Archive for the ‘College Football’ Category

Notre Dame Football Scheduling   Leave a comment

In this era of the College Football Playoff and the criteria used for selecting playoff teams, I’ve started to think that Notre Dame needs to change how they construct their football schedule.  After learning a couple hours ago that an 11-1 Alabama team, who did not even play for their conference championship and whose two best wins were over #17 LSU and #23 Mississippi State, was selected for the college football playoff, I’m fully convinced that a change needs to occur.

Since 1998, Notre Dame has had a very unusual scheduling arrangement with Southern Cal and Stanford.  In even-numbered years, ND plays Stanford at home in October and at Southern Cal Thanksgiving weekend.  In odd-numbered years, ND plays Southern Cal at home in October and at Stanford Thanksgiving weekend.  As a result, the Irish play in California on Thanksgiving weekend every year.  This arrangement is good for ND alumni, who get a California trip every November.  This arrangement is good for ND students, who don’t have to miss class to take their longest trip of the year.  This arrangement is good for Southern Cal and Stanford, who never have to worry about the weather in South Bend in late November.

This arrangement is not good for the playoff aspirations of the Notre Dame football team.  Every year, they play their last game of the season on the road, almost always against a ranked team and more often than not a highly-ranked one.  In the last ten years, the Irish have won their Thankgiving weekend game only twice, and both of those times were when Lane Kiffin was coaching the other team.

It’s a competitive disadvantage to play your last game of the season on the road against a ranked team.  It’s borderline insane to voluntarily do this every single year.  Now I understand the Southern Cal arrangement has been in place since 1960, so I’m not expecting that to change.  The Stanford arrangement is more recent, and if Notre Dame is serious about ever competing for championships, it has to end.  Either Stanford needs to agree to schedule the game earlier in the year both home and away, or the series needs to end.  A Shamrock Series game (a game played at a neutral site but where ND is the home team for TV purposes) would look good on Thanksgiving weekend in odd-numbered years in place of the trip to Palo Alto.  The game could still be in a warm location like Florida, Texas, or even California, but the game would be at a neutral site against a more manageable (but not pushover) opponent rather than in a hostile environment against what is at worst a Top 20 team and sometimes a Top 10 team.

Yet I would take this even a step further.  In any odd year in which BYU or Army would be willing, schedule the Shamrock Series game on the first Saturday in December instead of Thanksgiving weekend.  You may not even be aware that this is possible.  The first Saturday in December is not reserved just for conference championship games.  Any team not in a conference with a championship game is allowed to schedule a game just like any other Saturday during the season.  The Big 12 and their ten teams did this up until this year when they re-instituted their championship game.  Think about this, Notre Dame could simply schedule themselves to play on Championship Saturday while all the power 5 teams have to work all year to earn the right to play that day.  Guaranteed TV exposure on a day with a limited slate of games right before the playoff committee makes their selections.  Does this not make tons of sense?

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Posted December 3, 2017 by Andrew Cabiness in College Football, Notre Dame, Sports

The Worst Play Call in the History of Football   Leave a comment

On October 31, 2010, when Notre Dame’s Brian Kelly had his backup quarterback throw a fade route while trailing Tulsa by one point at their 19-yard line with 45 seconds left and an excellent kicker waiting to kick the game-winning field goal, I thought I had seen the worst play call in the history of football.  The risk far, far outweighed the reward to the point that the call seemed incomprehensible.

In Super Bowl XLIX, Seattle’s Pete Carroll called for a pass play while trailing 28-24, facing 2nd and goal from the New England 1 with 26 seconds left and one timeout remaining.  From a purely risk/reward standpoint, this was not a worse play call than Brian Kelly’s, but given the context that this was a Super Bowl and not just a regular season college game, it was arguably a worse play call.

Last night, the Atlanta Falcons managed to top them both.  With 3:56 left, facing 2nd and 11 at the New England 23 yard line, holding a 28-20 lead, all Atlanta had to do was run the ball two more times, even if for no gain, force New England to burn two of their three timeouts, and then attempt a 40-yard field goal that their kicker is going to make about 90 percent of the time to give Atlanta a 31-20 lead, leaving New England needing two scores in roughly 3:45 and only one timeout.

Of course what Atlanta did was call a pass play, which resulted in a sack, followed by another pass play which resulted in a holding penalty which knocked Atlanta entirely out of field goal range.  You can say it’s easy to second-guess given the results, but it was pretty clear at the time that making sure to get at least 3 points on the board was the best option.

Any other horrible play calls I’m missing?

Posted February 6, 2017 by Andrew Cabiness in College Football, NFL, Sports

You Are an Embarrassment to My Alma Mater   Leave a comment

Yes, Brian Kelly, you are an embarrassment to my alma mater, the University of Notre Dame.  I didn’t put myself about $100,000 into debt to go to a university with an excellent football program.  I didn’t put myself that far into debt to go to an university with a reputation for academic excellence and for integrity.  I put myself that far into debt to go to a very unique university that was both.

