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.

What would Jesus do? For starters, he wouldn't join the Big Ten. (Photo - IconSMI)

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 BCS goal gone. But the same Notre Dame team, in the Big Ten, still would have a shot at winning a league title — no small goal or achievement.”

Yes, Mr. Haugh, it is a small goal. It is a small achievement. Let’s acknowledge conference “championships” for what they really are: mental attitude awards, consolation prizes, and, in the scope of the Big Ten’s modern history on the gridiron, little more than silver or bronze medals after the inevitable BCS Bowl beat-down. If I wanted to stick out my chest about our head-to-head record versus Woody Hayes and our dust-covered shelf of Big Ten trophies while conveniently ignoring the fact my sainted coach won zero national championships while amassing the worst record versus Top 10 teams of any Div I-A head coach who coached in at least 100 games, I’d buy an autographed two-dollar Bo Schembechler glossy off eBay. But, as it stands, I prefer to live in the real world, where being the best matters. If it’s a national championship-or-bust, feast-or-famine cycle for the Irish, so be it. That’s what makes the victories that much sweeter.

You say Notre Dame’s 22-year title drought makes for a compelling case to join the Big Ten. Well, we still have 12 more years to match Ohio State’s drought between its 1968 and 2002 national titles. Michigan went nearly a half century between its ’48 title and its half-title in ’97. And Penn State, after winning two national titles in four years in the ’80s–AS AN INDEPENDENT–has now gone 24 years without a national championship in football. I’m guessing I could find a fan or two in State College, PA who will dispute the Big Ten’s ability to fast-track a team to national title contention. (For further reference, see “Penn State football, 1994.”)

As for the Notre Dame brand’s #1 overall ranking in terms of value, this isn’t the nebulous number you make it out to be. The school has an undergraduate enrollment of 8,300 kids. While its gross margins might not match a school flush with Big Ten Network virtual cash, its net margins as a measure of dollars generated per cost of student–i.e. its actual profit–leave OSU (39,000 undergrads), UM (42,000) and PSU (81,000) in its blue-and-gold dust.

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Sorry, Mr. Haugh, but I still can’t get over this quote: “joining the Big Ten would help the Irish forge an identity.” How do you figure? The loss of ND’s national recruiting base–the loss of its identity–stands as the single biggest threat to Notre Dame if it joined the Big Ten. The evidence is right there in black and white, but all the haters and idiot talking heads simply ignore it. Compare ND’s roster to Ohio State’s, Penn State’s or even Michigan’s. When you’re one of the Big Three in the Big Ten, all you need to do to recruit (especially in the case of Ohio State and Penn State) is bar the door at your state line. You ever look at the rosters of USC? How about Texas? Or Florida? Notre Dame does not have the luxury of simply walking outside and casting its line for the best 4- and 5-star athletes in its zip code. Nearly every other elite football program has that luxury, with the commiserate lack of academic standards to grease the wheels with admissions.

Admittedly, I have to give Big Ten Commissioner Jim Delaney some credit for being an evil genius. He’s managed to create the biggest cash cow in collegiate sports–replete with the most television revenue  and most January bowl bids–even with the conference generally sucking on the sports world’s biggest stages. Here are some numbers, just for a little perspective. In football, Notre Dame by itself has won six national championships since 1966. The SEC has won six BCS titles since just 1999. Meanwhile, the Big Ten can claim a whole 2-1/2 national championships since 1961. How about basketball? Well, since the men’s hoops tourney expanded to 64 teams in 1985 the ACC has won eight national titles. In that same time period the Big Ten has won a whopping three championships. Again, kudos to Delaney for selling people a plate of dog crap and convincing them its filet mignon.

The cost of conference affiliation is simply too high to bear for ND. Not only will it severely regionalize a national recruiting base, it spits in the face of a century-long independent tradition forged–there’s that word again–when Fielding Yost and Michigan, fueled by anti-Catholic sentiment, blackballed Notre Dame as it sought conference membership in the early 1900s. (Ah, irony never smelled so sweet.) If you want to blame someone for ND’s hubris and isolationism, Mr. Haugh, point your finger in the direction of Ann Arbor, not South Bend. And while you’re at it, do some research before your next Notre Dame diatribe. Any research, at all, would be refreshing.

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120 comments

  1. IrishChan 9 years ago

    Kiffen let Henderson go… Miami, Ohio St….

