“Who the hell do Notre Dame fans think they are?”

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.Jackass

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

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27 comments
  1. Awesome article. I often find myself trying to criticize Joboo articles as of late, but I have to give credit where credit is due. Job well done. And, Notre Dame fans are definetly jackasses. Every single one of them.

  2. Lance said:

    This article was clearly written by somone that took the short-bus to school. Notre Dame does not have any oppinion towards Penn State because they are a insignificant program. There is no rivalry between these teams. Notre Dame’s rivals are 1) USC and 2) Michigan with arguments of Miami and Nebraska.

    Let me know when you get some writers that aren’t missing a chromosome…

  3. “Penn State because they are a insignificant program.”

    Nice to see it took less than an hour for a Notre Dame fan to show up and prove my point.

  4. I don’t think that Doug was trying to claim that Notre Dame and Penn State are bitter rivals. He was merely relating how, where he grew up, there was tension between Penn State and Notre Dame fans and some of the history based on head to head matchups, and more importantly the competition over recruits. And more to the point, regardless of his points about contentious points between ND and PSU, the points he makes about ND more generally are widely held by any college football fan that doesn’t believe in “Touchdown Jesus”. I have a lot of expereince living around Notre Dame fans since it seems like 3 out of 4 come from Nothern Illinois, and let me tell you nothing is more off putting than the sense of superiority felt by Notre Dame fans that hasn’t been applicable since the ’50s. Face it you haven’t been dominant since then, hell you’ve only started being relevant again in the last two years, but that is OK. Support your team, value your tradition if you must, but all you have to do is recognize the reality that you really are no different than any major college football program and everyone will get off your back.

  5. Lance said:

    Ryan let me know when you decide which team’s uniform has the prettiest colors so I can make fun of your team as well.

  6. Exactly. I made it clear early on that my dislike for Notre Dame isn’t unique and I’m not proclaiming PSU/Notre Dame to be this huge rivalry. They’ve only played 17 times. Lance, if you look at what I said, I specifically talk about the rivalry in one city and compare that city to NYC and Boston and how those cities relate to Notre Dame. Clearly coming from that direction, I’m going to have a different view of PSU/Notre Dame than someone in the mid-west. Notre Dame/PSU in the 80s (90,91,92) was the biggest college football game in the Northeast.

    Like I said, it was absolutely huge in Philadelphia because of the split in fan bases and more specifically, geographical areas of the city. I could have broken it down to south philly rooting for PSU, the northeast rooting for Notre Dame, west philadelphia rooting for PSU, but that makes no sense because the audience of this blog is not just people from Philadelphia.

    I’m breaking down my dislike of Notre Dame based regionally and it most definitely was a regional rivalry during that time period. And there’s a reason why this game is getting Notre Dame’s highest ticket requests EVER.

  7. Well Lance if you weren’t at least mildly illiterate you can direct your pre-pubescent angst against the South Carolina Gamecocks as noted in an earlier post. I’m anticipating a lot of really witty remarks revolving around the word “cock”, so please don’t let me down.

  8. Lance said:

    Well here is my first, clearly by adopting the “Cocks” you are compensating for something.

  9. Shawn Glasser said:

    “Ryan let me know when you decide which team’s uniform has the prettiest colors so I can make fun of your team as well.”

    You started with frosted tips and now have begun using the word prettiest. Damn Bratsburg you are gayer than AIDS at this point. It must be because the Notre Dame tradition has got to you.

    I can remain completely unbiased to the situation since i didn’t grow up around college football but i mean come on. Did anyone watch the game against GT? It was even more pathetic than the MSU/Idaho game, which took a lot. Notre Dame should be destroying these unranked teams not biting their nails down the stretch. The fact of the matter is, too many people got on the Charlie Weis bandwagon and hyped up Notre Dame to be amazing.

    Until they beat Penn State, Michigan and Michigan State, I don’t consider them to be a top 10 football team in country. (MSU is in there because of the loss last year by ND to them)

  10. We’re veering quickly into a conversation we can easily hold over poker, so let’s try to keep away from the comments that people that don’t go to MSU law will not give a damn about. We all know Lance likes his frosted tipped hair and what not, but let’s see if we can not dissuade outsiders from wanting to participate on this blog. But, Shawn good post otherwise.