Brian Kelly has managed to turn a university that excels at football and operates with integrity to one that does neither.  However, this has gotten well beyond Brian Kelly, and that is why the title of this post starts with “You” instead of with “Brian Kelly.”

John B. “Jack” Swarbrick, you are also an embarrassment to my alma mater.  You continue to stand firmly behind a coach who has brought nothing but negative attention to the university both on and off the field.  Even if you decide to fire Brian Kelly within the next week, it has gone on too long.  You’ve allowed Notre Dame to become a place that just isn’t that special anymore.

Rev. John I. Jenkins, CSC, you are also an embarrassment to my alma mater.  Under your tenure, you have allowed an athletic director and a football coach to turn Notre Dame into a place that I’m no longer proud of.  I used to be very proud to tell people that I’m not just a Notre Dame fan, now I just brag that I’m married to an Ivy Tech grad.

There are a few more people who are an embarrassment to my alma mater:

  • John J. Brennan
  • John F. Affleck-Graves
  • Rev. José E. Ahumada F., C.S.C.
  • Carlos J. Betancourt
  • Stephen J. Brogan
  • Thomas G. Burish
  • Monique Y. Caron
  • Katie Washington Cole
  • Rev. Austin I. Collins, C.S.C.
  • Robert Costa
  • Scott S. Cowen
  • Robert J. Cronin, Jr.
  • Thomas J. Crotty, Jr.
  • Karen McCartan DeSantis
  • James J. Dunne III
  • James F. Flaherty III
  • Celeste Volz Ford
  • Stephanie A. Gallo
  • William M. Goodyear
  • Nancy M. Haegel
  • Enrique Hernandez, Jr.
  • Carol Hank Hoffmann
  • Rev. John I. Jenkins, C.S.C.
  • Most Rev. Daniel R. Jenky, C.S.C., D.D.
  • John W. Jordan II
  • Diana Lewis
  • Thomas G. Maheras
  • Andrew J. McKenna, Jr.
  • Fergal Naughton
  • Richard C. Notebaert
  • Richard A. Nussbaum II
  • Rev. Thomas J. O’Hara, C.S.C.
  • Rev. Gerard J. Olinger, C.S.C.
  • Cindy K. Parseghian
  • J. Christopher Reyes
  • Kenneth Ricci
  • Clare Stack Richer
  • Martin W. Rodgers
  • James E. Rohr
  • Shayla Keough Rumely
  • Rev. John J. Ryan, C.S.C.
  • Rev. Timothy R. Scully, C.S.C.
  • Byron O. Spruell
  • Phyllis W. Stone
  • Timothy F. Sutherland
  • Anne E. Thompson
  • Sara Martinez Tucker
  • Roderick K. West
  • Ann C. Williams

These are the members of the Board of Trustees.  Thanks to them, the Notre Dame I loved and paid dearly to attend is a thing of the past.  I feel robbed, both emotionally and financially.  I would ask for my money back, but if I gave them my phone number I’d just get dozens of calls from them asking me for money.  If you are one of the people on this list and do manage to read this, I’d be happy to hear why you don’t think you are an embarrassment to my alma mater, just so long as you don’t ask me for money in the process.

 

Posted November 26, 2016 by Andrew Cabiness in College Football, Sports

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Tim Brown and Jerome Bettis, HOF   Leave a comment

As is tradition, the new class of Canton’s Pro Football Hall of Fame is announced the day before the Super Bowl.  Two Notre Dame players with outstanding NFL careers finally received that honor yesterday, after waiting far longer than they should have.

There is very little argument with Bettis.  He racked up elite rushing totals while playing most of his career for a very popular and successful franchise.  At least in Indiana, there is quite a bit of noise that Marvin Harrison deserved to go in the HOF as a receiver ahead of Tim Brown.  If you are entirely ignorant of the history of the NFL before Peyton Manning arrived in Indianapolis, it’s a pretty easy argument to buy into.  Harrison benefited from playing in a much more pass-freindly era, and benefited from playing with arguably the greatest quarterback of all-time.

Tim Brown played in a much less pass-friendly era, with a whole bunch of less pass-friendly quarterbacks.  It’s pretty easy to see that there are a lot of reasons other than the respective value of each receiver as to why Harrison was able to rack up much better career numbers than Brown.  On top of that, Tim Brown put his body on the line to return punts and kickoffs 375 times.  Marvin Harrison put his body on the line to return punts and kickoffs 21 times.

Tim Brown played for 16 years in Oakland with Jay Schroeder, Jeff Hostetler, Jeff George, Rich Gannon and Rick Mirer as his quarterbacks and he’s still in the HOF.  If Marvin Harrison had to play 16 years with those quarterbacks, you’d have forgotten who he is by now.

