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More Than A Fighting Irish Fan

Notre Dame Football
By: Jonathan Daniel
Getty Images Sport

Are the echoes reawakening?  Could it be true?  Can the Irish contend for a national championship in football this year?

At 5-0 and ranked 7th this week in the AP Top 25 and USA Today Coaches Poll, many of us Notre Dame fans are giddy with excitement and holding our breath.

At the beginning of the season, I felt they could be either 9-3 and receive a BCS bid or finish 3-9 and have a disastrous season.  Some of the unknowns at the start were the defense, which has played as advertised the past five weeks, and has caused the other teams to turn the ball over.  The offense has not turned the ball over and has been consistent in grinding out drives that score points.

No doubt, the season has been fun.  I have been a Notre Dame fan since I was small.  Notre Dame football was a staple in our house.  My dad was an old-school catholic who wasn’t so much of a football fan, but felt he supported the church by being a fan of the Irish.

Over the years, it has gone from much more than being a fan.  The Notre Dame Fighting Irish are family.  The University of Notre Dame gave my daughter Erin a world-class education.  Her dream was to go to Notre Dame.  I told her what she needed to do academically and she did it on her own. The rest was a little “luck o’ the Irish,” so to speak, since I couldn’t begin to even think about paying a year of tuition at that school.

The day I found out that ND was willing to bring Erin aboard was for me a Rudy moment. It was St. Patrick’s Day. I felt like Ned Beatty who played Rudy’s dad in the movie.The hairs on my arms stood up. A big lump formed in my throat and I fought back tears of joy and gratitude that they were willing to do something that big for my daughter.

Erin graduated in 2010 with honors and is now a medical student at the University Of South Dakota.  She spent her last two years at ND on the Pom Squad.  Seeing her on TV from time to time was surreal.  Through her, I truly lived the ND experience for four years. To say I am proud of Erin would be a gross understatement.  I am indebted to Notre Dame for wanting her there. Even saying that is an understatement.

Saturday, the Irish have to take the field in South Bend against 17th ranked Stanford.  The Cardinal have only one loss on the season.  Given the last two encounters with Stanford, the Irish and their fans have every reason to fear the tree.  A win this weekend would be huge and definitely put them in title talks in various circles.

However, Notre Dame is playing its toughest schedule in 20 years.  They still have to face BYU next week and the Sooners the following week in Norman, OK.  Not to mention USC on November 24th. In between, they have to face Pitt, Boston College and Wake Forest.

Will the Irish awaken the echoes of past glory?  They have a great start so far, but they have to gut it out week after week on the gridiron.  Erin and I will be watching.  Can they compete for a national championship?  Check back with me around Halloween for that one!

 

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