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Remember other fall sports

Observer Editorial | Friday, October 31, 2003

For better or for worse, the success of Notre Dame’s athletic department is often judged by the success of the football team. So when the football team struggles, as it has through seven games this season, it’s easy to say that the athletic department itself is just as ineffective.

But a glance at the national rankings of Notre Dame’s “other” fall sports shows that the athletic department is in good position to capture its first NACDA Cup, the annual award given to the Division I-A school with the highest average finish of all its athletic teams. Of the six purely fall sports at Notre Dame, only the most featured sport – the football team – isn’t ranked in the top 25.

Sadly, the vast majority of the 80,000 fans who stream into Notre Dame Stadium Saturday won’t stick around until Sunday, when the second-ranked women’s soccer team opens Big East Conference Tournament play a Brady Quinn pass away from the football practice fields. And they probably won’t watch the seventh-ranked men’s soccer team, which was the laughingstock of the Big East conference three years ago, contend to be champion of one of the nation’s toughest conferences.

In Boston last weekend, over 44,000 fans – many of whom were Notre Dame supporters – packed into Alumni Stadium to see the Irish lose their fifth game of the season. The night before, only 8,000 – mostly Eagle fans – watched the Irish hockey team stun the top-ranked team in the nation.

There’s the No. 14 volleyball team, which makes winning Big East conference titles look as easy as taking out the trash. There’s the men’s and women’s cross country teams, which are ranked 24th and seventh, respectively, and have qualified for the national championship meet as a team for the last two years.

Yet football is king at Notre Dame. And even in the midst of one of their worst seasons in history, football games still completely overshadow the tremendous success fall sports teams are enjoying. Little do football-crazy fans know how dominant the rest of the University’s sports are.

It’s a great time to be a Notre Dame sports fan. It’s even more so if you follow more teams than the football team.