Is this season starting to feel like a movie script or what??? As the Notre Dame-Pitt game unfolded, I am convinced my heart stopped no fewer than 4 times. If this season was a movie, I was starting to think it was a horror story….and one of those horribly slow developing ones where for a long time you don’t even know it’s a horror film, and then some shadowy presence does something to the family dog who just won’t stop barking letting you know something really, really bad’s gonna happen. Yeah, that’s what I was pretty sure I was watching on Saturday.
And then, things changed. Could this be a story of hope? Painful, insufferable, if-this-doesn’t-actually-come-true-I’m-going-to-be-devasted-hope?? I mean, the team battled so hard. Yeah, there were some setbacks, some miscues, but they were going to pull through, right?? You’ve just gotta keep believing. Holy shit, we just fumbled the fall on the goal line and now Pitt’s got a 30-something yard field goal to win it?? How can this be? This isn’t the ending, is it? They missed!! We’ve still got a chance!! We’ve gotta score now, Billy.
Now, I know I’ve seen this script somewhere before. Overcoming unbelievable odds, the little guy no one respects and refuses to believe in except for himself, epic, inspirational finish….It’s Rudy! And, what’s this NBC preview following the Breeder’s Cup tonight at 9, you’re showing Rudy! What a bold gambit NBC. Doubling down on inspirational stories involving Notre Dame football. You’ve reeled me in good tonight.
So, instead of even attempting to dissect that ridiculous football game, I’ve decided to re-cast the movie of Rudy using figures from this year’s Notre Dame story. Cue Rudy theme-music and get yourself a box of tissues ‘cause here we go:
Rudy Ruettiger – Everett Golson: This part was tailor-made to be Tommy Rees, right? Unathletic white guy, written off by the fans, pundits, and coaches alike. Overcoming somewhat self-inflicted plight. Rudy by deciding to both A) go to Notre Dame despite by all accounts being a “C” student, and B) playing football for the team without athletic skill. Rees by A) trying to reclaim a meaningful spot after being the opposing teams’ collective MVP last season and getting arrested, and B) playing football for the team without athletic skill. However, I just couldn’t do it. Nope. I was all onboard until Rees threw that unforgiveable pick in the 3rd quarter against the Panthers. No, I still had residual distaste for this guy, and damnit, you can’t invoke any negative feelings in my soul if you’re going to play Rudy.
Enter Everett Golson. Everytime he gets knocked down or pulled from a game you can just see him propelling himself back to his feet and saying “I can do it coach.” Finally, Brian Kelly followed the script and said: “Oh yeah? Well show me.” And boom! Cinematic magic. Even the late interception that seemed to doom us is just part of the script. It was the equivalent of Rudy giving up after seeing the dress list for the final game and thinking there was no more hope. That defensive three-and-out? That was the team trotting into Dan Devine’s office and telling coach to let Rudy dress in their place.
As Golson crossed the goal-line on that the two-point attempt after the scramble, if you weren’t hearing the crescendo of the theme song from when Rudy records his sack, then I have to believe you’re deaf. I sure as heck heard it. Who’s the wild man now??
Pete – Lou Holtz: Probably the easiest call of all casting. The loyal to a fault best friend who just tells Rudy to go for it regardless of what everyone else is saying. Sure, Lou says all of this in a lispier voice, but the sentiment’s the same. Much like Pete was willing to go ahead and buy Rudy a letter jacket before he ever got into the school, Lou’s always been willing to return Notre Dame to prominence before we’ve proven it. Pete’s best line in the movie: “Having dreams is what makes life tolerable.” Lou’s speech to the students following his final game as head coach in 1996 included the line: “Believe in your dreams. Follow them. Pursue them.” Coincidence? I think not.
D-Bob – Bob Stoops and Oklahoma: I’ll admit, that doesn’t sound right. I mean, D-Bob was Rudy’s only real friend at Notre Dame, but hear me out. D-Bob really just wanted to use Rudy at the beginning. Rudy seemed weak, easily manipulated, and damn it, maybe he could help D-Bob meet some girls. As time went on, D-Bob and Rudy both became mutually useful to one another and a real fondness developed. When Bob and OU put ND on the schedule, you know somewhere deep down inside they wanted to just use ND’s name brand to put a “big game” on the schedule. But Bob figured Notre Dame would be weak, easily handled, and might help OU get the attention of some ladies (The pollsters and BCS committee). Now, as the season has gone along, Notre Dame needs OU to be good to bolster their strength of schedule. OU similarly needs ND to stay at or near the top as it tries to scratch and claw its way back into a BCS at-large shot. Plus, I mean, “D-Bob”…”Big Game Bob.” They both end in Bob.
Daniel Ruettiger (Rudy’s Dad) – Rick Reilly: Old, experienced, practical and rational about the ways of the World. Wants Rudy to realize he’s not special and just needs to go to the steel mill like everyone else. Rudy’s dad and Rick Reilly share all of these (self-imposed) qualities. Sure, Rudy genuinely wanted to make his dad proud. Dutifully bringing home his report card from junior college to show his progress. The real life story might be driven more by spite than by desire for validation from the source, but if things keep going as they are, when we dress for the big game, we’d more than want to call up Rick and tell him we want him at the game. If he seems reluctant, we’ll talk to…..
