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Seeking Sgt. McCarthy’s successor

| Thursday, October 8, 2015

Respect. Honor. Tradition. Those words have been repeated over and over in the run-up to this weekend’s football game between Notre Dame and Navy.

For both schools, that last word, tradition, matters immensely. Starting with Friday’s pep rally and extending all the way until the Alma Maters at the end of Saturday’s game, this weekend will be packed with tradition upon tradition.

But unfortunately, one of Notre Dame’s most iconic institutions has come to an end. At the most recent home game against Massachusetts on Sept. 26, Sgt. Tim McCarthy of the Indiana State Police delivered his final safety message before the fourth quarter to thunderous applause.

After 55 years reminding fans to stay safe after the game in the form of quips, puns and jokes, McCarthy has now retired. For two other home games this season, Notre Dame has played recordings of McCarthy’s old tips.

No one will ever truly replace Sgt. McCarthy, but Notre Dame still needs someone to deliver safety reminders to fans. So, with deep respect for the rich legacy McCarthy leaves behind, here are a few of The Observer Editorial Board’s suggestions for his successor.

Lou Holtz:

Perhaps he can impart some “shafetee teeps” every home game now that he has left ESPN. One of the greatest coaches in Notre Dame football history, Holtz would get the crowd going for the fourth quarter like no other.

Ted Williams:

Former homeless man Ted Williams is famous for his “Golden Voice.” He was recognized through a YouTube video of him speaking in his clear, booming, refined radio voice on the streets of Columbus, Ohio. He may not have adjusted well to fame his first time around (falling into depression and alcoholism), but he’s excited to give his voice another shot. That shot could be before the fourth quarter of Notre Dame football games.

Brian Kelly:

Sgt. McCarthy gave his final safety tip from the field, and it seemed to work out well. So why don’t we just keep a mic down on the sideline and let Coach Kelly say a few words about driving safely after the students salute him with the 1812 Overture? In the middle of a game, Kelly might be a bit too tense to give a lighthearted safety tip, but people would take the message seriously coming from everyone’s favorite purple-faced football coach.

Joe Biden:

As the “man behind the man” (quite literally, most of the time), the current Vice President has been “Biden” his time in deciding whether to run for the presidency. The safety message consistently energizes all of the fans in Notre Dame Stadium, and there is no better way to “wake up the echoes” than with a cuppa Joe.

Ms. Frizzle:

Who better to impart zany bits of safety wisdom than everybody’s favorite teacher from The Magic School Bus? Ms. Frizzle and her lizard-and-school-bus entourage have long been favorites in the “edutainment” industry, enjoyed by children and adults alike since the mid-80s. With a track record of making education fun, Ms. Frizzle would have no trouble maintaining Sgt. McCarthy’s lighthearted air while reminding those in the stadium to “take chances, make mistakes, get messy and DRIVE SAFE!”

Taylor Swift:

Let’s be honest, no one will ever be the same as our beloved Sgt. McCarthy, so maybe we need to take it in a slightly different direction, and Tay is nothing short of a wordsmith. Imagine what the girl could do with safety puns. ND’s got a blank space, baby, and we’ll write your name.

Justin Bieber:

What at first may seem like an awful joke gone even more horribly awry would actually make a lot of sense. Bieber is around the student body’s average age, and he has had more than his fair share of run-ins with the law. Who better to warn us against reckless, drunk driving than he? The lone problem is Bieber’s availability; perhaps he could pre-record his warnings. Not ideal, but his voice is recognizable enough.

University President Fr. John Jenkins:

Fr. Jenkins isn’t particularly well-known for his punning skills, or just humor in general, but that’s exactly why his move to the press box on Saturdays makes perfect sense from a PR standpoint. What better way to show off the human side of the man? Granted, he is a trained philosopher, so you can probably expect his jokes to be a little on the dry side and way above everyone’s heads.

Lisa Kudrow:

Because she killed it with her single “Smelly Cat” as Phoebe in “Friends.” She’s got a way with words, and it’s obvious she could share a safety pun to rival McCarthy in the same vein of creativity that brought us “Smelly Cat, Smelly Cat, What are they feeding you … ”

Morgan Freeman:

Freeman is the voice of God — at least in the movie “Bruce Almighty.” Who wouldn’t want to listen to God? Accidents will undoubtedly plummet to zero. Plus, if someone were to narrate your life, wouldn’t you want Freeman to be the one to do it? And since Notre Dame football is life, he definitely should be a part of it.

A student from the “drunk tank”:

Every game, students who have had a little too much fun tailgating prior to kickoff find themselves in the confines of the police force’s “drunk tank.” What better individual to share words of wisdom regarding the implications of drinking on a person’s safety than someone who is directly experiencing the consequences?

Jon Stewart:

You didn’t honestly think one of the greatest comic minds of a generation was going to simply retire to a farm in New Jersey, did you? No, his words — and grunts and wheezes and whatever other noises he makes — will fit perfectly into the game day atmosphere. Besides, his arrival will demand a definite upgrade in the concession-stand pizza game.

A hologram of Sgt. McCarthy, à la the hologram of Tupac at Coachella 2012:

Tupac is to rap what McCarthy is to safety puns: the best ever. Notre Dame Stadium crowds can enjoy an authentic performance from McCarthy while McCarthy enjoys retirement from the comfort of his own home — though his hologram will be undoubtedly more family-friendly than Tupac’s was. Keep ya head up, Irish fans.

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