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  2. jack 9 years ago

    I disagree with you all. Kelly ran the ball a lot in the spring game and his two strong areas are running back and offensive line. He ran a lot of counters and has two backs in Jonas Gray and Cierra Wood that can break a long run. He has one of the best wide receivers in the country who before his injury accounted for more yards than Golden Tate. He has the #1 tight end in the country. On defense they are moving back to the 3-4 which is what the players are more suited to play. They are also staring more juniors and seniors on defense and will not gamble as much. Plus this Junior class was ranked in the top 5 of recruiting classes.

    Drew,
    As far as other people looking down on us as ND fans, I do my homework and know my team. People who look down on ND has nothing to do with fans, they just hate the school. Kelly has more talent than he did last year and name one top 10 team we will play this year. Pitt or Stanford come on. SC is down and kidd are starting to transfer. Do you think ND is not a top 50 team. All off the games ND lost last year were less than 10 points. If defense holds in the 2nd half they win more games.

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    1. Drew S 9 years ago

      What exactly does a Top-50 team have to do with them “Realistically getting 10 wins”?

      A 10-win ND team would be Top-5 in the country – and no, I do not think they are Top-5.

      The worst types of fans in the world are the ones who get unrealistic expectations of a team, and then bitch and whine when those expectations are not met. Unfortunately, Notre Dame has a ton of those types of “fans”.

      ND has far too many obstacles to overcome this year for people to just nonchalantly be expecting 10 wins.

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      1. jack 9 years ago

        Drew,
        How can you say that a 10-2 ND team would be ranked in the top five. There strength of schedule is weak, they don’t play a top 5 team and they are starting outside the top 25. A 12-0 ND team is in the top 5 but not a 10-2 team. The only team they play that would be even close to a top 5 team would be SC and they are on suspension and there is a mass exodus out of the program. I don’t believe ND is a top 5 team but they are as bad as you make them. I don’t have unrealistic expectations for this team, you need to get a clue and stop thinking they are going to be 6-6 this year. If they can’t win more that 8 games this year it would be a disappointment. I don’t accept 6-6 at ND and no fan should. The talent is there and the scheme on defense was run 2yrs ago. I don’t see why they can’t win 8 games.

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      2. Drew S 9 years ago

        They are Notre Dame. A 10-2 ND would be ranked very, very highly. If not the Top-5, they would be at least6 or 7, so the point still stands. Weak schedule aside (which is really isn’t so weak, honestly), big name programs get big name treatment when they are doing well.

        The thing is, you don’t KNOW if they are that bad. I don’t think they are a 3-win team like a couple years ago, of course not. BUT, without knowing Crist’s health, and having no real backup plan – it’s hard to say how they are. Teams don’t just replace Top-3 players at key positions and not miss a beat unless they were already loaded (like a USC has been), and ND has not been.

        If Crist is fully healed, and comes out playing well – absolutely the team could win 9 or so games. But if he’s not, and he doesn’t…there is no way they should be in a BCS game hunt.

        I’m not saying it’s wrong to be hopeful that they can…but given the circumstances, it’s very, very wrong to EXPECT them to.

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  3. DeltaIrish 9 years ago

    Mark May saying 10 wins. An Irish coach saying we will rely on defense. We have now officially entered the twilight zone. If this is a dream, its definitely a good one. From all I’ve read, the switch to a 3-4 scheme will allow us to better utilize the talent that we had stockpiled….but for Kelly to come down to SEC country and talk about winning multiple championships and relying on defense??? Our new coach has a set of brass ones. Like Chan, I want to hold off on buying into the hype and just see what this season reveals. But, Kelly has me pretty damn excited about this team.

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    1. Bross 9 years ago

      Talk about excitement, My twin boys participated in the Notre Dame camp held last week and I was able to spend a lot of time over the course of three days watching Kelly and his crew work these potential recruits out hard. We also attended last year’s camp too and the pace and tempo was noticeably faster not to mention incredibly organized even down to the last second. Kelly basically talk about nothing more than having passion. If the team practices are run anything like the camp was, then we are definetly going to be in great shape for the fouth quarter this year.

      Plus I saw Manti and Rudolph coming off the practice field after conditoning work outs one day…they are just freaks. they are so huge.

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  4. Bill Meehan 9 years ago

    we’re F#cked.

    Mark May just made the bold prediction ND would win 10 games.

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    1. irishspartan 9 years ago

      Haha! I absolutely despise Mark May…because he hates Notre Dame and because he’s usually right (in the last few years) about predicting their mediocrity. This blew my mind seeing is prediction — not that I’m necessarily on board with it, but if Brian Kelly has HIM believing the hype, then that’s saying a lot about the job Kelly has done here. Hopefully that translates into a Sept 4th smoking of Purdue!

