Tonight, Notre Dame begins its 2019 season at Louisville against the Cardinals. On one hand, I’m excited. I would be more happy if they played this Saturday afternoon, but they’re back. But I also know, much like a tweet from the President, the season can go sideways quickly.
I was born into a family that loves Notre Dame football. I didn’t start watching Pitt one day and decide to jump ship and root for Bob Davie’s Irish teams (could you imagine?!). I was, at an early age, surrounded by relatives in Champion brand Notre Dame t-shirts and sweatshirts, some of which are still worn on gamedays and out to South Bend.
I’ve been lucky enough to have gone to many Notre Dame games, most of which were Im South Bend and a few in my hometown of Pittsburgh. Some have been good, others you’d like science to develop a pill to give you amnesia.
Tonight is only the second meeting between Notre Dame and Louisville.
Do you remember the first time they met?
I do! I do!
It was a cold November night in 2014. Louisville was ranked 24th in the nation and for Notre Dame, the first half of the season was pretty good. They were undefeated and 5th in the nation going into their game at Florida State when quarterback, Publix fan and man who dreams of eating W’s, Jameis Winston, was still there.
It appeared Notre Dame was going to win in the final minute, but an offensive pass interference call on C.J. Procise washed it out, leading to a 4th down attempt that failed, leaving me to question if life was fair.
Turns out it wasn’t.
Notre Dame would lose four of its last five games, including that Louisville game where Kyle Brindza missed a 32-yard field goal to force a possible overtime as it happened in the south endzone, the one I was sitting in, along the the top row of the stadium.
Once he missed, I immediately made my way to the exit, about 10 steps ahead of the rest of my family.
But believe it or not, that 2014 collapse wasn’t the worst I’ve seen in that stadium.
Let’s go back to 2009.
For Notre Dame fans who know where I’m going with this, hold on tight.
Connecticut’s football program is a shell of its former self who won’t have a conference to play in when the school moves to the Big East to keep the basketball program relevant.
Notre Dame was 6-2 entering November, and then fell apart under Charlie Weis, who started wearing hooded sweatshirts like he was Bill Belichick a few season before.
The Irish lost this game in overtime. We were sitting near the section where the visiting fans are placed at Notre Dame Stadium. The UConn fans couldn’t believe what they were watching. Some guys from Hartford decide to go see their alma mater play at Notre Dame, a once in a lifetime opportunity, see the campus and stadium and hope its not a blowout. Instead, they got more bang for their buck and saw the Huskies humiliate a program who gave Weis a huge contract, only to fire him that offseason and still have to pay him for years.
An all-time low in my time watching Notre Dame.
Here’s a few other clunkers I saw in person in South Bend
2008: Notre Dame vs. Syracuse (24-23)
-The Irish were 6-4 and already bowl eligible. Lake effect snow had fallen in South Bend days before and with nobody shoveling out the stands, snowballs were thrown by the student section on Senior Day throughout, with one nailing an Indiana State trooper on the field.
What started a trend for me as a fan, the Irish missed a field goal to win in the final seconds, resulting in a loss against a Syracuse team that canned their coach leading up to the game, but let him finish the season. Ugh.
2007: Notre Dame vs. Duke (28-7)
I know what you’re thinking: “Sean, they won this game!”
Yes, they did. But if you were in the crowd for that game, it didn’t feel like it.
Notre Dame was TERRIBLE in 2007. They lost the first five games and were 1-9 entering this game. They somehow beat UCLA on the road, which the Bruins should be ashamed of, and it was a season where they lost to Navy for the first time since 1944 and gave the Midshipmen the belief they could actually beat Notre Dame, which they have done three times since then. In the end, they were 3-9 (chokes back vomit).
Former player and ESPN personality Mike Golic spoke to a pep rally crowd in the Joyce Center (now Purcell Pavilion), which had the enthusiasm of everyone who attended Princess Diana’s funeral, and tried to put lipstick on a pig.
The campus had an eerie feeling that weekend. It’s one I never, ever want to experience again.
Allowing a game featuring two 1-9 teams to air on a major network should be made a federal offense punishable by watching it on replay for a year in a room locked from the outside.
2004: Notre Dame vs. Pittsburgh (41-38)
This was the first loss I ever experienced while attending a game in South Bend, but this one really sucked. It’s like going to Disney World and Space Mountain was closed the whole time you were there.
Also, it’s the game where Tyler Palko dropped two f-bombs on NBC.
That win the next year in Pittsburgh, which I attended, was sweet.
You wanna hear the good times I’ve had? Yeah, me too!”
