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Adams: Where were you when Irish eyes were smiling?

| Monday, November 9, 2020

I like Mike Tirico on the Notre Dame NBC broadcasts, but he just couldn’t do that game justice. Nobody could. Not even the dulcet tones of Morgan Freeman — one of the most iconic voice artists ever — could capture what it was like to be there when Notre Dame knocked off No. 1 Clemson.

No announcer could evoke the same kinds of feelings of angst, stress, nerves, joy, excitement, hype, letdown, hype again, letdown again, relief, bliss and a host of other emotions as embodied by the mass of students who, admittedly, did not adhere to social distancing protocols while storming the field.

Hey, I’m not gonna make excuses for that, but it begs the question of why a program like Notre Dame is in the position where the students will storm the feel after beating No. 1. Clemson and Alabama and Ohio State’s fans don’t storm the field. Notre Dame has been there and, after this win, is decidedly taking steps to get back there.

This was one for the ages. It will be spoken of in the same breath as Catholics vs. Conflicts, the 1993 Game of the Century and the Bush Push. And with regard to that last one, doesn’t this taste so sweet?

This is the kind of game where you will remember forever where you were when it happened. For me, I was shirtless in the student section being smushed up against the barrier as everyone waited for the defense to get four more stops in double overtime and give us the tacet permission necessary to take the field.

Photo courtesy of Notre Dame Athletics
Irish sophomore running back Kyren Williams tries to break a tackle as he dives forward during Notre Dame’s 47-40 victory against Clemson on Saturday.

To illustrate the point of remembering where you were, please enjoy the response that this Observer reader submitted in our postgame poll about how the game unfolded for him and his 8-year-old son.

“We trade different ND footballs back and forth to change momentum. He cried when the refs overturned the pass interference call on Ben [Skowronek]. We stood. We knelt. He prayed for good luck when he thought I wasn’t looking. I prayed in the bathroom when I knew he wasn’t. But for the first time in my life, I didn’t pray to the football gods for me. I asked them to make my son happy. He was distraught the entire 2nd half. I did my best to explain that he should be happy no matter how the game ended tonight because ND was playing how we used to….with maximum effort and for each other. It was almost as if I was talking to myself 30 years ago,” he wrote.

“I kept telling him that pit in his stomach and the fear of losing is really a blessing. That fear and those nerves are a function of the true love and passion we have for ND football. I always tell me kids to be passionate about what they do, win or lose. When the clock struck zero… I went over to the front door, unlocked it and said ‘go put on those slides.’ He knew. Pushing me out of the way, he sprinted down the front steps and into the street. And we ran for two blocks screaming ‘Go Irish!’ Like maniacs. Exactly what I did in ’93 after FSU. My 11-year-old daughter met us outside too. Grinning ear to ear. She watched the game upstairs with my wife, like civilized people… I will NEVER forget tonight. As long as I live…..”

None of us will forget this game. Ian Book said himself after the game that he’ll remember this for the rest of his life. I will remember this for the rest of my life.

This was the last home football game I will ever attend as an undergraduate (students aren’t admitted to Syracuse). This was the last time I would get to witness the enormous “Here Come the Irish” banner that my dorm raises across its east side facing North Quad. This was the last time I would be doing pushups in the stands, of which I still owe 37 because I only got 10 in on the bleacher before they distracted me with a video on the big screen and resumed play in the second overtime too quickly.

I’m pretty confident Brian Kelly isn’t going to forget this one. He just got the devil off of his back with this win. And no, I’m not talking about Dabo Swinney, because I don’t think he’s the college football equivalent of the devil (although apparently some of the students at the game did with the not-so-glowing chant they directed at him).

Brian Kelly and Ian Book, probably the two most criticized members of this Notre Dame team (and I have partaken in that criticizing), just gave me a win over the No. 1-ranked team in the country in what was — for all intents and purposes — my final home game. So a big fat THANK YOU to those two and the entirety of this team is in order.

Thank you, Irish, for making that game one for the history books and making 2020 just the slightest bit better. As my mother’s friend texted her:

“What a great college memory!!! Regis was smiling.”

I’m sure he was, along with so many other Irish eyes.

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

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About Hayden Adams

Hayden is the former sports editor of The Observer. When he's not working toward his four majors (physics and film, television & theatre) and three minors (journalism, ethics & democracy), you can probably find him hopelessly trying to save his beloved Zahm House from being wiped out. He plans to attend law school at a TBD location after graduation.

Contact Hayden