Sunday, April 30, 2006

One in, one out

Easy come, easy go. You lose one bruising tight end from New Jersey to the NFL draft, and the next day you snag another one. I think Irish fans should prepare themselves for a perpetual string of tough-as-nails Italian kids from Jersey lining up at tight end as long as Charlie Weis is running the show.

Wondering if he's good? Well, if you're into the stars thing, Scout has him as a four star, Rivals has him in the "Rivals 100", and, most importantly, check out the ridiculously awesome list of schools competing for his services.

Saturday, April 29, 2006

Fasano to Cowboys

Kudos to Anthony Fasano, who was just drafted in the second round by the Dallas Cowboys. Already having a year of Big Tuna-esque coaching under his belt, I tink the transition should be pretty smooth.

Thursday, April 27, 2006

Verbal Commit Look-Alikes

The blogsphere has been racking its collective brain for Jimmy Clausen look-alikes, and has come up with some pretty solid love parents. The Michigan contingency at mgoblog and M-Zone gave us Billy Idol, which is a pretty solid effort. Some commentators at EDSBS suggested a range from The Guidos to the Icy Hot Stuntaz. Also good efforts. But for me, whenever I see that spiky hair, I'm reminded of only one dead ringer:

Are You Ready for Some Football?

Just a little somethin' to get you pumped up about next season. That's Rhema McKnight, who looks like he's back up to 100%. The picture is from SI on Campus, HT to chizzzle from NDNation for scanning and uploading it. Had to shrink it a bit to fit the site, you can click for full-size.

Blue Gold Photo Gallery

Just some snaps we took at the game. We won't get too heavy on analysis, since the competition wasn't terribly fierce and you can drive yourself crazy reading too much into a scrimmage. Click the pictures for full-size.

Quarterbacks: Brady was Brady. He looked confident slinging the ball around, hit his targets on a few long balls, and kept drives going with underneath routes to the tailback, presumably testing the side-to-side capabilities of a relatively green set of linebackers on the Gold defense. He's good, don't worry. Evan Sharpley looked very solid on the second team, hitting his routes with precision and showing some great pocket presence, occasionally tucking the ball and running. For the first time in several years, I feel like we have some quality talent at backup should the unmentionably horrible happen to Quinn.

O-Line: A very visual example of Willingham's failure in recruiting was the fact that we couldn't field two teams of O-lineman for the scrimmate. Instead, the linemen played both ways, wearing green jerseys and further confusing the colorful smorgasbord of jerseys out on the field. With John Sullivan still on the mend, the lines rotated around to fill the vacant spots, and, disappointingly, nobody stepped up and made a clear case for owning the job. Several times there was big pressure from the right side of the field, which I secretly hope is more indicative of the power and speed increases for the talent on the D-line. The right tackle spot is still up for grabs, and it will be interesting to see if Sam Young can make a late campaign for it when he steps foot on campus in the fall. More likely is that Duncan or Turkovich will develop into the role. Hopefully Quinn's ability to step up in the pocket and evade pressure, coupled with sure-handed receiving, can alleviate some of the pressure on the inexperienced right side.

Tailbacks, Receivers, Tight Ends: Darius Walker had a so-so outing, but the makeshift O-line wasn't helping him out with solid schematic blocking. Travis Thomas wowed the crowd with an 85-yard scamper and showed a surprising second gear as he blazed passed our supposedly-speedy secondary en route to the end zone. Early entry freshman George West ran with the first team, and looked like a valuable asset for a corps that is looking to replace the small, shifty Matt Shelton. Rhema McKnight is back at full-speed, and I'm excited to see him have the big year that a knee injury deprived him of last season. Samardzija was his usual self, using his size and quickness to get behind the defense and haul in a superb fade for a touchdown, a play I presume we will be seeing plenty of in the fall. The tight-ends made their catches and showed good use of their large frames by getting open in the short zones, although I didn't see the gamebreaking potential that Fasano consistently displayed. James Aldridge was banged up and didn't see any playing time, so we'll just have to wait patiently to see what he can contribute.

