The 38th version of the Michigan / Notre Dame game will take place this Saturday in northwest Indiana. The Irish and their new coach Brian Kelly dispatched the Purdue Boilermakers last week setting up an intriguing game.
For both of us, this game offers another opportunity to take another step towards respectability. I am sure Notre Dame would like nothing better than to push us back down after the high of last week. Michigan holds an all-time 21-15-1 advantage in the series. We won last season 38-34 in exciting heart stopping fashion.
History: In 1830 a Catholic missionary priest named Stephen Badin purchased 524 acres of farmland with the intention of expanding the mission with the nearby Pottowattamie Indians. The land cost $1.25 an acre. The only problem, is the Indians weren’t really interested in converting to Catholicism and promptly moved away. With no use for the land, Badin resold the land with the condition it would be used to establish an orphan asylum.
Badin holds the distinction of being the first Catholic priest to be ordained in the United States. He was originally born in France, but came to America after the French Revolution interrupted his education.
After a series of transactions and failed attempts, the land was offered in 1842 to another French priest named Edward Sorin. Because he was mandated t had to build a university within two years. The 28 year old Sorin quickly traveled to the site, and started teaching two local boys in the log chapel left by Badin 10 years earlier.
According to a legend, when Sorin arrived at the location, everything was frozen and he thought there was only one lake, and named the place “L’Université de Notre Dame du Lac” (The University of Our Lady of the Lake). The word Lac is singular, the land actually contained two lakes.
The early years at the University of Notre Dame were pretty elementary. There was very little higher education going on here. The school was primarily a religious grade school with a manual labor department serving only men. The collegiate curriculum never attracted more than a dozen students a year in the early decades. Notre Dame did not start admitting women until 1972.
The Roman Catholic influence on this place is very strong. A vast majority (80%+) of the current students identify themselves as Catholics. The Basilica of the Sacred Heart sits in the center of campus, a statue of the Virgin Mary stands on the top of the famous Main Building Golden Dome, and of course there is the omnipresent Touchdown Jesus on the Hesburgh Library looking into the football stadium.
Location: The campus is located in Notre Dame, Indiana, an unincorporated community northeast of South Bend. There is no municipal government here, as the entire area is made up of three college campuses (Notre Dame, St. Mary’s, and Holy Cross) . Notre Dame provides its own water, power, and fire department.
Most people just call it South Bend - which derived its name because it lies at the southernmost bend of the St. Joseph River. It was originally a fur trading post in the 1820s and officially incorporated as a city in 1865. Like most Midwestern cities, heavy industry have always dominated the local economy. Companies like the Studebaker Corporation, the Singer Sewing Company, and Oliver Chilled Plow Company were the early driving forces in the growing city.
U.S. Grant’s Vice President Schuyler Colfax lived in South Bend and represented the state in Congress and served as Speaker of the House during most of the civil war. He died of heart attack brought on my extreme cold and exhaustion in a Minnesota train station in 1885. He is buried at the local cemetery.
Nickname: They call themselves the Fighting Irish. There is no official story as to how or why. One would think because of the French background of the name and original founders of this place, they would call themselves the Fighting French. Then again, considering the history of the French military in the past century, maybe not.
During the era of the Four Horsemen (1920's) they were called the Rovers. Other times they were called the Terriers, after a priest’s dog. They also were called the Ramblers, because the football team would travel anywhere to play anyone. None of those names stuck.
To me, the best and most logical explanation for the “Fight Irish” name comes from the Irish Brigade in the American Civil War. This decorated infantry unit, originally made up of the 63rd New York, the 69th New York, and the 88th New York was filled with Irish immigrant soldiers fighting for their adopted country.
Many joined the army to gain military experience with an eye to returning to Ireland and freeing their country from the British. This unit first gained notoriety when, before the war, their Colonel refused an order to parade the troops for the English Prince of Wales. He was arrested and faced a court-martial. Once the war started, charges were dropped and the Colonel was sent into the fight.
I could write a doctorate thesis on the Irish influence and involvement and influence of the Civil War, but I won’t do that here. If you have ever walked the Union line at Gettysburg you will see a statue of Father William Corby (a Detroit Native) giving the Irish Brigade general absolution before the 2nd day of the historic battle. Corby later became Notre Dame’s 3rd (and 6th) President.
I say this every year, but I don’t understand is why the NCAA considers Native American nicknames like the Indians or Redskins offensive, but turns a blind eye to the equally as racist and offensive moniker Fighting Irish? Imagine if UTEP called themselves The Marauding Mexicans ? I can only assume the NCAA does not know that Ireland is a sovereign nation. Characterizing the good citizens of this nation as leprechaun fighters, is patently offensive.
Mascot/ Colors / Logo / Helmet: In 1965 Notre Dame named the Leprechaun as their official mascot. Each year a current student is selected to dress in a Lucky Charms outfit and hop around the sidelines. As far as costumed mascots go, this one is pretty goofy.
