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Farmer: The view of these seniors from two years in the future (Nov. 18)

Douglas Farmer | Thursday, November 17, 2011

Apparently I will invent a time machine two years from now, because I’m about to issue a sincere piece of gratitude from 24 months in the future.

To this year’s 38 seniors, 24-year-old Douglas Farmer thanks you. Really, thank you.

Next year, Notre Dame will be successful, but it will also be going up against a schedule so crazily difficult it could not have been created by Director of Athletics Jack Swarbrick, but rather by his alter ego, Captain Jack Sparrow.

Two years from now, Notre Dame will find itself in the spotlight as soon as the first preseason magazines hit the news racks, and that spotlight will not diminish until the first week of January. This year’s 38 seniors deserve credit for that spotlight, but two years from now, how will we ever thank them?

That is why I hopped in my time machine and came back to write this column.

Thank you 38 for showing up every day, two (in some cases three) years under Charlie Weis’ command, and two years under Brian Kelly’s command. A few of your classmates, even role models in the class ahead of you, departed during the coaching change. You stuck by your teammates and your University.

Thank you 38 for not driving a wedge through the team after a difficult 6-6 season in 2009, and thank you for not doing so after opening last season 1-3. Both instances begged for a mutiny, and in both instances, you were the stabilizing force, as the older players looked toward their own futures, and the younger players looked to you for guidance.

Thank you 38 for bouncing back from both of those dismal records, now holding a career tally of 28-20. No, that is not stellar, and it is certainly not the record you envisioned when you took the field against San Diego State in 2008, but it is still a testament to what you 38 have done.

You 38 have embraced Kelly. Three weeks ago he threw most of you under the proverbial bus during his Thursday press conference before the Navy game. Some senior classes would have quit on a coach after such a bone-headed gaffe. Instead, you handled the drama in-house in graceful fashion.

You 38 have removed some of the sting from the loss to USC a few weeks ago, and instilled belief once again in your classmates, all 2,000 of us. That loss was a dagger, to us and to you. Honestly, many of us gave up at that point, but you did not.

And your lasting legacy: You 38 have established a culture in the Irish locker room. This culture, one of fun-loving Trick Shot Mondays yet also one of an all-consuming desire to pursue victory each and every week, will still be visible two years from now. As fans bemoan disco-ball helmets, field turf and jumbotrons, this culture is becoming the defining characteristic of Notre Dame football. Thank you.

When receiver Michael Floyd and quarterback Dayne Crist committed to Notre Dame four years ago, it was seen as an unparalleled recruiting coup. Neither of their careers has panned out as they expected, both laden with injuries and controversy, yet both have maintained positive attitudes through it all.

When linebacker Darius Fleming and defensive end Kapron Lewis-Moore joined them in that recruiting class, word of their potential traveled faster than my time machine does. While both Fleming and Lewis-Moore have excelled at points in their careers, they have also become the core of the tight-knit Irish locker room.

In Floyd’s and Crist’s wake, two years from now TJ Jones and Tommy Rees will walk, stockpiling stats.

In Fleming’s and Lewis-Moore’s roles, Louis Nix and a trio of current freshmen will stand. Nix, Stephon Tuitt, Aaron Lynch and Ishaq Williams will spread as much humor to their teammates as they do fear to their opponents.

Rightfully so, Jones, Rees, Nix and Co. will receive accolades for these accomplishments in two years, but the real thanks go to you 38, who established a precedent they had no choice but to follow.

Contact Douglas Farmer at dfarmer1@nd.edu

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