Much has been made in the media and on message boards about the epic failures of the Notre Dame football team this year. You can’t watch a game without being reminded that it’s the worst start in school history, or that they rank at the bottom of D-1A in most offensive categories. And I don’t just mean during ND games, you can watch Ball State vs. Eastern Michigan and be reminded of this.
As much as people focus on this, however, no one seems to care how this is affecting the fans of this storied program. And I don’t just mean the fans who loved Rudy or who coincidentally root for the New York Yankees, New England Patriots, and Tiger Woods as well. I mean those who have deep family ties to the institution. People, like me, who have actually been to South Bend outside of football season.
What follows is a sort of diary of how each Irish loss has taken it’s toll on me this year. As I reflect on the season, I notice three trends. First, no matter where I go I can’t avoid seeing the game. Second, there’s only so much I can watch of each massacre. Third, there is one solution to all Irish problems: beer. I used to think it was just an offensive stereotype that Irish loved to drink. Then I started drinking and goddamit I love beer.
Opponent: Georgia Tech
My Location: My brother’s house in Durham, NC
How was the game: Well the defense was better than I expected but holy shit did that offense suck. I couldn’t tell if Demetrius Jones was just that bad or if Charlie Weis just doesn’t know how to run a spread option. The final ruling is “both.”
Beer of choice: Carolina Brewing Company Octoberfest
How was the beer: Pretty damn good. Before the game, my brother took me to the brewery for their weekly tour. Basically you get to walk around the big room where they do all the brewing and you get to sample as much of their beers as you want for free. This kept the day from being a total bust. That and the Michigan loss to Appalachian State.
When did I stop watching: At halftime we went to go eat pizza. His four kids (ages 8, 6, 4, and 2) don’t understand how important football is and how it is more important than when you get to eat. I really didn’t mind leaving, though. The pizza was good and I watched the second half on Tivo after the rugrats went to bed. Oh, and I had more beer.
Opponent: @ Penn State
My Location: My house in Columbus, OH
How was the game: It started out pretty well when ND returned an interception for a touchdown. Little did I know that would basically be the extent of the scoring. A mix of good and bad from Jimmy Clausen in his first start, mostly bad. Weis’ playcalling was way too safe.
Beer of choice: Guiness Extra Stout
How was the beer: It’s Guiness. It’s awesome. BRILLIANT
When did I stop watching: I actually didn’t. It helped that I was watching with two ND alumni, or else I may have switched to another, more competitive game. The second half of South Florida-Auburn was pretty fun.
Opponent: @ Michigan
My Location: My house
How was the game: I had some hope that ND could win because Michigan was a pretty shitty 0-2 as well. But ND proved that this would be a season of finding new ways to embarass themselves.
Beer of choice: Carolina Brewing Company Nut Brown Ale
How was the beer: I brought a six pack of this back from NC. This is a very nice dark beer with a sweet taste. As the name implies, it’s nutty, but also has a somewhat chocolatey flavor too.
When did I stop watching: I watched the Ohio State-Washington game first with the intent of flipping back and forth. Once I saw how bad things were going, however, the urge to change channels faded quickly. The OSU game was a better game to watch anyway.
Opponent: Michigan State
My Location: My sister’s house in Pittsburgh, PA
How was the game: The most glaring stat entering the game was the negative rush yardage through the first three weeks. Even though Weis has always favored the pass, even Hawaii or Texas Tech manage to get some rushing yardage each week. Therefore, even though a win was not expected, the fact that ND got positive rush yards and *GASP* a rushing TD (two! holy shit!) meant that there were some positives to take from this game.
Beer of choice: Dogfish Head Punkin Ale
How was the beer: I was really looking forward to trying this because I love ales and I love the flavor of pumpkin. However, I found this beer to be kind of disappointing. The other spices that were added did not really do anything for me. I finished the bottle because I don’t waste beer, but this isn’t something I’ll go out of my way to try again anytime soon. If there is a better pumpkin beer out there, let me know.
When did I stop watching: Halftime. What is it with my siblings leaving for dinner at halftime? And they’re the assholes who actually graduated from that institution. This isn’t Ohio U, people.
Opponent: @ Purdue
My location: My house
How was the game: I know it’s the talk of losers, but this game featured progress, and I think that’s a positive development. I don’t like that a QB controversy could erupt, but it was good to see the offense rack up the yardage and score some damn points. The Irish were within striking distance late in the game, and if they can keep doing that, they’ll finally get some wins.
Beer of choice: Campbell’s Chunky Chicken Noodle Soup
How was the beer: As you can see, it wasn’t beer. I was sick so beer actually sounded disgusting to me. The soup did make me feel a little better, though. However, is it just me or does a chicken-flavored beer sounds delicious right now?
When did I stop watching: I actually didn’t. I was reading a book during commercials so my attention wasn’t 100% on the game. I also may have dozed off at one point due to the sickness.
That brings us to today. Notre Dame is playing at UCLA. Considering that UCLA nearly beat the Irish in South Bend last year, there is very little chance of ND winning this one on the West Coast. What I’ll look for is more offensive progress and as a result maybe a fresher defense can keep points off the board.
As for me, I’ll probably watch it at home on the ol’ HD TV and I plan on watching the whole thing. Beer of choice? I haven’t decided, but I’m leaning towards Smithwicks. I’ve got a bunch in my fridge and it will give me a chance to mix things up while keeping the Irish theme. Either way, I’m too damn happy about my Cleveland Indians kicking ass in baseball to care too much about football. It doesn’t really start until baseball’s over, right?