I have to admit something. I was very bored up until a few days ago. Like, sitting at the DMV bored. I had sat down several times to write this week’s article and literally drew a complete blank. Is there anything exciting about this Notre Dame-Syracuse match-up at all? After all, the Orange is a woeful 1-8, and coming off a 27-0 drubbing at the hands of then 4-3 South Florida. How, I was asking myself, would this Syracuse team manage to even keep this game close without “taking out” Brady Quinn, Jeff Samardzija, and Maurice Stovall (hopefully they haven’t been “talking” to Tonya Harding and Jeff Gillooly).
And, then I remembered something very important (and have been kicking myself ever since for forgetting).
Turns out, there are actually many things to be excited about this week. Or, rather, a lot of people to be excited about. 34 to be exact. Our Notre Dame Seniors who will play (potentially) their last game at Notre Dame stadium: Beidatsch, Bent, Boland, Bonelli,
Cardillo, Carney, Chervanick, Fasano, Fitzgerald, Fitzpatrick, Freeman, Frome, Harris,
Hoyte, Jenkins, Landri, LeVoir, Mattes, Mays, McKnight, Mitchell, Mooney, Morton,
O’Hara, Raridon, Richardson, Salvador, Santucci, Schiccatano, Shelton, Stevenson, Stovall, Whitney, Woods.
The thing that makes this class of guys interesting and impressive is that they are currently being led by their third (and in some cases, fourth) head coach. Imagine you work at a company (we’ll call it “Irish Industries”) and in five years you have had four different bosses. One barely long enough for him to introduce himself and put out the suggestion box (not that O’Leary would have had one). Turns out that guy had embellished a wee bit on the ‘ol resume. Hard to believe, or even identify with, isn’t it? But, that’s exactly what some of these young men (fifth year players like Brandon Hoyte and Corey Mays) have been through.
Hoyte and Mays played for Bob Davie as Freshman, and ended their careers with Charlie Weis. Other players, like Fasano, McKnight and Richardson were recruited by what could be called ‘DavO’learingham’–either Davie, Willingham, or both (hard to believe O’Leary had any time to recruit)–but played for what could be called O’LearWillWeis’.
Still with me?
Now, some of us might be saying that this is good life experience, and when these fellas experience stability they will appreciate it all the more. While that might be true for the eternal optimists in the world, I wouldn’t wish this kind of turmoil on Terrell Owens, let alone players I respect.
If you really think about it, it’s a wonder these guys stayed for all this crap, let alone found a way to embrace it. How many of us would have accepted this kind of turnover, and found a way to buy into a new way of “doing business” three or four times in four or five years?
My head is spinning just thinking about it.
So, as I watch the game this Saturday, I will be excited. Very excited. And, selfishly I will be rooting for a blow out. Not because I like to see that type of game (I don’t), but because I want to see all 34 of these guys get a chance to dirty up their uniform. To get one last chance to walk out of the stadium and feel like they did more than just help prepare the team to get a win. I really want that for these guys.
Part of me hopes Weis will play them anyway, even if we’re not up by five touchdowns.
In the end, I guess you could feel sorry for these guys. But, not me. I feel happy for them, because Notre Dame finally got it right, and they were here to be a part of something special: a true turnaround.
For this group of Seniors, the third (or fourth) time really was a charm. And, I wish them all the best in the future.
Let’s hope their present, on Saturday, makes for a fitting end.
Notre Dame 42
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