This week WeNeverGraduate is in charge of hosting the Irish Blogger Gathering. Since the Western Michigan game is kind of a boring topic--if it's not a boring topic come next Monday for any reason other than a debate as to whether we ran up the score up too much then we're in deep trouble--I figured it'd be worthwhile to touch on some big picture issues concerning the ND program. The questions have been distributed to all the blogs and I'll post them on the site as they come in (with some analysis of each set of responses), but what I'd like to throw them out to the readers this week as well.
Feel free to email me responses to some or all of the questions at email@example.com and I'll post the best ones at the end of the week. I'm particularly looking forward to the answers for the Bonus Question where I'm guessing quite a few current and former O'Neill residents (including myself) will put far too much time and effort trying to find the perfect lineup. If you're too lazy to email them then just fire them off in the comment section.
1. The Irish have posted back-to-back victories over teams that have given us fits the past decade to pull back to .500, but when you head to the message boards on ND Nation, Rivals, etc. all you see is unrelenting negativity. Some cry Kelly's in over his head and doomed to fail, others bitch and moan about the run-to-pass ratio, and many more say that even though we've won the last two there's no improvement over last year's team. What's your take on the negativity that's swirling around the program on the internet? What message would you like to convey to ND Nation?
2. When Western Michigan and Tulsa were announced as 2010 opponents last fall there was a full-throttle meltdown among ND fans that was surpassed only by The F-Word Incident in April in terms of sheer outrage. Well, if the opinions expressed then are the same now the apocalypse has finally arrived and a MAC squad is about to forever sully our field by stepping foot on it. Have your thoughts on the Western Michigan/Tulsa games changed since they were announced? Would you rather ND Stadium sell out and continue the streak that extends back almost 40 years or see the streak broken so that the powers-that-be know just how disrespected you feel by the audacity they showed in scheduling such inferior opponents?
3. Most people painted AD Jack Swarbrick as the villain when the Western Michigan/Tulsa games were made public. Since then he's made drastic moves in locking down opponents on future schedules, went through the process of firing Weis and hiring Kelly, and navigated ND through the murky waters of conference realignment. Has your personal opinion on Swarbrick been altered over the past year?
4. We're at the halfway point so it's a perfect time to step back real quick and evaluate what's happened thus far. What have been your two biggest surprises at this juncture of the season? Choose one positive and one negative.
5. Which player that hasn't contributed much to this point in the season do you see emerging as a contributor down the stretch?
6. Scholarships are running thin and some tough decisions are going to have to be made this spring when it comes to offering 5th years to current seniors. If you're Coach Kelly who do you offer and who is left out in the cold to make room for the incoming freshman class? Here's a link to the 2011 scholarship chart for a list of potential 5th years.
7. *****BONUS***** You've been challenged to a Tailgate Olympiad by some chaunce from Southern Cal and you need to assemble a dream team of your fellow Irish fans to compete in the following events:
* Full Beer Flip Cup (four-man team)
* Hamburger Eating Contest (two-man team)
* Beer Pong
* Cornhole/Bags/Whatever You Call It
* Individual Case Race
* Thunderdome (one shotgun per minute until someone can't answer the bell)
Your captaincy role on this team is Ryder Cup style so you'll be monitoring the proceedings rather than actually partaking. Throw some internet love out to your fellow Tailgate Legends that have delivered through the years and let us know who you'd put in each slot to make sure Troy fell in the parking lot as well as on the field...and while you're at it, tell us what three songs you'd be blasting as you rolled to victory.