receiver: OK, Matt Shelton was open across the seam for the entire first half - enough for 128 yards and a TD. I understand the running game was going well, but you still have to expect more than two catches for 10 yards from your leading receiver (Rhema McKnight). Maurice Stovall did add 23 yards and a TD on two catches.

Tight End: Anthony Fasano once again showed flashes of future greatness with 3 catches for 27 yards. Unfortunately, he and the other 5 tight ends showed no other flashes of present greatness, as this was the only productivity from that position on Saturday.

O-Line: 179 yards on the ground and only one sack against a team that likes to get in the backfield. Sounds like a decent day to me.

D-Line: Well, the D-Line got into the backfield. But, that can be a problem with a mobile QB - once the big guys get near him, he can just run around them.

Linebacker: Well, I would tell you what happened, but apparently UND.com didn't feel like posting the defensive numbers with the rest of the stats. Maybe they were trying to make a statement?

Safety: Again, no numbers, but I will point this out. Other than that fumbled snap, Pittsburgh flat out did not turn the ball over. That's how you win ballgames.

Cornerback: Sometimes I'll make guesses, then be completely right, and it will scare me. And, sometimes I'll be completely right and hate myself for it. In the first half, the secondary played a normal defense, and Greg Lee ran all over them. In the second half, they bracketed Lee, and the backs and tight end Erik Gill ran all over the Irish.

Kicker: DJ hit a 45 yarder in a key situation, which is all you could ask him to do. Apparently, he's also the only guy who can tackle on kickoff coverage, something he no doubt learned from Nick Setta.

Punter: DJ was once again consistent and respectable. Four punts, 3 inside the 20, with a long of 51 and an average of 42.

Kick Returner: Hey, we've finally found a kick returner - and a use for Carlos Campbell! What, we only have one game left in the season? Crap.

Punt Returner: There isn't a Notre Dame fan, player, or coach who wasn't trying to will Carlyle Holiday across the goal line on that one kick return. It was a bittersweet end for Carlyle - he shined one last time, but the team couldn't pull through.

Special Teams: They blocked well and they held Pitt to respectible returns. But, they can't do everything.

Thursday, November 11, 2004

ND Football 2004

Issue 10: Pittsburgh

Pitt Rush Offense vs. ND Rush Defense

Rush offense? Pitt doesn't have much of one. Leading rusher Raymond Kirkley isn't Tony Dorsett. Heck, he isn't even Brandon Miree. Kirkley, averaging 65.8 of Pitt's 107.8 yards per game, is listed at 5'10", 225 lbs. That means he's one tough little back. The number two rushing threat is QB Tyler Palco at 17 yards per game. Of his 88 rushing attempts (that's an average of 11 per game), 22 are sacks. That means this kid likes to scramble, so the Irish will have to keep an eye on him.
ND's dominant front seven is bad news for the Panther rushing attack, as the Irish come in giving up only 95.2 yards per game on the ground. With an active quarterback, I'm looking for a big game from the linebackers. Leading tacklers Mike Gooslby and Brandon Hoyte can lay the big hits, while Derek Curry has the ability to chase Palko down. Don't be surprised if Palko has more than 17 rushing yards, though, as ND proved in the BC game its trouble with mobile QBs. However, with a dominant line lead by Justin Tuck's 13 TFL, the rest of the Pitt run game won't get very far.

ND Rush Offense vs. Pitt Rush Defense

It was last year against Pitt that Julius Jones put his name on the NFL draft radar. Can senior Ryan Grant do the same this season? Or will Darius Walker return to the national spotlight, a la the Michigan game? I for one wouldn't bet on it. Walker, Grant, and Marcus Wilson have been consistent to a fault as of late. Walker is averaging 70.9 yards per game, Grant 59, and Wilson 14.1. With ND averaging 121 yards per game total, and Pitt giving up 125 per, look for another average day from these three.
As stated above, Pitt is giving up 125 yards per game on the ground - 125.6 to be exact. And, just like ND, their top two tacklers are linebackers. HB Blades (perfect name for a runstopper) has 76 tackles, 10.5 for loss. Right behind him is Clint Session with 59 tackles. Of Blades's 10.5 TFL, only 2 are sacks. So, that tells you he gets in the backfield and makes the stop, no matter who has the ball. It will take good blocking from Rashon Powers-Neal on run plays and Grant on passes to keep Blades in check.

