Thursday, September 11, 2014

September 29, 2007

That was the last time that Purdue beat Notre Dame. The world was a totally different place back then. I had a flip-phone. I'm pretty sure Taylor Swift wasn't a thing yet. We had a divided government, we were escalating our commitment to an unwinnable quagmire in Iraq, and everyone was angry because George R.R. Martin was taking for-goddamned-ever to finish his next novel. Wait...

At any rate, a popular Notre Dame internet discussion forum was asking everybody where they were for that... ignominious game... which prompted our own irishoutsider to finally sit down and put quill to parchment about the wicked fun trip we took to Florida that weekend in those heady, pre-puppets, pre-wives-and-babies mid-to-late-00's. It was glorious. With his permission I have cross-posted it here for the world to bask in.

My own account of the tale is here, but it's short and it sucks and you probably shouldn't even bother with it. I think I was still sweating out the poison at the time. 


Florida Has Its Own Tag, by irishoutsider

tl;dr Before the puppets, we had a ridiculous time in Florida

Amish and I gave {} fucks and headed south that weekend. In very short amount of time, we managed to grab student tickets to Florida-Auburn at The Swamp and also catch a Friday night opening act in Tampa: USF-West Virginia

I think all 4 teams were in the top 5? USF stormed the field and this iconic HouseRockBuilt photo was taken:

[fightinamish: Yeah, that's me and singlet guy]

After some late extracurricular activity in Tampa, we set out to Gainesville bright and early to catch the ND-Purdue Pam Ward special in whatever dive bar we could manage. The Copper Monkey let us watch on a broke ass TV/VCR combo that had hooked up in the corner, and we decided to make things interesting.

A shot of whiskey every time ND scores or makes a grievous error. This establishment was kind enough to serve their shots in the larger plastic containers used to hold chicken wing dipping sauces.

I believe we proceeded to open the game with 2 airmailed shotgun snaps, a few INT, and an ND INT for TD, affectionately known as Ze Pickenhouse.

We had a ways to go before we met up with a local Florida blogger, and the bartender was pretty cool about the entire endeavor. "Guys, it's early. I'm not going to cut you off, but I'm worried about you." In a compromise, we switched to Apple Pucker as to delay alcohol poisoning for at least a few more hours.

We eventually met up with Orson Swindle and proceeded to tailgate with him and his lawyer in an undisclosed location. The rest is a blur from here as I only remember what I think was Keystone Light and tackle football. Amish managed to pipe hit Swindle and proceed to celebrate with the Shawne Merriman Lights Out dance (fightinamish: this picture was taken like 25 seconds before said decleating. This was taken a few seconds after).

We settled into the Gator student section, fully prepared to call truce for the evening and do as the Romans do. Then, Urban came on the jumbotron, and we knew in our hearts that this was unpossible. We managed to keep a good face on things right until Auburn kicked the winning field goal, silencing the Hellmouth that was The Swamp after dark.

Before we headed back to Tampa that night, we met back up with the Swindles and proceeded to the closest Sonic for post-game toasters and cherry-lime ades at what I think was 1 am. The drive home was spent through the unlit everglades, making sure we weren't pulled over by alligators who had eaten Highway Patrol and put on their uniforms in order to capture and eat speeding motorists [editor's note: I drove. Irishoutsider was unconscious, snoring and drooling in the passenger seat the entire time].

Thursday, September 04, 2014

Blogjammin' with mgoblog PART THE FINAL.

And here we are... after 600 (ish) consecutive years of pre-game gabs, we have reached the ultimate mgoblog-House Rock Built blogjam. That's right, random mgoblog commentator Cosmic Blue, I was correctly using the term "penultimate" last year I AM RIGHT AND YOU ARE WRONG AND YOU THOUGHT I FORGOT SOME RANDOM INTERNET COMMENT FROM ONE YEAR AGO BUT YOU ARE WRONG THE HOUSE ROCK BUILT NEVER FORGETS. NO. THE HOUSE ROCK BUILT NEVER FORGETS.

Ahem, sorry. So here we stand, before the last ever football game in the history of ever between these proud schools. In the past, we have done our conversations in costumes — Victorian Era suits and overcoats, bell-bottomed leisure suites, powdered wigs, tapioca wrestling unitards, and luchador masks — but not this year. This being our last battle ever, we conducted it the only way we could. Naked. Greatswords in hand. On a top of a wall of ice 900 feet high. The fate of the realm in our hands.

Read on, if you dare. I'm in italics, other Brian @mgoblog is in blue.

fightinamish: Greetings, stranger.

mgoblog: Hello, Stouffer. Before we start and this is not my fault I have a wife who listens to mope all the time and probably doesn't even appreciate Morrissey ironically, but I am aware of this song by some Canadians that is basically this game.

So let's embed that sucker up and feel the icky breakup 100%.

See, I think it's more like the "Treaty of Versailles Bowl". In that, yeah our long mutually-ruinous conflict is ending, but, come on, we all know we'll be right back in 10 to 20 years.

Oh yeah this is totally going to last.

