Monday, July 31, 2006

Welcome Back

Well, the House is back in business after a somewhat-impromptu hiatus. I appreciate the concern that has been shown, and now I'm rested, refreshed, and partially sober and ready to get back down to business. Ladies and gentlemen, we are entering the final turn on this torturous offseason. 33 days from now, foot meets leather for the Irish, and it's about damn time. Since I'm still saddled with technical difficulties, I'll throw down a quick roadmap of how we're going to live through these next few weeks:

  • The HRB mainframe is still down. Something about ordering parts from China or whatnot. I'm hoping against hope that it will be ready in the next few days, but it's a game of wait-and-see at this point. Obviously, some of the more media-intensive projects depend on what transpires here.
  • I'm putting the finishing touches on the Andy French Cup, an interactive competition for all you readers out there. The technical details are still forthcoming, but essentially it will be a season-long competition to see who can make the most priceless abusive drunken phone call to a college football coach or personality.
  • I also will be compiling a preseason preview guide for ND's upcoming opponents by enlisting the help of some of my fellow bloggers. Hilarity will ensue.
So that's what you can look forward to in the month of August. God willing, the computer will be back soon and we can actually get down to business.


Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Attending to Some Not-So-Happy Business Today

The House Rock Built is going dark today. We'll try to be back tomorrow. Please drive safely.

Hawk Clubs Laura Quinn on Head, Weds Her in Cave Ceremony

College football's First Couple, A.J. Hawk and Laura Quinn, tied the knot recently in a low-profile private ceremony. Laura Quinn is recovering well from the head-clubbing and hair-dragging and expects to make a full recovery. We wish these two kids the best in life, and would like to pre-emptively extend a scholarship offer to their insanely athletically-gifted yet god-fucking-ugly freak-of-nature babies.

Now that's a hell of a wedding photo.

Guns, Germs, and College Football.

I love college football. This probably doesn't come as much of a surprise, what with the whole blog thing, but sometimes I need something to remind me why I am so obsessed with this silly game. And saints be praised, today I got one. This article in USA Today rejuvinated my love affair with the sport and make me bubble over with excitement about the upcoming season. It has everything: abject violence? Check. Bumbling powerless figureheads? Check. Hilarious fulfillment of regional stereotypes? Triple check. References to Willie Williams? You bet. I love this article so much I'm going to print the whole text, with comments, for your amusement.

Coker tells Miami players no guns allowed on Hurricanes

By Kelly Whiteside, USA TODAY

PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. — In the wake of a shooting incident last week near the Miami (Fla.) campus, Hurricanes coach Larry Coker said he plans to discourage players from owning handguns.

Hurricanes reserve safety Willie Cooper was shot in the buttocks outside his home last Friday morning by an unknown person who fled after Cooper's roommate, safety Brandon Meriweather, the Hurricanes' leading tackler last season, returned gunfire. Police said Meriweather used his gun legally because he has a permit for the gun.

It's just like a James Bond movie... nothing gets the excitement in an article sizzling like having somebody get shot in the ass in your opening paragraphs. And like any true friend, Cooper's teammate draws his piece and turns it into a firefight. And how do you get shot in the ass during a drive-by? The mind reels.

"I don't really want our players to have firearms. I'd rather they would dial 911 to come and handle those type of problems," Coker said at ACC Football Kickoff media days Monday.

Wow, Larry Coker sounds very serious about discipline and abject firearm usage. It's about time somebody took a stand for weapons use, especially when Miami's image has been tarnished with this news. It looks like he really means business. No more guns, period.

Coker said he didn't know how much he could enforce a no-gun rule if players own guns legally off campus but said, "Now obviously on campus — you're out of school, you're done. But I really don't want our players to have firearms."

Okay, maybe not no more guns, period, but Coker boldly and defiantly comes out forbidding his teammates to stroll around Miami's campus while packing heat. That is one hell of a disciplinarian. And if any of you hot shots feel like testing this rule, Larry Coker is going to rain down on you. Listen to his plans for punishment:

Coker also said he didn't know how many players had firearms and said it wasn't something he planned to find out. "I'm not going to take a head count on firearms, but I'll address it and discourage it, let's put it that way."

Hmmm, okay. So he won't punish you, per se, but he will discourage the ever-loving hell out of it.

Allright, I've heard enough from that wishy-washy pansy. Let's get a quote from a true disciplinarian:

Florida State coach Bobby Bowden said he makes his players who own guns for hunting purposes register them with the coaching staff. "We keep 'em," Bowden said Monday. "If they go hunting, they check the guns out."