Pitt Pass Offense vs. ND Pass Defense

As stated above, Tyler Palko likes to run. But he's not that bad of a passer, either. His completion percentage is 57.1%. An average day for Palko, in addition to 17 yards on the ground, is approximately 19-33 for 238 yards, a TD or two, and a pick. As usual, Pitt relies on one big receiving target. This year, it's 6'2 sophomore Greg Lee. Lee has 40 receptions, 5 for touchdowns, and averages 104 yards per game. This includes a long of 77 yards. Of course, just because Lee is putting up all the numbers yardage wise, that doesn't mean he's the only threat. Just when all eyes are on Lee, in slips 5'8 "possession receiver" Joe DelSardo. DelSardo's yards per catch numbers aren't as flashy (11.5, compared to Lee's 20.8), but he does have 32 catches, 4 TDs, and averages 46 yards per game. Other key contributors to the Pitt passing game are Kirkley (21.6 YPG), RB/WR Marcus Freeman (17.6 YPG) - who bears a striking resemblance to a young "Rudy" from the Cosby Show, and TE Erik Gill at 26 YPG.
Well, it looks to me like the Irish secondary has their hands full. Last year, they shut down Larry Fitzgerald with a great bracket coverage scheme (even though ESPN loves to keep showing one of the measly 6 catches Fitzgerald did make in that game). But, if you do that to Lee, DelSardo and Gill will no doubt camp out and catch first down after first down. If you play everyone evenly, chances are Lee will beat you deep. It should be interesting to watch - I'm just glad I'm not the defensive coordinator for this one. On a positive note for the Irish, Pitt is giving up almost 3 sacks per game, and that's on a schedule where Nebraska and BC are the only teams they've played that wouldn't consistently lose to I-AA schools. So, again, look for big things from Tuck Curry, Hoyte, and also from a guy like Greg Pauly or Kyle Budinscak.

ND Pass Offense vs. Pitt Pass Defense

What's the average day like for Brady Quinn? 16-30 for 223 yards, with a TD and a pick (11 TDs, 7 INTs total). Of course, that's come against all kind of competition. An ideal game, in my "power pulls the train" mind at least, is one where he doesn't need to throw a single pass because of a dominating run game. But, I suspect he'll need to have a good game throwing the ball in order to keep Pitt off of our backs. When he does go to the air, he "only" has 20 options to choose from. Leading the way are Rhema McKnight, averaging about 4 catches and 55.7 YPG, and Anthony Fasano, averaging 37.8 yards on just under 3 catches per game. As for the supporting cast - it seems as they've gone into hiding as of late. I'm looking for a few catches from Maurice Stovall (39 YPG) in key situations, as is becoming his signature this season. Then, if Matt Shelton (a deceptive 41.9 YPG) and Jeff Samardzija can get back on track, the Irish offense will be in good shape.
Pitt apparently lives and dies with the pass this season. Their defense has given up 265.6 yards per game in the air this season. I see quite a few sacks from their defensive backs this season, which could be bad news for Brady Quinn, but also great news for the Irish receivers if coverage is blown. In addition to HB Blades, look for pressure from lineman Thomas Smith and LBs Charles Sallet and JJ Horne.

Special Teams

Placekicker Josh Cummings is 12-17 on field goal attempts this year, but that number is slightly deceiving. Despite a long of 47, 4 of his 5 misses have come from 40+ yards, including two attempts of 51 yards. The primary punter is Adam Graessle, and he's a good one. He has an average of 44.7 yards per punt, and a long of 79 (a good roll on the astroturf perhaps?). Of his 44 punts, 16 have gone inside the 20, and 4 have been blocked. Hmmm, maybe putting 8 guys in the box on punts will finally pay off for ND. Besides a block, ND may finally have a good day in the return game as well. Pitt is giving up 25.7 yards per kick return and 10.1 per punt return.
The punt return game for Pitt is nothing special (sound familiar). DB Allen Richardson is averaging 3.7 yards per punt, with a long of 17. Kick returners, however, are another story. Richardson has 5 returns for 102 yards, and Raymond Kirkley has 8 for 142. But the primary threat is the versatile Marcus Furman. Furman is averaging 27.4 yards per return with a 96 yard touchdown. Gulp.
Well, once again, DJ is doing as well as a walkon can do - unless you want to talk about Reggie Ho. Fitzpatrick is 9-12 on field goals, missing one each from 30+, 40+, and 50+. His long is 47. Punting, DJ has an average of 42.3 and a long of 67. 23 of his 58 punts have ended up inside the 20. Kicking off, Bobby Renkes has an average of 59.8 yards, which gets the ball to the 5 yard line. Coverage teams have been hot and cold for the Irish. They're giving up 20.5 yards per on kickoffs and 7 per on punts.
We'll skip kick returns because I don't want to think about them, but I will say this - it appears that Carlyle Holiday is finally figuring out how to make the most of what Buzz Preston is giving him. It's probably too little too late, but it's better than nothing. Plus, he always has an excuse if he drops one, right?

Look for a big game from
Quinn, Stovall, Goolsby, Hoyte, Tuck

ND 24, Pitt 17: Two by Grant and one by Fasano (one set up by a turnover and one by a deep pass to Stovall), plus one by DJ. That beats a TD set up by a long return, a sustained drive, and a figgie.

Tuesday, November 09, 2004

The Weekend in Review

Rocky Top, you'll always be home sweet home to Cronk

NCAA Football

Louisville 56, Memphis 49: Defense wins championships, but lack of it doesn't keep you from winning Thursday night games.

