Saturday, November 29, 2008

Beat SC

This morning on College Gameday when predicting the outcome of the ND vs. SC game Kirk Herbstreit said, "Don't even worry about a number...Huge." Which team do you think he was referring to?

Sadly it was the Trojans, who enter tonight's battle for the Jeweled Shillelagh 32 point favorites. No Irish team has been more than a 24-point underdog since 1975.

Despite the woes of this year's 6-5 Irish club, former star Rhema McKnight guaranteed a Notre Dame victory when he spoke at last night's pep rally at the Marriott in Anaheim. Audacious? Yes. Possible? Yes. Probable? Who knows.

In rivalry match-ups it is impossible to predict who will win. Even as 32-point underdogs I would not count out the Irish. Anything can happen. Anything will happen.

Speaking of Rhema McKnight, check out this highlight video that someone put together of his senior year at ND. Notice anyone familiar around 56 seconds?

Go Irish, beat Trojans! 

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving

This message greets you from the now mostly smokeless City of Angels. For the sake of brevity, I will offer this: while this holiday weekend is certainly short in time, remember to make the most of it. Whether or not you are with the ones you love be sure to let them know how grateful you are to have them in your lives. On this historic day in our nation's history, we offer you Adam Sandler's "Thanksgiving Song." 

Now stop reading, start listening, and eat Turkey! Happy Thanksgiving! 

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Rivalry Week

As Virginia Tech prepares to play Virginia Saturday in the battle for the Commonwealth Cup, it's important to remind ourselves just what makes rivalries great, namely, the fact that your rival school sucks.

It's no different in the commonwealth of Virginia. The shirt and tie wearing, wine and cheese crowd of UVA descends on the fair hamlet of Blacksburg this weekend to tell us how much more their degrees are worth, and to shower us with insults regarding our blue-collar nature.

Thank goodness it's going to be too cold for sundresses.

Football is a dirty, tough and often ugly slugfest. It's about hard-hitting and snot bubbles. It's about getting your bell rung. It's about beating your rival and holding down the home turf...unlike some schools below.

There's no real point to this post. I'll have some actual football analysis tomorrow sometime. But just food for thought, sometimes I think Virginia Tech is the smarter school...

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Maui Wowi

AP Photo/ Chris Carlson

Please forgive the horrible pun but if you caught any of the Irish vs. Longhorns Maui Invitational semi-final game earlier tonight you know exactly what I'm talking about.

Notre Dame survived a late scare from the Longhorns after two missed free throws by Luke Harangody with 3.5 seconds left provided Texas' A.J. Abrams with an opportuntiy to win the game. His half court attempt fell short and the Irish prevailed, 81-80.

The game featured the young and talented Longhorns (No. 7 ESPN/USA Today, No. 6 AP) and a mature and experienced Irish (No. 8 ESPN/USA Today, No. 8 AP) team. Both teams entered undefeated and looking for their first marquee win on the young season.

Behind a typical double-double performance by Harangody (29 points, 13 rebounds) and stellar 3-point shooting (11 for 24), Notre Dame secured its first ever slot in the championship game of the Maui Invitational where they will face off against the #1 ranked North Carolina Tar Heels.

Here's hoping the Irish wake up the echoes of the famous 1987 match up between the then ranked #1 Tar Heels and Fighting Irish:

Part I

Part II

In the first round of the Maui Invitational the Irish manhandled the rebuilding Indiana Hoosiers, 88-50 and Texas took care of its first round foe, the St Joseph's Hawks 68-50, setting the stage for tonight's heavyweight match up.

Both teams battled back and forth in this one, with neither one pulling away from the other. the Largest lead came with just under 3 minutes remaining in the game as Harangody made a layup to extend the Irish lead to 75-67.

Kyle McAlarney finished with 19 points off of 5-6 shooting from behind the arc and Tory Jackson added 16 points on top of 7 assists for the Irish.

This was certainly a signature win that will help when it comes time for NCAA Tournament seeding, but it didn't come without a few mishaps. 

Notre Dame failed to box out throughout the majority of the game, leaving the Longhorns with several second chance opportunities. Free throw shooting was also an area of concern, as the Irish missed 6 of their final 8 attempts from the charity stripe during the last minute of game time.

Regardless, this will be one of the most important games for the Irish this season. A win would make a statement that the Irish are serious Final Four contenders, while a loss could lead to any number of questions about the potential of this team to compete with the upper echelon in the NCAA.

It's the match up columnists and basketball fans have dreamt about since the field for the tournament was revealed last year: Harangody vs. Hansbrough. Bruiser vs. Bruiser. Lights out shooting vs. fast-break mania. Pure shooting vs. Pure athleticism.

