Welcome to another edition of Five Wide Fullbacks. In the wake of the latest "Back to the Future Day" hoax I thought it would be fitting to talk a little bit about the past, the present and the future. Five questions. Five answers. This might be a little bit all over the place so hang in there with me.
1. We talk quite a bit about X's and O's around here at One Foot Down. When you start talking about X's and O's you quickly realize that there are a seemingly endless number of topics. Of all the X's and O's related topics that are out there which one is your favorite to discuss and why?
I would have to say anything that involves the play of the front 7 on defense. I come by this naturally. As my Dad, known around here as "The Coach", worked his way up through the ranks as a Texas high school football coach he did so on the defensive side of the football. He was a linebacker coach and then a Defensive Coordinator before ultimately becoming a head coach. So when I was a kid we spent a lot of time in my room at night with a black-and-white 8mm film on the wall watching every play 10 times, charting everything and just talking about defense. The old man was a 4-3 guy that always seemed to have a physical front seven, a stud Middle Linebacker and hard hitting defensive backs. I got to know that defense well. I can still hear his middle linebacker yelling "Rip" and "Lucky" as the offense lined up.
So fast forward about 25 years. I never spent much time learning about the 3-4 until Chuck Weis and Corwin Brown attempted to run it, then didn't run it, then blew it up with Tahnoota make blitz. Then Bobby Diaco came along and I got really interested in the 3-4 again. I actually carved out a sizeable chunk of spare time earlier this summer to try and dig into the weeds a little bit and get smarter on Bobby D's variant of the 3-4. Interestingly there isn't much written about his version specifically. People love them some offense don't they!
At some point in the not-too-distant future I will put a bow on that little project and make it available to you. In the mean time I was reminded of something else in the archives that you all might be interested in. Right after CBK and his crew rolled into town I enlisted the help of a guest writer that that had a lot of experience with the 3-4 as a player at Notre Dame and as a current HS linebacker coach. As I was going back through his posts it occurred to me that our audience is about 10 times larger now than it was back then and many of you that weren't here with us in the old days might appreciate them. So below are the links to those posts from a guy we call "LB Coach."
Questions 2-5 after the jump.
2. Talk to me about Jack Swarbrick and your thoughts on how he navigated this playoff scenario.
I'll start by saying that I see being the Athletic Director at Notre Dame a lot like being a high-level politician. You have a real job to do, but no matter how you do it, you are never going to make everyone happy. The critics and armchair quarterbacks come with the territory. What they never acknowledge is that at the end of the day all of those people with "opinions" don't have nearly as much information as Swarbrick does as he is making decisions and representing Notre Dame.
Now that I've spent an entire paragraph saying that I'm obviously not privy to all of the information that Mr. Swarbrick is, I still think he has done one hell of a job. Notre Dame was definitely vulnerable during this process and we all know that there are plenty of people out there that would absolutely love to see Notre Dame forced into a conference by being left out of the dance. Jack Swarbrick ensured that it didn't go down like that. Swarbrick's legacy is still being written but no matter what else happens, I will always hold him in high regard for the role that he has played in preserving the independence of Notre Dame. Perhaps one day Swarbrick will write a memoir and we will all get to know the details of everything that went on behind the scenes. Until then I'll just think of Swarbrick waving a hand in Jim Delany's face Obi-Wan-Kenobi-Style while saying "These aren't the droids you are looking for." "Notre Dame will remain independent and still have playoff access."
Side note. Next time someone tells you that Notre Dame is no longer relevant, ask them if their Athletic Director was sitting in on any of these playoff meetings with the conference commissioners.
3. There were some rumblings this week about what uniforms the Fighting Irish might wear in the opener against Navy. What do you expect them to be wearing when they come out of the tunnel in Dublin?