D-Line: The die-hard optimist in me is predicting a breakthrough season for this group. Going four across with highly-touted and talented linemen, there seems to be no reason why this can't develop into a dominant force. The ends looked quick and powerful, tracking down running backs and making some big plays, while the middle was anchored very well. There was a lot of pressure on the QB's, but that was also caused by a fairly inexperienced O-line that played 60 minutes. I liked what I saw, and hopefully this will be an impressive unit come fall.

Linebackers: A lot of personell was shuffled around throughout the game in an effort to see who will step up to take the open jobs. It looks like the idea is speed, speed, speed, as the real standouts were the rangy athletes rather than hard-hitting brutes. While we'll have a new-look crop of LB's next season, it's still up for debate whether this will result in an improvement. At this point, a lot of the burden is on Rick Minter's shoulders to put together a defense that can utilize the talents available while limiting our susceptability to our weaknesses.

Secondary: Another unit with some speed and talent that looked a bit disoriented. The first team held their coverage adequately, but my biggest disappointment was the inability for any of our so-called speed demons to run down Travis Thomas on his long touchdown rumble, even though it looks like several of them had a good angle to make the play. Again, Minter's got his work cut out for him, turning some patchwork talent into a strong unit that can overcome the physical deficiencies they will be facing during the season.

Well, there y'go. Just some quick surface observations from a fan in the stands.

Orvis P. Sexton's Gonzo Journaism: Tailgating

Orvis P. Sexton is the House Rock Built's resident gonzo reporter. We set him loose in the parking lot of the Blue-Gold game tailgater with a cameraphone and a beer in each hand in hopes of getting some unique insight into the grand spectacle of tailgating. Instead, we got this report. -Ed.

The Spring Game is typically a rather subuded affair, mostly punctuated by students slugging down boxed wine in a parking lot while being assaulted by sheets of freezing-cold rain. Anyone who has lived in the midwest, particularly in the frigid lake-effect climate zone surrounding South Bend, understands that the term "spring", when used in April, is a highly relative and mostly ironic appellation. Couple the touch-and-go weather with a decade's worth of wilted expectations, and the entire weekend goes fairly robotically. The souls brave enough to trek out to northwest Indiana dispassionately dispose of cases of alcohol and wander into the stadium around the third quarter, hoping against hope that the team had grown several inches and shaved a second off their 40 times during the winter months.

The feeling in the parking lot was something altogether different. For one, an unprecedented crowd had arrived, 41,000 strong in attendance at the game. Additionally, there was the afterglow of Jimmy Clausen's unexpected press conference, which ignited a giddy sense of optimism in the ND faithful.

Judging by the preparation of the tailgating area, it seems like Notre Dame's administration was also taken by surprise. The great disparity of outdoor toilets to the number of fans that arrived indicated that they were expecting a crowd more comparable to the Willingham years. As a result, each trip to recycle beer became a heart-stopping experience, as long lines of fans a dozen deep hopped anxiously on their toes, pitting their intestinal fortitude against the torturously slow-moving clock.

"Two shitters in the whole fucking parking lot, and they put both of them right behind our tailgate," a cheerful yet irked fan remarks. Despite his unfortunate circumstance of having the entire parking lot's hub for micturition unceremoniously dumped in his lap, he is affable and hospitable to the large crowd of uninvited company anxiously crossing their legs and waiting their turn for sweet release.

Lacking the relevant facts and figures to back it up, I will not go so far as to say that Notre Dame is most prevalent theme nationwide for personalized license plates, but a quick survey of the parking lot indicates a strong anecdotal argument for this claim. This is also evidenced by the fact that many of the plates say "IRISH", followed by an incomprehensible string of numbers. One gentleman from Illinois proudly proclaimed himself to be the 127th person to affix the phrase "Irish" onto his car - "IRISH126". Texas, Illinois, Pennsylvania, and California plates all abound with seven-letter declarations of allegiance. Those too lazy or cheap to battle the local DMV for the coveted "Irish plus next integer" plate showed their support with officially-licensed plate holders, adhesive chrome monograms, and, for the truly cheap, stickers.

