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Friday, September 21, 2012

Know Your Foe: Notre Dame 2012

Tomorrow night in South Bend, Notre Dame hosts Michigan in Under the Lights 2: Electric Boogaloo.  This year's sequel pits the winningest program in college football history vs. a team whose echoes are in such a deep sleep that NBC is considering ditching them for Saved By The Bell reruns.  UTL/2 will be the 40th meeting between the Wolverines and the pride of the ACC, the Screaming Kelly's.  Michigan currently holds a 23-15-1 advantage in the series, including wins in 5 out of the last 6 and three in a row that all have come on last minute miracle drives by the Maize and Blue.  But you knew all that.  What you didn't know is included in this week's exciting edition of the MZone's world famous Know Your Foe.

History - The name "Notre Dame" is French and means "Our Lady," a Catholic salutation in reference to the Blessed Virgin Mary, the patron saint of the university (as opposed to the Irish's Blessedly Delusional Fans who still think their team is relevant because they have their own network -- the same network that airs Whitney claiming it's "Must See TV").

We're pretty sure the Latin
means "annoying fans"
The school was founded in 1842 by a 28 year old priest and was originally known as "University of Notre Dame du Lac" which, as far as KYF can tell, is not short for "University of Notre Dame du Lac of a National Title Since 1988".  Rather, in keeping with our French theme, it means "Our Lady of the Lake." But there are actually two lakes on campus. Legend has it that when the school was founded, everything was frozen and so they only thought there was one lake. The land on which ND sits had been purchased by Rev. Stephen Badin, the first Catholic priest ordained in the United States, and left in trust for anyone who would found a school on the site. A fire in 1879 practically wiped out the campus, but within ten years the campus was once again thriving.

The influence of Catholicism is obvious throughout the campus, where 82% of the students identify as Roman Catholic. The Basilica of the Sacred Heart is in the center of campus, a statue of the Virgin Mary stands on the dome of the Main Building (“The Golden Dome”), and there are crucifixes in most classrooms on campus. Know Your Foe was unable to confirm if confessionals were installed at Notre Dame Stadium to allow fans to be forgiven for what they shouted out after Notre Dame forgot to cover Jeremy Gallon on U-M's game winning drive last season.

According to Wikipedia, more than 80% of the university's 8,000 undergraduates live on campus in one of 29 single-sex residence halls, each of which fields teams for more than a dozen intramural sports (not to be confused with the team which has struggled on fall Saturdays for the last 15+ years or so). Notre Dame's approximately 120,000 alumni are located around the world, any of which will be sure to find you and make your life a living hell if their team beats Michigan this weekend or starts winning again in general.

- Technically, the school is located in unincorporated Notre Dame, Indiana, though most people just consider it in South Bend which is right next door. In addition, you may not know (or care) that Notre Dame is only about four miles from the Michigan border. But, thankfully, it's still in Indiana. 

The population of South Bend has declined since a peak of 132,445 in 1960 to 101,168 according to the 2010 census. Experts say this is due to the demise of heavy industry like Studebaker and Oliver Chilled Plow Company and not because the football team has started to suck. Today, the largest industries in South Bend are health care, education, small business and tourism.

Nickname - Notre Dame athletic teams are known as the Fighting Irish (though students are called "Domers," or those "@#$% annoying fans" by the rest of the country). The Irish have one of the most unique and well-known nicknames in all of sports. As a matter of fact, there are no other colleges that use “Irish” as their nickname.

According to the University's website, there are several legends of how Notre Dame came to be the "Fighting Irish." One story is that the name was born in 1899 with Notre Dame leading Northwestern 5-0 at halftime in Evanston. Allegedly, Wildcat fans began to chant, "Kill the Fighting Irish! Kill the Fighting Irish," as if they were drunken Ohio State fans as the second half opened. Another tale has the nickname originating at halftime of the Notre Dame-Michigan game in 1909. With his team trailing, one Notre Dame player yelled to his teammates - who had names like Dolan, Kelly, Donnelly, Glynn, Duffy and Ryan - "What's the matter with you guys? You're all Irish and you're not fighting worth a lick!" Notre Dame came back to win the game (probably while this song played) and the press, after overhearing the remark, reported the game as a victory for the "Fighting Irish."