USC 28, Oregon 20: Ugh. If you get an early lead, you have to keep adding on. Otherwise, USC puts up 28 straight points on you and inches closer to a weak undefeated record.

Utah 63, Colorado State 31: Let's see - 42-10 at halftime, 56-10 after 3. Do you think Utah has something to prove to the pollsters? (Alas, it didn't help, as they fell out of the protected #6 spot in the BCS.)

Clemson 24, Miami 17: Sure, Larry Coker drives an Escalade, but can he coach? Nope? OK.


Cardinals 24, Dolphins 23: Now Miami knows how my fantasy team feels every week. Another week, another comeback win for Josh McCown - this time with a TD on the fade-stop route to Larry Fitzgerald.

Steelers 27, Eagles 3: Tom Jackson was actually surprised that you can run easily on the Eagles. Do you watch football much, Tom?

Bears 28, Giants 21: Um, Ellen, I know you like me to comment on the Giants game, but do you really want me to talk about a game where you lost to Craig Krenzel.

Gimmicks and Mimmics: The Mailbag


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This promotional program takes place every three years. Please be informed that all non-resident of Spain is required to pay amount -500 Euros in advance for thier non- resident-processing/application fee prior to the collection of their winning prize.
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Um, OK. Moving on.


Good game this weekend, Kid.


- Matthew Lazear

I love class, don't you?

Hey! I saw I got a mention on your blog.

That is awesome.
- Marcus Barlow, South Bend, IN

Yes, you're now famous to the 10 or so people who read this site. Oh, wait, they already know you. Oh well, see you at Corby's next fall... 'cause that's how I roll.


I was wondering what your thoughts are about Utah and Urban Meyer. As far a
Utah goes, how high do you think they should be ranked in any of the polls?
I mean they are undefeted but the Mountain West conference is bordering on
I-AA status. And what about Meyer. He has obviously done some great things
and turned around some teams but Bowling Green and Utah are not Michigan,
Miami, or Notre Dame. Since he has out clauses to two of those schools
(Michigan and Notre Dame), do you think he could hack it as a head coach
- Ellen Fitzgerald, Colonia, NJ

Well, you can't argue that Utah's schedule is much tougher than Cal's, and Cal is sitting at #4. In fact, if you look at it, they're not too far behind USC in quality of opponent, either. So, I'll hear no arguments about schedule strength, unless it involves Oklahoma's openers against Bowling Green (not a state) and Houston.
As for Meyer - he does have experience at Notre Dame at a good time in their history, so that's a good start. Let's take a look at a few key aspects of being a head coach. It's not a definitive view, so don't hold me to that.
Recruiting: Meyer had Randy Moss coming to ND until the administration turned him down (don't blame them, though - this idiot actually got kicked out of FSU als), and he almost got Allen Iverson to play football at ND. You would think that it was easy to recruit at ND in the 90s - "Hey, this is a great football school, and we're playing really well right now, so come play for us." Alas, a certain former coach proved that it isn't that easy. (Or did that certain coach recruit well, then screw up the players?)
Play calling: Meyer runs a gimmick offense at Utah - the spread option. The spread option puts the quarterback in the shotgun and uses multiple receivers. Now, some could look at this and say it won't work in a big school, especially since the best players are looking for "pro style" offenses. However, you can also look at it this way - maybe Meyer is just so much of a genius, he realizes that a conventional approach in the Mountain West wouldn't nearly be as successful with his talent, so he goes with what works. I'm leaning on the side of genius, and I have a feeling more than a few NDNationers do as well. Plus, Urban was a receivers coach when at ND, so he has experience with a somewhat conventional offense. If not, I'd have to believe he'd be able to use his recruiting skills to bring a quality supporting staff to an ND or a Michigan. You wouldn't think it would be that hard, especially with the coaching talent that has gone through those schools. (In addition, Meyer was a legit special teams coach!)

Dear Kanka:

I thought you might find this interesting:


Contact: Dawn K. Brohawn
Once-and-Future Books
<address withheld>

"Knute Rockne's Only Novel Republished"

After more than half a century, Knute Rockne's first and only novel, THE
FOUR WINNERS, is making a comeback.

Why republish this work of fiction by the legendary football coach of
the University of Notre Dame? As Once-and-Future Books founder, Michael
Greaney explains, the voices from past generations can remind us of the
values we've forgotten as a society. And, they can provide a good read.

The "Rock's" own namesake and grandson, Knute Rockne III, expressed
delight when he learned of the upcoming release of the new edition of
THE FOUR WINNERS. Rockne commented, "THE FOUR WINNERS was written by my
grandfather for the expansion of the game of football, but most of all
to show that it is a game of intelligence and not just pure muscle."

Notre Dame football fan and Professor Emeritus of Law Charles Rice
applauds the values expressed, "This enjoyable little book, by a great
teacher of youth, evokes a positive and clean morality that is not a
curiosity of the past but our hope for the future."

