Copyright by Global Electronics Telecommunications, publishers of IrishEyes.Com™
December 7, 2001
Hump Will Play;
Shooting Darts for Coach
By Alan Tieuli
The IrishEyes.Com News Service
(IE) – Never mind.
Twenty-four hours after announcing that Ryan Humphrey would be out for "at least two weeks" with a stress reaction in his lower left leg, Notre Dame did an about-face Friday afternoon and said Humphrey will play Saturday at Miami (Ohio).
"With two weeks between this game and the next, it would give enough time to re-evaluate the injury," said Bernadette Cafarelli, basketball sports information director for the Irish. "He'll give it a shot (Saturday)."
Humphrey is expected to be in the starting line-up for the 3 p.m. tipoff at Millett Hall. The RedHawks, with losses to North Carolina (the Wilmington variety), Xavier and Evansville, are still to be considered dangerous, especially against the 7-1 Irish. Venerable head coach Charlie Coles has had his way with three Irish mentors in successive years – John MacLeod, Matt Doherty and Mike Brey.
"If you don't think Miami is a big game, ask David Graves or Harold Swanagan," said Brey.
Graves and Swanagan are the only two remaining members of the Notre Dame squad that lost its 1998-99 opening game to the RedHawks, 76-65, at the Joyce Center. Graves had nine points, four rebounds and five fouls in that contest. Swanagan had one rebound in nine minutes. That was the night that Michiana realized that Wally Szczerbiak was going to play at the next level.
The last time Notre Dame visited Millett Hall, December 11, 1999, it dropped a truly miserable 71-55 affair, a contest that easily ranks in the Top Five of worst games ever witnessed by the 33-year voice of the Irish, Jack Lorri. You have more chance of seeing astroturf in Notre Dame Stadium than the Irish ever visiting Millett Hall again.
Last year in South Bend, with Troy Murphy on the bench until the first media timeout, the Irish fell again, 73-64, tumbling out of the AP Top Ten rankings after a 4-0 start. The imminently quotable Graves said later: "(Jason) Grunkemeyer is a nice player, but c'mon. How can we lose to these guys?"
Looking at all of this collectively, maybe that is why Humphrey is playing Saturday.
A happy family occasion – my oldest son Matthew participating in the Junior Olympics Cross Country Nationals – brings IrishEyes back to Lincoln, Nebraska this weekend. And there was a great deal of sadness upon seeing Memorial Stadium again.
When we here the second Saturday in September, the season was full of promise. I vividly recall writing a "Why Not?" column in response to David Haugh penning a piece in the South Bend Tribune that said "The only type of faith you should place in the Irish winning this game is of the blind variety."
We owe you one, David. You were right.
Notre Dame was stunningly unprepared for the contest, evident from the opening possession when the Irish were pushed four yards off the line of scrimmage on every snap by Nebraska's offensive line. By the end of the first quarter every facet of the Irish game had broken down.
This had nothing to do with Nebraska playing two games before the Irish. This was about a Notre Dame team blinking. That is not supposed to happen.
That night, IrishEyes happened to walk off the Memorial Field turf with Kevin White. We enjoy doing this because the Athletic Director is warm and welcoming and not shy about showing genuine emotion. On this night, just out of the public sight, he let out a deep sigh. Immediately thought back to a warm October afternoon in Morgantown, West Virginia when IrishEyes congratulated White after a victory in front of a hostile Mountaineer home crowd. "We're getting there, we're getting there, we're close to something here," White enthused, then he ran off and applied a hearty hug to Bob Davie.
On this night, White wasn't anywhere to be seen in the post-game interview setting. It's seems easy to say now, but IrishEyes knew right then – unless the Irish went 9-2 minimum – that Davie was gone. And, having said that, this IrishEyes staff member will miss Davie. What he lacked in charisma, he made up for in character. His players will tell you collectively that they are better people for being around him. His address at the Pittsburgh Pep Rally this year about character was outstanding, even more remarkable now when you realize it came just three days after White basically told him he would be fired at year's end.
Only in Lincoln. On the front page on Page One of Friday's Lincoln Journal-Star -- just under "Taliban to Surrender -- is a half-page feature "Tailing The Tigers." Obviously, Nebraska fans are rooting hard for LSU to defeat Tennessee in the SEC Championship game Saturday so the Husker can potentially back into the BCS Championship game.
The feature includes the addresses of four LSU web sites -- for sports, school, smack and spice -- and then lists five famous LSU grads: James Carville, Shaquille O'Neal, Hubert Humphrey, Joanne Woodward and Stephen Stills. The feature also lists the lyrics of the LSU fight song and lists details of LSU-Tennessee series history.
There will be apologies here in this town if the Huskers meet Miami on Jan. 3.
Mark Blaudschun of the Boston Globe is one of the finest college football scribes in the country and Friday wrote that George O'Leary may be the ideal candidate for Davie's old job. O'Leary would make IrishEyes' copy a little more colorful. At the Gator Bowl, O'Leary easily earned an A in quotability while at his best Davie was a C+…….To show you how fruity this business is, IrishEyes on Thursday and Friday scanned 14 different metropolitan newspapers – all in hot college football markets – and there were five different "Notre Dame's clear choice," "current leaders" or "Kevin White's number one" – O'Leary, Tyrone Willingham, Tom Coughlin, Bob Stoops and Houston Nutt. And there was no particular geographic preference to the picks. No need pointing out who the reporters are here. After all, wasn't it this scribe who put on the IrishEyes message board this week that Willingham had been offered? We'd all be wise to heed White's advice this past Sunday. "When there is news to be told, you'll hear it from me."
(Alan Tieuli is the Managing Editor of IrishEyes and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.)