So many good responses from the latest blogpoll ("It's All About the Rivalry"). Be sure to check out the listed comments plus the trackbacks for some quality edification and trash talk. I learned a lot about rivalries at other schools. Most of the time we're focused on our own team with laserlike precision, so it's nice to take a look around at the other squabbles that make college football such a wonderfully detailed tapestry of scorn and hilarity.
For instance, I learned BC doesn't apologize for their boorishness when in South Bend; nay, they celebrate it. I learned the Tennessee mascot once pooped on the Auburn sideline. I learned the trophy for the winner of the Iowa State-Missori game is a freaking telephone. I learned that the hills are alive with the sound of song boys. Great, great stuff. Here's some selected highlights:
Cheap Seats (Texas Tech)
Two years later, Tech upset A&M in Lubbock again, and again the fans in tore down the goal post. Unfortunately, the fans decided to deposit it in the visiting fans section of Jones Stadium and a riot ensued in between the A&M fans and Tech fans. Among the spectators for A&M was the chief of staff for Governor Rick Perry, who got punched in the melee and blamed it on a Lubbock resident. Later it was discovered on videotape that Perry's chief of staff got hit by a fellow Aggie.
The DJL Zone (Bowling Green)
I despise Toledo with every fiber of my being. From their tolerance of football players beating the crap out of actual students at parties, to their ghetto eyesore of a campus, to that freaking guy who screams "FIRST DOWN ROCKETS!" over the Ass Bowl's PA system every time they gain ten yards, as if the fans should respond by storming the field and tearing down the goalposts. They tried that. Didn't work out so well. And after watching BG play the single worst quarter in the history of its football program last year in the third quarter of the Toledo game, I can honestly say that beating them 90-0 this year wouldn't be enough. Toledo must be destroyed. Salt the Earth, wipe them off the map.
TAMU & Baseball (Texas A&M)
In recent years, the texas tech game has been quite heated because they're the most disrespectful fans in the conference. Most Aggies refuse to consider this a rivalry game because tech is....well....tech. My old roommate, a starting LBer for the Ags in the late 90s-2000, said that the fans would throw batteries at the players and they slashed the tires on the team bus so they couldn't leave after the game. Their fans (ages 8-60) have been known to spit and cuss at Aggie fans who venture out up to lubbock every other year.
Every Day Should Be Saturday (Florida)
Florida State is a cardiac serious one, and probably the consensus pick for the Gator fan’s Moriarty/Voldemort/Lundberg of choice. They make it worse by beating us most of the time and patting players on the head while they steal the colostomy bags off senior citizens. (We’ve always wondered what Randy Moss really did to get kicked out there; sure, it was weed. We bet he shot a hapless fratboy in the face in broad daylight for scuffing his kicks and yelled “Riverside, motherf---er!” after he did it.) We just puked typing that, so that must be close.
Bruins Nation (UCLA)
We really have only other rival in mind. And, we are looking at straight at you, BGS. UCLA's only other football rival should be none other than ND. It makes sense, considering what we have going in hoops. UCLA football v. ND football, should have the same relationship between ND hoops v. UCLA hoops. This is a rivalry waiting to happen, and thankfully it will get started soon - like next year. Hopefully it will be someone like Dan Hawkins or Mike Leach leading the Bruin charge into South Bend, not Dorrell. BTW, Cal thinks they are our rivals, but who gives a flying f--- about a bunch of hippies from Bezerkley.
Boi from Troy (USC)
New rivalry? South Carolina. USC vs. USC. Cocks versus Trojans. The metaphors would be endless--and, perhaps, the winner would get to call themself USC for the next year.
1000 Movies (Alabama)
I can be friends with AU fans, I can watch them on TV and have no problem rooting for them if they play someone I dislike or their winning will help The Tide, but when it comes time to play them I want them beaten, and beaten badly. Tennessee is a different story. I hate Tennessee with every fiber of my being. The recent sanctions and Fulmer's Henry Hydeesque participation with the NCAA has only furthered that hatred. The sight of their particular brand of orange is like putting a red flag in front of a bull for an Alabama fan. So that's probably the most hated of rival, though I'd still say Auburn is enemy #1.
Best trophy: Does it have a grandiose name resembling that of a medieval knight? Check. Would it look natural on the mantle of the crazy old lady in the neighborhood with 100 cats? Check. Is it absolutely, completely ridiculous in every way? Check. Does it remind you of bratwurst, tailgate food of the gods? Check. Ladies and gentlemen, I present Minnesota and Iowa's Floyd of Rosedale to you:
If you have a moment, check out all the responses; there's a ton of great material there, some wonderful blogs to read, some terrific writing and some incisive wit.
