After an atrocious 4-8 record last year, Notre Dame is looking to bounce back after having their second-worst season in team history since 1963(!!!). ND will be losing a number of key contributors from last season, namely quarterbacks Deshone Kizer and Malik Zaire, Kizer being drafted by the Cleveland Browns and Zaire likely transferring to either Texas, Wisconsin, or Florida after recently graduating from Notre Dame. They will, however, still have the red-faced psychopath known as Brian Kelly angrily pacing the sidelines this upcoming season amid rumors he was on the hot seat for quite some time. He will be leading the way for a team that doesn’t appear to have helped itself out talent wise compared to last season, and with a schedule that isn’t shaped to be a walk in the park, it is starting to look more and more like there is going to be another bad season of ND football in South Bend this year.
To think it was only five seasons ago that Notre Dame went all the way to the National Championship in one of the most memorable seasons in Notre Dame history (capped off by getting absolutely dominated by Alabama and the whole fake dead girlfriend thing). I remember being a freshman in high school when Notre Dame won game after game of their undefeated 2012 regular season campaign. As a huge ND fan, I naturally tried to sneak Notre Dame football into every conversation possible, and I was either met with an agreement of how good they were playing from a fellow ND fan or being absolutely shit on by someone who hated Notre Dame, as there is really no in between. (Nationally it’s probably around 70% of people hate Notre Dame with 30% being ND fans, I went to Fenwick, so the percentage was probably more split right down the middle, if not leaning more towards Notre Dame). Because of this, a huge part of the college football storyline of 2012 was Notre Dame, which lead to both sides coming out in full force. For Notre Dame fans, there is nothing worse than a Notre Dame hater shitting on ND for “no reason” or “just being jealous they didn’t go there,” and for the other half, there is nothing worse than the obnoxious mass of disillusioned people that Notre Dame fans are.
Notre Dame being relevant in college football unites the whole country. Not because TV ratings go up or because of all the rivalries that mean more when Notre Dame is good or any other obvious reasons, but because people truly do come together to hate Notre Dame football and their fans. You don’t really need a real reason to hate Notre Dame or their fans, but you can have all the reasons in the world if you really want, too. Like I said earlier, I’m a pretty big Notre Dame fan: both my parents went there and my family has had season tickets every year since I’ve been born. What people have to understand is that Notre Dame football is really all Notre Dame has. Sure they could rub their great education in your face (which some do, admittedly) or even that they have pretty good basketball, but they know that they would just look like the biggest group of assholes if they did the first and they know that their basketball team never has an actual chance of winning a national championship no matter how sneaky good they are. Notre Dame is in South Bend, Indiana for christ sakes. One thing they can all rally around, however, is Notre Dame football. No matter how mediocre they are, they somehow always have a shot at winning it all and are almost always ranked in the preseason top 25 no matter how bad they are. And even if they do have a shitty season, last year being a prime example, they can always lean on names like Holtz, Rudy, and Rockne to high-horse themselves onto college football’s top pedestal.
With all of this being said, there really is nothing better in college football than Notre Dame having a good season. Notre Dame fans like myself can actually have something to be almost unhealthily happy about, and people who hate Notre Dame can unite to talk as much shit about them as they want.
One event in Notre Dame Football history that I think sums up this perfectly is Chicago Cubs great Jeff Samardzija’s game-winning touchdown catch against UCLA in 2006.
I mean Charlie Weis’ fat, chubby finger waving around should say it all here. Notre Dame barely beats a 7-6 football team and would later go on to get their asses handed to them by JAMARCUS RUSSELL(!!!) and LSU in the Sugar Bowl. Notre Dame had Brady Quinn, who won the Maxwell Award for the best player in college football that year and were seconds away from losing to a UCLA team that had no business winning against that kind of team. But Brady made the pass, Samardzija made a play, and the stadium filled with fanatic Notre Dame fans went absolutely crazy, because their beloved Fighting Irish got a win, and in their heads were one step closer to winning the national championship (even though in reality they just barely beat a pretty sub par team). I guarantee you the narrative of the entire week following that game was Notre Dame fans saying how amazing it was and Notre Dame haters shitting down their throats for it, just how college football should be. #MakeCollegeFootballGreatAgain