BC-Notre Dame Notes
Ever since I started bceaglesfootball.com, the weeks before and after the Boston College - Notre Dame game have been among my favorite weeks of the year. During those days I am treated to about 10-20 hilarious emails from Notre Dame fans and Alumni. Some of these people have been intelligent, knowledgeable football fans who, even in disagreement, have been pleasant and reasonable. I certainly have no problem with someone who disagrees with me. In fact, those differences of opinion produce some of the best discussions. The vast majority, however, have been more likely to: (a) boast and brag about how great Notre Dame is and how meager BC is and will always be. This usually occurs the week before the game; (b) complain and whine and tell me all of the reasons why Notre Dame lost to BC, leaving no room for blame on the Notre Dame side or credit on the BC side; (c) the classic obscenity-laced tirade (my favorite), usually coming after BC wins. One mental-defective blasted me with every name in the book this week because I had the audacity to claim that Notre Dame's run defense was overrated. As much as I like an intelligent conversation about football, the caustic negative responses are what put the gleam in my eye and the hop in my step. Clearly, I have "asked for it" on many occasions. Specifically, after the publication of my "How to be a Notre Dame Fan" flowchart of two years ago. This week, I was simply a good target for some frustrated fans who were in need of someone on which to vent their. Here are some of the major subjects covered in the emails that I have received and my typical responses:
The Green Jerseys
Contrary to the opinion of many, the green jerseys were not, in any way, an insult to BC. Ty Willingham is trying to push this "Return to Glory" theme by painting and dressing everything under the sun green. I'm just happy that the green jerseys came out last week. Though I'm not one for superstitious voodoo, I know that a team should never, EVER change anything while they are on a winning streak. The jerseys have no mystical power, good or bad, but if the players think the jerseys have a negative impact then it can become a self-fulfilling prophecy.
This was one of my favorite subjects. I cannot believe that any Notre Dame fan would ever complain about officiating. Clearly, Notre Dame lost a touchdown because of a bad call. Any college football fan knows that Notre Dame gets the benefit of friendly officiating nearly every time they step on the field, especially at home. I can only surmise that Notre Dame fans are so used to getting every close call that they go into shock when the referee actually blows one in the other team's favor. Then there is the fact that Notre Dame's only touchdown came after a phantom halo violation against BC. This was conveniently ignored by Notre Dame fans. As I told one Notre Dame fan, that bad call in the endzone brings the tally at Notre Dame Stadium to: Bad Calls against Notre Dame: 7 Bad Calls for Notre Dame: 853.
One Domer used the excuse that Notre Dame lost because lineman Cedric Hilliard missed the game with an injury. Of course, BC didn't have the services of possibly their three best defenders - Antonio Garay, Doug Goodwin and Peter Shean - and still won. This same lunatic accused me of not doing my homework.
One of the reasons that I was able to predict a Boston College upset last week is based on the fact that Notre Dame has been extremely lucky all season and that good fortune had to end sometime. It turned out that last week was that time. Among emails that I received, articles written on Notre Dame websites and sports pages and postings on EagleAction.com I saw several Notre Dame fans refer to the fact that Notre Dame outgained BC by more than 100 total yards and therefore BC didn't deserve to win. As I pointed out last week, Notre Dame was outgained by 90 or more yards in four of their first eight games. Apparently the thought process among Golden Domers is this: When Notre Dame is dominated and outgained by 150 yards, it means nothing because "statistics lie" and the ability to force turnovers is a skill. When Notre Dame outgains the opposition by 150 yards and loses, the opponent is lucky.
Speaking of turnovers, I have cringed this year every time that I have heard one of the announcers on NBC attempt to refute the argument that Notre Dame has been lucky by boasting that forcing fumbles is a skill and that Notre Dame has recovered fumbles because the coaches "teach" them how to strip the ball. First of all, they make this claim as if there is a defensive coach out there that does not teach his players how to strip a football from the opponent's arms. Ridiculous. Secondly, Notre Dame had actually fumbled more times than their opponents coming into the BC game. The difference is that Notre Dame had lost only 7 of 13 fumbles while their opponents had lost 10 of 11. Counting the BC game, Notre Dame has now lost only 10 of 20 fumbles while their opponents have still lost 10 of 11. If that isn't dumb luck, I don't know what is.
