Irish Shu is sitting back relaxing, wandering through the long college football off season while taking the "honey badger" approach on the baseball season which is only just underway.
...and I am NOT liking the goings-on right now.
The one blessing I can count is that my beloved Lady Fighting Irish basketball team did manage to make the NCAA women's basketball championship game for the second year in a row, which is certainly impressive!...the bad news is they lost the game for the second year in a row to a one-player team, again. Granted, losing to a 40-0 Baylor team which features, perhaps, the best player who ever lived in Brittney Griner is nothing to be ashamed of, but still - LOSING SUCKS! All in all, a great season for the Lady Irish, though, and I am proud.
Other than that, though, not many blessings to count.
Looking at the Irish Football team - the program has been in what feels like a downward spiral ever since that lousy performance vs. Florida State in the Champs Sports Bowl.
As if failing to show up in that game wasn't enough, the recruiting class that followed was somewhat disappointing. A favorite running back recruit the Irish were hoping to get in David Perkins ditched them for Ohio State, leaving the team without much for incoming RB's to bolster the stable which does not have much in it. The Irish also lost their favorite receiver prospect in Deontay Greenberry, who bailed on them on signing day and went to Houston, instead...then Greenberry's cousin Tee Shepard, a highly-rated cornerback who had enrolled at ND early, left the program, as well.
The biggest bomb, though, was when the best D-lineman the Irish have seen in years in Aaron Lynch left the program last week after a very impressive freshman year - one that saw him shred the ND O-line in last years' Spring game, then go onto the regular season and record 5.5 sacks (team-leading), 14 quarterback hurries, 33 tackles including 7 for a loss, and a forced fumble on his way to being named a freshman All American. His departure, apparently, is due to homesickness...he wants to be back in Florida where he's from. Lynch is a phenomenal young athlete, and it's an understatement to call this loss a "blow"...I could certainly use one of those right now, but I digress.
The bright side is that The Irish DID manage to land a coveted quarterback recruit in Gunner Kiel. They managed to pluck him from LSU at the last minute, in fact. Right now, though, Kiel is practicing with a heavy heart...he lost his uncle, former ND quarterback Blair Kiel (who played in the NFL for 7 years) just last week. The death was reported as being from "natural causes", though results of an autopsy are still pending. Regarding the death, Gunner said "It’s really tough to lose an uncle who is so young. He died at the age of 50. It was so sudden. God has a plan for all of us, and that was his plan. Now I’m going to have a guardian angel who’s going to be here for me all the time."
I will add this about Kiel: I will be watching him...it would be one hell of an inspiring story if Gunner, fueled by the ghost of his Uncle Blair, managed to overtake an experienced, but average starting QB in Tommy Rees, as well as the high-potential backups of Andrew Hendrix and Everett Golson and end-up having one hell of a career...one never knows, but we'll see.
With all of this happening within ND football, I'm having serious doubts about their coach in Brian Kelly. I certainly hope he proves me wrong and has a great third year to his career, but since he has arrived at ND some stuff has happened that has me questioning his ability to control and lead this program. In Kelly's first year, there was the Declan Sullivan tragedy, then a student allegedly raped by an ND football player ended-up committing suicide over it. Last year Kelly made the comment about his recruits vs. the players he did not recruit on the team which caused a stir among his players, and then, of course, you have all these defects going-on before AND after recruiting and Kelly does not seem to be making much effort at preventing them from happening...his upcoming third year will certainly tell all of us how legitimate that concern is.
Then there's the ND Hockey team - a program which has been pretty successful in recent years and made the Frozen 4 last year - did not even make the NCAA tournament this year...Beeze knows more about that than I do.
Notre Dame is not the only team that has me in angst, though. My beloved alma mater in the FCS, the Montana Grizzlies, are dealing with some turmoil of their own.
Recently, some of their football players got into trouble with the law, specifically with alleged sexual assault and rape charges. As a result of this, Griz Head Coach Robin Pflugrad and Athletic Director Jim O'Day were both fired. Among the accused are last years' starting QB in Jordan Johnson. Johnson is back with the team after a brief suspension when the woman who accused him got a restraining order on him, but he returned to practice when that order was converted to a "civil agreement"...it's not over for him yet, though. The police investigation is still continuing in the matter, so he could face charges depending on the outcome. If Johnson is then charged with the crime, he'll be off the team and then, guess who comes in? Yep, Mighty Joe's son Nate Montana who sucks! The Griz will definitely be up shit creek if that happens, if they are not already. The good news? Pflugrad was quickly replaced by longtime Griz assistant Mick Delaney who will see the team through the 2012 season. He's as good a replacement as there can be considering that he is very experienced, knows the system and the players, and does not plan on changing the system much at all. We'll see how it all plays out.
Okay...done venting now. Thank you for reading.