Far afield: Top IX moments in ND history

By Jason Kelly '95

For years Notre Dame women’s basketball players operated in relative obscurity, but they could always play. And once, on the old courts outside Stepan Center, a couple of them offered an impromptu clinic to a skeptical local audience. Skylar Diggins, and all she represents, was not yet a glint in anybody’s eye, but Karen Robinson ’91 and Coquese Washington ’92, ’97J.D. were her equivalent at the time.

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Far afield: Woolridge, remembered

By Jason Kelly '95

When Orlando Woolridge died last month, the collected details of his life and personality illustrated just how little I knew about the man who once inspired my rapt attention — how little we all know about the athletes who pass through our consciousness, then go on with their lives while we size up their replacements.

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Far afield: Retiring types

By Jason Kelly '95

Wrigley Field’s organist played “My Way” while Chicago Cubs pitcher Kerry Wood walked off the mound for the last time. Wood probably came as close as any professional athlete could to retiring on his own terms, which says a lot about the reluctant endings of most careers.

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The Sweet Sixteen Solution

By Jason Kelly '95

Every year the Bowl Championship Series recycles one or two of the controversies that illustrate its inherent contradictions. But there is a simple solution to the BCS nonsense.

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The Damage Done

By Jason Kelly '95

It may have seemed that time heals the brain after severe blows to the head, but the evidence shows a cumulative effect may cause long-term suffering.

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Far Afield: Taunt is cheap

By Jason Kelly '95

How do you know when the vapors have overcome college football? When an official pulls out a yellow handkerchief, not to fan himself over the affront to his sensibilities, but to call a taunting penalty on . . . Navy.

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Far Afield: My wild ND guesses

By Jason Kelly '95

Apparently some “scientist” has “proven” that predictions, no matter how informed the prognosticators, are no better than wild guesses. So I guess that makes me the equivalent of an expert. Remember that as you read my wild guesses about how the 2011 Notre Dame football season will unfold.

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Far afield: Excuses, excuses

By Jason Kelly '95

It probably won’t become the sports equivalent of “hiking the Appalachian Trail,” but as excuses go, the North Korean coach’s explanation for his team’s World Cup loss to the United States has a certain electromagnetic appeal. The team was struck by lightning.

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Far Afield: Ambiva-Lance

By Jason Kelly '95

Winning the Tour de France seven times, like hitting 70 home runs, seems almost impossible. Without artificial performance enhancement, a cancer survivor rolling down the Champs Elysees year after triumphant year at an advancing age in a sport known for rampant doping defies not just belief but biology.

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Far Afield: Ink-stained wretches

By Jason Kelly '95

Word of Ohio State football players receiving “preferential treatment” from the owner of a Columbus tattoo parlor reached NCAA headquarters, where preserving the game’s honor supersedes all other priorities.

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Far Afield: Challenging the status quo

By Jason Kelly '95

With numbers, if not words, economists call football coaches wimps. Their calculations indicate that punts and field goals on fourth down are acts of surrender to misguided conformity, statistical risks under the guise of prudence.

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Far afield: The self-importance of being earnest

By Jason Kelly '95

In a span of one spring week, concentrated doses of sports pomposity will be sprayed like bad cologne on television sets across the country. Anybody with a passing interest in college basketball, golf or baseball will be besieged with the bigger-than-the-game significance of it all.

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Far afield: Playing through pain

By Jason Kelly '95

I don’t claim to know what’s right for anyone in mourning, but in sports there seems to be only one choice: Play through the pain, with black armbands, helmet stickers, initials inked onto sneakers and moments of silence.

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Far afield: Game changer

By Jason Kelly '95

Reports that Dave Duerson had killed himself didn’t make me think of football at first. They stirred up vague recollections about business and family problems. The game’s potential role didn’t register until the chilling detail that he shot himself in the chest, preserving his brain to be tested for chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) — a football side effect.

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Far afield: The appreciation of Mike Brey

By Jason Kelly '95

Among college basketball’s lifer-legends like Mike Krzyzewski, Jim Boeheim and Jim Calhoun; among the earnest stewards of regal programs like Roy Williams, Bill Self and Ben Howland; among the slippery, the nomadic and the pugnacious, like John Calipari, Rick Pitino, and Tom Izzo, Notre Dame coach Mike Brey cuts a modest profile.

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Far afield: Collision course

By Jason Kelly '95

Hardly anybody dies on the field anymore. After 18 college football players were killed in the 1905 season, Teddy Roosevelt helped resuscitate a sport on a grim slog to the grave. He convened Ivy League leaders and the resulting rules changes saved lives.

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Far Afield: Eligible receivers

By Jason Kelly '95

Myles Brand had to spell out the finer points of amateurism for me, all but sighing, “Do I have to spell it out for you?” During a 2006 South Bend Tribune interview, we got to talking about Tom Zbikowski ’07 and his NCAA-approved professional boxing debut that summer.

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Far afield: Edge of allegiance

By Jason Kelly '95

When Notre Dame lined up for a last-second field goal against USC in 1986, I couldn’t watch. A second-half comeback built to such a nerve-fraying crescendo that I had to leave the house.

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Letter from Campus: Football Fantasy Camp

By Jason Kelly '95

fantasycamp

The guys in the first-ever Notre Dame Football Fantasy Camp dressed at lockers inside the stadium adorned with their names and jersey numbers. That might have been the coolest part.

HABERKORN 8. COLGAN 5. MOHRHUSEN 45. BAGATTA 56.

That or the way the coaching staff of current Irish assistants and former stars treated them like football players, not just high-rent trespassers who paid $3,590 for the privilege to pretend.…

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