Wednesday, January 13, 2010

What Happened to Our National Pastime

Hard to believe that the commissioner of baseball, Bud Selig, has praised Mark McGwire for admitting what everyone knew already...HE WAS JUICED.

This guy should be banned from the game for wanton and willful cheating in using performance enhancing drugs. Now the Cardinals have hired him as hitting instructor and he is to be employed as a coach...are you kidding me?

HE SHOULD BE BANNED FROM BUYING A TICKET. They should have his picture posted at every ticket office and refuse to allow him in the stadium under any circumstances.

Pete Rose apologized and not only can he not be voted into The Hall of Fame, he cannot come to the ballpark or have any affiliation with a team...and for what? What Pete did, betting on baseball games and at times his own team, had no effect on the game or his performance.

I believe that if we had a commissioner with any cajones whatsoever, McGwire would be banned from the Hall, banned from Employment and all his records erased. I would even be in favor of erasing his name from all if he did not exist. We have said, "It's OK to cheat as long as you don't get caught and apologize later."

He has made a sham of the game, the recordbook and integrity.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

No Compromise...No Excuses

This one answer from a recent interview with Coach Kelly says it all...

Jack Swarbrick mentioned that he explained to you that there were some non-negotiable things that would never change about Notre Dame. People said that the new coach would need to request some academic concessions. Can you outline some of the specifics that Jack went over?
KELLY: “I can tell you about our conversation in terms of where we connected and I think that’ll help you more than anything else. First of all, Jack and I and Father John [Jenkins] all believe that you can maintain an academic integrity and still win championships in football. I believe that, Father John believes that and Jack Swarbrick believes that. If I didn’t believe that, that would have been on the list, let’s put it that way. That would have been first on the list if I didn’t believe that. Maybe there were some others that he interviewed that he had to spell out. He didn’t have to spell that out to me because I didn’t want to coach at Notre Dame if we were going to change the direction of achievement in excellence academically.

“There are no five exceptions, but there’s an understanding, a clear understanding that if you can handle the academic rigors of Notre Dame and we can predict you to graduate – there are a number of predictors outside of SAT and ACT scores. There are a number of predictors. I think we can all feel every confident that there are predictors out there that we’ll look for. We all know this, it doesn’t do me any good to go get a kid that can’t graduate from Notre Dame, so we start we that premise. But, are there other predictors that we feel comfortable that will allow a young man to graduate from Notre Dame other than strictly falling on the SAT, ACT, GPA. I think that should give you guys enough to know relative to that end of things, which I think has probably been one of the biggest topics out there.

“Other things that won’t change is this is a faith-based education. We’re going to continue to espouse those same values here. We’re still going to be in the Basilica in pregame, we’re still going to have all of those traditions of what Notre Dame is about. They will be alive here and still part of your experience. We’re not building housing for football players. I think one of the great things about being a Notre Dame athlete is that you don’t become marginalized by being with all just athletes. I know in my experience growing up, my roommate was from San Diego. I had never met anybody from California. My first trip home, I didn’t go home, I went to San Diego.

“That was diversity for me and I love that at Notre Dame. That’s not going to change and I’m good with that. We’re still going to get lake effect snow. The big hot topic items that are out there in recruiting, the academic standards are what they are because of who we are and it’s not going to change. Community is still core to Notre Dame. That will not change. Those things will not change. Jack didn’t have to have that conversation with me, maybe he did with some others.”

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Pretty Simple Formula

Coach Kelly addressed the Notre Dame crowd at the UCLA game last weekend.

“259 days, you know what that is. 259 days, get yourself ready.

“To the students, understand you stand up the whole game, is that right? And isn’t it true that you all do a push up for every point, right? You better use this holiday break to get in shape because you’re going to be doing a lot of pushups.

“It is a great honor for me to be here. Many a time, I’ve watched the great Notre Dame basketball teams play. To be on this floor is just an absolutely dream for me. But the dream is becoming a reality and the reality is that we’re here to do a job and that job is to develop our players and graduate our players and go and win championships.”

“I’m not going to stand here in front of you in this great arena without telling you that we’re here because of the success in the past and because of our fans that we’re going to have for every home game, that’s going to carry us. We’re going to need you for every game we play to continue the support that you’ve given this football team.

“I promise you this, we will play hard for four quarters. You will love the guys that we put on the field because they’re going to give you everything. And at the end of the day, 19 years of being head coach, if you just play hard and you play aggressive, you’re going to win a lot of football games. Thank you very much.”

Monday, December 21, 2009

Memories (Part 2)

My father took me to my first Notre Dame game in 1962 versus Michigan State. I was 9 years old and didn't remember much about it except it was cold, rainy and there was not much to cheer about.
Michigan State pasted Notre Dame 31-7. It was Joe Kuharich's second to last year and back then, they couldn't give away tickets. They used to beg Catholic churches to bring busses of fans, which is how we got there.
We stayed for the whole game and enjoyed the band afterwards.
I was the oldest of 5 kids, ND tickets got tough to get when Parsegian arrived in 1964, and so we didn't get to another game until I bought us tickets for the Georgia Tech game in 1979.
I actually called Georgia Tech over the summer, faked an drawl and they sold me 4 tickets. So, it was me, Dad, Mom and my wife (7 months pregnant with our first). We piled in the car, went to the game and were quite surprised to find we were actually in the bleachers on the field down in the end zone, not 6 feet from the endline. Vagas Ferguson scored 3 times right in front of us and Notre Dame won 21-13. Dad and I were thrilled...Mom and Anne not so much.
It poured down rain at halftime. Dad and I didn't leave our seats while Mom and Anne spent most of the second half under the stadium where it was dry. Not a real good experience for my wife, especially whe we had to drive home with Mom & Dad smoking in the car and hardly able to roll down the windows because of the rain.
Remember, back then you had to either know someone or have the courage to drive all the way to South Bend and hope to buy from a scalper.
Most of our memories were of the big games on TV...Southern Cal, Michigan State, Purdue, the Cotton Bowl (70 & 71) and Sugar Bowl (73). Win or lose, my Dad enjoyed Notre Dame football...though he preferred winning. My last great memory of Dad was the 1988 Notre Dame - Miami game in South Bend.
More on that later.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Notre Dame Memories (Part 1)

