Ramblings
This column is named in honor of Notre Dame's teams of the 1920s, nicknamed "Rockne's Ramblers" for their willingness to play anyone, anywhere, at any time.  Observations on the world of Notre Dame, college football, sports....and life in general.  
By Jim Lefebvre, Editor, Forever Irish.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Penn State Scandal: A Program Too Powerful

The primary reaction to the Penn State scandal is profound sadness.  Sadness for the victims and their families, who will be dealing with their pain the rest of their lives.

Second, one has to ask:  how many victims could have been spared if certain adults hadn’t looked the other way, covered up or simply “not done more.”

How does a 28-year-old man, at the time a grad assistant football coach, turn away from witnessing a brutal assault on a 10-year-old rather than stepping in to stop it?

The answer, most likely, lies in the unique structure of a big-time college football program, in this case one ruled over by a king-like coach for nearly half a century.

Fear of harming one’s career.  Fear of exposing the program to ridicule or worse.  Fear of implicating a major figure in that program.  All must have been instant calculations in the decision for the 28-year-old to walk away, first call his father, and only the next day take the story to Joe Paterno.

Paterno’s own failings, as well as those of the athletic director, university president, and others, to definitively end the perpetrator’s affiliation with Penn State, contact authorities and immediately seek healing for his victims, will become clearer in the days ahead.

The larger question remains: how do we let football programs get so big, so powerful, so insular, as to overshadow the institutions they represent?  And what does that do to common sense and common decency?

Take a look back at history, and we see that tension between football and university has played out at many places and times, including at Notre Dame. 

When building the Irish into a nationally prominent team in the 1920s, Knute Rockne had his clashes with the administration, and there were certainly those who felt that football, and its famous coach, was gaining too much power on campus.

That said, there has never been any evidence, even a hint, of a true scandal during Rockne’s tenure.

Yes, there were a few less-than-stellar scholars who were skilled at football, but keep in mind the overall academic profile of the university was a far cry from what it was to become.

Notre Dame football at the time was a pretty fair meritocracy, where anyone could rise up to become a regular.  In doing the research for our book Loyal Sons: The Story of The Four Horsemen and Notre Dame Football’s 1924 Champions, one surprising find was that two of the Seven Mules had never played high school football, but found their way on to the varsity via their other athletic feats once at ND.

We would never argue that the 1920s was a time devoid of societal problems, but it speaks to Rockne’s character that he molded a program that was the envy of the nation. And 10-year-olds from coast to coast were inspired to achieve their own greatness.

 

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Realignment Solution: The Big 76

OK, I’ve tried to keep this quiet up till now, but can’t hold out any longer.

My source absolutely swears this is true.

You know how last week, University of Connecticut president Susan Herbst said, “Geography no longer matters in college football.”

Then, like, was it yesterday -- West Virginia joined, or maybe wanted to join, or thought it joined its natural allies by becoming the Xth member of the Big XII.

Well, here goes.  The real plan, the one everyone’s keeping under wraps, is to create the (wait for it)....

SuperDuper MegaMax Conference America/USA/Galaxy/Universe.

The Big 76, for short.

My source can’t be named because he/she/it is not authorized to comment on anything outside of his/her/its department at Target.

But don’t worry, this is really happening.

Seventy-six teams in one conference -- horseradish, you say?  Wait a minute, my cynical friend, this thing actually makes some sense.

Here’s how it’ll work...

There will be nine divisions of eight teams each.  (Well, actually, one division has 12 teams, but you’ll see why).

For an eight-game conference schedule, each school will play one game per season -- selected at random by a computer  in Opalocka, Florida -- against one team from each of the other eight divisions.

No games against your own division’s teams?

Well, no, not every year.  But every ninth year, after completing the round-robin against the other divisions, you get to play the other seven teams in your division, plus one at-large opponent who must be at least five states away.

Of course, the greatest news is that this all sets up perfectly for what everyone has always wanted -- a true, settle-it-on-the-field college football playoff!

It’s simple.

The top 52 teams automatically make the round of 64; with 24 schools competing for the final 12 spots.

Games continue Saturday after Saturday, as the field is pared to 64, then 32, then 16, 8, 4, and finally -- the National Championship Game, approximately March 1. 

Don’t you see, it flows seamlessly into March Madness.  And the champion (assuming it comes from the top 52 schools) must only win six playoff games to claim the title.

OK, I know you’re all on board with this, and can’t wait to see which division (don’t you dare call them conferences -- there’s only the SDMMCA/USA/G/U) your favorite school will end up in.

So here they are....

Brainiacs Division

All of these schools rank in the top 25 of U.S. News’ rankings of leading national universities.  In fairness, so does Cal and USC, but they were placed elsewhere, as you’ll see...and no doubt agree.

Duke

Northwestern

Notre Dame

Rice

Stanford

UCLA

Vanderbilt

Virginia

That-Smell-is-Manure Division

All of these rank in the top 15 of leading Biological / Agricultural Undergraduate Colleges and Universities in 2010, from uscollegeranking.org.  Here, Bessie....

Illinois

Iowa State

Michigan State

Nebraska

North Carolina State

Purdue

Texas A&M

Virginia Tech

Cool Schools Division

Admit it, knowing what you know now, don’t you wish you had gone to school in Madison, Boulder, Berkeley, Austin or one of these other cool locations?  Awesome, dude.

Arizona State

California

Colorado

Florida

Michigan

Oregon

Texas

Wisconsin

God and Country Division

You got your Baptists and Catholics, your Methodists and Mormons, and some fightin’ men and women. Now let’s play some gol-dang football.

Air Force

Army

Baylor

Boston College

Brigham Young

Navy

Southern Methodist

Texas Christian

Miscreant Division

Each of these schools is currently, has been or should be under investigation by the NCAA for various misdeeds.  12 teams are in this division, the powers-that-be hoping that in any given year, 8 might be eligible for the playoffs.  A six-team limit of former SEC schools was placed on this grouping.

Alabama

Auburn

Boise State

Florida State

LSU

North Carolina

Ohio State

Oklahoma

Ole Miss

South Carolina

Tennessee

Southern Cal

Roundball Division

These schools are much more likely to show up in the Elite Eight of hoops than the fantastic new ExtraSuperCool Eight of the college football playoff  tourney.

Arizona

Connecticut

Indiana

Kansas

Louisville

Kentucky

Syracuse

Wake Forest

Cant-Get-There-From-Here Division

This is where it really gets fun, as grade-school students from all across the country follow along in a special online Geography unit, seeing how teams travel cross-country for days to arrive at destinations such as Lubbock, TX, State College, PA or Pullman, WA.

Iowa

Kansas State

Mississippi State

Oklahoma State

Penn State

Texas Tech

Washington State

West Virginia

NFL Double-header Division

Going to see the Dolphins, Vikings, Seahawks or five other NFL teams? See if you can check out the local college eleven as part of your weekend.  Tickets are usually not a problem.

Cincinnati

Georgia Tech

Houston

Miami

Minnesota

Pittsburgh

South Florida

Washington

Nothing-in-Common Division

It was a very long day when the highly-secret Gang of Several put together and named these divisions (Nobody from the B10G or whatever it’s called was allowed in the room).  They could find nothing similar, or remotely clever, about these eight leftov -- er rather, remaining, teams.

Arkansas

Clemson

Georgia

Maryland

Missouri

Oregon State

Rutgers

Utah

So there you have it . Remember, you read it here first.

Sorry, gotta go.  My source is headed to the Witness Protection Program and needs a lift.

Something about not having his/her/its license yet.

 

Monday, October 10, 2011

The Way It's Supposed To Be

Occasionally, we’re asked when Notre Dame’s Homecoming game is.  Folks are often surprised to learn that ND doesn’t celebrate Homecoming as such.  The reason, of course, is that every home game -- indeed, every game -- is a chance for many thousand members of the Notre Dame family to return, gather and celebrate.

Whether it’s alumni, subway alums, families and friends of alumni, or friends and supporters ...the important thing is coming together and enjoying the experience.

We were privileged to be among such a group this past weekend, starting Thursday evening at LindaSullivanNDFootballLegends.  We had a feeling it was going to be a good weekend when, at the end of the Brian Kelly Radio Show, in the first drawing for an autographed football, Jack Nolan announced.... “Linda Sullivan of Basking Ridge, New Jersey” and our table exploded in cheers.  “First time I’ve won anything,” a beaming Linda exclaimed.

That set the tone, and it was all good.  Enjoying a variety of activities on and off campus on Friday, including of course Trumpets Under the Dome, Band Marchout, Pep Rally and Midnight Drummers Circle. The Dan Devine sculpture was unveiled, completing the “Circle of Coaches” at the gates of the Stadium.

Saturday, as is our custom, our group got to campus early, and dispersed to each’s destination.  The soccer game between the Irish and No. 1 UConn, an excellent Saturday Scholar Series talk by Prof. Robert Johansen “Building Peace In A Violent World” and then taking in the new players’ walk in the shadow of Touchdown Jesus.

In the Stadium, ND’s performance was efficient and impressive. This truly could become an offense that’s very difficult for opponents to stop.  And while nobody likes to see the defensive backups give up two late TDs, overall it was a good effort.

And perhaps the most excitement was generated by the debut of sophomore quarterback Andrew Hendrix, now known for his long one-stumble-short-of-the-end zone romp. All in all, a weekend that had one saying, “Shouldn’t it always be like this?”

 

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Change the Music...Please!!!

When word came the other day that Hank Williams Jr. was being sidelined by ESPN from his song that opens Monday Night Football, due to intemperate remarks about President Obama, I had a reaction that I hope mirrored that of other college football fans:


“Great. Now can they do the same to that ridiculous song that opens ESPN College

GameDay?”


You know, the one with the country group, guitars twanging -- warning that “We’re comin' ....to your cit-y.”


