Irish Eye Opener

Irish Eye Opener

Instead of a volcano, we got a roller coaster of an opener. We cheered. We jeered. We repeated the announcer’s asinine quip “they’ve only made one play” as a refrain after each big play. One of us had to take a break and go outside to calm down. One of us paced. One of us held vigil on the couch. Most of us wished we were at Croke Park. All of us could breathe again after Ficken secured the win. Coach Franklin’s first game is in the history books.

For one glorious moment I thought the jerseys were sans names, but it was just weird lighting on the TV. Its still a bit of a hot topic with strong opinions in three categories: haters, accepters, and move-on-already-ers. I’m still firmly of the opinion that our jerseys looked much better without the names. I still love what “no names, all game” meant for our tradition. It’s hard to move on already.

But, it’s time for me to make peace with some certain things, I think. While I don’t like the names on the back of the jerseys, I can accept it. Of all things to happen to the jerseys, its not the worst. We’re not one of those schools with wanna-be pro jerseys. We don’t feel the need to paint shamrocks on our helmets just because we find ourselves in Ireland. I don’t have to like it to accept it. Maybe I’m just feeling good after a winning opener. Maybe there are bigger fish to fry.

Last week, I wrote about how I didn’t understand the Ireland thing. I guess I wasn’t the only one since my aunt called at 9am wanting an answer to that very question. I stumbled across a little gem of a story and, as my junior high history teacher would have said, I got a clue!

How did we end up in Ireland? It was O’Brien’s idea. Yep. Know why? He wanted our players, our bowl game-jilted players, to have a trip. Not just any trip-- an international O’Brien vs O’Leary Irish showdown-- how cool is that? Suddenly the game in Ireland makes perfect sense. In my mind, it settles the ‘were we just a stepping stone’ debate. And finally, officially, I can make my own peace with that part of our history and wish him well. I’m sorry it took me so long.

And now I can move on already to Coach Franklin’s first impression.

As exciting as the game was, it sure wasn’t a pretty win. A lot of things went really well. Hackenberg set a school record. Ficken and DaeSean Hamilton earned Big Ten Player of the Week awards. I’m hoping we tighten up a bit before the next game. I’m not really one for stats and play calling. I’ll save that for the couch-side coaches.

What I’m looking at is what’s going on on the sidelines. How does he react when things are going well? How does he handle questionable calls and setbacks? How does he tie his shoes? (Did you see that fascinating bit of ESPN reporting?)

All I can say is so far, so good. He seemed even-keeled during the game. He erupted with emotion after a win. It’s still way too early to tell. Until then, Beaver Stadium awaits.