      Go irish!

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      1. jack 9 years ago

        I think Mark May is right. Now I am scared to walk outside to be struck by lightning. I don’t see any team on the schedule that ND can’t beat. Will they suffer a loss or two maybe, but I think 10 wins is realistic wit the talent they have. I think a lot of people are suffering from the CW era when teams were projected to 10 wins and were 6-6. This team has talent on both sides of the ball.

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      2. Drew S 9 years ago

        How about the fact that they have new schemes, and lost both a Top-3 QB and the best WR in college last year? Also, their starting Qb has no experience and is coming off a pretty scary injury.

        Expecting this team to come right out and win 10 games is absurd, and it’s why people look down on us ND fans.

        People need to pay more attention to how the team looks than their record this year. Just this year, it’s an important thing…because realistically this team probably won’t win more than 8 games.

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      3. IrishChan 9 years ago

        I hate to buy into the hype as much as the rest of you. However, do we really know how good this team is? What are we using as the barometer

        In my mind it’s hard to use the past several seasons to judge the talent level that we have.

        Brian Kelly recently said that the Irish locker room was terrible when he and his staff arrived on campus. According to him, they lacked discipline and fight! Correcting the attitude in the locker room was his first assignment as the new head coach.

        These kids could SHOCK a lot of people next year under Kelly’s guidance.

        An undefeated season is a long shot. However I wouldn’t be surprised if Kelly can take these kids the distance and only drop a pair of games.

        Kelly has stated that he’s going to be relying on the Defense (yes DEFENSE) to help take pressure off Crist.

        With Crist in mind, he is a first year starter. A highly touted 5 start athlete but he doesn’t have a lot game experience.

        Is Kelly trying to tell us that he’s going to pound the ball with our stud backs and use our Defense to win games?

        If that’s the case and teams are fearful of our running attack it may leave room for our explosive receivers to break some big plays.

        I sure hope that’s the case anyways. At any rate I’m enjoying the summer weather but I can’t wait for the season to kick off!

        Go Irish

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  5. SteelFanRob 9 years ago

    Delta and JC,

    Stop it already! Let’s get on with more constructive discussions. I know I’ve been caught in more than one of these pissing contests myself with a few “regulars” (perhaps even one of you guys) and they’re just sophmoric after a while. I take it both of you are ND fans. Let’s come together and talk about something constructive relating to the program. Drop the egos, name-calling, etc.

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    1. Bill Meehan 9 years ago

      /agree

      I just had the realization that I have completely forgotten what in the hell you two started arguing about.

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      1. IrishChan 9 years ago

        lol. I’m with you man. Actually I’v stopped reading their posts altogether.

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  6. JC 9 years ago

    Delta,

    Well now, I knew you were not “tired” of name calling and hearing your own vainglorious comments. Your wounded ego won’t allow for it. “Silence can not be misquoted” is a concept you will never grasp. Anything else in your limited armamentarium of knowledge we need to know?

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    1. DeltaIrish 9 years ago

      Forgive me but I’ve not yet noticed any alleged wounds to my ego. Certainly none from the likes of you, Mr. JC. For once, you are absolutely correct. Despite my weariness of your stupidity, I allowed you to bait me into yet another response. And not even with valid points or even intellectual statements. But with “crying towels” and “depends.” I’m at a low. I’ve allowed myself to become embroiled in the antics of a fan site troll. Oh well, its been fun though. I will disengage now, and give you your longed for silence JC, as I have plans and obligations over the long weekend. So, I’m sorry I won’t be here to “snipe” your comments with my “name calling” and “vainglorious” comments. I’m sure you will be ok though. Maybe your mom will make you some hot pockets and bring them down to the basement for you.

      Happy 4th to everybody. Remember our vets. And Go Irish.

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      1. JC 9 years ago

        Mr. Delta prima donna, I won’t miss your continuous moronic insults and rancorous mental attitude of superior to all others. As claimed a Pseudo-ND fan your ethics are pathetic. You should acquiesce, ND and the world will be a better place.

        Yes, remember our vets and happy 4th to all of our Irish faithfull.

        McSweeney, again, excellent article for the nut job naysayers out there who only believe that their brand of relevance is indubitably superior to all others.

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  7. IrishChan 9 years ago

    You chuckle heads have been at this for a few days now… lol

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    1. DeltaIrish 9 years ago

      No kidding, if the season doesn’t start soon insanity is clearly around the bend.

