If I turned in a piss-poor performance at work, it would be pretty sweet to have a PR army behind me making excuses on my behalf. Apparently that’s the role that the South Bend Tribune plays for the Notre Dame football team, as Al Lesar laments Navy and their dirty ol’ “chop blocks.”

It is absolutely inexcusable for a writer who comments on sports for a living to devote an entire piece on blocking that contains the line, “Call it a cut block, chop block, whatever.” If you aren’t going to bother to educate yourself on the difference, don’t bother writing the column. I’m a friggin’ part-time, accountable-to-nobody blogger, and even I have more of a sense of professionalism than that. A cut block is any block at or below the knees. A chop block is a 2-man combination high-low block. They are not the same, which is why people do differentiate between the two. Cut blocks in front of a defender are legal. Chop blocks are not. How is blocking someone at the legs is any different from tackling someone at the legs? Is that dirty? Does it get into people’s heads? Should we turn the game into Greco-Roman football? In fairness to Lesar, he doesn’t come out and say the word “dirty.” But the constant harping on cut blocking all week from Notre Dame writers, combined with the way the “cut” and “chop” terminology has been used interchangeably, certainly seem to indicate an agenda.

How is it that Navy didn’t have a single penalty called against them yesterday? How is it that Navy’s annual game against Air Force, another team that runs the option and uses those dirty blocks, doesn’t turn into a pile of leg-carnage every year? Why doesn’t stock in wheelchair and crutch companies go up after every Navy spring scrimmage? Because good coaches know how to teach their players to use their hands against cut blocking. Other coaches don’t want to waste time with that whole “teaching” thing and would rather complain to willing ears in the media.

Navy doesn’t cut block because their players are smaller. They go after smaller players because they cut block, which is an integral part of any option offense. The offense is designed to have ballcarriers hit the line of scrimmage as quickly as possible. That makes it essential to get defenders on the ground, and the best way to do that is by cut blocking. The linemen best suited for cutting are those who are quicker rather than bigger.

Of course, the option isn’t the only play that calls for getting defenders on the ground. If you run screen plays, you cut block. If you run slant patterns, you cut block. If you run a quarterback sneak, you cut block. Navy does it more than most, but the truth is that everyone cut blocks– including Notre Dame.

For 19 of the last 24 years, Navy has run option-heavy offenses that utilized cut blocks. Only now do we hear complaining out of South Bend. I think we all know why.


Lesar redeemed himself today:

A block is a block?

Navy offensive linemen, seriously undersized compared to just about every defensive line they face, use a tactic called a cut block to clear the way. One man goes low to take out a defender in a legal manner.

That’s much different than the term “chop block.” A chop block, illegal in college football, is when one man hits low, another hits the same defender high.

There’s a big difference between the two.

It was inaccurately mentioned in a Tribune story Sunday that the two terms were interchangeable.

Navy, not flagged for a single penalty Saturday, obviously was cutting and not chopping.

Mea culpa. Mea culpa.

So we’ll go ahead and take him off the list. Credit to Lesar for correcting himself. The case remains, though, that there is far too much hand-wringing over cut blocks.


Paul Finebaum says that it’s time to kick Vanderbilt out of the SEC. Why, you ask? Because they aren’t good, and their new head coach is entertaining. I didn’t think that anyone actually yearned for hard-hiting media day coaching insight like “well we just have to score more points than the other guys,” but apparently I was wrong. Heaven forbid a coach shows a little personality. Of course, since most coaches are cyborgs that give the same answers to the same questions they receive every media day, you can just recycle the same stories every year. Robbie Caldwell and his “free thinking” and “honest answers” just create more work for everybody. And that’s “insulting.” MEDIA DAYS: SERIOUS BUSINESS

As for the rest, one can’t help but be reminded of this.


Man, just when I think I’m going to get caught up on all the stuff I’ve been meaning to write, I get an avalanche of garbage to respond to that takes up all my time.

I have only myself to blame for this. Bruce Fleming, USNA’s outspoken English professor and self-appointed military expert, trots out more or less the same op-ed every year or two questioning the nature, and occasionally the existence, of the Naval Academy. A refined opportunist, he tweaks it slightly each time to maximize its effect, relating to whatever recent events he can use to suit his purpose before shopping it around to various publications. This time he exploits the Marcus Curry situation in the New York Times, telling readers that the service academies have “lost their way” and should either be “fixed or abolished.” If I was a smarter and more productive person, I would have had a canned response ready for his canned commentary. Unfortunately, my lack of foresight means that I have to start from scratch. So be it. Fleming’s argument that the service academies are on a bullet train to mediocrity is specious, relying on extrapolations based on anecdotal evidence and unfairly blaming athletes. His conclusions illustrate a fundamental lack of appreciation for what service academies are supposed to be. Continue reading “I’M NOT AN ENGLISH PROFESSOR, BUT…”


