SBNation has gotten into the game of post-seasons College Football awards with the Piesman Trophy. I mentioned this in last week's edition of Hitting the Links, but I wanted to give it more attention this week. For one thing, the trophy has Bret Bielema talking.
Also, while the college football awards that already exist honor hard work and excellence of players and coaches, they are more formal than fun. There are watch lists, omissions, voting committees, corporate tie-ins, and the weight of tradition attached to each of these awards. I do not consider this a bad thing necessarily. This is just how those awards are. There is no way to make a perfect award, so let's have fun with it (Related: the award closest to perfection in any field is the Teen Choice Awards because the winners get a surfboard).
The Piesman will be awarded for a play rather than a season's worth of unexpected athleticism. This could be a touchdown but the award is described as honoring "out-of-the-ordinary play by a lineman in the 2015 season." Fat guy touchdown has become a catch-all for the wonderful and unexpected joy of linemen out of their element. It is fitting since fat guy touchdowns are the shooting stars of the college football world, blazing across the Saturday sky with tails of hashtags and Vine links. We absorb such events with surprise and awe. Even when realizing that these young athletes are capable of tremendous feats, we still freak out whenever these big people move faster and with more grace than you ever expected.
I don't think the "fat guy" part of fat guy touchdown is meant as a pejorative, if it ever was. The combination of power, size, girth, agility, and speed are stupefying when they come together all at once. For example, let's revisit Stephon Tuitt's touchdown against Navy.
I have watched this play over and over and I always expect Tuitt to run out of his braces like he's Forrest Gump. As his number 7 jersey moves down field, it's like the play is a parody of smaller players. College defensive linemen wearing single-digit numbers is the closest representation of fat guy touchdown joy. And just to clarify, Tuitt for his height and weight is a dense mass of muscle and functional size. Football players shape themselves into what their positions and goals entail. "Fat guy" is shorthand for our mixture of breathless joy and surprise that a person is doing such things in real life.
The Blue and Gold game has been Notre Dame's number one source for unexpected athleticism. Spring game acts might not have as much gravity as in-season ones, but they remain fun.
The worst part about Louis Nix's time at quarterback was that we never got to evaluate his throwing motion. The best part is the mix of surprise and fear in front of him as both lines get out of his way while he rushes to the end zone. He lowers himself, expecting to run into something or someone. There is stumbling and then there is celebration.
@TJamesNDI @ronnie_stanley Here's all of my frames from the play compiled into a gif! (25 photos at 10fps) pic.twitter.com/hDcJURmTuR— Robert Franklin (@TheRobFranklin) April 19, 2015
Ronnie Stanley's spring game catch doesn't end in a touchdown, but I still can't get away from that .gif. He definitely can catch a football and move down the field but the finer points aren't there. He doesn't transfer the ball away from the defenders, but who cares. There's no fear in fat guy touchdowns. There is just excitement from being in a situation different from everything else these guys do in a game. In recognizing novelty, we can appreciate their other work more. JJ Watt can catch a bunch of TD passes and it just serves to highlight the crazy things he does on the defensive side of the ball. If big guys can move like that at a moment's notice, what sort of otherworldly things are they doing in the trenches?
This story on Super Bowl champion Jared Lorenzen is from a year ago, but it is one of my favorite recent sports pieces. I think it is also germane given the subject above.
Jaylon Smith, Ronnie Stanley, and the Leprechaun are on the cover of Sports Illustrated. Before you freak out, it is just a regional cover. So if you think there might be some hex going on, forget it. So don't break into all that eye of newt and wolfsbane you bought to counteract any supernatural sports hexes. Also make better financial choices and stop buying so much wolfsbane.
On the cover, the Leprechaun is wearing branded Under Armour socks. Under the Adidas contract, I believe the socks were branded with that company's three stripes. I'm not sure if UA tailors the whole costume, but I sure do hope so. It reminds me of when Mike Nolan and Jack Del Rio wanted to wear suits during NFL games. Reebok had to design the suits. Apparel deals are strange.
