Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Sorry, Charlie.

Yes, Bee, this is a sports post. You think of turkeys at Thanksgiving; I can't help but think of football.

When I was a little kid in the Catholic school on Chicago's South Side, the nuns told us about college. College was where you could go if you got good grades and turned in your homework.

There was only one college in the entire country. At least that's what the nuns made it sound like.

I speak of course of Notre Dame.

I've had a love-hate relationship with Notre Dame ever since.

My father used to joke that it was a good thing having two pro football teams in town -- meaning (after the Cardinals left) the Bears and Notre Dame. But the Notre Dame subway alumni take their ND football very seriously. I remember years ago, raking leaves at my parents' house. This was in the Dan Devine years -- before the National Championship. Notre Dame played Air Force (I believe) and won by some incredibly lopsided score. I listened to the game on the radio as I piled the leaves up. I was still raking when the call-in show started after the game. The fans were unhappy. Notre Dame should have scored 50 points, 100 points, 200 points. I was disgusted.

Still, I watched ND football... not religiously, but regularly. The college I attended had no football team so there was no competing loyalty.

And Oldest Son attended Notre Dame and I finally got to see a real live college football game in person. It was a wonderful experience. And I have tremendous respect, now, for Notre Dame as a school. The school was a great fit for Oldest Son. ND is almost as good as it thinks it is -- almost as good as the nuns thought it was, all those years ago. (It was an all-male school in those far-off days, but it provided teacher training for nuns in the summers. If the football didn't hook the good sisters, the summers generally did.)

Charlie Weis, the current ND football coach, was probably an undergraduate cheering in the student section as Air Force was destroyed on that long ago Fall day when I was raking leaves. Hopes were high when he returned to South Bend a few years back, flashing his Super Bowl rings.

But the results haven't been there. Notre Dame is 6-5 this year, despite a soft schedule, and likely to finish 6-6 after ex-Bears QB Jim Harbaugh and his Stanford Cardinal team gets through with the Irish this weekend. Northern Illinois University is being touted as a possible bowl opponent. I like and admire NIU and I'm glad their program is continuing at a high level -- but it's not supposed to be on a par with Notre Dame.

It's like when the Yankees missed the playoffs. We Yankee haters were happy about it, but we knew that it was wrong somehow. When the Pinstripes are World Champions, as they are this year, we are free to hate them again without guilt or shame. It is a matter of restoring order to the cosmos. So it is also with Notre Dame. The Fighting Irish are supposed to be in the discussion every year for the National Championship. They are not supposed to be in the discussion with NIU for a minor bowl bid.

It would have been a grand story, truly, if alumnus Weis could have truly woken up the echoes. But, alas, it was not to be. He should take his millions and move on, back to the NFL where he has excelled as an offensive coordinator. Youngest Son wants him to come to the Bears. I wouldn't mind. Maybe he could commute from South Bend. But he can't stay at ND. Sorry, Charlie.

Photo obtained here.


Empress Bee (of the High Sea) said...


ha ha ha, just kidding!

smiles, bee

Jean-Luc Picard said...

Ooops! Thought we were in Paris at first!