Boy, it just fairly screams college football, doesn’t it?

One can almost picture the clueless TV exec charged with selecting the open music. "Well, it's a football show, so it's GOT to have a country theme song, right?"


First of all, dudes, in college it’s really more about campus than city.


The “performers” in the number look like they might be headed to a pig roast....a stock-car race....anywhere but a college campus.


To satisfy my curiosity, I did the research.


And I found that, for the sixth consecutive year, the GameDay theme song video features a country duo known as Big & Rich.  Comprised of Big Kenny (aka William Kenneth Alphin) and John Rich.  


My sources tell me “Alphin was raised on a farm” before going to Nashville; while Rich’s educational pursuits appear to include having “graduated from Dickson County (TN) Senior High” before moving to Nashville.


This weekend, my oldest daughter (Kerry, ND ’07) and her fellow Ph.D. candidates will host a colloquium at the University of Wisconsin-Madison’s Department of Classical Languages, bringing in like-minded scholars from across the country.


Meanwhile, unfortunately, viewers of ESPN College GameDay will hear:


“And if ya wanna little bang in yah ying yang,
If ya wanna little zing in yah zing zang,
If ya wanna little ching in yah chang chang.”


(These are fairly rough translations. I should have consulted a Ph.D. in Linguistics.)


Having been around college students the past decade as my daughters went through ND and beyond, I don’t believe I heard anyone utter the term “zing zang.”


So what would work better?


Quick answer: anything.


But, in the interest of actually trying to help:


No music says college football like marching band.  


Too conventional, you say?  Then make it hip, unusual.  Change the setting, create a unique vibe.  

Like the cool collaboration between the Notre Dame Band and the Grammy-winning alt rock group OK Go of a couple of years back. (The ND Band caught OK Go's attention with their memorable performance of the group's song Here It Goes Again, treadmills and all, at the LA Coliseum in 2008).


If you need a refresher, check out their This Too Shall Pass video, where they are accompanied by a good share of the Band of the Fighting Irish.


Works for me.

 

Monday, September 19, 2011

The March Is On (Right?)

Late in Saturday’s game, I texted my daughter, 2009 alum Liz, who was in the seventh row of the south end zone.

“Forget Rudy....Carry Blanton Off the Field!!!”

OK, I guess Rudy’s status is safe.  But what a performance by the well-spoken senior from Matthews, N.C.

And when’s the last time you saw a post-game on-field interview punctuated with “Yes, ma’am.”  Teammates say R.J. always has a word (or more) around them, but when the microphones show up, he reverts to his military upbringing form.

At any rate, Blanton put on a defensive clinic Saturday, with six tackles, three tackles-for-loss including an 11-yard sack, three pass breakups and a goal line interception he returned an amazing 82 yards to secure the victory.

You know, there is a ton of talk these days from college football analysts and coaches about the Xs and Os.  Schemes.  Packages.  Personnel groups. But doesn’t the game still, in large part, come down to young men making plays?

Did the Irish have a differently designed kickoff scheme?  Or did George Atkinson III simply find a seam and explode through it, bringing back thoughts of the Rocket?

Freshman phenom Aaron Lynch didn’t need months of coaching to be a virtually unblockable force down the stretch, tormenting the Spartans’ line on every play.  Holding was called several times, and could have been called several times more.

And R.J. Blanton, while certainly relying on the strategies from defensive coordinator Bob Diaco and defensive backs coach Kerry Cooks, simply made one instinctive play after another to help secure the 31-13 victory.

What does it all mean for the rest of the season?  Above all, this is now a team savoring the results (a victory) of a lot of hard work.  And knowing they are capable of beating anyone on their schedule the rest of the way.

Of course, the team can’t be thinking about the rest of their schedule.  Their focus has to be on Pittsburgh alone.  But at least now they have something positive to build on, and Coach Kelly is doing his best as a teacher on the sidelines.  It’s a good combination.

As the line in “Hike, Notre Dame” says:  "The March is On.”

 

Monday, September 12, 2011

The Only Option:  Moving Foward

When Hurricane Irene slammed into the Northeast recently, I probably had the same reaction as millions of other Americans....wondering how loved ones in the region were faring with the flooding, power outages and other disruptions of the disaster.

I’m having something of deja vu moment after Saturday’s gut-wrenching defeat.

I want to reach out to fellow Irish fans who are closest to me -- family and friends around the country -- and make sure they are OK.

How’s the weather where you are?  Can you get out and enjoy a beautiful September day?

Can you focus on work, school, volunteering or some other project on your plate this week?  Feel good about your contribution to society?

Anything to take your thoughts off an 0-2 football team seemingly snake-bitten beyond belief.

The only consolation I can come up with is that Notre Dame remains Notre Dame.  It is a place that nurtures the growth of outstanding young people, and helps them become exceptional young people ready to make a positive impact in the world.  This extends to athletics, where ND continues to be among the nation’s leaders in student-athletes gaining a meaningful education.

It is also a place that rebuilt itself after a devastating fire early in its history, and remained in business despite losing much of its enrollment during world wars.

Notre Dame is not going anywhere. And its followers should remember that.  Even as they search for any answers to help explain the inexplicable lack of football victories.

Time to move forward.  The 10 remaining games aren’t being taken off the schedule.

Players and coaches have to face them head-on.  They may as well do it with our support.

Monday, September 5, 2011

We Have The Talent

Like everyone else, our reaction to Saturday’s debacle can be reduced to three words.

Searching. For. Answers.

The questions are many:

  • How can a veteran team, coming back nearly intact from an impressive finish in 2010, with a chance to start 2011 strong, make so many mistakes?
  • How can so many turnovers, penalties, dropped passes, muffed punts, and missed opportunities happen in one game?
  • How can a quarterback with so many positive qualities seem to freeze up at the first sign of difficulty?
  • What does it say about a team’s psyche when it plays with a different urgency for a less-talented quarterback?
  • Is the best way to correct mistakes during a game for the head coach to be turning apoplexic in berating the offending player face-to-face on national TV?
  • What are senior leaders doing taking repeated personal foul penalties?
  • How does yet another underdog first-time visitor to Notre Dame Stadium come away as the aggressor, the team that makes the most of its opportunities?

 

We’ve seen some interesting conversation on these and other questions, but no real answers.

And maybe that’s OK.  Maybe Notre Dame football right now is in such a Twilight Zone of inexplicability, in such a mental funk that paralysis by over-analysis must be avoided.

So let’s make it simple.

Everyone who loves this University, and what it stands for íV starting with the 65 students wearing retro football uniforms Saturday night at Michigan Stadium íV needs to calmly, confidently say to themselves:

We Have The Talent.  Repeat it again:  We Have The Talent.

We have tremendous athletic talent.  We have demonstrated coaching talent. We have training and conditioning talent.  We have every talent necessary to have an outstanding football season.

We Have The Talent.

Instead of hundreds of thousands of fans nationwide throwing up their hands and saying “Now what?”  or “How can we possibly win in front of 110,000 at Ann Arbor?” what if they said instead:

We Have The Talent.

Friday, September 2, 2011

Walking on Hallowed Ground

Count me among those who were not enthused to hear about the discontinuation of the traditional “team walk” from the Basilica of the Sacred Heart to Notre Dame Stadium on game days.

Even though a little research determined the walk had only been around since the early 1990s, it seemed firmly entrenched as one of those special events that happen “only at Notre Dame.”  The importance of the team attending Mass together to start their day on campus was a thing of pride for alums, fans and everyone associated with Notre Dame.

The walk itself served to connect two of the primary elements of Notre Dame íV faith and football íV apart from academics.  And judging by the fans gathered along the walkway four and five deep, it was a wildly popular part of game day on campus.

(It will be interesting to see how the change affects attendance at the Band’s traditional “Concert on the Steps.”  Fans visiting the heart of campus would make the rounds, between the Dome, the Grotto, connecting with the team as they walked from the Basilica, then wandering just a few short steps to take in the concert at Bond Hall.)

The university’s video explained the new routine íV how the team will re-board their busses after Mass, circle campus and .this was really emphasized .drive through the parking lots where thousands of fans are tailgating and could honor the team!

How exactly? By peering into darkened bus windows? It’s not like the players are going to get out and mix with fans.  And if there’s any part of the ND game day experience that is most similar to countless other universities, it would be tailgating.  A very poor bargain, it seems.

From a practical standpoint, the new routine emphasizes that the football team’s true home is the Guglielmino Athletics Complex.  I supposed it could have been worse íV if Mass had been totally cut out of the picture.

The new “walk” from the Gug to the Stadium, by way of the Hesburgh Library and reflecting pool, does have one redeeming quality. It traces the steps of Knute Rockne, George Gipp, The Four Horsemen and the other stars who trod old Cartier Field from the turn of the century through 1928.

The aerial shot of Cartier Field íV used in the frontpiece of Loyal Sons: The Story of The Four Horsemen and Notre Dame Football’s 1924 Champions íV brings one back to an era of early glory for Fighting Irish football.

It’s important to remember what occurred on that hallowed ground. And if it can help in any way to inspire today’s Irish players, then the new walk will serve a purpose.

We hope it reminds folks of just how much history happened on that land just north and northwest of Notre Dame Stadium.

 

Monday, August 29, 2011

Some Inspiration from the DVD Shelf

How many ND fans did what we did this past Saturday evening? Nothing compelling on TV, the college football season still days away, what else but reach for the DVD shelf and pop in Rudy.

rudyThere's no better way to reconnect with all that we want to see in Fighting Irish football -- perseverance, effort, courage, determination.

If one were to distill the story down to one line, most would choose Sean Astin's "I've been ready for this my whole life!"