TimBrown

Posted February 1, 2015 by Andrew Cabiness in College Football, Indiana, NFL, Notre Dame

I’d Do Anything for a National Championship (But I Won’t Do That)   Leave a comment

Sixteen years after his only previous Top 20 hit, Meat Loaf scored his biggest hit, going all the way to #1 in November of 1993.  Notre Dame had been in the Top 20 plenty of times during the Lou Holtz era, including #1 several times, but the November 1993 #2 vs. #1 showdown with Florida State got billed as “The Game of the Century.”  If you need a reminder, this is how it ended.

Fast forward to tomorrow, and while #2 vs. #5 is not quite the same, the game is evoking comparisons to that 1993 contest both on and off the field.  Don’t forget that back in 1993, FSU stood for “Free Shoes University,” while in 2014 FSU has too many Jameis Winston problems to keep track of.

Now, while Notre Dame has been historically known for conducting their athletic programs with integrity (and telling everybody about it), there have been some blurred lines during the Kelly era.  Still, the university has demonstrated they they are in charge of the football program and not the other way around by sidelining five players for academic misconduct that would get swept under the rug at most places.  On the other hand, Jameis Winston has been accused of four different things, yet has only missed one game.

While I still don’t know what Meat Loaf was talking about when he said he wouldn’t do “that,” I do know what exactly Notre Dame won’t do in pursuit of a National Championship.

Go Irish!

31to24

Posted October 17, 2014 by Andrew Cabiness in College Football, Notre Dame, Sports

I Believe That We Will . . . Draw?   Leave a comment

“There’s no more time for crying over spilled milk.  Now it’s time for crying in your beer.” – ‘Weird Al’ Yankovic

 Until yesterday, the most memorable tied sporting event I had ever experienced (in person or on television) occurred on September 12, 1992.  I was a freshman at Notre Dame, and the first home game for the #3 Irish was against #5 Michigan.  Even for a ‘local’ like me who had been to several ND home games previously, the first home game as a student is a special experience.  I will never forget the band marching by Cavanaugh Hall at 7:13 a.m., playing the Victory March.  A win would have evoked memories of Rocket Ismail or Reggie Ho.  A loss would have rubbed salt in the wounds left twelve months earlier by Desmond Howard.  Strangely, neither of those things happened.  Notre Dame chose not to aggressively pursue a winning score after receiving a punt deep in their own territory with barely over a minute left.  A decision that was very disappointing to fans but the correct one.  The game ended in a 17-17 tie.  What I remember most about that game is the immense confusion about how to feel after the game.  There was no elation of victory.  There was no crushing disappointment of defeat.  A few years later, college football instituted overtime and eliminated ties, which eventually led to this experience in 2012.

Given the circumstances surrounding yesterday’s tie (or draw, to use the appropriate soccer term) between the US and Portugal–with the US having a lead and seemingly having advancement to the next round locked up until the last-minute–the emotion following this tie was incredibly negative compared to the mostly neutral emotions of that ND-Michigan game 22 years ago.  Guaranteed advancement to the second round was snatched away with about 30 seconds remaining.  There is still a very good chance of advancement for the US (76 percent according to Nate Silver), so there really is no need to cry over spilled milk (or beer), but with that there is still a chance that advancement doesn’t happen, and even if it does it comes with four more days worth of frayed nerves for players and fans.

Posted June 23, 2014 by Andrew Cabiness in College Football, Notre Dame, Soccer, Sports

What Black Friday Means to Me   Leave a comment

I love football, I love turkey, and I love mashed potatoes.  So it makes sense that Thanksgiving is one of my favorite days of the year.  My mother’s family has a very unusual tradition of bowling on Thanksgiving morning.  It even made the local news three years ago when we celebrated the 50th anniversary of bowling on Thanksgiving.  I have many fond memories from childhood of bowling in the morning and then watching the Detroit Lions lose during/after a wonderful feast.  Of course, even 33 years later, nothing tops the 1980 game (go to 6:20 in the clip).

On the flip side, I am quite impatient, so I don’t like waiting in lines or in traffic.  I also don’t like large crowds.  So it makes sense that the day after Thanksgiving is my least favorite day of the year.  I’ve never participated in any sort of Black Friday shopping.  As the years have gone by, my anti-Black Friday habits have gotten more extreme.  I’m at the point now where I don’t like to go anywhere on that day.  Every year there seem to be more and more stories on the news about people being trampled or beaten at stores, and stuff being stolen out of cars in parking lots.  It just seems to me that the safest thing to do is stay inside and watch football, though there aren’t any really good Friday games on tap this year.

Does anybody else have any anti-Black Friday traditions?

Posted November 27, 2013 by Andrew Cabiness in College Football, Family, Sports

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