Category Archives: sports

Notre Dame’s Road To The Playoffs – Week 10

I was going to make this post yesterday, but decided to wait until after the official playoff committee rankings announcement.  I wish I hadn’t.  I was expecting the rankings to resemble something similar to the AP/USA Today polls.  I was wrong.  Just like many of you on twitter, I was disheartened when I saw the Irish come in at 10.  However, I wasn’t outraged. 

Let’s be honest with ourselves.  Despite coming into the season with one of the toughest schedules in the nation, Notre Dame’s opponents have not held up their end of the bargain.  Based on the preseason polls, the Irish had 5 top 25 teams on their schedule (FSU, Stanford, ASU, USC, UNC).  They also were to play 4 teams that received votes (Michigan, Navy, Louisville, Northwestern).  It’s not exactly the SEC schedule, but top to bottom, that’s a pretty solid slate of games.  All that remain ranked are FSU, who beat us, albeit probably shouldn’t, have and ASU, who we have a game with in a few weeks.  USC and Louisville still received some votes, with L’ville coming in at 25 in one of the polls. 

The only quality win the Irish have/had was Stanford, but the Cardinal are proving to be no where near as good as people thought they were in August.  So the Irish really have an uphill battle to climb.  They need to go into Arizona State and dominate them. This will be their statement win.  You couple this with the way the FSU game played out, and then the Irish can at least maintain some respectability in the eyes of the playoff committee. 

Just a little background on how the committee comes up with it’s rankings. It will be based on several factors including strength of schedule, team records, head-to-head match ups, weather and injuries.  The major polls will not be used in coming up with the rankings.  The most weight will be placed on a team’s strength of schedule.  So as I noted earlier, Notre Dame is hurt by the teams they play having down years.  So as fun as it is to root for Michigan and USC to lose every Saturday, we as fans should be rooting hard for our rivals each week, as painful as it may be.

So now I’m going to list all 9 teams ahead of the Irish, and their key remaining match ups.  Since the AP and USA Today polls aren’t accounted for in the playoff rankings, I’m not going to waste my time by listing them on here.  We are going straight off the committee rankings.

1. Mississippi State – 7-0 – SEC

Key games: 11/15 – Alabama, 11/29 Ole Miss, SEC Championship

Like I noted last week, The best case scenario is for Mississippi St. to win out and hand both Alabama and Ole Miss their second losses.

2.  Florida State – 7-0  – ACC

Key games: 10/30 – at Louisville, ACC Championship

This is a common opponent with ND, so it’ll be another tool used to gauge how the Irish stack up

3.  Auburn – 6-1 – SEC

Key games: 11/1 @ Ole Miss, 11/15, @ Georgia, 11/29 @ Alabama, SEC Championship

Auburn controls their own destiny with this schedule.  If they get thru it, they earned their way in.  Can’t do anything about that.

4. Ole Miss – 7-1 – SEC

Key games: 11/1 Auburn, 11/29 Miss St., SEC Championship

The biggest problem I had with the rankings was that there were 3 SEC teams in the top 4.  Not to take anything away from Ole Miss, but I thought the whole point of the playoff was to make it fair for everyone else.   

5. Oregon – 7-1 – Pac 12

Key games: 11/8 @ Utah, 11/29 @ Oregon State., Pac 12 Championship

I thought Oregon should be #4 just for balance purposes.  They have quality wins over Michigan state and UCLA to help their resume.

6. Alabama – 7-1 – SEC

Key games: 11/8 @ LSU, 11/15 Miss St., 11/29 Auburn, SEC Championship

Plenty of chances for them to get knocked off.  They’re playing much better lately though,

7. Texas Christian University – 6-1 – Big 12

Key games: 11/1 @ West Virginia, 11/8 Kansas State, Big 12 Championship

This team can score and have a legit shot to get into the final 4.  They have quality wins over Oklahoma and Oklahoma State, and a nailbiter loss to Baylor.

8. Michigan State – 7-1 – Big Ten

Key games: 11/8 Ohio State, Big Ten Championship

I have real issues with the Spartans being ranked over the Irish.  They don’t play a great schedule, and got smacked around by Oregon.  Their quality win is a 5 point victory over Nebraska.  They have 2 common opponenets with Notre Dame (Michigan & Purdue)  ND had more imppressive victories against both teams.

9. Kansas State – 6-1 – Big 12

Key games: 11/1 Oklahoma State, 11/8 @ TCU, 11/20 @ West Virginia, 11/6 @ Baylor, Big 12 Championship

K-State doesn’t have an easy road to the final 4.  Personally I don’t think they will remain in the top 10 by seasons end. They have a quality win against Oklahoma and lost early in the year in a close one ot Auburn.

So that is that.  It’s not easy.  The Irish still have a chance.  Obviously they need help.  The one thing they have going for them is that a lot of the teams ahead of them have to play each other.  You can only hope that they all knock each other off evenly.  If we can hope for anything, it’s Mississippi State to run the table and take out Ole Miss and Alabama.  Otherwise, the rest will have to play out week by week.  All the Irish can do is play the games they have left and win football games. 

