Friday, September 30, 2005

A Picture Says 1000 Words

But six will do --

Chicago White Sox, Central Division Champions!!!!

On to the playoffs.


Wednesday, September 28, 2005

One Win Away

Sox take care of business with an 8-2 romp. Jose Contreras is the greatest thing, wait, he kicks the ass of sliced bread.

Also joining the fun is Tampa pitcher Seth McClung, who shuts down the Indians in 1-0 victory. AL Central lead back to 3.


One more win to clinch a playoff spot.


Monday, September 26, 2005

Sox Close In

Long time, no blog.

Ah, who cares. We're all having a good time again in late September as the Sox take three of four from the Twinkies, get a little help from the Royals and push the lead over the smokin'-hot Indians back to 2.5 games, and lower the magic number to 5.

Much discussion centers around the White Sox struggles of the past five weeks, during which they have been a pedestrian 25-26. Cleveland, meanwhile, has won 17 of its last 20 games. That's not necessarily choking it away - it's one team running in place while the other plays out of its mind. The White Sox still have a chance to win 100 games. They are pretty much guaranteed to supplant their '93 win total (94) as well as the 2000 win total (95). If there still is a Sox "collapse" on the horizon, it ought to be credited as much to the way Cleveland won as the Sox lost it.

And in any event, they're not going to lose it.

In other news, a Tyrone Willingham team was out-coached and blown-out by three scores on Saturday. Go figure.

Huskies dispatched 36-17. On to Purdue...


Saturday, September 17, 2005

Late Again...

Um....sorry? We DO feel bad though.

In a related note, listen to yours truly calling the Irish-Spartans matchup at 2:30 PM on

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Sox Fumble Away

a 9-7 lead in Kansas City.

Magic #: 13
AL Central Lead: 5


Sox Down to Lucky 13

With a 6-4 win at Kansas City (delayed more than two hours by rain), Sox cut the clincher to 13 and maintain a six-game lead over the super hot Indians in the AL Central.

What, me worry?

In Irish news, Rhema McKnight NOT out for the season, but will not play against Michigan State.

Full game preview & recaps coming Friday morning (THIS TIME WE PROMISE!!)


Monday, September 12, 2005

More Posts Coming, Sox in Stretch Drive, Shows BEGIN TONIGHT

We know we promised full Pitt recap and Michigan preview late Thursday...and we missed. For that, we apologize. We blew it. But the good news????


Don't worry, we promise full posts on the kick-ass sweep of Pittsburgh and Michigan later in the week. And tonight --- THE PODCAST IS BACK ON THE AIR!!! Tune into WVFI tonight from 7-8 for the first episode of the season! We gonna have a funky GOOD time!

P.S. - Sox suffer sweep at the hands of the Disneyland Angels, stalling the Magic # at 15. They retain leads of 5 games over Boston in the race for home-field advantage and 5.5 over Cleveland in the AL Central; the good news? Sox start a three-game series against Kansas City while the Tribe tackles Oakland in a crucial series for the wild card standings. Stay tuned...


Tuesday, September 06, 2005

Sox September Surge Continues

In beating the Royals 6-5, White Sox stay perfect in September at 6-0. Cleveland wins, holding the Central lead at a comfy 9.5 games and reducing the Magic # to 16.

Only 14,000 fans at Comiskey tonight? What, was there a garage sale up at Wrigley? Let's get serious.

Also, we know we said full Pitt game recap on Monday. Obviously we missed that. It'll be up along with our Michigan game preview late Thursday night.

And finally...

That's more like it.


Sunday, September 04, 2005

WHAT A TEAM!!!!!!!

WOW! The most beautiful sight these eyes have ever seen, the legion of trash-talking Pitt fans who an hour earlier had been chanting "FUCK THE IRISH" go quieter than monks in their monastery.

What a beatdown. What a game. What a team. We'll be back with the full recap tomorrow, All I can say at this

ALSO, MAD PROPS TO THE WHITE SOX FOR THE WEEKEND SWEEP, outscoring Detroit 29-5 for the four games. Young Brendan McCarthy looks to follow up his gem at Texas with a start at hallowed Fenway Park in a makeup game tomorrow, 11:05 AM South Bend time. Magic Number - 18.


Friday, September 02, 2005

Leaving On a Noon-Day Trip to Pittsburgh...

But before I go, the #1 Key to the Irish Season, and (whoa - big shock) it's all about the man at the top.

The pace, attitude, and results of Notre Dame's 2005 fortunes depend more than anything else on Charlie Weis and his expertly picked staff of assistants. Since I'm on my way out the door to Pittsburgh for the game, I'll lot local Sports legend columnist Jeff Jeffers expand on this theme...

Weis & His Wise Men
by Jeff Jeffers

Charlie Weis is always quick to give credit to the Notre Dame administration for allowing him the financial freedom to hire what could very well be one of the best groups of assistant coaches in the game today. The payoff comes in wins and losses, much the enthusiasm pulsing through the Notre Dame nation originated from the resumes of Weis' assistants.

