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It’s Time for Notre Dame to Ditch the Leprechaun and Bring Back Clashmore Mike

Pat Rick finally gets around to answering a reader’s tough question about bringing back the terrier that started it all

NCAA Football: Wake Forest at Notre Dame
Nov 4, 2017; South Bend, IN, USA; The Notre Dame Leprechaun cheers during the second quarter of the game between the Notre Dame Fighting Irish and the Wake Forest Demon Deacons at Notre Dame Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matt Cashore-USA TODAY Sports
Matt Cashore-USA TODAY Sports

Ladies and gentlemen, I meant to get some of these published way earlier in the summer, but having a job and going to 1,000 weddings has, unfortunately, really cut into my nonsense-writing time.

To help inject a little spirited discussion into this otherwise lethargic time that has been the off-season, I reached out to the ever-reliable Twitter and Facebook communities a few months ago for some fun article ideas to keep me out of trouble.

The suggestions sent to me were solid, as they ranged from investigative reports on the songs the Fighting Irish marching band always seems to play, to demands for player/dorm comparisons to Game of Thrones and Harry Potter characters.

If you have ever read anything I’ve written, this kind of pure, unadulterated poppycock is right up my alley. Over this final month of the off-season, I intend on publishing some of these important bits of journalism to tide us all over prior to Labor Day Weekend.

This Week’s Piece

“Make a Case to Bring Back Clashmore Mike”

- Joseph Gadient

The Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show - 2015 Photo by: Dave Kotinsky/USA Network/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images

Folks, I bet Joe thought he was tossing me a tough sell, asking me to argue that our beloved leprechaun be replaced by a breed of dog that, at maximum, can stand roughly 20 inches tall at the withers.*

*Pat Rick Note: Today I learned the term “at the withers” to refer to the height of an animal measured up to the “withers” of said animal, which is to say the ridge between the shoulder blades. I also learned that there’s a Wikipedia page specifically for shoulder blades, and it’s surprisingly fascinating.

Anyway, most of you are probably sitting there as you goof off at work and chuckling to yourself, knowing full well that you will NEVER agree that we should get rid of the current mascot.

You are about to be proven terribly, terribly wrong, with some HARD-HITTING facts and extremely poignant contentions from yours truly. Let’s dive in.

Terriers Are Simply Better at Football, Folks

This will be a quick one.

In the 53 years since Clashmore Mike was removed as the mascot, Notre Dame football has won 3 consensus national titles, which is good for 1 championship every 18 years.

NCAA Football: Notre Dame vs Syracuse Matt Cashore-USA TODAY Sports

In the prior 43 seasons, with the Irish Terrier as mascot, the Fighting Irish gridiron gang pumped out 8 titles (1 every 5.4 years).

Coaches Knute Rockne, Elmer Layden, and Frank Leahy combined to win a total of 239 games while losing only 36 and tying 17. That’s a win percentage of .848, you guys. That’s RIDICULOUS, and it’s no coincidence that Clashmore Mike and his predecessors oversaw such a dominant stretch, and not some goofy person pretending to be a bearded sprite from Irish folklore.

Clashmore Mike is Probably Haunting Us — It’s Time We Make Peace With His Restless Spirit

The most famous of Notre Dame’s terrier mascots, Clashmore Mike I (RIP in Peace) passed away in the fall of 1945, and was so beloved and such an integral part of the Notre Dame football program that he was afforded the singular honor of being buried under the turf of Notre Dame Stadium.

I think we’ve all seen enough TV/movies to understand that having any sort of building/structure on top of a burial ground is bad juju, and so it’s no wonder that since the Irish abandoned the Irish Terrier as a mascot, the national titles have certainly come less often.

There are no coincidences, folks. We’ve all seen Signs at this point.

Clashmore Mike is, I am 100% certain, haunting Notre Dame Stadium from his grave — unable to rest easy until we fix the mistake we made of taking away a very good boy as the ND mascot.

Unfortunately, I don’t think a simple exorcism of the Stadium will cover it. Clashmore Mike is too powerful.

