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That girl from math class

Sports Wire Editor | Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Notre Dame football is that girl. You know, the one who sits next to you in math class. Seemingly perfect in every way, you never thought you stood a chance with her. But you were okay with that. Then she starts batting her eye-lashes at you and laughing at your jokes. Could this be the one? Jumping out of your skin with excitement, you ask her out. But wait, she already has a boyfriend at Michigan (or USC or Purdue). You’re heartbroken. You see, it wouldn’t have been so bad if she hadn’t given you hope. What a tease.

This is not simply a reactionary rant about what I saw on the field Saturday. This is the story line with every Notre Dame team in my recollection. The metaphor applies in every conceivable way, from a single game of devastation to a full season of frustration. Notre Dame doesn’t just lose, that wouldn’t be nearly so bad. Ask any Detroit Lions fan if incessant defeat is all that gut wrenching. No, it’s the excitement that makes it so demoralizing. Notre Dame gets your heart racing to the point where you think it will give out, then they rip it out, and stomp on it for good measure.

Need proof? Look at the entirety of the 2009 season. Heading into the USC game, a perfect confluence of events propelled excitement on campus to unprecedented levels. We believed. Jimmy, Golden and Charlie would propel our program back to where it needed to be; surely, Notre Dame will rise again. With an eerie “blue-gray October sky” looming over Notre Dame Stadium that Saturday, it seemed like fate that Notre Dame would win. A furious comeback fueled our hopes. Then Jimmy’s pass slipped through the hands of Duval Kamara, and with it went our season. We lost. Even the leprechaun cried.

But surely in the Kelly era, things would be different. Starting with a business-like win against Purdue, it seemed that the days of perpetual late game drama were over; last Saturday proved otherwise. Our quarterback mysteriously lost sight in his right eye, and we trailed by 14 points early. I could’ve dealt with a loss, even a thorough thumping. But we battled back and seized the lead. For a minute or two in Notre Dame Stadium, the echoes were awoken. Then “Shoelace” ran, passed and even kicked his way past the Irish. It was just cruel, toying with our emotions like that.

What is there to be done? Well, I could stop being a fan; retire my “Shirt,” hang up my hat and stop investing myself so completely each and every autumnal Saturday. But that’s hardly an option at all. The disappointment has become part of my identity as a Notre Dame fan, an identity I wouldn’t trade for anything. So sure, while she may have turned you down, can you honestly say you didn’t enjoy the time you spent chasing that girl from math class?

The views expressed in the Inside Column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.

Contact Mike Todisco at mtodisco@nd.edu