But two other favorites come from Ned Beatty as Mr. Ruettiger:   Upon entering Notre Dame Stadium, he proclaims "This is the most beautiful sight these eyes have ever seen."  Who among us, anxiously waiting our next opportunity to enter one of the stadium's tunnels and emerge among the sights and sounds of game day, wouldn't agree?

But before that, there's his simple declaration over the loudspeaker at the mill: "My son's going to Notre Dame!!"

Congrats to all parents who are bursting with pride over their kid's entrance to Our Lady's University.

And may those kids -- on the field and in the stands -- exhibit Rudy's spirit in that same Stadium this fall.

 

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Let's Play Some Football

Best line this week, from a young ND alum....

"Dayne Crist might not be on anyone's Heisman list, but at least he wasn't arrested for kicking anyone in the head."

So true, so true.

dayne cristIt's been an off-season like no other in college football history.  The list of miscreants and investigation targets reads like a Top 10:

Ohio State. Auburn. Oregon. Boise State. LSU. Miami. (And throw in USC and North Carolina from last season.)

If ever there was a time that a program like Notre Dame needed to rise up and be the face of college football, this is it. Put the low points of the last 12 months aside;  the Irish have a chance to show the rest of the sport how to reach the top level without operating like bandits.

Coach Brian Kelly and staff have changed attitudes, improved conditioning, upgraded recruiting.

Now it's simple, really -- just win games.

The keys to the season may well be the early-season matchups with Michigan and Michigan State. The Irish have lost 8 of their last 12 games against their two northern neighbors, including four of the last five vs. Michigan and three of the last four vs. MSU.

It's been nine years since the Irish made it out of September unscathed, when Ty Willingham's first squad in 2002 used pluck and luck to squeak out a series of odd wins en route to an 8-0 start.

If the Irish can start fast with some early wins, maybe even ESPN (which isn't ashamed to air an hour-long Season-Preview Special with nary a mention of ND) will notice.

-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Archives.....

Thursday, October 21, 2010

It Won't Get Any Easier in 2011, 2012

Coach Kelly has been famously quoted as having not a five-year plan but a "five-minute plan" for improving Notre Dame football. As in, the advancement needs to happen now; we're not building up to some imagined level of performance years down the line. The focus has been on the here and now.

But now, we can at least get a glimpe of future years, as the 2011 and 2012 schedules have been officially released by the University, confirming numerous earlier reports of scheduling agreements with various schools.

And if there is one overall theme of the new schedules, it is this: nothng will come easy. If the Irish are to work their way back to the elite in college football, they will have earned it against as challenging a lineup of games as could be imagined.  Just look at one month as an example: in October of 2012, the lineup is Miami (FL), Stanford, BYU and at Oklahoma.

The complete schedules:

2011
Sept. 3 SOUTH FLORIDA
Sept. 10 at Michigan
Sept. 17 MICHIGAN STATE
Sept. 24 at Pittsburgh
Oct. 1 at Purdue
Oct. 8 AIR FORCE
Oct. 15 (open)
Oct. 22 USC
Oct. 29 NAVY
Nov. 5 at Wake Forest
Nov. 12 MARYLAND (Fed Ex Field, Landover, Md.)
Nov. 19 BOSTON COLLEGE
Nov. 26 at Stanford

2012
Sept. 1 Navy (Dublin, Ireland)
Sept. 8 PURDUE
Sept. 15 at Michigan State
Sept. 22 MICHIGAN
Sept. 29 (open)
Oct. 6 MIAMI (Soldier Field, Chicago)
Oct. 13 STANFORD
Oct. 20 BYU
Oct. 27 at Oklahoma
Nov. 3 PITTSBURGH
Nov. 10 at Boston College
Nov. 17 WAKE FOREST
Nov. 24 at USC

 

Monday, September 13, 2010

Properly Preparing the "Next Man Up"

There's a reason for the caveat in my pre-season prediction...specifically about injuries. Dayne Crist getting knocked out of the first half on Saturday was the example that no Irish fan wanted to see. Yet the whole scene was rather strange. The repeated sideline TV shots showing Crist standing pretty much alone -- no medical staff working on him, no coach talking with him. He looked shellshocked, and one has to wonder why he wasn't taken to the locker room, or even a spot on the bench, away from the cameras, and received some attention.

What was worse, of course, was that the entire team played and looked shellshocked, and before you knew it, Michigan had put up 21 points. It was almost as if nobody was prepared for this setback.

So it was at least reassuring to hear Coach Kelly take full responsbility for "not properly preparing" his backup quarterbacks to step into such a situation. For all that has been said and written about Kelly's "next man up" philosophy, it has to be shown on the field.

In many instances, it has shown up on the field. A total of 62 Irish players have recorded playing time in one or both of the first two games. At many positions, three and four players have seen action. At other spots (particularly safety) the lack of healthy, available bodies has hamstrung the operation.

It's a safe bet that the next time (and let's face it, there more than likely will be a next time) that Crist has to leave the game, a solid, safe package of plays is ready for his replacement.

And, every man on the roster is ready to be the "next man up."

 

Friday, September 3, 2010

How Big To Build the Bandwagon?

Predicting an entire football season is tricky. There are so many things that can happen,
from injuries, suspensions, lucky or unlucky bounces, bad calls, suddenly hot teams – the
list is endless.

So maybe the best thing to say about the 2010 Notre Dame season is this:

I predict ND will again truly become the Fighting Irish, playing with a passion and spirit
we haven’t seen consistently for years. They will be extremely well-conditioned, and
exhibit mental and physical toughness. Above all, they will play with a spirit of unity that
will make ND fans everywhere proud…and certain that we’re back on the right track.

So how does this translate to wins and losses? That’s the tricky part, but I’ll give it a
go. Read these picks with the knowledge that I am an incurable optimist. My mantra is
actually, “Who’s gonna beat ‘em?” And it’s possible the Irish could be favored in every
game. Here goes…

Sept 4 vs. Purdue. Yes, the Boilers practice against the spread every day, but not with
these unexpected twists, and not with these athletes. The Irish get a huge lead, then get
nicked a bit by Robert Marve after the issue is no longer in doubt. ND 38, Purdue 13.

Sept. 11 vs. Michigan. The Wolverines are reeling after a dismal showing vs. UConn.
But it plays to their advantage, as they feel a sense of desperation and throw everything
they can at the Irish. The ND defense makes some late key plays. ND 28, Michigan 20.

Sept. 18 at Michigan State. As usual, Sparty is playing with early-season confidence
before heading into their typical swoon. A pitched battle ensues, with Cousins finding
holes in the Irish D, and fortunate breaks favoring the home squad. MSU 27, ND 23.

Sept. 25 vs. Stanford. The Cardinal begin a brutal three-week stretch that includes
games vs. Oregon and USC. Andrew Luck’s Heisman campaign is well underway – but
falls a bit short, and a Band Alumni Day crowd sees a thriller. ND 34, Stanford 31.

Oct. 2 at Boston College. The Eagles, coming off a war vs. Virginia Tech, wish they had
prepped for these games by playing someone other than Weber State and Kent State. A
down-and-dirty battle turns on some key plays by Irish defense. ND 24, BC 20.

Oct 9 vs. Pittsburgh. The Panthers have rebounded from their opening stumble at Utah,
and enter ND Stadium with supreme confidence, recalling their rolling of the Irish last
year. They quickly learn this is a different team, falling behind early. ND 33, Pitt 24.

Oct. 16 vs. Western Michigan. A beautiful fall afternoon among the Indiana sycamores.
What more could anyone ask for? The Broncos get a scenic bus ride, a nice paycheck
and a few bruises for their trouble. No contest. ND 47, WMU 9.

Oct. 23 vs. Navy. The first big college football game at the new Meadowlands Stadium.

Coach Kelly teaches the Irish about the history of the series….and then reminds them that
there is no way the Middies should be able to play with us. ND 44, Navy 13.

Oct. 30 vs. Tulsa. The Golden Hurricane come in as something of a mystery team,
despite their 5-2 record. They look a little bit in awe of Notre Dame Stadium….and the 7-
1 Irish. ND’s return game comes to life and cooks up a blowout. ND 39, Tulsa 17.

Nov. 13 vs. Utah. A week earlier and the Utes might have been too much to handle. But
their 8-0 bubble was burst by TCU last week. The Irish find the going tougher than in
previous weeks, and need some key defensive stops to get by. ND 26, Utah 23.

Nov. 20 vs. Army. The pageantry, the history, the glory of gridiron tradition. It all
comes together on the field of the new Yankee Stadium, as the memories are raised of
past great battles between the Black Knights and Irish. This one isn’t. ND 51, Army 16.

Nov. 27 at USC. With a 10-1 mark and No. 5 national ranking, the Irish head to the
Coliseum convinced this is the year to break the streak. Probation-plagued USC treats
this as their bowl game, and get some dubious calls along the way. USC 30, ND 27.

You have no idea how much I hope that last one doesn’t come true!!! I’m probably still
feeling the ill effects of our trip to SoCal in 2008.

Like I say, this team is night-and-day different from what we’ve become used to.

The only question is how big the bandwagon will get.

GO IRISH!!


Saturday, June 12, 2010

A Moment of Sanity Amid Expansion Frenzy
As a regular reader of natonal college football columnists, I've gotten used to their tpically wild mis-statements about Notre Dame and the changing face of the sport. The typical talking point in recent weeks is that, surely, conditions will "force" ND to join a conference.

So I was surprised -- in a good way -- to read this today from Matt Hayes of The Sporting News:

"Notre Dame appears closer to staying the course as an independent. The thinking in South Bend is that the Irish brand name is too powerful and that the university won't be left out of any new landscape because bowls and television want access to Notre Dame in any postseason scenario."

That, folks, is it in a nutshell. ND football is a national brand with a huge cache built up over decades of superior performance amid high standards on and off the field. Nothing short of -- heaven forbid -- a long string of disastrous seasons would ever change that.