A recent addition to the festivities (or perhaps one I had been too drunk in previous years to notice) was a large "family section": an enclosed area where youngsters could run around in a safe, alcohol-free environment. In the spirit of journalism, I emptied the freshly-opened beer in my hand (into my stomach, of course) and chucked it gingerly into one of the elusive, difficult-to-find Willingham-era trash recepticles.

The biggest attraction was the Chick-fil-a cows, who graciously posed for a photograph with some adoring fans. The supply of free sandwiches had long since been exhausted to the ravenous early-birds who had the gastronomic voracity required to consume fried chicken patties coated in layers of carmelized sugar at sunrise.

Suffice to say, there was an abundance of high-energy, perpetually underfoot youths tossing miniaturized footballs about, basking in the unseasonably polite weather and participating in the lifelong indoctrination process of perpetual fanhood for which their parents should be heartily commended. The occasional spilled beer from adults attempting heroic diving grabs on errantly tumbling overthrows is a small price to pay for the saccharine sound of children's laughter that enriched the tapestry of sights, smells, and sounds of the college football tailgating experience. As the shakes from several alcohol-free minutes began to overtake me, I decided to make an exit from the family area and move my patrol into the heart of the pregame festivities.

A freakishly miniaturized Brady Quinn and Jeff Samardzija draw up some plays in the dirt.

After replenishing my vacant hands with fresh brew dogs, I was magnetically drawn to a particulary rowdy tailgate under a proudly-displayed Polish flag. Just underneath the bicolor was a flag with the number 83 on it, leading me to suspect this might be the family of acclaimed receiver Jeff Samardzija. My suspicions were all but confirmed when I found a rowdy pack of children playing a touch football game, every last one of them wearing an 83 jersey. I cautiously introduced myself to what turned out to be Samardzija's uncle, who graciously supplied me with a beer and pointed out Jeff's parents, who where were engaged in an animated conversation with some friends. Also on hand were members of the Zbikowski family, a monumental marriage of two eastern-bloc clans whose last names totalled a mind-blowing 19 letters, 12 of which are consonants.

I hastily retreated Little Warsaw and returned to my own tailgate, where we made quick work of a trunkfull of iced beers under the shimmering lapis lazuli of a beautiful midwestern afternoon. The soothing sounds of Journey's greatest hits reverberated in through the parking lot, blasting from a makeshift stereo rig somehow attached to a late-model jeep, a MacGyverian feat of engineering deftly pulled off by a group of guys too drunk to tie their own shoes at the moment.

Suddenly, and quite unceremoniously, the parking lot deflates as the stadium fills up for the opening kickoff. We bid adieu to our concrete paradise and prepare ourselves for our next several hours in a world that prohibits alcohol, has adequate toilets, and is completely devoid of Journey's greatest hits. We are frightened, but we soldier on.

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Hockey Mustache Wednesday?

Not to get too out of hand with hockey coverage, but I feel like the NHL is serving as a shimmering beacon for mustachephiles like myself. Might I propose for EDSBS' Mustache Wednesday the twin towers of Philadelphia Flyers Coach Ken Hitchcock (sporting the "Captain Kangaroo") and Buffalo Sabres Coach Lindy Ruff (sporting the "Socrates"), who are currently competing in the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals. If you appreciate mustaches, and have a sattelite that gets TSN, be sure to glue yourself to the set tonight at 7 PM.

Two mustaches enter the Octagon, one leaves.

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Fan of the Year

Okay, so it's not college football, but any example of extreme fandom I come across is worthy of a little space on this blog.