Many people remember "the Rock" (1888 - 1931) as Notre Dame's most
famous football coach. He revolutionized the sport of college football,
popularized the forward pass and put finesse into a game where it had
been notably absent. Less well known is the fact that Rockne was also a
chemist, working in the development of synthetic rubber. To these
achievements we can now add novelist.

Written in the "young adult" genre, the book treats in fictional form
Rockne's philosophy of sports and academics, both essential parts of the
foundation for a well-rounded personality. The book exemplifies how the
proper approach to life can set a young man - or woman - firmly on the
path to what Aristotle called "the good life." Straightforward in its
storytelling, the novel expresses what may seem to today's readers an
almost childlike presumption of the basic goodness of the human race.
Diehard football fans will note the tie-in of the title with the
legendary Notre Dame backfield of the mid-1920s, the memorable "Four
Horsemen," Crowley, Layden, Miller and Stuhldreher.

Republished in September 2004 by Once-and-Future Books, THE FOUR
available from the Amazon.com and Barnesandnoble.com web sites as well
as by special order from local bookstores. Quantity discounts are
available from the publisher.
- Michael Greaney

Hey, great.


Of the three big time qbs that came out of the 2004 draft, two are in
interesting positions, Eli Manning and Philip Rivers. Which if two is in a
tougher spot? Do you think the Giants will get rid of Warner even though
he is preforming better than expected and has adjusted to a completely
different offense well? What about Rivers. All of a sudden the San Diego
QBs don't suck.
- Ellen Fitzgerald, Colonia, NJ

Well, of the two, I would say Rivers is in a better position right now. Drew Brees, who is having a great year, will be a free agent at the end of the season. Rivers has already proven he's Marty Schottenheimer's boy - see last year's senior all-star game (Senior Bowl, was it?) and the draft day trade - so I wouldn't be surprised if the Chargers just let Brees go at the end of the year, using the "he's asking for too much money" excuse. Once Brees is gone, Doug Flutie won't challenge for the starting spot.
As for Eli - I can see another Carson Palmer/Jon Kitna situation here, with Warner sent to the bench no matter how well he does. It may not happen next year, especially if the Giants make a playoff run, but it will eventually. Depending on how old Warner is when it happens, he'll probably try to find a starting job elsewhere.
As for this year's "third" QB - Ben Roethlisberger. Yes, I do think he is the best of the three (maybe that's some of Todd's Miami influence speaking). But, without the good receivers and decent line in Pittsburgh, he wouldn't be on top of the world right now.

Dear Kanka:

I'm curious: how would you rank New York Giants quarterbacks of the last 20
years? They are: Phil Simms, Jeff Hostetler, Dave Brown, Danny Kannell,
Kerry Collins, and Kurt Warner. Personally, I would go Hostetler, Collins,
Brown, Simms, Warner, and Kannel.
- Dave Schmitt, West Islip, NY

Sounds about right. I may put Kannel ahead of Simms, though. Funny you should mention that, though. I was watching a game on Sunday, and they showed a list of quarterbacks coached by Jim Fassel. Now there's an interesing and bitter list. It included Simms, Hostetler, Collins, John Elway, and Kyle Boller. Good good.

Miscellaneous Ramblings

  • Congrats again to Jackie Batteast. Once again, you can add a preseason All-American spot and a place on the 50-player Naismith watch list to her list of accomplisments.

  • Ladies and gentlemen, Notre Dame's All-Century Basketball Team.
  • Thanks to loyal KankaMatic Nick Schumacher for his list of the lastest ND bowl projections. Of course, let's play the last two games before we start making travel plans. (As for me, I can only go if we get a January bowl game, which I doubt will happen.)

  • Thompson Twins Keep Rolling, Become Only Doubles Team To Have Reached Semis In Both Grand Slams This Fall Waaa?

  • From Page 2's latest "What were they thinking?" on the Red Sox: "And here's another little-known fact about the playoffs. That wasn't blood on Schilling's sock. It was Boone's Farm Strawberry Hill." Hey, chicks dig the Boone's.

  • Gammonsesquity strikes again: Not only does the team feature both new Rookies of the Year - Bobby Crosby and Jason Bay, but it also includes AL #4 Zack Greinke and NL #2 Khalil Greene.

See you Thursday with a Pitt preview.

Sunday, November 07, 2004

ND 17, Tennessee 13

Quarterback: Well, it wasn't much, but it got the job done. Brady Quinn was only able to put together one touchdown drive en route to a 12-23, 118 yard performance.

Running Back: The running backs are nothing if not consistent. Should we just chalk up Darius Walker for 70 yards and Ryan Grant for 50 every week? Again, Walker's numbers have fallen off a bit from the Michigan game (plus, 32 of his 70 yards were on one carry), but he's young and will get better as he and the line grow together. Besides, isn't 21 carries for 120 yards a decent day for a running back? Meanwhile, Marcus Wilson and Travis Thomas combined for 20 yards on two receptions.