What? What? WHAT?? I'm sorry, I must have misread that. Please, please, please don't tell me that the Florida State football team, at this very second, is sitting on a fucking arsenal of weapons that they can access at any minute!? Good heavenly lord. I will never be able to sleep again. I honestly have never felt so terrified for my life now that I know this, and I live more than a thousand miles away. Nobody is safe. Never go to Talahassee if you value your life.

The one thing I can take comfort in is that they are locked up and carefully monitored by the coaching staff.

"Does that slip by sometime? I don't know. I don't keep up with it that much."

You don't k-??? You don't k-k-k-k? You don't "keep with it that much"??? What the hell? What are you doing that is more important than keeping your players from raiding the cache of weapons? W-What the hell, man? Oh my good God, we're all doomed.

Though Miami was selected by the media Monday as the preseason pick to win the ACC championship game, Coker spent the opening portion of his session answering questions about the shooting incident and about backup linebacker Willie Williams, who was allowed to enroll at Miami two years ago despite having 11 prior arrests. Unhappy with playing time, Williams asked for a release from his scholarship.

"As for right now, I think it's still a little bit up in the air," Coker said. He also said he would consider taking Williams back on the team even though he missed the Hurricanes' voluntary offseason workouts.

Great! Take him back. Just keep him the HELL away from Florida State! Do you hear me, Larry Coker? The fate of the world is in your hands. Do not let Willie Williams anywhere near that free-for-all of firearms. Even having him in the same state makes me break out in a cold sweat.

Where's the Tylenol?

Sunday, July 23, 2006

Technical Difficulties

Well, the House Rock Built's supercomputer mainframe is on the fritz, so we're going to be in something of a state of limbo while our crack IT department takes care of the rat problem and gets us reconnected to the Hive. I'll try my best to keep a standard posting schedule, but the boss will be looking over my shoulder. Thank you for your anticipated cooperation.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Shocking Accusations!

Now, I know it's not productive for Notre Dame bloggers to go into a tizzy every time some hack sportswriter in some backwater redneck town writes a scathing and accusatory piece about the Irish. For one, I would have to quit my job and abandon my social life, spending 24 hours a day huffing and puffing and pointing out factual and grammatical errors for the Fort Klugworth Daily Picayune-Bugle sports column. However, today's latest smearing came from a sports column in South Carolina, where a columnist took a few words from a Clemson recruit and turned it into a ham-fisted indictment of Notre Dame's recruiting ethics.

The long and short of the article implies that Weis and his staff aggressively recruited Jamie Cumbie, a Clemson commit, and sent him several postcards and a letter spelling out the advantages and disadvantages of going to Notre Dame that was, allegedly, littered with slanderous statements about Clemson. Now, I am shocked -- shocked -- that Notre Dame could possibly be accused of negative recruitment, seeing as we are the shining beacon for all that is good and right about college football. The debasement of saying mean things about other colleges is a vile and scummy practice that I'd just as well leave to every other college football program who are unburdened by the heavy crown of being the conscience of an entire sport. Before I get too off-track in my sarcastic rant, let me return to the key issue here. The fact of the matter is that the contents of the letter were blown way, way out of proportion. I have secured, through my contacts, a copy of this offending letter, and it is a huge stretch to say any negative recruiting occured here. Have a look for yourselves.

It Begins: Day 1 Reflections

I have it, I have it, I have it, I have it. Don't believe me? Here's some proof:

Okay, so some thoughts from Day One. Whew. This is a little bit quick and dirty, since I've only logged a few hours of time in and haven't explored the vast intricacies of the game yet, but here we go.

Bought the game on my lunch break and tore it open when I rolled home. I spent a while on practice mode lobbing touchdowns over the Northwestern State defense, primarily because I need to get acquainted with the controls on XBox. As a lifelong Playstation user, I made the big switch this off-season to the XBox, so I spent some time getting used to the crazy controller and unlearning a lot of my muscle memory. Once the cobwebs were dusted off, I fired up a Notre Dame Dynasty. Some comments:

  • Kudos to Challenges: It's a pretty amazing thing how each successive game in the NCAA franchise is, by and large, similar in design and layout, and yet somehow they find a way to make you look like a complete idiot the first time you play it. A few months ago, I was romping up and down the field against USC in NCAA 2006, and today I'm staring in horror as Reggie Ball torches my secondary for his ninth passing touchdown. While the gameplay tweaks are subtle, they are major enough to make for an entertaining and challenging learning curve.

    Me, after my first game against the computer.

  • Major Kicking Overhaul: Kicking has completely changed in 07, which I think is a welcome update. The old power meter just seems a little bit too Tecmo Bowl or Lee Trevino's Fighting Golf. We've made some big advancements as a society in the last dozen years, it's about time we bury the old power meter. As a result of my inability to decipher how to kick, my opening drive against Georgia Tech was sabotaged when I racked up three consecutive delay of game penalties followed by a nine yard punt.