Instead, our ONLY course of action moving forward has to be to reinstate Clashmore Mike’s descendant terriers as the Notre Dame mascot, and to hold an elaborate ceremony to announce that switch in a way that any and all small-dog spirits hear it, are appeased by it, and lift their curses on the ND football program.

With Multiple Leprechauns as Mascots, Notre Dame Doesn’t Have Any Mascot At All

In the spring, ND announced their latest Leprechaun lineup for the 2019-2020 year. It included THREE people who earned the role, including the first ever female Leprechaun.

THREE MASCOTS??? How are Irish fans supposed to rally behind a triumvirate of vertically-challenged Irish stereotypes?? How will we be able to do anything successfully or in a united fashion with more than one mascot to follow?

Oscar Martinez, an extremely wise accountant in Scranton, Pennsylvania, summed it up best when he spoke about having JUST TWO leaders to follow:

It just won’t work, you guys.

You know what they say: if you have three mascots, you don’t have one.

In The History of Sports, Dogs Reign Supreme Over Leprechauns

Let’s start this section by listing all of the famous leprechauns who have impacted the sports world, and what their accomplishments were:

  • The Notre Dame Leprechaun: not a real leprechaun, because leprechauns are fictional creatures...never accomplished anything except being a fraud and competing in push-up contests with opposing mascots
  • The leprechaun in the Boston Celtics logo: also not a real leprechaun, invalidating (for the purposes of this leprechaun contribution-measuring exercise) the many titles won by that franchise
  • The leprechaun in the Disney Channel Original Movie The Luck of the Irish: probably not a real leprechaun either. He did win a middle school basketball championship, I think? I’ve only seen it once so I can’t be certain. But that’s child’s play, literally.

Wow, incredible!

Now, let’s have a look at dogs who have done sports things:

  • Buddy in Air Bud — won a middle school basketball title
  • Buddy in Air Bud: Golden Receiver — won a middle school football title
  • Buddy in Air Bud Spikes Back — somehow manages to jump high enough to play volleyball and, ostensibly, to spike a volleyball
  • Buddy in Air Bud: Seventh Inning Fetch — won a World Series and World Series MVP
  • Buddy in Air Bud: World Pup — won a World Cup, making the match-sealing save during PKs
  • Hercules in The Sandlot: single-handedly collected every ball hit his way, meaning his fielding percentage was roughly 1.000
  • Petey in Little Rascals: Inspires Stymie in the opening scene to rob a home run with his hat
  • Cho Cho in Karate Dog (a 2004 straight-to-DVD movie starring Chevy Chase, Jon Voigt, Simon Rex, and Jaime Pressly): does karate, which is awesome and still sports!!!!
  • Every Bulldog, Wolf, Greyhound, Great Dane, Terrier, Hoya, Lobo, etc. that have served as REAL mascots for countless teams throughout the history of sport
NCAA Basketball: Seton Hall at Butler Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

There are probably other examples, but you get the point — dogs simply contribute more to sports than leprechauns ever could.

I’m Pretty Sure Leprechauns Aren’t Real

This was the only evidence I could find that maaaaaybe they could be real, but I HAVE also been drinking a lot of paint, so it’s hard to say:

Dogs ARE Real, And I Can Prove It With Random Getty Images

Best in Show – Crufts 2019 Photo by Christopher Furlong/Getty Images
Westminster Kennel Club Hosts Its Annual Dog Show In New York Photo by Sarah Stier/Getty Images
Westminster Kennel Club Hosts Its Annual Dog Show In New York Photo by Sarah Stier/Getty Images
Westminster Kennel Club Hosts Its Annual Dog Show In New York Photo by Sarah Stier/Getty Images
Westminster Kennel Club Hosts Its Annual Dog Show In New York Photo by Sarah Stier/Getty Images

I’m not positive that last one was definitely a dog, but you get the idea. Dogs are real, thus making them better, more relatable and intimidating mascots.