Now would be a good time for University leaders to stand up and reaffirm that the Fighting Irish will continue as a national independent in football.


Friday, June 11, 2010
Finally -- Justice Arrives
After some four years of investigation, and numerous delays, it’s finally happened – the NCAA has found the University of Southern California guilty of massive cheating violations in football, primarily surrounding the “extra benefits” provided Reggie Bush and his family. 

In what’s been described as “a history of misdeeds by an out-of-control athletic department,” USC was found to have had a virtual open-door policy as boosters, agents and others flooded Bush, basketball star O.J. Mayo and, no doubt, other Trojan athletes with cash, cars, travel, and housing all beyond anything resembling the rules.

For months, there had been great debate among college sports observers as to whether the NCAA would have the guts to bring the hammer down on such a prominent “sacred cow” as Southern Cal. The answer came with the penalties handed down yesterday – including a two-year bowl ban, loss of 30 football scholarships and forfeiture of the 2004 National Championship game and the entire 2005 season, including the infamous “Bush push” game against the Irish.

In a spot-on analysis by the LA Times’ Bill Plaschke, the leaders of the USC machine --  mainly coach Pete Carroll and athletic director Mike Garrett – are castigated for their arrogance. Interesting to use that word.  Think of all the times you heard Notre Dame’s Charlie Weis described by the national media as arrogant in his five-year tenure.

Writes Plaschke:  “They were whacked by their ego. They were steamrolled by their self-importance. They were sanctioned by themselves.”

The NCAA only had to come in and do the paperwork.  And, for the sake of some justice in an oft-crazy sport, thank goodness they got it right.


Friday, February 19, 2010
There's a Reason for Lack of Real ND-Big 10 Talk
I know this is going to come as a terrible shock to numerous sports columnists and so-called college football pundits across the country -- but your call for Notre Dame to join the Big 10 makes no sense, and is not going to happen.

Yes, it's somehow convenient for you to overlook the basics -- history and geography -- and think that this somehow makes sense, or is a "must" to "keep Notre Dame football alive", but, well....

Ugghh..I'm tired of trying to educate you. Let's listen to someone else -- how about Wisconsin athletic director and coaching legend Barry Alvarez, defensive coordinator at ND before heading to Madison 20 years ago. Here's what he told the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel yesterday:

"My read is that Notre Dame wants to be a national school, and they want to play a national (football) schedule. And unless you've been there and seen the magnitude of their fan base and the interest nationally, it is hard to understand.

"I understand."

Monday, February 8, 2010
Strange Days Indeed in College Football Recruiting
Things have gotten a tad bizarre in the world of college football recruiting.

For weeks, followers of this ritual were on the edge of their collective seats, waiting for the final, decisive word from several of the top high school players across the land -- which baseball cap sitting in front of him would Mr. Big clutch.

And there was none bigger -- literally -- than 6-8, 340-pound man-child Seantrel Henderson of St. Paul's Cretin-Derham Hall High. Now Cretin has produced a wealth of terrific athletes, including former Irish lineman Ryan Harris of the Denver Broncos. Word had leaked that ND was not on the top of Seantreal's list, but his "choice" was still surprising.

Henderson chose not to sign a Letter-of-Intent with anyone. He'll wait and see whether the NCAA finally brings the hammer to the pro football outfit in LA, known to some as USC.

Things got even stranger in the days that followed, with the news that a 13-year-old -- that's right, a middle schooler -- from Delaware announced his intent to play at...again there's that place, USC.

What adult in his right mind -- whether the kid's parent, middle school coach, quarterback guru or potential college coach -- thinks that's OK, and does nothing to stop such talk? Apparently, none of the so-called adults attached to this kid.


Monday, December 14, 2009
Good To See Irish Fans Fired Up
We had an enjoyable time Sunday afternoon at our book signing for Loyal Sons at the Barnes & Noble at HarMar Mall in Roseville, Minn.

Not only was our supply of books sold out in less than an hour -- wow! what a response! -- but we got to spend some time chatting with a whole bunch of very nice Irish fans. Those who had an opinion of the coaching change were quite positive about the choice of Brian Kelly.

In fact, one fan even looked like Brian Kelly. Greg, just get that shave, put on some coaching attire, and you've got it nailed! (And a Boston native, to boot!)

The biggest challenge is -- how to make these next nine months fly by, till Kelly leads the Irish out of the Tunnel on September 4 to face Purdue.

I know what I'l be doing -- traveling the country, meeting and speaking with groups of Irish fans about Notre Dame football history, while doing research for several more planned books on the Irish, following in the wake of Loyal Sons.

We'll also be adding a lot more material to Forever Irish -- so stop back regularly to read more stories about the history of Fighting Irish football.

We also appreciate hearing from you. Have an idea of something for us to research? Drop us a line at: editor@NDFootballHistory.com.

Monday, December 7, 2009
Making History -- And Trying to Recall It
Saturday was a college football lover's dream. From the 11 a.m. (CT) kickoff of the Cincinnati-Pittsburgh game amidst a snowstorm at Heinz Field, to the conclusion of Wisconsin's romp over Hawaii at 2 a.m. from Honolulu, there were 15 straight hours of exciting comebacks, bizarre finishes and dominating performances.

Certainly, a lot of Notre Dame followers kept a close eye on Cincinnati's game, and Brian Kelly's handling of his team after falling behind by 21 points. There was an unmistakable sideline presence and intensity that seemed to help the Bearcats keep their focus and will their way back into the game. Ordering backup QB Zach Collaros to warm up was apparently the trick to get starter Tony Pike sharp down the stretch. In the final analysis, though, you had to feel bad for the Pitt holder letting a crucial extra point slide out of his grasp.

Though not a game of great importance, Fresno State's last-second win at Illinois was one-of-a-kind. Coach Pat Hill eschews the point-after that would have forced overtime, and the conversion pass bounces into the hands of an offensive lineman, who topples into the end zone to give Fresno a 53-52 victory.

Plenty has been written about Alabama's beatdown of Florida. It seems plenty of folks have had their fill of the constant adulation heaped on Urban Meyer's team and quarterback. Best line all weekend? Somebody pointing out that maybe Tim Tebow should really familiarize himself with Matthew 6:6 -- you know, the one about not making your prayer a public spectacle.

Texas' "extra-second" winning field-goal of course reminded one of the ending of the ND-USC game this year. In both cases, there was clearly one second left in the game. But only one school got ripped from coast to coast about "home cooking" clock operators -- and it wasn't Texas.

But for me, one of the most astounding moments came during the telecast of the SEC Championship. The trivia question brought to you by a quacking duck asked which two teams won three national titles in a four-year span (in expectation that Florida might match that feat). For a Notre Dame partisan living in Minnesota, it wasn't real difficult -- the Gophers in 1934-36, the Irish in 1946-47-49.

But, in giving the answer, announcer Verne Lundquist says, "The great Notre Dame teams featuring Glenn Davis and Doc Blanchard."

What!!!???!!!

What's worse, there was no correction (at least that I heard; I was still switching to other games). That means, in all likelihood, that nobody in the control room realized what an outrageous mistake had been uttered.

Fans of both Notre Dame and Army, or anyone with an appreciation of college football history, must have just been shaking their heads. I know I was.

Friday, December 4, 2009
What Does ND Have in Common With MSU?
News Item: Notre Dame again rates at the top of the college football world in terms of graduation rates. Michigan State is near the bottom of the Big 10.

News item: Michigan State Coach Mark Dantonio dismisses two players from his team and suspends eight others, apparently in connection with a campus brawl in which up to 15 individuals -- many of them football players -- busted into a campus dorm and started assaulting male and female residents. One of the two dismissed players was convicted last year, in an almost identical altercation, of brutally assaulting an MSU hockey player who was coming to the aid of fellow students. The result was a serious head injury that cost the icer the 2008-09 season. The football player, Glenn Winston, served a four-month sentence... and then was immediately reinstated to the football team, with no repurcussions.

At some point is it valid to ask: what is the compelling reason for Notre Dame to continue its every-year rivalry with Michigan State? Especially when there are so many institutions -- with much better academic/social records -- interested in playing the Irish.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009
Arrrggghhh!!!
Spending time listening to TV talking heads and reading national “columnists” covering the ND coaching change makes one’s head seem ready to explode.

Here are just five of the most inane “talking points” repeated ad nauseam by these self-appointed “experts.”

1. Coaching ND football is no longer a “good” job.  This simplistic false-choice analysis presumes that a “good” job must be easy, as in, you can recruit anybody who can fog a mirror, and not have to be concerned with academics or behavioral issues.  I guess their definition of "good" ignores things like: outstanding facilities, tremendous support staff, generous salary, unmatched history and tradition, national media contracts, coast-to-coast base of supporters, all attracted to the nation’s premiere Catholic university, with a #1 football graduation rate, the lifelong value of an ND degree, playing in a classic renowned stadium on a fabulous campus, etc., etc.

2. It’s impossible to attract football talent to ND. This canard is usually followed by slams at the university’s substantial academics standards, with assorted jabs at South Bend weather, lack of night life, and distance from beaches.  All of which presumes that the whole of top high school football players are slack-jawed, low IQ, achievement-adverse hedonists. Please refer to the current Irish roster, and the last several recruiting classes, to dispel this nonsense.  Floyd, Tate, Rudolph, Te’o, Clausen, etc. Please!

3. Notre Dame football has become irrelevant.  Oh, really?  So how do you explain the wall-to-wall coverage the last few days, the ESPN trucks parked outside the Gug, the apparent need for every low-level “journalist” with any print space or broadband width to pontificate about Notre Dame football?  Hmmm, something just doesn’t add up here. You can’t have it both ways, folks.