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  8. scott 9 years ago

    Just to let you guys know..bubba starling signed with nebraska

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  9. IrishChan 9 years ago

    bananas

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  10. JC 9 years ago

    DeltaIrish,

    I think your posts speak for themselves, again, you are entitled to your opinion as well as everyone else and McSweeney. However, demanding everyone to accept your exclusive position of “give it a rest” is without question dictatorial…so who started what? Your satirical assessment justifies your still 13 when you don’t get your way. Alpha males are dime a dozen.

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    1. DeltaIrish 9 years ago

      JC,

      So your problem with my initial post is that I phrased my opinion in the form of a request that everyone just stop trying to defend NDs relevancy to the naysayers and let our, hopefully, improved play on the field be our response? And you took that in some way to be an order? A mandate? A dictatorial demand?

      I assure you that wasnt my intent. I wanted merely to express my own opinion that the argument about our relevancy was tired and beleagured. Perhaps its for not. There will always be those that will attempt to explain our lackluster play with shouts about or integrity and academic acheivements. And there will always be the naysayers that say we cant acheive what we once did. You can sit back and use our standards and reputations as a weapon and an excuse all day. In my OPINION, we are never gonna win an argument about relevancy in football with arguments about admission standards and GPAs.

      We’ll just have to agree to disagree JC. You stand fast in your love for ND because it turns out high character graduates that play with integrity. I’ll harbor my disappointment that these high character guys get blown out by the low character scumbags fielded by teams like USC. Maybe Kelly can be the middle point where we aere both happy. We get the high character guys that can perform in the classroom and on the field. You know, like the ones I cheered when I was 13.

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      1. JC 9 years ago

        I have to give to you Delta, you are master at self-celebration. Beyond that, I don’t need your permission to agree on anything.

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      2. DeltaIrish 9 years ago

        Wow. I dont know what else to say. I offered an opinion and was blasted for offering an opinion by a guy that assaulted me with “everybody’s entitled to their opinion.” After paragraphs of back and forth drivel I offer a truce and I get this. Its worse than debateing with a USC douchebag. I expected more from an ND fan.

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      3. JC 9 years ago

        From an alum not just a fan, what did you expect being a fringe type of guy with your rudimentary terminology. Your sniper writing coupled with crying wolf is no new paradox for you. However, one must consider the source since melodrama is your forte rather than substance.

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      4. DeltaIrish 9 years ago

        JC,

        I really don’t know what I did to yank your chain. I pointed out my opinion that we won’t win the relevency debate with talk history, GPAs and Integrity coupled with 6-6 seasons. If you think thats wrong, fine, live in your fantasy world.

        Regardless of our disagreement, I cannot understand your continued attacks. A “fringe type of guy”? I may not have attended but I have been a fan and followed the team for years. I’ve been to ND stadium multiple times, went to the bowl games, buy the shirts….I may not have the “alma mater” tie in but I feel I’m pretty invested in being a fan. “Sniper writing”? How so, I put an opinion on a fan site. If anyone has hidden in the bushes and fired its you. I offered an opinion that you are welcome to dispute logically, but instead get attacked as being somehow dictorial.

        “Rudimentary terminology”? Sorry, I guess, for somehow making you read my banter. Melodrama and crying wolf? Don’t see it. You don’t think ND is in danger of becoming irrelevant? After the last 17 years? Well, here’s a hint, in 1993 I never once had to argue ND’s relevancy in college football with anybody.

        I dont know if you have got your ire aroused by thinking you are defending ND against a hater. or if you are just a complete tool that considers him self editor of the internet. Either way, I’ve grown tired of the back and firth between us. I should have known better after your first responsive post. As the old saying goes, never argue with a fool. They bring you down to their level and beat you with experience.

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      5. JC 9 years ago

        Dialectic discussion, really? Where do I send the crying towels and depends?

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      6. DeltaIrish 9 years ago

        Glad to see that education is working out for you. It’s at least nice to have a debate with someone who knows a few terms as opposed to simply chanting “SEC!”. Alas, you are posting proof that an educated idiot is still an idiot. As for the towels and depends, you better hold on to them. May need them when you run out of tampons.

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  11. JC 9 years ago

    Ah gee whiz, we all must be suffering from a severe case of acatalepsia by your account. Impressive profanity and prejudice. Harvard graduate by chance?

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    1. DeltaIrish 9 years ago

      Acatalpsia? Hardly. Well, not all of us. Judging from your incomprehesible defense of an indefensible position coupled with your premenstrual like irritability this morning you may indeed have such a handicap.

