Sunday, October 9, 2016

All weathered out

This would surely have found a place in the lore, if Notre Dame could have made it come out right. Notre Dame Whips A Hurricane. Notre Dame 1, Mother Nature 0. Or for the true weather nerds: The Irish Bend Isobars In Their Bare Hands.

Alas, it did not come out right.

There were a couple of wind-blown field goals, and then, with just under 13 minutes to play, North Carolina State blocked a punt and Dexter Wright returned it for a touchdown, the only way either team was going to find the end zone on this day. And North Carolina State won, 10-3.

No. Scratch that.

Matthew won.

That would be Hurricane Matthew, which barged ashore down in South Carolina and then barreled up into North Carolina, turning what was supposed to be a football game into utter travesty. Torrential rain driven by 45-mph winds reduced both teams to almost total helplessness; all told, the two teams fumbled 10 times and were a combined 14-of-38 passing. Notre Dame had 41 total yards through three quarter and finished with 113. North Carolina State passed for all of 41 yards.

It wasn't fair to anyone, trying to play football in such conditions. It wasn't fair to the fans. It wasn't fair to either coaching staff, which worked all week to prepare. And it for sure wasn't fair to the players, whose physical safety was put at risk playing on a field that was under water in some places.

 Look. The Blob has long been on record that one of its favorite things is football played in extremis. Blizzards. Rain and mud. Windchills that could freeze a random thought. Bring it on.

But there are limits, and yesterday exceeded them. Sometimes games like this happen because the weather catches everyone out. This wasn't one of those times. The ACC knew what was coming. It could have, and should have, postponed the game, the way the SEC postponed Georgia-South Carolina and LSU-Florida. Whatever that was in Raleigh yesterday -- and it sure as hell wasn't a football game -- should never have been played. It was reckless and irresponsible to have done so.

But ABC had the telecast, and no doubt the ACC had collected a chunk of change for it. So they played on. And if the ACC is comprised of praying types, they should all be hitting their knees today thanking God none of the players was seriously injured.

Because if I'm the parent of one of those players, and he tears up a knee playing in that mess, I'm on the phone to my attorney this morning. You can make bank on it.

Of course, I'd probably have no case. College football is, after all, a professional enterprise in all but name, which means the players are obliged to do what they're told by the terms of their contracts -- or, if you prefer the more fanciful narrative, their scholarships.

They're the workforce, and their universities are their bosses. So get out there and play if you still want to go to school on our dime, son.

And so they did. And, yes, it will be something they can tell their grandchildren someday, the way the survivors of the fabled Ice Bowl -- Green Bay vs. Dallas, minus-13, 1967 -- no doubt have.

Of course, what a lot of them say about it now is this: They were absolutely stone crazy to have played football in those conditions.

With time comes wisdom. Truth.

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