4. ND won’t matter until it joins a conference.  This one really gets me. I have to calm myself, slow my speech and point out to the idiot in question that Notre Dame is a national university, with a national alumni base, and a national following of a team recruited nationally.  Its history and tradition – literally from its founding – speak to being a national entity. In terms of football, I like to put it this way:  Who gets to make the call to a player’s parent in California and say, “Uh, Mrs. Smith, forget that talk about a national schedule…the furthest west we can play this year is Iowa.”

5. This one is real spit-out-your-coffee stuff.  In the last 36 hours, an ESPN college football “analyst” and a Chicago “sports writer” both mentioned that recruiting to Notre Dame is difficult because Indiana isn’t a fertile ground for football players. Yikes.  Really!!??!!  It’s news to these guys that ND goes coast to coast to attract football players (as it does its student body). 

Maybe it’s best to turn off the TV and stay away from the internet for a few days.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009
Video Reviews Run Amok
There's no question that Notre Dame played poorly enough for long stretches of Saturday's game against Pitt to deserve to lose. Yet, it was absolutely stupefying to watch how the Irish's last gasp ended.

Jimmy Clausen clearly got off a pass that traveled several yards before hitting the dirt. ABC announcers Brent Musburger and Kirk Herbstreit -- neither known as ND enthusiasts -- almost casually opined that there was no way the call on the field (incomplete pass) would be reversed. Yet I'll bet plenty of Irish fans said to themselves, "Oh, yeah...just watch them." We've become almost conditioned to horrible reversals, when nothing close to "indisputable video evidence" exists. So it was when the ball was given over to Pittsburgh on a "fumble recovery."

This time, the ridiculous reversal was part of a very troubling trend in college football this year. Possibly the most egregious example happened Friday night in the Cincinnati-West Virginia game. Cincinnati, driving for a critical touchdown, was trailing when its running back dove toward the goal line. Not only was he clearly short of breaking the plane, he fumbled as well, and WVU recovered. The officials on the field correctly ruled it a fumble, then the Big East video crew made another one of those unbelievable reversals, handing Cincinnati a much-needed touchdown. It completely turned around the course of the game.

The common thread, of course -- Pittsburgh, Cincinnati, and earlier highly-questionable reversals in SEC games involving Florida and Alabama -- is that each team that benefitted is a Top 10 squad in the hunt for a BCS bid, in a conferene pushing to receive two lucrative slots in the BCS. It has become the 800-pound gorilla in the game of college football, too obvious to ignore. Video reveiw squads, originally meant as a check on less-than-perfect on-field officials, now wield enormous power to decide games. The notion of "indisputable video evidence" has been thrown out the window.

Thankfully, there is a growing movement to take officiating -- and video review -- out of the hands of the conferences and create a national body for assigning, training and monitoring officials. No longer would their checks be signed by conferences who have a huge financial interest in which team wins.

It can't happen soon enough.

Thursday, November 12, 2009
Now That's A Serious ND Fan!
We know there are a lot of tremendously loyal Notre Dame alums and fans out there -- we've signed enough copies of Loyal Sons to "ND's No. 1 Fan!" But how about this one? Last Wednesday, Nov. 4, Kathy Foresman, a 1981 ND grad, was in a Minneapolis hospital undergoing lumpectomy surgery.

A mere 48 hours later, she was in her usual spot on a home-game Friday -- making the nine-hour drive with husband Mark (also ND '81) to South Bend. And here she is in the stands for the Navy game.

 

kathyf

 

Now that's dedication!

Kathy comes from a three-generation Notre Dame family, starting with her dad Jack McMahon ('55). Her sisters went to ND and St. Mary's, and now the tradition has continued with daugher Alicen (ND '07) and son Daniel, a current Irish senior.

The weekend included a trip to The Grotto -- where many prayers for healing have started.

Best wishes, Kathy, for a full and speedy recovery!

Sunday, November 1, 2009
Deep In The Heart of (Irish) Texas
Aside from a possibly season-ending injury to backup quarterback Dayne Crist, it's hard to imagine how ND's first "off-site home game" could have gone any better. Crowds in downtown San Antonio were large, lively and almost completely 'Irish.'

Wherever one went, anywhere on the River Walk, in and around the host Marriott, at the Alamo, up to the Cathedral, hordes of ND fans were enjoying the hospitality of their local hosts. The Pep Rally at Alamo Square, the "concert on the steps" in front of the Cathedral and the subsequent parade of the Band -- followed by thousands of ND fans -- down Market Street to the Alamodome, were among the many highlights.

As a "northerner" already accustomed to this fall's constant 45-and-drizzle, it felt more than a little warm in Saturday's sun -- and actually felt good to get into the air-conditioned comfort of the Alamodome.

There, the Irish treated their fans to the first "no drama" victory since the season-opener vs. Nevada. Another great Band halftime show, culminating in the forming of the state of Texas, complete with the Lone Star flag and "Deep in the Heart of Texas" -- all set the right tone.

Reps of Yankee Stadium were there taking notes, in the hopes of replicating San Antonio's success for next year's special event. One thing is certain...the bar was set high. A bowl-like atmosphere made for an enjoyable weekend.

Monday, October 17, 2009
It's a Privelege To Be at ND Stadium....Participate
Driving to campus Saturday morning, I caught a good radio interview with Ned Bolcar, two-time Irish captain (1988-89) and one of the fiercest players to don the Blue-and-Gold. Ned talked about how great it was to come back to ND and meet up with former teammates and classmates....how the bonds survive the test of time, and everyone appreciates the chance to gather.

He said he had just one pet peeve with watching games at Notre Dame Stadium. It was the prevalence of folks who seem content to "sit on their hands" and not get involved in the proceedings.

"I can find a thousand people back in my little home town in New Jersey who would give their LEFT ARM to be at this game today," he fairly screamed. You could almost picture yourself in the Irish locker room, listening to Ned fire up the troops before a big game. "But they don't have the money, they can't get away from their jobs to get out here."

If you are one of the lucky ones -- those who have a means of getting tickets, and the means to get to South Bend and enjoy a game -- be sure you are Irish all the way, Ned was saying. Take your lead from the student section...scream till you're hoarse every time the opponent comes to the line of scrimmage. Don't be upset if you have to stand once in a while. And never, never quit cheering the Irish.

So Saturday, amidst the electricity of a huge game, a tremendous comeback and near-classic-victory, I took notice of the people sitting around me. And sure enough, the middle-aged couple in front of us...seemed nice, but literally never made a sound. It's not like they were USC fans. They just didn't participate. I resisted the temptation to tap them on the shoulder and say, "Where did you get these tickets? Did you just want to be able to say you went to a USC-ND game? Do you realize there are a thousand people in Ned Bolcar's hometown....oh, what's the use."

Overall, though, our section was great. I'm pretty sure we started the chant aimed at Pete Carroll...."OFF...THE...FIELD." This guy is something else. Do you think there is a single Pac 10 ref with the guts to EVER come over and even give him a warning that he's violating the sideline rules...nearly all game long. He does it, of course, because he can. And we're supposed to be ones whose coach is arrogant!

Moving forward, if the Irish can take the best elements of Saturday's effort, and clean up the rest, the remainder of the season looks pretty good.

Just remember....if somehow you get a ticket to an ND game, keep in mind Ned Bolcar's words ...and "cheer, cheer for old Notre Dame."

Wednesday, October 14, 2009
A Great Challenge, A Great Opportunity to "Show Me"
Maybe it's best that the green jerseys will be kept in storage Saturday.

Maybe it's best that ESPN College GameDay is in Dallas for the Texas-Oklahoma game and not South Bend.

Maybe it's best that the Pep Rally will be on the Irish Green and not the Stadium.

Maybe it's best that Notre Dame and Southern Cal each have one loss.

Maybe it's best that the hype for Saturday's game isn't at a 2005 level.

Maybe...just maybe....the Irish can put it all together, summon the spirits that inhabit Notre Dame Stadium, and answer the call "to Rise and Strike" (do people wearing The Shirt realize that's a key line from the song "Hike Notre Dame"?) with a victory over the Trojans.

Even with 2005's incredible, last-minute 34-31 loss to USC, the average score in Notre Dame's seven-year losing streak to the Trojans is 41-14. Ouch.

There are only two longer losing streaks to an opponent in ND history -- 8 straight losses to start the Michigan series (between the inception of ND football in 1887 and 1908, stopped by the remarkable 1909 upset at Ann Arbor) and 8 losses over nine seasons to Michigan State between 1955 and 1963.

Great achievements, someone once said, come from great opportunities. Yes, beating USC is a tremendous challenge. The Trojans come in to Notre Dame Stadium with another highly-talented outfit, as evidenced by their recent dismantling of Cal. They are well-coached, they play with complete confidence. And, like any Notre Dame opponent, they bring their 'A' game when it's time to battle the Irish.

Still, one gets the feeling that it's time, indeed, for this ND team to "show us" what it can do. The talent gap with USC has narrowed to the point where a competitive game, not a 38-point blowout, is what fans are expecting.

We hope the ND coaching staff, in addition to crafting wise schemes, will draw upon the underdog status to ratchet up the fighting spirit of the Fighting Irish.

Recall how the name itself -- the Fighting Irish -- perfectly described the immigrant spirit of the late 19th and early 20th century. Notre Dame football was born and nurtured at a time when attending college was a stretch for first-generation Americans, especially Irish-Americans. They overcame tremendous odds to achieve greatness -- on and off the football field.

Saturday is a perfect time for that greatness to re-appear.

 

Thursday, October 1, 2009
Craziness On and Off the Field: What Would Rock Think?
It’s already been quite a year in college football. It started with an ugly incident of taunting followed by retaliatory violence, in the Oregon-Boise State game to kick off the season. You would have thought the season-long suspension of Oregon running back LeGarrette Blount might have opened a few eyes.

