Cavernous mountains of dirty, grey snow in the Joyce Center parking lot are slowly melting away. The gloomy, omnipresent South Bend permacloud has been eclipsed by…wait, what is that? The sun? And the weather is so mild that hoards of hungry students are now comfortable enough to extend the line outside of the Eddy Street Commons Chipotle down the entire block. It’s spring in South Bend, Indiana which means that for one, glorious day, football is back.
The annual spring football game is a bigger tease than your [REDACTED]. It convinces diehard football fans into believing that for one shining spring day, it’s actually (almost) football season. The truth, though? It’ll be over 140 days until Notre Dame opens the season against Temple on September 2nd.
There is not a more depressing and truly miserable time to live in South Bend than the seemingly year-long gap between Syllabus Week and Spring Break. The doldrums of winter, when the only thing to do is look outside your window every morning, cry at the amount of snow piled on your car, complain about the weather to any and all who listen, and end up drinking flat beer at the same trashy bar for the tenth Wednesday in a row.
So, when suddenly you notice a football game creeping up on your weekend planner, it feels better than traipsing up to the bar at the ‘Backer and flashing the bartender your free drink coupon.
Notre Dame’s spring games have been particularly interesting over the past couple seasons. In 2015, the Notre Dame Fighting Irish were fresh off of an exciting Music City Bowl victory against LSU, where Quarterback Malik Zaire wowed fans with the win and his emotional post-victory interview. Irish fans watched with bated breath, wondering how Brian Kelly was going to handle the quarterback competition between Zaire and returning starter Everett Golson. As the story goes, Golson ended up transferring and Zaire was named starter. But during spring 2015? Man, there was some drama.
Similarly, this past spring, Irish Quarterbacks Malik Zaire and DeShone Kizer were the center of attention in the spring game, both vying for the starting position. The game took place in April, was broadcast on NBC, and boasted about 28,000 fans in attendance. Sure, that’s nothing compared to Ohio State or Georgia’s spring games, but with a student body of about 6,000 (many of whom were basking in the spring weather errr...off-campus), 28,000 is not too bad!
The spring games are a great way for the Irish to show off new, young talent and give us fans that offseason football entertainment that we need. This year, there is no such quarterback drama, as the Irish are expected to start redshirt Sophomore Brandon Wimbush in 2017. He will be flanked by a lot of exciting returning talent at WR including Kevin Stepherson and Equinameous St. Brown. The two already seem to be excited for next season.
What else might we expect? For starters, we’ll definitely see what condition the new stadium renovations are in. Maybe that 96 foot video board will have been installed? We’ll also see some early enrollees from the 2017 Signing Class run through the tunnel in their uniforms for the first time. We’ll get a taste for a brand new coaching staff. And we hope to see the Irish putting their
embarrassing, horrible, pathetic, disappointing 4-8 season in the past and looking ahead to fall 2017.
What is the biggest expectation, however?
That’s obvious. It’s that we’ll get our hopes up that football season is almost here, even though…its not. Not even close.