Even When We’re Down, We’re Never Out

It’s been the toughest of seasons, but omahadomer went to the game Saturday night and found the fight hasn’t left the Irish.

This isn’t much about the game or Weis. Briefly as to the game ND played with tremendous heart and toughness. Yes, there are problems to be fixed. Big ones. But winning is underrated. It’s a foothold on the beach. It’s something to build on. And anyone who can’t see the improvement in this team is blind. As to Weis, we can still debate whether he’s the right guy though I believe he will go down as a successful ND coach. Yes he made some mysterious calls but the fundamental thing is that he hung onto this team through a stretch of historically miserable proportions.

But yesterday at the Rose Bowl I was reminded why ND will never be out and why fans of other teams generally hate us so.

The place was mobbed with ND fans. For an 0-5 team. Let me repeat that, for an 0-5 team. Two thousand or so miles from campus. For an 0-5 team. We heard plenty of “0-6” chants from the UCLA fans beforehand, though they were generally lighthearted and the Rose Bowl is a great venue. And they were polite and a lot quieter on their way out.

But what the Mays and Whitlocks and the rest keep trying to say to us is: “Give up. Accept that it’s over. ND will never be great again. Why don’t you people do something else?” But we’ll never accept that it’s over which means that it never will be over. Ever. And that’s what makes them hate us. We’ll never be permanently defeated. Ever.

Oh, I’ve had plenty of dark thoughts of late about whether we’re permanently down. But strangely it was this 0-5 team and its fans that reminded me why it will never be over. Each endzone filled with N.D. fans. Our defensive players, on the road, urging us to stand and scream on every key offensive play for UCLA in the second half. For an 0-5 team. On the road. Two thousand miles from campus.

And mkovac reports that Notre Dame rediscovered a little magic on Saturday night.

My favorite moment of the game….was after the game.

The UCLA team left the field, but the ND players trotted over to the north end zone, where the students must have been. The people in the stand erupted, like a crowd full of hungry people in a Depression-era food line being told that they were going to get a bowl of soup and a crust of bread.

ND players pumped their helmets into the air, jumped up, held each other, and I swear that I saw a few tears shed, looking through my binoculars.

The monkey was off their back.

In fact, the monkey was torn off their back at that end of the field when Jimmie Clausen willed his way into the end zone and was buried when Mo Crum recovered that fumble and ran it back for a td – at the same end.

I don’t know if this was the same end of the field that Bob Stiles and Dallas Grider – those gutty little Bruins of the ’65 team stopped #1 Michigan State’s Bob Apisa at the 1966 Rose Bowl, but I like that end of the field.

I was sitting with some loyal ND Club of Bakersfield fans in the South End zone – where earlier in the game Zibby, coming in on a safety blitz, took Olson out of the game (not intentionally, of course), which turned out to be the most important play of the game.

After the ND players had finished taking in the love at the North end of the Rose Bowl, they headed toward the tunnel at our end of the field.

But, they were not done. All the ND fans around me stood up and clapped…and cheered. The ND players, knowing we were there for them, came to the end zone and stood there, delighted. #31 even did a backward flip, a la Ozzie Newsome. So did another player. They were kids – happy kids. Delighted kids. Relieved kids. Notre Dame men.

It was my favorite part of the game. The afterglow.

When I looked down into their faces, I saw young men who had battled all night and who had won the battle. They looked so happy. Tommy Z was pumping his helmet into the air, and that’s when I realized what has been going on with him this year. He’s been waiting for this all this time. He’s a fierce competitor and he has been denied this electricity, this juice, this wonderful feeling.

You can take the greatest athletes in the world, but if they don’t win, they lose just a little bit of their talent each time they lose. It takes more of themselves to get back to where they need to be to win.

These young men last night regained their winning spirit. They now know what it’s like to win. They’ve got the electricity back. They’ve got the juice.

The monkey is dead. The monkey is buried.

Love thee Notre Dame.

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3 Responses to “Even When We’re Down, We’re Never Out”

  1. Anonymous Says:

    The family is back together!
    The Team, Coaches Staff, Alums, Subway Alums are back.
    We now have some armor (although thin) to ward off the next couple of weeks of body blows.
    Pride is back, not arrogant pride, but pride in the minds of all concerned to truly strive to: “Play like a Champion Today!”

  2. John Says:

    Sounds like the celebration was big back on campus too. Observer Article-
    http://media.www.ndsmcobserver.com/media/storage/paper660/news/2007/10/08/News/Victory.Prompts.Celebrations-3018030.shtml

  3. mike sheridan Says:

    tired of you kids hypocrisy. charlie is the right guy and i like him more now than before. remember your comments in a few hundred days and love charlie more. hes the right guy. book it

    mike sheridan
    upland ca

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