Fullback: Not much here. RPN had a one yard carry and a reception for 3 yards.

Receiver: Rhema McKnight was a steady performer, with 4 catches for 35 yards. Maurice Stovall had two receptions, one of which was for 12 yards on ND's only touchdown drive.

Tight End: Anthony Fasano's great hands turned what was otherwise a bad pass into a touchdown. He had only one other catch besides his TD, and John Carlson added a reception for 3 yards.

O-Line: ND gave up 3 sacks and had a combined 46 rushing yards in the wrong direction. Again, not great, but not too bad considering Tennessee's attacking style of defense.


Courtesy AP/Wade Payne

This game was won by the front seven of ND. Derek Landri and Kyle Budinscak had this hit that caused the game-changing interception, but it was Justin Tuck's consistent play - 8 tackles and two sacks - that also made a difference for the Irish. Congratulations to Tuck for claiming ND's all time sack record for himself in this game.


Courtesy AP/Wade Payne

It was Gary Godsey who Beat Purdue - twice - and it was the ND linebacking corps who beat Tennessee. Mike Goolsby lead the team with 14 tackles and had that game-changing interception. Right behind Goolsby in tackles were Brandon Hoyte (he loves his mama) with 11 and Derek Curry with 8. Each added a sack, and it was Hoyte's that forced Erik Ainge out of the game. But that wasn't the only big hit Hoyte had (ah, alliteration) - BHoyte had big tackle after big tackle, including a Noi-esque stop on a key third down play.

Safety: The missed tackles showed more than the made ones for the secondary in this game. OK, let me stop myself there. I won't single someone out for one mistake when there was at least one - or more - good things he did do during the game. I'll also add that Tom Zbikowski led the secondary with 7 tackles, including an assist on that key fourth down stop.

Cornerback: It was again Preston Jackson's time to shine. In addition to 6 tackles, Jackson elevated for a key breakup of a touchdown early in the game. Out of everyone in the stadium and watching on TV, he was probably the only person who knew he could leap high enough to get a hand on the ball.

Kicker: He only had to march out there once, but DJ added clutch insurance points with a 39 yard field goal late in the game. Meanwhile, Bobby Renkes averaged just under 60 yards per kickoff (that'll get you to the 5 yard line) and had a touchback.

Punter: DJ probably spent a long time in the sauna after this one, and he deserved it. In the role of punter as a weapon, DJ had 10 (count 'em, 10!) punts for a combined 398 yards. His long was 52.

Kick Returner: Communication, it's a good thing. Fortunately, only one of Tennessee's 4 kickoffs didn't result in a touchback.

Punt Returner: It's too little too late, but Carlyle Holiday looks like he's finally starting to figure out how to return punts in the formation he's being given. He had two returns, each for 9 yards.

Special Teams: In a word, solid. Punt returners were held to a respectible 24 yards on three returns, and kick returners had 32 on three returns. It helps when you give the other team's offense a long field to start with, doesn't it?

Thursday, November 04, 2004

ND Football 2004

Issue 9: Tennessee

UT Rush Offense vs. ND Rush Defense

Tennessee has a powerful, balanced attack, lead by a 1-2 punch at running back. Cedric Houston averages 77 yards per game, and Gerald Riggs is right behind him with 73 per game. Both are listed at 6', 220, so I doubt this is an inside-outside rotation. Both appear to be powerful backs made to both take and give a beating in the strong SEC. Behind these two in the rushing attack is QB #2 Brent Schaeffer at 11 yards per game. Overall, the Vols gain 181.4 yards per game on the ground.
Notre Dame gives up an average of 99.9 yards on the ground. This will be a physical game for the ND front 7. Tackles Greg Pauly and Derek Landi will have to hold their ground in the trenches. The matchup between Tennessee's powerful backs and Mike Goolsby and the hard-hitting Brandon Hoyte should be interesting to watch.

ND Rush Offense vs. UT Rush Defense

The Irish, averaging 124.8 yards per game, will have to get the running game going to win this one. Darius Walker is still leading the team with 71 yards per game, but things haven't come quite so easy for him as of late. He'll need to find the right holes, inside and outside, and his performance will be key in this game. Ryan Grant is averaging 60.8 yards per game. If Walker can't get it going, Grant will need to be able to hold onto the ball and pound it inside against a physical defense. (Right now Klondike probably has a lot of dirty thoughts running through his mind.)
Tennessee is giving up 123.6 rushing yards per game. I suppose that shouldn't be surprising in the SEC. Linebackers Kevin Burnett and Omar Gaither are numbers 2 and 3 on the team in tackles, combining for 127 and 12.5 for loss. (One note: UT is averaging negative 22 yards per game from sacks, making their actual run defense total 145.5.)