There are many excellent groups of assistant coaches spread across the college football landscape, but what makes this assortment of aides unique is their collective experience and reputations. Both factors reflect on Weis, who hired several of these assistants over the phone back in December.

Weis had never met some of them but had a variety of very good reasons why he wanted them at Notre Dame with him. There is little question that Weis could have put together his staff based solely on his contacts and experience in the NFL. But Weis realized he needed a staff that would reflect what he wanted to bring to Notre Dame: a dynamic mix of experience, enthusiasm, recruiting expertise and an appreciation and admiration for Notre Dame.

The lack of familiarity among assistants was quickly swept away by a unified effort to tackle the job. One clear quality is that each and every one of Weis' assistants is a teacher. Sometimes lessons can be learned immediately while other lessons takes weeks, sometimes months, to master. Who didn't want to start a class with A's right out of the chute? But we all know it doesn't always happen that way. The same holds true in football.

Thirty years ago, Dan Devine assembled his own tremendous group of assistant coaches. Some were retained from Ara Parseghian's staff and others were new to Notre Dame. The triumvirate of Notre Dame graduates ¬– Greg Blache, Joe Yonto and George Kelly – represented three of the best assistants ever on the Irish sidelines.

The offensive coordinator, Merv Johnson, has a story worth telling for several reasons. Johnson, who came to Notre Dame in 1976 along with Ron Toman, is credited with the development of a quarterback named Joe Montana. Johnson also called all the offensive plays and worked seemingly three downs ahead of opposing defenses. Over a four-year period Johnson's attacks were as varied as any in college football.

If a defense wanted to play a stacked front, Montana would go to Ken MacAfee, Kris Haines, David Waymer, etc. You want to drop seven into coverage, Mr. Defensive Coordinator? Try to handle Jerome Heavens, Vagas Ferguson, Al Hunter, Terry Eurick and Steve Orsini.

Johnson has the hardware. He owns national championship rings from four different decades: Arkansas in 1964, Notre Dame in 1977, Oklahoma in 1985 and again with the Sooners in 2000.

I have not met anyone within the world of college football with more class, character and compassion that Merv Johnson. In the early 1970's while at Arkansas, one of those on Frank Broyles' Razorback staff was current Irish assistant Bill Lewis, who shares many of those same traits and qualities as Johnson.

It would be great if the 2005 Notre Dame coaching staff stayed in tact through the next six seasons, but we know in the reality of college football that's not the case. Enjoy this staff, Notre Dame fans. You may not see a collection like this one for a long time. Then again, who would have thought Weis could have put together a staff like this in the first place? If he has to, Weis will probably do it again.


Sox Dominate 12-3

Yet another digit off the Magic #, which now stands at...



Thursday, September 01, 2005

#2 - Learn From the Master

Statistically, Brady Quinn didn't do anything except get better last season. Completion percentage up, to 54 from 47. Touchdowns up from 9 to 17, interceptions down from 15 to 10. Passed for more than 2000 yards.

And yet everybody, including the QB himself, labels the year a dissappointment.

The overall 6-6 record of the Irish no doubt is no doubt a large factor in coming to that conclusion. But so is the discomforting pattern Quinn established of having good starts before tapering off during the course of a game - he tossed four touchdown passes in the first half against Washington, then was barely heard from the rest of the game. He completed 6-of-7 passes for 58 yards on the opening drive against USC but was just 9-of-22 for 47 yards from that point on.

What am I getting at here? The in-game progression of a quarterback, the ability to check at the line and change things up and adjust to a defense, eluded Quinn under the tutelage of Ty Willingham. Charlie Weis cannot and will not allow this to happen.

Maybe we're heaping too much praise on Charlie by dubbing him "the master". Fact remains he took Tom Brady from sixth-round pick in the draft to a two-time Super Bowl MVP. You need to have intuitive football knowledge of a special degree to produce those kind of results - in a similar vein, look at the body of work from Norm Chow: everywhere he has been, QB's have shown sustained, sometimes astronomical improvement. How else does Matt Leinart ascend from unknown with a grand total of zero pass attempts to Heisman winner - by eating his Flintstone vitamins?

Quinn is the pivot of the Irish fortunes. As he goes, so goes this team and this season. If it's far too much to heap on the shoulders of a 20-year old from Ohio, he hasn't shown any signs of strain. In fact, he seems to welcome it.

There's going to be a moment, maybe Saturday night at Heinz Field, next week at Michigan, or nine weeks from now against Tennessee. They'll be a lot of them over the course of the season, but they'll be the moments when Quinn sees every eye in the stadium fixed on him. How he responds will be the indicator of how far he is able to go under the guidance of his mentor with four Super Bowl rings on his hand.

