Whether you love or hate Notre Dame football, it comes back to image

Cheer, cheer for outdated Notre Dame.

The well-known phrases from the long-lasting combat tune are again in vogue this fall, only a yr after the Irish have been an embarrbading Four-Eight and the athletic director needed to concern an announcement saying that Coach Brian Kelly wouldn’t be fired at season’s finish.

Now Notre Dame is 7-1 and was No. three when the College Football Playoff choice committee unveiled its first rankings of the season Tuesday night time. What which means is easy: If Notre Dame wins out, it will likely be within the playoff. Which is precisely what each the committee and ESPN would like to see occur. Even now, 29 years faraway from their final nationwide championship, nobody drives rankings just like the Fighting Irish.

[Georgia, Alabama, Notre Dame and Clemson top first playoff rankings]

Notre Dame stays Notre Dame — actually within the eyes of its loyal following, which incorporates not solely those that graduated from the college however the “subway alumni” who generally don’t have anything to do with the college aside from its nationwide profile — boosted, in fact, however having a community platform to itself in NBC — and the truth that many Catholics view it as their faculty.

Notre Dame landed at No. three in 2017’s first College Football Playoff rankings. (Joe Robbins/Getty Images)

And then there’s the combat tune. Even probably the most avid anti-Notre Dame followers — and there are a lot — should concede that it is likely one of the most stirring in existence. If you’ve gotten ever been at Notre Dame Stadium when the gold helmets come out of the tunnel and the band cranks up the tune, it’s inconceivable to not get chills.

There’s extra to it, although. For years, Notre Dame represented the perfect in faculty athletics: It was a constant winner, and it received with gamers who spoke in full sentences, graduated and went on to achieve success on and off the sector. That’s why it went into enterprise with NBC in 1991. Notre Dame was so pure it didn’t even play in bowl video games till the late 1960s. It was big-time soccer with an Ivy League picture. (And once more, that combat tune doesn’t harm.)

That picture, even by means of years of relative mediocrity, is a giant purpose no faculty drives feelings like Notre Dame. It is to school soccer what the New York Yankees are to baseball, the Dallas Cowboys are to the NFL and Duke is to school basketball. Many love the Irish. Many hate them. Almost nobody is impartial.

Since profitable a nationwide championship beneath Lou Holtz in 1988, the Irish solely often have been nationwide contenders. They did open 12-Zero in 2012, Kelly’s third yr in South Bend, however that season ended with a thud, first with a 42-14 humiliation by the hands of Alabama within the BCS nationwide championship recreation, then with the embarrbading hoax involving star linebacker Manti T’eo.

Among the various jokes that got here out of the finally unfaithful story of the tragic loss of life of T’eo’s girlfriend was a poster that includes Alabama quarterback A.J. McCarron and his then-girlfriend, Katherine Webb, the reigning Miss Alabama. The caption on the poster learn: “The SEC. Real Football. Real Girlfriends.”


That was really the least embarrbading off-field incident Notre Dame has suffered since Kelly arrived in 2010 to exchange the as soon as revered however finally reviled Charlie Weis.

Weis, who had been an badistant beneath Bill Belichick in New England, arrived in South Bend performing as if he was Belichick and went 19-6 his first two seasons, largely on the energy of gamers recruiting by predecessor Tyrone Willingham — who additionally went from revered to reviled whereas teaching beneath the Golden Dome. Once most of Willingham’s gamers graduated, Notre Dame plummeted, going 16-21 the following three seasons. The 2007 loss to Navy — ending a document 43-game profitable streak towards the Midshipmen — was symbolic of Weis’s fall from grace.

In got here Kelly, who promptly misplaced to Navy the primary time he confronted them in 2010. The following week, he insisted on working towards outside regardless of winds gusting to greater than 50 mph. Declan Sullivan, a 20-year-old junior who shot video for the staff and tweeted concerning the hazard of the winds earlier than and through apply, was killed after the 50-foot hydraulic elevate he was on tipped and crashed. The exercise continued for about 25 minutes after the accident.

Notre Dame was vilified by many, exonerated by others. There was an outpouring of sorrow on the faculty. Its president, the Rev. John Jenkins, stated that he was finally accountable. Yet nobody — together with Kelly — was punished.

Earlier that very same season, Lizzy Seeberg, a 19-year-old freshman at neighboring St. Mary’s College, dedicated suicide not lengthy after accusing a Notre Dame soccer participant of badually badaulting her. Like Sullivan’s loss of life, the Seeberg incident stays a subject of controversy.

Notre Dame supporters level to those that declare Seeberg was the aggressor within the incident as a purpose the participant — who finally frolicked within the NFL — by no means missed a recreation. Others level out a textual content despatched to Seeberg by one other participant after the incident telling her she can be making a mistake to tackle Notre Dame soccer. The participant was discovered not accountable by a Notre Dame investigation, hardly stunning as a result of Seeberg wasn’t round to inform her facet of the story. The faculty’s trigger wasn’t helped when Jenkins, a Catholic priest, refused to fulfill with Seeberg’s grieving household on the recommendation of counsel.

Some noticed all of it for instance of Notre Dame, regardless of its claims of by no means being a part of the seamy facet of school athletics, being simply one other faculty that will do something to win video games and earn cash. Notre Dame defenders discovered that outrageous.

Many known as for Kelly’s head final fall, not due to something that had occurred off the sector however as a result of Notre Dame, with all of its built-in benefits, misplaced eight video games, together with at residence to Duke and — but once more — to Navy.

This season although, all is effectively. The Irish misplaced at residence to (now) top-ranked Georgia however have spectacular wins over Michigan State, Southern Cal and North Carolina State. They nonetheless should play at Miami and at Stanford, with residence video games towards Wake Forest and Navy.

Even in the event that they lose a recreation, they’re nonetheless a lock for one of many main bowls for a similar purpose the College Football Playoff is so thrilled they’re in place to make the ultimate 4: TV rankings.

Many are thrilled. Many are upset. That’s the way in which it really works. When Notre Dame performs everybody cheers, somehow.

For extra by John Feinstein, go to washingtonpost.com/feinstein.

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