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A magical time of year

Nov 30, 2012, 12:10 PM EST

Kentucky v Notre Dame Getty Images

Let me utter a sentence that isn’t often said on the last day of November in northwest Indiana: It’s a great time to be in South Bend.

The Irish await the winner of Alabama-Georgia in the national championship game. Mike Brey’s hoops team dispatched John Calipari’s lastest gang of mercenaries. As the student body galvanizes around its athletic teams — an electric crowd willed the basketball team to victory as Irish football players took turns cleaning the court — life looks mighty fine under the Golden Dome, with hundreds of students storming the court on national television after a dominating upset of Kentucky.

It gets characterized as hocus-pocus or clever marketing by skeptics everywhere, but it was hard not to see the magic of Notre Dame if you watched Mike Brey’s team take down Kentucky’s future NBA roster last night. And when Dan Shulman and Dick Vitale welcomed Manti Te’o to the broadcast, it was hard not to think that the Irish — after a football season that played out like a Madison Avenue marketing campaign for the university and its aspirations — got another ten minute infomercial live on ESPN.

With Te’o as the school’s leading man, Notre Dame is riding a tidal wave of positivity that hasn’t been seen in twenty years. When he wasn’t deftly avoiding recruiting violations, he was talking about a community that just about every prospective student-athlete would love to be a part of.

“They’re our family,” Te’o said of the football team’s relationship with the basketball team. “The only time we’re not together is when they’re on the court or we’re on the field. We’re always together, always talking about our next games and match-ups.”

As most major universities resurrect buildings to keep athletes and student separate, the stands were packed with Irish football players, arm-in-arm with their dormmates. Only Louis Nix was absent from the game, according to Te’o, and he had good reason: He was playing Santa at a cancer fundraiser. Even the biggest Notre Dame haters are going to have a hard time pulling a lump of coal from that stocking.

You’d be hard pressed to find an outcome January 7th that could lessen the impact that this football season has had on the university and its fan base. After almost two decades of consistently wearing it on the chin, it’s a great time to be Irish. You can’t blame the students for storming the court. It was Te’o, of course, that led the charge.

With awards soon to be rightfully showered on Brian Kelly and Manti Te’o, you might as well enjoy six weeks of non-stop talk about Notre Dame and its chances against the mighty SEC. Whatever happens in Miami, it’s amazing to think that one overachieving football team, a group that has risen from the ashes of a disappointing 2011 season, has put a community on its back and turned South Bend into one of the happiest places on earth.

 

 

  1. dmac4real - Nov 30, 2012 at 12:33 PM

    Word.

  2. don74 - Nov 30, 2012 at 12:41 PM

    Manti has made a huge difference and is a great face for the program. Makes me proud to a member of the community.

    I wonder if he would have the same impact and exposure without Kelly’s stewardship of the program? If this was another 8 win season would Manti be getting the press? Who knows but it’s great for all of us.

    • tedlinko - Nov 30, 2012 at 4:44 PM

      Probably not, but that wouldn’t make him any less of a class individual — and no less deserving of college fooball’s highest individual honor.

      Not to take anything away from Johnny Football but when the motto of your award is “excellence with integrity” that pretty much defines what I’ve seen in Teo this year (and frankly throughout his ND career). Forget the stats for a minute. Beyond those, anyone who has watched the Irish this year knows that this man is the heart and soul of the team. And when you watch the way that the student body rallied around him this year, and the way he speaks about them, that’s not just about celebrity. On the one hand, it does say something about the ND Community (a special place to be sure) but it also says something about the man.

      Thanks for the article Keith — in some ways takes me back to my own days on campus, when we last won the NC. GO IRISH!!!

  3. heisenbyrg - Nov 30, 2012 at 1:06 PM

    What recruiting violation did he avoid commiting?

  4. ndfi78 - Nov 30, 2012 at 1:21 PM

    Dickie V asked him about Isaac Savaiinaea, a 2013 recruit.

  5. yaketyyacc - Nov 30, 2012 at 2:18 PM

    yes, it sure is a happy feeling. and certainly, while all of us are enjoying the very successful season, our coaches and players are still busy at work to make it a Championship season. For now, we can sit back, relax, smile and enjoy the whole scene. For all of us who follow Notre Dame, Christmas has come early, but we will have to wait till Jan. to get our present.
    Work hard Irish. And remember that we are all supporting you through day after day of practice, videos and wrinkles the coaches are conjuring up.
    Go Irish, enjoy Christmas, and then take it to the SEC.

  6. mtflsmitty - Nov 30, 2012 at 2:58 PM

    Watching the game last night with my son. Half way through the second half he says, “I cant wait.” “For what”, I asked. Without taking his eyes off the TV he says, “There”, and points to the TV.

    I suspect the essence of the ND student experience is independent of succes on the court/field. But what an 11 yo sees on TV can tell a compelling story.

    Hopefully, successful admissions will skip a generation. I would be just fine being book-ended by a father and a son (or daughters) with degrees from ND.

    BTW, Mike Brey is the finest coach in men’s BB.

  7. irishking - Nov 30, 2012 at 3:16 PM

    I saw Notre Dame National Championship shirts already on sale at Sam’s Club.

  8. norcalirish - Nov 30, 2012 at 5:06 PM

    After watching that interview with Te’o how could ANYBODY else end up with the Heisman? You could tell that he was more interested in cheering on his fellow students than seeking the attention and glory that a coast to coast interview on ESPN gives. The real deal.

  9. norcalirish - Nov 30, 2012 at 5:08 PM

    “Watching the game last night with my son. Half way through the second half he says, “I cant wait.” “For what”, I asked. Without taking his eyes off the TV he says, “There”, and points to the TV.”

    That’s rad :)

  10. goirishgo - Nov 30, 2012 at 6:07 PM

    My son texted me after the game last night, “All is right in the world.”

    This has been one helluva week!

  11. mannydomer61 - Nov 30, 2012 at 6:16 PM

    The goose bumps and tears of pride just keep coming. What a fantastic yr it has been. GO IRISH BEAT SEC

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