    Meters are so 1990.

    This segues into another excellent point...

  • I Blocked an Extra Point! Hallelujah Saints Be Praised!: The defense on extra points has changed around completley, making actually a realistic possibility that you can block a field goal. This was always one of my gripes with prior NCAA versions, which absolutely neveer featured any blocked kicks or punts. Considering that there are a meaningful amount of blocked PAT's every season, it makes the game much more realistic. Plus, extra points were always such a waste of time. I always thought that since PAT's were so accurate, it would be just as well if they gave them automatically, a la NFL Blitz, rather than waste a minute of time lining up and kicking it.

    This was made possible by a new feature called "Third Person Viewpoint", which shifts the camera behind the defensive line when defending kicks, allowing you to fight through the line and dive at the kicker. I like the feature, but I have a big complaint about the name. When the camera switches behind the line and focuses on the player you're controlling, it should be called a "First Person Camera". Plus, you know, all cameras are "Third Person", unless you have the Being john Malkovich-esque headcam.

  • The Game Seems to be Very Long-Bomb Oriented: Maybe it's just because I was playing as Notre Dame, but there doesn't seem to be a correction on the oversimplicity in hucking the ball deep. I spent most of the evening firing up 50 yard bombs to Samardzija and watching him effortlessly snag them on the Impact Player camera (another very cool feature). I did also notice that slants and short routes are much more realistic and simpler than in previous versions.

All in all, a very excellent game. I haven't got to dig too deeply into the playbooks, which apparently has expanded a hundredfold. That's probably a project for tomorrow night. Also, I'm happy to report I followed up my humiliating loss to Georgia Tech with a 63-6 drubbing of Penn State (including a blocked extra point). If this year's game is even half as enjoyable as that hour of my life, we're all in for a treat.

Any other readers have commentary on your first day with 07? Feel free to drop a comment.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

It's Fucking On

Don't touch me, losers. I'm playing NCAA 07.

That's right, this guy is going out today to buy an XBox 360 and a copy of this game, becuase I'm a junkie and that's just how I roll. And, since no self-respecting college football fan can play a game with Reggie Bush on the cover, cruise by this Flickr photoset and pick your cover of choice to print out and apply to the front.

Saturday, July 15, 2006

Prepare Yourselves

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Bobby P Gets $25 Mill. We're Going to the Strip Clubs!

Louisville coach and James Cagney look-alike Bobby Petrino has locked himself up a ten-year extension worth a cool $25 million bones, or clams, or whatever you people call them. While blindly optimistic Cardinal fans might see this as securing the future of the coaching staff for the next ten years, the fairly-standard buyout of $500,000 will do little to dissuade the eager job-hunter from jumping ship in next year's round of coach searches. Take it from me, these things usually don't work out. When I was in third grade, I gave my girlfriend Krista a three-dollar ring I bought at Meijer and she promised we'd be together forever, and the very next week she was cannoodling with the runny-nosed kid on the monkey bars with the stupid bowl cut, the filthy whore.

Seriously, though, Krista, if you're reading this, give me a call. I've changed for you. We can make this work.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Ticket Lottery Day!

It's typically a joyous time for Notre Dame alumni when the results of the ticket lottery are released. It's a little bit like Christmas morning, as we eagerly rush to our computers to see how many tickets we got from the enormous check we wrote several months ago. But times they are a-changin', and now that Notre Dame games are the hottest ticket in the world, today is now a day full of frustration and humiliation. The House Rock Built got shut out of every game (including against service academies), so I will spend this season slumming it and trying to get into the stadium using my wits alone. It looks like Pat from BGS will be on the corner with two fingers up as well. Damn this University and its bitter hatred of bloggers!

Need one ticket, please. One ticket.

Monday, July 10, 2006

Gamesmanship 101

I know a lot of you aren't interested in the whiny, divy, Communist sport of non-American football, but I do feel obliged to say a few words about Italy's World Cup championship and what we can learn from it as college football fans. Now, I'm an Italy fan, as I speak the language and spent six months living in the Eternal City, but I think that anyone, like them or hate them, will acknowledge that the Azzurri have mastered the timeless art of gamesmanship.

Critics of Italy will complain that they are divers, cheap-shot artists, and dirty cheaters, and, by and large, they are pretty much correct. Another way of putting this, however, is that they are masters of the meta-game, the tireless battle of intimidation and mind games to wear down on your opponent's psyche during a long, grueling physical contest.