Reach me on Twitter @GetsThruBuckner

DTT Reviews ND Insider’s Season Preview Magazine

-Sgt Shamrock

53c92f702ffc9.preview-300 

So by now I would assume that most of you have read at least one of the many season previews out there as the beginning of the 2014 Notre Dame Football season draws close. While I really hope you all check out our Fall Camp Primer, which you can find it HERE, there are plenty of other very good season previews out there. The amount of quality Notre Dame websites and blogs is truly amazing and really gives fans a vast amount of Notre Dame coverage. I recently was able to read ND Insider’s 2014 Season Preview Magazine powered by The South Bend Tribune and I was very pleased with the product. It was very well put together and was packed full of content. 

The magazine immediately catches your eyes once you see Jaylon Smith and Everett Golson, two of the premier star players on the Irish roster, on the cover. Once you flip past a few advertisements and the table of contents you find the season predictions from Eric Hansen, Al Lesar, Tyler James, and Bob Wieneke. Not only were the regular season records predicted by the South Bend Tribune Crew, but also things like “Hottest Tangent Topic- Field Turf, Mustaches, or Publix Crab Legs?” and what game is the yearly “Trap game”. The responses are pretty funny and should play well to all the ND interwebs folks who have plenty of laughs about the typical hot sports topics.

Following the predictions, the magazine transitions to the feature articles. The first Irish player was Everett Golson. Now from when Golson was dismissed from school in the spring of 2013 to his return to to the team and preparation for the upcoming season there have been countless articles and features written about Golson and his time away from Notre Dame. However I can say without a doubt that this article written by Eric Hansen is by far the best I have read. Not only does the article contain a great account of Golsons time in San Diego with quarterback guru George Whitfield, but also the events surrounding Golson immediately following his dismissal. Hansen also sheds light just how involved Notre Dame was in the decision of Golson to train with Whitfield and how the university had the possibility to nix the entire idea. During the time that Golson was away from Notre Dame, message board posters on multiple sites would always ask site mods if there was any update on how or what Golson was doing. Now those same posters can read this fantastic piece by Hansen and know what Golson was doing during the entire time away from the University.

Immediately after Hansen’s piece on Golson, Bob Wieneke follows it up with another very well written piece on Jaylon Smith, the star sophomore linebacker. Not only does it give great insight on Smith as a football player but it also gives insight on Jaylon Smith as a player off the field. Wieneke really sheds light on the switch from outside linebacker, where Smith played his freshman season under Bob Diaco, to inside linebacker this season under new defensive coordinator Bob Diaco. The piece does a great job shedding light on Smiths work during the off-season training at AWP Sports Performance and his preparation for his much anticipated sophomore season in a new scheme.

Eric Hansen finishes off the feature article section with two well written and very informative articles on new defensive coordinator Brian Van Gorder and Brian Kelly and how he is approaching his fifth season with a new perspective along with bits of advise from New England Patriots coach Bill Belichick. Also you can find out what Brian Kelly does and does not like about the recruiting process and what coaching decision he would change from his first 4 seasons at Notre Dame.

Following the feature articles, the magazine goes into an in depth analysis of each position on the Irish roster including position battles, depth chart, and players to watch in each group. Its a great section to read as this years team is missing a lot of big names that Irish fans have been accustomed to seeing the past few years. I really enjoyed the Linebacker Analysis section and how it described Brian Van Gorders history with linebackers, how he uses them in his scheme, and the experience from the NFL that he brings to South Bend.

With a new football season always comes a new batch of players and for those who dont follow recruiting very closely throughout the year it can be difficult to learn all the new names and faces. Dont worry though because ND Insider and the boys at South Bend Tribune have you covered. They put together freshman profiles on each new addition to the Irish roster this season complete with rankings from various recruiting sites, fun facts, when they knew they were going to commit to Notre Dame, and who the hardest school/coach it was to say no too. It really gives the fans a good look into the new batch of the players that will suit up for the Irish this season. The magazine also looks at which incoming freshman have the best chance to excel and look at the “It” factor they bring to campus.

Finally Tyler James, the recruiting writer for the South Bend Tribune, gives fans an inside picture into what happens on campus on official visit weekends on campus complete with an itinerary of events. Not only that but Tyler really paints the picture of just how much planning goes into the big official visit weekends that most fans never see or would never even know would go on behind the scenes. Tyler provides some first hand experiences from current Irish player KeiVarae Russel and what occurred during his official visit to Notre Dame.

Overall I thoroughly enjoyed reading ND Insiders Season Preview Magazine. It provided great insight into this years squad, the expectations, and some of the key players that will ultimately decide the success of this years team. The magazine did an outstanding job of not only focusing on the overall season preview but also the in depth analysis of the position groups, the new coaching additions as well as a good look into the world of recruiting for Notre Dame Football.

I really recommend that you purchase the ND Insiders Season Preview Magazine. You will not regret the decision. If you do want to get your own copy you can order either a printed copy or an iPad version at the South Bend Tribune website. The printed version is $12.95, which includes shipping, and the iPad version can be downloaded from the App Store. I really hope you guys will consider purchasing this outstanding preview. Its more than worth it.

