This week in Things People Forget about Notre Dame Fighting Irish football: a trip deep back into the Davie years, an inauspicious debut by a big name and the only good fan-made Notre Dame song.
Bob Davie Swept a Home-and-Home with the LSU Tigers
Bob Davie’s tenure was a picture of mediocrity, buoyed at the best of times by the fact that he worked with pretty talented rosters capable of competing with good teams even when they were having a bad season. This led to them achieving results that would seem unthinkable at later stages in Notre Dame’s late ‘90s-’00s wilderness years. Case in point: in 1997 a 4-5 Irish team walked into Death Valley and scored a resounding victory over a no. 11 LSU Tigers team that would go on to win the SEC West Title (and actually beat Notre Dame in an Independence Bowl rematch).
A year later, Jarious Jackson’s no. 10 Irish toppled the Tigers on Senior Day in South Bend, earning a sweep of the regular season home-and-home interrupted only by a bowl loss. 10 years later it would be impossible to imagine the Irish, who almost escaped the back half of the aughts without a Top 25 win, pulling off this feat - an amazing and depressing testament to how much the game and program changed in that time.
Nate Montana Got Meaningful Minutes against Michigan
Speaking of that low point, let’s talk about a time when the yearly battle against the Michigan Wolverines was temporarily left in the hands of Nate Montana. In a tribute to his father’s legacy, Nate walked on at Notre Dame but was never expected to be a major contributor - in fact, he temporarily left the program for the 2009 campaign before returning for Brian Kelly’s first season in South Bend. But an injury to Dayne Crist and an...inauspicious debut by Tommy Rees forced Montana into action in the first half, with the Irish and Wolverines tied 7-7.
The results weren’t great - Montana threw an interception and never led a scoring drive - but Montana did complete a deep pass to Theo Riddick that landed the Irish in the Michigan red zone with three seconds left in the half and probably should have resulted in a field goal attempt. Montana was removed when Crist returned at half with the Irish down 21-7 and he never saw meaningful action again, but his marginally better performance compared to Rees in this game actually led some Irish fans to (unwisely, in retrospect) demand he start in place of Rees later in the year. Just another insane moment emanating from late-Weis-era roster management.
“South Bend, Indiana”
You remember Freekbass, regrettably. You may remember Notre Dame’s more recent, earnest-but-cringey attempt at producing a fan-made spirit video. But you probably don’t remember the only fan-made Notre Dame song worth remembering, which I have linked below:
Is this great music? Not really, but while it is profoundly silly - shots of hard-posturing rappers and their entourages are interspersed with footage of kids playing football at tailgates - it doesn’t make me cringe so hard I pinch a nerve, which means I can enjoy it.