Football, the Internet, and Being A Domer

I like to peruse the various Notre Dame boards and Mike's chat room here at Irish Eyes, and see the carnage that is going on here and there, mostly because the Irish aren't winning. So many people, alumni and subway alumni, are on these boards and chats, with so many theories, so many suppositions, and so much anger.

Sometimes I pop in, give my two cents, tell them why they are so obviously wrong, occasionally get into an internet muscle contest, agree with their wisdom, but add something they failed to see, or just agree with them totally. Of course, there are few "Bingos" only in my postings. If you've had one feel honored.

Esc, Escalibore, Brett, aka Mike's partner, uh, partner in crime, on the Post Game Show would tell you that for me to throw a coach under the bus means I feel a colossal philosophical, tactical, or personnel error has been made. Or, as he puts it another way, I'm a big apologist for coaches. Of course, that's just Escalibore's opinion. My wife hears me go into rages in front of my television screen, as do neighbors half a block away.

I must admit that some of the best internet fun I've ever had, a totally self-absorbing, cathartic, and Machiavellian experience, was trying to convince others that Tyrone Willingham was the anti-Christ of coaching, at least as far as how he was ruining my beloved Irish. A close second was ripping Diedrick's offense, not only on Xs and Os, but in scope and sequence, the psychological ramifications that offense was having on a freshman quarterback, and…I'm sure the reader gets the picture.

Then Coach Weis comes along and for two years, to be truthful, I felt somewhat let down internet-wise by not having anything to crusade about. I felt like I wasn't having as much fun. It was fun bashing the previous coaching regime as a trade off of my team being less than successful. It was also a release brought about by the frustration that comes from being a Notre Dame fan and catching grief from all those who aren't.

Have there been any minor complaints the first two years? Sure, of course. We're fans after all, but nothing major, at least not with most people. Esc and I have discussed those two years as somewhat of a letdown, a period of emptiness, and the loss of a lot of fun in regards to message boards and chats that came with the hiring of Coach Weis. People, we are nothing if not honest with ourselves.

Now, amid Notre Dame's horrendous season, some people are having fun again on boards and in chats over some real or perceived coaching mistakes. That's their right if they play within the rules that Mike Frank wants the boards to adhere to. Only please, people, do not fall back on hackneyed clichés. What follows are a few clichés and a few suggestions to eliminate your gut reaction posts that, for a lack of anything better, don't show much thought process is going on. I mean, aren't Irish fans a cut above the mundane and unwashed fans of college football? We need to show that is so.

Complaint: "That off sides (illegal procedure, alignment, personal foul, you name it) just shows me that this is an undisciplined football team and that lies with the coaches."

Reality: Ok, all coaches say it's not the focus of their coaching to eliminate penalties. Right? No, wrong! Coaches at every level coach to reduce penalties. They admonish, warn, plead, yell, threaten, and punish penalties in practice, scrimmages, film study, and in games. Even if the coach was inclined to shoot the offender I can assure you that you'd have to shoot others down the line. Pretty soon you'd be down to eight man football and that would last too long either. Before you utter this old chestnut in a chat or post it on a board make sure that: a) As a player, if you were one, you never committed a penalty. b) That your children (use dog here if childless) always do exactly what you have told them and trained them to do. c) That you've never seen an All Pro do the same in the NFL.

Complaint: "That was the dumbest play call I've ever seen."

Reality: You can't keep saying that week after week. Its very use screams that you haven't seen a lot of football or that you're desperate for attention. Before you post this old standby: a) Ask yourself how many times you've started to go ape over the call as the play unfolds and then the play turns out successful. b) If the play was a pass and you advocate a run would have worked instead of the sack or incomplete pass please remember the times a run failed and you advocated, in hindsight, a pass. Can't have it both ways guys. c) Fall back on poor execution or good defense when you post. You come off more mature and less emotional.

Complaint: Why does player X constantly let the opponents go wide?

Reality: Unless the kid is constantly giving up his inside shoulder you need to know something you can't find out about. What was the call in the huddle? Was the call given for him to come down inside at the snap of the ball? If so he'll never recover to stop a wide play, but that's understood in defensive circles. So, if you see a DE or OLB come down inside while the bad guys go wide: a) Say something witty like, "So and so had the right call on there because our kid had an inside stunt." b) Say, "Has that stunt ever worked enough times in our favor as compared to the times other teams get outside on us?"(No one will know, even the major stat freaks, so I recommend this one.)