Tune in tomorrow at 10pm EST on ESPN to see what could possibly be the most exciting game of the young season.

Go Irish!

Monday, November 24, 2008

Our 100th Post Is A Real Downer...

AP Photo/Joe Raymond

Optimism is a commodity in short supply around here today. Both Virginia Tech and Notre Dame turned in real stinkers on the gridiron yesterday, Notre Dame inexplicably falling to Syracuse 24-23 and Virginia Tech winning a war of attrition with the Duke Blue Devils 14-3.

First let's dissect the Irish.


Notre Dame had zero turnovers Saturday in South Bend and Jimmy Clausen turned in another solid performance completing 22 of 39 passes for 291 yards and 2 touchdowns.

Golden Tate continues to impress during his sophomore season. Tate caught 7 passes for 146 yards and 2 touchdowns. On the year, Tate has 50 catches for 888 yards and 7 touchdowns.

That's about all the good I could find in this one (granted I missed the end to go to the Tech game).


This should be pretty obvious. The Irish led Syracuse 23-10 and looked pretty good doing it up to that point. 'Cuse looked like the hapless shell of a once great program that they are but something strange happened on the way to 7-4 for the Irish...

Notre Dame suddenly couldn't muster any offense. Starting inside the Orange 23-yard line on 4 possessions, the Irish managed just 6 points.

"I really don't know why that happened," said a bewildered Clausen after the game.

The only way to rationalize this game is to chock it up to the dreaded "look ahead" factor with the #6 USC Trojans on the docket next weekend. In the end, it's a matter of executing consistently on offense which has been a problem throughout the season.

Now for the Hokies.


The Virginia Tech defense played one of its best games of the season holding Duke to just 136 total yards. The Blue Devils were able to complete just 2 passes for 20 yards and quarterback Zack Asack threw 4 interceptions, though he did run for 87 yards and was effective on the ground most of the night.

Sean Glennon
played well again, completing 12 of 22 passes for 132 yards and a touchdown. It was the first touchdown pass of the year to a wide receiver, freshman Jarrett Boykin who led the Hokies with 67 yards receiving.

Darren Evans
also had another good game rushing 24 times for 111 yards. Evans needs just 74 yards to eclipse 1,000 for the season.


The Hokies offense scored just 7 points on a frigid evening in Blacksburg. I would have to say it was among the worst performances by a Virginia Tech team that I've seen end in victory.

Tyrod Taylor
had an alarmingly off night. Taylor was just 2 of 5 passing for 15 yards and two interceptions. He also lost two fumbles. Couple that with the unlucky interception on Sean Glennon's first passing play and Tech turned the ball over 5 times, in the first half.

Tech coaches will decide who starts against Virginia during the week. Based on recent performance, it's hard not to pull for senior Sean Glennon to get the start in his final game at Lane Stadium.


The Irish are now 6-5 and will head out west to take on USC (9-1, 7-1). Virginia Tech is 7-4 overall and 4-3 in the ACC. If the Hokies can retain possession of the Commonwealth Cup and defeat Virginia (5-6, 3-4) on Saturday they will go to the ACC Championship for the third time in four years.

Notre Dame has a tough challenge ahead of them but I expect a game effort come Saturday. The result could get ugly, but I expect the team will rally around head coach Charlie Weis who has come under tremendous fire recently. Also, the Irish want to cement their bowl hopes. They could certainly go to a bowl at 6-6, but would be heavily criticized in the press in such a scenario. They don't want to limp into the postseason, but neither do the Trojans.

The Hokies are in an unbelievable position. The ACC has been an outrage of inconsistency this season, as a result, the Hokies are one win away from a pretty big accomplishment. Rivalry games are always tough, and this weekend should be no different. I actually give the Hoos a better shot at victory this year in Lane Stadium than last year up in Charlottesville. Just the nature of the conference and of these two teams this season lead me to expect the unexpected.

Plenty more to come on both these games as the week progresses.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Aloha Notre Dame Basketball

I will withold comment on the football team until further notice, but do expect to hear something soon about the latest debacle. 

As for now, get set as the Irish men's hoops team squares off as one of the premiere teams in the 25th edition of the Maui Invitational starting tomorrow. Notre Dame squares off against Indiana at 5:30pm EST in what would have seemed like a championship bout several years ago. Recruiting scandals and player attrition, however, have created a Hoosiers team replete of ho-hum talent and zero respect.

The potential road map for the Irish in the tournament: Indiana, then most likely Texas (ranked one spot above the Irish in the polls), and then likely North Carolina (who may or may not be without superstar celebrity Tyler "Psycho T" Hansbrough).  

