Monday, November 20, 2006

Travishamockery, and other thoughts

A travesty, they say.

Or at least Mike Lopresti of USA Today says it.

When discussing Notre Dame's chances of making it to the BCS championship game, Lopresti (and probably many others) responds:

"Absolutely not. Notre Dame instead of Michigan would be a travesty after the Wolverines drilled the Irish 47-21 in South Bend."

So head-to-head matters.

I'm shocked, but still have a question: Where was this cold-hearted logic in 1993?

Notre Dame, 11-1. Florida State, 12-1. The head-to-head battle, played in late November, ended in favor of the Irish, with the game not as close as the final score indicated.

So who held the trophy in January? Florida State, of course. Because, we were told, head-to-head isn't the best determinant. Except when it is, and then it is.

That's the biggest reason I want ND to end up in the NC game on January 8th. The pundits will wail and gnash their teeth. The Michigan faithful will rend their garments (assuming they have any un-rent after Bo's passing).

Then Charlie Weis can get up in a press conference, and to every question posed him concerning the BCS, he can respond, "1993".

In fact, I just thought of a more delicious scenario. Some of it may be far-fetched, but stay with me:

Notre Dame wins comfortably in Los Angeles on Saturday.
Either Florida or Arkansas are upset by F$U or LSU, respectively.
The Florida/Arkansas upset victim then wins the SEC Championship game.

Come BCS selection day, the Irish and Wolverines are the only one-loss teams left. The pollsters and pundits, deciding to employ the cold-hearted logic, send the Skunkbears to the NC game for a rematch with tOSU.

The Irish are sent to the Sugar Bowl, where they unmericfully pound the SEC champ.
Michigan wins a mistake-filled game in Glendale.

Now what do the pollsters do? The coaches, by contract, have to vote for Michigan. But the AP folks aren't under the same restriction. They can choose a Michigan team that got a second bite at the apple, or an ND team that defeated two top-five opponents comfortably in the season's last two games.

Both teams 12-1. The head-to-head battle, played in September, ended in favor of Michigan (who had a distinct advantage in prep time).

So who holds the AP trophy in January?

Remember, head-to-head isn't the best determinant. That's what we were told in 1993.

Except when it is.

Either way, the reactions from Ann Arbor would be a lifetime's worth of entertainment.

Some other items tickling my brain, mostly on the hoops side:


Besides a distressing return to the Bad Old Days, the Butler loss had another negative effect -- on ND's strength of schedule.

Granted, if Butler does well in NYC (and over the course of the season), that neutral-site game will help the Irish. But neutral-site games against some combination of Gonzaga, Tennessee and North Carolina would have done even more.

Some people feel this schedule was set up for an NCAA bid. Outside of Maryland and Alabama, the remaining OOC contests weigh heavy on the cupcake scale, and the BE slate lacks any games against UConn or Pittsburgh while featuring South Florida twice. While this will do a lot for the win total, it's not going to do a lot for the SOS factor, which means ND is walking on a knife's edge. One bad loss might give the committee all it needs to relegate the Irish to the NIT once again.


I'm sure people are sick of ND people whining about 1993, but that pales to the degree I'm tired of hearing about how the ND basketball team quit two years ago. I'm tired of hearing it from ND students, tired of hearing it from ND alumni, tired of hearing it from ND fans.

Yes, that team fell apart. Yes, that team lacked any kind of cohesion. Yes, key players on that team mailed it in down the stretch. Yes, the coaching staff should not have allowed it to happen. Yes, it was a Bad Thing.

But just about everyone involved with that team is gone now. None of the players on the floor for the Irish can be accused of laying down that season. Most of them weren't even there. Of the ones who were, Russell Carter hardly played and the (rightfully) villified Holy Cross game was Rob Kurz's coming-out party. And I know people have a lot of opinions on Colin Falls, but I've never read "slacker" as one of them. I've never seen him give anything less than everything when he plays.

And last season, when this team had every reason to throw in the towel after so many close losses, they kept bringing it every game. That says something about the mental fortitude of the players and the coaches alike.

I think plenty of evidence exists to support a belief that situation was a one-time thing, and (to be blunt) I think the people who continue to harp on it are glomming on to a situation that fits the argument they want to make and are riding it long after it's been an effective argument.

Start your engines

The clamor already has begun for Mike Brey to work Luke "Bamm Bamm" Harangody into the starting lineup.

In today's SBT, MB is quoted as being concerned how that would affect the team dynamic.

I can't speak to dynamics, but if history is our guide, starting doesn't necessarily mean anything.

Over his last two seasons, David Graves was moved out of the starting lineup twice. But if you look at his minutes played, they stayed pretty constant. So while his name wasn't being called during the spotlight intros, he was still contributing in the same ways he had before the "demotion".

So I don't necessarily have a problem with him being out of the starting lineup. I would, however, have a problem with him not being among the leaders in minutes played among the Irish big men. Bamm Bamm has been pretty effective in his time played thus far, so if such effectiveness can be continued over more minutes, let's do that.

T'is the season for pushing envelopes, after all.

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Anonymous El-Unemployed said...

Difference between 1993 and 2006

(ND vs. FSU) vs. (ND vs. Michigan).

