Friday, January 28, 2005

A Tale of Two Kiddies | by Dylan

It was the best of times, it was the blurst of times….or something.

Following up a bit on Teds’ post (at least tangentially), the past week provided one of those “agony and ecstasy” dichotomies for ND fans who follow the increasingly Brechtian spectacle of the closing of the recruiting period. Following the news was like reading the bastard child of BGI and Highlights, with the roles of Goofus and Gallant being played by David Nelson and Ray Herring. Hopefully, the story will serve as a signpost for the turning of the tide in the Willingham-to-Weis transition, one on which we will look back with bumfuzzlement.

Nelson, of the now famous commitus interruptus and the Goofus of our story, will be forever enshrined as the embodiment of the “Ty Willingham recruit,” the player who wanted to play for the man, not the school. The type of player who bought the false premise that one’s success as a “man” mitigated one’s lack of gridiron achievement. Teds summed this up exceptionally well down below (and considerably more generously than I would have, eschewing the encouragement I would have offered to Mr. Nelson to perform certain unnatural and physically impossible acts upon himself after his decision that, if Charlie would not play James Lipton to his Nick Cage, he would make a cuckold of ND and pledge his precious flower to Pope Urban the Turd), and I’m content to let that speak for itself. I will stay above the fray.

Ray Herring has spent the past two weeks being everything that a Notre Dame fan could want. (Be sure to read his latest diary entry here.) His enthusiasm for the school, the fans, the team, and every word in the English language that starts with an “N” or a “D” has been infectious. Next, I expect an entry in his diary praising the culinary perfection of the South Dining Hall, the soaring and inspirational architecture of Flanner, and the sweet, sweet smell of ethanol. Assuming that Ray is the real deal (and there is absolutely no reason to assume otherwise), we may be looking at the proto-recruit for the reborn football program. What the program has lacked, and this is directly attributable to Willingham and his belligerently clueless predecessor, is kids who come to Notre Dame because they want to play for Notre Dame. Herring, in case you missed it, is stupendously, fantastically, tremendously, reconculously excited, not just to have made the decision to come to Notre Dame, but to be a part of it. He, a senior in high school, understands what Notre Dame means better than either of the two previous stewards of the House that Rock Built. Is he too good to be true? Who knows. But one thing is for certain, I would rather have a team of Ray Herrings (especially on a team coached by Charlie Weis) than a team of David Nelsons. Nelson is a very gifted football player, but Herring seems to be a winner of the New England Patriots variety. He doesn’t seem to see success as his birthright, as do many of today’s pampered, coddled student-athletes; but as a goal which requires discipline, work, and faith, and one which, once attained, bears sweeter fruit as a result.

Welcome to the family, Ray. Keep calling your prospective classmates. Next August, share your insight and your enthusiasm with them. Be their leader. Tell them where you want to take them. I have little doubt they’ll follow.