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Students optimistic about 2004 football season

Justin Tardiff | Friday, September 3, 2004

The echoes of football seasons past will be reawakened this weekend as students, professors and fans everywhere eagerly await the verdict on the football team’s visit to Brigham Young.

After the frenzied adoration and harsh criticisms of two years of highs and lows, coach Tyrone Willingham faces a third season heavy with the expectations of those gunning for victory.

Many, however, are just looking for the thrill of the game.

“The reason I came here was because of the experience I had at the BYU game [last year],” freshman Billy Sullivan said. “The game and the pep rally, that clinched it.”

Sullivan is excited to experience his first football season in the student section.

“I don’t know what to expect,” he said. “You don’t really know what [the team is] going to do.”

His classmate Nick Zerbach is more excited yet.

“11-0, that’s all I’m going to say,” he said. “I’m getting excited. … I’m hoping that Brady Quinn throws for about 6,000 yards this season and breaks every NCAA record.”

Zerbach speaks for many of the more die-hard – even rabid – Irish football aficionados.

“Notre Dame football is so [awesome],” he said. “I love Notre Dame football. I’m getting excited for the Michigan game – it’s going to be a blowout, 50-0 by halftime. … When I talk about Notre Dame football, I’m drunk with love and passion for the team.”

Zerbach’s sister, Angelina, is a senior who shares his love of the Irish.”It’s going to be amazing,” she said. “I would like it to be where in an ideal situation they’d be awesome, [and] we’d win every game.She also had a uniquely senior concern.

“I’m hoping the marshmallow policy will change,” she said. “I don’t want to get kicked out of games.”

Despite posting a losing record last year, sophomore Will McAuliffe remains optimistic.

“I’m not really disheartened,” he said. “I think that, as a student, you have to look forward to every game and be optimistic – I think [the football team is] why a lot of people are here.”

His classmate Katie Johnson agreed.

“I think that school spirit is important, and supporting the football team no matter what happens is part of that,” she said.

Even faculty members are waiting to see how the Irish fare this weekend – including Professor Jennifer Woertz in the civil engineering department.

“I’m guarded after [the team’s] performance last year,” she said. “I think Ty has probably got the troops in order this year.”

Woertz also articulated the importance of the football team to the University.

“I think that sports here have such a big impact and make the University so well-known,” she said.

However, not everyone is eagerly anticipating Willingham’s first test.

“I didn’t see any of the games last year and I’m not planning on seeing any this year,” MBA student Dan Arlandson said. “I did notice the [falling] morale last season … it’s kind of humbling.”

Regardless of the outcome, the third season under Willingham will surely impact student life at Notre Dame.