"For those who have not been to Notre Dame, no explanation will suffice. For those who HAVE been to Notre Dame, no explanation is necessary"
-Coach Lou Holtz
This is it, y'all. The game we have been waiting for these last 25 years. I'm sure all of Notre Dame Nation(no, not THOSE guys, the fan base in general) is in a collective state of frenzy and completely amped for the next 8-9 hours. I know I am completely beyond myself and have been since those last seconds ticked off the clock following Max Wittek's incomplete pass to his fullback(HARRUMPH!) that sealed the Irish ticket to South Beach.
I'm always interested to hear the back stories of fellow Domers and I encourage you to leave a short explanation of your history with this team below. What follows is mine for your 'enjoyment'.
I have been a Fighting Irish fan for the better part of 25 years. I do have very vague memories of the '88 National Title game itself(ok, it wasn't that officially, but you know I'm talking about the Fiesta Bowl with WVU) but my most clear recollections of that season are from the Catholics vs Convicts game. Most likely it's because that game has ingrained itself so much in Irish lore that it is played over and over again among us fans and in the media. That day was a day we weren't REALLY supposed to win. Miami curbstomped us the year before 21-0. We had all the talent in the world, but due to a number of mental errors and not living up to expectations, the team faltered and eventually lost their bowl game to Texas A&M. It was a disappointing season with having the Heisman trophy winner on our roster and not being able to put a stamp of success on the season at the end.
However, the next year, in his third season, LOU resurrected the program and was finally able to garner the support of his players and coached them to realize and play to their full potential. He finally had complete buy-in to his mission and his style. With that as their driver as well as an electric QB with elite speed and a cannon arm, we were able to climb back to the top of the CFB world and claim our 11th and last national title. My memories of that season set in motion my passion, not just for the Irish but for all sports in general. It's interesting how ND has really become the bookend to my love of athletics. Rocket was my first sports idol and because of him and the '88 title run I became addicted to this game we all love.
As an Irish fan, I have lived at the pinnacle of the world but I have also dwelt in shadow and angst, like the rest of you. We are a collective breed of fans devoted to the Golden Dome. I am grateful for the early foundation that brought me together with this nation. I have never been ashamed to proclaim my love for the blue and gold and I am proud of THIS team and all our fans. On facebook, today, I read something that was very poignant. It was the daily status update for ND Football and it said simply: We Play for Each Other. To me, that is the epitome of the Irish Nation. Like no other fan base that I have seen, we fight for each other, we support each other, and this team PLAYS for each other.
Now is the time that we put away the numbers, we ignore the betting lines, we cast away the haters who say we don't have a prayer in this game. It's time that we show the world what we truly are: a team with heart, a team with desire, and a team that is truly one. Just like the transition from 1987-1988 we have overcome the challenges of under-performing. Just like in 1988, we have a coach who has become stitched into the fabric of the Notre Dame Spirit.
I was 6 years old the last time we won a national title. I have a son who will be 6 years old in a month. I pray that THIS team can deliver an impact to him that Tony Rice, Rocket Ismail, and Chris Zorich did for me. I would love nothing more than for him to have the same kinds of wonderful memories I was lucky enough to have thanks to that team.
Regardless of what happens tonight or what the final outcome of the game will be, I am sure everyone will join me in being proud of this group and what it has accomplished. We are not a team that is built solely to win games. We are not a team constructed to be distant from the students or the fan base. We are not a team that is focused only on sending players to the NFL. We are a team that is a family. We will fight for our own and we will win as one. I, for one, am damn proud to be called a GOLDEN DOMER!!
GO IRISH!!! BEAT BAMA!!