Vibes are bad right now, you guys.
It felt like the Notre Dame Fighting Irish football team had finally figured some things out post-Louisville, outscoring USC and Pittsburgh 106-27 in consecutive games to push ND to 7-2 and a top-15 ranking. But then, of course, came the 31-23 loss at Clemson to a team with an offense just as bad as Notre Dame’s. Same story, different year — at least, that was the feeling of frustration we all felt on Saturday afternoon.
Now, the Irish are enjoying their second bye week since the USC game, and we’re all left with lots of sad and empty and annoyed feelings while we take a week off from watching the train wreck that is Gerad Parker’s offense against decent opponents (it looked great against Navy and Tennessee State though!!). So, in keeping with the weekly schedule, I asked you our loyal OFD followers on Twitter to submit questions for Pat Rick, our local simpleton, to answer.
Typically, requests like that lead to bunches of ridiculous and weird and hilarious questions for me to spend hours trying to answer. But the mood around Irish nation is dire, and the quantity and tone of the inquiries submitted to me reflected that this week. The good news, though, is you won’t have another 6000-word article from me to read today. Instead, we’re gonna be pretty short and sweet and get on with our week, hoping to enjoy plenty of solid matchups that have nothing to do with our chosen fandom full of misery.
Let’s dive in.
1. FAN QUESTION:
Did they lose?— Bridget Sully (@bridget_sully) November 4, 2023
Pat Rick (One Foot Down): Oh man, starting off strong thanks to my wonderful sister, who grew up an Irish fan like myself (our ND/SMC parents brainwashed us, there was nothing we could have done) but was smart enough to go to IU instead and enjoy never having to care about football. She’s still an ND fan in general but much more casual about it than most of us, and I couldn’t be more jealous of that — it sounds amazing right about now.
Just to get it out of the way and make sure I do inform my sister in case she truly doesn’t know — yes, it does appear that the Irish lost on Saturday, managing to look like an incompetent high school team on offense and playing just bad enough defensively to allow for Clemson’s high school offense to score enough to win. The details are foggy besides that — I think I blacked out from frustration and loudly saying “of course” and “here we go again” about 1000 times throughout the game.
I will say, however, that there’s a chance that Irish fans may end up “winning” thanks to this loss. Gerad Parker is pretty clearly not cut out for this job, and although he isn’t the only one to blame, it’s ultimately his job to make the offense work. After Saturday, it sounds like there may actually be a realistic chance that Marcus Freeman lets his friend go, or at least demotes him back to TE coach. If that happens and the Irish don’t completely bungle the hiring of the next guy (I know, I know...that sounds SUPER likely after last off-season), then long-term this Irish program could be in business. Al Golden, at least as long as he’s defensive coordinator, is clearly the right guy for that job. If you can pair a proven, creative play-caller on offense with Golden and his defensive system/talent, ND has a schedule in 2024 and an expanded CFP bracket that could really align for an Irish playoff berth.
So yeah, they lost last weekend. But maybe this was actually a good thing, just because of what it might lead to in the near future.
2. FAN QUESTION:
Will the pain and suffering ever end— Justin Tournoux (@EarthToJustin2) November 4, 2023
Pat Rick (One Foot Down): No.
Unfortunately, life is pain — we’re all destined to suffer at various points in our lives, and that’s especially true because we’ve all hitched our emotional well being to a college sports program with awesome history and high expectations, but lacking all the pieces to actually live up to all of that in the modern era.
What hurts even more is we finally have the exact kind of leader we all have wanted for decades at head coach. Freeman is young, smart, charismatic, humble, willing to learn, full of energy, and so damn handsome. He seems to completely get what makes ND unique and special and uses that to sell recruits and his players on the program and its mission, instead of using the unique challenges the school presents as some sort of roadblock to success. He’s so easy to root for, and so it hurts doubly so to see him fail as he continues to take his lumps as a first time head coach in one of the most scrutinized jobs in football.
And, it just feels like we keep doing the same thing again and again, playing ourselves for fools. Since the early ‘90s, Notre Dame fans have been caught in a never-ending cycle of getting our hopes up, having them dashed, patiently waiting for a new hire to get things going, getting our hopes up, having them dashed, patiently waiting for another new hire to get things going, getting our hopes up, etc. The Charlie Brown/Lucy kicking the football metaphor has been used by lots of people when writing about being an Irish fan, but that’s because it’s so spot on. We continue to believe that this time, this year, our beloved Irish will finally do it. And then they yank it away from us and disappoint us and yet we never learn, always coming back for more.
And I obviously wouldn’t have it any other way — I love being a Notre Dame fan and will never not live and die with the Irish on fall Saturdays. But I also hate it, and wish I could be someone who either didn’t care for football or at least didn’t follow one team so religiously. That sounds way less stressful and distressing, and way more peaceful and carefree and fun.
