Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Notre Dame Football 101 | by Pete

(Ed. note: We're very proud to have Pete of MajorlyEnglish joining us this fall as a guest contributor to BGS. Pete's a senior at ND right now, and he'll be sending us dispatches from campus from time to time, in between classes and parties at Turtle Creek. To kick things off, here's a guide for all those fresh-faced, wide-eyed youths currently spilling across campus for the first time this fall. Enjoy.)

Dear Notre Dame Class of 2009 (you know, Freshmen),

As you and your parents pulled up to campus for the first time in your Toyota Siena, no doubt you felt overwhelmed, and perhaps a little frightened. Would you get along with your roommate? Can you handle the increased workload? Will you ever make any friends? Well, let me tell you, impressionable freshmen, all those are secondary to what should be your primary concern: football season. Yes, this Saturday, the golden helmets will explode onto the field of battle for another great season of Notre Dame football.

Maybe some of you have older siblings that have shown you the ropes in regards to Notre Dame football. Perhaps even a few of you have been smuggled into the student section to see a game. However, you will always make those mistakes during football season that place the neon-flashing FRESHMAN sign on your back. Just like that girl you hooked up with at TC that has a really nice personality, it’s inevitable.

The morning of that first home game, you wake up, struggling to settle your Dis-Oriented mind, hearing people already cheering outside. These weekends are precious. What do you do to make the most of them, and more importantly, how do you not look like an idiot in the stadium?

I give you the Freshman Football Guide. As a senior at Notre Dame, I will let you know how to handle yourself during football season. It’s not just going to stadiums and screaming until you’re hoarse; it’s much more complex than that. So, sit down, turn off your five-channel television, and enjoy.

  • Classes after two o’clock on Fridays should be avoided like the Hanta virus. Not only will you be stuck listening to your Calc professor while the campus is slowly stirring to life, but you’ll slowly learn to hate everyone around you who doesn’t have to.

  • Road trip, road trip, road trip. At least once in your college career, pile you and your buddies into a car and go to basically anywhere you can reach on a full tank of gas. Michigan, Michigan State, and Purdue trips are mandatory. Not only do you get to see another stadium, engage in some friendly jawing with opposing fans, and generally make a scene when your team wins in their house, but you also get a newfound appreciation for Notre Dame’s campus every time you return.

  • Pep rallies are a blast, but remember, you’re there for a purpose: to make noise. Cheer the players, applaud the speakers, salute the coach, but be sure to stay energetic, no matter what.

  • Another note on pep rallies: Chuck Lennon is always like that. He just is.

  • If you want to, buy this year’s “The Shirt.” Support the charity, it’s a good cause, but keep that pee rag out of the stadium. Opt for an old school jersey, former “The Shirts,” or just go naked. Anything but that “The Shirt.”

  • On Saturday mornings, stay away from the dining halls. Not only will they be overwhelmingly crowded with the influx of visitors to campus, these visitors will have no idea how to navigate through the aisles of food. If you do go for breakfast, be prepared to see 8-year olds spilling waffle batter, moms standing idly around while they crane their necks searching for their families, as dads futilely look for that damn grapefruit. And besides, your only sources of sustenance before the game should exclusively be prepared outdoors, and consist of either meat, cheese, or meat with cheese on it.
  • Rub Rockne’s nose. If you don't know what I'm talking about, find out. It’s good luck for you, for me, and for the football team.
  • Here’s an important thing to note: know when your family is coming in for games, because their presence will drastically alter your pre-game plans. If they’re coming in to town, do all the touristy things. See the team leave Mass, watch the Irish Guard inspection, listen to the band before the step off Bond Hall, eat a steak sandwich on South Quad. Trust me, if you don’t do these things with your family, you’ll never get around to doing them, and everyone should see them all at least once.

  • Now, if your parents aren’t coming to town for the game, do the studenty things. Wander around the JACC parkings lots, and go to tailgates. Great fun to be had there.

