Tuesday, November 07, 2006

the Nice Department | by Jay

Adam Lucas of Tarheel Monthly filed a report on his trip to South Bend for the game and came away duly impressed with the no-frills, stripped-down, nostalgic quality of 'big time football' at Notre Dame:

Big. Time. Football.

But there wasn't a video board to be found inside Notre Dame Stadium. The scoreboards only had room for down, distance, and the time left in the quarter.

Fans in the stands sat on weathered wooden bleachers with no backs and the seat numbers stenciled on in plain white paint.

Where were the contests? Where was the buzz? Where were the laser lights and fireworks and clowns jumping out of Volkswagens?

Speaking of that, where was the traffic?

Coming into town two hours before the game, there were hardly any cars on the road. You zipped into South Bend on Angela Blvd., past the house with the sign in the yard that read, "Bathrooms $5.00," went straight through a stoplight, and there was Touchdown Jesus summoning you to the parking lot.

Which is about the time you realized why there wasn't any traffic: everyone was already at the game.

Two hours early.

Big Time Football does not just happen for a few hours on a Saturday afternoon. It happens all day, starting at daybreak. This is what it says on the back of the Notre Dame parking passes:

"Spots can not be guaranteed less than 90 minutes before kickoff."


You can be cynical and you can hate Rudy, but it was almost impossible not to get a little tingle when the Notre Dame band lined up and those gold helmets and navy jerseys ran out of the tunnel. Maybe they get too much credit in national polls and maybe they get too much hype on ESPN and maybe they're on the cover of Sports Illustrated too often (the 12 covers framed in the press box are impressive...until you realize that's just the first dozen covers)--by the way, every other program in the country would love to be complained about in the same way, kind of like Carolina in basketball--but the history seeps out of every corner of the stadium.
And here's a more free-wheeling trip report from BobLee Stagger, sent by BGS reader Hardy. Pretty funny read.
The freakin’ stadium is 76 damn years old and DOES NOT HAVE A JUMBOTRON! Two scoreboards, one at either end of the bowl that “might” be as high tech as what Independence High School has … maybe. Gosh … Knute, Ara, Dan, …. Ty, Charlie how do you impress “blue chippers” without “a Jumbo”?

No amplified rock music or rap music or any music other than real live “band music”. So Notre Dame’s version of “Board Loonies” can spend all the bandwidth they want suggesting the best entry music, pre-game warm-up music, etc … but nobody that matters much cares. Granted, Notre Dame has this one catchy tune that is sorta cool. They call it “The Notre Dame Victory March”. Other than making the freakin’ hair on the back of your neck stand up and salute … it’s about all they got. Sure, the band’s pre-game entry led by the Irish Guard is sorta cool (IF YOU HAVE A PULSE!) but, I mean it’s not AC/DC or Pink Floyd...

The concourses inside the stadium have all these old black & white pictures on the walls. Guys in leather helmets and “Knute” … and Hornungs, Montanas, and other has-beens. Oh … guess what else? They have “PEEING TROUGHS” in the Men’s rooms. Not a “peeing wall” but “troughs”. I could not help wondering … “did George Gipp ever stand here doing this?”

The ND band’s pre-game entry, as noted, is OK if one likes that sorta thing … and that one tune is kinda catchy. I think they borrowed it from that movie Rudy.