Notre Dame-Alabama: Jimmy Clausen Fires the First Salvo and Shows Why the World Hates Him
I have to say that for a potentially historical battle between two behemoth football programs with the two most bruising, physically pounding defenses in the country, the lead up thus far to the January 7 BCS Title Game between Notre Dame and Alabama has been proceeding rather softly.
The captains of both teams, ND linebacker Manti Te'o and Alabama center Barrett Jones, became fast friends on the banquet circuit the last couple weeks, and the two head coaches (Brian Kelly and Nick Saban) were practically making each other mix tapes in the coaches' press conferences.
We needed some good ol' fashioned HATE injected up into this mother, and by God, if you need hate, you go straight to the top of the "loathing food chain." You want to get everybody on both sides of this bitch pissed off? You look to the master. The leader. The center of the vitriol universe.
You look no further than former Notre Dame quarterback Jimmy Clausen.
For those of you wondering "Hey yeah, I remember that guy. What the hell is he up to these days?", well don't worry, you're not alone. Actually, he is currently pulling an NFL paycheck toiling as a backup quarterback for the Carolina Panthers, which apparently means he has a lot of time on his hands. Enough time to tweet out the latest acquisition in his t-shirt collection, this little number that was apparently sent to him over the weekend:
This t-shirt, of course, is a play off of the wildly popular, kind of arrogant, and somewhat controversial "Catholics vs Convicts" shirts from the Notre Dame-Miami rivalry back in the late 80's that recalibrated the hatred scale between universities. Only this time instead of implying that the entire Hurricane team belongs behind bars, this shirt implies that all Alabama fans enjoy inbreeding with their cousins. Whatever.
I would have embedded Clausen's tweet that served as the gateway to this picture, but showing more elusiveness with the stroke of a "DELETE" button than he's shown in the pocket in three years, Clausen managed to remove the tweet shortly after SI.com college football writer Stewart Mandel called him to task:
For those who are unfamiliar with Clausen's work, on the field he was a highly productive quarterback at Notre Dame, a holder of several passing records who unfortunately played in very few important games because he came in at the back end of the dreadful Charlie Weis Era. Off the field, there might not be a player (or person?) in recently memory who was more disliked for merely "being [fill in name of player here]." Jimmy Clausen's mere existence -- his smug look, his affluent upbringing, his spiky hair -- angered people.
The culmination of this fury was perhaps the night after Notre Dame's home loss to Connecticut in 2009, the final home game of Clausen's star crossed college career, when a random fan punched Clausen in the face for reasons heretofore untold. However, I think we can all safely assume the reason was that Clausen was "being Jimmy Clausen."
For most of the college football viewing public, the animosity started with Clausen and his family showing up at the College Football Hall of Fame in a stretch Humvee limo so that he could announce his verbal commitment to Notre Dame. For many, this picture of Clausen flashing his high school championship rings -- high school championship rings! -- is the defining snapshot of Clausen's unfulfilling body of football work.
As for the rest of Clausen's resume in unlikability, the easiest thing to do is let Twitter do the talking. Needless to say, once Clausen hit "SEND" on the tweet of the picture of his barely humorous t-shirt, it didn't take long for Alabama fan (and really just people who hate Clausen in general) to remind him of all of his flaws.
It actually started out with shots at the state of Indiana and the irony that a school in that state would make fun of the exaggerated inbreeding tendencies of, say, Alabama...
Also, there were reminders of Alabama's status as defending national champion...
@jimmyclausen More like Catholics versus Champions— Bam™ (@BigBam3) December 17, 2012
And finally, one last non-Clausen related theme, the reminders that the Catholic church has had their own set of issues with sexual deviancy....
@jimmyclausen I'd rather kiss my cousin than rape an innocent child. Good luck getting that on over your big fat head.— Phil McCrevis(@kickbackmiami) December 17, 2012
But once Alabama Fan got all of those general shots fired at the t-shirt itself -- "Indiana inbreeds, too...CHECK. We are the Champions! CHECK. Hey Catholic church, about all of those little boys....CHECK." -- it was a feeding frenzy on Clausen.
There were "How does it feel to get benched?" playing time related tweets...
Hey @jimmyclausen cool shirt. How's not being activated all year going for you?— Walker Williams (@wdwilliams7) December 17, 2012
There were reminders that even the fans of his own school hated him enough to punch his lights out in public at a bar....
@jimmyclausen posted a pic of his Catholics vs Cousins shirt. Remember when he got a black eye after getting punched for losing to UConn?— Obnoxious Bammer (@KeepGeneChizik) December 17, 2012
There were reminders of his being the leader of an abject failure of a team during his time at Notre Dame, the face of a generation of Notre Dame recruiting that was heavy on skill players, and comically light on defense and trench talent....
That last one in particular got this guy blocked, which he enjoyed....
Just got a great birthday gift: I was blocked by @jimmyclausen for simply asking him how many championships he was supposed to win at ND.— David A. Smith (@DSmithImages) December 17, 2012
Personal appearance was certainly not off limits....
Poop humor, too! POOP!!!
Then there was this exchange where a tweeter reminded Clausen about what a bitch move it was to delete his original tweet, while suggesting a new pastime ("being less shitty at football")....
@jimmyclausen but you still deleted the tweet like a punk. Maybe spend more time being less shitty at football— Chris Simonetti (@CSimo65) December 17, 2012
This led to a reminder by that same tweeter that Clausen is the only ND quarterback to lose to Navy twice...
@jimmyclausen or better yet go be the only ND QB to lose to Navy twice. Or for the first time in like 40 years you fuckin loser— Chris Simonetti (@CSimo65) December 17, 2012
And ultimately led to Clausen's girlfriend, volleyball star Jess Gysin, coming in and defending her man, which is about as emasculating as it should get....
In the end, Clausen tried to diffuse the situation by reminding all of us that it's just a t-shirt, people!!
Some people have to much time on your hands! It's a shirt people lol— Jimmy Clausen (@JimmyClausen) December 17, 2012
Sometimes there are tweets that perfectly capture the essence of a person's image. I would say that spelling "too" wrong, improperly shifting from third person to second person mid sentence, and punctuating the tweet with an "lol" are about as Jimmy Clausen as it gets.
In short, that tweet was the "being Jimmy Clausen" of tweets.
Listen to Sean Pendergast on 1560 The Game from 6 a.m. to 11 a.m. weekdays, and watch the simulcast on Comcast 129 from 6 a.m. to 8 a.m. Also, follow him on Twitter at http://twitter.com/SeanCablinasian.
Get the This Week's Top Stories Newsletter
Every week we collect the latest news, music and arts stories — along with film and food reviews and the best things to do this week — so that you’ll never miss Houston Press' biggest stories.