Notre Dame has special tradition
Letter to the Editor | Thursday, September 21, 2006
The unique loyalty of the Notre Dame family seniors opining that Notre Dame football is just about winning seems at odds with most legendary coaches and players. Obviously, nobody ever wants to lose, but real fans, like most Notre Dame fans, stand and support their team always, as opposed to jumping on and off of bandwagons. Beyond championships, Heisman trophies and gridiron legends, a unique loyalty of family is what raises Notre Dame and our football tradition above the rest. Lou Holtz, the last Notre Dame football coach to win a National Championship, was recently asked of which team or game he was most proud. He shocked many by saying, “our 1993 team against Boston College.”
For those who blocked out that painful memory, the ’93 BC game was a hugely disappointing loss, costing an undefeated and number one Notre Dame squad a spot in the National Championship game. So why is a successful coach most proud of a losing game?
With tremendously famous victories over number one Miami in 1988, number one FSU in 1993, Penn State in the 1992 “Snow Bowl” and the 1988 National Championship game over West Virginia, one might think the ESPN gig had tainted the old ball coach. But Holtz explained, “That team didn’t give up, didn’t hang their heads and never quit on each other … You always gotta believe.”
Great Notre Dame coaches have been overwhelmed by support shown even after crushing defeats. Knute Rockne’s teams were greeted by throng of cheering students and fans at the train station even after depressing losses. Ara Parseghian returned from difficult beatings and witnessed crowds of students rallied at main circle, welcoming home their trampled on team. Both of these men, famous for passionately wanting to win, and doing so very often in championship form, recognized and appreciated the great spirit of the Notre Dame students and fans, even in defeat.
Following a 37-0 ND loss to FSU, our own Darius Walker chose Notre Dame over Ohio State and Stanford, saying how special the Notre Dame students were in standing until the very end. Just this week a top high school recruit from South Carolina, Gary Gray, committed to Notre Dame over the University of Southern California after his Michigan game visit. He, too, mentioned the amazing game atmosphere and students as solidifying his decision.
The unique loyalty of the Notre Dame family does not go unnoticed. Supportive students (most, that is) staying until the bitter end and singing the alma mater makes Notre Dame different from the rest, but it isn’t for others as much as it is for us. To borrow again from Lou Holtz, Notre Dame is special – either you get it or you don’t. While the constant goal is obviously winning, as students, alumni and fans, we are always Notre Dame. As best I can write it, that is the special tradition of football at Notre Dame.