College Football

The Weekend From Hell

When the rapture comes, I hope it takes Ann Arbor, Michigan first. In fact, I hope it only takes Ann Arbor in a fury of fire and brimstone. The screams of the assholes that live there will echo throughout the world as they get sucked into eternal damnation, while everyone else sits comfortably at home sipping hot coco or something of the nature. Sound a bit harsh? Not to me, it sounds like they got off easy. 4d144f3ab216dd5e9f2c0eb621800c12

In my four years attending the University of Notre Dame I only took one road trip to an away football game. In the fall of 2009, my Junior year, to see our then 2oth ranked Fighting Irish take on the unranked Wolverines of the University of Michigan. For the first time in three years there was a sliver of optimism surrounding the football team as the highly regarded Jimmy Clausen had a ton of weapons surrounding him and “Strategic Genius” Charlie Weis was ready to guide the high powered offense to glory.

When my buddies mentioned the idea of driving up to attend the game I was immediately on board. Michigan has always been my least favorite college football team. Growing up in the heart of Big Ten country I had a lot of unpleasant run-ins with Michigan fans. Since both my parents also attended Notre Dame, I’ve been a fan since before I was born. As soon as they heard that they immediately judged me in a negative light. “You damn Domer. Is Jesus going to come down and play quarterback this year. You suck”

There were a few harsher words thrown in that I would not understand for a few more years, but the main one was always ‘Domer.’ This word always pissed me off because I hate Domers. They’re arrogant douches who spend their free time refreshing the Irish Eyes blog to get updates on this week’s defensive schemes. They think Knute Rockne is a deity sent to Earth to invent football. Worst of all they think that everyone else is beneath Our Mother’s University and that the only reason it is been 25 years since the Irish won a National Championship is that they cheat, which Notre Dame is so above. I am not a Domer, I am a fan, supporter, and alumnus of Notre Dame and much like a famous Chris Rock stand-up bit I see a clear distinction between the two.

Apparently they love their food.

Apparently they love their food.

But did Michigan people ever bother to find this out about me? No, because their arrogance dwarfs even the large egos of Domers. Always talking about being a Michigan Man. “There is no greater compliment than being called a Michigan Man.” What the hell does that even mean? Being a Michigan Man? Why is this some big accomplishment? Does Michigan have some special citizenship test that is really hard to pass? Are males from Michigan State also Michigan Men? Technically, yes, they are men from Michigan. And what about Michigan Women? Do you not have those? Or are they an off brand, inferior group that is not worth mentioning. Please, enlighten me.

As we hit the road Friday afternoon, I was bristling with excitement. I couldn’t wait to kick their ass. It was going to be so fun to make a stadium with over 100,000 Michigan fans go absolutely silent. We arrived in Ann Arbor around 3:30 and went right to my buddy’s cousin’s frat house, where we were spending the weekend. Perhaps I should’ve been more worried about staying at a Michigan frat house, but never having been to a college road game I was not aware of any potential danger. “What’s the worst that could happen? A little good natured ribbing. A ‘fuck you,’ ‘fuck you too,’ perhaps?”

As we walked into the house I overheard one of the frat bros say, “We’ve got some Notre Dame pussies again. They can’t drink for shit.” Now, I fully admit that my actions that followed were completely immature and dangerous, but to 20-year old college Junior me this was like calling Marty McFly chicken. It could not go unanswered. I became determined to show them just what a powerhouse drinker I was. 40s at 4? Better add another four at the beginning, Daddy’s thirsty. Want to shotgun a beer? Why just one? A beer bong too? No problem. Time to chill and scarf down some pizza, you know what goes great with that? Bourbon, neat, straight from the bottle. Alright, lets play some drinking games, beer pong. You know what this bourbon taste so good I’m going to have some more on the side.

By the time we arrived at another fraternity for a party I had consumed a weekends worth of alcohol in four hours. I couldn’t tell you what happened at that party because while my body was there my mind completely checked out. Black Out City. The next thing I remember was waking up on the couch in the frat house we were staying at covered in my own vomit. My vision was hazy, but I remember people standing over me, quite literally getting the last laugh.MjAxMy01NTU4NWQ2Yzk5MTEyNDQ4

I soon passed back out and did not awake again till the morning with a splitting headache. As I slowly came back to life I began to realize that my back felt really sticky and then noticed the remains of the vomit on my shorts. I went into the bathroom to discover so much sharpie marks on me that for a second I thought I became black in some weird body switching curse. But it was just a series of dicks, ‘fuckfaces,’ ‘faggots,’ and ‘pussies’ drawn all over my body. My buddies woke up and found me staring in the bathroom mirror. They had a good laugh, as they should’ve. I asked if there was vomit on my back because it felt so sticky. They told me there was not, but one of them had seen a guy spraying Pam on my back last night. Pam? What the fuck? Who does that?

