Gotta hand it to those Irish fans the other night: neither rain, nor sleet, nor a team that kal could work, nor their coach who insists that He's Da Man – despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary – could quell their irritating cheers and shameless (and clueless) knock-off of the old "we-are-‘SC" yell: "We Are N.D."
You Are N.D.? Indeed you are. But maybe part of the reason is that no one else really wants to make such a claim these days. Notre Dame football in the Bob Davie era gives new meaning to "Irish Famine."
But I digress.
Still, you have to hand it to the lovable lush-head Leprechauns. They're fun to watch stumble back to their cars following a besotted day's journey into another night of frustration in Palo Alto, saddled with yet another "L" in what must be seen by them now as some sort of Biblical revelation. Maybe Touchdown Jesus should be re-sculpted into something more appropriate these days. Change the arms position from "touchdown" to the signal for "holding," or "illegal block" or, simply, "no good."
More to the point, you have to hand it to Cardinalmaniacs™ who, in this season of late-game surges and turnarounds, insisted on sticking it out in the face of driving rain, three-plus quarters of mostly moribund offense and interminable TV timeouts. Touchdown Jesus blessed us with a couple of touchdowns, none too soon. Manna, like the rain, from heaven.
As noted in this space last week, there are no ugly wins. The comeback against the Irish further substantiates this contention. But -- there are ugly walks. Like the one you have to make along the El Camino side of the stadium after and/or during rain. See, what happens is this: moisture causes the el-cheapo dirt that constitutes the pathway around this section of the stadium to be transformed into a slimy, sucking, thick ooze. It's known colloquially as mud. It's inches thick. And it's an embarrassment. No, as Ed Macauley used to say: check that. It's beyond embarrassing. It's a constant reminder that our football facilities remain the dregs of the Pac-10. The mud through which game attendees are forced to trudge like refugees out of harm's way is the direct result of some as-yet unexplained reluctance or outright refusal of the Campus Ministry for the Promotion of Minor Sports Facilities and the Suppression of Football to install civilized pavement. Such a simple thing, it seems to us. Is there some environmental issue here? Would an asphalt walkway further endanger the well-being of some obscure amphibian?
We can tell you this much: it sure as sh*t is enraging more and more fans who have to wade through this muck each week during the moist season. During the dry weeks it's almost as bad with the dust and dirt. For an institution so hypersensitive to public perception and self-conscious about the aesthetics of its hallowed grounds, this is a glaring anomaly. For thousands of people, including out-of-state visitors, Stanford Stadium is the university's showcase. More people by far experience the stadium than, say, the pools or Sunken Diamond or the tennis penthouse. And guess what? The facilities experienced by far fewer people are the showcases. The stadium remains uncomfortable, smelly and squalid.
And the experience begins with the walk to your seats.
Which brings us to another stadium for the next, and final, gameday. Get yourself, and your family/friends down to South Seventh Street in Sannizay this weekend for the '01 wrap: savor the afternoon, and quaff a few cold ones – legally – in the Jewel Box of South Campus. Spartan Stadium. Where football is more endangered than tiger salamanders. Knock back a few Pete's Ales, unwrap a Polish, and enjoy win numero NINE.
Like the image in your car's rearview mirrors, this one's a lot bigger than it appears.