Apparently not. For three straight weeks now, the Big 10 has issued one-game suspensions to players following its mandatory review of flagrant fouls. (The first of these was Michigan’s Jonas Mouton slugging ND’s Eric Olsen after the play, undetected at the time by the officials.)

Even coaches have gotten into the act. At New Mexico, the head coach punched out one of his assistants in a heated exchange during a meeting.

Yikes.

I often ask myself, “What would Rock think of all this craziness in the game he loved?” We provide an answer this week in our article, Rock Revered, in which we quote Harry Stuhldreher talking about Rock’s dedication to sportsmanship. The quarterback of The Four Horsemen quotes the great coach: “Fight with your heart and mind rather than fists and mouth.”

Words that a lot of folks should listen to these days.

 

Monday, September 21, 2009
Honoring the Work of “Play Like A Champion Today”
It’s been just over a year since the release of Loyal Sons: The Story of The Four Horsemen and Notre Dame Football’s 1924 Champions. We’ve been gratified by the response to the book – from readers, reviewers, and from the 2009 Independent Publisher Book Awards, which honored us with the bronze medal in the sports/recreation/fitness category.

 

plc3 Jim Lefebvre, author of Loyal Sons, presents a check to Prof. F. Clark Power, director of the Play Like A Champion Today program at Notre Dame, and associate director Kristin Sheehan. A portion of the proceeds from the sale of Loyal Sons is donated to PLC.

 

And one of our favorite moments was the Friday before the Michigan State game, when we presented a check to the Play Like A Champion Today coaching education program. As promised in a Special Note on the book’s jacket:

“A portion of the proceeds from the sale of Loyal Sons is donated to support the work of Play Like A Champion Today, the national initiative for youth and school sports directed by the Center for Ethical Education at the University of Notre Dame The program offers training in ethical sports coaching and leadership, and sports as ministry. For more information, please visit www.playlikeachampion.org."

To Prof. Clark Power, Kristin Sheehan, Jared Dees and all the PLC contributors, trainers and supporters – congratulations on some great work, and best wishes for continued success. We are proud of our association with you!

 

Friday, September 18, 2009
Always A Treat -- ND's "Senior" Alumnus Dick Savage
It's always a pleasure to get together for dinner with Mr. Richard "Dick" Savage of Chicago, now 101 and two-thirds. Mr. Savage, class secretary of the Class of 1930, is a touchstone for so many Notre Dame alumni and friends.

It's great to break bread with Dick and hear him recall his student days during the time of Rockne.

And we're delighted that your annual visit for an ND game was a good one -- perfect weather, excellent hospitality in the wheelchair section...and best of all, an impressive, 35-0 Irish victory.

 

Thursday, August 20, 2009
Neutral Site Games: A Thing of the Future (and Past)
It seems like a week of the spring and summer hasn’t gone by without the announcement of yet another planned neutral site college football game. One of the biggest announcements for Irish fans, of course, was the November, 2010 meeting with Army at the new Yankee Stadium. The matchup harkens back to the many years the highlight of the college football season with the battle between the Irish and Black Knights at old Yankee Stadium.

In our view, any neutral-site game involving Notre Dame “makes sense,” as it is a tribute to the long-standing independence and history of the football program in playing games coast to coast, involving support of alumni and fans that know no geographical limits.

Northwestern vs. Illinois at Wrigley Field? That would be cool. Boston College playing a game at Fenway? Why not.

But Indiana switching a home game vs. Penn State to FedEx Field in Landover, Maryland? I think that matchup has just one thing written all over it – dollar signs. Or did we miss tens of thousands of rabid Hoosier football fans clamoring for a game on the East Coast?

I didn’t think so.

 

Friday, July 17, 2009
Honoring History -- Both Distant and More Recent
Fighting Irish fans are celebrating today with ND coaching legend Lou Holtz as he takes his place among the members of the College Football Hall of Fame in South Bend. See our perpsective on his career, Long and Winding Road: East Liverpool to the 'Hall.' Well done, Coach.

And then there are the continuing reports that athletic director Jack Swarbrick is close to signing an agreement to play Army at the new Yankee Stadium next season. Earlier, it appeared the target season for the Stadium meeting was 2013, the centennial of ND's first game -- and great upset -- vs. the USMA. Either way, it will be an historic renewal of what was undoubtedly the greatest rivalry in college football in the first half of the 20th century. And one played 21 of 22 seasons between 1925 and 1946 at "The House That Ruth Built."

Wednesday, June 3, 2009
That Was Cool: Loyal Sons Gets an IPPY
I had never been at an award ceremony for authors and publishers of books, so I didn't really know to expect. But Friday's Independent Publisher Book Awards 2009 at New York City's impressive Providence NYC nightclub, was classy, interesting and fun.

Naturally, we're proud of the Bronze Medal in the Sports/Recreation/Fitness category that Loyal Sons received. It was wonderful to share the evening with friends and great Irish fans Bob and Jessica Kreider. And it was great to spend time getting to know other authors. Their subject matter cut across all conceivable lines -- after all, there are something like 64 subject categories in the IPPYs, plus national and regional awards.

Not surprisingly, though, the two authors of award-winning college football books found one another and had a great conversation. Steve Clark, one-time student manager at Alabama, penned Bear Revelations: Paul Bryant the Man. It includes stories from the two great ND-'Bama bowl meetings of the 1970s. Way to go, Steve. I hope we can share a speakers podium or radio microphone some day soon.

Thanks to Jim Barnes and all the folks at Independent Publisher/Jenkins Group for a great event.


Monday, May 18, 2009
An Amazing Weekend
Wow, that was something. It's a special moment for a parent to see their youngest child graduate from college. And when it's Notre Dame, well, it's special beyond belief.

For daughter Liz, the years of effort, the work ethic that put her in a position to earn a place in Notre Dame's Class of 2009 came full circle this weekend, and her family could not be prouder. She joins sister Kerry (ND 2007) and thousands of other Notre Dame alumni worldwide. And her class joins several others who have the special honor of being addressed by the President of the United States.Very memorable.

And events with two other presidents made the weekend complete. Friday, at the ceremony honoring graduates of the Kroc Center for International Peace Studies, President Emeritus Rev. Theodore M. Hesburgh, CSC, -- "Father Ted" -- gave the students a tremendous message of faith, hope and love. At 92 and always looking forward to sending Notre Dame's best out to change the world, this man truly embodies the spirit of Our Lady's University.

Then Saturday, current President Rev. John I. Jenkins, CSC, gave an impassioned sendoff to some 200 ND '09 grads -- as usual, 10 per cent of the graduating class -- who are answering the call to service through programs across the U.S. and abroad. It was a great honor to be at each event...and a telling reminder that the important work of Notre Dame just starts on this campus, but extends through space and time.


Friday, April 24, 2009

You Can Go Home Again
This week, I completed the circuit of the Four Horsemen's hometowns with a book event in Green Bay, Wisconsin -- hometown of "Sleepy Jim" Crowley ....and me. And it was truly overwhelming.

It was great to see old neighbors such as Urban Schumacher and son John, Don Vandersteen and son Mike, and high school buddies Tom Vandenberg, Jim Robb, Steve Hein, Mike Crabb and Terry Eckers. My Green Bay relatives Mark, Rob, Joyce and Sue Lefebvre were there. Relatives of Crowley's teammates both in Green Bay and at Notre Dame -- Rick Hearden and family, Peter Geniesse and family -- were part of the audience at the Titletown Brewing Co.

And many thanks to another high school pal, Denis Gullickson, for helping set up the event and inviting several other Green Bay football historians, including Carl Hanson and Tom Murphy.

The following day, our visit to Crowley's high school -- Green Bay East -- included a presentation of a specially inscribed copy of "Loyal Sons" to East Principal Ed Dorff. Thanks to East's Jim Belongia and Rick Rosinski for their hospitality and interest in "Loyal Sons."

It's quite amazing, the Green Bay Connection. From Curly Lambeau playing for Knute Rockne at Notre Dame in 1918, to helping send Crowley, Red Hearden and others to South Bend, and Crowley eventually coaching Vince Lombardi at Fordham, to Lombardi leaving New York for little Green Bay...and football immortality.

It's been a privelege to tell just a part of that whole story in Loyal Sons.

Thanks again to all who welcomed me back to Green Bay! Go Irish! Go Pack!

Saturday, March 28, 2009
Ouch!
And just like that, the "incredible journey" described in the post below...it's all over. Six years of watching my daughters play a part in the spirit and sounds of Notre Dame athletics come to an end, in the Irish's hard-to-comprehend, 5-1 loss to underdog Bemidji State in the first round of the NCAA tournament here in Grand Rapids, Mich.

As a Minnesota resident the past 25 years, I'm well aware of Bemidji's strong tradition as a small-college powerhouse, and the Beavers' numerous national titles before being more-or-less forced to opt up to Division I in 1999. Frank Serratorre does a great job with something less than the nation's top recruits. But, still, this just wasn't supposed to happen.

The Irish, No. 1 or No. 2 in the land nearly all season, with the nation's top power-play, a stellar senior class, tournament experience. Everything in place for a run back into the title game, this time in Washington, DC. The great buzz from last year's trip to Denver repeated, former Irish players coming out to honor and encourage the team...oh, well, it's better not to think of what we expected to see.

It's yet another reminder of "why they play the game." You never know which team will get in a zone, get a few breaks and take advantage of them to spring the unlikely upset. It's what makes competitive athletics exhilerating.

To Jordan, Erik, Christian, Garrett, Whitey, Luke - thanks for a great four years, and for putting Notre Dame among the nation's best.

