Friday, October 14, 2005

If Anybody Can Do It, It's Notre Dame | by Pete

It’s coming. The day we’ve fretted over for months is finally at our doorstep. We’ve thought about this game ever since Charlie took over the reigns, and we’ve had an extra two weeks to think about nothing but it. I believe I speak for many of us when I say that we’re damn near insane at this point. We’ve examined statistics, prognostications, and ruminations. Every possible avenue for discussion has been traveled down, and then doubled over. All that’s left now is to play the damn football game.

Yesterday, I headed over to campus to take my last midterm before fall break officially began. I got over early to look over my notes, and found myself with about 20 minutes to spare before I could head to class. I decided that, what with me living off campus, I really needed to see parts of campus I haven’t frequented this year, and take in the atmosphere that’s been brewing all week. As I rode around on my ramshackle bicycle, I saw a sight that, with this weekend in mind, sent chills down my spine and put a lump in my throat. But these sights weren’t Touchdown Jesus, or the House that Rock Built. It wasn’t the metal beams of College Gameday serving as an affirmation that we all aren’t nuts, this really is a big deal. It wasn’t even the brilliance of the rejuvenated Dome, shining down on all of campus, as if to say “It’s Back To How It Should Be.”

The sights that got to me came in strollers, and Brady Quinn football jerseys, and ancient crew neck Notre Dame sweatshirts. As I rode around campus, from South Quad to North, around Hesburgh and past LaFortune, I saw people of all sorts walking through campus, taking in Notre Dame. I saw a couple with their barely ambulatory toddler, showing her the magic of Notre Dame before she could verbalize it. I saw a family with a teenage son, wearing a football jersey of his favorite player, someone he wants to be just like, and parents that know that his idol is one worth looking up to. I saw an older man, pushing eighty years old, walking around with his head up in the air, drinking in all the buildings of campus. I wondered if this was the first time he’d set foot on campus, despite decades of support, finally able to see the images projected onto his TV every fall with his own two eyes. Everywhere I looked, I saw people who traveled hours upon hours, walking around campus and being here simply because they love this school. We always refer to the Notre Dame Family, and this weekend looks to be quite the reunion.

Sure they’ve got a Heisman Trophy winner, but we’ve got a quarterback who’s as good as any and with something to prove. Yes, they’ve got the most dangerous man in football, but we’ve got a running back who has never stopped giving every ounce he had. Most people say they’ve got a great coach, I say we have a better one. One can point countless places to indicate where Southern Cal has an edge. The past three games, a 27 game win streak, two shiny crystal balls back home all say that these guys are the best, and nobody can beat them. But we’ve got something they don’t, something that’s worth more than any amount of crystal. We’ve got that young family, raising that child to love Notre Dame, and we’ve got that young kid, dreaming of stepping onto that field someday. We’ve got that older man, one who may have loved this University with every bone in his body, despite the fact that he couldn’t tell you what the marching band outside the Dome before a football game sounded like until now. We’ve got all these people, dedicated whole-heartedly to supporting a school that we all believe is special, is a cut above the rest.

And it’s not just them. We’ve got thousands of students here, many of whom are living the dream of attending this school that they’ve had their entire lives (I know I am). We’ve got the most dedicated alumni, subway included, on the planet, traveling countless hours by any means necessary, just to be part of what they know is so magical. This weekend, there will be tens, if not hundreds of thousands of people here supporting a school they believe in, and there will be millions across the world cheering on the Irish to do what looks to be unthinkable.

All this support, all this energy given by countless people in support of a football team, it’s what people like to call the “intangibles.” I can tell that this weekend, those intangibles couldn’t get more tangible. You’ll be able to hear it in the marching band traipsing around the quad early Saturday morning, and in the yells of kids throwing the football around, pretending to be Brady Quinn, Darius Walker, or Jeff Samardizja. You’ll be able to smell it in the smoke from grills, and taste it by chomping down into a juicy steak sandwich. Most of all, you’ll be able to see that spirit in the face of every person on campus, young or old, student or subway. This weekend, you can look into the face of every person on campus, and they all understand. We’re part of something special at this school, and we’re going to show it this weekend.

I’ve looked at all the numbers like you have; I’ve examined all the key match-ups. And with all that information, all the breakdowns and strategies, I’ve come to the conclusion that I don’t have the faintest idea how the game is going to turn out. Sure, USC should win this football game, but Notre Dame definitely could. And that’s what makes Notre Dame special, the belief that Notre Dame was always a place that thought the unthinkable and did the impossible.
I believe in this football team. I believe that they’ve worked their asses off in preparation for this game, and I believe the coaching staff has worked their asses off to give us the best opportunity to win this game. And I know I’m not alone. I know that every person on this campus, and every person reading this, is toying with the notion that Notre Dame could pull it off, that Notre Dame could beat the guys that can’t be beaten.

In the midst of pass completion percentages, red zone efficiency percentages, and winning percentages, there’s one percentage that we can all count on: 100%. I know that this football team will give everything they have in efforts to win this football game, and I know that myself, along with every student on this campus, along with every person who traveled to be here, along with everyone person watching the game across the globe is ready and willing to give everything they have to help this team succeed.

We’re all in this together, young and old, alumni and subway, player and fan, and we’re all focused on the same goal. I’m not sure what’s going to happen come Saturday afternoon, but I do have one official prediction.

My Official Prediction: You’ll never be prouder to be a Notre Dame fan.