2006: Notre Dame vs. Army (41-9)
The Irish were expected to win and did, but this was a game where Notre Dame warmed up in blue and came out of the tunnel in green to everyone’s surprise for Senior Day. It’s one thing Charlie Weis did right.
2012: Notre Dame vs. Wake Forest (38-0)
Another Senior Day game Notre Dame was expected to win. What made this so memorable was that Notre Dame, ranked 3rd in the BCS, was 11-0 after that. Hours later, we watched in a Mishawaka restaurant as Oregon and Kansas State, both 1 and 2, lose, making Notre Dame the new No. 1 going into the final game against USC and then…well, you know what happened next.
I’ve seen more wins than losses going out to Notre Dame, and I always enjoy making the trip. It’s one every college football fan should make. Even if you don’t like the program. But those losses, especially those that should have been guaranteed wins, sting the most and made that Sunday drive back to Pittsburgh longer and slightly more miserable.
But I expect Notre Dame to be ready tonight. Red might be a very visible color to the human eye (Georgia in 2017), but I expect a good amount of blue and green in Cardinal Stadium tonight.
As for this season’s schedule, if they go 12-0, they’re getting a playoff spot again.
How many teams go to Athens and Ann Arbor in the same season? Not many.
For those of you new to any blog I’ve had, this is a series that started on my other blog “Gallagher’s Word“.
Week 1 of the college football season doesn’t have a lot of great matchups. Some Power 5 schools tend to schedule weaker FBS opponents and some are still paying FCS schools to get beat by 70.
Here’s how it works…
The Good: FCS schools that flipped the script and won while laughing all the way to the bank.
The Bad: The FCS team lost, but it could have been worse.
The Ugly: You’re usually turning off the game in the 2nd quarter.
This upset wasn’t a sexy “Appalachian State beating Michigan in 2007” game and wasn’t seen by many, but Central Arkansas of the Southern Conference beat Western Kentucky, who plays in Conference USA 35-28.
WHAT COULD HAVE BEEN:
No. 21 Iowa State 29, Northern Iowa 26
We ALMOST had a bigger upset in Ames, as Northern Iowa of the Missouri Valley Conference used defense and miscues by No. 21 Iowa State and almost beat them for the second time since 2016.
Sadly (pending on your rooting interest), the Cyclones held on and won in triple overtime.
Other than Oregon-Auburn, and if you subtract Iowa State’s awful play and Northern Iowa’s lack of offense in regulation, it was one of the best games of the week.
West Virginia 20, James Madison 13
You think the Mountaineers miss Will Grier (and maybe Dana Holgorsen) yet? Luckily for them, the game aired regionally, so many didn’t see it.
It doesn’t get any easier for WVU. They visit Missouri this upcoming Saturday and it will be aired nationally on ESPN 2.
Fun Fact: Will Grier’s brothers are “social media influencers”, which I guess is a nice way of describing people who can’t get jobs and convince stupid people to give them money for posting their product on Instagram.
Minnesota 28, South Dakota State 21
In Minnesota, the Gophers survived South Dakota State, a Missouri Valley Conference team with a pretty good FCS playoff record Thursday night.
Connecticut 24, Wagner 21
Connecticut, who is about to be a football program without a conference when the school moves to the Big East for the sake of basketball, escaped Wagner, out of the Northeast Conference.
I saw this now shell of a program embarrass Notre Dame in South Bend in 2009. I’ve seen some awful performances by the Irish live in my life, but that was the worst!
Look at Charlie Weis in his stupid hoodie trying to be Bill Belichick. I’ve never seen a coach make so much money from schools while not coaching there.
Washington 47, Eastern Washington 14
The Huskies will make a push for the Pac 12 title and the Eagles, out of the Big Sky, are often contenders for the FCS title. In 2016, they upset Washington State to make my list that year.
Fun Fact: Eastern Washington has that “blood red” turf because blue wasn’t hard enough to watch on television.
No. 17 UCF 62, Florida A&M 0
I have all the love in the world for Brandon Wimbush. As a Notre Dame fan, I loved watching him play for the Irish and he should be commended for helping them get to the College Football Playoff last season but saw Ian Book become QB 1 by season’s end.
In his first start with Central Florida, it went perfect because the Knights unleashed him against a Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference team that didn’t have a prayer.
Wimbush will see tougher competition this season but if he leads UCF to another American conference title and undefeated year, the playoff committee will be left to again consider them for a spot. Next week, they get Florida Atlantic, who got tattooed by No. 5 Ohio State.