So I'm watching the New Jersey Devils - New York Rangers NHL playoff game and see the scrappy John Madden (yes, that's actually his name) pot his third goal of the evening, an achievement commonly referred to as a "Hat Trick" by our friends north of the border. As per hockey fans' heathen custom, a shower of hats littered the ice to commemorate the event. Amidst this sea of ratty baseball caps, a strange fuzzy creature was observed resting on the ice. Further scrutiny revealed that it was a man's toupee that he had ceremoniously chucked onto the ice in honor of the great achievement.

A bit later, the broadcast cut to the stands, where the owner was reunited with his furry friend. I haven't been able to find any articles about this online or any pictures from the broadcast, so, alas, this superhero of fan mania remains anonymous. If anyone comes across anything online about this guy, please let me know so I can give credit where credit is due.

Throwing your toupee on the ice after a hat trick = House Rock Built's Fan of the Year Award.

Abandon Perspective, All Ye Who Enter

Disclaimer: this is not an objective article. This is the ramblings of an obsessed, lifelong fan who drove to Indiana in the early morning to see a high school kid's press conference. It's an "emotapost", if you will. Apply liberal amounts of grains of salt to the reading and reaction to this article. -Ed.

When crazy rumors start flying around about a "major high school prospect making some type of announcement" at the College Football Hall of Fame a few hours before the Blue-Gold game, you spring to attention, particularly when the uber-recruit and ultra-hyped phenom child prodigy Jimmy Clausen is on campus. Suffice to say, the morning's plans changed drastically with this new knowledge. Rather than roll out of bed and make the trek from Chicago to South Bend a few hours before the game, we now had to leave under the cover of darkness to arrive bright-eyed and bushy-tailed at 8:30 AM (after losing an hour in time change) to witness something potentially monumental.

The crew cheerfully obliged, and in the lazy wee hours of the morning, we embarked on the Hall of Fame, lukewarm cups of McDonalds coffee in hand. Outside of the HOF, a makeshift podium had been set up, although the lack of any media led us to believe perhaps it was a decoy.

Using our sharpened amateur sleuthing skills, we overheard from some pen-and-notepad media types that the press conference was setting up in the upper press room inside. In the pressroom, a few dozen fans and media-types shuffled around anxiously, and I happened upon Jay from BGS, who had also been dispatched in the spirit of amateur journalism, coupled with the morbid curiosity and rabid fandom that also dragged us out of bed at the crack of dawn. As 8:30 came and went, an uneasiness settled over the crowd. A youngster of nine or ten, overcome by boredom and fatigue from the early-morning rousing, buried himself in his green #3 jersey to catch some quick Z's. It was a heartwarming image of the imprinting phase of the lifelong commitment to fanhood. Today's events would undoubtedly be an indelliable memory in the lad's Notre Dame fanhood, and a little lost sleep seemed like a small price to pay.

As 9 AM creeped closer, anxiety increased among the crowd. What was the cause of the delay? Some of the more entertaining hypotheses that were whispered included:
  • Pete Carroll flew in for a last-minute recruiting visit... they're in a van in the parking lot hashing out Jimmy's future at USC.
  • There's a malfunction in the harness that will lower Jimmy Clausen from the ceiling for his dramatic entrance, complete with a laser show, a churning fog machine, and a howling rendition of The Who's "Baba O'Reilly".
  • Clausen got his first glimpse of downtown South Bend and immediately flew home for a surfing and sunbathing expedition.
Things got even more touch-and-go when the audio mixer shorted out, leaving the microphone on the podium a mute and useless decoration. After, we presume, a team of frenzied staffers from the HOF raced to the nearest Guitar Center and fixed the rig, the PA system roared to life to the dulcet sounds of a roadie's "Check One, Check Two". The crowd, which had swollen to a near-capacity standing room only during the delay, erupted into jubilant applause. Shortly thereafter, Clausen and his entourage gingerly entered the room, to thundrous applause.