There are icky breakups like that. I'd say a solid 30% of personal interaction is a reenactment of Western European warfare from about 1400-2000. Less syphillis these days.
Outside of Columbus, yes. [EDITORS NOTE: Like, literally six hours after we had this chat ND announced a home-and home with Ohio State. That's like, gawd, I don't know, your girlfriend breaking up with you, then taking off with your mother on a cross-country bank robbing spree. Surely there's an emo song about that somewhere.]

See, we're laughing together. That's the healing starting.
We had this conversation last year and I was all like THIS IS THE DEATH OF FOOTBALL and you were like "eh, we'll schedule Texas or something." Still your wavelength?
Well. Maybe now that it's just a few days away the reality is setting in. I actually did get sad when I realized this was the last one for the foreseeable future. It's been a deeply unhealthy and abusive relationship, but it's been our life for so many years. That counts for something.

I mean, even when Sid and Nancy broke up it was sad. Cause he killed her.

Notre Dame and Michigan, in happier times.

What are we supposed to do without Notre Dame to give us the false impression that we might really have something this year before our season collapses into a miasma of wet farts and tackles for loss? (Will I learn if Michigan wins Saturday? ABSOLUTELY NOT WOO COFOPOFF HERE WE COME!)
Yeah, the Sid Vicious parallels are eerie. This rivalry has been all about one team waking up in a drugged-out stupor next to the corpse of the other, then going on a three-month heroin binge and ending up dead in a ditch.
Well, 2012 Notre Dame had quite a run there before Alabama got in all the humiliation Michigan experiences over the course of a season in one game*. *[Offer not valid for seasons in which Michigan plays Alabama.]
But yeah, 2012 wasn't really a Sid Vicious season since it took a while for everything to catch on fire. We stayed clean for a really long time, then had one fatally tragic nose-dive. I guess that was more of a Philip Seymour Hoffman season.

/fightinamish has been banned from the chat room for egregious violation of the TOO SOON policy
Let's stick to the jokes about the War of the Roses.

Slightly less depressing than heroin overdoses, emo, and Michigan football. Slightly.

This has gotten dark. I blame Canadian emo-rockers.
Anyway: it is going to feel weird as hell next year when Michigan's nonconference schedule is Arkansas and three games against BYU or something. I know that feeling because Michigan and Notre Dame have taken two-year breaks in the past and those years are disorienting. The Michigan-ND game is a landmark; without it I may take a wrong turn at Ohio and end up in France.

Which is a much better place than Ohio but sucks at football.
Don't sleep on Les Bleus. I think they're on your 2016 schedule.

Franck Ribéry: tall enough to play OL for Micihgan. Pretty enough to win the Miss Michigan pageant.

I think I may choose to sleep on the French Inverse Steamrollers.

But anyway, the GAME TO END ALL GAMES (until we decide to restart the series): how are we feeling? Going to have enough bodies to field a defense over there?
Yeah. Well. At the Rice game I decided to take a shot every defensive play I said "Thank God we didn't do that against Michigan." Long story short I died and had to be resurrected by some horrid black spell that will leave my family accursed for a hundred generations.
ND's 3205 offensive coordinator will be Al Borges MCMXLIII then. Settled.

Tremble before RoboBorges.

Ack. So there are things worse than death. But yeah, body-wise, everything seems to be at least in roughly working order. Just a lot of sloppiness. New scheme, new players, curious absence of 9,000 pound NFL linemen.

I'm sure we'll get it all perfectly straightened out five seconds after the end of this game.
The thing that surprises me is what's going on at linebacker. How is ND starting a guy who was a WR last year and a walk-on next to Jaylon Smith? What happened there and are these guys "no seriously this could work out" types or "I am a 6'1" OL" types, about whom we'll speak more of later no doubt.
Yeah, it's not optimal. It's always more comforting to have a 28th year senior anchoring the linebackers (don't publish this, but we grow Maurice Crums in a lab under the biology building. We're on Maurice Crum the 12th right now).

But you've got to roll with what you've got. A talented monster who's probably not yet in his prime and some spare parts. I actually thought the walk-on looked pretty comfortable out there, though. *DISCLOSURE: Brian Stouffer is not licensed to give football scouting advice and was blind drunk on Saturday.

So since we're diving in and confronting our darkest fears... um, what is your darkest fear? I would guess it's that your rushing game has a propensity to gain negative yardage on multiple axes, going backward and burrowing down into the earth. But, who am I kidding, you're always good for 900 yards against ND.
My darkest fear is that ND plays the innovative 1-5-5 and Sheldon Day ends up with 30 tackles and 10 sacks. I really have no idea what to expect from this offensive line; Appalachian State was just so so bad that you can't really take much from that performance and when they've gone up against Michigan's line in scrimmages they go about two yards and then stop. Which is a massive improvement, but still not real good.

But yeah. How is the rest of the line, anyway? I am unfamliar with these dudes.
Yeah it's funny how running a 3-4 with two first day draft picks makes you forget about your whole DL depth. But we have been taking good care of that position on the recruiting trail, so we're actually well-supplied with big angry upperclassmen. We're back to a 4-3 system and it looks like a much more natural fit for our talent.

