By Tim Baffoe-
(CBS) January 2, 1989 was a long time ago. I was 6 and almost eleven-twelfths years old as I was likely telling adults because I was a really bright and smartass Ginger child that you wanted to kick down a flight of stairs. Oh, how I’ve changed. I also had no real concept of the college football National Championship game.
Notre Dame was my “favorite team” in so much as my parents and aunts and uncles rooted for them and went to all their games. I otherwise have no vivid memories of the 1988 season and didn’t develop a true rooting interest in them until two years later when Raghib “Rocket” Ismail was a contender for the Heisman Trophy and became my favorite Fighting Irish player to this day. So I haven’t really experienced Notre Dame in a championship game.
Being the polarizing program that Notre Dame is, you’re either getting heart palpitations from reading this so far, or you want to barf on your keyboard. That’s what script about the Fighting Irish does because hardly anyone is indifferent to ND—you probably either root for them or want the school to be hit by an asteroid. This is mostly due to a largely annoying and not self-aware fanbase and the rest of the country that therefore loathes it.
I’ve long tried to not be one of those stereotypical Notre Dame fans. For most of my life you’d probably never know that the Irish were “my team” unless you flat out asked me. All the while I’d be between the despicable loud Golden Domer and the hater.
But not Monday night, damn it.
I’m letting it all out because screw all of you. I’ve waited a long flipping time for this and what you think of me matters absolutely nothing to me and I’m oozing gold and blue out of my pale freckled butt that you are more than welcome to plant your jealous lips on. Whew, that felt good to finally say.
One night. That’s all I’m asking for. Well, actually longer than that should Notre Dame actually win this thing (which I’m not very confident will happen). A few months of letting my Fighting flag fly, por favor. And maybe you’re like me, reserved Irish fan. Maybe you’ve quietly had your heart broken by Boston College kickers, had your nuts crushed by Charlie Weiss’ Stay-Puft Marshmallow Man act attacking the program, had your soul ripped out by Ron Powlus’ underachievement. We survived a guy starting at quarterback for two years and then converting to wide receiver! We have earned the right to be boastful, insufferable assclowns.
I’ve composed a list of acts, verbiage, and whathaveyou that I am going to try to engage in tonight in a complete cathartic experience. Its reason for presentation is threefold: a) you’re in my boat and need a guide on how to act tonight (and hopefully afterward but probably not), b) you’ve long been a Domer dbag but never knew it, and this list will hopefully bring about an epiphany, or c) you hate Notre Dame with a brightness of a golden helmet and need to prepare for your comeuppance.
The Fight Song: I’m finna sing the hell out of this tonight. Yes, SING. I know the damn words. All of them. “Victory March”—that’s its title, and that’s what I’ll call it, too—is awesome and famous and awesome and you secretly love it even if you lie and say you don’t and you totally have it on your jogging mix on your iPod. Was another fight song used in one of the greatest comedic films ever? No. And this woman’s voice is intoxicating, too.
Previous national titles: did you know Notre Dame has won eight championships before this? That’s second most ever. I was only alive for one of them—and don’t recall that one, remember—but I will sure as hell let you know that your favorite school is championshipistically inferior, including Alabama with nine titles because screw that entire wretched state. Oh, and…
Screw Alabama: they have tons of hillbillies. Chicago does not (in the traditional sense). I don’t care if I root for a school located in cracker-factory Indiana. I will make white trash jokes tonight en masse with other privileged white people because nobody in Alabama knows what en masse means. Roll Tide… off a cliff.
No, I didn’t attend Notre Dame: and I don’t care. Bring that up all you want. It doesn’t bother Notre Dame fans because 99-point-kiss-my-dome-nine percent of the fans didn’t go there. I didn’t play for the Chicago Bears either and like when they win, too.
Rudy: the movie lied to us, and you’ve never been happier and weepier to be lied to since your parents told you they were just “wrestling” when you walked in their bedroom after that bad dream. Whatever. You watch that film whenever it’s on TV. Who’s your college hero? John Belushi. The film’s soundtrack is also on your iPod, don’t lie.
Here. Come. The. Irish.: I will be randomly yelling this throughout the evening.
Why aren’t you a Notre Dame fan?: I will ask this question to all the haters tonight. You’re in Chicago—who the hell else are you going to root for? Northwestern? Oh, you’re an awful Michigan fan who gets a pass on dbaggery because you’re overshadowed here by awful ND fans. Well, sucks to be you.
Catholicism: personally my fanship isn’t based on religion, though it probably was with my ancestors who led me to become a Fighting Irish fan. I attended Catholic grade school and high school, and never has Christ entered my mind while watching an ND game other than taking his name in vain while Bob Davie derped his way to 5-7 in 1999. But, yes, many fans are so because of the school’s Catholicism. Non-Catholics may find that lame. Whatever. You ain’t got no Jesus, son. Especially not the Touchdown Jesus kind. Is there a Vishnu-based football program? How about Odin? This is going to be the best feast day of Lucian of Antioch ever, right, Mormon hero?
Brian Kelly is probably a bad guy, but I don’t care about that right now: the responsibility falls on him for the death of Declan Sullivan and what can politely be described as a puzzling handling of the alleged rape and subsequent suicide of Lizzy Seeburg. Both of those situations pain me still today as they did when they happened. But I have long been able to divorce the brutal aspects of real life from sports. Sports are a respite, an opiate. Bad guys have played for every team I root for and every one you root for. That’s just fact. And if having less-than-morally-respectable people involved in winning games means you can’t root for a team, then you can’t be a sports fan. Unfortunate as it may be, no player or coach is perfect, and many are very flawed people. It’s not their personalities or ethics that ultimately get them paychecks or roster spots, though (see: Saban, Nick). Brian Kelly strikes me as a guy I really wouldn’t want to spend a lot of casual time with. He’s also coached the team I root for to what most consider an improbable appearance in the sport’s biggest game, and like it or not, that’s his job first and foremost. And by the way…
You haters have to root for Nick Saban: it’s your worst football nightmare. You’re forced to choose between the lesser of two evils, and that means getting cozy with one of the most detestable figures in sports (and probably the game’s best coach even though so many won’t admit it). You know he would sleep with your significant other and then demand you thank him for it, and you have to root for him. That makes me feel so good.
Enjoy the game, Domers and hellbound alike. Go Irish. Beat Bama.
Tim Baffoe attended the University of Iowa and Governors State University and began blogging at The Score after winning the 2011 Pepsi Max Score Search. He enjoys writing things about stuff, but not so much stuff about things. When not writing for 670TheScore.com, Tim corrupts America’s youth as a high school English teacher and provides a great service to his South Side community delivering pizzas (please tip him and his colleagues well). You can follow Tim’s inappropriate brain droppings on Twitter @Ten_Foot_Midget , but please don’t follow him in real life. He grew up in Chicago’s Beverly To read more of Tim’s blogs click here.