How will the Irish use their tight ends next season?


Posted: April 15th, 2012 | by:
Categories: Gameday 40

Stop by Subway Domer to see my latest post about Notre Dame’s tight ends.


by Blog Davie | Comments (0)

Hayden Fry’s influence on Notre Dame Football


Posted: February 19th, 2012 | by:
Categories: Gameday 40

Stop by Subway Domer to read my latest post on the Haydenization of Notre Dame Football.


by Blog Davie | Comments (0)

Steve and Blog Sell Out


Posted: February 10th, 2012 | by:
Categories: Gameday 40

After several weeks of hibernating, Blog Davie has returned to deliver big news to you, the loyal reader(s). As of today, Steve in Iowa and I have officially joined forces with the folks over at Subway Domer. We have long been fans of the Subway Domer Blog and simply could not resist the invitation to write for a blog that presumably receives more than a dozen hits per day.  And they offered us a Subway Domer koozie.  In other words, we’re sellouts . . .

 

What does this mean for GameDay 40?

Courtesy of flickr

Just kidding.   While most of our Notre Dame-related posts will be over at Subway Domer, we will post the links here and GameDay 40 will remain an outlet for our random musings.  Indeed, with Steve’s penchant for writing about the Cyclones on a Hawkeye blog (cough, cough), there will be no shortage of posts.  Plus, Melrose Mauler paid $40 to reserve this domain name for two years so we kinda owe it to him to keep the site alive.


by Blog Davie | Comments (2)

Big Changes Coming…


Posted: February 6th, 2012 | by:
Categories: Gameday 40

Dear Loyal Reader,

Because we have the utmost respect for all 15 of you, we wanted to let you know that management at GameDay40.com will be instituting some changes to the site’s lineup in the near future. Be on the lookout for further updates!

Steve in Iowa

 


by Steve In Iowa | Comments (0)

Gunner is Irish!


Posted: January 17th, 2012 | by:
Categories: College Football, Irish

I do not follow recruiting closely.  It is the silly season of the college football world and I do not have the knowledge or time to sort through rumor and innuendo.  I typically just wait until signing day to see where we are at.  So it takes a special player to get me to really pay attention in January.  A special player like…

(Taking his talents to South Beach Bend)

GUNNER!!!!!!!!!!!!

Seriously, this is huge people.

As broken by the Notre Dame student newspaper, The Observer, it has been confirmed that Gunner Kiel has enrolled at Notre Dame, will begin classes this week (perhaps today), and should be moved-in to O’Neill hall by the end of the week. Welcome to Notre Dame, Gunner!

 


by Steve In Iowa | Comments (9)

The Inexorable Blogitational Pull of Tim Tebow


Posted: January 13th, 2012 | by:
Categories: General Sports

Yes, there have been a lot of happenings in the #NDFB world–assistant coaches leaving (Warriner, Hinton), players signing, players de-committing, Coach Kelly getting a two year contract extension– that sort of stuff just isn’t our bag.  If you are reading this right now, you already know you can get more and better coverage of all those events at any of the fine links down our right hand sidebar.  (By the way, Melrose Mauler, WTF is up with Marcus Coker?  Why can’t the Hawks keep a starting RB on their team?)

But since I still love to write about football and the only real football we have left is the NFL, well there you go.  Even if you are casual football fan, the media frenzy surrounding Timothy Richard Tebow is impossible to escape and I have now fallen past the Tebow-horizon and into Tebow’s blogitational pull.  Hey Notre Dame fans, do you remember when Sam Young was picked over Tim Tebow as the best high school football player in the state of Florida? Sure you don’t because the memory of Sam Young has been scrubbed clean from your synapses long since then, while Tebow has become, well, the biggest Twitter Trender since Jesus–or the Beatles– take your pick.