Despite this week's loss and the "flukeishness" of Notre Dame's 8-0 record going into last week's game, I think Ty Willingham is the right man for the Notre Dame job. I was so looking forward to seeing Notre Dame go 5-6 or 6-5 every year under George O'Leary. It is frustrating that Notre Dame ended up with the right coach only because of their own stupidity and ineptitude. Willingham should have been the #1 choice all along, but Notre Dame kept looking elsewhere. It truly bothers me that Notre Dame might have some success in the coming years because of Willingham and it will be completely by accident. But, "Return to Glory." Give me a break.
The Grass Incident
I received plenty of emails regarding the incident at the end of the game where BC players tore up some of the grass at Notre Dame Stadium and allegedly taunted the Notre Dame players and fans. This incident has been blown way out of proportion, but I do agree that if this is true, it was a classless act by the BC players involved. I'm sure that this occurred largely because of the arrogance displayed by Notre Dame and its fans. Rumors are that the Notre Dame fight song was piped into the BC locker room before the game. Back in 1993, some turf may have been ripped out of the ground as retaliation for Lou Holtz calling for a fake punt while ahead by about 40 points the year before (I was there). This might all be true, but it does not excuse damaging the opponent's field. There is no need to stoop to that level, even if the BC players were provoked. BC should investigate the situation and make it clear that players behaving in this manner will, in the future, be suspended for those actions. There is a rumor that the BC-Notre Dame series will not be extended because of some recent incidents. If this is true, it will happen only because Notre Dame is fearful that BC will continue to beat them and begin to take away some of the would-be recruits that both schools pursue.
"It's Not a Rivalry"
One of the great slogans among Notre Dame fans is the "It is not a Rivalry" line. Then there is the classic accusation that BC is a "Notre Dame Wannabe" and is obsessed with Notre Dame. Hmmm, hoards of Notre Dame fans are coming to the EagleAction message board or sending emails to bceaglesfootball.com and claiming that BC fans are the ones that are obsessed. I think it is very clear that BC is very much on the minds of Notre Dame fans, especially after last week's game. I think one could make a solid argument that it is Notre Dame fans who are now obsessed with BC.
Comparison with 1993
One of the intelligent, reasonable Notre Dame fans asked me if last week's win was better than 1993. My answer was an emphatic "No." First of all, 1993 was one of the great football games that I have ever seen. It was a well-played, exiting 41-39 contest. Saturday's game was hardly a classic. Secondly, the 1993 Boston College team was the best I have seen since 1984 and the 1993 Irish were a legitimate National Championship contender. This year's BC team has struggled on offense and is decimated by injuries on defense. Notre Dame was clearly not a legitimate National Title contender and as I said last week, they were likely the worst #6 ranked team at that point in the season in NCAA history. Saturday was a great win, but it doesn't compare to 1993.
Notre Dame Dominance
It's amazing that I still get emails from Notre Dame fans talking about how Notre Dame beats up on BC every year. By my count, BC is 5-6 in the current series and because seven of those games have been in South Bend, I think BC has been the better team over that time. Plus, BC has beaten some of the better Notre Dame teams while Notre Dame beat up on the weaker Dan Henning teams. I fully expect arrogance from New York Yankee and Los Angeles Lakers fans. They do have the Championships. Notre Dame hasn't won anything in a decade and yet they boast as if they have won 30 games in a row like Miami. I wish I knew where that arrogance comes from. One e-mailer criticized BC for going only to third-tier bowl games. I pointed out that BC does not have the luxury of the free bowl upgrade that Notre Dame has been given nearly every year since 1990. Plus, there is the fact that BC actually wins a few bowl games. New Year's Day is usually Notre Dame's chance to show the world that they are no longer a Top 20 program.
I can't wait for next year