Sports columnists are drooling over the possibility of a Harangody vs Hansbrough matchup in the title game and so should you. It could be a prelude to the Final Four...

In the next few weeks expect an influx of basketball articles as football season winds down.

Go Irish, beat Hoosiers! 

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Song Of The Day- November 20

I have a sneaking suspicion that I'm going to hear about this for a while, but here's a cut from Lil Wayne. This is actually the remix of his track "Lollipop". There are roughly 400 remixes on you tube but this is the one that I've heard and enjoyed so I'm going with it. Lil Wayne is downright hilarious and there are a few examples in here of what I mean.

"Don't worry why my wrist got so freeze
Tell a girl like Doritos that's not your {nacho} cheese
Tell her friends like Frito's I'm tryin' too lay
I can only have one and I ain't tryin' to wait"

Pretty good. But my favorite lines...

"Safe sex is great sex, better wear a latex
'Cause you don't want that late text
That "I think I'm late," text"

As someone who fancies himself a crafter of fine lyrics, I have to tip my cap to Lil Wayne. Believe it or not, I've even managed to "dance" to this stuff. Yikes.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

The Earth Stopped Rotating And Myanmar Has Taken Over The United States

Well, no it didn't. It's about as accurate a statement as all of the "Weis is getting fired" talk that is being spread around the news outlets. None of it is true. Stop debating - you are making yourself look ignorant.

Honestly people, do you really think that the University has any motivation to fire Weis right now? They knew this would not be a 10-2 season, and whether or not that should be acceptable at Notre Dame is an entirely different subject. 

As it is, Charlie's recruiting classes are as follows (2005 is omitted because Charlie was with the New England Patriots during their Super Bowl run, although he did his part to keep the class in tact after Tyrone Willingham's departure):
  • #8 Rivals, #5 Scout in 2006
  • #8 Rivals, #11 Scout in 2007
  • #2 Rivals (they haven't adjusted for the Alabama players that didn't enroll), #1 Scout in 2008
  • #9 Rivals, #10 Scout so far for the 2009 campaign
So you say recruiting rankings don't matter? Well maybe you're right. I'll scratch the rankings from the argument if you're willing to concede that the talent level has significantly increased under the Weis regime compared to the talent brought in under his predecessor, Tyrone Willingham. In fact, many Irish faithful contend that Notre Dame has not seen the breadth of talent roaming campus since the days of Lou Holtz more than a decade ago.

If that isn't enough, consider that Charlie took his first two teams to BCS games (warranted or not, again - different story). In doing so, he took previously unpolished talent and put them in a system that catered to their strengths and minimized their weaknesses. 

Had anyone in the country heard of Jeff Samardzija before Charlie helped thrust him into the limelight? Didn't think so. Tyrone recruited him but never used him. 

Why hasn't Charlie done so with this year's talent or even last year for that matter? Look at the starting lineups those years compared to 2005 and 2006. The majority of starters this year and last were true sophomores and/or true freshmen with sparse upperclassmen as their supporting cast. 

The value of experience must not be underestimated. For example, it can take up to four or five years for an offensive lineman to truly develop into a dominant force. Unfortunately, Notre Dame has not had the luxury of play elder offensive linemen thanks in part to the (lack of) recruiting by Tyrone Willingham

On top of that, do you think ND would really want to pay the buyout of Weis' remaining 7 years on his contract (each year worth a reported $3-4MM including incentives)? Didn't think so. While ND certainly has the money available to do it simply will not happen. Not a chance.

Now I bet you are all wondering if I'm a Weis apologist or not. The answer is no. As contradictory as it may seem, I am a realist and an eternal Notre Dame optimist at the same time. 

At the halfway point of the season I predicted that the Irish would go 4-2 in its remaining games. While the outcome is still in jeopardy it is not out of the question yet. I don't care if you're one of those people who has already signed off USC as a loss - the fact of the matter is that Notre Dame and USC have not played yet this year and I have yet to hear the fat lady. Still care to question the outcome? Bring it up with Oregon State.

Bottom line: quit believing everything you're hearing from your "sources" and just watch the three remaining games this season. 

Grab some popcorn - I heard that Boston Red Sox and the New York Yankees  are now best friends. 

Song Of The Day- November 12

Today's song comes from deep within the rock vault. This is Brian Wilson performing his famous song "Surf's Up", originally intended for the SMiLE album, which the Beach Boys never actually recorded. This is Brian Wilson at his finest. In his home performing solo as he heard it in his head in rough form.

When Wilson finally re-recorded SMiLE in it's entirety in 2004, "Surf's Up" was of course included, completely re-recorded with Wilson's backing band the Wondermints.