I took a shower and got as much of the sharpie off as I could, at least in the areas that would be visible, arms, legs, and face. The shower felt amazing, but when I collected my clothes and pulled out my wallet I discovered that all the cash I had brought was missing, which was over $150 since I still had to pay for my ticket to the game. Panicked, I asked if anyone had seen my money. When the answer was a resounding, “no,” the realization flowed over me that someone had stolen it. The severity of my hangover all rushed back to me. It was brutal.

All I wanted to do was lie in bed. Fuck the game. I felt like shit and just got robbed, the last thing I want to do is stand in the heat of an opponent’s stadium for 3 and half hours. My buddies all worked me over to convince me to change my mind and go to the game. “We came all this way.” “It’s such a big game.” “I’ll loan you money for the ticket.” After 15 minutes of this badgering, I gave in and agreed to start tailgating with them. We all stepped out, clad in our Notre Dame jerseys of varying numbers, something that should’ve been thought through a bit more, perhaps.

The front yard of the frat house was packed with people and I made my way to the keg to get my first beer of the day. As soon as I arrived, a girl in a Michigan jersey stepped in front of me, said “fuck you Notre Dame,” and proceeded to spray me right in the face and chest with champagne. I guess that answers my question as to why they never mention being a “Michigan Woman.” What a lovely start to the morning.

We stayed for another hour before starting to make our way towards the stadium. The path to the “Big House” goes right down Michigan’s Frat Row. It is an excellent walk for any evolutionary scientist to take as the combination of alcohol, testosterone, and douchiness makes one wonder if these people forgot to get the memo on evolving. For the next two hours we received a verbal onslaught of all the things written on my body. “Fuck you ND faggots” was a particularly popular phrase.

The verbal assault was getting off easy compared to the Notre Dame fan we saw get physically assaulted when he was cold cocked by a Michigan fan. I’ll never forget the image of blood flowing on the sidewalk. This daunting hell march was only made possible by telling myself, “We’re going to kick their ass. I can’t wait to see the look on their faces when we kick their ass.”

Game time finally arrived and I looked forward to finally receiving my solace, but after a terrible start by the Irish, Michigan jumped out to a 14-3 lead in the first quarter. No! This can’t be happening. What happened to karma? All that I’ve been through, we can’t loses this game. Notre Dame settled down and slowly inched back into the game eventually gaining a 20-17 lead in the third quarter. Alright, we’ve got control back, now let’s finish these bastards off.

A brutal Clausen fumble on a handoff exchange prevented this from happening and Michigan ripped off two touchdown drives in a row. Including Quarterback Tate Forcier busting out a 41 yard touchdown run right through the middle of our defense, untouched. Suddenly Michigan was up 31-20 with less than 10 minutes to go in the game. Again, Notre Dame remained calm and fought back into the game. A 24-yard Jimmy Clausen touchdown throw to Golden Tate was followed by a Forcier interception that gave the Irish the ball back in Michigan territory, down 31-26. Notre Dame wasted little time converting the mistake into a seven yard Armando Allen touchdown run, followed by a statute of liberty play for the two-point conversion, giving Notre Dame a 34-31 lead with five minutes to play.

If you let a white game named Tate beat you, then you don't deserve to win.

If you let a white game named Tate beat you, then you don’t deserve to win.

After forcing Michigan to punt on its pursuing drive, Notre Dame failed to convert a first down and punted the ball back to the Wolverines around midfield with 1:45 left in the game. My seats were in the nosebleeds behind the end zone that Michigan was driving towards for the winning score. Like a deer in headlights, I saw them coming, but there was nothing that I could do to stop them. Forcier scrambled around at the 30 yard line before finding a wide open receiver down at the five with :26 seconds left. After a Michigan receiver dropped the ball in the end zone on the next play, a sliver of hope for overtime crept back into my mind. But it was all erased on the very next play as our cornerback, Darren Walls, did what he did best, get burned, and Michigan scored the winning touchdown with :11 seconds left.

