Thursday, November 13, 2008

Irish Blogger Gathering: Domer Law goes Brawling

Brawling Hibernian brings us this week's edition of Irish Blogger Gathering.

1. In the parlance of DJs, a "deep cut" is a song that wasn't released as a single and, generally, is not well-known. What Notre Dame victory is your favorite "deep cut" from the Irish catalog? In other words, what is your favorite victory that is not widely celebrated (i.e., not the "Snow Bowl" or the 1988 Miami game, etc.). Explain in much detail.

Notre Dame vs. UCLA. October 21, 2006.

This game was the most fun I've ever had inside Notre Dame Stadium. I was in my third year of law school, and was still supremely optimistic about the Irish, despite their setback against Michigan at home. Brady was a Heisman candidate, and the Shark was catching passes all over the place. We had a really good team, the kind of team that you honestly thought we could contend for a championship (started the season ranked #2).

The Bruins rolled in with 2 losses already, including one to Ty's inept Huskies. We thought that we'd roll. We scored an early touchdown, and led 7-0 after 1.

But then the Bruins made it interesting.

Two huge pass plays in the second quarter gave the Bruins the lead, but the Irish only trailed by 4 at intermission, and cut it to 1 by the end of 3.

When UCLA pushed the lead back to 4 with a fourth quarter field goal, the fans were stunned that we hadn't gotten more production. We had a 3-and-out after the kickoff, but started to put together a drive with 3:49 left. It looked to everyone like Brady was going to pull his team out of the fire once again. Then, with 2:20 left to go, the Irish failed on their QB sneak on 4th and 1.

The entire stadium fell silent, as the fans couldn't believe that the Irish had lost.

Then, the Bruins couldn't run out the clock, and the Irish get the ball on their own 20, with just over a minute left.

Watching Brady walk out onto that field, you could tell that we were going to win this game. First play from scrimmage was a rollout by Brady, which he pitched down the field to Samardzija for a first down, out of bounds to stop the clock.

Cool as a cucumber.

Brady drops back, has all day to throw, finds David Grimes with a diving catch and a first down. In bounds, time to hurry up the offense a bit.

Brady drops back, gets pressure, steps up in the pocket. Pump fakes, then rolls a few more feet to find his window. Completes the pass perfectly in stride to Jeff Samardzija for a first down at the 30, and the Shark looks like he's going down at the 15. But wait, he's still on his feet! Two men to beat! He's going in! Touchdown, Irish!


In all the three years I was in law school, I had never seen the student section lose it's damn mind. It was like a gigantic mosh pit, with people jumping up and down, falling all over themselves in exuberant celebration. The dream was still alive.

Irish win, 20-17.

2. As much fun as it is rooting for our heroes, it can be just as enjoyable to trash those we consider to be villains. A few years ago, the great Irish blog, Blue Gray Sky, wrote a post discussing the biggest villains in Notre Dame history. That post focused on external villains. Today's question is, of those associated with the program, who is the biggest villain? This individual must have been a player, coach or administrator at ND who, through reckless acts of cowardice, stupidity or malice, damaged the football program. (Note: Ty Willingham is off the board)

Edward "Monk" Malloy.

I think Malloy was a very good university president. If he had been President of Stanford or Duke.

But as President of Notre Dame, Monk just didn't get it. We have a tradition here that is nothing like any other university. It is something to be cherished and protected, not exploited.

He inherited a university that had a football program that was the envy of the nation.

At the end of his tenure, the football program was nearly dead due to mismanagement.

All of the woes of the program can be laid at Malloy's feet. He devalued the football program at the University, making academics and olympic sports the centerpiece of his administration. In his brief tenure, he almost copied what happened at the University of Chicago, who de-emphasized athletics in 1939, and within the decade were out of major college football altogether.

He hired Kevin White, and signed off on the hirings of Davie, O'Leary, and Willingham. And he opposed the Weis hiring, and came out publicly against the Willingham firing.

I think, more so than the hiring of Weis, the naming of Father Jenkins as President of the University is what got this ship righted, and heading in the right direction.

3. Falling in love is a wonderful thing. As Lt. Frank Drebin once observed, "you begin to notice things you never knew were there before; birds sing, dew glistening on a newly formed leaf, stop signs." Describe the moment that you knew that there would be no other; you were in love with Notre Dame.