Frank Ruettiger – Mark May: Arrogant. Thinks he’s better than Rudy. Constantly tries to put him down with condescending little snipes. Won’t believe in Rudy no matter what he’s told. Played football and thinks he knows what it takes to be good and doesn’t believe Rudy possesses the requisite skills. Has a certain amount of distaste for Pete for fueling Rudy’s optimism. Sound like anyone? And oh yes, in that emotional climax of the movie, we’d all like to look over at Mark May timidly holding up one-finger and whispering “that’s right, you’re number 1.”
Fortune (The wise grounds keeper) – Mike Golic: I don’t love this selection but couldn’t think of who this should be. Like Fortune, Golic’s a former player with ongoing ties to the university. Fortune quietly encourages Rudy but through a tough-love sort of relationship. Doesn’t like thank yous but respects the hell out of Rudy. He’s also got by far the most memorable quote of the movie: “You’re five foot nothing. A hundred and nothing. And you have barely a speck of athletic ability. And you hung in there with the best college football players in the land for two years….” I’m pretty sure Golic gave this speech (in a somewhat mocking manner) no less than 2,344 times after ND beat Oklahoma to retort all of the ESPN analysts who didn’t give the Irish a chance.
No, Golic’s not exactly silent. Having a radio show would make that somewhat difficult. A radio show featuring Fortune would be less interesting than the third presidential debate. However, Golic has through the years had a sort of tough love relationship with the Irish because he does care for them and was very tired of having to take everyone else at ESPN’s grief. You can also see his spirit returning as a result of the Rudy story.
I’m open to suggestions on changing this one though….
Father Cavanaugh – Brian Kelly: What? BK’s not Ara???? How can this be? In the story of Rudy, it’s Father Cavanaugh who gives Rudy his chance by getting him into Holy Cross. Believes in Rudy, but isn’t really sure how far he can go. He tells Rudy, he can get him one semester. If he does well, then he can get another, and if he does well enough, then maybe…just maybe he has a slight chance of possibly achieving his dream. It sounds a whole lot like the speeches of BK this year following every game.
After the Pitt game, Kelly left it in no certain terms that he does not pay attention to what the teams above him are doing because he can’t control it. May I suggest he change his response to:
“I have only come up with two hard incontrovertible facts: there is a God, and I’m not him.” Then, the transformation would be complete.
Roland Steele – Manti Te’o: Captain of the team. Admires hard-work. Inspirational and emotional leader. Defensive badass. Would make just about any sacrifice to give Rudy his shot. That’s all that needs to be said.
Mary – Michigan: Thinks she’s all that. Kind of appreciates Rudy’s enthusiasm and passion for football, but is pretty quick to kick him to the curb when she finds out that he’s not up to her standards. Hides behind the ‘guise of standards and rules to separate herself from Rudy in the early part of the film. But what goes around, comes around. Rudy running past her in uniform and saying “Don’t I know you?” Oh yeah, that’s Notre Dame passing by Michigan in the standings and then leaving them in the dust for the ACC-slate of games and cancelling their annual series. Wipe that smirk from your face!
John Ruettiger – Lane Kiffin: Somewhat detached from the lead story and seems aloof for no apparent reason. Oh heck, the real reason is when I asked myself the question: “Who is the most likely person to start dating an old girlfriend, marry her, and knock her up all without telling Rudy?” the first name that came to mind was Lane Kiffin.
Sherry - Urban Meyer: (from BH) Rudy's first love interest. The same love interest that left him when he finally decided to chase his dream, when he needed her most. She believed in Rudy and put in her time with him. Urban coached at ND under Lou Holtz. She wanted Rudy to buy a house, her dream house. ND wanted Meyer to rebuild a House, his dream House. When Rudy was at his lowest, she bailed on him. When ND was at its (then) lowest point, Meyer chose Florida instead of ND. Rudy didn't need Sherry to realize his dream. ND doesn't need Meyer, either.
Jamie O’Hara - Vince Vaughn: (from BH) Like O'Hara, Vince could have been one of the all time greats. Then he went and starred in "The Watch." I don't care if that movie was funny, nor do I have any idea if it was because I didn't waste my time. Ara didn't waste his time on O'Hara. In the end, though, O'Hara goes and does Rudy a solid and makes the play that gets Rudy in the game. Vaughn goes out of his way for ND, too, by showing up and killing it on College Gameday.
Dan Devine - Joe Montana: (from BH, subject to better suggestions) Dan Devine came to ND in high regard. Joe Montana always comes to ND in maybe the highest regard. The first Rudy was told he would dress until Devine nixed that idea. Rudy Golson was told that he was going to be the starter, and Mr. Comeback had to go and rain on that parade by saying he was the least talented thrower on our team. With Rudy Golson leading the charge in a storybook season, maybe Montana will come around like Coach Devine did all those years ago.
Still taking casting auditions for:
In the meantime, go Irish!