by John Walters

Sending out good wishes for our friend Tim Prister, who suffered a heart attack on Saturday, and is an outstanding writer and reporter for Irish Illustrated. Few writers, if any, understand the game of football better than Tim does.

Starting Five

October 15, 1988

The 13th Game

As a pair of Top 10 teams, Notre Dame and Miami, prepare to square off in south Florida this weekend, and as ESPN guru and Miami alum Chris Fallica and I suspend our bromance for a few days, you may see people pointing out that neither the Irish nor the Canes will play 13 games this season: the former because they do not belong to a conference and the latter because their trip to Arkansas State on September 9 was canceled due to…a hurricane.

Should that matter to the Selection Committee? Of course not. A reminder that on September 16 No. 1 Georgia hosted Samford and that on November 18 No. 2 Alabama will host Mercer and No. 4 Clemson will host Citadel. These are all FCS squads. The games are glorified personal seat-license shakedowns to those schools’ fans.

Why don’t the Irish belong to a conference? Because no one is in charge atop the FBS. And, you know, Michael Wilbon, imagine an HBCU that was denied entrance to the college football firmament long ago and then forged its own path and wound up being more successful than the establishment itself. Would you want that HBCU to now to kowtow to the very establishment that once spurned it, in the process compromising itself and alienating itself from its own legacy? Methinks not.

And yes, I’ve just described Notre Dame football.

Meanwhile, let’s not forget that conference championship games were launched for one reason only: to make more money for conferences. SEC commish Roy Kramer started it all in 1992: Alabama beat Florida in Birmingham and then went on to knock out No. 1….Miami in the Sugar Bowl.

Antonio Langham’s pick-six started it all

Conferences behave out of self-interest. Conference championship games were not instituted to send a champion to the playoff but to create one giant day of revenue for the respective conferences. Let’s not pretend that these exhibitions are anything more than that. Notre Dame, like conferences, acts in its own best self-interest. That’s college football. Also, when is the last time you ever heard anyone say, “BYU has to join a conference?!?”

2. Boots On The Ground

5’11” Ahmad Bradshaw, here attempting one of his 33 passes on the season, reminds no one of Terry

We sorta feel like the unbelievably one-dimensional offense at West Point has failed to garner enough national attention this season. The Cadets, 7-2, have a shot at their best record since 1996, when they finished 10-2.

The kids who are 40 miles or so up the Hudson lead the nation in rushing (365 yards per game) but are dead last in passing (29.6 ypg). Not only does Army, which has opted to not even attempt a pass in three contests this season, throw for the least amount of yards per game and attempt the fewest passes per (6.2), but it also has the nation’s lowest completion percentage (28.6%), which as you know is a figure completely independent of the number of passes thrown.

Despite that “C” on his jersey, Bradshaw will be commissioned as a 2nd Lieutenant. Is that a demotion?

Also, the Knights  have tossed two passes for TDs but five interceptions (two of those picks were thrown by running backs). Kell Walker, a 5’9″ sophomore from Decatur, leads the team with four catches. Quarterback Ahmad Bradshaw has completed 10 passes on the season, but he does have 1,132 yards rushing, which is 10th-best in the nation.

Army is truly infantry.

3. Vin-Sanity

On the other hand, how many Sundays does he have left?

4. That’s So Raven

On Sunday the Baltimore Ravens badly needed to recover an onside (onsides?) kick, trailing the Tennessee Tuxedos by 3 points late. Alas, Justin Tucker’s kick did not travel the requisite 10 yards so they never even got a chance for a scrum.

Baltimore lost, 23-20. What makes that funny is the Ravens are now 0-23 on onside kick attempts in the past 16 years. That’s not good.

5. A Good Guy With A Gun

While wondering why we don’t consider Kim Jong-Un a “mental health issue” and whether “What We Know About The Victims” will now be a weekly feature on and   if it’s TOO SOON to talk about Sutherland Springs, then is it not too soon to talk about Las Vegas, we did come across this interview with Stephen Willeford, who likely saved a few lives on Sunday by reaching for his own gun and firing on the coward who snuffed out 26 lives.

Also, here’s Steve Kerr, the Warrior coach, making too much sense…


 Oh, and here’s the New York Times with a radical theory explaining the epidemic of mass shootings in the USA as compared to other “civilized” nations. The answer will blow you away: TOO MANY GUNS!

Finally, nice job, Air Force.


Trevor Noah on Shalane Flanagan: “An American woman won a race in November.”

–A reminder that the World Series MVP, George Springer, went 0-fer-4 with four strikeouts (the golden sombrero) in Game 1. Never give up, kids. Never. Give. Up.

Lamar Jackson is still leading the nation in total offense and by more than 48 yards per game against his next closest competitor (Baker Mayfield). Narrative matters, alas.

–Also, “Matter Matters,” which would be my go-to T-shirt if I were a scientist/activist.

–Thanks to a pass interference call with no time left with Detroit leading Green Bay 30-10, the Packers got a final play from the 1-yard line. The Packers scored. The under was 42 to 43, depending on when you wagered. Either way, the Under fell. BAD BEAT!

Music 101

Ever Fallen In Love

Musical history may remember The Buzzcocks as the band whose name was used to pun the title of a British game show (“Never Mind the Buzzcocks”) as a reference to the lone Sex Pistols’ album (“Never Mind The Bollocks…”), who were incidentally their punk contemporaries. Got all that? Good, because I don’t. Anyway, this mid-Seventies punk outfit would have a huge influence on the soon-to-arrive Manchester music scene.

Remote Patrol

Rolling Stone: Stories From The Edge, Part 2

9 p.m. HBO

I really hope they have some Jancee Dunn anecdotes. She was a funny writer. I wonder if they’ll cover that entire U of Virginia faux rape case. I guess we’ll see.

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