It looks like we all made it. Most of us are nursing a tender muscle or two, but we’re all going to run out of that tunnel with the new Irish uniforms on and play in the Blue-Gold Game this afternoon. Special mention should go to teammate Dennis Rios, a 64-year-old warrior, who spent the last two days in a protective boot for an achilles tendon injury, but still got a special mention from defensive coordinator Bob Diaco during a tape session yesterday for his effort and hustle while swarming to the ball carrier.
(Another special mention has to go to Jeff “Country” Balitsos for popping the question to his lovely girlfriend last night… and not getting turned down. Hopefully it’ll help him put up some stats this afternoon.)
The last three days have been a blur. We’ve met just about everyone associated with the Notre Dame football program. From trainers to support staff to the head man himself, this entire week has been a perfect encapsulation of what makes Notre Dame a special place.
Yesterday I sat at lunch with Chris Zorich and Shane Walton, and we both noticed that South Dining Hall used the same bowls that they had when we were in school. Last night I sat at dinner with Mike Elston and we chatted about block destruction and finding time to play golf, a good mix of both football and life. Even Brian Kelly, between scheduled out-of-town commitments took the time to answer over 20 minutes of questions off-the-record for all the campers, touching on just about every issue out there and handling everything with the polish of some of history’s best politicians, before posing with each and every one of us for a photo. And proving he’s a smart man, Bob Diaco loves Ritter’s frozen custard, which just so happens to be steps from our hotel.
As for now, game day is under way. We’ll head to our pregame training table meal, experiencing first hand the changes to the Irish meal plan that went into effect this winter. We’ll walk to the Notre Dame Basilica, where Father Doyle will say mass for the team, just as he will on Saturdays this fall. After running out of the tunnel, we’ll go through the same rehearsed pregame warm up that the Irish do, before playing four 15-minute quarters to determine the champions of the Notre Dame Fantasy Football camp.
There’s been a lot of trash talking going on between players and staff between the two teams. Let’s just say my Gold Team is heavily favored, and Coaches Diaco, Martin, Hinton, Warinner, Carpenter, and Booker will hopefully be eating well at lunch on Friday. That said, we’re taking nothing for granted, and inside Notre Dame Stadium, anything can happen.
Onward to victory…