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Notre Dame San Diego State Sports

Football thoughts: Week 13

Co-Champs of the Mountain West

It’s hard to imagine that a team that started off so poorly could come back and win 9 games, capturing a share of the conference title. But that’s exactly what the Aztecs have done. Yesterday they went to Laramie, a place which is high altitude and butt cold, and got a big win.

Congrats to them. I can’t wait to see them in either the Las Vegas or Poinsettia Bowl in a few weeks.

Pinch Me, I’m Irish

Yesterday was a dream. My dad and Paul, 3 generations of McLane men, were at the biggest live game any of us had seen. #1 Notre Dame took on upset minded USC. The stadium was packed 45 minutes before the game… And they booed everything Notre Dame did.

And we ground out a win. What I love about this years tam is that they aren’t always dominant… But they are tough and find ways to win. USC fans kept reminding me that we should be blowing out the Trojans… And I kept reminding them that we only needed to win by one. Style points mean nothing.

It was a magical day in an amazing stadium. Seriously, the Coliseum is one of the best college venues I’ve ever been to. It was made more meaningful to me by sharing the day with my dad and son. Life is messy. There’s been times when I’ve disappointed my dad and times when I’ve completely failed as a father. But some days you get it right. I was one proud dad and son yesterday. Football brought us together and you could feel this simple tradition going from father to son to grandson.

I’m all misty about that. Thank you Notre Dame.

Oh yeah, everyone else

Elsewhere around college football there were few surprises. Ohio State beat Michigan for a championship-less undefeated season. Florida beat Florida State. Georgia beat Georgia Tech. Oklahoma snuck one out against the Cowboys. Oregon beat up Oregon State. Outside of the Big East… Everyone won who you’d expect as we head towards the championship pre-bowl games.

I never thought both of my teams would do so well in 2012. Its been quite a ride. Now, lets get Manti Te’o his Heisman!

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Notre Dame San Diego State Sports

Football thoughts: Sixth Edition

Oh baby! Week seven was full of drama as the top teams jockey for all-important position in the first BCS rankings this week. There were significant tumbles at the top as the rest of conference play begins the shuffling which will eventually result in bowl play.

Notre Dame

Finally. The Irish proved they could slug it out in a messy, mistake-filled game. In some ways the Stanford game was legendary. Two highly defensive teams slugged it out in the mud until one team finally broke through. Fortunately, it was the Irish who prevailed.

Manti Te’o continued to show why he’s on Heisman watch lists as a linebacker. His impact on the game was much more than his game-high 11 tackles. He leads the team in every way. The Irish defense is legit. It’s now been 4 games since they’ve allowed an offensive touchdown. (They haven’t given up a rushing touchdown all season!) None of those were rollover teams. Michigan State, Michigan, Miami, and Stanford.

How far can Notre Dame go? Clearly, if they win out they are in the title game. But I don’t think it’s very likely that they will do that. I’m still preparing to see them stumble in a game… either BYU or Boston College. And I’m pleased if they beat either USC or Oklahoma on the road but I’m not expecting them to beat both. Does a 10-2 Notre Dame team get into a BCS bowl game? Easily.

San Diego State

Well, we’re 4-3 now. Ryan Katz has the offense rolling along and the defense looked OK as they sailed to an easy 38-14 win. In truth, this was a very boring game. All of the home games this year have been boring. I love going to the games and the Aztecs are clearly going the right direction. But I don’t think I’m alone in my excitement for basketball overpowering my desire to watch a s0-so team battle for an invite to the New Orleans Bowl.

Back to football, it is good to see progress on the defensive line. Those guys are starting to create the gaps needed for the linebackers to create chaos in the back field. But its tough to know if this was real progress or if it’s just a measurement of how bad Colorado State is without their starting QB.

We’ll see how good the Aztecs are over the next few weeks. They need a road win against Nevada or Boise State to have a shot at a bowl game.