The walk back down Frat Row would’ve been worse than the walk there had I not been too demoralized to care. It also helped that I delivered one of the best and quickest responses to an insult in my life. When a Michigan frat bro danced around me in joy and asked “Do you need a tissue Notre Dame?” I responded, “No thanks, your mother swallows.” Unfortunately he was too drunk and euphoric to even register what I had said as he simply just kept dancing down the street in joy.

This Saturday I’ll be attending another Notre Dame vs Michigan football game, but this time in the safety and comfort of familiar South Bend. It is the last scheduled game between these two rivals for the foreseeable future as conference expansion has made it too hard to keep them on the schedule. Long gaps between games is nothing new in this rivalry as there have been several hiatuses, including lengthy ones from 1909-1942 and 1943-1978. Most fans are disappointed the rivalry is taking a break, but I for one am relieved.FuckMICHIGAN

Michigan is the only team in sports that I genuinely hate. There are plenty of teams that I “sports hate,”the Packers, all of Detroit, Minnesota Twins, Miami Heat, and recently LA Kings, but that is an irrational hate that is built on the fanaticism of sports. Michigan is all pure venom. It is exhausting hating one team so much and frankly it is also disturbing. I do not want to waste my time with hate, life’s too short. This Saturday I will unleash all the hatred, venom, and disgust I have for the University of Michigan, then leave it all behind me, win, lose, or draw. The rivalry will be over and I can move on with my life. Perhaps someday it will be reignited as it has so many times in the past, but I hope it never comes back. I want to move on, get past all this anger and forget about it for the rest of my life. I want to be an old man, spending time with my grandkids and barely be able to remember any details of the Michigan-Notre Dame rivalry other than, “Man, we sure did kick their ass in that final game.” Go Irish!

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Gamedays Are Back

College football kicks off tonight as #9 South Carolina visits #21 Texas A&M. A major clash to kickoff the “barely” advertised SEC Network and a juicy appetizer to wet our taste buds for another thrilling Saturdays of Fall. While most of our football obsessed nation is waiting for Sundays to arrive once again, down in the South Saturday is Football Heaven. It’s all they talk and care about, followed by Friday nights in a distant second. The NFL barely registers on Sundays in SEC country cause that is race day.sec

Professional sports are more entertaining than its collegiate counterpart, simply for have a collection of the world’s best talents competing against one another. However, college football comes the closest to matching its professional counterpart. There is no more exciting sports feeling than walking a college campus on a Saturday. The grills are smoking, every cooler is packed with beer, and hundreds of thousands of fans bristle with excitement in the anticipation of kickoff. The buzz is unparalleled anywhere else in sport.

I witnessed this first hand in college at Notre Dame. The population of South Bend more than doubled on Saturday Gamedays as fans poured in to watch the most losses over any four year stretch in school history. It didn’t matter, people still came to cheer and hope. Sports fans root for their team to feel part of something bigger, a community. Nowhere else in sports is that feeling stronger than in college football. The love of tradition and camaraderie pours over the throngs of tailgating supporters. The feeling only strengthens as fans step into the stadium to root on their team. The band plays the fight song, the crowd sings it word for word, and then the team marches out onto the field into pure mayhem of joy. Win or lose, it is an amazing experience that feels fresh every single time.

The greatest sight on Earth, so much free food and beer to be had.

The greatest sight on Earth, so much free food and beer to be had.

College football’s appeal goes beyond the excitement of tailgating and hearing the band play, the game itself has gotten much closer to the NFL level in the last decade. In the 90s, when I first started watching college football, the triple option was still a popular offense and something that would never be seen on Sundays. Now, college offenses have become so layered and advanced that NFL coaches actually borrow from the college ranks to improve their offense. No NBA team is looking to the college ranks to steal the “let’s pass it around the perimeter for 20 seconds then force up a three” offense. The Utah Jazz is the only team to borrow from college by starting five white guys. 

Five Bold Predictions for the 2014 Season

1. Two SEC teams will make the inaugural College Football Playoffs – Since a special committee is overseeing the selection of the four teams to compete in the first ever playoffs the SEC will be graded on a curve due to its recent success.

2. No Pac 12 team will make the playoffs – The Pac 12 is a slaughterhouse this year, tougher than even the SEC. No team will make it out undefeated and since the conference does not get the respect it deserves the committee will not be grading on a scale leaving the Pac 12 out in the cold. Apologies to the Duck, Bruin, and Tree nations respectively.

