Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Days of Our Lives

September 11.

December 7.

Cinco de Mayo.

January 25, 1998 -- I got drunk for the first time on seven screwdrivers, kissed Cindy Barton, John Elway did his helicopter spin, and the Broncos won the Super Bowl.

There are certain dates that stay with you, that transcend our standardly faulty and haphazard memory and burn themselves into our consciousness forever. While I can just barely tell you what I had for breakfast this morning (black coffee and Camel Lights, I believe), there are certain days that I remember in vivid detail due to the life-altering events that I witnessed.

November 30 might be the newest day in that litany for Notre Dame fanatics everywhere. Just a year ago today, I sat in my cubicle, bleary-eyed and downtrodden from the previous Saturday's thrashing at the hands of Southern Cal and from the last two and a half years of general dismay that the Irish had wrought upon me. Seeking commiseration from my fellow fans, I logged onto NDNation and loaded up Rock's House. Something seemed askew. It took an eternity for the pages to load, and sprawled all across the message boards were rumors, half-truths, and rumblings. Something big was happening, but nobody could quite pinpoint what it was. Top-secret meetings were convening in the administration building and people were overhearing important people say important things. Each agonizingly slow page load unearthed a slew of new speculations and rumors, but it wasn't until later that afternoon that the bombshell hit.

Willingham had been removed as head coach. NDNation collapsed and shut down. My inbox overflowed, my cell phone began ringing every two seconds. Through the haze, we found out the details of what had happened. Gatherings were scheduled in bars, jager bombs were distributed. The phrases "Urban Meyer" and "return to glory" catapulted off the walls. It felt like a dream.

In a way, it felt like a Reign of Terror had just ended, that the tyrant had been overthrown and strung up in town square. It wasn't so much Willingham. The tyrant we felt we had vanquished was Notre Dame's ceaseless acceptance of mediocracy. I, for one, had all but committed myself of two more years of drudgery before the administration decided to right the sinking ship. Above all, we were surprised how ND had suddenly decided to start getting serious about making things right. It was such an unexpected delight, we hardly knew how to react.

The maelstrom of media flak, coaching searches, and bipolar mood swings is really indescribable for anyone who was not there, although Touchdown Jesus provided, by far, the most faithful and accurate portrayal of these two weeks of darkness. If you don't have this book already, run, don't walk, to the nearest bookstore and buy it for yourself and everyone on your Christmas list. Or, you can read this thread, where NDNationers share their stories like a bunch of grizzled war vets.

I'll refrain from providing too much commentary on this, although rest assured there is a epic-poem length swirl of emotions I feel on this Anniversary. I would just advise all you ND fans out there to stop at some point today and think of this last year, reflecting on what we have been through and what seems to be shimmering on the horizon. Happy Anniversary.


Notre Dame.

Monday, November 28, 2005

Indisputable Evidence: At-Large Teams

There's been a lot of bellyaching about the two at-large spots in the BCS. While we can certainly use facts, logic, and basic reasoning skills to indisputibly show Notre Dame's worthiness of grabbing one of these, there would be little efficacy in doing so, as "Basic Reasoning" is a Graduate-level class at Oregon and tOSU. Plus, ndoldtown did it already over at NDNation. Nay, the best way to settle this score is with a big stupid tale-of-the-tape list. It's a dirty job, but dammit, somebody has to do it.

Ohio State


Notre Dame
Stadium Named After

The only game where "close" is good enough.

Mythical Lumberjack Thomas Autzen

The Blessed Virgin
Advantage: Notre Dame
Best Recipe for Eating Mascot

In a tree during the cold, cold winter.

A l'Orange

Children served to English peasants.
Advantage: Oregon
Founded By
Massive land grant.
Lewis & Clark
Scraggly-bearded French Priests.
Advantage: Notre Dame
Coach's Fashion Statement

Sweatervest and tie, a la Apollo 13 Engineer.

Cheezy Mustache and feathered hair. Does anyone else think Bellotti looks like the guy from the Wedding Singer?

Buzz Cut
Advantage: None
Best Line from Fight Song

Hail! Hail! The Gang's All Here!

Who's Got the Sweetest Disposition?