National Title Race

With Notre Dame in the hunt I’m interested in today’s BCS rankings. I suspect to see them as BCS #3 because of their strength of schedule. (#5 in both polls) I think we’re on a collision course to see a very entertaining Alabama vs. Oregon game in the national championship. But, the Irish included, there are some outliers who have a legit chance of getting there which make the whole thing interesting. I don’t think Florida can get there with their remaining schedule and a potential SEC championship game vs. Alabama. K-State? They still have murderers row on their schedule with road games against West Virginia, Baylor, and TCU. Add a season ending home game vs. Texas and a Big 12 title game? There’s at least one loss in there for them. My outside show at it is Oregon State. The Beavers have a powder schedule leading up to a home game against their rival… the Oregon Ducks. In a rivalry game with everything on the line? Gosh, anything can happen.

The Big 10

Now that we’re in conference play its easy for Big 10 fans to think their league is legit. Yeah, right. Let’s not forget that they got ripped in non-conference games vs. ranked opponents. An ineligible Ohio State team does look good. But Michigan and Wisconsin, both allegedly the class of the conference, really aren’t any good. They are both so one-dimensional that they can’t play up and beat teams. I’m still seeing Northwestern as the Rose Bowl delegate to get the loser of the Oregon-Oregon State game.

My Current Top 10

(I don’t include ineligible teams. Sorry Buckeyes, at least your players got free tattoos and great deals on cars!)

  1. Alabama (6-0)
  2. Oregon (6-0)
  3. Notre Dame (6-0)
  4. Florida (6-0)
  5. K-State (6-0)
  6. LSU (6-1)
  7. Oregon State (5-0)
  8. South Carolina (6-1)
  9. Florida State (6-1)
  10. USC (5-1)

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youth ministry

My Sanctuary

Ugh. Another parking ticket. I think I already had about 10 of them. While I never intended to pay them I was still embarrassed to get ticket after ticket for parking in the women’s basketball coaches spot. She never seemed to use it anyway and the walk from the visitors lot was long. Plus, tickets were for rich kids.

I dropped the ticket on the ground and got back into my 1978 Ford LTD Station Wagon to begin the drive home.

It was the Winter of 1994 and I was spending a lot of time in Notre Dame’s Hesburgh Library. You might know the building as Touchdown Jesus but I know the building as my sanctuary.

My senior year of high school was complicated.

While I did my best to maintain a front that everything was OK, everything wasn’t OK.

After spending my junior year in Germany with my mom I moved in with my dad for my senior year.

My hope was to move home and resume my life. My reality was that I’d exchanged one chaotic situation with my mom for an even more chaotic situation with my dad. While his marriage to my stepmom wouldn’t end for a couple more years the volcano of their relationship erupted over and over again. It was pretty rough. I moved in, then we moved out, then we moved back in– on and on this went. I think I moved in and out of that house 7 times in 10 months.

When we were home I tried to avoid being there as much as possible. And when we lived with grandma I tried to stay out until after she went to bed. I spent as much time as I could at school. But eventually the janitors would ask me to leave and I’d have to go somewhere else.

Hesburgh Library was on my way home from school. It was both a logical and welcoming place for me to hang out. While I wasn’t a student no one ever asked me if I belonged. As long as I was quiet, doing homework, and didn’t break rules I knew no one would complain. I was good at blending in, knew enough about Notre Dame to fake it if I got into a conversation, and knew they weren’t going to put me in Leprechaun Jail if I got caught.

So I’d disappear for hours into the stacks to read, research, dream, nap, and explore.

To graduate I needed to pass gym. So I had little homework. But that didn’t mean I wasn’t learning. I’d grab a novel off the shelf or dig into an autobiography of someone I’d never heard of. They’d refer to a piece of history I wasn’t familiar with so I’d head over to the microfilm and read the New York Times from those days to find out what the author was referring to. Anything to pass the time.

As the weeks went by I got lost in reading newspapers from the Great Depression. Over time I got pretty good at finding stuff and operating the microfilm… and then I started helping the librarian show students how to find what they were looking for. And that lead to even more time in the library “studying.” (This was a great way to meet female students, by the way.)

At a time in my life when I didn’t feel welcome at home– or really even have a home to feel welcome in– I felt welcome in the library. More than a place I trespassed at or occasionally got a parking ticket for squatting on the women’s basketball coaches parking spot, it was a sanctuary of comfort and predictability that I desperately needed.

Do you work with teenagers? Help them find their place of sanctuary. Don’t ever assume that because they look OK or aren’t saying they aren’t OK that everything is fine. Sometimes the best thing you can do isn’t talk… it’s help them find a place where they can just be.