 

Sunday, March 22, 2009
Never-Say-Die Irish
Anyone who knows me knows that my other great sporting love besides college football is college hockey -- which makes the last few years an incredible journey. If you had told me a few years back that both my daughters would: a) get into Notre Dame; b) be four-year Band members; c) play in the Hockey Pep Band, and d) play for a hockey team that wins CCHA championships and makes the final of the NCAAs, well....it would have been too much to believe.

Last night was one more you-couldn't-make-this-up addition to the ol' memory bank. The Irish, down 2-0 to Michigan and its 15,000-plus fans at Joe Louis Arena here in Detroit midway through the CCHA title game, had the look of a boxer who'd taken a few blows, but kept his feet each round. A goal in the second period makes it 2-1. "Just keep pluggin'" says dad Dave Hanson in the concourse between periods.

And plug they did. Calle Ridderwall ties it. Twenty seconds later, Ben Ryan gives ND the lead. Later Ridderwall adds another. And Christiaan Minella ices it. FIVE straight goals, and the Irish skate with the Mason Cup aloft, and gather round the Notre Dame banner added to the CCHA Championship banner that hangs the next 12 months at The Joe.

That's the Fighting Irish spirit we love to see. Congrats to Coach Jackson and the boys.


Friday, March 6, 2009
A Sign of Things to Come?
News item: Florida State receives NCAA probation due to academic cheating by numerous athletes, many of them football players.

Really? The NCAA is still in the business of handing out penalties to miscreant football programs? It had been so long since it nabbed anyone, I thought the Enforcement Division had gone out of business while we weren't looking.

Does this mean they still have somebody investigating Reggie Bush's living arrangements at USC? One can dream, right?

 

Wednesday, March 4, 2009
Happy Birthday, Rock!

The greatest of all college football coaches was born on this day in 1888.  For a more detailed tribute to Knute Kenneth Rockne, see our main page article, “The Art of Self-Improvement.”

 

Wednesday, February 18, 2009
Taking Your Gifts Out Into the World

It was a moment when history just seems to envelop you and permeate your being.

Yesterday, I was speaking to about 150 high school students in the auditorium of Davenport Central High School.  This is the same building, the same auditorium which was high school for one of the Irish greats, Elmer Layden – Four Horseman, All-American, ND head coach.

Look around you, I told these shining faces of the early 21st century. This place, this time, these people will shape you as you go out into the world. Take your gifts and share them. Not everyone will have the same gifts. Elmer Layden’s gifts were as a slashing running back and sleek trackman. I read to them from “Loyal Sons” how Layden was just as terrified and homesick as any other freshman at Notre Dame, maybe more so, and how desperately he longed to “escape” back to Davenport. (Must be a great hometown, I added.)

But the strength to persevere, and put ourselves out there, no matter the result, is what pulls us into adulthood. That’s what Layden was able to do. And it’s just as true for someone in their mid-50s (let’s say, writing their first book) as any 18-year-old uncertain of his or her life calling.

If even one of the 150 kids got the message, it was well worth the effort.

 

Thursday, February 6, 2009
ND The Right Place to ‘Blaze His Own Trail’

The headline from a Honolulu media outlet says it all:

“Manti Te’o does family proud by signing with Notre Dame”

The story describes how Manti was always encouraged “to do his best in representing himself, his home town of Kahuku and his family in the highest regard.”

"We always told him to blaze his own trail and that's what he's done,” said his mother Ottilia Te’o. “I think he's leading the path for himself and the rest of his family.”

Besides being a tremendously gifted linebacker, star Irish recruit MAN-tie TAYow is, from all reports, an outstanding young man. Educated at the Punahou School in Honolulu, which has sent generations of well-educated youngsters, including President Obama, into the larger world, Manti is also an Eagle Scout and well-rounded volunteer. It will be interesting to see him develop as an Irish football player, Notre Dame student and Mormon with a mission to serve his church.

In that last regard, Manti was put in touch with South Bend representatives of the Mormon faith during his visit in November. He also had phone conversations with former Irish tackle Ryan Harris, now of the Denver Broncos, who practiced and studied his faith (Islam) while at ND. Harris’ message was simple: there’s no better place for someone to explore and deepen their faith, no matter the denomination, than Notre Dame.

I’m not sure Father Sorin would exactly understand, but still I feel he’d be proud.

 

Monday, February 2, 2009
Yes, Football Existed Before the Super Bowl

OK, it was a great and exciting Super Bowl victory for the Steelers.  And six Super Bowl wins are indeed impressive. But when I hear the TV talking heads expound about Pittsburgh becoming the “record setter” for pro football championships, I have to say, whoa.

Anybody ever hear of a little outfit called the Green Bay Packers?

I checked and yes, today the Pack remains the leader with 12 pro football championships, the last three including a Super Bowl victory. Next in line are the Chicago Staleys/Bears, with nine crowns, followed by the New York Giants with seven. The come the Steelers, whose six titles have all come in the Super Bowl age. They’re followed closely by four teams – the Redskins, 49ers, Cowboys and Browns/Ravens – with five each.

It’s symptomatic of a culture that too often discards - - or simply forgets – history. Pro football was crowning champions for nearly a half-century before someone concocted the “NFL-AFL World Championship Game,” later dubbed the Super Bowl.

All fans of football as we know it today could learn some fascinating stories by reading of the early days of pro ball – not to mention the college football, which was THE game in town for many decades.  I know of a good read to get you started…

 

Saturday, January 24, 2009
Could the Irish Ever Return to Champaign, Madison, Iowa City...or even Minneapolis?

News item: the University of Minnesota schedules a home-and-home series with Southern Cal, brining in the Trojans to new TCF Bank Stadium in 2010, with the Gophers making a trip to the Coliseum the following September.

In these days of too many BCS schools stocking up on cupcakes, it’s great to see any games scheduled between members of the “Big Six” conferences.  But it led to another thought: could the Irish ever get back to scheduling games with the “western division” of the Big 10?

The Irish have had only five meetings with Minnesota, the last of those in 1938.  Wisconsin was a fairly frequent opponent in the first half of the 20th century, but the last of 16 ND-UW contests was Ara Parseghian’s first ND victory on Sept. 26, 1964. And 1968 brought the most recent meetings with Illinois (an ND opponent 12 times) and Iowa (the Hawkeyes appeared on the Irish schedule every year from 1945 through 1962, with several excellent battles between rated teams).

Yes, we all know about the scheduling challenges, with now-required Big East games, Navy, USC, long-standing Michigan and Purdue series, etc., etc.  But, someday, it would be great to see a historic return to Memorial Stadium in Champaign, to Camp Randall in Madison (recalling the Four Horsemen’s visit in 1924), Nile Kinnick in Iowa City. Or even a visit to the new TCF Bank Stadium.

 

Thursday, January 8, 2009
Loyalty in College Football: Here’s a Start

Just a quick thought on Boston College following through on its threat to fire head coach Jeff Jagodzinski if he interviewed for the New York Jets head coaching position.

And, yes, it’s bravo, BC.

In today’s crazy coaching whirlwind, where it seems almost everyone is looking to move, or at least leveraging a threatened move against their current employer, the Eagles have every right to seek some consistency and loyalty from their head coach.

A gutsy move by athletic director Gene DeFilippo – and one which will likely only further burnish the pride and hustle the Eagles display, once they select (probably from within) a coach who’s committed to being there
.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008
A Hopeful Sign?

Wow. Who, after a 6-6 regular season, could have predicted the explosiveness of ND’s 49-21 domination of Hawaii? Let’s hope it can be a building block for 2009.

It was still wrong for the Band of the Fighting Irish to be left back home.

Merry Christmas to all.

 

Wednesday, December 3, 2008
Next Stop, Waikiki….Whoa, Not You Guys

This will go down as a strange football season in more than a few ways -- capped by the first modern-era bowl trip that didn’t include the Band of the Fighting Irish. The negotiations and machinations that landed the Irish in the Sheraton Hawaii Bowl on Christmas Eve included a decision to leave the Band on the mainland, watching the game on TV.

For seniors especially, it’s a strange way to reward four years of sacrifice and service. The endless practices, the many performances, representing the best face of the University to crowds of all kinds in many places.  All while a 6-6 team votes itself a vacation to Hawaii. The Band’s paid leadership says it can’t really talk about what happened.

These are strange days indeed. It doesn’t feel like what ND is supposed to be about… family, tradition, excellence.

 

Saturday, November 29, 2008
A Trashy Welcome from USC

We’ll leave the dissection of the ugliness at the Coliseum today to others (and there will be many).

But there is one disaster worth noting – the performance of the USC marching band at halftime.

First, to the Band of the Fighting Irish – you were as awesome as ever, in your historic first appearance at the Coliseum. The moving, exhaust-spewing “Chevy at the levy” followed by the outline of the U.S. and fluttering flag…some of the best pieces from the Ken Dye era, wonderfully performed. You brought a huge portion of the crowd, USC fans included, onto their feet. Bravo.  And kudos also for a never-die spirit that played on despite the score. You truly exemplified Irish spirit.

The USC Band…not so much. A truly tasteless halftime show chided the ND Band for not appearing in LA the past 35 years, during which the USC band traveled to South Bend.  As if the current ND band members had anything to do with it. Here they gave up Thanksgiving weekend with their families, traveled into a fairly dangerous area and played their hearts out – and then get mocked by their so-called hosts.

 

Friday, November 28, 2008
When You Know You’ve Had Enough

Turnout for the ND Pep Rally at the hotel was pretty strong.  (For possibly the only time all weekend, there were more ND fans than ballroom-dancing enthusiasts in the Anaheim Marriott). A spirited gathering, with folks eager to hear several former Irish stars talk of their days on campus, and how ND will rise again. Afterwards, we meet three young (20-somethng) ND fans, one of whom is raving about “Loyal Sons” – quoting accurately from memory. Telling his buddy it’s a must-read to understand what Irish football means. Thanks, my friend. I’m humbled at the effect the book has had on you. We go on to dissect the various elements of where the program currently stands. One of the three boldly predicts a glorious ND victory tomorrow. We decide everyone’s had their limit, and head upstairs.

