In the movie "Snatch," a fairly cool British caper flick directed by Mr. Madonna Louise Ciccone and starring an almost unintelligible Brad Pitt as an Irish Gypsy, there is a great scene in which Brick Top, the Tony Soprano of London hoods, walks in with his goons on three small-time crooks who robbed his sportsbook just as they are figuring out how to get rid of a dead body.
After a lengthy monologue on the use of pigs to dispose of unwanted corpses ("You need at least 16 pigs to finish the job in one sitting, so beware of any man who owns a pig farm.") Brick Top gets to the point of his visit.
"Do you know what ‘nemesis' means?" To which the cornered and by-now-aware-of-how-screwed-they-are trio does not reply. "It's the righteous infliction of retribution manifested by an appropriate agent…namely me."
This did not seem to square with the meaning of the word I was familiar with so, when I had the opportunity, I looked it up. Apparently Brick Top (or writer-director Guy Ritchie) has a more thorough understanding of the language than I do because there, under definition number four, was the one he had so clearly enunciated to the cowering would-be thieves.
By this definition, Notre Dame has certainly been Michigan's nemesis many a year. This season, however, the relationship between the Wolverines and the Irish (and any other team with national championship aspirations, for that matter) is more akin to the first definition supplied by my dictionary:
nem•e•sis (n m -s s) n. 1. A source of harm or ruin.
From the moment Prescott Burgess trotted into the endzone after Brady's on-the-money pass skipped off John Carlson's hands, Michigan has been a source of harm or ruin. The 47-21 beat down was bad enough. The daily reminder by any tool with a microphone, camera or keyboard has been a nine-week long irritant, a splinter that just won't work itself out.
The result of ND's ONE loss has been wielded by the media like a 16-pound sledge. No nuance whatsoever. No allowance that the avalanche of Notre Dame turnovers against UM was a clear anomaly that severely affected momentum in that game; no comparison of results against common opponents; certainly no credit for ten wins. Just a drumbeat of "got killed at home…got killed at home…got killed at home."
I'm not saying we don't deserve this fate after that performance. I'm just annoyed by the fact that the entire media, on the basis of that game, discounts our ability to hang with any other top ten team. And I'm REALLY annoyed that it is Michigan that is responsible for this state of affairs.
But UM isn't content with ruining just Notre Dame's season. Now they have wrought their wretched way on the entire college football playing and viewing population. Why couldn't they have just rolled over when Ohio State went up by two touchdowns at the half? Why did the OSU center forget how to snap? A game that was well in hand and, even with those OSU miscues, wasn't ever in doubt, apparently turned into the latest "Game of the Century" and the entire college football world now lives with the embarrassing prospect of a rematch for the national championship (Man in red sweatervest: So you're saying I have to beat a team twice to be champ but they only have to beat me once. Hmmm. That seems fair).
So here we sit, on the cusp of arguably the most important game of Charlie Weis' tenure as Notre Dame's head coach, and Michigan continues to be as irritating as ever. I will finish out watching the games this season, whatever the results of the next two contests shall be, and try to focus on what has really been a remarkable two years. Hopefully, when next year rolls around, and for the foreseeable future, we revert to Brick Top's interpretation of "nemesis" and inflict a little of our own righteous retribution.
Let's feed ‘em to the pigs.