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Things People Forget About Notre Dame Football: Cursed Calls, Proto-Memes and a Very Weird W

Smatterings of amusing anecdotes

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

One of my favorite Instagram follows is a page simply titled People Forget, which periodically posts amusing factoids about a broad spectrum of topics - sports, history, pop culture and more. Its moniker is meant to mimic the start of a sentence recalling one of these tidbits, as in, “People forget that...” etc. A representative sample:

In the time-to-kill spirit of the offseason, I’ve decided to mine my extensive, unjustifiable storehouse of Notre Dame Fighting Irish football knowledge - mostly from the last 20 years or so, to be fair - and deliver a few similar nuggets to the OFD faithful on a semi-regular basis (i.e. in weeks where I don’t have anything else to write about). Let’s kick it off:

You Might Have Forgot...

Bob Davie cursed Michigan State

Bob Davie was not a good coach at Notre Dame, but he did manifest one of the best moments in another coach’s tenure when he called the 2006 matchup between Charlie Weis’ Irish and the Michigan State Spartans. You probably remember this game, which featured the Irish coming back from a 31-14 deficit to win, 40-37, on Terrail Lambert’s pick-six, and prompted the legendary “PUCKER PUCKER PUCKER” rant from Mike Valenti.

What you may have forgotten was that that moment was spoken into existence seconds before it happened by Davie. On that critical third down with Spartans up 37-33, Davie offered some sage insights on what plays would and wouldn’t be advantageous for Notre Dame to see them run:

BAM. Lambert out of nowhere. Whatever bad juju Davie carried with him as Notre Dame’s head man, he came through for us on this one.

#10 With The Long Hair

2007 was such a cursed season for Notre Dame that even one of their few wins, a season-ending road victory against the Stanford Cardinal, featured a number of utterly enraging moments. The most infamous is the following clear - and glorious - catch by David Grimes, which was inexplicably overturned upon further review:

Most Irish fans recall this moment with great pain, but ESPN’s coverage of it did spawn one of my favorite fan images ever as the camera panned over the crowd. The commentator noted it at the time, and I think this image sums up that era of Irish football pretty well:

If it happened in a Notre Dame-Stanford matchup five-ten years later, with real stakes, competent Irish and Cardinal teams and a more developed meme culture in college football, this moment would have been the talk of the nation: an unforgivable flub by the officials that shaped the championship landscape. In that context Confused Metalhead Notre Dame Fan would have become an instant classic, standing proudly alongside his brethren Sad Virginia Fan and Shocked Michigan Fan. Alas, the world was not ready for his greatness.

Ty Willingham Got a Top-10 Road Win A Month Before He Was Fired

The weird thing about Tyrone Willingham’s short-lived tenure was that while it was a genuine disaster, it also had some pretty great highs. Case in point: in 2004 an unranked Irish team that would finish 6-5 in the regular season, fire said coach and lose the Insight Bowl to the Oregon State Beavers went on the road in November and knocked off a ninth-ranked Tennessee Volunteers squad that would go on to win the SEC East and the Cotton Bowl.

Lisa actually covered this one in a Throwback Thursday post a few years back, but I thought it was worth highlighting again here because it is so little remembered, and was so profoundly strange. Notre Dame got the kind of win that has eluded some of its best teams in recent memory in a season where the Irish netted a .500 finish, led by a coach who was out by Christmas. College football, ladies and gentlemen.

Did I forget a thing people forget? Leave it in the comments!