Clausen gave a brief introduction, then announced his intention to play for the University of Notre Dame. Many people captured video of his speech, which you can find here (courtesy of Michael S., via Blue-Gray Sky), or here (Mike Frank's footage from Irish Eyes). We took our own footage of Clausen, but the audio is a bit substandard and the camerawork is a little shaky (hey, I hadn't had any alcohol yet that morning, you know how it goes). Some of the highlights worth mentioning are:
  • Question: Jimmy, how would you describe Coach Weis in one word?
    Clausen: (after a short beat) Honest.
  • Clausen remarking that Notre Dame wasn't on his radar until the hiring of Weis. While I'm sure we're all in agreement about Willingham's tenure and his shortcomings as a head coach, but it's still an important reminder that during some of the previous coaching regimes, Notre Dame was somehow unable to attract the attention of blue-chip recruits.
  • Something about winning a bunch of National Championships, followed by hootin' and hollerin' from the crowd.
  • Question: Have you informed any of the other coaches recruiting you about your decision?
    Clausen: No, not yet. I plan to give them a call here soon and let them know.
    Random Voice From Crowd: Do it now! Use my phone!

Jimmy likes you. Jimmy likes you a lot.

Also on hand was the entire Clausen clan, along with Clausen's teammate Marc Tyler, a prized running back recruit also being pursued by Notre Dame. A few times, Clausen mentioned Tyler, and the crowd jokingly tried to goad Tyler into going up on stage and announcing his commitment as well. Big brothers Rick and Casey, both former Tennessee quarterbacks, seemed proud and supportive.

Clausen wrapped up his speech and made his exit, immediately swarmed by adoring autograph- and photo op-seekers, including, admittedly, myself. He graciously signed some autographs, including one for the sleepy youngster in the photograph, on a piece of paper from my notebook I had supplied his embarrassed and unprepared father with.

Okay, so I know I'm a grown man talking about a high school junior, and we can go on and on about perspective, unrealistic expectations, the sickening overproduction that goes into recruitment, and Ron Powlus' two Heismans, but we're all thoroughly aware of all those things. More important than any of that was the indication of Notre Dame's status. For nearly a decade, Notre Dame has floundered under mediocre coaches who saw it more fit to make excuses and lower expectations, while all the while we, as fans, knew what the program was capable of. As Jay noted, even mediocre coaches have been able to have a few great seasons by virtue of being at Notre Dame. And now, with a compotent coach that personally attracts top-flight talent, the college football world should be put on alert.

Jimmy Clausen takes a photo-op with The House Rock Built's official photographer and sideline reporter.

Monday, April 24, 2006

Highlight Reel

While a full wrap-up of football commentary and analysis from the Blue-Gold game is still being finalized, here's a little sneak peek at the biggest highlight from the game. Shortly after ripping off a dazzling 83-yard touchdown run, Travis Thomas and the lads from the Gold team did a nifty little performance piece in the end zone which thrilled the crowd and earned them a 15 yard Excessive Celebration penalty. Hey, if you're going to get tagged for E.C., you might as well go all the way. Something tells me the Golic brothers had a hand in the elaborate choreography.

Sunday, April 23, 2006

Dink & Dunk: Blue and Gold Trip

Dink and Dunk's report from the Blue-Gold game is the first to meet editorial muster, and it looks like the fellas had them a good old time.

(click thumbnail for comic)

A lot of you probably recognize the "You're With Me, Leather" reference in the center panel, but in case you don't, you can get a good refresher on Deadspin. Essentially, it's a classic pickup line employed by a certain Chris Berman. Once that phrase has creeped into your daily vernacular, it's nearly impossible not to say it when you're arm-in-arm with a man in a giant cow costume. Go ahead and try it.

Blue-Gold Game Coverage On Tap

Just to update everybody, The House Rock Built sent the entire journalistic staff out to the Blue-Gold game and Jimmy Clausen press conference. Right now, I'm wading through a huge pile of columns, quips, pictures, videos, retrospectives, cartoons, and, or course, a large stack of seriously shady expense reports (I'm looking at you, Irish Outsider. Trying to pass off your $300 "massage" as a sanctioned House Rock Built business expense. For shame.)

