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Blue-Gold Game a good start

Observer Viewpoint | Friday, April 22, 2005

Thousands of fans will watch a football game tomorrow in Notre Dame Stadium. And not one will care which team wins.

The Blue-Gold Game, kicking off at 1:35 p.m. Saturday, is a chance for fans to quench their thirst for Irish football during the off-season.

But this year there’s a fresh feel surrounding the annual scrimmage that marks the end of spring practice.

It’s the first look at the Irish under new coach Charlie Weis, the 1978 Notre Dame alum expected to lead the football team back to national prominence. Whether he can get the Irish back in the championship race is yet to be determined. But one thing is for sure – Weis has energized a campus, a fan base and a tradition that has been relatively lethargic for the past decade.

Saturday, four Irish legends, Joe Montana, Chris Zorich, Joe Theismann and Tim Brown, are back as honorary coaches for the game. Weis might be considered a play-calling genius, but this is the smartest thing he’s done since he flew to South Bend from New England. Having four of the best players in Irish football history around for the weekend, even if it’s only for a ceremonial coaching role, can only help the program.

These four men know what it feels like to win at Notre Dame. At least a little of that knowledge – and more importantly, that attitude – should rub off on the current team.

Football is the heartbeat of Notre Dame. And it’s been more than12 years since the campus blood pumped as it does now. There is a different feel around campus when the Irish are winning. There is a little more to celebrate at dorm parties and waking up for that 8:30 class doesn’t seem so bad.

At least for Saturday, the campus heartbeat will be as strong as ever. There will be alums – actual and subway alike – grilling bratwursts in the Joyce Center lots, students dusting off their Victory March CDs and ushers making sure their yellow jackets still fit. Amongst all this typical game day commotion, there is an optimism that hasn’t been felt for too long. A belief that Notre Dame is back on top.