Wednesday, July 13, 2005

Blogpoll III: Better than Fantastic IV | by Pat

This go-round of the BlogPoll is being hosted by Straight Bangin' and it's a good one. Let's get right into it.

1a. Which unheralded player on your team will be the hardest to replace?

Team BGS went back and forth on this one. The entire offense is back so the candidate must come from the defense. And our pass defense was atrocious last year so "hardest to replace" doesn't exactly fit with that group. We ended up focusing on the defensive line. Specifically, Kyle Budinscak and Greg Pauly. Both were 5th year seniors last year and both played exceptionally well. While Justin Tuck got many of the headlines, Pauly was a force up the middle and Budinscak gave the team versatility by playing at both the defensive end and defensive tackle spots. He also managed 5 sacks to Tuck's 6. As for the unheralded aspect, Budinscak did not come into Notre Dame on anyone's Top 100 list and while Pauly was a 1st team All-American in high school, various injuries left many wondering if he would ever make a significant contriubtion on the field.

With razor thin depth across the entire defensive line this upcoming season, these two guys will be the hardest to replace. Yes, our starters should be good this year, but one twisted ankle or injured knee and Notre Dame will be turning to inexperienced and undersized underclassmen. So our split vote goes to Kyle Budinscak and Greg Pauly. Notre Dame is definitely going to miss their size, hustle, and experience this coming season.

1b. Which seemingly inconsequential player could make the biggest impact?

We're staying on defense for this one and going with 5th year senior and starting middle linebacker, Corey Mays. Mays came into Notre Dame in 2001 as a 2nd team USA Today All-American, 1st Team All-State linebacker in Illinois, and the first player from the Chicago Public League to enter ND since Irish hero Chris Zorich. But while Mays has played in 36 games in his career, nearly all of his experience has been on special teams. During the last two seasons he has only seen spot appearances as a linebacker.

Some might see him as starter by default while most pre-season attention is given to guys like Nduwke, Crum, and Vernaglia, but we disagree. With the starting job now his, we are looking for Mays to have a breakout season in his final year and finally live up to many of the accolades earned in high school (much like Greg Pauly did last year). Mays gave a glimpse of what could be when he ended up as the game's leading tackler (along with Vernaglia) at the spring Blue and Gold game. He's not the most anticipated new starter on defense, but he will have a big impact on how the it performs in 2005.

2a. Which regular-season game that won’t feature your team would you pay the most money to see this season? Why?

If we had to pick one game to go the scalper route, it would be the Texas vs. Ohio State extravaganza hitting Columbus this September. Sure there are other interesting matchups like the Southern Cal/Cal game, but this one seems to have it all. Rabid fan base overfilling a historic and boisterous stadium? Check. Visiting fans who travel well, know how to tailgate/party, and have no qualms about walking around in enemy colors? Check. A player many consider a strong candidate to take home the Heisman in Texas' Vince Young? Check. One of the game's most electrifying, multi-positional players in Ohio State's Ted Ginn? Check. Two Top-5 teams playing a nationally-televised night game that will have a large impact on the end of the season bowl matchups, while most schools are still playing glorified scrimmages against directional colleges? Check and double check. Fire up the RV. We're headed to Columbus.

2b. Bonus: Which rivalry game would you most like to attend?

The Red River Shootout between Oklahoma and Texas seems like a blast. Anytime a game is a capstone to a three week State Fair, you know you have something. Plus, Texas thinks this is the year they will finally beat Stoops and his Sooners. Will there be mass seppuku in the burnt orange section if the Longhorns fall short once again? That's reason enough to show up. However, we already picked Texas so we're not going to pick them twice. That also eliminates the Ohio State-Michigan game, which is always full of friendly faces.

Our choice therefore is the Florida-Tennessee game. Perhaps not as historic as the Iron Bowl or Army-Navy game, there is no lack of passion and downright hate between these two groups of fans. This matchup was probably better when Steve "You can't spell Citrus without UT" Spurrier was wearing a Gator visor, but I suspect Urban Meyer will get the Swamp more than fired up this year for their Saturday night matchup with the Volunteers. We like our rivalry games noisy and emotional (and an impact on Top 10 helps too). This fits the bill.

3. If your team were a rapper, who would it be and why?

Finally, we get to the meat of the poll. This generated a lot of BGS debate. After our initial google search for "famous french catholic rap groups" turned up empty, we came up with three alternatives.

• House of Pain. Irish. Rap. Shamrock tattoos. A natural fit. And, quickly shot down. While unflinchingly proud of their Irish heritage, HoP were basically a glorified one-hit wonder. Teds did admit to buying their second album, but that wasn't enough to save them. Perhaps House of Pain would be a better fit for another Irish-Catholic themed football program, also known for a one-hit wonder. Besides, DJ Lethal (who was Latvian and not Irish) later joined Limp Bizkit, which we want no part of.

• Tupac Shakur. Some of the similarities are right on. Tupac really hasn't done anything in awhile, yet he still commands plenty of headlines and attention. He's sort of a modern legend, and many new rappers want to be like him. There have even been a few movies about him. And perhaps most importantly, friends and foes alike love to discuss whether or not Tupac's really dead. Yet, his delayed entry into the upper ranks of the hip hop universe and 'Thug Life' approach to music and real life make us think he's a better candidate for Miami or FSU sponsorship.

In the end, we chose the only group that can possibly live up to the Notre Dame name: Run-DMC. Like Notre Dame football, Run, DMC, and Jam Master Jay were pioneers in their field, and even today they command much respect in the music world. Their early, innovative work set the benchmark for hip-hop and inspired legions of young rappers who tried to copy their successful style. Rap groups will come and go, but the name Run-DMC will always be relevant. Darryl "DMC" McDaniels gives them the Irish connection, and there's no doubt they're "Down with the King" (Jesus). They even have an appropriate taste in shoes:

my Adidas only bring good news
and they are not used as selling shoes
they're black and white, white with black stripe
the ones I like to wear when I rock the mic
on the strength of our famous university
we took the beat from the street and put it on TV
That's all for this edition of the Blogpoll. Care to add your two cents? Please don't hesitate. And BGS is going to play host to the next BlogPoll Roundtable, so if you have any questions you want to see answered, let us know.