You can purchase the printed version at https://www2.southbendtribune.com/ndannual/index.php

You can purchase the iPad version at https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/notre-dame-football-preview/id890206389?mt=8

Bullying? No way.

High school football is one of the staples of life in the state of Texas. I have never been there myself but I know many people who have lived there and they all say the same thing. High school football is king. Some of the best prep football players in the nation play in the state of Texas. Its a prime recruiting ground for college football programs from the SEC, PAC-12, ACC, Big-12, and of course Notre Dame. As popular as high school football is however its not very often that a high school football game makes national news but that’s exactly what happened this week.

Last Friday deep in the heart of Texas, Aledo High School beat Fort Worth Western Hills 91-0. No that’s not a typo, the score was actually 91-0. That in and out of itself is remarkable but the real cause for the story is what happened after the game. After Western Hills was finished getting their asses handed to them one parent decided to do what all high school kids have nightmares about. The father of a player from Western Hills actually filed a formal complaint through the school against Aledo High School Head Football Coach Tim Buchanan, saying that the ass whooping that he just witnessed was bullying. The father who chose to remain anonymous was quoted by a local news station saying, “My son plays for Western Hills Football Team. On Friday night we all witnessed bullying first hand. It was not a pretty sight.” I bet it wasn’t anonymous dad from Texas. It cant be fun watching your sons team get the snot beat out of them on the football field but to call it bullying is a complete joke. It is not Aledo High School nor the head coaches fault that your son’s team sucks pop’s. Lets take a deeper look at this claim of bullying and show why is complete crap.

Coming into their game against Aledo, Western Hills had only 30 players on the depth chart. That’s right I said 30. To put this in perspective USC, who has been dealing with sanctions and scholarship losses due to the fact that they are cheating bastards, only had 48 scholarship players available to play against the Irish this past week. Having 30 players is just ridiculous. How the school allows a team to be fielded with just 30 players is just irresponsible but that’s another argument for another time. Another mind blowing stat is that the starting running back only touched the ball for Aledo five times. Three of those times however were for a touchdown. Aldeo was up 56-0 at the half. The game was already over and after the half it was only the 3rd a 4th string players that took the field for Aledo and yet they still scored 35 more points. This coach did everything he could to limit the score other than just lay down and stop playing all together. Here is what I really don’t understand. What the hell did this complaining father expect the Aledo head coach to do? He was playing 3rd and 4th string players for over half of the game. Did this father expect the coach to tell his bench players to stop trying? Did he expect them to just lay down and quit? Apparently that’s exactly what this father wanted Coach Buchanan to do and I give props to coach for not having his players quitting. Here is why.

I remember when I was in high school playing high school sports. I went to a pretty well known Catholic High School in Atlanta that is pretty damn good at its sports. I was primarily a golfer but since I loved football I wanted to play at least one year to enjoy the experience and all that. Im not afraid to admit this but I was god awful. I mean really really bad. If there was something past the 4th string that was me. The water boy was probably better than me. I barely even played JV ball let alone sniff the field for the Varsity games. But there was one time I actually got to get on the field for a Varsity game and it was in a similar situation to this game in Texas. Our team was up by so many points I cant even remember and the coach was brave enough to throw me in as a corner back. Words can not describe how excited I was to be on that field in front of my family and friends. I didn’t care what the score was. All I wanted to do was hit someone. Somehow I actually got credit for a tackle when the opposing running back bowled me over and I hung on for dear life as we both fell to the turf. I can only believe that the 3rd and 4th string players for Aledo High School felt the same way. No way they were going to lay down and not try in one of their few chances to step foot on the football field. And good for them.

I would love to say that this an isolated incident. That crazy people like this are not all over the country. I cant say that. This incident is just another that has many of us wondering, “What the hell is going on in America these days?”. Its an epidemic of handouts in youth sports. We live in a time when all participants get a trophy even if they didn’t earn one, when all participants are praised for being mediocre. This madness needs to stop. Sports are a competition. There is a winner and a loser. Losing is supposed to hurt. Its supposed to make you feel like crap. Its supposed to make you want to get better so you never have to feel the feeling of losing ever again. This is especially true in youth sports. Children and young adults are at the ages where they are impressionable and are learning valuable life lessons that will help them succeed in life. What message does this behavior send to kids? That its ok to be mediocre because someone will always be there to give you something anyway? This type of behavior is setting kids across America up for failure. The real world after high school or college is really really hard. Its a dog eat dog word. Only the strong survive. Competition is everywhere and if your not prepared for it the real world will eat you alive. Getting a job is hard. Hell, sometimes even getting an interview is hard depending what your trying to do. Not only is this type of behavior ruining youth sports, but also setting up the youth of America for failure.

Fortunately the local school district found no evidence of bullying and the matter is closed. But the real issue is that it was a matter at all. There is plenty of bullying going on in schools around the country and its a large issue. But watching your son’s team get pummeled on the football team is not bullying. So anonymous Texas dad, instead of trying to claim bullying because your sons team is awful, maybe you should try to help them get better instead of looking for a scapegoat. As always this is just my opinion and you are free to disagree with it. What do you think?