Irish on Road Back to Glory

34-20. The eighth straight bowl loss for Notre Dame and they lost in a convincing fashion, giving up 617 total yards to the Buckeyes in the process. As a huge Notre Dame fan, not only did I have to see a great season come to a crushing end, but it was also at the hands of one of the programs I despise most in college football. Now, we have all the Notre Dame haters coming out of the woodwork and we even had Brent Musburger actually talking crap to Charlie Weis during the game. Do I care? Not even a little bit.

Don't get me wrong, I am definitely someone who takes sports far too seriously. Not only that, but I am a diehard Notre Dame fan. I grew up on Notre Dame football. Some of my greatest memories involve Notre Dame. What's not to love? Great tradition, great fans, classy program, preferential treatment, they are always on TV, and every other college football fan is jealous of your program. Rightfully so, when you are rooting for God's team. (Note to everyone: that was a joke, not a good one, but still a joke. Everyone knows God doesn't have a favorite team. Jesus does though, and that team is Notre Dame.)

Usually after a crushing loss like this, I would sulk for a while, be generally unpleasant for a day or two, and avoid every Notre Dame-hating friend at all costs. I would send harassing calls straight to voice mail and e-mails convincing me to eat crow to my vegetarian friends. (This is another joke. No one really has vegetarian friends.) This game was different, though — I answered the calls from the very beginning, even returning calls I missed while taking abuse from those Ohio State fans that were in line first.

This time, I say bring it on, haters — I am ready for your best shot. It is crucial for you to get it out of your system now, because you don't have much longer. I am 100% behind Charlie Weis and I have no doubt that he is going to bring Notre Dame back to where they used to be. This isn't a case of, "well, I'm not sure he really is the right guy, but I'll support him anyway" or, "this guy is great for now, but he's going to leave eventually for a better job," this is simply a, "he is the guy."

It was clear that Ohio State was the better team in the Fiesta Bowl. They were more talented. I was made painfully aware of that every time a Notre Dame corner decided the best way to defend Ted Ginn, Jr. or Santonio Holmes was to fall down and hope that the receiver would trip over them. I can deal with it, though, and that's because of what Weis did with what he had this year and with the recruiting he has done thus far. He has been kicking Mike Golic-sized ass on the recruiting trail and is already bringing top-level athletes back to South Bend. Amazingly, at least to disgraced Irish alum Paul Hornung, Weis is able to recruit the black athlete without lowering academic standards.

Sure, the haters that like to stir things up will say, "Hey, Ty [Willingham] had a better start than Charlie did and he didn't get an extension, Notre Dame is racist!" Of course, it's the fact that they don't want to look at the situation for what it is that makes them a hater.

First, Ty's first team was blown out three times, all of them embarrassing losses, while Charlie's team was in every single game this year.

Second, Charlie is a Notre Dame guy. That's the difference (well, one of them) between Weis and Willingham and, to some extent, Davie. He loves the university, much like Lou Holtz did. Weis graduated from Notre Dame and gets what ND is all about. Finally, he is just a better coach. No one could blame him for having an Aaron Taylor sized-head after his coaching successes, but he is still an incredibly humble person. Still, I could care less what blowhards say about Weis, because at the end of the day, I know he is going to be a great coach.


(Side note: As far as blowhards go, I now have Brent Musburger at the top of the list. Listening to him during the Fiesta Bowl was downright painful. ABC absolutely drilled the whole "Brady Quinn's sister is dating A.J. Hawk" storyline into the ground and then followed that up by mentioning it another five times. Shortly after that, Buckeye Josh Huston kicked off the ball to start the game. I don't know why this was such a big deal to ABC, but it was embarrassing to listen to him babble about Laura Quinn and downright infuriating to hear him make cute jokes about her while ignoring penalties and other action on the field.)

It reached the height of absurdity when, after Hawk sacked Irish QB Brady Quinn, Musburger noted that Hawk probably whispered into Brady's ear that he should tell his sister to pick a different team next time. Right. Just like how he whispers into the ears of other players he tackles that he doesn't think too highly of them as far as their ability at playing the game of football is concerned.

Granted, I know he can't say that Hawk whispered something about railing Quinn's sister, but why even make an attempt at a lame joke like that? Just let it go. It even went beyond beating a dead horse, by the end of the game, he was swinging at glue. My friend will place all the blame on the producers at ABC, who definitely share some blame here, but I'm not giving Musburger a free pass.)


Even in defeat, I still think it's a great time to be a Notre Dame fan. Haters, you better be bringing your good stuff in the coming days and weeks, because it won't be long before you have to resort to cheap shots and Catholic jokes. I'm not going to go as far as to borrow a horribly inappropriate line from Takeo Spikes and claim I feel like a slave who just got his papers, but I can take comfort in knowing that Notre Dame is finally on the road back to glory.

SportsFan MagazineThe Sports Gospel According to Mark is sponsored by gives you the greatest sports action to bet on. Wager on football, cricket, boxing, Rugby, horse racing, and more. Mark Chalifoux is also a weekly columnist for SportsFan Magazine. His columns appear every Tuesday on Sports Central. You can e-mail Mark at [email protected].

Comments and Conversation

January 5, 2006


are all the Jr’s comming back next year? Please contact me even if you dont know.
Tyler USMC Semper Fi

January 5, 2006


Notre Dame has a lot to look forward to. After the loss to Ohio State Notre Dame Will be working Twice as hard in the off season. NOTRE DAME NATIONAL CHAMPS 2007

January 5, 2006


Notre Dame had an off day and only lost by 2 touchdowns. Next year is the year. Not to sound like a Cubs fan, but redemption will be sweet. Add another Heisman and National Championship. GO IRISH!

January 5, 2006


I tried to email you, but it bounced back.

Fasano is toying with going pro, but I hear he’s back. The rest of them are all coming back and Weis expects McKnight to get another year. There is also a fantastic class coming in next year.

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