The most generally accepted explanation is that the press coined the nickname as a characterization of Notre Dame teams in the 1920s as a result of preexisting Irish stereotypes.

Before the ‘20s, Notre Dame had several nicknames, including the Rovers and the Ramblers, due to their willingness to travel to play football during the Knute Rockne era. At one point they were also known as the Terriers, at which time an Irish Terrier would appear on the sideline during football games. There’s no doubt that if they’d kept that name, the history of Notre Dame football would be very different (although they may be forced to re-adopt that name if they keep going 8-5 even in good years).

Dude, put your hand down.  You can hear Brian Kelly
swearing from the parking lot.
Mascot - The Leprechaun was named the official mascot in 1965. Truth be told, ND's mascot really is a true classic, and the fact that they have a living student version makes this one of the best mascots in all of college athletics. So many times during my youth, when they'd show that leprechaun cheering and mugging for the camera, I just wanted to punch my TV screen. When the mascot is getting under your skin, you know it's good (no, Dave Brandon, that doesn't mean I want some dude in a furry suit running around The Big House).

The live mascot is always a student that wins an annual tryout. The green knickers and gold vest that he wears is topped by an Irish country hat. The leprechaun carries around a shillelagh during the game leading cheers in the student section, and is hoisted by the cheerleaders after every ND score to perform a pushup for every Irish point.  Luckily for those poor cheerleaders, they haven't had to do a lot of heavy lifting the last couple of years.

Worst. Uni. Ever.
Colors - Blue and Gold. That's right, no green. They use the green when they feel like they need it (which means they should permanently switch to green). The blue and gold are a great combination, though not necessarily unique (Navy and Brigham Young use the same colors).  And though they are the picture of utter blandness, the golden helmets are iconic and a perfect symbol for the university (until, that is, they broke out the ultra, ULTRA gold things this season that are abominations and would cause Knute Rockne to roll over in his grave).  Over-golding aside, ND's helmets represent the Golden Dome atop the Main Building on campus.  As with so many things at Notre Dame, tradition plays a huge part with the helmets. The team’s student managers spray paint the helmets prior to each game, refreshing the shine each week. The paint contains actual gold.  From 1959 to 1962, head coach Joe Kuharich added a green shamrock to the helmet. In 1963, plain white numbers replaced the shamrock for one season.  This season when ND faces Miami, the Irish will don the ugliest "special" uniforms in the history of college football.

Fight SongNotre Dame Victory March. One of the most famous college football fight songs was written by brothers and Notre Dame grads Michael and John Shea in the early 1900s. Though it ranked only fifth in a Sports Illustrated poll of the best college fight songs, it’s second as far as KYF is concerned (The Victors is number one in both rankings). The beginning part with the flutes, where the leprechaun dances around, the way the band plays it quietly during the extra point and then pumps up the volume right after,  and the fact that so many non-football fans know the song make it a classic. Know Your Foe hates it and loves it at the same time.

The original lyrics, which were written in 1908, were revised in the late 1920s to the following:

Rally sons of Notre Dame:
Sing her glory and sound her fame,
Raise her Gold and Blue
And cheer with voices true:
Rah, rah, for Notre Dame
We will fight in ev-ry game,
Strong of heart and true to her name
We will ne'er forget her
And will cheer her ever
Loyal to Notre Dame

Cheer, cheer for old Notre Dame,
Wake up the echoes cheering her name,
Send a volley cheer on high,
Shake down the thunder from the sky.
What though the odds be great or small
Old Notre Dame will win over all,
While her loyal sons are marching
Onward to victory.

Those are some damn good lyrics for a college fight song. They invoke the name of the university, the colors, mention cheering, fighting, and loyalty, and has ultimate confidence in victory. No wonder they’ve won so many football games.

Academics - There's no doubt Notre Dame is a strong academic institution. In the just-released U.S. News and World Report ranking for 2013, Notre Dame is tied for #17 with Rice and Vandy (surprisingly, two schools it is also tied with for football success of late as well). Alumni giving for ND is always among the highest. Perhaps this helps explain why the university reserves almost a quarter of its admissions spots for legacies of Notre Dame. Know Your Foe has always felt that among Big Ten schools, Michigan alums love their school the most. But that love of alma mater is no more than the love Notre Dame grads (and families of grads) have for their school.