Grantland's Matt Hinton runs down the ten players who are most essential to their teams this season. It's like the exact opposite of The Expendables, except not being a movie. To digress slightly, remember when Grantland only had a single college football article per week? I for one am glad they have Hinton and Holly Anderson covering the sport full-time, with a bunch of the other writers jumping in too. Here's your headline: "Area Man Approves of Website"
Sure, the CFB Playoff is going to be on New Year's Eve, which seems like a bummer. Spencer Hall discusses why the Playoff there will work. Some of the reasons still sound like bummers and reasons we, as football fans, might want to take a personal inventory. Watching football will not be your worst New Year's Eve by a long shot thought. My best New Year's Eve was in seventh grade. Y2K man. As soon as midnight came, me and a friend went outside, hooked up a Discman to his 15W Fender practice amp, and blasted Rage Against The Machine's "Guerrilla Radio." We were ready for the new world order. A minute later a cop drove up to us, rolled his window down, said "Stop" and drove away before we moved, knowing the fear he just put in the souls of two twelve-year-olds. The revolution will not be broadcast over a personal CD player run through a crummy guitar amp.
Shawn Oakman can do a lot, but please do not tempt a sea beast like the octopus.
ICYMI ON OFD
There are still some position battles on the offensive side of the ball. This is important as that is the part of the team that usually scores points. Facts only analysis.
Instead of watching the Fantastic Four movie in theaters this weekend, watch some Ronnie Stanley film with us.
Also, watch the number one play in Paint's countdown.
Our friend Keith Arnold compiled his annual list of the top 25 Notre Dame players. Here is how our contingent weighed in on the countdown. Democracy in action!
It's always a good time to check out the latest big boards - Offensive backfield, secondary, linebackers, defensive line, tight end/ offensive line, and wide receivers/ athletes.
There have been some uniform updates. The new material for these unis is allegedly "ungrabbable" which seems like a crazy statement. Guess we will have to wait for the Texas game and see how the Longhorns find the grabability of this fabric.
Blue Gold Illustrated put together a preview magazine. . . and OFD reviewed it. My complaint with every magazine is that I wish the back cover had a Fold-In feature. I have only come across one magazine that satisfies this feature (Cook's Illustrated).
What Power 5 conference has the best stable of quarterbacks? I answer with a question - where will Tom Brady spend the four weeks of his suspension? How does NCAA eligibility work again?
This week's OFD mailbag gets into where you could put Jaylon Smith . . . on offense?!?! We could get into a discussion of cloning Jaylon Smith, but you forget these clones would not be ready to play high-level football for at least seventeen years. I want an army of clones now though.
Good news! Notre Dame received a commitment from QB Ian Book! If he's great, someone should make Book-It stickers with his face. It will be whimsical and also encourage children to read/ eat pizza.
Bad news! (deep breath) - Greg Bryant is ineligible this season, Kolin Hill is transferring, and Michael Deeb and Mike Heuerman will not be playing football due to injury. With this news, here is an update on the scholarship numbers and apparent depth. On the bright side, Notre Dame can now make more offers in recruiting!
Brian Kelly had a press conference. A coach should have a bench press conference where they answer questions while pumping iron. They could also have a French press conference where all the reporters are served fresh coffee. Lots of words rhyme and we could be here all day, but you get the idea.
IRISH LINKS OF NOTE
FoxSports (Stewart Mandel and Bruce Feldman, I mean) seem to have a positive view of Notre Dame's upcoming season. In his latest mailbag, Mandel discusses his views on the Irish as a top-ten team. Positivity is nice and yet I still find it extremely difficult not interpreting every compliment as a potential jinx. Robert Durst lurks around every corner. They also discuss the Irish on their latest Audible podcast.
Our own CW is doing a Notre Dame newsletter this season. If his ideas are intriguing to you, and you wish to subscribe to his newsletter, you can do so here.
This weekend, Jerome Bettis goes into the Hall of Fame, as does Tim Brown! One writer does not think Bettis should go in, but luckily the aforementioned writer is focusing more on politics these days.
You could consider Paul Finebaum's comments as bulletin board material, but I have not found a way to pin his radio or television broadcasts to a cork board.