No. 15 Penn State 79, Idaho 7
Idaho, another Big Sky team playing the big schools, flew 2,400 miles to collect a check and get throttled by Penn State, who will play Buffalo, who finished as the runner-up in the MAC last season and Pittsburgh, who lacks an accurate quarterback right now to round out their non-conference schedule. Those two games will also be in Happy Valley.
Also, Penn State wasn’t just happy keeping the foot on the throat. They shattered the windpipe with a touchdown with less than 3 minutes to go.
Maryland 79, Howard 0
Maryland will be an average team this year looking to qualify for a bowl game.
Howard, who went 4-6 last season, is out of the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference.
At least Maryland pumped the brakes after going up 79 early in the 4th quarter. They could have hung 100 on this team.
I played several of them as a kid, watch them on a regular basis and at times growing up, they were my biggest concern.
For the first five-plus years out of college, they surrounded my job titles in radio.
When I took my job in Oklahoma, on top of doing news, I was doing a lot of high school sports.
I co-hosted a one hour show on the weekdays, called football, basketball, baseball and softball games, hosted a coaches show and of course, did a lot of interviews with people from Oklahoma head football coach Lincoln Riley to coaches from small towns like Shattuck and Laverne that boasted 8-man football powerhouses.
I worked 12-hour days. Days with basketball and football games meant 16-18 hour days and half of them required me to drive at least an hour and as far as four hours for games in which I’d turn right back around and nearly fall asleep at the wheel on some state road in a remote area.
To be honest, the hours never got to me. I liked following the local schools, getting out of the studio and getting a few hours of peace while driving to the events.
My current job in Cincinnati has me invested more in news with sports sprinkled in, but it did require a big step back from being court-side or in the booth calling events, which I love and still want to do in the future. It also brings a more standard 8-hour shift, 40 hours a week schedule while making a little more money.
For me, it meant less time in the newsroom and more time for other things. Time I really didn’t have before. I could be more than just a “sports guy”.
When I lived out west, I took advantage of downtime and escaped to Oklahoma City, Tulsa, Kansas City, Denver and other places on certain weekends, especially in the summer, but being in your late 20s in a rural town puts you at a disadvantage. It’s a “it’s not them, it’s me” thing. My works hours and being from Pennsylvania meant I never got the chance to really develop friendships. I met some great people, but never really connected on a deeper level.
Living five minutes from downtown Cincinnati, a more urban setting and more free time has given me an opportunity to meet others like me: Single, late 20s/early 30s and focused on career while also maintaining a social life and developing relationships, which is tougher the older you get.
Since getting here in November, my time watching sports has gone down, but I’m still a college football junkie on Saturdays, a Steelers and NFL Redzone viewer on Sundays and watched as many Stanley Cup games as humanely possible this spring.
But I find myself getting out more than I did while living in rural Oklahoma, going to different festivals, concerts, and more events you’d find in a city setting. I initially missed the brewery boom but now live a five minute walk away from one. Most bars where I used to live would close before midnight on Saturdays.
It’s also given me a chance to work on myself.
When you’re working long hours, you sometimes forget to take care of yourself physically and mentally.
After settling in, I decided to change my workout routine. I’m lifting regularly (something I haven’t done since high school), I ran a 4-mile race in late June and want to do more races in the future.
Being around more people who can relate to the ups and downs of being a young adult and even those who are older that provide a positive attitude and guidance has done well for me socially and mentally. I’ve always considered myself an introvert with anxiety at times that some close to me can sense. I have found a more extroverted side lately, but I still have those insecurities that have followed me since I was a kid.
The step away from sports has also given me time to explore different hobbies and ideas. Starting this blog is a great example of that. My coworkers have shown me you can follow a passion outside of work or even within a current role.
It will be strange not having a game to prepare for in a couple weeks and that first Friday I’m not at the field will make me miss it. I played football. The first fall I wasn’t playing was surreal but eventually faded.
I haven’t said goodbye to sports in my work. I’m just working on another aspect of my radio career…and myself.
Here’s something you already know: It’s hot in the summer. Especially this one it seems.
I spent two summers in Oklahoma, and it gets really hot out there. We’re talking 100-plus degree temperatures for consecutive days, but it wasn’t as bad with the lower humidity.
When I moved to Cincinnati last November, I went from having central A/C in my apartment to a unit built into the wall of my new apartment building that was built before air conditioning became the norm.
I thought to myself “I survived the Oklahoma summer, so it can be as bad here.”
Then came my old arch-nemesis: Humidity.
For the last few weeks, especially since we’ve entered July, it’s been uncomfortably humid. My co-worker said they woke up angry knowing it was going to be hot and humid.
