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Friday, November 30, 2012
A guide to getting to know Notre Dame

By DJ Gallo

Notre Dame Stadium
The Notre Dame Fighting Irish take the field as Touchdown Jesus looms in the background.
It’s true: Notre Dame will play for the national championship. For many people, this seems vaguely familiar. For others -- those you may affectionately call GramGram or PeePaw -- Notre Dame being one of the best college football teams in the country probably feels like a return to normalcy.

But what about younger Americans? What about the under-30 crowd? They have no recollection of Notre Dame being good at football. Remember: Notre Dame hasn’t won a national title since 1988 and hasn’t been ranked No. 1 since 1993. Many current Notre Dame players weren’t even born then.

Younger Americans have grown up with nary a mention of Notre Dame football on their iThings or FacePages. It’s been all SEC and the hippity hop and Siri and “Glee.” If they have any memory of Notre Dame football, it might be the year the Fighting Irish and their giant coach got crushed in the Sugar Bowl by LSU’s equally giant quarterback. And the youth probably didn’t even finish watching that game, thanks to their short attention spans. They were no doubt sexting and doing vodka eyeball shots by halftime. They do that stuff constantly.

What the youth need is an informative guide to educate them on Notre Dame in preparation for the BCS National Championship Game scheduled some 734 days from now. An informative guide they shall have.

What is Notre Dame?

The University of Notre Dame du Lac (or simply Notre Dame) is a Catholic research university located in Notre Dame, an unincorporated community north of the city of South Bend, in St. Joseph County, Indiana, United States. The name of the university, “Notre Dame,” is French for “Our Lady,” a Catholic salutation in reference to the Virgin Mary, the patron saint of the university.

(Note: That information was pulled from this Notre Dame page on the Internet, which is where the youngsters get all their information. It's like a World Wide Web version of a set of Encyclopedia Britannica.)

Is Notre Dame relevant?

Apparently. Thanks to Notre Dame routinely winning seven or eight games and getting killed in bowl games almost every year, there has been much discussion among your dads and uncles in recent years about whether Notre Dame football is still relevant.

It turns out that if lots of people have a discussion about whether you are relevant, you are relevant. You get bonus points if you are the only school with its own television contract with a national broadcast network. And you clinch the argument if you show up in the national title game.

So, yes, Notre Dame is relevant. Big word, by the way. Impressive that you know it. And thanks for not submitting your questions in texting shorthand.

Stop stereotyping all young people.

Stop demanding things. You young people think only about yourselves.

Is Notre Dame going to get killed in the BCS title game? A lot of people are saying they are going to get killed.

As hard as it may be for you to believe, the SEC is not unbeatable. Yes, the league has won every championship since you had a bedtime, but anything can happen in one game. You may even remember how Alabama got hammered by Utah in the 2009 Sugar Bowl. Notre Dame probably wouldn’t win every game in an SEC schedule, but they could win any SEC game.

By the way, that last sentence is only 96 characters. Feel free to Twitter it out on Facesquare.

Manti Te’o: greatest linebacker EVER?!

Whoa. Whoa there, junior. Your parents did their best, but one way their generation erred was in helping create a culture that blows everything out of proportion. No one can be just “good.” They have to be the worst or best ever. Te’o is a good linebacker and Notre Dame’s emotional leader. But let's not paint a Te’o mural over Touchdown Jesus quite yet. He’s had 23 total tackles and half a sack over his last four games.

Johnny Football (aka Johnny Manziel) is who should win the Heisman, as some of your high school friends already know. By the way, is this the new trend among the youth? Is everyone getting Johnny Football haircuts now? This should probably be on the local news tonight: “Tonight at 11, a new trend in haircuts … and how it could RUIN your teen’s education.”

Will Notre Dame stay relevant even if the Irish lose the title game?

Definitely. This season earned them another two decades of free relevance even if they don’t see No. 1 again for another 20 years. Who knows, maybe someday you’ll be having this very same Notre Dame discussion with another generation of youngsters. Hopefully you’ll come across just as “hip” and “with it.” Gonga Style, right?

What conference is Notre Dame in?

Well, that’s an interesting question. And it has an answer. But a college team’s conference affiliation (or non-affiliation) can change at any moment, and I don’t feel like updating this column every 30 or 40 minutes.

Notre Dame supposedly has a lot of history. What are some names I should know?

Notre Dame indeed has a rich history. Here are just a few of the names of their past coaches: James McWeeney, Hunk Anderson, Frank Longman. Believe it or not: coaches at an esteemed religious institution, not, uhh, "performers." Then there are people named Knute and “The Gipper” and Bud Bonar and on and on. Notre Dame football history is a treasure trove of hilarious old-timey names from back when your great-great-grandparents were just glimmers in their great-great-great-grandparents' eyes.

Whatever happened to that giant coach? The one that got killed by JaMarcus Russell (the worst quarterback EVER)?

He is the head football coach at Kansas now. They are 1-10. However, many of Notre Dame’s best current players were recruited by him. He actually deserves some credit for Notre Dame making it to the BCS title game. And no doubt he will take that credit, because ego has always been his largest and most noticeable feature.

What is Touchdown Jesus?

Oh, sorry. Of course you don’t know that. It is a mural of Jesus on the exterior of Notre Dame’s Hesburgh Library that can be seen from inside Notre Dame Stadium.

What Instagram filter did they use?

Most of those words mean nothing.

We’re just kidding. And we know what Touchdown Jesus is. We’re just trolling you.

Trolling. Also a word that makes no sense.

Do you realize we got all this information off our phones in a fraction of the time it took us to read this?

Only realizing it now.

One last question: Rudy was offside, right?

By a mile.