Subway alumni share their memories with their offspring more than the ND alums do because the son shares the father's status as SubAlum. I have no evidence of this, not even anecdotal; just something I've surmised in talking to sons of ND Alums and comparing it to my experiences with my father and my sons.
My first ND memory actually was my father's memory of the 1961 Notre Dame-Syracuse game in South Bend. I was 8 years old and only remember that I stayed at my grandmothers house while Mom & Dad went to the game. They drove up and back the same day, no easy feat in 1961 before expressways and 80 miles an hour, and got home late that night to pick me up. They brought me a Notre Dame pennant that I still have hanging in my "man-cave."
Anyway, Notre Dame was behind 15-13 to a pretty good Syracuse team featuring Heisman Trophy winner Ernie Davis (shown above), when they tried an improbable 51 yard field goal in the rain with mere seconds left. Not surprisingly in the era of straight-on kickers, they missed. However, the kicker was "roughed" by the Syracuse rush and so Notre Dame got to try the kick again from 36 yards away with no time on the clock and, you guessed it, made the kick and won the game!
Notre Dame - 17, Syracuse - 15.
(Syracuse fans dispute the referee call and in fact, Syracuse appealed to the NCAA to take away the Notre Dame victory on such an obvious "homer" call...waah, waah, waah. Judge for yourself. It looks pretty blatant to me.)

Anyway, my father threw his hat in the air in celebration of the great Notre Dame victory. Like most of the men of that time, he wore a fedora hat and had his business card tucked into the inside brim. Of course, he couldn't find the hat in the excitement of the aftermath and came home hatless. (A small price to pay for witnessing such a win.)
About 3 weeks to a month later, he received a package in the mail. It was his hat, cleaned and blocked with a simple note enclosed, "Go Irish." He never knew who did it, but that was my first memory of what is means to be a Notre Dame fan.
Dad and I went to 3 Notre Dame games together over the next 26 years and we had some great experiences, but the anonymous return of his hat in 1961 remains my personal favorite Notre Dame story.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Kelly is "One of Us"

Yeah, CW was an alum and Davie an assistant at ND; but not since Lou Holtz have we had a true Subway Alumnus at the helm at Notre Dame.
(I remember Lou relaying a story about how they sang the ND Fight Song every morning in grade school as they marched from outside into the school building.)
This is a guy who needs no training on history.
* He remembers Lindsay Nelson and ND highlights on Sunday mornings (the only way you saw most ND games back in the 60's).
* He remembers the heartbreak at SC in '64 and the game of the century in '66 and Coley O'Brien.
* He knows why Bud Wilkinson always hated Notre Dame and about "Ara, stop the snow."
These are things that the likes of Stoops, Ferenz and others would have had to catch up on in a book. A SubAlum remembers them (or for you younger ones, read about when you were 10 years old or had your father tell you about them).
Lou Holtz loved and lived ND, and had the coaching skills to make his very positive mark on ND football. Kelly looks like the same type of leader.
I have been reading a number of stories about Coach Kelly's leadership skills these past several days and am more and more impressed by his ability to lead young men.
The people in Cincinnati are sad and angry about his departure, but he had the ND clause in his contract (just like Lou at Minnesota) so it was no secret what would happen if the timing was right for him to go to his "dream job." I have no problem with the way this was done, either by ND or by Coach Kelly.
I had a UC grad say to me, "You'd feel different if he were leaving Notre Dame for another school..." I guess she was right, I would; but since it has never happened, I'll have to wait till it does to know for sure. (I love you, Anne.)

Friday, December 11, 2009

I'm Back!

I have been so disgusted with ND and their fortunes on the football field that I had no desire to blog about my beloved Irish.
Even when they were 4-1, I wanted to wait until after the USC game and the following "should win" games to make sure they were really back and viable as a major power under Charlie Weis. Alas, they were not as was proven by the season's collapse beginning with the loss to Navy.
Finally they gave up on Charlie and the On the Job Training of a head coach. Charlie is a good egg and we wish him well back in the NFL. He is a great offensive strategist and technician...but not a leader of young men. That was the essential ingredient missing from his skill set and the one which accounted for his downfall. Good Luck, Charlie. We will not speak of you again.
Now, the good news.
We hired a head coach who IS a leader of young men. Any ND fan who watched the Cincinnati-Pittsburgh game last week saw something there we have not seen in South Bend for the longest time...a comeback. Brian Kelly lead those young men, down 31-10 just before halftime, to a 45-44 win. He never lost his composure or his confidence in the face of a huge deficit and his players sensed that attitude and responded.
More on Brian Kelly as we move ahead. Press Conference introducing him is at 1:30pm today and a new era has begun.