Shake Down the Thunder from the Sky
Advantage: Notre Dame
Disciplina in civitatem
"Education for Citizenship"
Mens Agitat Molem
Knowledge is Good
Vita, Dulcedo, Spes
(Mary, our) Life, Sweetness, and Hope
Advantage: Notre Dame

There you go. Indisputible. Book your hotels and pack your sunscreen, jam your iPods with Gin Blossoms and Jimmy Eat World tunes, and let's crack some skulls in the desert.

Is that what you call a "Dual Threat" QB?

Well, make some space in the trophy cabinet. In a season full of top-notch performances and accolades, here's yet another to add to the list. Notre Dame is now home to the best punter in College Football.

Punting Statistics
Brady Quinn, ND
Danny Baugher, Arizona
Ryan Plackemeier, Wake
Garrett LeFevre, Houston
Mark Spencer, Michigan

Quarterback, athlete, humanitarian, philosopher, punter

Sunday, November 27, 2005

Dink & Dunk: Donut Edition

They're Back! Wink Dinkins and Bud Dunkowitz chip in their unsolicited opinions while they sun their bloated carcasses on the couch in a triptiphane-induced stupor.

Futility, thy name is...
There's nothing we love more than a disastrously bad football team, and this season, our cup runneth over. A few weeks ago, we took a sniff at the five teams who were at risk of ending the season winless against 1A competition. Well, grudge week came and went and four of them wrapped up the season by losing out. Let's take a moment to honor these divinely inept squads.

Closest Loss

New Mexico State Aggies
Absolutely none. But give the Ags some credit, they didn't schedule any creampuff 1-AA teams.A gut-wrenching OT loss to Idaho on October 29. Idaho pulled out the stops and went for the win, going for two after scoring in the second overtime. The fans in Las Cruces went wild when Steve Wichman's pass tumbled incomplete, sealing the win for NMSU. But not so fast, pardner. An offsides penalty on the Ags reset the ball and gave the Vandals one last shot, which they capitalized on.

Temple Owls
None. Now-independent Temple played a Rockne's Ramblers schedule, taking on all comers. Amazingly, getting kicked out of the Big East improved the quality of their schedule.Way back on September 14, Temple flirted with greatness as they took the Broncos of Western Michigan right down the the wire. Broncos kicker Nate Meyer booted a 33 yard field goal as time expired to lift WMU to a 19-16 win. Even more agonizing was that the three point differential can be attributed to a first-quarter PAT. Temple had their conversion blocked and returned 92 yards for 2 points. That hurts.

Kent State Golden Flashes
Kent took down the mighty Redhawks of Southeast Missouri State (the Harvard of Southeastern Missouri) to the tune of 33-12. Things went south fast for the Hawks, who finished the year 2-9 and 7th place in the Ohio Valley Conference.On October 15, Kent took the Midshipmen of Navy down to the wire, pulling within 3 points on a late touchdown run. Unfortunately, they couldn't haul in the onside kick, and Navy ran out the clock for a gritty win.

Duke Blue Devils
Duke vanquished the Keydets of Virginia Military Academy 40-14 on a muggy day in September. VMI never recovered, finishing the season 3-8 and second to last in the Big South Conference.In the final minutes of their grudgematch with North Carolina, Ronnie McGill rambled in from three yards out to put the Tar Heels up 24-21. There's always next year, boys.

Saturday, November 26, 2005

38-31. Thank God it's Over. Drinking Memories Away.

Don't Stop Believin'

You Stay Classy, Boulder

Dateline, BOULDER, CO -- Distraught by a disastrous performance against archnemesis Nebraska, several goobers from the CU student section began hurling deritus onto the field. Boulder police took a few minutes off of their search for the Real Killer to crush some hippie skulls and restore law and order at Folsom Field, eventually clearing out the entire student section. Those not fortunate enough to be ejected from the game were forced to watch the painstaking conclusion to the 30-3 beat-down.

You Stay Classy, Boulder

If Friday's performance warranted a hail of water bottles thrown from the student section, here's a preview of what you'll see at the Big XII Championship Game (which the Buffs backed into due to Iowa State's futility against Kansas):

The Day the Special Teams Died

And I don't remember if I cried
When those point-afters tumbled wide
Something touched me deep inside
The Day the Special Teams Died

Put it in your calendars, boys and girls. November 25, 2005 will live forever in infamy as "The Day the Special Teams Died". While we sat on our bloated duffs and munched on leftover turkey and cranberry sauce, an age of innocence met its grisly death in fiery wrecks in Tempe, College Station, and Baton Rouge. So pull out your six-string, your bottles of whiskey and rye, and join me in mourning for the friend we barely knew, Special Teams.