One day last week was so bad, two seconds after walking outside and I said “Nope. Not feeling this”. I couldn’t walk from place-to-place without developing back sweat. I know, that’s gross.
But back to the A/C.
You really don’t know how much energy that unit uses until you get the first bill of the summer. Living in a one-bedroom apartment, my electric bill is actually lower compared to my old place, but I know I’m paying more for rent and other expenses compared to when I lived out west.
I first tried opening windows and letting the outside air do its thing, but that failed once the mercury exceeded 80 degrees. I don’t have my box fans anymore, so that would’ve helped. I left those behind with a paper sign that said “Free” next to the dumpsters.
After running “fan mode” on the unit with little to no success, I caved and turned to the “cool” setting and no more back sweat. Again, I know it’s gross, but that’s what I was dealing with.
So this month’s bill is higher and next month will be more, but I’ve given in to the reality that the cool air blowing in is money coming out of my wallet. I just wished the air moved better into my bedroom. Haven’t used the comforter for two weeks now.
But I’m looking forward to September through May (might be a stretch) where I don’t have to run it and see my bill go down.
Well, this is it. The final day of my 20s, and I still haven’t finished this list.
#9. I Regret Making Fun of People Who Drank Muscle Milk
I finally got back on a lifting regiment I actually like over a month ago and knew I probably wasn’t getting enough protein in my diet. Now I’m drinking one Muscle Milk shake a day and it’s really helping. Sorry again to anyone I made fun of in the past for drinking it.
#8. Should I be putting money in a 401K By Now?
This and perhaps investing money in stocks might be a step I take in my 30s.
#7. The 12th is the Worst Day of the Month for Me
That is the day I make my credit card payment and am forced to see just how much money is in my checking account. To be fair, it’s always lower because of rent, car and bill payments happening at the start of the month. I have to mentally prepare myself for it sometimes.
#6. Why Can’t the Weather Always Be Nice on My Day Off?
Anyone else have that happen? You’re stuck at work on a beautiful day and when you’re off, it’s cloudy or just raining all day.
#5. I Don’t Think I’m Doing Instagram Right
Like most social media apps, I made an Instagram account in college when someone mentioned it. That’s how I also got sucked into Snapchat.
I didn’t know how stories worked until about 6 months ago.
#4 There Are Too Many People Running for President
Seriously. There’s a whole lot of people running who are not going to be around come February. I get why they’re running. If it can get me a book deal, or even better, a possible cabinet position, I’d test the waters and then bow out.
#3 .Writing This Series Was Harder Than I Thought
I started the “30 Thoughts Before 30” in the winter and thought I’d be well-ahead before the day came. Between work and other things, it became harder to keep up with it.
#2. Has Anyone Been Reading This Series?
I don’t think so, but whatever.
#1. It’s Actually Happening!
My 20s definitely had its ups and downs, but for the most part, it followed the normal track. I thought I knew everything at 20. I learned at 29 that I don’t, but it will help me as I start my 30s. Hopefully I’m smarter in ten years than I am now.
The St. Louis Blues took a 3-2 lead in the Stanley Cup Final after a controversial Game 5, in which the eventual game-winner came after a missed penalty on St. Louis.
Aside from the controversy, the Blues have not only won three games in this series, which is three more than they won in the 1968, 1969 and 1970 Stanley Cup Finals, but they now head home with a chance win the whole damn thing on Sunday!
I would think tens of thousands will be at viewing parties, bars and restaurants in downtown St. Louis Sunday night and be like a powder keg ready to go off if the Blues win Game 6.
This was Pittsburgh during Game 5 of the 2016 Stanley Cup Final. The Penguins were up 3-1, and while they had already won three titles, it was the first time the team had a chance to win it on home ice. All these people showed up hours before the 8pm start for the viewing party outside, just to have the chance to say they were there if Pittsburgh won that night.
The Penguins didn’t win Game 5, but would win Game 6 on the road to win the Stanley Cup and a year later, won in Nashville. Not to sound like a spoiled brat, we’re still waiting on the day when the Cup is raised in Pittsburgh. It was in 2008, but by the other team.
I mean, just look at all those people! Imagine if the Penguins won that game!
People of St. Louis, do this on Sunday! There’s no better feeling than seeing your team win the Stanley Cup. To see them win it at home has to be even more exhilarating. I don’t know that feeling and I’ve been alive for all five in Pittsburgh.
It’s weird how “Veep” was a fictional portrayal of politics in Washington D.C. and after 2016 in the real political world, it seemed to become more of a documentary, but that’s not what this post is about.