Another team that appreciates Head Games.
While most of the headlines you'll read about the World Cup final will revolve around France's Zinedine Zidane losing his mind and head-butting an Italian player in the chest, a further TiVo-ing of the incident in super-slow motion reveals an intriguing incident a few seconds before the head-butting. You can see in this picture that the soon-to-be victim has his arms wrapped around Zidane and is in the middle of giving him what soccer afficionados will immediately recognize as a Purple Nurple. Don't believe me? Watch the replay again. Materazzi wraps up Zidane and, just as an Italian teammate passes in front of the sideline camera, he tweaks and runs.

A craftily executed purple nurple. He sells it very well.

This comes on the heels of another hilarious incident in the semifinal match between Italy and Germany, where the cameras caught an Italian player jawing with a German behind the action of the play. The Italian put his arm around his competitor's shoulder in an apparent act of sportsmanship, but shortly thereafter the German dropped to the ground clutching his ear. The commentators remarked that perhaps the Italian had pulled his ear, but a careful re-watching of the incident revealed there was no pulling motion, just a strange twisting of the wrist. Now, anyone who has survived the third grade playground would instantly recognize this as a classic Wet Willy maneuver (for the uninitiated, it's when you lick your finger and twist it in somebody's ear canal, a cruel and shockingly efficient gross-out tactic).

This would be an automatic yellow card... if anyone saw it.
That's right, wet willies and purple nurples, and that's just what was caught on camera. It's anybody's guess how many noogies, wedgies, goosings, taint clamps, Indian burns, howdy-doodies, and koncho jabs were executed behind the scenes during Italy's historic title run. The fact of the matter is, Italy is willing to do anything and everything, no matter how gross or immature, to send a message and control the mental aspect of the game. It might not pay off immediately, but somewhere down the line you might rifle a shot high over the crossbar because somewhere in the back of your mind is the unshakable paranoia that you might, at any moment, for no reason and with no warning, lose a clump of leg hair into the fist of a smirking Italian midfielder.

So take a lesson from the dirty cheap-shot artists: play every game like it's the most important thing in the world. And, hey, football helmets have ear holes in them. A discreet Wet Willy at the bottom of the dogpile can turn into an enormous momentum-changing play down the line.

Thursday, July 06, 2006


Allright, readers, here's a quick lesson on how not to handle a depressing time in your football program's history. A Florida man pleaded guilty in federal court to an incident in 2004 where he called and harassed Tyrone Willingham, apparently while three sheets out of his gourd. On the whole, it's a pretty funny story, because hey, who among us hasn't thought about giving Willingham a piece of our minds in a drunken rage during his coaching tenure. By the grace of God we were ignorant of Tyrone's personal phone number in our darkest and drunkest hours.

However, the story takes a turn for the disgusting as it is revealed later in the article that there was a strong theme of racism in the caller's comments. Very, very, very uncool. As a result of taking a drunken prank too far, Mr. French will spend some time cooling his heels and working off a federal misdemeanor charge. Remember, flaming bag of dog poo = hysterical, flaming cross = despicable federal crime.

Just a sidebar, but the caller's name is Andy French, which happens to be the name of the hard-drinking protagonist from the cartoon Mission Hill. Anyone pick up that reference? No?

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Awesome Read on #18

Eric Hansen at the South Bend Tribune consistently turns out some great reporting on Notre Dame football, always getting beneath the surface and finding the interesting stories that help perpetuate our love affair with the university and the squad. His latest article, while surfacially a "puff piece" on senior safety Chinedum Ndukwe, is a fantastic read that sheds a lot of light on Ndukwe's family and his journey to Notre Dame. At the same time, it also details the enormous role he and his father played in assembling the outstanding '03 recruiting class (which we hope will be the crux of this year's title run) despite the brash incompetence of the coaching staff at the time. Rather than summarize the article, I'm going to link it again and wait patiently while you read the whole thing.

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

The Word of the Day is Gynecomastia

Over at USC's site on Rivals, we were treated to a sneak peek at spring workouts with a few candid shots of the team warming up. The most shocking of these snapshots was this freaky-deeky picture of blue-chip linebacker Brian Cushing, who seems to have let the old body go a little bit while recovering from a shoulder injury. While it's not terribly surprising when somebody slips a little bit in their health-consciousness and puts a few pounds on the waistline, it's pretty amazing how Cushing transformed from freak-of-nature superhuman physical specimen to a poster child for the fledgling man-bra industry.

Cushing's rapid muscle degradation and bizarre hormonal side-effects have caused many message-board types to make brash assumptions about his personal life, but I for one feel very strongly that there is no foundation for the character-defaming rumor that Cushing is pregnant. However, if he is, the House Rock Built is offering a $15 million reward for the first amateur paparazzo who can get an exclusive photograph of the genetically-gifted tot.