Dabbling in Murtaugh's wheelhouse might be a slippery slope but I'll give it a shot. I would obviously love to see them come out in the Leprechaun Warrior getup that Murtaugh and Fish so graciously designed for them but I suspect that CBK wants to save that one for Michigan. Woverines fear Tom Hammond. Anyway, we already know that Notre Dame is going to be sporting the Irish Flag Cleats that Ryan Grooms leaked earlier this spring and he followed that up this week with a Tweet displaying a photo of these hats. Based on the Kelly Green that is all over those cleats and hats I'm expecting jerseys that look a lot like the ones that the Irish rocked against Michigan last year. But really, I don't care too much so long as they don't dust off those bowling ball Shamrock helmets from the Maryland game last year and Goldrix is under center. Just win baby.
4. Tyler James Tweeted the jersey numbers for the incoming freshmen this week. Which one is your favorite? Why?
I'm all over Chris Brown's #2. I realize that he will be sharing it with Bennett Jackson but #2 has always been my favorite football jersey number. This one also goes back to being a kid and hanging around with The Coach. He never let any of his players wear #1. In fact he wouldn't even order a #1 jersey. I still think that was pretty savvy on his part. Regardless with no #1 in the mix all of the "star" players wanted the next best thing which was #2. The Coach was selective about who he let wear #2 though. As a defensive guy he always gave it to his hardest hitting defensive back. The Coach taught his DB's to play physical and he had a few over the years that brought extreme violence to the ball carrier. To this day I always think about those guys when I see #2 on the football field.
5. The real date on Doc Brown and Marty McFly's Delorean time machine was October 21st 2015. What do you think the Notre Dame Football program will look like on that day?
Great question. Let's jump to October 21st 2015.
Brian Kelly is cruising through his sixth season after having signed a contract extension following a 2013 BCS victory over Oregon in a thrilling at-large matchup in the final version of the Fiesta Bowl. After eight lead changes the Irish put the Quack Attack away with 1:34 remaining when QB Everett Golson scampered 72 yards for six on a busted play. In 2014 the team was on track to make the BCS playoff before a sloppy game in Los Angeles ends on a rare field goal miss by clutch kicker Kyle Brindza. A watered down version of the USC Trojans, and interim coach Ed Orgeron, escape with a gut wrenching upset over the #2 ranked 11-0 Irish. ND has to settle for run-ruling Virginia Tech in the Orange Bowl which is out of the playoff rotation that year.
While some harumphers are still questioning Kelly's "Big Game" coaching ability the real buzz around the program is the preseason announcement from Jack Swarbrick that he will be stepping down as the Athletic Director in January of 2016. Speculation is running rampant and Murtaugh has written no less than 20,000 words on the subject since Swarbrick made the announcement the previous August. The Brick feels like he has done all that he can for Notre Dame and made the announcement early so that the school has plenty of time to identify a suitable replacement. Many think the Brick is making himself available for the NFL Commissioner position that Roger Goodell appears destined to leave.
In fall camp another quarterback battle ensued and Everett Golson eventually wins his job back from Gunner Kiel. Kiel had come on in relief of an injured Golson halfway through the 2014 season and showed plenty of chest as he was outstanding down the stretch minus a 3 INT performance in the USC loss. Leslie Miles of course had some comments about Kiel after that one. Regardless, CBK made the right call with Golson who came out of the gate on fire in 2015. With a top-10 defense locking down opposing offenses Golson and company are displaying the fast paced CBK offense that the fans have been longing for since 2010. The Irish knock off top ranked Texas in the opener and cruise to a 6-0 record that was punctuated by a 48-7 payback beatdown of USC on October 17th.
On October 21st 2015 it is Wednesday on a bye week. The Irish are 6-0 with a very winnable slate of Wake Forest, Pittsburgh, Syracuse, Boston College, UMASS and Stanford remaining. None of those teams are ranked. We are all here commenting on a Murtaugh post where he claims that the Fighting Irish are going to win out and head into the BCS Playoffs as the #1 seed. Then suddenly Marty McFly appears out of nowhere in a Delorean with MotS riding shotgun!
6. Bonus Question! A little while back in the comments Burger requested that you start what he called "Whiskey's Story Time." So what's up with that? Are you ever going to do it?