Van Dyke Parks' lyrics are awesome, Brian Wilson's singing is solid yet vulnerable. This song rocks.

Now here's the version from the SMiLE of 2004 with the Wondermints.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Song Of The Day - November 8, 2008

Today's song of the day is a modern take on an old classic. In 1908, John and Michael Shea wrote one of the most recognizable songs the world has known, even though the two brothers thought it was very "amateurish."

"The Notre Dame Victory March" was dubbed the "greatest of all college fight songs" in college football's centennial season in 1969. There are plenty of other fine collegiate tunes - including Tennessee's Rocky Top, Texas' Texas Fight, Michigan's Hail to the Victors, Oklahoma's Boomer Sooner, LSU/Clemson's Tiger Rag, even Virginia Tech's Tech Triumph which I have grown fonder of thanks in small part to my fellow comrade - but for my money, nothing is more pleasing to the ears than the Notre Dame Victory March.

Michael Shea, music composer, and John Shea, lyricist, intended the original version of the Victory March to be as a stand-in until someone wrote a better song. In fact, even though it was written in 1908 it was not played on campus until 1909 and not at an athletic event until a decade later!

On October 4th, 2008 when Notre Dame took on the Stanford Cardinal I had the distinct pleasure and honor of performing in the Centennial Celebration of the Notre Dame Victory March. More than 500 alumni took part in what was truly a special weekend for Notre Dame, as this year marks the 100th birthday of one of the greatest and most recognizable songs in history.

That said, today's rendition is an instrumental cover by the Massachusetts band Dropkick Murphys. This Irish-American band is well known for their patronage of the Boston Red Sox  and Boston Bruins. In fact, I was told by a friend and alumnus of Boston College that they are not allowed to perform on BC's campus anymore due to the raucous crowds that inherently gather to celebrate Boston/Massachusetts heritage.

Ironically enough, the Dropkick Murphys decline the return of BC's adoration - why else would they have covered the fight song of one of BC's most hated rivals?

Tonight, at 8pm EST on ESPN the Notre Dame Fighting Irish take on the Boston College Eagles in Chestnut Hill in a rivalry bout known as the Holy War. In what was hopefully a prelude to this evening's contest, the Notre Dame hockey team defeated Boston College last night by a score of 4-1. While the win did not fully exact revenge from last year's loss in the national championship game to the Eagles the win was huge for an Irish team that had yet to defeat a ranked opponent and that will likely not face another such opponent until January.

Without any further digression, I present to you "Victory" by the Dropkick Murphys.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Hokies Run Past Terps

PHOTO CREDIT AP Photo/Don Petersen

Redshirt freshman Darren Evans surprised everyone, perhaps even himself, when he exploded for a school-record 253 yards rushing in a 23-13 victory over #23 Maryland Thursday night.

Evans also had 2 catches for 20 yards to go along with his 32 carries and a touchdown on the ground.

Sean Glennon made the start for the Hokies(6-3, 3-2) coming off an injury at Florida State. Glennon played well completing 14 of 20 passes for 127 yards and a 5-yard touchdown pass to tight end Greg Boone.

Boone was another interesting story on the night. Offensive coordinator Bryan Stinespring implemented his new "Wild Turkey" formation, which puts the former high school and Tech quarterback in the shotgun formation. Boone ran on every play, carrying the ball 6 times for 22 yards.

All in all it was a very impressive night for the Hokies. Tech's much maligned offense piled up 400 total yards while the defense held Maryland (6-2, 3-2) to just -12 yards rushing.

Tech improved to 15-3 all-time in Thursday night games and they'll have another such game next Thursday when the Hokies head to Miami for an important ACC Coastal Division match up.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Get Out The Vote

Back from the dead, Terry Tate (Office Linebacker) reminds America of the consequences for choosing not to exercise their right to vote. 

That's all kind of constitutional indeed. 

Regardless of who wins the election, Stars and Slights is proud to have 100% voter participation. More importantly, we are most proud to live in a country where our voting decisions do not determine whether or not we are persecuted by extremists, radicals, or even our own government. 

Relish your privilege to vote and do not take this election, or any other for that matter, lightly. Your government is waiting to hear from you (even if they are not thrilled about what you will say). 

So sit back and take a moment to think about how lucky we are to exercise our right to vote free of fear. 

God bless America. 


It's time America to perform your collective civic duty. As a resident of this country (and hopefully a registered voter) it's not your right to vote, it's a privilege and a responsibility to do so. Your country is asking for guidance, so give America a shove in whatever you feel is the proper direction. As a somewhat light-hearted anecdote, I will accompany this post with a Neil Young song, "Let's Impeach The President". I think we can all agree ol' G-dub left plenty to be desired.


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