Well, probably anything looks natural against Rice. But this looked... especially natural.
The ends are pretty young, aren't they?
Well... they're green. Unblooded. Last-minute depth chart engineering is not fun. Would not recommend.
/starts twitching about last year's OL
Yeah. So has that all been solved?
Well that does it then. We concede.

You got rid of those pesky NFL-caliber tackles. That should help.
I'm actually being told now that this is not so much true. The numbers are what they are: Michigan has no senior OL on the roster and only two upperclassmen, one of whom is a walk-on. They're starting a true freshman at left tackle. It does not look like a good look. In their defense, the chaos last year was not all their doing. And Michigan gets taht walk-on, Graham Glasgow back after a one game suspension. That's a big deal because he was their best interior OL last year. I expect he slots in at right guard, displacing that other walk-on, the 6'1" one.

I am rather glad that Nix and Tuitt are no longer around, I guess is what I'm saying. 

Well... at least Michigan's OL is well-armored.

Oof. Yow. That sounds rough. Is there a sliver lining on your offense there? Fifth year Devin Gardner is something to be happy about, yes? I believe a Michigan blogger I know once said he's Vince Young except he smells like jasmine.

Or has the affair cooled off? I sort of tuned out after the ND game last year when he ascended to heaven on a chariot pulled by a thousand white steeds.
For a lot of people, yeah. I'm still driving the chariot, as Gardner's 2013 has to be taken in its proper context: every other play he was picking linebacker out of his ribs as Michigan's pass protection utterly collapsed. He was clearly worn down by midseason and literally played the OSU game on a broken foot. If you put him on a team that protects him he has a lights out season. He does make too many DEVIN NO throws even considering that context, but all in all he's a huge asset. Especially early, when his ribs are still discrete objects instead of bloody bone-mash.
Yeah I felt the same way about Gardner. I always thought he was a capable QB who just had the misfortune of having his soul violently flayed off of him over the course of several months.
Speaking of deciphering QBs: Everett Golson was repeatedly pulled for Tommy Rees a couple years ago, missed a season, and then looked like a Predator version of Joe Montana against Rice. What kind of expectations are we having for him on Saturday?
I expect bloooooooooood.

Artist's rendition

We did predict that last year. I remember this. Blood for the blood god.
Brian. My man. You forget how much you're playing with one hand tied behind your back when you don't have a quarterback who can run, threaten to run, pretend to run, or gradually tip over in a forward direction.

It's a different sport with Gholson out there. The red zone is no longer a DEN OF ETERNAL NIGHTMARES, third and shorts are suddenly less mortifying, and yeah everything is happier and footballier.

Just the mere potential of a quarterback running a few yards is like playing offense with a whole extra player.
(Please don't ask me about Michigan's QB recruiting at this juncture.)
Does that mean we'll soon be seeing 7 foot tall quarterbacks with knees that don't bend in the maize and blue? Then all is right with the universe again.
There may be a gentleman of that description on the roster now. The current heir apparent is relatively athletic, at least.

But that has naught to do with THE GAME TO END ALL GAMES until we schedule some more. Let's talk Irish running game. Brian Kelly going to bother with it at all? He seems to hate it.

To see the answer to that question, and the thrilling conclusion, please head over to mgoblog. Topics discussed in part 2 include:

  • Butt
  • James Joyce's Ulysses, prevalence of butts within.
  • The upcoming Game of Thrones novel and it's butt-related content.
  • A joint game prediction wherein the universe might or might not end. Also there are butts. 
  • I think also maybe some football.


Wednesday, September 03, 2014

The House Rock Built is Drowning in Babyflesh

You may have heard of this thing called the "polar vortex". For the uninitiated, it's a large cyclone of frigid air that, if the jet stream diverts south, can settle down over large metropolitan areas, causing long weeks of subzero temperatures and, in many causes, WIDE-SCALE IDIOPATHIC PREGNANCY AMONG THE WIVES OF PROMINENT BLOGGERS. Nobody know why or how this happens, but a hedge wizard once told me that it has something to do with an ancient curse, and I'm apt to believe him.

Regardless of the cause, The House Rock Built is up to its ass in babies. Irishoutsider sired a mewling whelp a few months past, and your humble narrator is at DEFCON 1 readiness for the ejection of his second child any minute now. Needless to say, things are loud right now. And busy. And sleepy. And covered in poop. Good lord the poop. So puppets are...

Puppets are... not cancelled. No, not dead, not by a long shot. Just sidetracked. But not dead.

The editorial calendar has been tweaked. Weekly shows are sadly not possible, so instead we're going to make a Mid-Season Spectacular that will come out, um, Mid-Season and a Season Finale. To make up for the lack of a constant puppet fix, we will make these extra glorious.

We thank you for your anticipated coöperation. In the meantime, there might be the occasional smart-ass hot take on the Twitters at @stuffingthepass. Plus, I'm doing my annual Blogjam with Mgoblog, which should be up tomorrow.

Aside from that, Keep Calm and et cetera et cetera. Go Irish.