Welcome, everyone, to the weekly One Foot Down listicle! Each week on Friday, Matt Greene and I will alternate providing for you all a listicle of the greatest/top/best Notre Dame Fighting Irish-related things we can think of. They might be more serious, but mostly they will probably be wacky (what else would you honestly expect from the two of us?). We are AMPED to provide these for you each week.
This week, in honor of its Season 2 release beginning TODAY on Apple TV+, I’ve decided to go full Ted Lasso on y’all and honor one of the absolute BEST shows out there right now by ranking my favorite characters and then explaining what ND coach/player he or she best represents.
Quick note: if you haven’t checked out Ted Lasso yet, I absolutely IMPLORE you to do so immediately. It’s an unbelievable combination of funny/witty/uplifting/meaningful that you can rarely find in a television show, let alone one based on a series of commercials. I’m incredibly jealous of anybody who still gets to experience 22 new episodes of this wonderful show instead of just the newest 12 that are being released weekly from now until early October.
Anyway, I’m not gonna belabor the point any longer — it’s time to dive into it, with one simple request to you all in reading my opinions here: be curious, not judgmental.
DISCLAIMER: There will likely be some Season 1 spoilers below...but I’m also assuming anyone interested in reading this has already seen the first season, otherwise it’s a very strange article to be interested in reading.
The Top 10 Ted Lasso Characters + Whom They Best Represent Within the Notre Dame Football Program
10. Rebecca Welton — Brian Kelly
I think this one is obvious — both are the person in charge of it all, both can be a bit prickly at times (especially earlier in their tenures as owner/coach), and both had a moment where they had to admit they were doing things wrong and take actions to correct that so that the team could begin to really flourish (for Rebecca that meant apologizing to Ted Lasso for trying to sabotage his team; for BK, it meant overhauling his program/staff after the 2016 season).
Also, I am CONSTANTLY asking opposing sites if Brian Kelly would beat their coach in a karaoke battle, and just like BK, Rebecca is a karaoke STAR.
9. Sam Obisanya — Kyle Hamilton
Sam is one of the most pure and good characters in the show, without a doubt. His relationships with Ted, Rebecca, and all his teammates are just super heartwarming — they all love him.
Similarly, Kyle is the most pure and good thing we Notre Dame fans have in this world, and it’s clear he’s beloved by his coaches, teammates, and really anyone who knows anything about football players or people.
Plus, Sam is a super-talented player who just keeps getting better and appears on his way to superstardom, and I think that perfectly encapsulates Mr. Hamilton as well.
One small difference — whereas Sam had some struggles early on in his time with AFC Richmond (mostly because he was homesick), I’m not sure Kyle Hamilton ever needed to be reminded to “be a goldfish.”
8. Nathan Shelley — Tommy Rees
Nathan Shelley, as you most likely know, begins the show as the “kit man” for AFC Richmond, and is the butt of lots of jokes/bullying from the players on the team while the folks in the front office never seem to know he exists/remember his name. Then, Ted and Coach Beard arrive, by mid-season they’re running plays Nate the Great has concocted, and in the season finale he’s promoted to assistant coach. It’s a super fun and heartwarming story arc.
I look at Rees in somewhat the same fashion. He was the butt of a lot of jokes as a player despite putting up some incredible stats and winning some big games with very limited physical talent to utilize in doing so, and then has had a rapid ascension to being a key, trusted assistant as the offensive coordinator at Notre Dame before the age of 30.
Now all he needs to do is learn how to inspire the team with pregame speeches like Nate the Great:
7. Jamie Tartt —
Jimmy Clausen Michael Mayer (if I had to pick someone)
I was talking about this listicle with my friends Prison Mike and Sandy yesterday, and in discussing the wonderful, boorish, selfish, hilarious character of Jamie Tartt, they pointed out to me that Jimmy Clausen would unquestionably be the PERFECT choice for Jamie, if Jimmy were still on the team.