Complaint: Put so and so in. He can't be any worse.

Reality: Oh, yes, he can be worse. Let's face it, compared to the average Joe, college coaches usually make far bigger bucks. Those bucks are dependent on them winning. Why would any coach want a guy in there who has the coach's livelihood in his hands who isn't the best one he can find? Do we need an a) and a b) here?

Complaint: We can't win with that quarterback. Put the backup in.

Reality: The Taj Mahal of all fan criticism, angst, and wild eyed craziness. Forget the fact that the other guy, the one that so many want to replace the starter with, is giving signals or holding a clipboard for a reason. Sort of goes back to Put So and So In. a)Show your infinite wisdom by saying "The reason the backup is doing so well is that the opponent is playing a prevent defense now. My grandmother can complete passes against a prevent." b) "Sure the kid looks good. The other team has dialed it down." c) Above all don't bring up "quarterback controversy." You'll come off sounding like Andre Ware, Bret Musberger, or a former SMU tailback.

Complaint: This staff doesn't develop players.

Reality: This is especially pitiful when the coach has kids drafted by the NFL, and even more pitiful when you have knocked said player who gets drafted. Cliché time for me…You can lead a horse to water but you can't make him drink. Coaching goes on every day in practice, and some are better at it than others, just like any of life's endeavors. However, that doesn't mean learning, wanting to learn, or accepting a higher authority than your self goes on in every youth's head. I don't want to even discuss kids and their retention capacity. Let's face it, the average teenager or kid in his early twenties thinks they know it all. You know darn well that many a kid being interviewed mouths endless time honored clichés all coaches want to hear while inside their head their eyes are rolling. Also they're laughing on the inside that adults are actually writing this stuff down or taping it. I don't agree with the Bill Parcells' mantra that if the player doesn't know it then the coach is at fault. If that were true, Bill, then you owe Jerry Jones some money taken under false pretenses since many times a Cowboy under your reign was totally lost. Soooooo…a) Say things like, "Coach So and So must be disappointed that Barney hasn't developed." b) Say something about potential not being realized in a zen like way and people will be awed and smother you with "Bingos."

Complaint: Assistant So and So has to go.

Reality: Just hope that the same assistant doesn't show up at your place of work and say the same thing about you. Don't label your reasons why he has to go under business terms like lack of production, the bottom line, net results show, statistics show, and all the other terms I slept through in high school economics. We all know that you aren't there at practice and that you most likely have no back round in coaching football anyway. A guy who wants a secondary coach gone should be able to explain covers 0, 1, 2 ,3 ,4 ,5 ,6 , 7, & 8 or shut up. If you want the LB coach gone you better be able to explain what scraping mean, outside containment, and what the LB's reads are and who they are keying. Don't give us board and chat lurkers that old standby that you at least know when something is wrong. Duh, so does my wife. a) Say, "Coach Whatshisname, the secondary coach at CXU, looks like an up and comer. Wonder if he might land at our school some time." b) "Coach Whosehe doesn't seem to have much talent at his position." c) "Player X just doesn't seem to be improving. They ought to put in.." …oops…we covered that one above. My bad.

Complaint: I'll lump these….These guys stink. He couldn't tackle to save his life. He couldn't catch a cold. Etc.

Reality: I don't go to high school football games unless I can stand or sit in my portable chair behind the end zone. Why? It keeps me from telling some blowhard, often a former player yelling at the players, that they ought to shut up because they weren't that good when they played. It's a hard thing to do to a former player in front of his wife and kids.

That's why I go to the end zone and stand with other retired coaches who feel the same way about the player I wanted to blast. No need for an A & B here either.

In closing, if you want to be critical by all means do so as long as the critique fits two parameters. One, your postings should follow Mike's rules. Two, please avoid the hackneyed cliché that makes you look like you couldn't pass through an NCAA clearinghouse. The boards and chat will be a better place for us all.

Finally, should you receive a "Bingo" from yours truly, I hereby grant permission for you to frame it and hang it in your den or place of business. The bathroom is not allowed. Like Notre Dame I don't license bathroom products. Top Stories