But no matter how much Quinn learns about recognizing a delayed blitz, or calling a silent audible or using his pivot foot, one thing has to come from him and him alone. All the Weis-coaching in the world cannot provide it:

"We always define it as 'It,'" Weis said. "That special something that the great ones have. It just permeates the guy and spreads like wildfire through everyone in the huddle.

"It's when you look in your teammates' eyes late in a game and say, 'OK, fellas, let's go down and win this thing.' And they believe in you."

'It' has to be inherent, the great ones have it already. I don't know where 'It' comes from, but it doesn't come from outside. You can push a guy as far as you can, but you can't put 'It' into him."

In 48 hours, Brady Quinn gets his first chance to show off "It".'


#3 - Backfield & Z-Boys

Early in the 2004 season, after a confidence-boosting performance in the wind over Michigan in which star wideout Braylon Edwards was handcuffed and freshman QB Chad Henne pressured into several key mistakes, Preston Jackson revealed that Notre Dame's defensive backs had dubbed themselves "The Dirty Boys", a play on the common abbreviation of their position as DB.

By the end of the season, the nickname would have an entirely different connotation.

Yes, the play of the defensive backfield for the Irish after September was dirty. Very, very dirty. Practically unwatchable. If it wasn't Kyle Orton beating Dwight Ellick for a 98-yard touchdown pass, it was Paul Peterson torching Mike Richardson late in the 4th-quarter to complete yet ANOTHER collapse against Boston College. And if it wasn't Pitt QB Tyler Palko setting a new record for defensive futility with 5 TD passes against the Irish, it was Matt Leinart doing the same thing two weeks later.

From these ashes, Notre Dame must rise.


Tom Zbikowski, the only returning starter from The Dirty Boys and thankfully the one with the biggest upside (as well as an additional two seasons of eligibility). Surrounding him everywhere is either youth, inexperience, or both. He is the squad's unquestioned leader; the next closest thing to seniority is Richardson, who was used almost exclusively in the dime packages last year. Factor in the transfer of Freddie Parish, and this is Tommy Z's outfit to run.

Not that it's a bad thing. Zibby's hard-nosed, punch-in-the-face style is exactly what Charlie Weis and Rick Minter want out of their defense. He is the quarterback of the defense, which isn't hard for him to handle seeing as he was a two-way player and fine option QB during his high school days in suburban Chicago.

So much has been made about Charlie Weis being the man who will restore Notre Dame football to its' true self. Zbikowski can be the best example - gutsy Catholic kid from Chicago with a hell of a nasty streak on the field, in the same vein as players like Chris Zorich, Jim Flanagan, Dave Duerson, and non-Chicago kids like Shane Walton and Gerome Sapp of the 2002 unit. What the defense needs more than anything is a field captain, and if Tommy Z sets the tone for the backfield the way Brandon Hoyte is doing for the front seven, it can be a special season.

All in all, the 2005 Z-Boys have to go a long way, but they are ready to erase memories of the 2004 D-Boys.



We must a couple days in our mega-countdown of the 12 Keys to the Irish Football Season. It's OK, though, because these are all pretty important so we really should group them together?


His father and namesake is a legend in the lore of the Miami Hurricanes, and battled against the Irish in several epic contests from 1988-90. Now Maurice Crum, Jr. takes center stage on Saturday night at the position most aimed at turning around Notre Dame's porous defense.

Rick Minter's revamped 3-4 style of defense depends mainly on solid play at the line to allow latitude for the coverage his backs are going to have to use against the pass-happy offenses of teams like Pitt and Purdue. At the center of the new look is the created position of Apache linebacker, which for a time looked to be headed for junior Chinedum Ndukwe. But then, in the final week of spring practice, Crum was elevated to the first unit and hasn't been anywhere else since.

The Apache's job is pretty simple - stop the run when they run and stop the pass when they pass. The responsbility will be on Crum, however, to do both equally well. Unlike gap-stuffer and team leader Brandon Hoyte, whose specialty is covering the run, or the fleet-footed Corey Mays, Crum will be looked to as a safety net on both ends of the field. Stepping into this void requires vision, instinct, and mental toughness, and Charlie Weis says he sees all three in the 19-year old Floridian.

"Some guys are out there but they don't have great football instincts. There's a difference between intelligence and football intelligence, and Maurice is a football player. I like when he's on the field. I feel confident when he's on the field," Weis said at his Tuesday press conference. Minter exuded similiar thoughts: "You have to be the linebacker that can cover and that's what (Crum) has the ability to do - You can give him relief by going to five and six DB's on occasion but for the most part you want an athletic guy at his role and he does it quite nicely."

One of the biggest strikes against Notre Dame is that they have precious little speed and it often comes up to bite them on defense when they simply cannot keep up. That might be true when the offensive target in question is Reggie Bush, but let's save that discussion for October 15th. Over the course of the season, Maurice Crum will need to be the X-factor on defense in terms of speed, strength, and cover ability. If he steps up in that role, it could mean big things for the Irish.