"$24.99 for Taboo board game.
Threw away the cards and used the buzzer to play a
drinking game at The House Rock Built's official tailgate.
Receipt enclosed."


Anyway, suffice to say, there's a lot of material coming down the pike, and I'm trying to whip everything into Internet-friendly shape for publication as quickly as possible. Hopefully, the coverage will be nothing short of infuriatingly exhaustive, which is our motto at the HRB.

Also, as a N.B., a reader from Hudson, Massachusets clicked over to the site this afternoon from Blue-Gray Sky and registered the 100,000th hit in the House Rock Built's brief history. While 100,000 views equates to one bad day over at, say, Pink is the New Blog, it's still something I'm, y'know, a bit proud of. Good for me. High fives all around.

Friday, April 21, 2006

Who Wants Some Kielbasa?

We've got some hot steamin' sausage from the internet, as the rumor mills are churning out spiced stuffed pig-anuses (or is it ani?) at maximum capacity. Turns out a trusted source heard the mayor South Bend talking about overhearing someone whose cousin saw the Super Human Gentleman Warrior Prince Jimmy Clausen at 31 Flavors last night, who mentioned something about a possible meaningful announcement that might or might not occur at a press conference tomorrow at 8:30 AM.

Speculation is running rampant, reaching a full head of steam after a long winter of whispers and rumors surrounding a possible announcement at the Blue-Gold game. We're not going to get worked up about anything, but festering curiosity has ensured we'll be in the area around the time of the alleged hullaballoo, just in case. The House Rock Built will make an effort to stay on the cutting edge of this wild-assed rumor.

Update: Looks like the rumor ain't a rumor no more. Slainte! We're packing up the Road Queen for the trip to South Bend, but more updates will follow as things develop.

Shirt Safari: Notre Dame Edition

Well, the 06 The Shirt is out, and the preliminary results are pretty positive. Have a gander:

I've got to say, I'm hard-pressed to come up with anything snarky about it. It's a cool, understated design, and "Tradition" is a theme I'll hitch my wagon to any day. Of course, the curse of The Shirt still lives on. If you'll note, there is a picture of former Notre Dame coach Knute Rockne on the back, who some of you might remember died in a plane crash. Damn ye Gods of Officially-Licensed Merchandise!

You'll also notice former Irish coach Lou Holtz on the back, who has faced some very hard times recently by being forced to work side-by-side with Mark May and his anatomically-curious facial hair. Our thoughts and prayers go out to Lou.

Anyone up for a mustache ride?

Let's hope Charlie can avoid the bugaboo and make it through the season plane-crash and asswipe-broadcaster-free. This is the day, and you are the team.

Thursday, April 20, 2006

Official Shirt Safari: Purdue Edition

In light of a newfound interest in official shirts for the season, the House Rock Built will be taking you on a journey of all the shirts across the college football world in an effort to kill some time and maybe get a chuckle or two at the expense of the marketing supergeniuses in the front offices of athletic departments throughout the NCAA.

First up on the chopping block is Purdue University, who apparently commissioned Lawrence "Mr. T" Tureaud for the design of their official shirt, entitled "Here Comes the Pain Train, ya jibba-jabberin' fool!"

My prediction for Purdue's 06 season? Pain.

  • Handy schedule on the back, useful for playing one of my favorite drinking games, "Drink When You See a MACC or Div 1-AA Powerhouse!". Does Larry Bird still have any eligibility at ISU?

  • The shirt references the "Herculean Wearers of the Black and Gold". Now, while Hercules was a pretty solid dude (just ask Mama Klump from the Nutty Professor), anyone whose understanding of the character of Hercules goes beyond Disney and Kevin Sorbo (i.e., people who aren't engineers) understands Hercules became more of a tragic character near the end of his tenure. Hercules met his grisly demise after being poisoned by his wife for sleeping around, ultimately forcing him to set himself ablaze to end his misery. While less inspiring, one can hardly say this isn't a more accurate prediction of the 2006 campaign in West Lafayette.

