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Fans disappointed at season-ending loss

Kate Gales | Monday, December 8, 2003

Michigan. USC. Florida State. And now Syracuse. Few would consider the Orangemen to play a caliber of football similar to those schools, who will all appear in major BCS bowls this year. However, their 38-12 victory over Notre Dame Saturday was reminiscent of other tough losses this season. The football team finished the season 5-7, its third losing season in the past five years. Fans said the season-ending loss to unranked Syracuse leaves a bad taste heading into next year’s season.”The coaching staff has the team heading in the right direction, but you can’t help but be discouraged after not being competitive in almost half the games this year,” said freshman Mike Healy. However, fans said they would continue to support the football team and look to see a strong season next year. “It’s obviously disappointing,” said sophomore Danny McElroy. “It would have been nice to have some momentum going into next season. The cool thing with Notre Dame football is that everyone will still be into it next year.”Some cited Notre Dame’s young team as a reason for problems this year. “After Brady Quinn became starting quarterback, it became a rebuilding season,” said freshman Marin Hinzpeter. “Hopefully, it will lead to winning seasons to come.”Healy said Notre Dame’s independent status may have contributed to its troubles. “This season is [partly because] of independent football not being as powerful as it once was,” said Healy. Since 1988, previously independent teams like Boston College, Miami, Florida State and Penn State have moved towards joining conferences and found success. “There has been a shift towards conferences having power in college football, as opposed to independent teams. Notre Dame being independent makes their schedule more difficult,” Healy said. Other students said factors the Irish couldn’t control contributed to a difficult season. “I think we had to deal with a lot of injuries,” said sophomore Hunter Craig, a Knott sophomore. “An inexperienced line made things difficult, as well as a lack of the leadership we had last year.” The three-game winning streak of wins over Navy, BYU and Stanford had built confidence among fans heading into their final game. “I was excited to see us building more momentum towards the end of the year,” Healy said, “because I thought we’d start next season in the same manner. Obviously, we lost to Syracuse pretty badly, but hopefully we can forget abut it and move into next season with an aggressive attitude.”Despite another difficult loss this weekend, students said they still enjoyed being a part of the football tradition. “Notre Dame football is just one of those things that we, as students, don’t have the ability to change,” said senior Maureen Carney. “We have a choice: to enjoy it as a good part of Notre Dame, or to complain about it.'”