Buddy Holly

0:10, 1st Quarter: Texas A&M defensive back Melvin Bullitt (yes, ladies, that is his real name) nabs a floppy duck pass from Vince Young and scampers into the end zone to ignite the A&M comeback. The ensuing PAT is snapped through the hands of the holder, resulting in a comically goofy attempt to throw the ball.

9:40, 2nd Quarter: A&M scores again to reclaim the momentum. Dennis Franchione apparently leaves that handy little card about when to go for 2 at home, trots out 2 point unit halfway through the second quarter. Donk. Now one lost point has turned into two!

9:07, 3rd Quarter: Texas lines up to punt the ball to a fired-up A&M squad with a chance to reclaim the lead. Oops, fake punt. A disoriented A&M squad lets the upback rumble for six yards before face-masking him for good measure. Add another fifteen onto the run.

6:00, 3rd Quarter: Now it's A&M's turn to punt. Blocked. Cedric Griffin rumbles, fumbles, stumbles 11 yards into the endzone for the tutty. Joy of joys! Now for that pesky PAT -- another bad snap, another goofy looking play, no good.

8:25, 4th Quarter: A&M's last shot -- Texas is punting to them with an 8 point lead (duh, guess it was a bad idea to go for 2 in the second quarter). And it's muffed. Texas ball. Texas celebrates by missing a 33 yard chip shot.

The Big Bopper

7:22, 1st Quarter: Hogs kicker Chris Balseiro misses a 41 yard field goal. Alas, his day is just beginning.

0:15, 2nd Quarter: Ready to take a one-score game into the locker room, Jacob Skinner sets up to punt the ball for the Hogs. A clumsy snap and some some flopping and stumbling later, LSU racks up a safety and a 9 point lead.

10:07, 3rd Quarter: Mother of Mercy, Chris Balseiro misses another field goal. Could these two missed kicks and the blunderous safety prove to be important factors in the game?

10:45, 4th Quarter: The Hogs are down 17-19, lining up for a two point conversion! And fail.

0:00, 4th Quarter: Some Dick throws an interception to end the game. Arkansas falls two points short of the win of the year... I wonder how they could have made up those points?

Richie Valens

7:41, 1st Quarter: Arizona's Nick Folk chunks a 37 yard field goal.

3:45, 1st Quarter: Longsnapper airmails the snap over poor Nick Folk's head. Folk wisely boots the ball out of the back of his own end zone for the safety.

10:38, 3rd Quarter: Whoaaa Nellie! It's a fake field goal! Holder Ryan Eldson is dumped for an 8 yard loss. Better luck next time, boss.

8:12, 4th Quarter: With the champagne on ice for the Wildcats, Folk boots away a punt. Ladies and gentlemen, do not adjust your televisions, this is not in slow motion. Terry Richardson rumbles and fumbles for a 71 yard touchdown. Where's Nick?

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Rocky Mountain High

Greetings! Just letting you know that the House Rock Built will be going into stealth mode this week in honor of the Festivus/Thanksgiving season. HRB's chief correspondent is currently deep behind enemy lines in Big 12 territory. Between bouts of skiing, drinking into oblivion, and triptiphane-induced comas, I will be compiling a detailed scouting report on college football in the Rocky Mountain region, which may or may not ever see the light of day.

Alas, I shall return, but in the meantime, you're more or less on your own for getting hyped up for the Stanford game. If you're really desperate, here's your scouting report and game preparation suggestions. First, go out and rent Labyrinth, a fantasitc movie which features Stanford's greatest contribution to modern society, Jennifer Connelly. That should be all the preparation you need. Just remember, the tree is a vicious animal, okay?

Sunday, November 20, 2005

Dink & Dunk, Week 12

Wink Dinkins and Bud Dunkowitz are classically-trained journalists who love fine Scotch, taking your girlfriend to the Seventh Flo', and Pat Hill's mustache.

