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Author Archives: McSweeney

The Andrew Hendrix Experience

After the Stanford game, the Notre Dame message boards understandably lit up with talk of Andrew Hendrix. Some were quick to anoint him the Second Coming. Others did their best Lee Corso impersonation (albeit minus the tight-lip cussing) and said, “Not so fast, my friend.”  The rest pretty much did what they always do: said the first inane thing that came to their heads while waxing nostalgically about how Notre Dame would never again be that a shining, beacon-like-yet-jumbotron-free school upon a hill. But I digress… Is it reasonable to qualify Hendrix’s second-half success versus the Cardinal as the simple ...

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Dissecting the Big Least

I’m not just saying this because I’m a bitter Colts fan, but leave it to a Steel Town sportswriter to be a total freaking idiot. Pittsburgh Post-Gazette columnist Ron Cook recently took issue with Notre Dame athletic director Jack Swarbrick calling out Pitt chancellor Mark Nordenberg and athletic director Steve Pederson for jumping ship to the ACC after years of masquerading as Big East loyalists. “Offensive and preposterous don’t even begin to describe Swarbrick’s remarks,” Cook said, concluding his emoting, over-the-top diatribe with the less-than-eloquent, “I want to gag. Like Notre Dame is so pure. What garbage.” Mr. Cook’s remarks ...

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Irish Stewed: Catholics, Convicts, and the Return of the Spectacle

When Sun Bowl officials announced that the University of Notre Dame and the University of Miami had accepted invitations to play one another in El Paso, Texas on December 31, 2010, my initial reaction was muted. I was notified of the invitation by a text from a friend. At the time I was sitting in the stands at Lucas Oil Stadium watching Peyton Manning get a headstart on Christmas by gift-wrapping a victory for the Dallas Cowboys. Needless to say, I didn’t at that moment share in my friend’s, “IT’S MIAMI, BABY!” all-caps euphoria. Several thoughts went through my head. ...

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Irish Stewed: Please, call them “Southern Cal”

The year was 1988. And Notre Dame was winning football games. All of them. It started with the home opener versus Michigan. A diminutive walk-on kicker by the name of Reggie Ho kicked four field goals, including one with 1:17 left in the game. Dad and I were seven rows up in the south end of the end zone when Michigan’s Mike Gillette missed a 47-yard field goal as time expired. Final score: Notre Dame 19 – Michigan 17. ND beat its next three opponents—Michigan State, Purdue and Stanford—by a combined score of 112-24, then the Irish went on the ...

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Irish Stewed: The Not-so-Metrosexual Offense

Pitt week is upon us. Yawn. “But Mac, it’s Notre Dame’s longest rivalry outside of Navy, USC, Purdue and Michigan State.” So what? If we’re really committed to re-establishing a national schedule with a diverse set of teams, Pitt would be the first team I’d dump. I haven’t cared for the Panthers since ’82 when they were #1 in the country and crapped the bed against ND, duping us all into believing Faust was a decent coach. That, plus the fact I just miss Pitt’s classic blue-and-mustard unis. Screw it. I want to talk about something else. How about the ...

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Irish Stewed: Tying One for the Gipper and Choking on Applesauce

There was a time when the Notre Dame-Michigan State rivalry was the only thing that mattered to the entire country, let alone just to fans in South Bend and East Lansing. The date was November 16, 1966. ND hadn’t won a National Championship since 1953 and was ranked #1 in one poll and #2 in the other. Defending National Champion MSU entered the game ranked #2 in one poll and #1 in the other. The outcome, a 10-10 tie, would become instantly infamous in sporting circles, with the media blasting Irish Coach Ara Parseghian for running out the clock instead ...

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Irish Stewed: The Road Less Traveled from 1887

The date was November 23, 1887. Geronimo had just surrendered. Coca-Cola and the Statue of Liberty were one-year-old. The population of Los Angeles was 50,000. Neither the University of Southern California nor Ohio State University had football teams. And never mind a football team or even a university, the actual city of Miami, Florida did not exist. It was nearly seven o’clock on a soggy Wednesday morning when a University of Michigan student wiped some moisture from the Michigan Central Railroad coach window and peeped into the gloom. “South Bend,” crowed the conductor. “At last,” groaned the Michigan student. He ...