  11. J said:

    My favorite team is whoever is playing Notre Dame. (Yeah, it’s tired, but it’s true). That said, I don’t think there’s any denying they have the tradition. On the basis of tradition, there is Notre Dame, Alabama, USC, and Oklahoma. (Just count the championships). There are lots of great traditions. (Heritages might be a better word). None come close to these four.

  12. Becca said:

    “Well here is my first, clearly by adopting the “Cocks” you are compensating for something.”… I would just like to say that 1. It is kind of odd that you are thinking about Ryan in that manner, 2. For the record, Ryan doesn’t need to overcompensate for anything, and 3. Two last words: “frosted tips.”

  13. Scott said:

    Lance must have recieved his education at ND considering his poor spelling and use of a rather than an before insignificant.

  14. Scott, welcome to blog. As it turns out, Lance spent his formative years at Grand Valley State University. Having been turned down by the Touchdown Jesus folks.

  15. Tom Mann said:

    The one thing that characterizes a football fan is loyalty to his chosen team. And I would like to add; unwavering, absolute, irrational loyalty. Doug is loyal to Penn State and that is good for Penn State. But, who does Penn State think they are? Who does any team thnk they are for that matter? School programs build a culture within their fan base over a legacy of many years and many confrontations with many different teams. Football would be nothing more than a poorly attended event if it were not for the irrational loyalty of self proclaimed proponents of their teams. All fans need to do is acknowledge that other fans love thier teams just as much. What they don’t need is a bunch of self-righteous crap offered up as proof that one program is better than another or that one program should receive “a final bullet through the head.” Doug….be a noble fan and root for Penn State till your dying day, but please cut the crap. Texans for Notre Dame.

  16. The “final bullet through the head” thing is clearly used metaphorically and dramatically, rather than literally, Tom. In yesterday’s game, Notre Dame certainly put it through PSU. I’m certainly not putting up a bunch of self-righteous crap that one program is better than another, Tom. I’m putting up a bunch of self-righteous crap about Notre Dame fans putting their program better than others.

    There is a huge difference between irrational loyalty of self proclaimed proponents of their teams and what I grew up with from Notre Dame fans. That, was the basis of the article.

    Lastly, Tom, if you don’t realize that all of this is a part of the entertainment that is college football, then I can’t help you. I don’t wish ill will on Notre Dame fans, certainly have known many over the years. I just from time to time wish ill upon the team they root for on Saturdays.

    It’s all sports and it’s all fun, it’s not larger than life, which I think you seem to get…just that you don’t attribute it to this article for some reason and I’ll blame that on a Notre Dame bias.

  17. J said:

    Tom is lukewarm. I bet his favorite color is beige.

  18. Tom Mann said:

    Your point is well taken. My point was just “be true to your school.” I love the sport and have supported my team through the ups and downs without once having to belittle other programs with venemous comments. I learned the Irish fight song in 1958 and sat with fans from opposing teams before and after games and drank till we were good friends. We still are and do not take the trash talk seriously. For Mr. J, don’t confuse me for a peace loving son of a bitch, I am not. Feircly loyal Texans for Notre Dame.

  19. You’re right Tom it would be one thing to attack Notre Dame’s program for simply being successful. However, that isn’t what is going on here. We ARE attacking Notre Dame FANS that typify a certain attitude of entitlement and superiority that make it very difficult to have a coherent discussion with a Notre Dame fan. You are always welcome to think you follow the best College program in the country which is something we all hope for. While you take issue with the way we “belittle other programs with venemous comments” at least we come out and say how we feel about Notre Dame rather than the implicit snubbing of the nose that goes on whenever you talk to a Notre Dame fan.

  20. Tom Mann said:

    I will agree with you in saying that ND fans are obnoxious and exhibit some degree of elitism. But they, like in every case, are not the majority. But I see something else in their behavior that can only be explained by analogy. Think of “Fighter pilot mentality” and I will think you will understand, since all successful programs foster this mind set given any competition. A fighter pilot can NEVER allow himself to entertain the idea that he could fail in any encounter. If he does he sets himself up to fail. He must be cock sure that the outcome will be in his favor. Football programs, and fans to that extent, begin to adopt this cock sure attitude and then translate it into a form of supreme confidence and elitism. When failure is not an option, you get the good with the bad. Entitlement and superiority, maybe. As an all encompassing characterization, no I don’t think so. Make sure your willingness to slam every ND fan does not resemble what you are criticizing. Can you see through hated for ND and move on? Will your article create a kindler gentler jackass? Is it worth all the acid drip? I enjoyed the exchange. Best wishes.