For myself, I cannot escape Tebow.  I drive to work in the morning and listen to Dan Patrick and I hear Tebow talk.  When I’m driving over my lunch break I’ll tune in to the Jungle and Rome will be hitting Tebow.  Saturday Night Live.  Jimmy Fallon.  ESPN Radio.  If you are reading this you know what I’m talking about.

But I don’t get sick of it because I find the whole thing fascinating.

Why? As it happens I just recently re-watched Moneyball.  If you haven’t seen the movie or read the book you can do both immediately by following this link (and no, I don’t get any revenue from the link– I’m just giving that strong of a recommendation).  In the book the brilliant Michael Lewis follows around the Oakland A’s front office, led by GM Billy Beane, during the 2002 season.  At a time when Commissioner Bud Selig was testifying to Congress that it was simply impossible for small market teams to compete with large market clubs because of the gross disparities in revenue Beane build back-to-back 100 win teams with one of the lowest payrolls in MLB.  Beane and his team, inspired by the ideas of Bill James, Pete Palmer, and other pioneering sabermetricians had exploited gross inefficiencies in the way MLB teams evaluated and compensated their players.  Baseball teams commonly over-paid players for a high batting average or stolen bases and underpaid players who walked a lot and thus made fewer outs.  Beane’s club would not.  They also shed the accumulated detritus of baseball folk-wisdom and superstition passed down from generation to generation from their evaluation process and just asked whether players could play, rather than factor in biased evaluations like what a player “looks like” or if he has a “good face” or a “hot girlfriend.”  I’m grossly oversimplifying things so I strongly suggest that you read the book or see the movie.

What I have been struck by since re-watching the movie, is how eerily similar Tebow’s critics in the media, and even in some of the public statements of Broncos management, sound to the public backlash and criticism that Beane endured when he made his personnel moves.  Tebow doesn’t “look” like an NFL quarterback.  He can’t throw like an NFL QB.  He is a specialist.  He is just a runner.  Some of these arguments are completely meaningless.  Some invoke dubious claims to authority (e.g., “I’ve played this game professionally and so know more than you”) of the same type that were used to ostracize and ignore the work of Bill James.  Some of the arguments are much more sophisticated and involve actual data that purport to objectively demonstrate that Tebow is not nor will he ever be a quality starting QB in the NFL. And without question, numbers like Tebow’s completion percentage and QB ranking are pretty awful.

But what if we’re not looking at the right things with respect to Tebow and other players like him?  What if we haven’t developed instruments that adequately measure the value he brings to a football team?  I have nothing but the greatest respect for the strides that have been made in the quantitative analysis of football statistics and the analysis of best football strategy.  I think that the work of guys like Chris Brown and the team at Football Outsiders and other similar sites have done tremendous work in advancing the state of the art of our statistical football knowledge. They can certainly and more accurately describe Tebow’s strengths and shortcomings as a player than traditional stats that you’ll see scroll across your television screen.  But at the same time, I think that our statistical understanding of football is not as well-developed as it is in baseball.  This is for a variety of technical reasons, but in principle I think that some of this can be overcome and sooner rather than later our football knowledge will be on par with the state of our baseball knowledge.  I think we first need better data and second, and more importantly, a better way to understand that data.

Where does this leave us with respect to Tebow? I don’t know.  I don’t have the answers, I was just struck by the similarities in the types of things that are said about Tebow and the types of things that were said about the Oakland A’s ten years ago.  I don’t know if players like Tebow will reinvent the NFL or if they are truly a flash in the pan.  Probably Tim Tebow will not make it as a starting QB in the NFl.  Probably, the Broncos will lose against the Patriots tomorrow.  Probably, and perhaps mercifully as a result, Tebowmania will go away and we can turn our attention to the next bright and shiny object in our view.

That is, as they say, why they play the games.