  • With that in mind, I’m not going to tell you how to live your life, but if you choose to live it with Natty Light prominently involved, be very careful at tailgates. People get in trouble with the SBPD at these tailgates, even when people are with their families. There’s really no way to avoid it, so if that’s a risk you’re not willing to take, stay sober or stay away from the parking lots. Also, some guy punched a police horse there last year. So stay vigilant, and keep an eye out for thirty-five-year-old undercover narcs posing as students. When they ask for a beer, they don't want to share in the fun: they're there to bust you.

Now, onto the really important stuff, Inside the Stadium:

  • First the basics, cheer when we’re on defense, be quiet when we’re on offense. Got it? Good.

  • Whenever the defense is on the field in a 3rd down situation, those are often dubbed “key plays.” As such, the student body tends to shake keys on those plays, because it’s very clever. However, shaking keys is ONLY acceptable if it is a byproduct of your entire body convulsing as you force as much sound from your larynx as possible.
  • A Note about Noise: Noise should start when the opponents are in their huddle calling the play because there's always some guy in there thinking mostly about sex or partying and only peripherally about the game and will miss his assignment or the snap count if there's lots of noise. Noise should continue until the ball is snapped, but it is a waste of your vocal chords to yell after the play has begun. St. Mary's chicks have a tendency to continue yelling until they are told the play is over.
  • TV timeouts are usually 1 minute 30 seconds and sometimes 2 minutes long, so don't waste your voice by screaming at the top of your lungs during the time-out. Watch the guy on the sideline. Affectionately called "Oven Mitts," this referee wears bright orange gloves, and his presence on the field indicates commercial time. While he is on the field, save your voice, but as soon as he steps off, resume screaming your brains out, unless, of course, EVERYBODY has been yelling throughout the ENTIRE time-out so the opposing coach cannot communicate with his players on their sideline.

    • Note from Pete: I found this comment made on the article to be of invaluable information, and trust me, your bleeding throat will thank you. Credit goes to O'D.

  • While the band and all the lovely dances that go with it are great fun, don’t forget the reason you’re there. You didn’t pay $168 to dance the Jig, you can do that at my place for $12. Enjoy the dances and cheers, provided that you never ignore the game for it.

  • If someone throws a marshmallow at you, throw it again.

  • “The Wave” is an insult, and depending on how it is used dictates who it insults. If it’s in the 3rd quarter, and we’re up by over 18 points, “the Wave” says, “Yawn, this game is already over, let’s amuse ourselves.” If it’s in the 3rd quarter and we’re losing by a touchdown, it says, “Yawn, I hate our football team and would rather be at home watching Elimidate reruns.” If you find yourself so bored during a close football game that you want to start “the Wave,” don’t be. Only break out “the Wave” if the game is decidedly out of hand, and only if we’re winning. And if you do it, get two going in opposite directions simultaneously, because that looks cool.

  • Officer Tim McCarthy’s jokes are always funny, even when they’re kinda not. Laugh accordingly.

  • Always salute the coach, provided that he is actually coaching and not just standing there while his assistants drive the program into the ground.

  • There are times when rushing the field is OK and times when it is not.

  • Times when OK: We beat USC or Michigan and they are more highly ranked than us. We beat a Top #10 team. We win in the last minute against a Top #15 team.

  • Times when NOT OK: We beat an unranked team. We beat a team by 4 when we were up 21 at halftime. We beat Boston College, Purdue, or any service academy.

  • To further emphasize this point, never, ever rush the field against BC, Purdue, or a military academy. Rushing the field implies ecstatic overjoyment, while we should always expect to beat these teams, thusly negating any field rushing.

  • A note on BC: They are not our rivals, they are like our 12-year old brother, an obnoxious pain in our side, and they always suck.

  • A note on Navy: While we beat them every year, we respect their team and what they do for our country. Always show them respect as such.

  • At the end of the game, no matter what the outcome, always stay to salute the players. They poured their hearts out for you, the least you could do is fight sore knees for 10 more minutes to show your appreciation. Furthermore, always stay for the Alma Mater, it’s a special right as a member of the Notre Dame family to sway to that song.

  • Finally, and most importantly, always get your parents to take you out to dinner after the game when they’re in town. It’s the best meal you’ll have in months.

If you take these few simple lessons to heart, you’ll be bleeding blue and perhaps gold in no time. And if you already happen to be bleeding blue, you may be a horseshoe crab.