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Football: New tradition

Bobby Griffin | Tuesday, September 5, 2006

Irish head coach Charlie Weis will begin another tradition this week in Notre Dame’s first home game of the 2006 season against Penn State – one that has nothing to do with scoring points on offense.

Weis and Director of Bands Kenneth Dye spoke on the telephone Friday and worked out details on a post-game collaboration between the fans, marching band and football team.

While it’s been customary in the past for the crowd to sing the Alma Mater after the game, Weis and Dye saw room for expansion.

“I talked to the captains this summer … and last year when we honored Navy we went over and stood behind their team while they were singing their Alma Mater,” Weis told The Observer after his press conference Sunday. “And having been a student at this school, it went through my mind, ‘Hey, why don’t we do this?'”

Weis graduated from Notre Dame in 1978. And because the Irish head coach has not been a part of the student body for 28 years, he was initially unaware if anything similar had been done in the past. That’s when Weis contacted Dye.

Dye has been the Notre Dame Director of Bands for nine years. He also served as an arranger and composer for the 2000 Olympic band and pops arranger for the Dallas Symphony. He graduated from the University of Houston with a Doctorate in Music Education and a Master’s in Business Administration.

“It evolved over the last year [when] the team kept wanting to participate in things,” Dye said in a phone interview Monday. “They were kind of in tune with the audience, and so [Weis] called on Friday and said ‘What do you think about this?’

“I was delighted to get a call from the coach … and I think it’s a great idea to share that with the team and the students.”

Weis said his team was in favor of idea after discussing the details. The Irish have honored their fans in the past by standing in front of the student section after games – notably last season after defeating Michigan on the road and this past Saturday after beating Georgia Tech.

But now, they will be involved in a more intimate manner – right down to singing the lyrics at the same time as their classmates.

“The players love being part of the student body,” Weis said. “This is a little different place than a lot of other schools.

“I just thought that as long as we’re here, and the band’s here, and the students are here, you could do this.”

Dye agreed that Notre Dame’s unique position as a community-oriented institution makes an idea like singing the alma mater especially powerful. And as such, anything the Notre Dame band can do to promote this spirit is important in Dye’s mind.

“We just want to try to capture these couple of minutes where it’s a hard fought victory and just have that bonding,” Dye said.