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Yet’ remains key word for Irish

Laura Myers | Friday, October 15, 2010

It might be a good idea to look at Notre Dame through the eyes of Western Michigan coach Bill Cubit.

Cubit, the picture of class after his Broncos fell 44-20 to the Irish, had nothing but praise for every aspect of the Notre Dame program.

The line of the week from the Irish was that they aren’t there yet, at a point where they can go in expecting a win. But Cubit acknowledged right away what the media-trained players and coaches of the Irish could not — that it would have taken nothing short of a miracle for Western Michigan to win at Notre Dame Stadium. That the Irish were a better team. That it was an opportunity of a lifetime to play here.

He was impressed by the size and ability of the Irish players.

Of junior wide receiver Michael Floyd, Cubit said: “He’s as physical and as good a receiver as I’ve seen. … I’m not telling you it was fun to watch, but maybe tomorrow it will be.”

Of senior running back Robert Hughes: “He comes in and I’m watching, he’s bigger than half our linebackers and some of our defensive ends. That guy comes in there and you’re just holding on for dear life.”

Of sophomore linebacker Carlo Calabrese: “You look out there, and 44 comes over, and golly, I thought I was going to lose a leg.”

The weekend was defined by more than mismatches and late-game conditioning, though. Cubit was impressed by the experience of playing at Notre Dame, starting with a campus tour Friday and on through Saturday’s game.

“This has always been a special place, even when I was younger,” he said. “And it proved that everything was exactly what we said. … Everything here is first class, and it’s a great thing to be part of it.”

If a Notre Dame player or coach were to repeat many of these sentiments, it would of course come off as fairly arrogant.

And they were right to stick to the “not good enough” line. But the best part of that line, repeated so often last week, was the word “yet.”

Because, arrogance aside, wouldn’t it be great for someone to come out and say, “Yes, we absolutely should win this game?”

Wouldn’t it be nice to see that much confidence emanating from an Irish team that even Saturday didn’t always play like it thought it was the better team on the field?

And, back to that “yet,” wouldn’t it be perfect if this were how every coach, team and fan saw Notre Dame?

For years, Notre Dame had that exact reputation — kind and respectful towards visiting opponents, but nearly impossible to beat inside that Stadium.

It’s clear this character is once again the goal.

This weekend, it was Bill Cubit and the Broncos who experienced just what Notre Dame is supposed to be under Brian Kelly.

Now it’s up to the Irish to add to their confidence and to project it on every team that shows up at their door.

Teams should come to South Bend both eager and afraid, and leave disappointed but respectful.

Broncos wide receiver Juan Nuñez summed up that feeling.

“Even though we weren’t able to come out with a victory it’s still an experience being able to play Notre Dame,” he said. “I feel like I can carry this for the rest of my life.”

The Irish may not be good enough, yet. But they are working toward that respect, when every team, from Western Michigan and Tulsa to Utah, Oklahoma, and USC, will come to Notre Dame and see the same thing.

 

The views expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily The Observer.

Contact Laura Myers at lmyers2@nd.edu