In 1993, in every measure *other* than head-to-head FSU had a better season than ND. They had the same record against a much harder schedule, their best win (over Nebraska) essentially matched Notre Dame's and their loss was far more excusable (on the road to a top team vs. at home to a 20-ish team). And the game was close.

In 2006, Michigan should be ranked well ahead of ND even without factoring in head-to-head. We've played a tougher schedule, our best win is better than theirs (for now at least) and our loss was a far better showing. Add in that we beat them badly at ND and there shouldn't even be a debate.

11/20/2006 10:06:00 AM  
Blogger El Kabong said...

So let's see, winner had a better season against a much harder schedule, their best win essentially matched the second-place finisher, and their loss was excuseable (on the road to a top team vs. at home to a 20-ish team).

So when should ND expect delivery of the 1989 NC trophy?

A couple more corrections:

1) ND's SOS is rated higher than Michigan's currently.

2) The FSU/ND game was not close. But for a fluke TD catch on a fourth down, the final would have been 31-17. ND dominated FSU all day.

I should have known your reading comprehension was bad with the "unemployed" crack. I'm fully and gainfully employed. I just don't like where I am right now.

11/20/2006 10:11:00 AM  
Anonymous Sane person said...

In 1993, an ND team playing on its home field slipped past FSU, 31-24. The game ended with Charlie Ward throwing into the ND endzone for a tie.

In 2006, a UM playing on the road demolished ND, 47-21. The game was effectively over at halftime. At no point in the second half did ND get closer than 19 points.

Sorry, but I don't quite see the common thread here, other than you trying to spin both games' outcomes to benefit ND's position.

All this arguing will probably be moot, though, as ND seems unlikely to beat USC.

P.S. Isn't ND a Christian school? And isn't Christianity a faith preaching love, tolerance and forgiveness? Your mean-spirited reaction to the death of a football coach - you'd think he was a war criminal, the way you keep attacking him - has me baffled.

11/20/2006 11:16:00 AM  
Blogger El Kabong said...

You obviously didn't watch the 1993 FSU/ND game. If the TD pass in the fourth quarter isn't tipped twice into the hands of an FSU player, game is over. Hardly "slipping past".

11/20/2006 11:18:00 AM  
Anonymous TrojanHorse98 said...

you both (UM and ND) play lousy schedules. Two big games a year does not make a difficult schedule.

Put the commander in chief trophy on display and be happy

11/20/2006 12:13:00 PM  
Blogger knute1984 said...

To TrojanHorse98: Of course if Notre Dame had played powers Central Michigan and Ball State, you would be praising Notre Dame's schedule instead of Michigan's.

11/20/2006 01:00:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I immediately thought of '89, not '93. If Arkansas' early loss to USC can be forgiven, so can ND's, and if the SEC powerhouses want to whine, schedule ND.

11/20/2006 02:38:00 PM  
Anonymous Jake said...

I think the Trojan Horse was calling both UM's and ND's schedules weak. Admittedly, compared to SC's, they are. Typically, however, scheduling GaTech, PSU, UM, MSU, and Purdue back to back to back to back does not evidence an attempt at lining up cupcakes.

11/20/2006 02:48:00 PM  
Anonymous Spike '62 said...

you really missed the point about the b-ball team. It's the coach, that's it. The Butler game was a rerun of all last year. ND has no offensive scheme, no defensive scheme and no bench coaching. We'll probably win all the cupcakes and with 4-5 BE games. The NIT might look good by March. But by April will be looking for a new mentor. Promise!

11/20/2006 04:42:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


Let's see Mich. play ND this week. 2 tough games, back to back. Mich. wasn't that close with 3 2nd half turnovers, two of them gifts. Throw in some timely "Bo" refing calls, and Mich. was not the better team no matter what the score.

As to S.Cal, ND has to win to get the monkey off their back, regardless of the NC game. I hope no bad reffing calls ruin a spirited game.

Would someone please tell me why their best player, O.J. Simpson, is nowhere to be found?

Paul A.

11/20/2006 07:08:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

If I told you, this is how it would happen...

11/20/2006 10:35:00 PM  
Anonymous Brian said...

From the Palm Beach Post, Jan. 4, 1994:

FOOTBALL WRITERS VOTE FSU NO. 1: The Football Writers Association of America made it unanimous, voting for Florida State as the No. 1 team in college football.

The football writers have presented the Grantland Rice Trophy since 1954.

Members of the committee were Roy Exum of the Chattanooga (Tenn.) News-Free Press, Bob Hentzen of the Topeka (Kan.) Capital-Journal, Mike Lopresti of the Gannett News Service, Thomas O'Toole of Scripps Howard News Service and Blackie Sherrod of The Dallas Morning News.

Hmmm... I wonder how he voted.

11/20/2006 11:09:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

let's not forget that in 1993 the press was in an absolute love affair with "goshdarngumit" bobby bowden... the press gave it to him because it was his turn.

and trust me, nd will always continue to fall on the wrong side in these arguments because of the bias. miami was the beneficiary in '89 and fsu in '93. and both of these were late in their respective seasons !

11/21/2006 05:16:00 AM  
Blogger Vince Hopkins said...

ND lost by 26 AT home in a game that wasn't that close. If it comes down to ND or UM, there is no way the Irish will make it.

11/22/2006 11:37:00 AM  

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