I was lucky enough to have made the trip to Ireland back in 1996 when Navy played Notre Dame in Dublin. It was a bowl-game type of atmosphere in the week leading up to the game, complete with parade, pep rally, and the usual festivities. My memory of that week is a bit hazy (for various reasons), but there’s one part of the pep rally that sort of struck a chord with me at the time. You know how pep rallies are; bands, cheerleaders, and speakers getting on stage to lead the rah-rah. One speaker was less rah-rah and more matter-of-fact. I can’t remember who it was… Tom Lynch, maybe? He had to be from the class of ’64. He got up on the stage, grabbed the microphone, and said, “You know, we beat Notre Dame three out of four times when I was a Mid.” Of all the things that were said that evening, that’s the only thing that has stuck with me. I desperately wanted to beat Notre Dame just once. I wouldn’t dare dream of anything more than that; seeing more than one win over the Irish just felt like too much to ask for.

That which was unfathomable to me then has now become the reality that the Brigade wakes up to every morning. Navy defeated Notre Dame on Saturday, 23-21, for their second win over the Irish in three years. There was no overtime necessary this time, as the Mids scored on their first drive then led for the rest of the game.



I regrettably direct your attention to this post on the blog, “Temple Football Forever.” It was brought to my attention earlier this week, and at the time I didn’t give it much thought. Dumb stuff posted on the internet is hardly a new phenomenon, after all, and I’m not one for blog-on-blog e-beef. That changed, though, when the guy edited his original post to include a link to a comment made here after last year’s game. If he’s going to involve my site as part of his spectacle of stupid, then it warrants a response. Contrary to the loquacious nature of most of my posts here, I’ll keep it short. (Crap, I’m failing already.)

If you’re anything like me, then your general appearance after reading such profound literature looked something like this:

I mean, it’s understandable that a Temple fan might be a tad bitter about his team’s collapse in last year’s game. But this? This is a manifesto for the maladjusted. I’m not sure what the best part is. We have:

  1. The complete lack of understanding of the nature of college football scheduling, leading to tin foil hat-worthy conspiracy theories. Buyout terms are included as part of a contract, not paid when terms are violated, and are exercised fairly often. That’s no help in the quest for victimhood, though.
  2. The idea that Navy, who needed the scheduling change in part to be able to play in front of 100,000 Ohio State fans, sought to change the schedule so as to avoid playing in front of 17,000 Temple fans.
  3. The e-hit he puts out on some random Navy fan he apparently thinks is a fixture in Annapolis.

The Middies have a fan who blows whistles when Navy ballcarriers are seemingly stopped, yet the fan never gets kicked out of the stadium and game officials feign deafness around him.

Seriously? This is a regular occurrence? This fan sits at Navy games, looks for Navy players in distress, and blows whistles when they’re in trouble? Really? I mean, that would be awesome if it was true. That’s sort of like a superhero. That would mean that there’s a Navy fan that actually cares about the outcome of the game more than the length of TV timeouts. I hope one day to meet this person.

The pièce de résistance of the post is the author’s description of the effect this mythical superfan had on the game. Here is the play in question… Be sure to watch the whole thing, because you need to hear the ref explain the penalty flag:

OK, so let’s break down what our Lone Gunman said, and compare it to reality:

He’s the guy who blew a whistle three times while Temple defenders stopped a ballcarrier on fourth and goal, only to see the guy get off the ground and run into the end zone with the officials signaling touchdown and Temple coaches yelling, “what the fu*k?”

Let’s say there was a whistle from someone in the stands. I’m not sure if there was or not, let alone one blown three times, but we’ll go ahead and assume that there was. So who is it that got up off the ground, exactly? Eric Kettani is the fullback that received the pitch and ran it into the end zone. He was never on the ground, and was hardly even touched. Ricky Dobbs is the quarterback, but he isn’t who scored. He didn’t touch the ground either, at least not while he had the ball (more on that in a sec). This was the only 4th & goal of the game, so our esteemed blogger isn’t referring to another play. If you think he might’ve simply mixed up the down & distance, he didn’t. Here’s every play Navy ran in regulation, so you can see for yourself if you’re so inclined.

Then, we have this gem:

Temple players stopped tackling the Navy guy for fear of being called for a penalty, only to see the Navy guy score after the whistle.

I don’t get it. Did the guy get up off the ground? Or was he never down in the first place, since the Temple players stopped tackling him? Clearly the first description of this play was just made up in the dude’s head, so we’ll press on with the second. According to this guy, Temple players stopped tackling Ricky Dobbs after hearing a whistle, “for fear of being called for a penalty.” In reality, not only did they not stop, but they actually were called for a penalty! And for throwing Ricky to the ground!

Watch the video again. Can you point to anyone that looks like he heard a whistle to you? Anyone who stopped playing? Hell, Navy players have good hearing, what with all the DOD medical requirements and such. Do any Navy players looked like they stopped playing, or is it a special whistle only Temple players can hear?

To recap: nobody was ever on the ground, and not only did Temple defenders not lay off the quarterback, but they were flagged for throwing him down. Reality bites. Don’t drink and blog, kids.