So yeah, the pain and suffering will keep coming back — that’s just how sports work. But hopefully at some point, somewhere in between all the heartbreak and frustration, we as loyal fans are finally rewarded with something awesome that we will cherish and remember forever — whether it’s an actual national title or simply a season where the Irish actually looked like they belonged with all the big boys (think the 2014-2015 ND men’s hoops team — disappointment of the Kentucky loss aside, I will remember and cherish the memories of watching that team play FOREVER).
3. FAN QUESTION:
Are there two bye weeks?— Connie Salami (@CVilly23) November 5, 2023
Pat Rick (One Foot Down): There are, and it’s really annoying they occurred so close to each other. I don’t even feel the need to complain about how late in the year ND’s first bye came, at least on its own. But when you’re planning out a team’s two byes, who do you put them within a couple weeks of each other instead of maybe dropping one in after game 5 or 6 and then having the other occur somewhere around now, just so the schedule is a little more balanced in terms of weeks played in a row? Super annoying, although I guess it’s nice to not have to watch that team play this week after how they collapsed against Dabo last weekend.
Also, thank you for following up with the “Bye Bye Bye” GIF. Not only was it a nice reminder of the fact that it’s basically Christmas music season, meaning I can listen to NSYNC’s “Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays” and Mariah’s “All I Want For Christmas Is You” on repeat for the next ~2 months, but it’s also a fun connection because when the Irish are again idle during conference championship weekend, they will essentially have had 3 “bye weeks,” just as JT and the fellas sang about 3 byes in the chorus of their smash hit song.
Love it — both of those things are cheering me up already after last weekend. Thanks Christmas music and boy bands!!!
4. FAN QUESTION:
Which cartoon characters could call a better game than Gerard Parker— Drew (@afterDraw) November 4, 2023
Pat Rick (One Foot Down): This question was, incredibly, the only REAL question I received that wouldn’t necessitate me just riffing on the inquiry for a few paragraphs while talking about basically nothing. So thank you, @afterDraw (very clever handle for a guy named Drew, by the way) — I hope you enjoy my breakdown below.
First, let me just say that this is going to be a long list. As you can imagine, there are A LOT of people, both real and fictional, who I think could call a better game than Parker at this point. So, this probably isn’t even a comprehensive list, but it IS a list I feel strongly about. Give me any of these cartoon characters up in the booth and just watch as the Irish offense comes alive over the final 3 games of the season!
Arnold from Hey Arnold
Dude was dealing in that episode where they play the 5th graders in football. Helga couldn’t get it done calling the shots, being over reliant on Torvald and paying for it when he sprained his ankle on a ridiculous run. Arnold wasn’t the step-OC, he was the OC who stepped up when the team needed some juice without their stud back — his inspiring little pep talk and then the play call of “Statue of Liberty, Double Reverse, Flea-Flicker, Razzle-Dazzle, Fumble-Rooski” was just pure genius against a 5th grade team with way more size and physicality but way less intelligence. Talk about adapting your system to your talent and to take advantage of your opponent’s flaws!
Phineas and Ferb from Phineas and Ferb
You know these nerds would draw up some wild but effective plays with how inventive they are. I feel like they would be very analytics-focused which may be alarming at times, but it would also eliminate all the field goal attempts when the team should really go for it on 4th down, so that would be nice.
Jerry from Tom and Jerry
He’s just so clever and great at devising ways out of a jam, I feel like he could have done wonders for the Irish when they kept getting pinned inside their own 5-yard-line against Clemson. He works best in tight quarters with a scary opponent trying to pounce.
Tito from Rocket Power
I have no idea if Tito knows anything about football, but his wise sayings would inspire the offense in a way Parker cannot, and I feel like he might have some nice plays up his sleeve too, just from watching his hometown team the Warriors back in the Timmy Chang/Colt Brennan era. Those guys could SCORE and I bet Tito picked up a few things just from watching, however casually.
On the flipside, as much as I love Raymundo Rocket, he simply doesn’t have the patience to coach a bunch of college kids effectively. Hard pass if he wants the job.
Sandy Cheeks from Spongebob Squarepants
She’s smart, tough, athletic, and a bad ass...I feel like she’d bring Texas football to the Irish in the best way, and before long ND would be running the Eric Taylor offense and recruiting top talent from the Lonestar State with ease.
Bugs Bunny from Looney Tunes
He’s great at disguises and trickery and always ends up outsmarting his opponent, often making it look very easy. Yes, his “opponents” are often kind of stupid, but let’s be real — so are a lot of the opposing defensive coordinators out there. I think Bugs would find a way to really do some creative things with misdirection and trick plays and although it could be more of a gimmicky offense, I think it would be more productive than the offense we saw on Saturday.
Gene Belcher from Bob’s Burgers
This one is a bit out there, but I could see Gene being something like a Mike McDaniel figure for the Irish. Or maybe a Mike Leach, since that might match Gene Belcher’s personality more. What I’m saying is, Gene is super unique and off-the-wall and unorthodox, and I think he’d approach building an offensive scheme differently than most and come up with some really groundbreaking concepts.