Clausen was a football phenom, considered the LeBron James of high school football, and had the cockiness and arrogance and haircut to go along with that. However, Clausen really came into his own as a junior at ND and appeared to be a solid leader of the offense, putting up incredible stats in the process but also looking more like a good teammate than in the past.
Of course, Tartt has a similar arc — he was all about himself for much of the show, but Ted Lasso’s constant lessons about making the extra pass eventually drove Jamie to getting the assist that pushed AFC Richmond to relegation (when in the past Tartt probably would have kept the ball and tried to score himself).
I’m not sure there’s a very good comparison to Tartt on this current ND team, at least in terms of a lot of what I just said with the selfishness/attitude, etc. So I want everyone, especially Michael Mayer, to know I’m not saying his personality is like that of Jamie Tartt.
However, to give y’all something here, I’ll at least make the Tartt connection to a player who, from the beginning, has shown they’re absolutely ELITE at what they do (just like Tartt), and hopefully as Mayer progresses and develops he’ll add other components to his game that will allow him to have a Jamie Tartt-esque moment where he puts it all together at the end of his ND career and makes all of us proud.
So, Michael Mayer is our Jamie Tartt, and not just because there’s a little bit of resemblance there.
6. Dani Rojas — Kyren “Bellyman” Williams
Dani Rojas: “FUTBOL IS LIFE!!!!” *takes off shirt*
Bellyman: “FOOTBALL IS LIFE!!!” *rolls up shirt*
Same energy, without a doubt. Absolutely uncanny.
5. Leslie Higgins — Brian Polian
This one makes tons of sense, in my opinion. Higgins is the bumbling Director of Football Operations who, once given a chance, is actually pretty competent and also a pretty awesome dude, but it took him a while to get there and prove it. Similarly, Polian has had his struggles, whether it be in the past with his special teams units not always looking crisp, or his head coaching stint at Nevada not quite working out, but he’s a skilled recruiter and has seemed to have figured special teams out at this point, so he’s really proven to be a trusted and important assistant on BK’s staff.
Oh, and I think the two guys just kind of look like each other, especially if you put glasses on Polian and imagine him with brown hair.
Bonus: let’s see if Polian looks like “Chill” Higgins with some quality facial hair.
I can’t tell which is which!
*Pat Rick Note: it appears Brian Polian is a HUGE Ted Lasso fan, considering Pete Sampson got him to answer my Ted Lasso-themed Mailbag question. Brian, I am in awe of your greatness and will defer to your Diamond Dog choices over mine — you rule.
4. Keeley Jones — Myron Tagovailoa-Amosa
This was a pretty tough one, but the big thing with Keeley is that after being a model/influencer for years and dating 22-year-old athletes, she really begins to find herself and what she wants to do by the end of Season 1.
I think that can absolutely describe MTA here — he’s had a really good ND career holding it down at defensive tackle, but now that he’s in his later years with the Irish, he’s finding himself and his true positional calling at defensive end.
I cannot speak to whether he would be able to come up with as many separate publication names as Keeley when using a fake press conference to inquire as to why he should trust someone and go out with them, but I bet he could pull it off.
3. Coach Beard — Mike Elston
I could have gone several ways with this one, especially if I wanted to stick to “Coach Beard needs to be an ND coach who actually has a beard,” or if I really wanted to make this connect to my choice for Ted Lasso coming up and pick Mike Mickens, but instead I think Elston is the right choice. He seems like a man of few words, but who’s a very good coach and probably the most trusted assistant on the staff. Folks, that’s Coach Beard in a nutshell.
I cannot confirm whether Elston also loves chess and singing Lady Gaga at karaoke and fun wordplay using British terminology, but I could see it.
2. Roy Kent — Jordan Botelho
This was a super tough one, mostly because Roy Kent is an unbelievably great character and so I wanted to find someone who perfectly fit the bill, but honestly I’m not sure anyone on the Notre Dame team is a perfect fit here.
