November 23, 2012 // Notre Dame Football

Destiny or Coincidence?

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Notre Dame Fighting Irish fans cheer in the first quarter of the game between the Notre Dame Fighting Irish and the Wake Forest Demon Deacons at Notre Dame Stadium. Notre Dame won 38-0. Mandatory Credit: Matt Cashore-US PRESSWIRE

Growing up in an Irish Catholic family and attending Catholic schools, superstition is all too familiar.  I heard every legend and lore there is to hear, from a bird flying into one’s house is a sign death is coming to a red face means someone is speaking poorly of you.  And my response has always been the same: utter nonsense.  On my high school baseball team, I was the guy who didn’t go out of his way to step over either foul line before the game commenced (to the chagrin of those on my team), or to tell a teammate, “Hey, did you know you’re throwing a no-hitter?” late into a game.  It wasn’t done out of cruelty – I simply have never taken much stock in luck or coincidence.  I believe we’re largely the authors of our actions, and while good and bad breaks do happen along the way, generally they’re naturally connected to whatever courses we’ve set for ourselves.  However, Notre Dame’s ascent to number one in the country this past weekend managed to raise even my skeptical brow.

Kevin Hogan, quarterback for Stanford, pumped his fists furiously while embracing his teammates after throwing a 10-yard touchdown pass to Zach Ertz with 1:35 left in the fourth quarter against Oregon.  That game-tying touchdown pass would force overtime and eventually be the game winner as Stanford defeated the Oregon Ducks, 17-14.  But how many knew Hogan is the nephew of former Notre Dame quarterback and 1966 national champion, Coley O’Brien?  Even stranger, Coley O’Brien’s first start as Fighting Irish quarterback occurred as ND headed to USC undefeated and with a #1 ranking.  Notre Dame won 51-0 and ultimately won the national title that season.  But the strange Irish connections were just beginning.

Anthony Barr, outside linebacker for the UCLA Bruins, celebrated with his teammates after drilling USC quarterback Matt Barkley shoulder-first into the ground with less than two minutes left in the fourth quarter, cementing UCLA’s 38-28 defeat of the USC Trojans.  Barr’s sack would prove extremely costly, forcing Barkley to miss the Trojans’ upcoming match with #1 Notre Dame.  In another interesting twist, Anthony Barr is the son of former Notre Dame running back and 1988 national champion, Tony Brooks.  Brooks, a star player, was forced to sit out in 1988 as the undefeated #1 Fighting Irish traveled to Los Angeles to take on the Trojans.  Fast-forward to 2012 and Brooks’ son, Anthony Barr, has now forced USC’s star player to miss the USC/ND game as the undefeated #1 Fighting Irish travel to L.A.

These strange occurrences have only added to ones that have been building throughout the season.  Notre Dame has beaten Michigan, Michigan State, Stanford and Miami in 2012.  If the Irish manage to beat the USC Trojans on Saturday, it will be the first time since 1988 they’ll have defeated each of those teams in the same year.

With the come-from-behind victories against BYU and Pitt, the goal line stand against Stanford, the jarring fall of Oregon and Kansas State within hours of one another and the bizarre Irish connections helping clear ND’s path, is Notre Dame a team of destiny?  If Notre Dame wins this Saturday against USC and ends their season undefeated, should I turn partly red after my father and I share drinks of Jameson to celebrate (as we have agreed to do), maybe part of me will wonder whether my facial redness is due to my Irish grandmother speaking badly of me for my years of denying the existence of Irish lore.  But only part of me.

Comments to this Article

  • Ghost of Joe Moore commented on November 23rd, 2012 at 11:37 am

    Not worried about this game. Destiny for sure – GO IRISH!

    [Reply]

  • Jack commented on November 23rd, 2012 at 12:35 pm

    Ghost,

    I wish I had your optimism, but I am a pessimist. I always worry, that’s my problem. I hope you are all right and I to will be drinking a shot of Jameson on that night after I make my traditional home made family eggnog. GO IRIH!