UT Pass Offense vs. ND Pass Defense

Cue the ND-BYU basketball highlights. Erik Ainge, nephew of two-sport star Danny, is the primary passer for the Vols. He as averaging only 162.9 yards per game, but has thrown 16 touchdowns (an average of 2 per game). Ainge is only a freshman, though, and he does have 9 interceptions. There are no stars of the UT passing game - there are 6 players with 9-19 catches and averaging 21-31 yards per game. Touchdown leader Bret Smith has 5, and 11 catches total.
Notre Dame is giving up a miserable 251.1 yards per game in the air. Assuming the playcalling is correct, the short and intermediate game hasn't been too bad. Defense of the deep pass, on the other hand, has been a problem for the past two seasons. I see longs of 60, 55, and 42, 39, and 39 from the Vol receivers, so ND will have to guard against the deep pass (safety help anyone?). Bret Smith already has TD catches of 57 and 60 yards on the year. Shutting down the deep pass, or at least minimizing the damage will be key for the Irish in this game.

ND Pass Offense vs. UT Pass Defense

"We're going inside of ‘em, we're going outside of ‘em -- inside of ‘em! outside of ‘em! -- and when we get them on the run once, we're going to keep ‘em on the run. And we're not going to pass unless their secondary comes up too close. But don't forget, men -- we're gonna get ‘em on the run, we're gonna go, go, go, go! -- and we aren't going to stop until we go over that goal line!"
On one hand, ND has a QB who can throw the ball - Brady Quinn is averaging 236.2 yards per game. On the other hand, I hope we don't need to use him. Of course, they could take a hint from the Browns' coaching staff vs. the Eagles - after running all over Philadelphia in the first half, they knew the Eagles would be looking run. So, it was then they went to the air. When Brady does go to the air, he has no less than 19 options to choose from. I'll assume that Marcus Freeman and Jerome Collins are still banged up, but other than that I haven't heard any injury reports. Leading the way for the Irish passing attack are Rhema McKnight and Anthony Fasano. McKnight has 31 catches for 466 yards, and Fasano has 19 for 286. Behind these two are the talent trio of Maurice Stovall, Matt Shelton, and Jeff Samardzija. If these five are used correctly, good things will come.
Do you want an active defense? How about 11 interceptions, 25 sacks, and 67 tackles for loss. Defensive back Jason Allen leads the team in tackles with a whopping 83. Defensive linemen Parys Haralson and Jesse Mahelona have 11.5 TFL each, and have combined for 9 sacks. The Irish line will have quite a challenge on their hands. Perhaps some misdirection and rollouts will come in handy.

Special Teams

Sophomore James Wilhoit is a deceiving 5-10 o n field goals. All 5 misses have come from 40+, but he does have a 51 yard game winner under his belt. Wilhoit is also averaging 62.1 yards per kickoff (good enough to get it to about the 3 yard line), and has 18 touchbacks. Punter Dustin Colquitt has numbers very similar to DJ Fitzpatrick's - 41.9 per with a long of 61 and 11 inside the 20.
Tennessee punt returns? Decent - 6.8 per return. Kick returns? 19.8 per. But, if you're not yet convinced that Bret Smith is a speedster and a playmaker - he has 1 kick return on the year, and one kick return TD. It's 44 yards, so probably an onside kick, but that's still nothing to sneeze at.
Tennessee's kick return teams have been average - 19.6 yards per. Meanwhile, ND can just forget about punt returns against this team - 3.4 yards per.
DJ has been the double threat as a kicker. He's 8-11 on field goals with a long of 47. But his strength has been his punting. DJ is averaging 42.8 per with a long of 67 (thanks to a wind at the BC that apparently I could see from my couch but Tom Hammond and Pat Haden couldn't see from inside the stadium) and 21 inside the 20. On kickoffs, Bobby Renkes's 59.8 yard average will put the ball around the 5, and he has 3 touchbacks.
ND return game? Nonexistent. I've spent too many words on it already.
As for the Irish coverage teams, it's night and day. The punt coverage team can be good, although their average is 8.8 per. The kick team, meanwhile, is giving up 21.4 per.

Look for a big game from
Walker, Grant, Goolsby, BHoyte, DJ

ND 23, Tennessee 22: I have no idea.

Tuesday, November 02, 2004

The Weekend in Review

I've got your Kimo von Oelhoffen right here!

NCAA Football

Boise State 69, Hawaii 3: OK, so Boise State may be overrated at 15, but you have to give them credit for being the first to realize that other WAC teams don't have any run defense. Meanwhile, Hawaii QB Timmy Chang may have completely killed his NFL hopes with this one. Chang was already known for only being able to operate out of shotgun, and for having happy feet. Going for Ty Detmer's career passing yardage mark, Chang instead ended up with the career interception mark. So, the brute force method of passing on every down doesn't always work well, does it?