My first reaction was Shaun Crawford, since he was the resident OLD MAN who’d lost a step or two, but unfortunately he’s moved on from the program and thus I couldn’t consider him.
Then, I went the route of who else was an elder statesman on the squad — Kurt Hinish? Cain Madden? Jack Coan? Drew White? There are some options, but the issue is none of them really fit the surly, grumpy, angry Roy Kent mold.
So, I decided to abandon the search for the “old” part and focus on the Roy Kent anger and aggression, and I think we can all agree that Jordan Botelho fits that better than anyone. He plays like he’s trying to eviscerate folks out there, just like Nate the Great said Roy used to “run like [he was] angry at the grass.”
Anger is their super power, y’all. And to steal the Roy Kent chant, opposing QBs in 2021 will be thinking “he’s here, he’s there, he’s every-fucking-where” about Jordan Botelho.
1. Ted Lasso — Marcus Freeman
Ted Lasso as my favorite character may feel slightly like a cop-out answer, but I can’t help that he’s just such a likable, wholesome, and funny character whose positivity and persistence to connect with everyone around him make him the perfect protagonist for a show like this.
As much as I love every character in this list — and make no mistake, it was an absolute pain to rank these 10 fictional people because I enjoy them all so much — I just can’t escape the fact that Jason Sudeikis’s performance as the titular coach is what carries the show for me.
Similarly, I see a lot of Ted Lasso so far from Freeman, at least in his recruiting and in his interviews. He’s super positive and brings tons of energy and everyone seems to want to follow him and connect with him and play for him.
Yeah, I know he hasn’t coached a second of football game-action at ND yet, but even if he struggles a bit, Ted Lasso took PLENTY of time to get up and running on the soccer pitch, so I’m not even worried about that part. Don’t talk to me, or him, about how he’s only had to coach in PRACTICE so far in his Irish coaching career.
Anyway, Freeman’s seeming to have a very Ted Lasso-like effect on the program to-date, and I’m excited to see where both Freeman can take the Irish defense and where Lasso can take AFC Richmond in the 2021 season.
Pat Rick Note: the above list means that if Notre Dame were to have its own “Diamond Dogs” crew to help figure out personal relationship dilemmas, it would consist of Marcus Freeman, Brian Polian, Tommy Rees, and Mike Elston. I can’t wait for that squad to talk Jordan Botelho through some things!
RAPID-FIRE BONUS COMPARISONS
- The Pub Regulars (Baz/Jeremy/Paul): Notre Dame fans, or if I want to be more specific, they are ND Twitter or OFD readers/commenters. Lots of high expectations, ungrateful and rude for the most part, but some of them (Paul) are actually very kind and appreciative
- Mae: Considering she runs the pub, no doubt I’m going to compare Mae to the owners of the Linebacker Lounge, and when she rings her bell she has behind the bar, she is a perfect representation of DJ Drew, spinning tunes for the whole pub to enjoy
- Trent Crimm, The Independent: Pete Sampson, The Athletic...mostly because of the hair
- Rupert Mannion: Lou Holtz, LOLOL
- Bex: Mark May
- Isaac McAdoo: Tough, intimidating, physical-enforcer captain? That’s got Jarrett Patterson written all over it
- Colin Hughes: skinny, wiry guy who’s pretty good at kicking things? Let’s go with Jonathan Doerer
- Thierry Zoreaux: tall/long player tasked with stopping the other team from scoring, recently thrust into the starting lineup after being a backup? Cam Hart.
- Richard: the only criterion here is we need to decide which Notre Dame football player is most likely to seriously consider/know how many ghosts is too many ghosts to fight. I’m going to go with a tie between Marist Liufau and Rylie Mills
Alright y’all, that’s it for today! Now go enjoy that first episode of Season 2, it’s a solid start to another great season of a wonderful show!!!