  21. Well to answer one of your questions I can easily see through my “hatred” for Notre Dame, as the simple fact that a person supports Notre Dame football doesn’t mean that I automatically think less of them as a person. This is a lowly sports blog, where we comment on merely one small aspect of life, sports. We have no problem keeping sports separated from the other, often more significant facets of life. So just because someone is snobby about their college football team doesn’t make them a bad person. A closer question is in this day and age how we take people seriously that analogize sports with war. I understand that Kellen Winslow Jr. is a soldier, and evidently now all that Notre Dame attitude can be explained by watching Top Gun one too many times. It’s characterizations like this that make me realize just how silly any comparison between sports and war have always been.

  22. Benny B. said:

    I happened to read this the day after Michigan thrashed Notre Dame. I remember watching that ’92 PSU vs. ND game and it left a bitter taste in my mouth as well. Too bad PSU didn’t avenge that loss last week. ND fans truly are jackasses, and my best friend for many years was one of those people. ND has great tradition, PSU has great tradition, Nebraska, USC, tons of other schools not mentioned. Whoever said none come close to ND, USC, Alabama, and Oklahoma in terms of tradition is a moron. Michigan has the most Div I-A wins of any program and the highest winning percentage, with Notre Dame closely behind. They also have 11 National Championships (don’t believe Wikkipedia’s shitty declaration that they have 7), one of the most recognizable fight songs, the famed winged helmets, and rivalries with ND and Ohio State that are almost always relevant. Disclaimer: I’m not saying Michigan is better than the other programs in terms of tradition or even the quality of their football program over the past few years. But to not include them as one of the primary tradition-packed schools is ridiculous. PSU is definitely one of the primary schools as well. That being said, I direct this last part to Graham: I hope the Spartans destroy your Nittany Lions this year, and stop yelling that “WE ARE PENN STATE” shit at the stadium.

  23. Benny B. said:

    Oh yeah, I forgot to mention a little fact that ND fans hate. While on a trip out west, Michigan stopped in South Bend and taught the students at Notre Dame how to play football.

  24. Jay Em said:

    hate us cause you aint us….joe pas great, but penn state fan base and tradition couldnt touch notre dames

  25. Mary Blankemeier said:

    In regards to Notre Dame rivals, I would say Ohio State is bigger than Michigan and USC. Notre Dame keeps them on the schedule so they can periodically beat them and “prove” they can win against “top” ranked teams. They refuse to add Ohio State because they can’t beat them. Last year’s Fiesta Bowl was a bigger hype than the National Championship because of Notre Dame’s avoidance of playing this team and lack of ability to beat Ohio in the past.

    Like Paterno said, if you put everyone on a level playing field of 100 yards with 2 goal posts, helmets and jerseys, forget the names, the true athletes will win out. The team and school with solid tradition, heart, and talent, not exploited by media “hoopla: will prevail.

    Penn State was able to beat Ohio, why can’t Notre Dame?!?!

    (FYI – I went to Purdue for an education, sports achievement by my school is just a sideline benefit not an entitlement!)

  26. Kenny said:

    Joe Oaterno is a pathetic excuse for a
    Human being.

  27. Timothy Walsh said:

    Joe Paterno hated Notre Dame. No big deal. Lots of people do. But Paterno was the head coach of a storied program. He – at least on the record – should’ve shown more class. It is obvious where his hatred comes from – they’re the most popular and loved college football program of all – but he showed it on the record. That is a problem. It is so obviously envy and rancor of a childish and irrational nature that he should’ve bored his family and his cheering section with it, not tell everyone else and thereby cheapen himself and his program. He had a schedule of cupcakes his entire career and hated the fact that Notre Dame did not take this road yet consistently outclass him. He hung in there when his skills as a coach and recruiter were obviously waning (to put it mildly) because he wanted to have more wins than (first) Bear Bryant and (at the end) Eddie Robinson. Pretty tacky. Envy and mindless hatred I’d better left to bores in barrooms, not head coaches of highly respected universities.

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