Thursday, March 25, 2010

Untitled Huffhines | by Dylan

This is the second-to-last post on BGS. I think it was Shakespeare, or maybe The Situation, who said, “Parting is such sweet sorrow.” As the curtain is drawn on The Blue Gray Sky, the best sports blog on the internet (I can say this without being immodest since I had so little to do with it), I feel a curious mixture of joy and pain. Of sunshine and rain, if you will. The joy comes from being a part of a truly excellent outfit, one that brought a unique perspective to the then yet-to-be-fully-birthed college football blogosphere. When we (and by “we” I mean “everyone but I”) put out the “Four Plays” series of posts, I think we did something fairly unheard of, either on the internet or in print. That type of analysis simply wasn’t done, and you would not have found a better breakdown of that game, be it in Sports Illustrated, Blue & Gold, or anywhere else. The pain comes from the knowledge that, once we close the movie deal, the part of “Dylan” will be played by Clint Howard.

One can’t help, upon the closing of such a momentous chapter in the history of sport, to get a little nostalgic. Since our first post was published 92 years ago, much has changed. In 1918, only one in five Americans had ever ventured more than fifty miles from where he was born. Today, with 95% of Americans owning flying cars (as astutely predicted by BGS founding editor Milburn Talmadge in 1927), we are more mobile than ever, with the exception of Michiganders, whose range is limited by the inexorable sucking emanating from Ann Arbor. At the time we logged our millionth page view (July 16, 1925), Purdue had just undertaken the first of its four drum expansion projects and was beating on a fairly pedestrian four-foot percussive. On the day Notre Dame Stadium opened in 1930, Joe Paterno was still six months shy of his 50th birthday. He remembers it like it was 1948. That’s my way of pointing out that Joe Paterno is old. Very, very old. Absurdly, implausibly old. There are vampires who yearn to live as long as Joe Paterno. Joe Paterno has opposable big toes. I’m talking Old.

The immensity of these changes makes the persistence of BGS all the more remarkable, and it is entirely attributable to the strength of our leadership over these many years. I think it’s appropriate, if a bit self-congratulatory, to point to some of the landmark posts of our predecessors, to whom we all owe so much and without whom most Western thought, culture, and literature would simply not exist.

The most obvious example (I’m even a bit embarrassed to point it out, seeing as it’s akin to belaboring Hans Makart’s influence on Klimt, and no one likes a pedant), would be Talmadge’s 1918 post during the doldrums of that year’s coaching search. Talmadge wrote, prophetically:

“And who, at long last, will Father Cavanaugh choose to lead our foot-ball team? Who can countenance the weeks of inaction and flim-flam? This is balderdash! Were Father Cavanaugh the President of the United States, we’d only have the Eleven Points (two more than allowed by Harper’s lads last fall)! What of the Turks then? No more of this namby-pamby capitulation of the type that leads inevitably to the stewardship of someone like Kanute Rockne. We must not doom ourselves to such vile gimmickry, flinging the pig-skin about the grid-iron like a band of unkempt Norsemen. Fiddlesticks!
Big shoes to fill, to be sure, but try we have. I don’t think we, the current squatters, ever reached that lofty perch, with the possible exception of our 2007 season predictions, which were of similar historical value.

Among the other myriad posts which brought tears to grown men’s eyes and put smiles on the faces of millions of children were Mitch McGonagle’s 1928 epic (if brief) post on the evolution of helmet design, Richard “Deke” Zurbriggen’s 1939 contextual analysis of the Winged T and the inevitable triumph of a global workers revolt and rising proletariat, and the enduring “Can Notre Dame Still compete?” posts of 1944, 1948, 1951, 1952, 1956, 1959, 1961, 1963, 1967, 1968, 1969, 1971, 1974, 1975, 1978, 1981, 1984, 1985, 1990, 1994, 1996, 1997, 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, and 2003.

But the years have taken their toll on the old girl, and we at BGS have finally come to the conclusion that we simply lack the team speed to compete with the new new media. Now that we’re at the point where ESPN anchors, supermodels, small dogs, and Father Sorin himself can speak to us directly through the micro-antennae surreptitiously (and probably illegally) placed in our fillings, the idea of using the internet for easy access to information seems positively quaint. I, for one, can barely keep up with the constant stream of text, images, voices, other peoples’ thoughts, and the incessant singing of fishes. Those fish are crazy.