A good concept shirt, although the concept seems to be squashed by cheeziness and dubious and unresearched literary references. I'll give it a C overall, for chamois, since the most likely fate of this ill-conceived garment will be a waxing apparatus for someone's 94 Camaro in West Lafayette.

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

The Curse of The Shirt

While doing research for my previous post, I stumbled across something very ominous. Fighting Irish fans, beware, for there is a curse upon our very team. More specifically, there is a devious and all-powerful hex on The Shirt, and those who run afoul of it will pay the dearest cost. Check out the design of the 2005 pissrag The Shirt:

The two players standing up in the middle of the circle bear the numbers 16 and 75. Quick, no cheating, which Irish players wore those numbers in the 2005 campaign? You should know this, but just to bring everyone up to speed, #16 was now-graduated Irish tailback Rashaan Powers-Neal, and #75 was returning Defensive End Chris Frome. Two outstanding athletes for the program, and two guys who befell horrible fates in the 2005 season.

Powers-Neal was arrested for DUI early in the season and, as punishment, was kicked off the team permanently. And Chris Frome? Many will remember him writhing in agony on the turf during the USC game, where a serious knee injury shelved him for the remainder of the season.

The Shirt is cursed. Here's hoping that Student Activities has better sense than to put a #10 on the back.

Yarrrr, 'tis cursed. Pity on the soul whose visage e'er appears on her shanty stern.

Buy Me a T-Shirt

The reason there's so much excitement and electricity in the air? Simple, moron, it's the most hotly-anticipated day of the Notre Dame football season! This Friday comes the annual unveiling of "The Shirt", which is a harbinger of the fortunes that lie ahead for the football team. Everyone knows the key to a good season is a well-conceived official t-shirt, and if the '06 model is anything like the 2005 pissrag, it will be an ominous sign. Charlie beat the bad shirt mojo demons once, let's not tempt fate. Here's a proven winner that will get the masses fired up and set the proper tone for the season:

2006 theme? Leprechauns Back 2 Tha Hood.

Blue Gold Time!

Posting has been light (or nonexistant, if you will) as the editorial staff has been bogged down with preparation efforts for the Blue-Gold Game presented by Chick-fil-a. Between epoxying the leaky "black water" tank on the RV, training for the annual Chick-fil-a-sandwich-eating competition against Irish legends (Mike Golic appears to be the Ivan Drago-esque prohibitive favorite), and pulling all-nighters with Laura Quinn sewing together my half-blue, half-gold jerseys, there's hardly any time for anything else.

Where delicious sugar-infused chicken patties go to die.

At any rate, we're sparing no expense in making sure this outing is worthwhile, as it will be everyone's last taste of college football for a long time. You can expect a lengthy analysis shortly after the game, once the hangover and acrid taste of Linebacker Lounge Long Island Iced Teas subside. In the meantime, here's some stuff to get the juices flowing. First, a list of junior prospects who will be in attendance, courtesy of the Domer Domain message boards. While summer evaluation has not been completed yet and we don't have a handy-dandy comfort blanket of "star rankings" to accompany these recruits, rest assured that this is a very impressive group of youngsters who are making the trip to South Bend just like the rest of us, at their own expense. Personally, I'm most excited about the presence of Nic Pozderac, who has the ultimate trifecta for a perfect Notre Dame recruit:
  • A blue-chip pedigree
  • An incomprehensible Polish last name
  • And freaking wicked facial hair:

Fear the mustachioed athlete.

Also, for you junkies, here's a breakdown of the rules and roster, courtesy of the official ND site. Catch you savages in the Bend!