It's a Dawg's Life
Well, it was a rough week to be a Dawg. While classically a symbol of stout, proud, Anglo-steadfastness, this week the English Bulldog symbolized hearbreak and agonizing failure.

How They Fared
Final Score

Mississippi State
Suffered a 34-point drubbing at the hands of basement co-habitant Arkansas. By the transitive property, Southern Cal would beat these Dawgs by 90, as they themselves put a 56 point licking on the Razorbacks.
44-10, Arkansas

Handsome Dan
The lads from New Haven had countless opportunities to put a victory in The Game in the bag, but squandered every single chance. Three times in overtime, they turned the ball over, until Harvard graciously put us all out of our misery and ended the game with a walkoff touchdown.
30-24, Harvard (3OT)

Fresno State
The Dawgs put up a heck of a fight against the top-ranked squad in the country, but when it comes right down to it, there's not much to do when one individual takes matters into his own hands and wins the game all by himself. That person, of course, was Fresno State quarterback Paul Pinegar. They should build him a shrine in USC's trophy room.
50-42, Southern Cal

For yet another year, Gonzaga did not play anybody on rivalry week, as they have no rivals. Also, they have no football team.

Many congratulations to Uga, the only Dawg who escaped this weekend with a win. Additionally, take a look at the sheer futility of the Havard and Yale overtime bout. In six possessions, only six total points were scored. Yes, in 1AA, they start from the 25, not their own goal line.

Yale: Fumble on the first play
Harvard: Missed FG
Harvard: Interception
Yale: Fumble inside the 10 yard line
Yale: Interception on the first play by the Harvard Nose Tackle
Harvard: Mercifully ends the game with a touchdown.

Mustache of the Century
Pat. Hill. Nuff said. I love this mustache. Love it love it love it. I love it. Oh how I love it. I love it ever so much.
I don't know if he's about to coach a football game or give me a tatto, and frankly I could care less. Do what you want, Pat Hill. I love this stache. Also, were these two separated at birth?

Phil, we hardly knew ye
A moment of silence for the Tennessee season.
We shall also commence massive self-flagellation for saying that Vandy was a waste of a team in an, ahem, previous post on this blog. I love Vandy. Vanderbilt toppled an admittedly reeling and lifeless Tennessee team, but also were robbed of a victory against Florida, and played LSU a lot closer than the score would indicate. On paper, you can make their season look pretty bad, but maybe, just maybe, there's an indication of something greater than their won-loss record. Godspeed, Commodores

The Last Word...
And on a personal note, the House Rock Built's chief correspondant finally ended a four game losing streak while attending games at Notre Dame stadium. After witnessing the travesties of Purdue '04, Pitt '04, Michigan State '05, and USC '05, everyone in the world was more or less convinced it was his fault. We're all glad to see it wasn't.
At the end of the first quarter, with the Irish trailing, I was surrounded by 30 ushers and security personell, who threatened to rough me up and ban me for life if the team didn't turn it around quickly. Thanks for bailing me out, Charlie. I owe you one.

Friday, November 18, 2005

This Just In

By George, Notre Dame just received some assistance from, I promise you, the absolute unlikeliest of heroes. Two of the darker aspects of the last decades' futility have been somewhat alleviated... in a sense, at least. In the backwaters of Atlanta, a report from the NCAA has been released that have great implications on Notre Dame's reclaimation of the all-time winning percentage and also the decade-plus bowl game winless streak.

You see, one of the conditions of the NCAA's reaming of Georgia Tech is a forefeit of their bowl wins from their days of debauchery. One of those bowl wins, which I'm sure most of you have all but erased from your memory, was the 1999 Gator Bowl, where the George O'Leary-led Ramblin' Wreck defeated Bob Davie's squad to the tune of 35-28. Not only does this forfeit change Notre Dame's 12 year bowl drought to a more respectable six year drought, look at what havoc it causes in the race to reclaim the all-time winning percentage.



Notre Dame

Now, if you change that Gator Bowl loss to a win, you get...



Notre Dame

Now, look what voodoo happens if Michigan loses to Ohio State and Notre Dame romps over Syracuse this weekend.

OSU beats UM, ND beats Syracuse

Notre Dame


Great heavenly day in the morning! Spread the word everyone.