Thursday, November 27, 2008
Happy Turkey Day!

An unusual Thanksgiving.  Well, at least for someone used to a Midwest, home-cooked turkey feast. For some reason (still being on Central time, maybe?) we found ourselves among the first customers as the bar at the Anaheim Marriott opened at 11 a.m. Hey, it was a holiday right? A little football on the TV, and football talk with fellow patrons.  One of them provides an interesting take on ND’s woes, with a definite slant on a prominent Irish player from the LA area. Not particularly flattering. Next year, we tell him, things could look a whole lot different.  Hope I’m not just blowing smoke.

A New Orleans style turkey dinner at Brennan’s in Downtown Disney made the day.


Sunday, November 23, 2008
Every Emotion in One Day

What a totally strange, surreal, wonderful, awful, memorable day. No doubt about it -- Saturday, 11/22/08 was one for the books.

We purposely set up no signings or other activities promoting “Loyal Sons” this weekend, wanting to keep the focus on our family celebration honoring the last time one of our daughters (Liz ’09) would march on the turf of Notre Dame Stadium as a student member of the Band of the Fighting Irish.  One last Friday afternoon marchout from the Dome, a final practice, Pep Rally, Concert on the Steps, March to the Stadium.  And of course the “final bow” with the playing of Notre Dame Our Mother at the conclusion of halftime. The camcorder would be running. The tears, after six seasons of being proud ND Band parents, would hopefully be held in check. No promises on that.

Saturday started with something of a surprise – Joe Doyle’s excellent review of “Loyal Sons” in the South Bend Tribune – (read here).  And it ended with our hosts in Granger, Bill and Claudia Toelke, excitedly informing us that, during the NBC telecast of the game, Tom Hammond and Pat Haden had talked about Rockne’s “shock troops” maneuvers…that they had read about in “Loyal Sons.”

All good. And it would have been a perfect day – even with the biting wind and six inches of leftover snow – had the Irish been able to simply close out a perfunctory dispatching of 2-8 Syracuse. Yes, 2-8 Syracuse, led by fired head coach Greg Robinson. We saw Robinson and the Orange shuffling single-file past the Main Building and the Basilica Friday afternoon – looking like just another group of tourists.  Quiet. Respectful.  Seemingly resigned to be the window dressing on an Irish celebration Saturday.

How they suddenly became winners will mystify Irish faithful for years to come. Down by 13 – allowed to score. Down by 6.  “Somebody make a play” we exhort the ND defense. This is Senior Day. Against Syracuse. This can’t be real. This can’t be happening.

Daughter Liz: “The saddest thing is my final memory of the Stadium will be marching out for the last time, in tears, having to see that score on the scoreboard.” Syracuse 24, Notre Dame 23. 

The relatives we had in for the game couldn’t really grasp how gut-wrenching it was. “Well, at least it was an exciting game,” one tried to console. “No, no, no,” I reply. “This is horrible in so many ways. It wrecks a good bowl trip. It’ll bring out all the haters. The focus will be Charlie’s job, not the team improving from last year. What an awful end for the seniors.”

Looking forward to the day when Fighting Irish spirit again simply refuses to lose a game like Saturday’s.


Wednesday, November 5, 2008
Will We Again Start to Value Education?

No matter what the next four years bring – and the challenges facing Barack Obama will be enormous – it is good to take a moment today and celebrate not just the breaking of the “Presidential color barrier” as it were, but also this: we will have a President who speaks clearly and eloquently, who seeks ideas, and most importantly, who values the primacy of education.

Only by dedication to quality education, by his extended family, did the President-elect reach this moment. Let it be a reminder to all – education, from preschool to post-graduate, is what makes a society work.


Thursday, October 2, 2008
Proud Hometowns Celebrate A Pair of 'Horsemen'

During the time I spent doing research for the book, “Loyal Sons,” and now during the process of getting out and promoting the book, I am gratified by those who are interested in the story, and the connection they feel to it.  Today, I met a whole bunch of such folks during my stop in Defiance, Ohio.

Three interviews on three radio stations set up ND fan extraordinaire Rick Small started the day. By the time I was set up at Kissner’s Restaurant at noontime, local residents were nearly lining up to get a signed copy and chat a little about Defiance’s contribution to that memorable 1924 Irish team – Four Horseman Don Miller.

The afternoon reading and signing at the Defiance Public Library brought another round of interested readers. We actually ran out of books; but nobody complained as they placed their orders, to be shipped next week. I guess for a story written 84 years after the fact, another few days isn’t a big deal.

But the pride over one of their own was palpable, as it was earlier in the week at a speaking engagement in Massillon, Ohio, which gave us Four Horseman quarterback Harry Stuhldreher.

And it reminded us again of the importance of honoring our histories.


Friday, September 5, 2008
Launching “Loyal Sons”                       

An amazing day. What a great turnout of friends, supporters and especially numerous relatives of the 1924 Irish, for the launch of our book, “Loyal Sons: The Story of The Four Horsemen and Notre Dame Football’s 1924 Champions.”

Thanks to the staff of the Hammes Notre Dame Bookstore, especially Kristin Blitch and Kevin Gibley, in setting up an excellent book-launch reception in the Café of the Bookstore. It was a perfect venue for reading from the book, answering questions and signing books.

It was a pleasure meeting so many players’ relatives. The many Kizers and Templins, relatives of both right guard Noble Kizer and right tackle Edgar “Rip” Miller (who married sisters from Elkhart, Indiana) are unique in that they’re related to two of the “Seven Mules.”

For a full report, take a look at the story headlined “LOYAL SONS Book Release Brings Together Players’ Relatives.”


Friday, August 22, 2008
ND Grads and the Journey to Adulthood

It was five years ago this month, on a warm Sunday afternoon, when my wife Joanne and I were sitting with our older daughter Kerry, along with about 50 other recently-graduated high school seniors and their parents, in an auditorium at Our Lady of Grace Catholic Church in Edina, Minnesota. It was the Notre Dame Club of Minnesota’s annual send-off event, and there was a palpable sense of anticipation and excitement in the air. All of us were just days away from launching our children into their Notre Dame experience.

Shortly after settling into our seats, I noticed the tall, well-built young man with curly blond hair with his parents, in the row just in front of us. I was clued into ND football recruiting enough to reasonably guess to myself… that’s got to be John Carlson, the big tight end from Litchfield.

A little while later, I noticed across the room a prospective lineman I correctly identified as Ryan Harris, from Cretin-Derham Hall in St. Paul. Later, I spotted a gregarious fellow who I guessed to be Trevor Laws, the state champion wrestler from Apple Valley who was also to be among the freshman linemen at ND.

And here we are five years later, with Ryan Harris already established after a year with the Denver Broncos; John Carlson making a strong bid to play and possibly start at TE for the Seattle Seahawks, and Trevor Laws on track to stick with the Philadelphia Eagles.

Of course, they all have their Notre Dame degrees, as well as several honors and awards picked up along the way. Carlson wrote an eloquent “goodbye letter” for the Notre Dame Magazine, (Winter 2007, pg. 4-5) in which he recaps his time at ND:

“Coming in as an 18-year-old kid, you don’t fully know all the changes you’ll go through as a person, as a student and as a player because of this place. I’ve made friends I’ll cherish forever, I’ve learned a great deal in the classroom, and I learned lessons through all sorts of social interaction out of the classroom… this is truly a unique place…Even though I’ll never wear our famed gold helmet again, I’ll also never stop bleeding blue and gold for Our Lady.”

Well said.

Oh, and about that other 18-year-old I sat with on that Sunday five years ago? Well, after an amazing four years at ND, which included marching across the nation with the Band of the Fighting Irish, playing flute with the Notre Dame Symphony at Carnegie Hall, a semester in Rome and a host of other life-changing experiences, Kerry Lefebvre graduated summa cum laude and Phi Beta Kappa, and is now enrolled in a Ph.d. program in classical languages at the University of Wisconsin.

What an amazing ride it’s been. Thanks, Notre Dame.

 

 

            

Ramblings
One observer's
thoughts on ND,
sports...and life

 

 

2011 Irish
Schedule & Results

Sept. 3 S. FLORIDA L, 20-23
Sept. 10 @Michigan L, 31-35
Sept. 17 MICH. ST. W, 31-13
Sept. 24 @Pittsburgh W, 15-12
Oct. 1 @Purdue W, 38-10
Oct. 8 AIR FORCE W, 59-33
Oct. 15 -- --
Oct. 22 USC L, 17-31
Oct. 29 NAVY W, 56-14
Nov. 5 @Wake Forest W, 24-17
Nov. 12 Maryland (FedEx) W, 45-21
Nov. 19 BOSTON C. W, 16-14
Nov. 26 @Stanford L, 14-28
Dec. 29 Florida St. (Champs Sports Bowl) L, 14-18

 

(All times Eastern)


2010 Irish
Schedule & Results

Sept. 4 Purdue W, 23-12
Sept. 11 Michigan L, 24-28
Sept. 18 @MSU L, 31-34
Sept. 25 Stanford L, 14-37
Oct. 2 @BC W, 31-13
Oct. 9 Pittsburgh W, 23-17
Oct. 16 W.Mich. W, 44-20
Oct. 23 Navy
(M'lands)
L, 17-35
Oct. 30 Tulsa L, 27-28
Nov. 13 Utah W, 28-3
Nov. 20 Army (NYC) W, 27-3
Nov. 27 at USC W, 20-16
Dec. 31 Miami (Sun Bowl) W, 33-17

(All times Eastern)


Schedule of Events
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