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

The Cold Hard Facts

As a follow-up to the last post about the SEC's hyper-regionalism, here's a little bit of research I did over at CFB Data Warehouse to further illustrate my point. I took the twelve member teams of the SEC and flipped backwards through their schedules, not stopping until I found three road games that they have played that were outside of the states with SEC schools in them (AL, AR, FL, TN, KY, SC, GA, MS, LA, specifically). The table below shows how many games each team played in their home state in the duration it took them to accumulate three out-of-region road games.

Just to clarify, I did not count games in North Carolina since, for the purposes of this analogy, it does not qualify as an out-of-region game. Also, forget about counting games in Hawaii. I will not reward a team for taking an all-expense paid vacation to a tropical island. Bowl Games, too, do not factor in, as these aren't scheduled contests. Finally, games in Texas did not count. For one, Arkansas previously played in the now-defunct SWC, and most of the members were Texas schools. Since Texas is an adjoining state and therefore hardly an out-of-region team, plus out of fairness to teams with traditional rivalries in Texas, the state was not counted. Don't bother complaining about my rules, I made them, and that's how it's gonna be.

# of Home-State Games
Road Opponent (Year) (Result)
The (relatively speaking) Ramblers

Arizona State ('05) (W)
Arizona ('03) (W)
Virginia Tech ('02) (L)

Indiana ('05) (L)
Indiana ('03) (W)
Indiana ('01) (L)

Mississippi State
Oregon ('02) (L)
BYU ('00) (W)
Oklahoma State ('98) (L)

Navy ('01) (L)
Middle Tennessee State (at Valparaiso, IN) ('01) (L)
Northern Illinois ('97) (W)

Notre Dame ('05) (L)
Notre Dame ('01) (W)
Syracuse ('98) (W)

USC ('02) (L)
Syracuse ('01) (L)
Virginia ('97) (W)
The Isolationists

South Carolina
Virginia ('02) (L)
West Virginia ('91) (L)
Virginia Tech ('90) (W)

Oklahoma ('02) (L)
UCLA ('00) (L)
Penn State ('89) (W)

Syracuse ('91) (L)
Rutgers ('86) (W)
USC ('83) (T)
The Unbelievable Xenophobes

USC ('05) (L)
Oklahoma State ('78) (W)
Oklahoma State ('75) (L)

Ole Miss
Wyoming ('04) (L)
Notre Dame ('85) (L)
Missouri ('73) (L)

Virginia Military Institute ('66) (W)
Michigan ('65) (W)
USC ('60) (L)

Observations & Snark
  • First and foremost, please forgive any slight inaccuracies. It was late when I put this together and it was really, really late when I finished. If I missed something or made an error, politely inform me in the comments and I'll update the table (and I might clear out your comment, for the sake of clarity).
  • The last time Florida played outside of the South was when they had a fresh-faced young go-getter named Steven Orr Spurrier who was coaching in his second season at Florida. I'll give the Gators the benefit of the doubt, since they have two very competitive in-state rivals in Miami and Florida State that they have filled out their schedules with, unlike some of the other cannon fodder that's trotted out by other schools (in all conferences, really). But still, the hyper-regionalism point still stands. The Gators have played 113 games in the state of Florida since the last time they stepped out. Let's expand those horizons, fellas.
  • 1966. That's the last time Georgia wandered out of SEC territory to play some football, where they briefly wandered up to Virginia to pound the everloving snot out of the Keydets of VMI. Think about all that's happened since 1966. The moon landing, the Watergate scandal, and the rise and fall of Bananarama. Simply stunning.
  • I would love to see more SEC teams on Notre Dame's schedule. There will be some great matchups, and it will give the SEC a chance to even out the record, which is a pretty lopsided 21-12 (.656) in Notre Dame's favor right now.

There's nothing wrong with regionalism. In fact, the fierce competitiveness in the fishbowl that is the SEC is part of what makes it such a great and passionate conference. At the same time, college football is an increasingly national game, and in the best interest of the fans and the sport in general, there needs to be an increase in intersectional games. Think you're the best? Prove it out on the field.

Seacrest Out.