Monday, November 26, 2012

From one gridiron extreme to the other

It amuses me the degree to which some people get all worked up into a frazzle whenever the subject of Notre Dame football is discussed.

How long has it been since "Touchdown Jesus" didn't feel like weeping instead?

While I’ll be the first to admit that some Notre Dame fans can be insufferable (I find the film “Rudy” to be unwatchable), the level to which some people go to express their outright hatred of the Fighting Irish is just downright stupid.

IT IS WITH that latter group in mind that I must confess to being pleased to learn that Notre Dame managed to defeat the University of Southern California Saturday night – and that it would take some serious mathematical juggling worthy of a corrupt Election Day vote counter to deny Notre Dame a spot in the Bowl Championship Series top game.

As for those people who’d really rather think that a legitimate championship should consist of two Southern schools (specifically from the Southeast Conference), to them I can only get in the holiday season and say, “Bah Humbug!”

I don’t know if I really consider the Chicago metro area to stretch as far east as South Bend, Ind. (the way some area sports fans do). But it will be intriguing to have something resembling a local angle come the early January date when Notre Dame takes on the best of Dixieland in an attempt to say which was the best college football team for 2012.

If it winds up being seen as a loogie spit in the face of certain pundits, I’ll root for a Fighting Irish victory on that date.

AND BY PUNDITS, I’m thinking of one New York-based clown I saw talking last week on television about what he regarded as stupid expansion by the Big Ten.

The conference that once was all about our Midwest and the Great Lakes states is now in the New York media market in the form of Rutgers University (it’s “New York” in the same sense that Notre Dame is  “Chicago”).

This pundit (whom I’m going to allow to be nameless largely because I didn’t bother to catch his name, and he was so uninteresting that I figure he’s not worth too much of my time) claimed that New Yorkers are “so sophisticated” that they will only pay attention to the “best game,” and there’s no way the Big Ten will ever produce such a game.

You can argue all you want about the quality of play of Big Ten football these days. All I can say is that perhaps he paid too much attention to the University of Illinois – which on Saturday finished of this dismal season without winning a single in-conference game and having an overall record that makes the Chicago Cubs look successful.

THAT WAS QUITE a walloping the Fighting Illini got from “Chicago’s Big Ten Team.” Although I think the fact that Illini fans would have considered a victory over Northwestern University to be a season salvation is kind of sad.

Is there really any difference between 1-7 and 0-8?

Besides, I can’t quite help but think the slogan is a bunch of bunk. My own observation is that many Northwestern students come to Evanston from out-of-town (out-of-state or out-of-country, more likely) and leave here once they graduate.

Attending a suburban-based university is their “Chicago” experience in life – similar to how I did a semester at American University in Washington and say I once lived, however briefly, in the nation’s capital.

I SENSE MORE Chicago spirit for Illinois, where I have known many area residents who made their “downstate” sojourn for a few years before returning home to have their adult lives.

But even then, the most intense fans of Fighting Illini football are the ones who live in those downstate Illinois communities where it is easier to drive to Champaign to see a game rather than make the trips north or south to see the Bears or Rams, respectively.
Admit it. You looked too!

Which is why I sense that for the bulk of Chicago sports fans, there was probably more interest in Notre Dame’s Saturday victory than in anything that happened at building once known as Dyche Stadium.

And as for me? My attention was more focused on the sidelines for whatever glimpses I could gain from the famed USC Song Girls.


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