The Facts I Learned About Clashmore Mike Are Reason Enough to Make the Switch Back

Doing research for this article (my two sources, by the way, were the archives and this awesome website DEDICATED to Clashmore Mike), below is what I learned about Clashmore Mike and his fellow terrier mascots. You tell me whatcha think about these dogs being better mascots than leprechauns:

  • Tipperary Terrence II was held by Elmer Layden (you know, just one of the Four Horsemen) in the team photo before the 1925 Rose Bowl. One of the most legendary teams ever, with the most legendary backfield ever, loved him enough to hold him in their official team picture. Oh, and Layden scored 3 TDs in that game after taking that picture (THERE ARE NO COINCIDENCES)
  • ND football programs began to feature the terrier mascot from ‘36 to ‘49, including one where Knute Rockne himself is holding him. When was the last time you saw Brian Kelly cradling the ND Leprechaun in one of the football game programs?
  • Clashmore Mike I and his handler Dan Hanley essentially died together/at the same basic time, which is adorable
  • Clashmore Mike (a dog, might I remind you) had his own column in home football programs in ‘39 and ‘40 called “Says Clashmore Mike,” or “Over the Hurdle With Mike,” or “Clashmore Mike Column.” I NEED to read what he had to say.
The Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show - 2015 Photo by: Dave Kotinsky/USA Network/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images
  • In 1939, ’40 and ’41, Kamm’s Brewery ran advertisements in every football program with a drawing of an Irish Terrier. The ad read: “Thoroughbreds. A real thoroughbred dog is the Irish Terrier, the mascot of Notre Dame’s great football teams. A great thoroughbred beer is Kamm’s.” If Kamm’s was anything like Hamm’s, this is a SHINING reason for Irish Terriers to be considered the GOAT mascot for ND
  • Legend has it that if you listen and watch very closely at home football games when the leprechaun mascot dances over Mike’s grave below the turf, you can hear a low throaty growl, and the grass over the grave stands straight up
  • Coach Leahy wanted the Irish Terrier to take a more active part in the game, so he had the dog trained on a given command to run onto the field to delay the game and obtain another time out. He never really used it in a game situation, but just the fact he made sure it was an option is STUPENDOUS
  • Apparently over the years, Dan Hanley, Clashmore Mike’s handler, had problems with Clashmore Mike’s diet because students often fed him table scraps from the dining hall, and also candy. He at times failed to come back to the gym for his daily ration of dog food because the students fed him so much. If the ND Leprechauns ever fail to go to the dining hall because their fellow students won’t stop feeding them candy, please let me know — but I can pretty much confirm that has never been the case. The students just loved Clashmore Mike more.

The Leprechaun’s Name is Garbage Compared to ND’s Irish Terriers

Unless I’m mistaken, the ND Leprechaun does not have a cool/punny/alliterative name besides just “The Leprechaun.” That’s unimaginative and dull.

NCAA Football: Virginia Tech at Notre Dame Matt Cashore-USA TODAY Sports

Clashmore Mike, meanwhile, is an amazing name, reminiscent of “Prison Mike” (and inspiring the same fear and dread in opponents as that which dementors and gruel sandwiches inspire in prison inmates).

The names of the Irish Terrier mascots that came before him were spectacular as well:

  • Tipperary Terrence
  • Tipperary Terrence II (although, I will say I’m disappointed they didn’t go with “2 Tipperary 2 Terrence”)
  • Brick Top Shuan Rhu

As someone who places a high value on great names, I would know that this is an important advantage for Clashmore Mike in this argument.

The Leprechaun and the Fighting Irish Name Are Both PROBLEMATIC and Have Me TRIGGERED

As someone of very Irish descent, I am OFFENDED AS HELL that anyone would depict me as a bearded man prepared to defend himself, and I am INSULTED BEYOND BELIEF that I’d be associated with degenerate behavior like fighting.

I’ll have you know I’m a coward and have never been in a fight, thank you very much.

Potential Counter-Arguments from an Honest-to-God Former Leprechaun

I know this article has been pretty one-sided so far, and I want to make sure I have true journalistic integrity here, because this is a very serious and professional piece.