North Carolina 31, Miami 28: Well, guess who's defense didn't show up on Saturday? Once again - talent will only get you so far. Sooner or later, you're going to have to start coaching and teaching discipline, Larry Coker. Meanwhile, just because Brock Berlin put up 338 yards against UNC doesn't mean he's once again a Heisman candidate.

Maryland 20, Florida State 17: Wait, Chris Rix didn't play, and it wasn't raining. Where's the excuse for this one?

Michigan 45, Michigan State 37: Oh, this one was winnable by MSU. But, you have to capitalize when you're given the chance, or else... it's too late.

West Virginia 35, Rutgers 30: Well, Rutgers is a Big East powerhouse this year.

Northwester 13, Purdue 10: Wow, those tests Kyle Orton had must have been really tough. He hasn't recovered since, to the point of being benched in this one - including during the potential tying/winning drive at the end of the game.

Indiana 30, Minnesota 21: Wait, I watched Indiana play last week. How did they score 20 points in one quarter without Matt LoVecchio throwing to Arnaz Battle?

tOSU 21, Penn State 10: Who needs offense when you can return a punt and an interception for a TD? (And, who needs it when your opponent doesn't have any?)


Eagles 15, Ravens 10: OK, I don't really like Terrell Owens or Ray Lewis, but the highlight of this one was definitely Owens's redition of Lewis's stupid little dance.

Packers 28, Redskins 14: Well, supposedly this means that John Kerry will win the election. Too bad for George Bush that the Redskins really suck this year.

Titans 27, Bengals 20: There's nothing like seeing a young hotshot who's struggling to get by blow the game by trying to do too much. Less than 15 yards away from the tying TD with a minute and a half left, Carson Palmer started to go down to a sack, decided to try to get off a stupid pass, and completely lost the football. Good good, go kill yourself.

Steelers 34, Patriots 20: OK, you can lament New England's scant 5 yards in this one, but when you start the game down 21-3, you have to go to the air. Pittsburgh out-Belichicked Bill Bellichik in this one, forcing turnover and bumfuzzling the Patriot offense. Meanwhile, Ben Roethlisberger continues to make everyone say Eli who? Phil who? Carson who? I'm waiting for the day when Luke McCown can join Big Ben's ranks.

Bears 23, 49ers 13: Ugly game to watch. Well, I guess you can't complain about Ken Dorsey and Craig Krenzel too much after their performance in the Fiesta Bowl a few years ago.

Rating the AL Gold Gloves

Ivan Rodriguez, C: Always a safe choice. AL teams may not run much any more, but they definitely don't against Pudge.

Darin Erstad, 1B: A solid defensive outfielder, who has spent time at first in the past, Erstad was made a full time first baseman in 2004 due to injury problems. If you can handle center field, chances are first base isn't all that tough (especially considering the number of first basemen who struggle with routine throws to second and home).

Brett Boone, 2B: Interesting choice. Boone is definitely not as graceful as an Omar Vizquel or a Robbie Alomar, but he plays hard and gets the job done. Plus, he's considered to be one of the best AL second basemen in terms of starting and turning the double play.

Eric Chavez, 3B: In the AL, third base is a position where you're expected to hit home runs, defense be darned. But, when healthy, Chavez is the complete package at the hot corner.

Derek Jeter, SS: You're kidding, right? Jeter finished near the bottom in range factor (at least he wasn't last this year), and he actually had more errors than Omar Vizquel, who had a bad year defensively! It's surprising he had so many errors in the first place, since he never gets to the ball! And don't mention one word about the play where he ended up in the stands. Any Major League caliber defensive player knows you need to slide there to avoid the stupid thing that Jeter did. Just because he's popular doesn't mean he's a great defended (ahem, those who voted for A-Rod the past two years should listen up). (In case you're wondering, Miguel Tejada should have walked away with this one.)

Ichiro, OF: He just gets the job done. He could easily be a top center fielder in this league. Plus, you wouldn't think it, but he's got an arm that you just never should run on.

Vernon Wells, OF: Again proving he's a solid all-around star, it's good to see Wells got some credit after Toronto's miserable year.

Torii Hunter, OF: OK, he's a jerk, and he totally mailed it in after the Twins won the division, but Hunter is the best home run robber since Kenny Lofton in his prime.

Kenny Rogers, P: Some pitchers look clueless when it comes to fielding. Some ground ball pitchers realize they need to be athletes and field their position well. Kenny Rogers plays a very athletic pitcher position, and he could probably play a better second base than teammate Alfonso Soriano.

