Now is as good a time as any to get this down on e-paper. The school I went to undergrad at, Penn State, heads to South Bend this week and two weeks later I’ll be in a stadium for a Notre Dame game for only the second time in my life when they come to East Lansing.
If you’re reading this and even mildly find yourself a college football fan, you’ll either think me an asshole or love what I’m saying. But, let me start by putting my hatred of Notre Dame in persepective…
You know in ROBOCOP, where Christopher Henderson (Peter Weller to those of you not 24 fans) is about to die so he can transform into Robocop? You know how that multi-cultural array of bad dudes lights Henderson up with many, many gun blasts all while laughing at Henderson absorbing these punishing bullets? Then the leader of the gang walks up and says something about just getting it out of the way and putting one final bullet in Henderson’s head?
That’s the way I prefer to see the Notre Dame football team. Embarrased, but with that one final bullet in their head.
If there is one given in this World for college football fans, it is that you will either hate Notre Dame or love them dearly. I fall on the hate side and there is nothing unique about it.
It is not the greatest rivalry in all of sports, or college football or even for Penn State and Notre Dame. But, that video right there, that is the lingering memory of this match-up.
The teams have played 17 times and are dead even heading into this game, this is the first that the two have played since that game in 1992. Four of the games were from 1913-1928. The Irish won 3 of them and the tie occurred. In 1976, they met in a Bowl Game, that Notre Dame won. That’s the backdrop, as in 1981 the two teams began to play each other every year for 12 seasons. PSU won 8 of the 12…
But, not that last game. They lost by a point. On a two point conversion. At the end of the game. At the hands of Rick Mirer of all people.
And Notre Dame fans kind of like to let you know about it.
The Penn State – Notre Dame rivalry is bitter and filled with hate for a simple reason. Growing up in certain American cities, people take to Notre Dame. Philadelphia was one of those cities. I guess the Pope forces most Catholics to be Notre Dame fans. Philadelphia was different from Boston and New York, with regards to Notre Dame, mainly because people in the city had Penn State football to root for. NYC loves the Notre Dame Irish, Boston has BC, but BC is another Catholic school…which Penn State was not. In Philadelphia, the fan base for Penn State and the fan base for Notre Dame are wholly distinct.
One huge factor in the rivalry is that before Pittsburgh started to beat up Penn State for coal belt recruits, Notre Dame did so.
Added to this are two factors:
1. Notre Dame fans tend to be jackasses.
2. Joe Paterno let those fools know that they were rooting for a jackass football program.
Paterno says a lot of nice things about a lot of football programs, but not too much about Notre Dame.
The title of this article is “Who the hell do Notre Dame fans think they are?” It’s in quotes in the title because it wasn’t authored by me. It was authored by Joe Paterno.
You remember in the late 1980s when Notre Dame and Miami met and the games were dubbed “Catholics v. Convicts” by the Notre Dame fans? Only Notre Dame jackasses make you want to root for a convict over a Catholic. Now, look, I can rest easy in knowing that I’m not endorsing crime over Catholicism for one simple reason: Those Hurricanes teams had more Catholics than Notre Dame had.
I’m not going to say much about “Touchdown Jesus”, other than I haven’t exactly read Jesus’ blog, or know a whole lot about his daily routine, but I can say without a doubt that I do know that my man does not give a damn about whether Notre Dame wins football games.
PSU and Notre Dame have only met a handful of times compared to other great rivalries. The same goes for Notre Dame and Miami. Yet, the Catholics v. Convicts series had to be stopped because the fans were getting too violent. You have to step back and wonder why there is more bitterness between these programs than there is between the Irish and, say, the USC Trojans. Maybe it’s because Pete Carroll believes Notre Dame is the finest of all college football traditions, while Joe Paterno has referred to Notre Dame’s football program as a “banking institution” rather than a program ripe with tradition.
But, mainly, it’s how the Notre Dame supporters carry themselves. As if they’re entitled to something.
Look no further than the current rankings. Notre Dame sat at NUMBER TWO in the Nation coming into the first week of the season. They might be there in the end, but they aren’t there now. This goes to show one thing: Notre Dame gets the benefit of the doubt in the rankings and elsewhere. They have their own television deal and they have a BCS exemption, is there more or a reason needed to dislike them? People want Notre Dame to be good. To be better than they actually are. I don’t know the reason for that psyche, unless you want to just chalk it up to them having a ton of fans. But, the point is, when you’re not a Notre Dame fan, that kind of gets old quickly. The voters knew exactly what they were doing, too, which is the worst part, as they quickly dropped Notre Dame down the rankings with their lackluster performance in Atlanta.
But, if they run this Big Ten slate of Penn State, Michigan, Michigan St, they’ll be right back up there. Probably deserving of the ranking at that point, but they weren’t deserving of it one week ago.
In the end, that’s what you get out of Joe Paterno when he talks about Notre Dame and it is the core of why people dislike Notre Dame. They feel entitled, as if they are the center of the football universe and not only that, but that the center is surrounded by nothing of even close importance. Right now, Notre Dame is just another college football team. Every big time program has tradition. Traditions others know about, some traditions that only the fans of a particular program know.
Tradition is a part of all of College Football, not just Notre Dame.
“You’re going to hear all about Notre Dame tradition, and you know what? It doesn’t mean a thing unless Knute Rockne leaps out of the ground and tackles you. Their field has got a hundred yards and two goal posts just like every other football field. When you put those black shoes on tomorrow, and you put on that jersey without your name on the back, and you put that plain helmet on, that’s tradition, Penn State’s tradition.”
– Joe Paterno