Notre Dame Football, Irish Optimism, and Severe Liver Damage: An Open Letter

Marc HalstedCorrespondent INovember 17, 2009

SOUTH BEND, IN - OCTOBER 17: Student fans of the Notre Dame Fighting Irish wave towels before a kick-off against the USC Trojans at Notre Dame Stadium on October 17, 2009 in South Bend, Indiana. USC defeated Notre Dame 34-27. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

Dear Notre Dame football fans,

Don’t try to be a hero. Just manage the pain. If you feel the irrepressible drive to drink, give in to that urge and hoist away. Sometimes a little of grandpa’s cough syrup is just what you need to make that pain go away.

Now that we have that clear (so to speak), let’s get to the issues at hand. We’ll start with you.

Ease up. Go read a transcript of former Memphis coach Tommy West or YouTube the video replay of his press conference. Listen to the guy; he’s got a few good points about standing by your team, staying positive, and remaining optimistic.

I know, I know, you’re tired of the losing. You’re tired of Coach Weis and the acclaimed “decided schematic advantage” that has dissolved into a mixture of mediocrity and predictability.

You’re tired of the pregame arrogance and postgame contrition.

You’re tired of being the bug on the windshield for every top-25 team from the sunny beaches of southern California to the old steel towns of Pennsylvania.

Look, I’m tired too, but we have a saying up here in New England: You can only kick a dead cow so many times before something nasty comes out.

The sun still went up Sunday morning, nobody has bailed from the recruiting class of 2010, and there’s still enough talent in the cupboard to make a run at UConn, Stanford, and a respectable bowl game. Life is good, right?

If Notre Dame finishes 8-4, heads south for a quality sunburn and a respectable bowl opponent, Jimmy and Golden stay in school, and Manti Te’o passes up his chance at his Mormon mission, the future is bright.

I know there are concerns on the field, but those can be dealt with.

Jimmy and the boys obviously prefer to show up fashionably late these days, but the numbers are still impressive. Clausen’s 3000 yards, 21 TD passes, and just four interceptions are Heisman worthy. Golden is over 1100 yards, Floyd averages 121.2 yards per game, and six receivers have 20 or more catches. And don’t forget the 29.3 points per game so far this season. 

The oft-criticized run game has been impressive in spurts as well. I have no idea why Armando Allen and his 5.5 yards-per-rush average weren’t used more against Pitt, especially early in the second half when he was ripping off eight-yard runs like it was his job (which, unless I've imbibed a little too much of late, I think it is). But hey, at least we have a legit every-down back for another season, correct?

The offensive line will lose a few players to graduation but Trevor Robinson will be back for more nastiness, Chris Stewart has a fifth year to lay more pavement, and Dan Wenger will have had enough playing experience to make us think that those penalties and "o-lays" will not be problem in the future.

The defensive line rotation has improved over the past few weeks. I know, Bill Stulls' mom didn’t even have to wash his jersey Saturday night, but let’s chalk that up to an aberration.

Kapron Lewis-Moore is a physical specimen, Ethan Johnson is almost over his sophomore slump, Sean Cwynar has shown promise, and Kerry Neal and Darius Fleming have shown bursts of potential (just ignore the whole Tate Forcier thing, Darius).

The bottom line here is that all of us have spent enough time with Johnny Walker, Captain Morgan, and Uncle Jack these days to be able to spin this whole mess into the illusion of potential success and the dream of a national championship.

Ignore the play-calling disasters, accept C.W. for what he is, and pay no attention to the long list of depressing numbers that accompany the Weis era. They’re just window dressing for pending brilliance.

Beat the enigmatic UConn Huskies on senior day, put 10 guys in the box to stop Toby Gerhardt in the season finale, and finish with eight wins. 

It can be done. 

It should be done.

It must be done.

Cirrhosis of the liver can wait.

Sincerely yours in Domerdom,

-Marc Halsted