09 May 2008

Notre Dame is No. 1

If you're under thirty-five the incontrovertible bewilderment you just felt at reading the headline for this post exemplifies how far the Gipper has fallen. In the modern, modern era, Notre Dame is not a power. Notre Dame is not an elite. Notre Dame is a pushover (starting with their offensive line).

Now I know, every gold-laced leprechaun in South Bend just rushed out of the communion line to defend their beloved Irish. I can feel the fires of hell heating the hardwood floor beneath this infidel's Birkenstocks. A chorus of winged-seraphs chanting, "Eleven National Championships...800 wins...seven Heisman Trophy winners..."

Brady Quinn is on his way down from Cleveland to kick my ass and steal my girlfriend.

If I may finish. Notre Dame's problem is not their program, but rather, the attitudes of two concentric branches: the executive (Mr. Weis), and the judiciary (the fans). At the risk of unraveling a seventh-grade Civics lesson, the separation of powers theme translates nicely into the football arena. The executive enforces, the judiciary interprets (ahem, invents), and when they both work together foreign citizens (visiting teams/fans) tremble [see Korematsu v. United States, 323 U.S. 214 (1944)].

Graham well expresses that the Notre Dame of the present is like a hegemon that just lost a war with say, Vietnam. After nine consecutive bowl losses, and a 3-9 season (including a loss to Navy for the first time in 43 years) Notre Dame is wounded and embarrassed. My beloved Ohio State Buckeyes are not exactly strangers to the effect. But rather than working through the frustration on the field, Charlie is lighting up at press conferences, and fans are storming chat rooms.

"Brady Quinn is on his way down from Cleveland to kick my ass and steal my girlfriend"

Michigan is not your problem Charlie. (Technically, they're not really ours either). Your team is your problem, and for that matter your solution. Find a way to identify with your players and build meaningful, interpersonal relationships with them -- say, instead of complaining to the media or flying to Boston in the middle of the season to testify at your second medical malpractice trial. Laugh at yourself, and the public's hyper negative obsession with you, and remember, in the great words of Ovid:

"Envy assails the noblest. The winds howl around the highest peaks."

Perhaps once comfort and confidence return to the Notre Dame lexicon, 5-star recruits will stop showing up in limousines and leaving on stretchers.

And for love of all things decent, don't ever wear a hoody on the sidelines.

(As a gesture of good-faith I won't even mention the number 617).

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