This one is for you Burgs. I know your initial request was for stories about my family, but my friends are pretty entertaining too.
Several years ago me and about 10 of my buddies got stranded in Pyeongtaek City, Korea. We took up residence in this seedy little hotel that literally spilled out into an alley. But the mama-san that ran the place was cool and the first thing we did was work out a deal with her to do our laundry and have a fridge in the little lobby stocked with OB Lager every night when we came back in around midnight. She was all over it.
We spent the first couple of days getting a lay of the land, hitting the bars, eating dog on a stick, buying custom made suits, leather jackets and whatever else we could find. By day 3 we were done being tourists and we had settled into a routine. We would get up around noon, veg out in the lobby then head out for dinner around 4pm. We would find something decent to eat then hit a Baskin Robbins that was on the main drag. The main reason for this was that the Baskin Robbins had a balcony on the 2nd floor. From there you had a great view of the main drag. We would sit out there on the balcony with a couple of scoops of Mint Chocolate Chip and watch what we called "the parade." Just before sunset all of the Juice Girls would come out and walk to the bars where they worked. It was quite the scene. When they cleared the streets we headed to our favorite place.
Fresh off of two scoops we would go to this bar called "The Whisky a Go-Go" that was obviously named after the famous one on LA's Sunset Strip. This one in Korea played American Heavy Metal and complimented the music with an endless loop of motorcycle crash videos playing on a big screen up front. The only thing behind the bar was OB Lager, Budweiser and Soju which came in Grape, Cherry, Orange and Lime. They basically just mixed Soju with Kool-Aid which is dangerous.
We started playing this game there every night that we called "You ain't sh#% until you spend a million of something." At the time a million Korean Won was equivalent to about $800 USD. So we just took turns buying the bar for the night. We would walk in there and one of us would throw this fat gangster roll of won down on the bar and buy the whole place for the night. It was pretty awesome. We would hang out, shoot pool, play darts, soak up the scene and drain their alcohol supply. A million Won more than covered the damage.
We would do last call to Metallica's "So What" around 11:30pm then head back to the hotel. On the way back we would sweep through the juice bars on the main drag to make sure none of our buds had gotten themselves sidetracked in there talking to the girls.
Once back at the hotel mama-san would bust out trays of homemade yakimandu and we would stay up until we had drained the fridge of OB Lager. That was usually right around sunrise. Good times.
Around night number seven I was in a hurry to get back to the hotel because the mama-san back there had figured out how to tap into the AFN feed for me and Notre Dame was playing at Nebraska. See, this story is totally about Notre Dame football! Anyway, the game was coming on at like 2am but I wanted to be sure that I got there early to make sure the TV setup was good. As a result we kind of rushed the sweep of the juice bars. Bad move.
We all get back to the hotel and realized that we were one guy short. Where is "X"!!!!! So we hole up, continue drinking and wait. The game comes on and somewhere around halftime the police show up asking if we know an American named "X". It was our buddy. So we go down to the police station and he's got a real nice shiner on his left eye. Behind him on the floor is a guy with no shirt on who obviously got it much worse. Our buddy tells us the cops worked that guy over pretty good. He's rolling around and mumbling something in Russian.
Turns out our buddy did get sidetracked talking to some girl and he had walked out of the juice bar with her. He claims that she was trying to help him identify the appropriate alley to take back to the hotel. About that time the Russian guy comes walking up and knocks him out Debo style. Our buddy comes to within seconds, sits up, and sees the cops tackling his assailant at the end of the street. A few minutes later they both get hauled in to the police station to sort it all out. The Russian guy was apparently a pimp who thought my buddy was trying to make off with his girl for free. Who knows? The cops let our buddy go and a couple of days later we finally got out of there. We still laugh about that night to this day. We also still call my buddy "Apollo" since he is the first American that we know of to get knocked out by a Russian since Apollo Creed.
And you guys thought our bios in the "About Us" post were just jokes.
2,735 words. Murtaugh is proud.
Have a great weekend!