 

UPDATE: January 21, 2012

Well, it was pretty predictable that the Broncos would stumble against the Patriots. While I expected them to lose, truthfully, I thought it would be a closer game with both the offense and defense giving better efforts.  Tebow looked very bad to mediocre, and while I don’t want to minimize the less-than-stellar nature of his production it has been reported that he was pretty severely injured during the game with torn cartilidge in his chest. The D faired no better yielding a record tying six touchdown passes to Tom Brady, and like the rest of the league, had no answer to the receiving tour-de-force of Welker, Gronkowski, and Hernandez.

While there has been tepid public commitment from Broncos management that Tim Tebow “has earned” the right to be QB1 heading into training camp (whatever that means as an endorsement), I hope that John Elway remembers what it would be like to be judged by the outcome of a bad playoff game (Elway himself had barely 100 yards and two interceptions against the 49ers in the Superbowl XXIV on less than 50% completions).

There is however at least one person out there who has not lost faith in Tim Tebow and probably never will. I give you 1980s one-hit wonder, John Parr!


by Steve In Iowa | Comments (8)

Why can’t I bring myself to watch tonight’s game?


Posted: January 9th, 2012 | by:
Categories: College Football, General Sports

The short answer is that the Steve in Iowa household has no cable.  Or satellite.  We regard those services as luxuries not worth the cost.  (Seriously, people.  Look at your monthly cable bill, multiply it by 12 and see if that service is something you really, really need.)

Now until the past few seasons this choice was never all that great of a sacrifice. You remember the old days when all the major sporting events you wanted to watch could be seen on broadcast television?  Of course we no longer live in the “old days.”

Alas, it is truly a brave new world constructed by our wise and generous cable television over-lords.  Whereas once our betters might have been enlightened enough to regard college football as a quasi-public trust, part of our shared cultural heritage and worthy to be brought to the masses, the unholy alliance between the NCAA and the modern day cable-television feudal barons at Disney/ABC/ESPN have decreed that every available ounce of revenue MUST be plundered from this public trust.  And so, this is my personal congratulations to Disney for shifting all the good bowl programming to the four-letter.   You really are genius rentiers.

Apologies for the political digression.

Of course I could still see the game.  I could go over to the neighbor’s to watch the game.  Or go to the pub.  But that would require inviting myself to the neighbors’ and inconveniencing them.  Or spending too much money on beer and snacks at the pub.  All for a game that I have zero emotional stake in.

I just. Can’t. Get. Excited. For. This. Game.

I’m sorry, SEC. You just aren’t THAT good to force a rematch of one of the ugliest games of all time on the rest of the country.

On the other hand, were this LSU vs. Oklahoma State?  I would be all over that action.  But we don’t live in that world.  We live in the world where this happened:

 

 

And in this world, one of the injustices is that Iowa State will be remembered as the team that ruined Oklahoma State’s shot at the national title, instead of potentially being the only team to beat the national champion in 2011.

 


by Steve In Iowa | Comments (1)

Post-Bowl Dialogue with Blog and Steve*


Posted: December 31st, 2011 | by:
Categories: College Football, Gameday 40, Irish
Blog Davie: Dang that sucks.  Just eight wins.  The season started with so much promise, we were nationally ranked!   Lost some we shouldn’t have, the regular season ended with that pathetic loss to our hated rival, and then we just lost the bowl game on top of it.

Steve in Iowa: I can’t believe we let that lead slip away.

Blog: Yeah, it looked like we had the game under control in the first half, but we just kept finding ways to turn the ball over and give the game away.  Same old Notre Dame, finding ways to lose.

Steve: You know I always say, “Let’s look on the bright side”, but what is there to look forward to about next season?  Have you looked at the schedule?

Blog: Yeah.  It is absolutely BRUTAL.  I have no idea how we can possibly improve on eight wins when we just lost our best wide receiver and main offensive weapon.

Steve: <sigh> I miss him already.  No doubt he’ll have a great NFL career.

Blog: Yeah, but he WAS SO MUCH of the offense.  He had to be accounted for on every play and really was the only guy to keep defenses honest.  It looks like next year we might have to have some position switches to WR or depend on some incoming freshman to step up.

