The maxim for identifying statistical causation holds that when a freak event happens once it is an exception, twice is a coincidence, and three times is a trend. Strangely, the standard does not distinguish how many occurrences qualify an event as a curse, but the number of crushing defeats for the Notre Dame football team passed the exit for "trend" about 14 years ago.
After yet another post-mortem Sunday spent sweeping up the shards of a shattered sports psyche, there are few conclusions left to draw other than that, at some point during the last 14 years, the Irish football team has picked up a curse, and it is a doozy.
In that time period, the Irish have lost at least 20 games in excruciating fashion in the game's final moments. The opponents in those losses run the spectrum from legendary (2005 Southern Cal) to laughable (2008 Syracuse).
By comparison, wins over top caliber opponents have been virtually non-existent, and only one team (Michigan in 1998, 2002) has supplied any relief.
What could be the cause? From whence this hoodoo?
Halley's comet made its last perihelion in 1986 so that doesn't seem right.
Some have cited football-related causes, but those are the convenient excuses of writers leaning on the crutch of "credibility." The lack of fundamental football, including a stout defense, reliable running game, and sensible coaching decisions, is certainly worth consideration. It is logical that a team like Notre Dame, for whom opponents always bring their best game, would need those things to hold off late game charges.
But this rationale is flawed; it neglects the nature of these losses which have the mark of a higher power, something far more sinister. Such treachery could only be the work of a mastermind insider with access to the supernatural. The Pope is the obvious choice for sheer sacrilege, but he is rumored to be more of a soccer fan.
No, the only possible explanation is that, like Pedro Cerrano in Major League, former Irish coaching legend Lou Holtz has been brainwashed by the seductive power of voodoo.
Is it so difficult to imagine? His unintelligible lisp provides a perfect disguise for a litany of hexes broadcast on national TV. His ESPN-ized pundit persona of "Dr. Lou" is really just a front for his new occupation of witch doctor. All afternoon long, Lou can sit behind a desk and, unbeknownst to viewers, stab pins into his surrogate voodoo doll Mark May (alias "Jobu").
It is indeed a powerful spell that has usurped the luck of the Irish. If rainbows and a 95-yard touchdown pass couldn't stop Michigan, Notre Dame's only hope is to find the real leprechaun.