Football Program - 13 Fighting Irish teams have won consensus national championships (although the university only claims 11, unlike Alabama which claims one if somebody says "Hey, your team was good this year" anywhere near the Tide campus), along with another nine teams being named national champion by at least one source.

The Irish play in Notre Dame Stadium, an 80,795-seat stadium on campus that was modeled after The Big House. The football team generates enough revenue to operate independently while $22.1 million is retained from the team's profits for academic use. Forbes named the team as the most valuable in college football, worth a total of $101 million in 2007.

Remember her?
Famous alums - Notre Dame covers the gamut here, with alumna in just about every field of endeavor. It’s an extremely lengthy, if not overly impressive list. From the media, 2nd-rate sportscasters Don Criqui, Ted Robinson, and Tim Ryan are all ND grads. CBS Morning Show talking head Hannah Storm is an Irish grad as is ESPN Radio morning talking head Mike Golic. Obnoxious talk show hosts Phil Donohue and Regis Philbin both went to ND as did punk rock's Ted Leo, and comedy's George Wendt. Former Secretary of State Condaleezza Rice as well as Chicago Cub fan turned villain Steve Bartman have ND diplomas hanging on their wall as do current or former CEOs of Texaco, Liz Claiborne, DTE Energy, Office Depot and Red Hat. And don't forget about that character Martin Sheen played on The West Wing. But they’ve only had a fictional president from Notre Dame, not a real one.

The Game - As much as I want the Wolverines to take four in a row off the Irish for the first time since we won the the opening eight in the series starting in 1887, I don't think we've looked particularly sharp this year (and injuries haven't helped).  Our O-line hasn't jelled and our defense has looked Gergian at times.  Denard can only do so much on his own.  On the flip side, as much as I hate to admit it, Notre Dame looked good last week and manhandled MSU on the road.  And these guys are going to be very hungry to end their losing streak against Michigan at home.  Finally, how many damn miracles can we pull out against these guys?

Answer: none this weekend.

Michigan - 14
Notre Dame - 24


MMQ said...

Yost, Yost, Yost....

I know you're not too young to remember all the miracles that The Domers somehow managed against Michigan over the years...Reggie Ho in 1988, Henry Oliver in 1980, and lest we forget the Rocket in 1989...All small miracles that helped a less than stellar Domer team beat a better Michigan team. I like being the dog and the team nobody thinks has a chance. GO BLUE!


Yost said...

I hope you're right, MMQ!

&^%$#@* Harry Oliver!

Ramona said...

Nicely written as always, and much as I hate to admit it, might as well have your healing pictures at the ready. However - I still hold out hope for the upset.
M 27
ND 24

Mikoyan said...

Just remember this...Knute Rockne never beat Fielding Yost.

And how many astronauts does ND boast?

surrounded in columbus said...

it's not that i can't imagine our TEAM losing to their TEAM. frankly, we don't look so good & they look pretty decent.

it's that i can't imagine DENARD losing to their team.

dunno. despite thinking they're better, i just have this odd faith in the dreaded one pulling something out of the hat. again.


phil said...

I have a cartoon video depicting Golson being benched tomorrow in favor of Tommy Rees starting as Quarterback for Notre Dame but I'm afraid to show it on Utube for fear that rioting will start in South Bend.

Dennis said...


Have been secreted away for work the last week and a half. First Congrats on UMass, your boys did what I figured they would do and what I hope we do against UAB today. They key is picking the right team from Alabama to play. :)

As for your game tonight. I think there will be more points scored on both sides. If you keep it close I could see Denard going Troy Smith on ND. He does seem to pull something special out when playing ND. However, I think ND can slow him down enough and can exploit your Defense enough for the Domers to win 34-28.

Good luck.

Dennis said...

No idea why Win went html like that. I didn't code it to go to that link. New Blogger "feature"?

Tom C said...

K so who does 16 play for?

Tom C said...

gonna piss me off I need a set of boobies to get over this!

Ramona said...

ok so let's look at the positives. ND is so way overrated, and we have an O line... we have D...
our problem is mistakes.
that can be fixed!

Tom C said...

They just let us beat ourselves
Gonna go out and punch a oak!

Tom C said...

On the bright side I close on 20 acres of northern mi woods monday.
Nother five years and Nanook comes home. Go Blue!

Yost said...

Congrats on the getaway, Tom!