So, I sought out the viewpoint of former Notre Dame Leprechaun Joe Fennessy to answer some questions on this topic and potentially defend his former position. Here’s what I got from that.

Pat Rick: Are Leprechauns even real? Isn’t a beloved dog a better mascot than an imaginary, vertically-challenged Irish stereotype?

Joe: If Leprechauns aren’t real then ask the fine people of Mobile, Alabama what on Earth they saw. The amateur sketch says it all so let’s not get Max Kellerman all worked up again.

I won’t be commenting on the vertically-challenged accusation but I do believe that a good ole’ pup would be the proper partner in crime for the Leprechaun. When Michigan is nipping at our heels on their road to a winless season against rivals, it would won’t.

Pat Rick: Let’s be honest, do you even think it makes sense at this point to call this team the “Fighting Irish,” given the vast changes in demographic background of the team and student body?

Joe: I think the name “Fighting Irish” extends far beyond the original demographic of the university and is now a representation of the enduring spirit that makes the university so special. Every individual that walks through the tunnel of Notre Dame Stadium or steps place on the campus has the ability to leave their mark on the legacy of the “Fighting Irish.” The story is still being written.

NCAA Football: Miami at Notre Dame Matt Cashore-USA TODAY Sports

Pat Rick: Clashmore Mike is buried under the field. Do you think it’s fair to say that he has been haunting the program since Holtz, keeping ND from winning any more titles until the terrier is brought back as the mascot? Did you ever see his ghost in your time down on the turf, or hear of any spooky encounters?

Joe: Clashmore Mike was a 12/10 pupper and I hope he’s drinking all the Guinness his heart desires in heaven. I’m not one to believe in curses but I do believe that when Notre Dame beat Michigan 37-0, you could hear Clashmore Mike barking in celebration during the Pick-6. I can only imagine how loud he’ll bark this year so that the boys can hear him all the way in Ann Arbor.

Pat Rick: Were there ever times, as you donned your Leprechaun garb, when you thought to yourself, “Man, I wish I were dressed as a terrier right now”?

Joe: No, when I saw the way Bevo charged Ugga I knew that green was a better color on me.

Pat Rick: Would having Clashmore Mike have made a difference in the Cotton Bowl? I think he’s good for ~28 points, personally.

Joe: Clashmore Mike would have certainly made a difference. There are rumors that Trevor Lawrence is afraid of dogs so I think early on Clashmore Mike would have set the tone on the sidelines in Jerry World. Alabama, on the other hand, would have still been pummeled.

Pat Rick: Do you agree that a switch back to Clashmore Mike is the missing ingredient for Brian Kelly’s program?

Joe: Like I mentioned earlier, I think a partner in crime effort is most ideal. Notre Dame is knocking on the door to a National Championship and as they say, “hungry dogs run faster,” so perhaps we really do need a hound hungry for Natty.

Plus, College Station’s rule that class ends if Reveille (their Collie) barks during class would have gotten me out of plenty of tough situations.

NCAA Football: Southwest Classic-Arkansas vs Texas A&M Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

Pat Rick: Do you think the Leprechaun is the best option for Notre Dame’s mascot? If so, why, and if not, is the answer Clashmore Mike, or is there another mascot you think makes even more sense?

Joe: There isn’t a doubt in my heart. Love Thee and Go Irish

Let’s Conclude This

Well folks, there you have it. I presented some incredible points in favor of Clashmore Mike, and Leprechaun Joe presented some okay ones, I guess.

But I want to hear from you on this. BASED ON WHAT WAS PRESENTED IN THIS ARTICLE, do you think Notre Dame should get rid of the Leprechaun and bring back Clashmore Mike? Vote in the poll below, and please sound off in the comments. I want a diverse, heated-but-respectful, passionate debate to stem from this important article.


Should the Leprechaun be replaced with Clashmore Mike?

This poll is closed

  • 44%
    (143 votes)
  • 26%
    (86 votes)
  • 29%
    Undecided — I need more Clashmore Mike content
    (94 votes)
323 votes total Vote Now