Steve: It’s not just WR.  We obviously have a great big question mark at QB now.  We NEED a QB that can run and not turn the ball over so much.

Blog: Maybe that young kid is the answer? He definitely has some running ability. His arm ain’t bad either, though he won’t remind anyone of Joe Montana.

Steve: Maybe.  I just wish that he was given more playing time this year so he would get more of a chance to develop.

Blog: Look it takes a new coach a few years to get his system installed, we all know that.  We need to cut Coach a break.  You could see the improvements from last year to this year.   And the defense is really looking young and fast.

Steve:  It is nice to have an All-American LB coming back to lead our front seven.  Plus there are some really great freshmen D-linemen.  If they develop some more our D should be top ten next year.

Blog: I just wished they brought more pressure.  This vanilla “bend-but-don’t break” stuff needs to change.  We need to attack!

Steve: Cut the D coordinator some slack.  What do you know about defensive scheming?  You’re only NINE years old!

Blog: I know more than you!  You think just cause you’re a freshman in high school now you know more than me? How do you think I beat you on the video game all the time?

Steve: Alright, little brother, calm down.  I’m sorry.  That was way out of line.  We’re just two guys with opinions about the team we love and we’re all a little upset.  This bowl game sucked.

Blog: I’m sorry, too, Steve.

[Momentary Silence]

Blog: Steve?

Steve: Yeah, Blog?

Blog: Do you think 1988 will be a better season than 1987?

Steve: Anything is possible, little brother.  Anything is possible.

*[GameDay40.com does not guarantee the historical accuracy of this conversation]


by Steve In Iowa | Comments (3)

IBG: Football and Cheerios Edition


Posted: December 29th, 2011 | by:
Categories: College Football, IBG, Irish

Her Loyal Sons is hosting the Irish Blogger Gathering for today’s Champs Sports Bowl.   Want to know how the FSU O-line is going to fare against the ND front seven?  Want to know who will be the hero of the game?  Want to know how much playing time Andrew Hendrix will get today?   We do to.  So head  over there to see the latest takes on the big game today from your favorite Notre Dame bloggers… oh yeah, and GameDay40, too.

 EDIT (10:30CST)

Detecting an uptick in traffic as some of you might be coming here from Her Loyal Sons to check out our other replies to the Gathering questions.  OK, here you go!

1) FSU might start as many as 4 freshman on the offensive line. In 40 words or less, describe what you’re expecting to be the result of such a move.

Blog Davie (GameDay40.com): If Bob Diaco dials up the pressure with any consistency, EJ Manuel will have a looooong day.  Clubber Lang describes this scenario for Mr. Manuel best . . . . “Pain!” 

2) Lots of stuff Coach Kelly has been saying lately is getting people to believe that if Hendrix looks hot during the bowl game, he may just keep playing in the game. Give me 1 pro to that scenario and 1 con.

Steve in Iowa (GameDay40.com): According to the latest coach-speak from BK, it appears Hendrix will see PLENTY of action.  How can he not?  Over Thanksgiving, Blog Davie and I were at Stanford Stadium to see “The Experience” live (documented for posterity here).  What I can tell you is that the energy level of the players was noticeably higher, you could see it on the field and feel it in the stands.  Hendrix brought life to a team that desperately needed some.  So on the pro side of the ledger, BK finally breaks the binding on the playbook stretching the field vertically with Hendrix’ arm strength and horizontally with his running ability.  This is HUGE given the athleticism of the Seminole defense.  On the con side… um… ahhhh…. trying hard to see the con side of Hendrix getting more playing time.  Um, maybe it damages Rees’ confidence?  Nah, that’s not it.  The Con really is Hendrix playing poorly, or perhaps worse, both QBs putting in average performances with neither significantly outplaying the other.  Then we face an entire off season of handwringing and woe-is-me about the QB position.  I don’t know how much of that I can take.