    [Reply]

  • Laf Irish commented on November 23rd, 2012 at 12:51 pm

    I know where you are coming from, Jack. I think it is because we were so used to losing games we should have won lo these many years, it naturally makes us reluctant to go all in. I kept waiting for the wheels to come off this year and it just did not happen. I am cautiously optimistic and think the Irish get this done. And if they go to the NC game, they will play with Alabama, Ga or whoever.

    BTW,I think BK should be coach of the year, regardless.

    [Reply]

  • mark commented on November 23rd, 2012 at 3:39 pm

    nd’s luck is about to run out against the Trojans…it is inevitable.

    [Reply]

    irisheye62 replied on November 23rd, 2012 at 7:20 pm

    sssssshhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh——–inevitable? ssssshhhhhhhh—-that word is not in the dictionary right now—again Mark ssssshhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh—

    [Reply]

  • Ghost of Joe Moore commented on November 23rd, 2012 at 3:46 pm

    Been Irish thick and through. I understand the rivalry big time. I remember the games of Anthony Davis very well but no worries this Saturday. Mark – aint no luck to it – its called fate. GO IRISH!

    [Reply]

  • mark commented on November 23rd, 2012 at 4:26 pm

    how could the kid’s last name be Barr and the dad’s last name be Brooks?Where I come from, the kids last name and father’s last name are always the same!

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  • Irishredleg commented on November 23rd, 2012 at 6:49 pm

    I am too, very pessimistic with all the close calls over the past two decades. I’ve always said that teams need some luck along the way if they are going to win it all. I will always be proud of what this team has accomplished, but I have a feeling they are too strong of a team to stop now. I’m breaking out the Jameson Gold tomorrow! GO IRISH!!! BEAT SC!!!

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  • menotti8 commented on November 24th, 2012 at 3:33 am

    What Catholic school did you go to that encouraged superstition? Religion and superstition aren’t necessarily the same thing, and for sure that’s not what Catholicism teaches anyway. Not really sure why this presupposition was necessary for your article, but definitely can relate to the idea that something other than “what meets the eye” may be at hand in ND’s success this year. Our Lady’s name deserves the added attention and media lime light right now, so I’m just thankful that this has happened, whatever the reason for it may be!

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  • bj commented on November 24th, 2012 at 9:18 am

    GIVE EM THE COLEY OBRIEN TREATMENT 51-0, 1966

    AND LET ATKINSON LOOSE ON THOSE KICK OFFS

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-BPLUVeUu20

    GOD BE WITH US

    [Reply]

  • jonny commented on November 24th, 2012 at 12:59 pm

    is any one else having trouble sitting still??

    –8 mores hours…….uuggghh

    [Reply]

  • storespook commented on November 24th, 2012 at 2:38 pm

    We treat this game like the previous 11 games ND won this year. Focus on the game plan, play hard, believe you will win and remember, this opponent said ND quit on them last year in Rockne’s house.

    Go Irish

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  • HURLS commented on December 4th, 2012 at 4:35 pm

    “Destiny”? “Coincidence”? I wouldn’t use either word to describe NotaDame’s (I’m from Boston-area) success this season. PROPRIETY. That’s the word I’d use. We have been lucky. (Stanford’s QB graduate Andrew Luck may have had something to do with it? hm) But you know what? GOOD TEAMS ARE LUCKY. Last season we were noticeably (by me) unlucky. We were a pedestrian 8-5. This year we are lucky. (remember: GOOD TEAMS ARE LUCKY) We are a Championship-calibur 11-0. That would be a good thing.

    [Reply]

  • SteelFanRob commented on December 4th, 2012 at 6:40 pm

    Addazio to BC!

    Bielema to Arkansas!

    Hopefully Diaco stays at ND!

    [Reply]

  • SteelFanRob commented on December 4th, 2012 at 6:42 pm

    Diaco wins award for top asst. coach!

