Archived Story

Irish try to break SEC title hold

Published 1:31am Monday, January 7, 2013

It’s no secret. I am a Notre Dame fan. I have been since I was knee-high to a leprechaun.

But unlike some Fighting Irish fans, I never put my Notre Dame T-shirts or sweatshirts away. Since running the table during the regular season and earning a trip to the BCS championship game Monday night, I never knew there were so many Irish fans.

But closet fan or not, Notre Dame has a huge following. If they didn’t, NBC wouldn’t keep signing them to new TV contracts.

Let’s face it, it’s not that NBC simply loves Notre Dame, they love the viewing audience and money it brings to the network. Catholicism is the largest religious denomination in the world. Catholics make up the largest denomination in the United States. And the second largest denomination is — get ready for this — non-practicing Catholics.

As you can see, quite an audience.

But the real reason to root for Notre Dame against Alabama is because this is a battle between good and evil.

I’m not saying the Alabama players, coaches and fans are evil, but it’s all about the ideals.

This is about the continuing rhetoric shoved down the American public’s throat that the SEC is just so superior to other teams and conferences.

Obviously, the SEC has had great success with six straight BCS titles. But when the bowl season arrives, they don’t dominate the other teams.

Listen, good teams are good teams. The SEC has some very good teams at the top of their league, but so do other leagues. Clemson beat LSU, Louisville from the much-maligned Big East beat Florida, and Northwestern beat Mississippi State. Michigan was an overruled juggled pass for a touchdown from beating South Carolina.

Recruiting in the SEC is different than other programs. If an SEC school makes a mistake in recruiting a player who doesn’t play as well as they expected and they think there is a better player out there the next year, they don’t honor the scholarship to the current player.

It’s not illegal. Scholarships are actually one-year deals, but most schools honor their word and commitment as long as the player upholds his end of the bargain.

Notre Dame is also going against the morals and values — or lack of — that we see in Hollywood. Those darn Christians!

Also, since they have been keeping records, Notre Dame is the first team to be ranked No. 1 in the polls and No. 1 in graduation.

If a player attends Notre Dame and stays all four years, they leave with a degree. And that’s in all sports. It’s also a great selling tool to the parents of recruits.

I know the Irish have their haters. The perception is Notre Dame thinks its better than everyone else. Oh, there are some fans and students who do think that way as do any school. The thing to remember here is that Notre Dame isn’t perfect, but they still strive to achieve what college sports are supposed to be. It’s about playing a sport and getting an education and conducting yourself in a proper manner.

Since their players and students are human like anyone else, they will have problems. But that doesn’t mean you stop trying.

It reminds me of the feeling toward people who go to church and how they are perceived as thinking they are better than other people. The truth is, people who go to church know they are sinners. Church is a hospital for sinners, not a museum for the righteous.

Yes, Notre Dame’s fans have their flaws. The slogans of “Catholics vs. Cousins” and “Golden Domers vs. Mobile Homers” can be offensive. That’s understandable. I can remember as a kid when players at St. Joseph were called “fish eaters” and “mackerel snappers” by opposing schools. I thought it was funny. Still do.

That kind of animosity kept Notre Dame from joining the Big Ten during the 1940s. Led by Michigan, Notre Dame was denied admittance to the league because it was a Catholic institution and it would look bad for the conference even though they admitted that they had Catholics on their teams.

It was during this time period that the FBI uncovered a plot by the Ku Klux Klan to blow up Notre Dame Stadium during a game. Talk about your ND haters.

This column has been about fun. I realize Notre Dame vs. Alabama is a game, nothing more. Win or lose, I’ll go to work on Tuesday.

But remember this one final thing.

The name Notre Dame is French for “Our Lady,” and was founded by Father Edward Sorin. Please don’t mistake the religious affiliation to mean God shows favoritism to the Irish. God made everyone and loves all equally, regardless of the team they play on or cheer for.

So players, no need to point to the sky or make the sign of the cross unless you are thanking God for keeping you injury free. You see, God doesn’t care who wins.

But his mother does.

Go Irish.

—— Sinatra ——

Jim Walker is sports editor of The Ironton Tribune.


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