ND Men's Basketball Mini-Preview

Back Court: Well, this is again Chris Thomas's team, but he doesn't have to do it alone. Thomas may seem undisciplined at times, but he realizes his mistakes and is getting a little better with each passing year. Chris Quinn (not Colin Quinn) again joins Thomas in the starting back court. I'm looking for Quinn to bounce back from his sophomore slump, and this 1-2 punch should mean good things this year. Joining Thomas and Quinn at guard are are Colin Falls, Russell Carter, and Greg Bosl. Falls looked overwhelmed as a freshman last year, but now he has a year under his belt, I'm looking for him to develop into an Alicia Ratay-type player, with the added bonus that Falls enjoys hustling and doing the little things. Carter is described as an athletic Torrian Jones with good range. Wow, that sounds like an unstoppable player, but this is from UND.com, so they could be wrong. Either way, Carter is supposed to be used as a shutdown defended late in the game. Playing against Thomas in practice every day sure won't hurt Carter's defensive development. A second year walk on, Greg Bosl was a Big East Academic All-Star last year.

Front Court: If Torin Francis can stay healthy, he's just the inside option that the 3-loving guards need to succeed. Joining Francis in the starting lineup are Jordan Cornette and transfer Dennis Lattimore. Cornette has been a dominating rebounding and shot-blocking presence, but lately he has the Ryan Humphrey jones to hang around the three point line all day long. Lattimore is described as a physical presence, but UND.com (again, not a very reliable source) says he needs to improve his defense and rebounding. Gee, who on this team doesn't? And why can't we get a physical rebounder on this team? Maybe Francis can grow from young Shawn Kemp to old fat Shawn Kemp and dominate the boards (well, I guess old fat Shawn Kemp never dominated anything except random loose women, but htat's another story.) Anyways, tangent over, I'm still very interested to see Lattimore play. Backups for these three start with the highly underrated Rick Cornett, coming off offseason surgery. Cornett will still provide a much needed rebounding presence, if he plays. Next comes Omari Isreal, who is listed as a 6-9 small forward, but is rumored to be practicing some point guard. I won't compare him to Magic Johnson just yet, but that would be nice to see. Rob Kurz is the lone freshman on the roster, and assumedly is more a sign of the future of the program. Finishing out the roster is tight end John Carlson. Hey, once again, we need all the physical presence we can get, even if he's only 6-5.

ND Women's Basketball Mini-Preview

Back Court: Megan Duffy has already established herself as a leader by example. As a junior this year, the little hustler that could will be a strong team leader. The rest of the backcourt isn't too experienced, though. The only other guards with experience are sophomores Breona Gray and Susie Powers. Neither played much last year. Gray is a Torrian Jones-style defensive presence. Powers is more of an all-around offensive threat. She's a relatively tall guard at 5-10, with an outside shot, good ballhandling skills, and great court vision. Sounds like the type of player who won't get overwhelmed by them game. I don't know anything, but I'll look for Powers to start alongside Duffy. Joining these three in the backcourt are three freshmen - Charel Allen, Tulyah Gaines, and Amanda Tsipis. Allen is described as an athletic scorer who will probably play the 2-3. Gaines is an undersized guard who is described as a great passer and probably won't want to shoot the ball too much. She'll also be a good defensive backup when Duffy needs a breather. Tsipis is a walk on and the daughter of new assistant coach Jonathan Tsipis. I'm sure Mothball will find her to be a very satisfactory replacement for Karen Swanson and Jill Krause.

Front Court: This is Jackie Batteast's year to shine. If the Irish are going to go any where, it has to be this year, Batteast's senior season. There's no reason to worry about her, as long as her teammates can help her out of cold streaks, and her knees hold out. Starting alongside Batteast are veteran F/Cs Teresa Borton and Courtney LaVere. The combination of these two all-around players haven't made anyone forget about Ruth Riley just yet, but that doesn't mean they haven't played very well. Plus, after she turns 21 on the 18th of this month, we will no longer have to worry about one of these players sneaking into a certain Ray Aftandilians-frequented South Bend establishment. There isn't much backup for these three, but that doesn't appear to be too much of a problem. Likely 6th-woman Breona Gray was a much needed spark last year. Whenever the Irish offense was in a lull, Gray could come in and just think score-score-score. It kept ND in more than a few games. The only other front court player coming off the bench for the Irish is freshman Melissa D'Amico. At 6-5 (Ruth Riley's height), I'd imagine D'Amico is more of a work in progress, but I'm sure the future of the program is in good hands.

Other Miscellaneous Ramblings

  • Great Ricky Henderson story from a recent Peter Gammons column:
    "Ricky Henderson called the Red Sox clubhouse Thursday looking for tickets for Saturday's sixth game. Told there was no game, Henderson asked, "Why?" OK. In 1980, Ricky asked an Oakland teammate, "How long will it take me to drive to the Dominican?" Really ..."

  • Remember the "Ann Arbor is a Whore" t-shirts from the Michigan game? Why hasn't some creative Republican made up "Kerry Edwards is a Whore" shirts yet?

  • So, apparently Mets reliever John Franco is being investigated for alleged mob ties. Supposedly, in the early 90s, he gave a group of tickets to members of the Bonanno crime family. Wait, an Italian New Yorker with a pimpstache is involved with the mob? Holy Stereotypes Batman!

  • Finally, Tuesday's Get Fuzzy. Yep, sounds about right.