Many people associate green with the Notre Dame, but the official colors are “Madonna blue and Papal gold”. Throughout the history of Notre Dame football, they have sometimes worn green. During the Dan Devine era (1975-80) Notre Dame wore green uniforms almost every game. Today they reserve the green jerseys for special occasions, like when they are getting ready to lose to USC.
They use a classic interlocking ND as the primary logo. I noticed they incorporated it onto the sleeves of their 2010 football jerseys. This has been the Notre Dame logo since at least the 1960s. At times, a shamrock as appeared behind it. It is one of the most recognizable and iconic logos in American sports.
They wear a plain gold helmet. No logos. No stripes. No “good job” stickers. This helmet has become a symbol of the university as much as the golden dome itself. The Irish are one of the few schools to never change from the traditional grey color of their face masks. As with so many things about this school, they have made a big tradition for the student managers to spray shiny new gold paint onto the helmets before each game.
Fight Song: In 1908 brothers John and Michael Shea wrote The Notre Dame Victory March. It was copyrighted by the university in 1928. It has become is one of the most recognizable college fight songs in history. Sports Illustrated ranked it in 2006 as the #5 fight song. In the same poll, Michigan's The Victors was ranked #1.
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.
Academics: Once a popular choice for good catholic boys to attend college, Notre Dame has become one of the top academic institutions in the country. According to the latest US News and World Report it is ranked #19 amongst National Universities.
With no Northwestern on our schedule this year, Notre Dame is once again the only school ranked higher than us in the USNWR ratings. With a strong national alumni base and popularity amongst subway alumni (people that associate with but never attended the school), a Notre Dame degree is very valuable. I find it interesting the contrast between view of their subway alumni and our non-alum fans. We get ridiculed for being “Wal*Mart Wolverines” while they are considered a foundation for the fan base.
Football program: In 1887, the Michigan Wolverines introduced football for the first time to Notre Dame and shut them out 8-0. In 1888, we beat them three times in the same season. Not to be dissuaded, Notre Dame’s program got better and better, capturing the national attention and building an impressive tradition.
Today not too many schools can compete with their impressive history. In 121 seasons, they have only had 13 losing seasons. They have the third most wins (behind Michigan and Texas) and second highest winning percentage in history (behind Michigan). They claim 11 national titles, 12 undefeated seasons, and 7 Heisman Trophies. In total, the Irish have fielded 99 All Americans and 48 College Football Hall of Famers. They have produced the largest number of players to go on and play in the NFL, have had 463 players drafted, highlighted by 5 overall #1 picks. All very impressive.
Other Sports: Notre Dame fields a Title IX friendly 13 men’s and 13 women’s varsity sports teams. Most of these teams play in the Big East Conference, the obvious exceptions being football (independent) and hockey (CCHA). Over the years they have won National Championships in six different sports (seven in fencing, two in women’s soccer, two in men’s tennis, and one each in men’s golf, men’s cross country and women’s basketball).
Famous alums: Notre Dame has an substantial list of notable alumni including many corporate execs, elected officials, and educational leaders. Recognizable names include Charlie Weis (KC Chiefs offensive coordinator) George Wendt (Norm from Cheers), and Steve Bartman (brainless Cubs fan). They also have Condoleezza Rice (former US Secretary of State), Eddie DeBartolo Jr (former owner of the San Francisco 49ers), Alan Page (NFL Hall of Famer and Minnesota Supreme Court Judge), Phil Donahue (former TV talk show host), Regis Philbin (Annoying TV personality), Hanna Storm (TV Host), and Don Criqui (sportscaster). The Notre Dame football team can claim NFL hall of famers Paul Hornung, Joe Montana, Nick Buoniconti, and Dave Casper and many others. Other famous football names include Joe Theisman, Tim Brown, Jerome Bettis, Rocket Ismael, Brady Quinn, and Jimmy Claussen.
There are no former US presidents with a ND degree, Josiah Bartlet does not count. Former President Ronald Regan is closely associated with the school because he acted in a famous movie about a Notre Dame football player. They can claim former presidents of Panama and El Salvador.
I found 3 former astronauts.
The Game: This is always one of those games I never feel comfortable with. I have seen too many good Michigan teams go to Notre Dame and lose. Strange things always seem to happen in that stadium.
Notre Dame had some great recruiting classes under Charlie Weis. The potential for Brian Kelly to take those prospects and turn them into a decent football team is there. Our defense caught some breaks last week. I don't anticipate Dayne Crist, Armando Allen and Michael Floyd to come anywhere close to the inept UConn offense we all saw on Saturday.
As it will be with most of our games this season, it will come down to the defense. We can win if we make some stops and cause a couple of turnovers. I am sure our offense led by Denard Robinson will score points. I just have no confidence in our defense. I also never expect to get a win at Notre Dame. I hope I am wrong.
Notre Dame 32