Monday, July 11, 2005

Dangling Chads | by Pat

If it's early July, that means it's All-Star time for major league baseball, and in the spirit of the season we decided to put together our own ballot of All-Stars covering ND football. There's no perforated card stock to worry about (my car keys never did a good job of poking holes in those things anyway), no trying to figure out who the best shortstop in the National League is (a herculean task, to be sure); just a quick survey on whom you consider the best of the best of the Irish gridders.

We broke all the players down by head coaches, starting with Ara. To our mind, Ara marks the beginning of the modern era of ND football; plus he's about as far back as our collective firsthand memory goes.

Why do it this way? It seemed original! In other sports, we've had a lot of All-Decade teams and Top 50 Player lists and Best Half-Century squads and All-time Greats and so forth; now we'll get a look at who comprises the All-Parseghian team and the All-Devine team, on down through the All-Ty team. (Understandably, we didn't put together an All-O'Leary team).

So for each coaching era, we picked out the top handful of guys at each position, just to narrow it down. What follows is our highly unscientific "methodology" in figuring out who went where...

1. One player; one coach.

A large number of ND players played for more than one coach, but to enforce some rigorous discipline on ourselves (and who doesn't need a little more rigor and discipline in their lives?), we decided that each player should belong to only one coach, and one coach only. No double-dips. Most of the time it was easy, since players who spanned a couple of coaches just seem to belong to one regime or another. Tim Brown? Signed by Faust, but he's a Holtz guy, of course. For some players, it was a little trickier, and in those cases we just went with our first gut reaction. Marc Edwards? Andy Heck? Julius Jones: is he a Ty guy, or does he belong to the Bullet? (You'll have to take the survey to find out).

And this kind of deliberation extended to players who played multiple positions as well (with a few punter exceptions). Grant Irons lined up as a defensive end, defensive tackle, and linebacker during his time under the Dome. We had to slot him somewhere; what position do you remember him as?

2. When in doubt, look at the awards.

If a player earned All-American status under a certain coach but not under the other, we're going to throw him in with the former. This also counts for guys that moved positions during their career. If a guy played at a few different spots, the nod goes to whatever position won him honors. Perhaps not a great rule, but it made things easier on us.

3. Don't get too fancy.

For a position like linebacker, we didn't worry about things like weakside, strongside, or middle backer. Rather, we just lumped everyone into one, big, linebacker stew. Likewise, we didn't differentiate between strong and free safety, or flanker and split end. Choose who you want; if you want to be really geeky and pick out a quick weak-side rush end and a sturdy strongside end, that's up to you.

We also decided on a base 4-3 defense for the all-star team. That means 4 down lineman (2 defensive ends, 2 defensive tackles) and 3 linebackers. A majority of Notre Dame teams used this defense, so that's what we went with.

4. Mistakes are allowed.

In some cases, we broke our own rules (but that's the beauty of running your own poll, isn't it?), in other cases, we no doubt missed the boat. Feel free to write a comment and let us know where we screwed up. In fact, we encourage it. And if after all that, our explanations still don't make sense, feel free to hit the "Next Blog" button at the very top and read about some 20-something in Topeka writing about what her cat did today.
Now then, enough of the exposition, and on to the ballots. Vote for the ones you feel like voting for; skip the ones you don't. And make sure to let your friends and neighbors know. The more the merrier. And sometime after the results are in, we'll combine all this into one massive All-Time All-Star poll.

So commence voting, and remember: no chad left behind.

Vote for the Ty Willingham All-Star Team. Willingham Results
Vote for the Bob Davie All-Star Team. Davie Results
Vote for the Lou Holtz All-Star Team. Holtz Results
Vote for the Gerry Faust All-Star Team. Faust Results
Vote for the Dan Devine All-Star Team. Devine Results
Vote for the Ara Parseghian All-Star Team. Parseghian Results

By the way, if you need an assist, here are some handy links: All-Time Notre Dame Lineups, Notre Dame NFL Draft History, Notre Dame All-Americans, Notre Dame Record Holders. Dig in.