      Harvard? No. I’m a graduate of that fine institution that hadnt beaten ND in 40 years until just recently. Twice. I guess the USNA’s integrity just out played the Irish’s Integrity finally huh?

      The sad thing is, JC, I agree with much you say. Football has to be about building character and I’m extremely proud that ND (to whom I follow with family loyalty even at the expense of my Alma Mater) instills character and does it the right way. Where I feel you go astray is in your position that, because we do it the right way, and have great tradition that is respected “internationally,” we apparently should be satisfied and not have to defend ourselves from claims of irrelevancy. You seem to forget that it was doing it the right way AND winning championships that established ND’s reputation and appeal. So, am I whining? Yeah, probably so. But you have to agree that our on field production has fallen well below our historical standards. And until we get it back to the level that ND has come to expect of itself, until we are gonna be irrelevant in the world of College football. We may have written the record books. We may be the last major team that does it the right way. But, lately, what we do the right way is finish 6-6.

      Please accept my apologies for offending your delicate sesibilities with my light profanity. Hard to teach an old sailor new tricks. I am however perplexed as to your accusation of prejudice. Are you preferring to my ad hominem attack on the bayou bengals? If so, guilty as charged. My mention of USC doing it the wrong way? Thats not prejudice, its fact. My reference to “Europeans”? really, I’d like to know what was prejudicial that I posted. Perhaps its merely my obvious distates for fools and their positions. To which, I respond: You started it.

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  12. Shazamrock 9 years ago

    History shows that winning or loosing in college football goes in cycles.
    At one time or another USC was down, as was Alabama, Nebraska, Miami, Navy, Rutgers, and more. Not that long ago Ohio St couldn’t beat Michigan.
    Now they can’t lose.
    Weis proved that elite high school players will come to ND.
    Find the right head coach as these schools have, recruit well, and winning will follow. Do it without compromising our principals and you have winning with integrity.(doesn’t really sound that hard, does it?)
    History also shows that ND is one of the winningest college football programs (Along with Michigan) of all time.
    That means we are always used in compairison. Used as a measuring stick.
    Fair or unfair it comes with the territory. Just as the accolades or criticism does.
    I’ve been a ND fan since 63′. Seen a lot. A lot of ups, a lot of downs. The best advice I can offer is, “Have a little faith baby, have a little faith”

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    1. DeltaIrish 9 years ago

      Shaz,

      I hear ya. Havent been aorund as long as you old timer and I was 13 when we one the last national Championship. Seems like one continuous downslide since then. I hope no one misunderstands me. I love Notre Dame because it “wins the right way.” I’m not advocating that we take the USC road to regain glory. But, I do get tired of touting our team GPA in response to the Bayou Retards down here that keep reminding me of the Sugar Bowl. Winning is important. Winning with integrity is priceless. We have the integrity. But we need the wins. Badly. I have faith in kelly and our recruiting has been great. But until we actually prove we can WIN with our integrity we are gonna face these short sighted attacks that we are irrelevant. And, as much as it pains me, they have some merit. Harvard wins with intergrity. The fact that we try to do it in the top echelon is what sets us apart. But we have to prove we can do it.

      You’re right. Gotta keep the faith. Go Irish!

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      1. Shazamrock 9 years ago

        Delta,

        I have a son who was born in 1985. He grew up liking the Michigan Wolverines even though the rest of the family are hardcore ND’rs.
        It’s hard to blame him. In all his 25 years, ND gave him little to get excited about.

        There’s a lesson in there for somebody!

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      2. DeltaIrish 9 years ago

        Thats sad Shaz. Maybe the turning of the tables with Kelly and Rich Rod will bring him back to where his genetics have been calling him all along.

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      3. Shazamrock 9 years ago

        I’m afraid he’s a lost cause.
        Although he likes ND, and pulls for them, Michigan is clearly his team.
        We are as close as father and son can be…. except that one Saturday each fall when we, and our teams, face off agianst each other.
        In 2006, 2007,& 2009 he happened to get a bit worked up and vocal. Had to cut off the poor lad’s beer conumption. (It was for his own good you know)
        Him and his wife are exspecing their first born in September, a son.
        You can bet that I’ll be humming our fight song in his ear from the first day!

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      4. DeltaIrish 9 years ago

        Congrats of your upcoming grandfatherhood. Maybe sanity skips a generation and your grandson will “wake the echoes.”

        In a way I feel your pain. When I got out of the service I moved down here near my wife’s family. All LSU supporters. I watch my kids around their cousins like i would if they were around known molestors. I swear I think hell is trimmed in purple and gold.

        Keep up the good fight.

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