    [Reply]

  • Jack commented on December 5th, 2012 at 10:54 am

    The only other place he could go is Cal and I don’t see that happening yet.

    [Reply]

  • Ed P commented on December 19th, 2012 at 1:27 pm

    ND – Coincidence or Destiny?
    >
    > I say destiny
    >
    > This leaves the whole Lincoln – Kennedy coincidence thing in the dust
    > Did you know?…
    >
    > In 1987, ND beat Michigan State at home, scoring 31 points.
    > In 2011, ND beat Michigan State at home, scoring 31 points.
    >
    > In 1987, ND finished the season with 8 wins.
    > In 2011, ND finished the season with 8 wins.
    >
    > In 1987, ND lost their bowl game, a game they led early on.
    > In 2011, ND lost their bowl game, a game they led early on.
    >
    > In 1987, ND lost their all-time leading receiver, Tim Brown, to
    > graduation.
    > In 2011, ND lost their all-time leading receiver, Michael Floyd, to
    > graduation.
    >
    > In 1988, the ND QB was Tony Rice, who was from South Carolina . He
    > started his 3rd career game against Michigan State in East Lansing . ND
    > beat Michigan State by a score of 20-3. The star of the game was Notre
    > Dame’s defense, which held the Spartans to 89 yards rushing for the
    > game. Defensive captain Michael Stonebreaker intercepted a pass in the
    > 4th quarter to seal the win.
    >
    > In 2012, the ND QB is Everett Golson, who is from South Carolina . He
    > started his 3rd career game against Michigan State in East Lansing . ND
    > beat Michigan State by a score of 20-3. The star of the game was Notre
    > Dame’s defense, which held the Spartans to 78 yards rushing for the
    > game. Defensive captain Manti Te’o intercepted a pass in the 4th
    > quarter to seal the win.
    >
    > In 1988, Lou Holtz suspended his starting running back for the last
    > game of the season, the farthest road game of the year.
    > In 2012, Brian Kelly suspended his starting running back for the first
    > game of the season, the farthest road game of the year.
    >
    > In 1988, Notre Dame defeated their highest ranked road opponent (USC)
    > by 17 points (27-10).
    > In 2012, Notre Dame defeated their highest ranked road opponent (
    > Oklahoma ) by 17 points (30-13).
    >
    > Only two coaches in the history of Notre Dame have recorded 12-0
    > records — Lou Holtz in 1988 and Brian Kelly in 2012.
    >
    > In 1988, Lou Holtz was in his third season.
    > In 2012, Brian Kelly is in his third season.
    > In 1988, Lou Holtz won his second Coach of the Year award.
    > In 2012, Brian Kelly won his second Coach of the Year award.
    >
    > Notre Dame won the 1988 National Championship game at Sun Devil Stadium
    > in Tempe, Arizona .
    > Notre Dame will play the 2012 BCS Championship game at Sun Life Stadium
    > in Miami, Florida .
    >
    > There are exactly 5 letters in the city names and 7 letters in the
    > state names of those two locations.
    >
    > In 1988, Miami was the defending national champion, winner of two
    > national titles in the past five years.
    > In 2012, Alabama is the defending national champion, winner of two
    > national titles in the past five years.
    >
    > Miami was 37-5 in the 42 games played before meeting Notre Dame.
    > Alabama is 37-5 in the 42 games played before meeting Notre Dame.
    >
    > In 1988, Jimmy Johnson’s winning percentage at Miami was .843 (43-8)
    > before playing Notre Dame. After losing to Notre Dame, it was .827.
    > In 2012, Nick Saban’s winning percentage at Alabama is .837 (67-13)
    > before playing Notre Dame. If Notre Dame wins, his winning percentage
    > will be .827.
    >
    > Brian Kelly and Lou Holtz were born 24 years apart.
    > Their first seasons at Notre Dame were exactly 24 years apart.
    >
    > It’s been exactly 24 years since Notre Dame won their last National
    > Championship.
    > Just saying….Beat Bama!

    [Reply]

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