I’d trust this kid with the ND offense, no question — especially if you gave him a veteran mentor to help guide him and whom he can emulate.
Scooby Doo from Scooby Doo (if you gave him Scooby Snacks)
I think this one requires very little explanation. Scooby is already a talking dog who’s smart enough to help solve mysteries, and we all know smart dogs can excel in sports in a big way thanks to the Air Bud cinematic universe. Scooby’s natural inclination to be scary of everything would be a hindrance to his success, no doubt, but it’s canon that if he’s given some “Scooby Snacks” or even just offered the promise of said snacks for doing something, he can overcome his fear and turn into a lean, mean, crime-solving machine.
So, you pay the dude in Scooby Snacks and then sit back and watch as his offense absolutely trucks the competition, yanking the proverbial mask off each opposing DC one-by-one to reveal the idiot loser that each one is underneath their guise of being “good coaches.”
Also, Shaggy would be a solid backup option here, if the salary could just be an endless supply of cartoonishly huge sandwiches for him after he wins ballgames.
Dexter from Dexter’s Laboratory
This kid would be young for the role, no doubt, and he doesn’t seem to be a big sports guy. But he’s a boy genius with an incredible, state of the art laboratory at his disposal, so he would be able to devise some foolproof playbooks and game plans thanks to all his technology and smarts. He’d be COOKIN’ up some amazing play calls in that lab, assuming Dee Dee stays out of his hair.
Ned Flanders from The Simpsons
Ned is a super Christian version of Ted Lasso, in my opinion — he’s a hunky, mustachioed man who would bring extremely positive vibes to the locker room. Plus, God would guide his play calling — especially at Our Lady’s university and with no distractions for the team like witchcraft, etc. — and lead us to the promised land of a national title in no time.
Plus, he’s got that DAWG in him for the moments that call for a more fiery approach to motivating his offense to kick the opponent’s ass.
Jimmy Neutron from The Adventures of Jimmy Neutron, Boy Genius
He’s a boy genius, as we know from the title of his show. And he’s very good at adapting and thinking on the fly to solve problems, as we know from his “brain blast” moments he constantly has throughout his titular movie and TV show. Plus, he would come with his robot dog Goddard, who could certainly help with analytics and also if the Irish ever wanted to pull off a Connor Stalions-esque signal stealing scheme, as the robo-dog could fly to opponent games, film the sidelines, and get out of there without any paper trail.
Tommy Pickles from Rugrats
He’d be the youngest OC in the country by quite a wide margin, but I don’t think many of you would disagree with me here that he would be an excellent leader for this offense. He’s fearless, smart, creative/imaginative, always prepared (AKA always has a screwdriver on him to let him and his friends out of the playpen), etc.
Plus, the kid is constantly inspiring the Rugrats troops to accomplish whatever it is they feel they need to accomplish that day, and he does all these things without the grown-ups being aware of any of it. He’s great at catching them off-guard, doing things undetected, etc. He’d pull one over on just about everyone he faced off against on the gridiron.
Pam from Archer
I’m not really sure why, but I just feel like her offense would physically dominate people and kick major ass. If I were a top lineman or running back, I’d play for Pam in a heartbeat, and I think she could lure in some top QB/WR talent as well once they get used to her in-your-face, inappropriate style.
Ed from Ed, Edd, n Eddy
Yes, I know Ed is the dumb one of the three and that Edd (“Double D”) seems like he would be the better choice. But I think Ed is truly a savant in some ways in this show, and I feel like he would zig when others zagged and somehow manage to be an awesome OC just because it feels like he finds a way through all the really dumb situations and choices that he and his buddies put themselves in on a daily basis. He just thinks differently, which isn’t a bad thing.
Plus, bringing Ed on as OC means you could maybe get Plank as his offensive analyst, which would be great for morale and give the team a fun symbol to rally behind. Think of him like an offensive version of a turnover chain — something for an offensive player who just made a big play to run to the sideline and hoist aloft as his team goes nuts. Maybe it could be whoever scores points for the offense, and then the team could chant “POINT PLANKN” in honor of former Kansas basketball player Tyshawn Taylor.
Even with just Ed managing the offense, I think he could teach his guys some unique techniques and new, athletic moves that could help give the offense a leg up against the competition. The dude was a great athlete and can pass that along to his players, no doubt.
Alrighty folks, that’s gonna be it for this week — I really appreciate the questions that were submitted, and would like to give a shout-out to myself for turning 4 questions, with 3 of them being not super substantive, into a full Q&A article. Not too shabby for a Bye Week of worth, in my opinion.
As always, I encourage you all to make sure you head over to the site you’re already on, One Foot Down, to check out all the good stuff we have this week and going forward — this staff rules and they put out some awesome content throughout the football season and also in the off-season and covering other ND sports.
That’s all, y’all — per usual, GO IRISH, BEAT BYE WEEK!!!