Notre Dame Football: The Irish Need Not Apologize for Loss

Dan StockrahmAnalyst IJanuary 8, 2013

The Irish were outgunned by the Tide.
The Irish were outgunned by the Tide.Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

I am shamed, and not because Notre Dame got its collective butt handed to it in a national championship game: a 42-14 fiasco that was over before Brent Musburger was halfway done panting about how hot A.J. McCarron’s girlfriend was.

I feel spiritually empty, and not because the football gods deserted the Irish as defensive coordinator’s Bob Diaco’s DB’s couldn’t cover 'Bama’s equipment manager. My tortured psyche is not due to the fact ND’s secondary didn’t touch a football the entire day, or that five-yard outs had five-yard cushions, which was okay since when 'Bama ran ten-yard outs they somehow had fifteen-yard cushions.

I feel physically beaten, and I wasn’t in the D-line that got mowed like summer grass by the 'Bama O-line. My anguish is not because both 'Bama running backs ran over and around the Irish front seven for over 100 yards each, or that 'Bama QB A.J. McCarron had one rush for nine yards, which beat ND’s second-leading rusher by seven yards.

I feel intellectually hurt, and not because of my ill-advised delusions that ND’s coaching staff could use 43 days of preparation to actually prepare. It added no particular anguish that the 'Bama players said that they knew exactly what ND was doing on defense the moment the Irish lined up.

I feel emotionally numb, and I didn’t even have a drink yesterday. A travesty, yes, but not the crux of the problem.

The source of my sports-wrought agony is not the old-style wood-shed beating inflicted by the Crimson Tide that ESPN apologetically broadcast to most of America for all to see, despite my ill-fated efforts to bring down their main satellite at the five-minute mark of the first quarter.

My angst is derived solely from my own actions, which in retrospect, are reprehensible.

We’ve Seen This Somewhere Before

Down 21 points barely into the second quarter. Giving up four touchdowns down by halftime. The Crimson Tide offense rushes for over 200-plus yards, passes at will and has a QB that doesn’t even know what color jersey the opponent wears.

And that’s not the bad part.

The 'Bama D runs through the offense like crap through a goose, and receivers are covered like glue from sideline to sideline. Running backs are stoned and bent on the few occasions they are handed the ball in a futile attempt to control the clock. The offense looks lost, and the coaches look worse than the offense.

If there is a football Armageddon, this is what it looks like.

Of course, I am talking about a 2010 Michigan State team versus 16th-ranked Alabama in the Capital One Bowl, where 11-1 MSU got canned 49-7 by the Crimson Tide.

Oh no, wait, I’m talking about the 2012 eighth-ranked Michigan Wolverines coming off an 11-2 season taking on Alabama in the season opener and getting clocked 41-14.

No sorry, I guess I’m talking about the No. 1-ranked Fighting Irish playing the second-ranked Tide in the 2013 college football national championship game and getting crushed in grape-like fashion, 42-14.

Actually, I am talking about all three.

That’s what happens when you play 'Bama these days—the beatings get sorely confused.

I Owe an Apology

As a result of the recent events of January 7, I owe an apology. Not to Alabama.

From the day I saw this matchup I spoke of many things, with one proviso: if ND can’t man up in the trenches it would be a long day.

The Irish didn’t, and the game was an eternity for the Irish faithful. An infinity of football hell packed into 60 minutes of game clock.

Watching a team and its staff get outplayed and out-coached by a superior team is hard, but nothing to apologize for.

No one has to apologize that Nick Saban is arguably the best college coach in the country, or that 'Bama’s 2012 offensive line might be the best college line—ever.

No one has to say they’re sorry that Alabama’s defense is fast, athletic, and punishing, or that their top two running backs will both play on Sunday whenever college rules say they’re eligible to go pick on people their own size.

No one has to apologize for losing to the defending national champion.

Sorry Sparty. My Bad Michigan.

In 2010 I consistently called MSU a pretender for playing a light schedule, rolling through a number of close calls mostly at home against mediocre competition, then getting bear-mauled by the Crimson Tide in their bowl game.

Similarly, after 11-win Michigan scraped through 2011 against a horrible Big 10 and needed 24 fourth-quarter points to escape ND at night at home, I told all my Wolverine friends that despite the gaudy record, they weren’t all that. 'Bama’s gridiron crucifixion of UM in the 2012 season opener validated my criticism.

As the 2012 ND season unfolded, I silently scoffed at the slow demise of UM and MSU, and reveled in the unexpected string of Irish victories against solid if not spectacular competition.

While outwardly sympathetic to Spartan-Land and the Wolverine elite, my inner football child was tickled pink, then showered with candy when the Irish got a title shot for their efforts.

Little did I know that shot would be fatal.

As a result, I now know the intense anguish of having a good football team beaten soundly by a much better one, and then having to endure the solemn condolences of those that have suffered a similar fate, as well as the jeers of the doubters now basking in the Irish loss.

I did not know the depth of your suffering, but I do now.

So while ND had a good year, with some good wins and lots of positives to build on, I would like to formally apologize to my friends in East Lansing and Ann Arbor for my criticism that came from ignorance, not malice.

You weren’t a pretender after all, Alabama is just the best team in college football, and sadly, we are not, at least not yet.

Well done, Tide. And sorry Sparty and Wolverine alike, you were not the pretenders I thought you were.

As for the Irish, you've done well, but there’s a lot to do, and lots of time and talent to get it done.

Thanks for a great year, and see you this spring.


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