Sunday, January 3, 2010

Flippin' Irish

So, it's the first week in January and I keep getting voicemails from friends, grad school roommates and all sorts of other jokers who like to remind me that Notre Dame didn't go to a bowl game this year.

This serves me right, because last year I did the same to a University of Michigan graduate friend of mine, turnabout being fair play and all.

But I'm a little more than a little annoyed by this. And, as an alumni of our dear university of our dear lady of the lake, I believe it is my God-given right to comment on this God-forsaken situation, especially because I have been watching such great games as the Idaho victory in the Humanitarian Bowl and the Arkansas victory in the Liberty Bowl. And because I am quite sure that Notre Dame, even in its most grotesque iteration might add some dignity and gravity to a landscape of bowls that includes such corporate flatulence as the Bowl and the Meineke Car Care Bowl.

I mean, c'mon man. Let's think about this for a second. And let's quote ND Athletic Director Jack Swarbrick...

"The unique circumstances surrounding our program at the current time prevent us from making the commitment required to compete in a bowl game..."

"If the landscape had been different, we would have been thrilled to take part, and we certainly look forward to being part of the bowl system in the years to come..."

Jack, with all due respect, this stinks worse than the Eagles' tackling did this afternoon. And I mean stinky like baby diapers.

I'd like to put this in some perspective.

1. Some of these players were actively denied the opportunity to play in their last game ever because ND refused this bid. Last game ever. Ever. Final. Finito. End of their football career, which has been one of the primary themes of their lives since early childhood.

2. Some of these players may have been able to shine in front of NFL (and, gasp, UFL) scouts.

3. Some of these players may have made the play that might have helped their draft stock rise just a little bit higher. Or the play that would have stuck in their memories for the rest of their lives.

Yes, I'm a sentimentalist about college football. I believe it is a noble endeavor that promotes many of the ideals that I (and we) hold dear, that offers opportunities otherwise unavailable, that grows community and culture, and offers us all an escape from whatever mundane worries we have to endure for the other 21 hours of whichever day the game is played.

And I'm a fan that loves the drama, the hooting and hollering, the adrenaline, the epic thrill of victory and agony of defeat.

And I got the short end of it this year. We all did.

Even if the Irish went to the Scott Merde Bowl, we would've had the opportunity. The chance.

And that's what this is about. The elusive possibility of greatness and immortality. The opportunity. The chance.

And Notre Dame, the one place that carries its history, and the whole history of college football with it onto the field with every snap, blew it.

Worse than Michigan, USC, Navy, Pittsburgh, Connecticut, and Stanford combined.

So much for waking up the echoes.

Thank God for next year.