Another episode from: THE CLARKIVES

Like you, I have a few game day rituals. 

I start my day with a hot cup of coffee and find a stool to sit on behind the counter at Augie’s Locker Room.  With highlights of Tony Roberts and Tom Pagna playing in the background, I enjoy talking to new and old friends.  I especially like to hear from those who are attending a Notre Dame game for the first time and hearing them talk about visiting campus.

A quick stop to see a few friends and then it’s off to cover the game.

Some games are more fun to cover that others, and last Saturday’s was not enjoyable.

Add a time limit to work in the press box after the game and my workflow for next week will be very similar to Notre Dame’s practice this week – questioning everything and trying to find the right solution.

A few text exchanges to sign off and my work day is done.

The walk back to my parking spot at the Innovation Park seemed longer than usual and the Joyce Parking Lot, which just a few hours earlier was a thriving community of optimism that rivaled Roseland in population, was eerily empty.  The tents and flags, grills and tables, TVs and stereo systems, packed away for another game.  When?  Who knows?  Has the fan base given up?

The final element of my game day ritual is to stop back at my friend’s place, near campus, to unwind and have one Guinness.

There’s one rule at my friend’s.  When you are outside sitting on the deck there is no discussion of football.

When I arrive, an exception is made as I am asked about the press conference and my day.  As long as I am not on the deck, I can answer.

The “Monday Morning” Quarterbacking takes place inside my friend’s place and it is interesting to hear the thoughts and perspectives.

Many are Notre Dame graduates and you can see and hear their pain.

“This is not what we expected” is the common theme.

A few thoughts were insightful.

One was asking the question of whether (Marcus) Freeman needed an advisor.  A former coach who could help in any way, due to the lack of head coaching experience by Freeman.

Other schools do it.  Something to consider.

The other thought was about Freeman’s rapport with the players.

Is he too much like a parent who wants to be “friends with their children”?

Freeman, the player’s choice for head coach last December, will go through the warm up lines and hug each player.  “He should be kicking them in the $%!” was the response.

Comments about Parseghian, Devine, and Holtz were given about how the players “hated” the preparation, but now reflect back fondly.  Almost like a Marine and their bootcamp experience.  They hated it then, but now “wear” the experience like a badge of honor.

There were more references to Gerry Faust in the conversation with heads shaking and hoping that history is not going to repeat itself.

“Will losing have an effect on recruiting?”

“Will there be any decommits?”

“Will “we” win another game?”

We will learn a lot about the team and its coaches this week as they deal with adversity, and possibly more with the injury to Tyler Buchner sustained late in the Marshall game.

Could this be the silver lining in an, otherwise, dark cloud?

We shall see.  In the meantime, next week I’ll be there, per usual, to cover the game and do my game day rituals.  Perhaps I’ll start a new one and head to the library after the game to do my post-game work.  The library is open until 11 pm, although there is no pizza for those working, and upon finishing I’ll head to my friend’s where on the refrigerator is a sign, “save a Guinness for Len”.

ByLen Clark Ph.D.

Len Clark Ph.D. of Irish 101, a veteran journalist and noted expert on cutting edge media technologies. Len continues to serve as a frequent consultant and occasional contributor to FIP.

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