As the offseason draws to a close, many of us are doubtlessly asking the same questions. Questions like:
Now, these are all incredibly important questions that merit equally prosaic answers. However, as the season opener against Temple draws near, a more recent inquiry has made its presence known: "WHAT THE DEUCE HAPPENED DURING THE OFFSEASON?!?!?" Well...a lot happened. However, I will not linguistically rehash the events over which many gallons of virtual ink and angry/joyous tears have been shed. Instead, in order to cater to your busy schedules, I have decided to take one final look at the sometimes-painful, always-entertaining offseason in the most humorous and pithy way I know. Buckle up, dear readers.
--Shortly thereafter, rumors began flying around that HC Brian Kelly was possibly going to the Philadephia Eagles. This situation (thankfully) ended with CBK trolling Eagles fans and sending them home sad:
--A week later,
some of the sorriest excuses for "journalists" to ever walk the face of the earth a sports website decided that it would impress the world with a disgustingly biased opinion piece based on one shady person's offhanded "80% sure" comment that turned out to be a baldfaced load of hogwash completely unbiased reporting on a high-profile hoax that had emotionally manipulated a star player. This website was unabashedly proud of itself and all the clicks it was generating due to its investigative cleverness.
--In early February, National Signing Day came along...and what was expected to be a fairly decent day turned into a flood of top-notch prospects coming into the Irish fold. The day was capped off by landing blue-chip DL Eddie Vanderdoes, ending a haul that was the first beacon of light in what had been a miserable offseason. And the fans rejoiced.
--In early March, with Golson entrenched as the starter and Malik Zaire anointed as EG's successor, Gunner raised his Kiel and sailed off to Cincinnati. Disappointing, but not surprising.
--The NFL Draft rolled around in late April, and despite some fake drama over Manti not being drafted in the first round, it was still an excellent showing for the Blue and Gold. The highlight of the draft was easily former USC quarterback Matt Barkley's dramatic stage appearance in the fourth round:
--Remember that guy Eddie Vanderdoes, who signed a binding National Letter of Intent to play at ND? Well, in late May he decided he didn't want to. The NCAA sprang into "Hey, we're here to help!" mode and ended up looking like this in the process:
--Adding insult to injury, it was announced a week later that starting QB Everett Golson was suspended from the University for one semester due to academic reasons. This final insult seemed to spell the death blow for the team's BCS hopes and the optimism of ND fans everywhere.
But even after all these trials, the spirit of the team, the coaches, and the fans remains strong. The recent deluge of negative prognostications from so-called "experts of college football" has only served to strengthen the will of this valiant band of men who proudly fight for Our Lady's University. Much like it did for G.K. Chesterton back in 1930 and millions of others before and after him, the intangible spirit of Notre Dame still exerts a mysterious draw on all the cheering thousands who shout their battle cry, urging the fans and the players onward to ever greater deeds of glory.
Brian Kelly knows what needs to be done. His assistants know what need to be done. Most of all, the players are painfully aware of what needs to be done. They've seen the mountaintop and have come unbelievably close to the summit, even in a year where the odds were stacked against them and nobody was giving them a snowball's chance in hell of doing anything above maybe making the Belk Bowl. They took everything that was thrown at them, plucked it out of their war wounds, and laughed grimly as they chucked it all back in the surprised faces of their attackers, both on the field and off. They'll be hungry and experienced this year, and neither they nor their coaches will let up for even one millisecond.
So as this piece comes to a close, I challenge each and every one of you, my fellow OFD-ers, to take one last, long look at the offseason that was...then seize it, melt it down, and hammer it into one of those forged-steel Bane-style facemasks that Prince Shembo wears, because we're only going to use it as fuel for ourselves and the team, NOT as an occasion to sit around and feel sorry for ourselves. Ladies and gentlemen, the Fighting Irish of Notre Dame are about to charge shoulder to shoulder into a brand-new season...and we'll be running right behind them every step of the way.