My love affair with the University of Notre Dame is not something I just sort of "picked up" along the way. It's not something that I inherited when I attended the University. The University of Notre Dame is in my blood - I can trace back 4 generations of family that has worked for the University.

But if I had to pick a moment...

On November 14, 1992, Notre Dame and Penn State met on the frozen tundra of Notre Dame Stadium. I watched the game at home, while my dad was at the game. I remember sitting there, in cold and snowy South Bend, watching the end of the game and the mass of people on the field afterward.

My dad came home and told me and my brother about how he ran onto the field after the game, and stood in the spot where Reggie Brooks caught that magical 2-point conversion.

Three days later my father was dead at age 42.

The moment that I knew that I was in love with Notre Dame cam later that week, when I was lighting a candle at the grotto just before going into the Basilica for my father's Requiem Mass. I looked out at the lake, then up at the statue of Mary glittering on the top of that Golden Dome, and reflected on my father's life. I pictured his face as he told me about that magical moment in Notre Dame Stadium, and understood how important this University was to my father. From then on, there has been no other.

4. Regrets, we've had a few but, then again, too few to ever let go of any of them. What game, or specific play, in Irish history turns your dreams into nightmares and haunts your every waking moment? Describe this moment and why you wish ND could have another crack at it?

Boston College, 1993.

I was in the stands that day, as my grandmother (a retiree from the University) had tickets she couldn't use, so she gave them to me. I was a freshman, and just started at St. Joe High School after three years in public school, so I didn't know very many people. I had asked my friend Brad to go, but he had other commitments. So I asked another guy in my class, Jeff, to go to the game. He accepted, and we walked from my house to the stadium.

We settled in, got our hot dogs and drinks, and enjoyed the game, although Jeff wasn't a big fan like I was. He didn't understand the game as well as I'd hoped, but I was having a blast watching the #1 Irish.

Partway through the 3rd quarter, Jeff started complaining that he needs to get home by a certain time. I told him that we weren't leaving until the end of the game, but he starts moaning and complaining that he needs to get home to his mom.

We stay until the Irish take the lead in the 4th quarter, but then Jeff walks out. I wasn't about to let him walk home by himself, as I had promised his mom that we would walk together. As I caught up with him on the way out, I told him that if we lose the game, I'm never speaking to him again.

We are walking away from the stadium towards SR 23, when I hear a huge groan come from the stadium. I yell at Jeff, and tell him that we are stopping on the way home to check the score. Since we were freshman in high school, the nearest place was Frank's Red Hots. We stopped in, and BC had retaken the lead.

We stayed until the Irish took the lead again, but Jeff walked out during commercials after the score. Again, I went chasing after.

I told him again, if we lose this game, I'm never speaking to him again.

As we were walking home, I heard another, louder, groan from the stadium, and then silence. I glared at Jeff and walked the rest of the way home in silence.

Got home, checked the score, discovered that the Irish lost. Jeff's mom came and picked him up (15 minutes later - we could have stayed the whole game...).

I never spoke to him again.

To this day, I believe that had I stayed in the stadium, the outcome would have been different.

5. With 79 consensus All-Americans and 48 inductees in the College Football Hall of Fame, it is clear that there have been many great players in the history of Notre Dame football. What was the greatest single season from a player that you ever witnessed during your Irish fandom? Be specific. Use adjectives.

Trevor Laws, 2007.

What this kid did last year is absolutely amazing. Playing on a 3-9 team, Trevor Laws absolutely destroyed opponents inside.

The numbers he put up are astonishing - far better than any other defensive lineman in recent history. This kid, despite the piss poor record, never let up for a single play. He has a motor that won't quit, and was the lone bright spot in an otherwise dismal year.

This kid should have won every award available to him. Including the Heisman.

It kills me that his performance last season will be lost to the annals of history as a footnote. But he never quit, and showed us all what a Notre Dame man is really about.


OC Domer said...

Wow. Amazing post. So sorry about your Dad. Age 42 just isn't right.

Jay-A said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Jay-A said...

I agree - both about the post and about your dad. That's awful. I'm really sorry to hear that.