So, now we get to answer our own questions.
1. Who's your rival?
This is easy: Southern Cal. In our eyes, there's no greater rivalry than the Irish-Trojan tilt. It's been going on for what seems like thousands of years in an epic clash befitting Athens versus Sparta, Rome versus Carthage, or Irish students versus the SBPD. ND has played Southern Cal 76 times (more than any other opponent not named Navy) and 59 years straight, interrupted only by WWII. ND leads the series 42-29-5.
Macor tells me there have been 16 times that both teams were ranked in the top 10; 29 games where both teams were ranked in the top 20; and 18 games where ND or Southern Cal was ranked either #1 or #2. The games have featured thirteen Heisman winners, countless All-Americans, and at least a score of eventual National Champion teams (depending on how you measure such things). I think it's safe to say no rivalry in football has produced the sheer number of accolades as ND-Southern Cal. (Nope, not even Michigan-Ohio State).
Rockne and Southern Cal administrator Gwynn Wilson started the series back in 1926 (a 13-12 nailbiter in the Coliseum with 100,000+ people on hand) as a way to gain national exposure for both schools, and the matchup since then has featured dozens of classic battles. Some are well-known by Irish and Trojan fans alike by a simple moniker: the Green Jersey game. The Anthony Davis game. The Comeback. The Eric Penick game. And the illustrious array of football greats who distinguished themselves in this game is seemingly endless: McKay, Montana, the Juice, Allen, Parseghian, Fertig, Brown, Haden, Rice, Leinart, Holtz, Stams, Bush, Carney, White, Browner (Ross and Joey), Palmer.
I could go on and on about Southern Cal-Notre Dame. The tradition is just that rich.
2. How will we fare against Southern Cal this year?
Seeing as we've dropped the last three by thirty-one points apiece, I'm going to have to say...no comment. Teds picked up the ball:
We're going to give them a hell of a game. The stern tests we'll get over the first five games of the year and the bye week immediately before are going to be of incalculable value to Weis and the team. If we don't beat them, it's going to be awfully close. As of today, I believe we'll pull it off.Man, I hope you're right.
3. If you could start up a new rivalry with another team, who would it be?
We had a little roundtable of our own on this question, and the team that kept coming up again and again was Alabama. Two storied programs, two tremendous histories, and some great clashes already. We've only played the Tide six times, but it seems like each one of those games was a classic, and amazingly, only one team out of those six matchups wasn't ranked at the time. Four of the six featured two top-10 teams squaring off.
The very first meeting was in the 1973 Sugar Bowl, and that game has to go down as one of the best title games every played. Third-ranked ND versus #1 Alabama. The Bear versus Ara. In a battle that saw the lead change hands six times, the Irish came from behind to win 24–23 on a late field goal.
As another intersectional rivalry along the lines of Southern Cal, it'd be great to rekindle a series with the Crimson Tide. I think it would have tremendous national appeal as well.
4. Best rivalry in the country?
There are a lot of great ones, but we're going to go with the Iron Bowl. It's just so heated, so nasty, and so provincial. It divides a state, neighborhoods and families, pitting cousins against cousins and fathers against sons. As the Tigers' equipment manager Frank Cox once said, "The best thing about this game is also the worst thing about this game. It's too important to too many people." It's a rivalry so deep and scarred that it was suspended for 40 years for fear that it would tear the state apart. We love it.
5. Best (and worst) rivalry trophy?
There were a lot of potential winners and losers in this category found on the rivalry cribsheet, but one in particular caught our eye, and it qualifies simultaneously as the best and the worst: Montana and Montana State duke it out each year for something called the Grizzly-Bobcat Trophy:
Close to 3 feet high, about 31/2 feet long and 2 feet wide, the bronze depicts a grizzly bear and a bobcat grasping the side of a craggy mountain in an attempt to reach the football that sits on top.A grizzly bear and a bobcat fighting over a football? That's outstanding. If anybody has a picture of this thing, we've gotta see it.
But it’s not easy to pick out either animal at first glance and each time you examine the piece, more details, like claw marks on the front, are revealed.
“You have to study it to see the detail,” said Jones.
Once again, thanks to all the BlogPollers for their great responses, and we'll see you all in Week 1 for the first vote.