Life is apparently never going to be easy for a Notre Dame fan.
I should first state that I am not a graduate of the school. That academic ship sailed within 3 weeks of my freshman year of high school when I proved to be remarkably content with the B minus grade on my Pre-Algebra test. As the very definition of a mediocre and easily distracted student, I quickly understood that a report card stuffed with B’s and C’s was not exactly going to be Notre Dame material.
But, as I was born into an Irish Catholic family, with a father who actually did attend the university and even played clarinet in its marching band, I never really had any other option but to cheer cheer cheer for old Notre Dame. More often than not, the entire family was covered head to toe in Blue and Gold.
For roughly the last 20 years, the Fighting Irish football team has been mired in mediocrity. So when the team woke up the echoes in 2012 and won every single game they played, I truly did not know how to feel. The years of disappointment and heartache had left an indelible mark on my psyche. I had become the Woody Allen of Notre Dame fans, nervously watching every game with arms tightly folded, bracing myself, biting my lip and waiting for something terrible to happen. But it never did. Apparently, the only thing worse for my nervous system than a bad season was a perfect one. This was going all too well. I kept waiting for the other shoe to drop.
Then 2013 happened.
First, the semi-pro team known as the University of Alabama met us for the National Championship. Not only did the other shoe quickly drop, it was ripped off the collective Notre Dame foot, and repeatedly spiked in the end zone. We were a clearly inferior team and the embarrassing 42-14 final score left us all feeling blue, not gold.
Then 10 days later, just as I am starting to break out of my ND funk and think about the bright future of our team, it is revealed that our star player, our
perfect Notre Dame role model, Manti Teo has been inspiring us with passionate
play based on a dead girlfriend that never actually existed. Sheesh. More embarrassment and heartache for the Notre Dame fan.
I want to believe that Manti was simply duped here. After all, she seems remarkably similar to the high school girlfriend I had who lived in Niagara Falls. Sure, there may have been some “white lies” to hide the fact that he never actually met this person in real life, but my hope is that he was just a naïve kid who wanted to believe in the power of love. The alternative is just too much to bear. Perhaps us Notre Dame fans are hopelessly hopeful. We have to be.
Maybe the thing that really bugs me here, is now our rival USC fans can return to their home in Smugtown despite a very lackluster season. Finally, us Notre Dame fans had this perfect 2012 season to crow about. Now if we try and brag, we will no doubt be met with “well, at least our team has real living and breathing girlfriends.”
We have nothing to counter that. Not even a perfect season.