3. A QB will not win the Heisman – Todd Gurley will and he is a running back from Georgia. Gurley is a beast and with the departure of three year starter Aaron Murray he will be depended on immensely throughout the season. Total season stat line prediction – 1,836 yards, 15 TDs, 49 catches for 423 yards and 3 TDs. A monstrous season combined with being the lone SEC representation and Quarterback fatigue leads to the Heisman win.

We'll be seeing a lot of that beautiful smile this year.

We’ll be seeing a lot of that beautiful smile this year.

4. Wisconsin is the lone undefeated team when playoff starts– The Badgers toughest game of the year is this Saturday against LSU. Gary Andersen brings some of that Utah State flash to the offense, which combines nicely with the power running game and he out Madhatters the Madhatter Les Miles for the win. After the big victory the Badgers get to feast on this tasty schedule, vs W. Illinois, vs Bowling Green, vs. South Florida, @Northwestern, vs. Illinois, vs. Maryland, @Rutgers, @Purdue, vs. #22 Nebraska, @Iowa, vs. Minnesota. A cake walk of a regular season schedule which will allow them to add more wrinkles into the offense and gain momentum to topple Michigan State in the Big Ten Championship.

Where will the top ranked teams lose? #1 Florida State goes down on Thursday 10/30 at Louisville, as a lackadaisical Seminoles team is overwhelmed by a raucous, drunk Louisville crowd decked out in Halloween costumes. #2 Alabama falls on the road to a hungry LSU team on November 8th. #3 Oregon loses twice, first to Washington at home in a letdown game after defeating UCLA on the road, and then in the regular season finale at Oregon State as it has been too long since the Beavers won the Civil War. #4 Oklahoma loses on the road to the “Bro King” and part time Ryan Gosling impersonator Cliff Kingsbury and the Red Raiders of Texas Tech.

5. Florida State will repeat  as ChampsWait, this isn’t bold, it is as safe as they come.  Is it though? So many people jumped on the FSU bandwagon over the summer that it began to tip and frighten everyone into nitpicking every little thing that could be wrong with this team. Thus leading to a ton of people jumping off the bandwagon and calling the team overrated or saying it will collapse under the pressure of repeating. Not me though, I’ll stick with the pick, FSU back-to-back.

Five Good Bets for the Weekend

1. Rice (+21.5) over Notre Dame – Notre Dame does not cover big spreads, especially in its opening game. It is far too high and moved a half a point in the last two days giving Rice a three touchdown advantage. Notre Dame will win the game, but not by three touchdowns. As an added insider tip, I will be attending the game on Saturday and they’ve lost four of six games that I’ve attended since graduating with the most losses of any class in Notre Dame history.

2. Georgia vs Clemson (O/U 54.5) – Take the over. It is set too low since both teams have new quarterbacks, but there are so many weapons on each side of the ball and a ton of new defensive players for each team as well.

3. Florida State (-18.5) over Oklahoma State parlayed with the under (O/U 63.5) – Florida State’s defense is tremendous and given months to game plan for the high octane Oklahoma State offense will lead to it dominating on Saturday. This will keep the scoring down and Florida State will cruise to a 38-10 type victory.

4. Wisconsin (+5.5) over LSU – The Badgers are going to win the game, getting the 5.5 is just a bonus.

5. Alabama vs West Virginia (O/U 55.5) – Take the under, Nick Saban still hasn’t selected a new quarterback and will rely on his defense to annihilate any hope West Virginia has. It will lead to a victory, but not many points will be scored.

The Tallahassee Police won't reveal this, but we've confirmed that is Jameis' "O" face.

The Tallahassee Police won’t reveal this, but we’ve confirmed that is Jameis’ “O” face.

College Football Playoffs

First Round:

1. Florida State over 4. Georgia

3. Alabama over 2. Wisconsin

Championship

Florida State over Alabama

 

Justice Demetrio

All rise. The Justice is back on the bench to right the injustices that plague America. This week a case comes before the bench due to the noise made from the Justice’s place of birth Evanston, IL.

Last week athletes from Northwestern University filed to unionize in order to receive wages for playing college sports. The debate to pay college athletes has been around for over a decade, but it continues to pick up more steam every year making it a hot topic. The time has come for Justice Demetrio to solve this issue for good.