Julia Louis-Dreyfus’ Selina Meyer and everyone else in the cast was just marvelous, especially with the amazing, grotesque and hilarious insults they would throw at one another (especially at Jonah).
But if the cast of “Veep” was a baseball bullpen of insults, Selina Meyer is the starting pitcher, Amy, Dan, Kent, Ben and others act as the relievers and Peter MacNicol’s Jeff Kane character is the closer.
Some spoilers and bad language ahead: It’s Not TV. It’s HBO
Playing Jonah’s uncle, MacNicol’s character is a ruthless man with political power in New Hampshire and can swing the senior vote in a heartbeat.
We meet Uncle Jeff when he picks Jonah Ryan a.k.a. Jolly Green Ji** Face, to run for an open house seat in New Hampshire during a special election and act as a placeholder for cousin Ezra, who is overseas in Afghanistan.
“You f***ing shaved Sasquatch” and “you sentient enema” are two of the best Jonah insults from that first video.
It gets so much better later on. This scene in the hospital was Emmy worthy (more on that later).
“You epileptic Picasso painting!” is one of my favorites here, and it’s the first time we heard Uncle Jeff’s laugh, which makes a tremendous comeback in the final season.
When he turns heel and starts sucking up to Jonah in the finale, it’s funny to watch MacNicol take the character from 0 to 100.
Good Lord, what does “bad cop” sound like?
Same episode, this time, it becomes a crescendo of insults as he is joined by Selina.
Also, Amy’s “monument to vaginal dryness” is a nice appetizer to what comes.
I just didn’t get the hype around this show. I didn’t read the books and even when I got HBO almost two years ago, I never felt the need to catch up and become a part of the hype.
To be honest, I was tuning into HBO on Sunday night’s this spring for the final season of “Veep” and “Last Week Tonight with John Oliver”.
#13: Whatever Happened to Dane Cook?
I was in high school when Dane Cook ruled the comedy world. He had specials, played to full arenas and then slowly faded out. My taste in comedians has changed since 2006. I prefer the likes of John Mulaney and Patton Oswalt now, but Cook was a heavy metal version of Robin Williams.
#12: Are Trivia Night’s just a precursor to Bingo Nights?
Bar trivia has become a weekly thing in my life over the past several months. I’ve met a lot of new people through it and I’m at times a dumpster of useless knowledge, so it’s nice to meet others with the same problem.
As we get older, will trivia at the bar eventually turn into Bingo nights at the senior center? I’m hoping my generation just keeps doing trivia into our elder years and coming up with pun-filled and inappropriate team names.
#11: People who Pay for Parking Might Just Be Lazy
You can’t always avoid paid parking, but free parking is out there. You just have to be observant and be willing to walk a little longer to your destination. I found my free parking area in my neighborhood.
Do I have to walk an extra minute or two? Sure. Am I saving a couple of dollars. Yep! I am getting exercise? Uh-Huh!
#10: I think I Left my Dunkin’ Iced Coffee at the Title Office
Yep, sure did. Sat it down and forgot about it. Damn.
On Wednesday night, the St. Louis Blues, who are appearing in their fourth Stanley Cup Final, did something they’ve never done before: they won a game in the Final.
When the NHL expanded from six to 12 teams in 1967, St. Louis, along with the five other new teams, played in their own division (the West), while Boston and the other members of the Original Six, were in another (the East). This was done to balance competition…at least for the regular season and first few rounds of the playoffs.
The Blues made the playoffs in their first three years, but got swept by the Montreal Canadians in the first two trips and then the Bruins in 1970.
This is how it ended…
Yep. Bobby Orr’s Cup-clinching goal in overtime, a classic moment in both the Bruins and the NHL’s history.
The moment began a 49-year drought for the Blues.
Carl Gunnarsson’s goal in overtime to win Game 2 Wednesday night was more than just one that evens the series with it shifting to St. Louis for Game 3 Saturday night. For Blues fan old enough to remember those first three Stanley Cup Final appearances, it’s just as big for them as it is for fans born well after 1970.
The way the league was set-up the first couple of years after expansion DID favor the Original Six, but that mood changed when the Flyers won the Stanley Cup in 1974 and 1975.
Somebody had to win the old West Division and play Montreal and Boston, and St. Louis was that team that was ultimately sacrificed.
In 2019, the power of balance is much better and the Blues finally have a fighting chance to not just win a game, which they’ve done, but actually win the Stanley Cup.
The city of St. Louis should be rocking on Saturday night. I’m pretty sure they’ll play “Gloria” once or twice before puck drop.