How Notre Dame Fans Learned To Smile Again

Manti Te’o has helped the Irish regain their national status.

24 years is a long time for anything in the 21st Century. Our food is instant, our change immediate, our responses pinpoint.

24 years ago there wouldn’t be a forum for me to post this on.

24 years ago I wouldn’t be able to shove this article down your throat with a series of tags and links.

24 years ago when you got bored of reading this and decided you’d rather watch porn you’d have to walk into a seedy video store, with a balding 40 something behind the counter—fresh from his Sexual Predators Anonymous Meetings—, to fulfill your lude fantasies.

24 years ago I was just being born.

And 24 years ago was the last time Notre Dame fans were able to absorb the hatred we so dutifully inherited.

Trying to explain what it’s like to be a Notre Dame fan to people who are not is similar to explaining the color red to a blind man or healthy relationships to Rihanna, but for the sake of this article I’m forced to try. And, after a weekend of reacting, over-reacting, under-reacting, and finally under and over thinking everything, I’ve reached a conclusion: Being a Notre Dame fan is like being a Yankees fan only if the Yankees never won…ever. You have the self-aggrandizing history—literally referring to old wins as “annals”—, you have the bloated over reacting to every win and loss from a fanbase consisting of hippies turned yuppies turned crochety relics of a golden past, the Talking Head circle jerk discussing your mediocre team daily like the college football version of Tim Tebow, and, worst of all, the spiteful vitriol of millions of people who inherited their hatred for your team like you absorbed your fandom. We are the Lakers if only Kobe never got traded and Shaq stayed with the Magic; We are the Red Wings if Yzerman got traded to to the Dallas Stars; We are Manchester United if Rooney stays on Everton, Ronaldo stays in Portugal, and Sir Fergie never decided to take over the world. We are tortured into motion by the weight of our own glorious history and a nation of friends and foes alike who are unable to forget it. So 24 years after the last Notre Dame Championship, 24 years after one of the greatest college football teams of all time, it is almost fitting that this Notre Dame team sits at #1 and preparing for their first BCS Title Game since it’s conception. This Notre Dame that is not blowing out teams by double digits but squeaking out tough, defense wins. This Notre Dame team that isn’t lead by future 1st Round quarterback busts with cannon arms and no charisma, but a scrambling redshirt freshman who found himself pulled in multiple games this season. This team led by tight ends and defensive linemen. This team that doesn’t just find the smartest white guy in the midwest but recruits actual players. This Notre Dame team isn’t just bringing Notre Dame back, they’re changing the entire culture that left the Golden Dome slightly silver for the past two decades.

10 BCS eligible teams, two wins over top 10 teams, two wins over teams who will end up in BCS Bowls, a top 10 strength of schedule, the #2 scoring defense, the best rushing defense in the nation, and, possibly the greatest stat of the year, opponents have 26 carries on the Notre Dame goalline for -23 yards. Even as I type this I can hear the detractors spiel, “But what about the game you should’ve lost against Pittsburgh? What about the close games against BYU and Michigan and Michigan State? What about your quarterback being pulled?”. To them I say “what about it?”. This isn’t a flawless team. This isn’t an all time great team. What this is is a team that has gotten better every single week. What this is is a team that doesn’t make mistakes, doesn’t have stupid penalties, doesn’t turn the ball over in bad situations. What this is is the best Notre Dame team in 24 years, the team that makes the never ending Notre Dame discussion finally worth having. The team that doesn’t win with the Brady Quinns and Jimmy Clausens of the world chucking the ball downfield to slow receivers to compensate for a defense filled with Lilliputians who can’t match up with the athletes of the world.

Most importantly, what this is is the only team without a loss…you know, whose quarterback doesn’t really, REALLY like tattoos.


Bru General Peppers

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