Case #000000003 NCAA Athletes vs. The NCAA

The NCAA is a shady organization, there is no other way to put it. People opposed to the practices compare the use of college athletes to slavery. While it is always a bit much to compare anything to slavery, the NCAA does take advantage of a free labor force, to limit overhead, and increase profit margin.

Anyone who went to college and is paying off college loans monthly with no end in sight, would argue college athletes get a huge advantage with full scholarships. A fully paid college experience does save these athletes a lot of money and their respective universities provide an education that will be invaluable to them for the rest of their lives.

However, the NCAA cashes in a ton of money from these players likeness via jersey sales and video games, not to mention the enormous TV deals. It goes beyond the basic student-athlete agreement. Since, it treats these athletes more as commodities than students the athletes feel they’re entitled to a piece of the profit pie. Many athletes come from economically deficient backgrounds, and while a scholarship plus room and board is nice, it does not feed them or provide clothing. Both of which are difficult to come by for some of them.

It seems ridiculous that a player whose jersey sells out and is featured on ESPN all week does not have enough money to properly feed himself. There is also the pressure to provide money for loved ones struggling at home. Since the NFL requires players to wait three years after high school graduation before being allowed to enter the draft, there are players who are due for multi-million dollar contracts to play on Sundays that have to wait it out three tough years.

Verdict:

An education is a valuable commodity and many people would give an arm and a leg to get out of college debt. The NCAA is corrupt and cashes in on an advantageous situation. Something does need to change, but let’s be honest only College Football, and to a much lesser extent, basketball, bring in any money. I don’t think many people are marking their calendar’s for the Men’s Volleyball Championships, well besides Michael Juettner, boom. Juettner Slam! Many student athletes are actually getting a great deal with a full scholarship to play a sport they love. Especially with Title IX, the large number of football scholarships has allowed for more women to go to good schools and continue to compete at the sports at which they excel.

It is too difficult to determine how to pay players, who deserves it, and how much to pay them. There are really only a dozen players or so that move the needle in jersey sales and bring in extra profits. Is the woman who sits on the field hockey bench suppose to make the same amount of money as the starting QB at Alabama? Even in the big money sports, do all players deserve the same? Despite the fact that they never play and no one even knows their name, let alone would buy a jersey.

There will never be a fair process to pay these athletes and someone will continue to complain. The NCAA starting to pay athletes is going down a rabbit hole, the classic give a mouse a piece of cheese situation. The Justice cannot justify forcing the NCAA to pay athletes, it is just impossible to regulate and find a fair way to pay players money proportionate to their skills at an institution of higher learning.

The NCAA has created a beautifully corrupt home and it will continue to get to benefit from beating the system. However, there is an opportunity for someone to come in and provide competition to knock it down a peg.

What if there was a developmental, professional league that served as the minor leagues of the NFL? Instead of having to sign at a school and wait out three years of college ball, talented young football players can sign with this new professional league and get paid right out of high school.

There is no competing with the NFL, but the opportunity to make money right out of high school, at least legitimately and not under the table, would be enticing to talented young athletes. It may take a few years, but once the talent starts pouring in this league could take off and serve as a good alternative league to the NCAA. It’s certainly hard take on the big boosters from the big Universities, but there are enough football addicts out there to draw decent ratings.

The best thing for this league is to be sponsored, maybe even owned by the NFL. After all wouldn’t teams benefit from having a  developmental league in order to be able to better evaluate players. It can also be an opportunity to train these athletes to the rigors of the NFL off the field at a younger age, which could cut down on the number of off the field arrests and incidents. It would make sense that the NFL would be supportive of this new league as it would also create some distance between itself and the stink of the NCAA.

However, if the NFL was afraid to challenge the NCAA in order to maintain  its friendly relationship, then I’m sure there are plenty of billionaires who would be interested in stepping up and starting this league. One billionaire comes to mind over any other. A man who once had the cajones to challenge the NFL with a competitive league that’s right, the Justice’s good friend, Vinny Mac.

Vince McMahon thrives on challenging authority and the status quo. He would love the attention he’d get for starting this new under 25 league as a way to compete with the “corrupt” NCAA. Vinny Mac does not like to pass up a great PR stunt. He can even bring back some of the principles of the XFL and provide a hard nosed alternative to the softer rules of the NFL. Plus it would be exciting to see him do this again.

Court Adjurned.