While watching college football the other day, a commercial teasing the Georgia versus Notre Dame game scrolled across the screen. This prompted me to restart an argument my wife and I have had going for better than two decades.
I’m sure Notre Dame is a great school and I have nothing but respect for their academic tradition, but please don’t get me started on their football program or the many, many times the Fighting Irish have been allowed a prominent spot in games, polls, awards, etc… when quite honestly, they didn’t deserve it.
But on this particular Saturday, I knew my words were about the same as picking up a sharp stick and poking a bear. However, the bear in this case is gorgeous, much smarter than me and has the ability to scare me more than a Grizzly Bear that once chased me in Montana.
Me: I rarely if ever pull for Georgia, but I hope the Dawgs put 80 on Notre Dame.
Long, silent pause as anger builds.
My Wife: What do you have against Notre Dame?
Why do you hate them so much?
And you do realize you’re Catholic right?
Me: You remember my first night at RCIA (Right of Christian Initiation of Adults, for those that don’t know) program, right?
My Wife: Yes, but that doesn’t matter and really the priest probably thought you were crazy. Who shows up to convert to Catholicism with such a crazy demand?
Flashback to 2002 where after the opening meeting of the RCIA program at a Catholic Church in Naples, Florida, I waited patiently to ask the priest a few questions. Having been Protestant my whole life, I had a few issues, but one loomed particularly large. After the priest calmed my fears about everything else, one question remained— “So I’m telling you straight up right now that when I convert, if I’m required to pull for Notre Dame that’s a deal breaker.”
The priest laughed, not some soft laugh but a good belly laugh, clapped his hand on my shoulder and then looked at my face. He stopped laughing and waited for a moment.
“You’re serious, aren’t you?”
I nodded my head. “I will never pull for Notre Dame.”
The priest contemplated this for a minute, and then laughed again.
“You don’t have to pull for Notre Dame.”
Thirty-two weeks later, my conversion to Catholicism was finished, and 17 years later I’ve still never pulled for Notre Dame. Quick note, this is a half-lie, as I pulled for them to beat USC in 2004. Alas, I pull for them once and guess what… they still mess me over. USC won and my undefeated Auburn Tigers were left out of the national title game.
My Wife: And furthermore, I love the movie “Rudy” how can you not. It’s a movie about heart.
Side Note: Rudy is based on the true-life story of a kid who walked on at Notre Dame, got the crap beat out of him in practice for several years before he was allowed to play the final two snaps in a meaningless game. He did sack a Georgia Tech quarterback, however. The Hollywood version took several liberties.
Me: Mike Golic, who played at Notre Dame at the time, along with a slew of others have gone on record saying about 90 percent of the movie is fabrication. There are stories of amazing walk-ons at practically every school. So let’s pick this one guy, who really doesn’t have a story and make a movie out of it. Why? Because he played at Notre Dame.
My Wife: It’s a great movie, and it’s about heart. He had a lot of heart.
Me: Two words explain the only reason the movie got made—Notre Dame.
My Wife: Or maybe you hate the movie because you have no heart?
Me in my head: Uh-oh. She’s just getting warmed up now, and she just shot me the teacher look she saves for unruly kids in her classroom and uses on me far too many times to count.
My Wife: Honestly, your hatred of Notre Dame makes your superstitious moments of changing your Auburn shirt, sitting on the lucky couch or only eating and drinking certain things before games actually look rational.
Me in my head: I’ve said way too much. Maybe if I just smile and nod, I can defuse this situation. And yes, I know I started it.
My Wife: And what do you have against poor Lou Holtz. He is such a nice man.
Aside—My wife knows this is like waving a red flag in front of a bull, except in this case the bull is quite small and not terrifying at all.
Me: You realize the 1988 Notre Dame team was at best the fifth best team in the nation and the only reason they won the national championship is that they played a very weak West Virginia team.
My Wife: But that was the system in place at the time. There was no BCS or college football playoff. It’s not their fault they were in the game.
Me: Yes, because if there had been a BCS or playoff Notre Dame would have gotten trucked like they did in the BCS against Alabama and in the playoff against Clemson. They didn’t deserve to be in those games either, but hey it’s Notre Dame so let’s put them in.
My Wife: There is no logic to your arguments. Now I’m thinking you not only don’t have a heart, but you might be lacking a brain as well. What do you think about that?
Me: I’ve been a sportswriter for close to 25 years, you know as well as I do that many people would have no problems believing your assertions.
My Wife: Eye roll, shakes head, emits long exasperated sigh, probably wonders how in the world she ended up in this situation to begin with.
Me: blank stare.
My Wife: So, I hope you realize how irrational and stupid you are being right now. Not to mention I think you’re half crazy and you owe Rudy, Lou Holtz and Notre Dame an apology.
My Wife: Well?
Me in my brain: Don’t do it, don’t do it, don’t do it.
Me out loud: Maybe I’m irrational, heartless and brainless and I guess I kind of see your point. Now I hope UGA hangs 100 on Notre Dame.