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Irish Stewed: Deconstructing Marve and Beating the Boilers

Let me be upfront about a couple things. First off, I probably like Purdue more than most Notre Dame fans; at the very least, I’m not as relentlessly condescending and pompous as some of my Irish peers when it comes to discussing the Boilermakers . My sister is a Purdue alum—two sisters actually attended, one graduated—and I can recall (or not recall) many drunken moments spent at Harry’s Chocolate Shop (I went ugly early), T.A. Toms (our Breakfast Clubs during Grand Prix weekend were epic) and various fraternities and sororities (shout out to the Phi Kaps and KKGs). Sure, West ...

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Irish Stewed: Waking Up the Echoes and Shutting Up the Idiots

Chicago Tribune sportswriter David Haugh recently penned an almost obscenely ill-informed editorial on Notre Dame football that I feel requires a slightly more informed response. His article rehashes the same tired arguments the Notre Dame family has heard for years: the conferences are passing us by, we’ve become irrelevant, we haven’t won a national championship in 22 years, and my new personal favorite, “joining the Big Ten would help the Irish forge an identity.” David Haugh adds, “An independent Irish team that loses its second or third game by Halloween potentially loses focus and incentive with the national title and ...

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Repost – Irish Stewed: Fun with Numbers

The follow post was written in the middle of the season by UHND’s own McSweeney.   Originally posted on November 13, the entry ended up be prophetic as Kelly was named the head coach at Notre Dame 27 days later.  Here is a run down of some impressive statistics from Kelly has amased over the past few seasons in Cincinnati. Seven: The number of Div I-A football programs to post a 90% graduation rate in 2008, two of which were Notre Dame and the University of Cincinnati. (The Div I-A average is 55%.) #1: The Cincinnati Bearcats’ standing in the Big ...

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Irish Stewed: Intro to Brian Kelly 101

In the early 1980s, Brian Kelly was a political science major and starting linebacker at Assumption College, a Worcester-based Catholic liberal arts school with an enrollment of just over 2,000 students. He also moonlighted as a budding politico, mingling with Massachusetts Lieutenant Governor John Kerry, working on the staff of Senator Gary Hart as a legislative assistant, and even serving as a delegate to the 1984 Democratic National Convention. (If that isn’t a lesson in humility, what is?) The gradual progression of Brian Kelly from politician to coach was marked by several invaluable mentors and, to the relief of his ...

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Irish Stewed: Blood in the Water, Idiots at the Microphone

As the curtain was drawn on the ND-UConn game—on yet another late-game collapse by a Charlie Weis-coached team—the sports media talking heads prepared to feast on some pre-Thanksgiving Irish leftovers. “Coach Charlie Weis’ tenure is all but certain to end after five mercurial seasons of unmet expectations Weis himself was largely responsible for creating,” said Dan McGrath of Sports Illustrated. “A program steeped in lore is at a crossroads, its uncertain future again clashing with its mystical past,” waxed The New York Times. And of course, the ultimate indictment from the ultimate critic: “They are missing physical toughness, mental toughness ...

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Irish Stewed: Anchors Aweigh! (But watch out for those knees.)

If you don’t know the story behind the Notre Dame-Naval Academy rivalry, I’ll give you the Cliffs Notes version. In the spring semester of 1943, Notre Dame’s total enrollment declined to 2,623, just six students more than the 1933-34 Depression-era total and nearly a 20% reduction from the fall semester enrollment of 1940. By July 1, 1943, the Navy added 1,851 trainees to the campus. A contract between “The United States of America and University of Notre Dame Du Lac” called for a commitment of $487,711 for equipment, facility alterations, a drill hall and administrative expenses. Notre Dame received $9,000 ...

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Irish Stewed: Sean Astin, David Gordon, and Jesuit Butt Kicking

Neither Jim nor I was what you’d call in great physical shape. We curled around the south side of the stadium and sprinted west across campus. I crossed myself as I passed under Touchdown Jesus. The Notre Dame marching band approached the north end of the stadium, snare and base drums echoing across the campus. I tripped over the foot of a sousaphone player. We were forced to walk around the procession as opposed to through it, the forearm of an Irish Guardsman—a six-and-a-half-feet-tall, kilted beast of a man—nearly decapitating me. I patted Number One Moses on the head. I ...

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