3) If you’ve paid any attention at all, you know that the Champs Sports Bowl was officially a sell-out pretty darn quickly.  Meanwhile Virginia Tech is struggling to get their allotment of tickets to the Sugar Bowl sold.  Remember, the Champs Sports Bowl is a game between 2 very disappointed 8-4 programs longing for the glory days of yore.  So explain how this bowl sold out, and try to leave all the rah-rah stuff out of it.

Steve in Iowa (GameDay40.com):  To explain this phenomenon, I give you the words of that most insightful interpreter of the human psyche, Don Draper.  (Side note– I couldn’t find a single version of this clip that allowed embedding.)
As he charms the Kodak execs, Draper tells them (and us) “… in Greek, ‘nostalgia’ literally means ‘the pain from an old wound‘. It’s a twinge in your heart, far more powerful than memory alone.’”  This is far beyond “rah-rah.”  It is that ‘pain of an old wound’–and for the Irish faithful those wounds are manifold and spread over decades– and this is what is driving the attendance figures.   Those wounds are numerous and this game offers a chance at healing.  The Champs Sports Bowl, pitting ND versus Florida State, is a potentially a sacramental experience for these fan-bases.  And Irish fans more than anyone else should understand the power of sacrament.  Don Draper certainly does.

4) Will there be an unexpected “hero of the game” for the Irish, or will such a hero prove useless, as the Irish blow out the Seminoles or the Seminoles take the game too far out of reach for the Irish for a hero to be effective?  If there will be a hero, who will it be?

Blog Davie (GameDay40.com): I don’t foresee an “unexpected hero of the game,” but I expect the defense to force some “unexpected” turnovers.  Unexpected in the sense that ND has only forced 13 turnovers all season and FSU has averaged less than one turnover per game during the second half of the season.  That said, there’s reason to believe the Irish can create some turnovers on Thursday.  ND’s front seven should manhandle an inexperienced FSU offensive line and should be able to force EJ Manuel into some poor decisions by bringing pressure.  Although the D should be able to get some pressure on the QB, they will have to remain gap-sound and keep Manuel in the pocket to force turnovers.  His twelve interceptions in the last two seasons have come as a pocket passer.

5) You Play. To Win. The Game. Unless you don’t.  In which case You Play. To Prepared. For Next Year.  Which would you prefer to see in this game?  And yes, it’s a binary choice.  Pick one.
Blog Davie (GameDay40.com): I’m with Herm on this one. You Play. To Win. The Game. Period.  Although much of what it takes to become an elite program occurs behind-the-scenes, it really boils down to wins.  Wins = momentum.  Nine wins would be an improvement (albeit marginal) over last season.  BK’s message will be easier to sell to players and recruits if the team is trending upward.  A win would also mark the first time since 2006 that the Irish have reached nine wins and would push the current bowl win streak to three.  While none of the bowl wins would be against top-tier opponents, it’s better than hearing about the nine-game bowl losing streak.  Moreover, simply participating in a bowl game helps prepare a team for the upcoming season.  Although it would be nice to get some younger players game experience, the reps from the additional practices are probably more important. In other words, play the best players and just win, baby.

by Steve In Iowa | Comments (0)

We iz now on the Twitterz!


Posted: December 28th, 2011 | by:
Categories: College Football, Gameday 40, Irish

Thanks to the encouragement of multimedia omnipresence that is The Subway Domer, GameDay40.com has been exploring the Twitter-verse.  Ol’ Steve still has to admit that he’s still getting the hang of this Twitter thing.  It is the first technology that really makes me feel my age.  That said, getting  @ mentions from ChampSportsbwl and the other IBGers is pretty fun.  Sometime soon we’ll get to Melrose Mauler to add little Twitter buttons on the main page.  Wait– who am I kidding, more like sometime next year.

For now let’s get ready to beat ‘Noles @ChampSportsbwl !!! #NDFB


by Steve In Iowa | Comments (2)