Wake Up Calls Create Football Hype
By: Matthew Loughran
Only a week into my college career, I was quietly sleeping on the bottom bunk in 431 Keenan Hall trying to recover from the previous night's festivities and the emotional pressure of trying to find a way to fit into a strange environment.
Suddenly, there came a loud pounding on my door. I rolled off of my bed and onto the already dirty carpet, stood up and groggily went to shout at my rude visitor. But by the time that I got to the door, the pounding had moved on down the hall and seemed to be coming from both sides of the hallway. Content that it was just someone pulling a prank, I shuffled back into the warmth of my comfortable bed.
Before I could close my eyes and return to gentle sleep, the chanting started.
It began somewhat muffled but then, with the subtlety of a tornado, it jumped in volume until I thought that the rock group Twisted Sister had actually chosen my roommate's bunk as a location for a surprise concert.
I got up again, walked to my door and opened it. Down the hallway about three rooms, a quad of guys had turned on their stereo full blast with the song, "We're Not Gonna Take It" rattling pictures on their walls. What I didn't notice at first was that the guys, back from their trip up and down the hallway banging on doors, were standing around in their room, singing along with Dee Snider at the top of their lungs.
Then, just as quickly as it began, the song ended and I heard a man say, "The Band of the Fighting Irish" followed quickly by a full decibel rendition of the fight song coming from the same room.
I walked down the hallway and was welcomed into a full celebration of the beginning of Football Season by these upperclassmen. We were playing Northwestern that day. Northwestern! At the time, playing Northwestern was the equivalent of playing a Division II team. And yet here were guys getting so pumped up for the game that they felt the need to wake everyone in the hallway up and make sure that all could share in their excitement.
It was an experience that was repeated every week of that season, even during away games. Each week we won intensified the feeling on a Saturday morning — until we lost in the last game against Boston College to finish with a 10-1 record and yield the national championship to Florida State.
That was the spirit that I came to know and love at Notre Dame. It wasn't just pride in a number of guys who could play a game. It was pride in the institution. It was pride in the national stage and prestige that our football program has. It was pride in the fact that visiting teams fear playing at Notre Dame Stadium. It was pride in the fact that we sell out more than 90 percent of our games and 100 percent of our home games.
It was pride that no one complained about.
When I heard that a bunch of Siegfried freshmen rallied around campus at 5 a.m. I recognized that pride. These are freshmen! That campus security shut down their celebration is not surprising and is not to be condemned. The security officers have a job to do. It is not their place or advantageous to them to question their duties.
The condemnation should come down on those students, rectors or staff members who complained. You are the reason that such spirit at our school is unusual. Sure everybody goes to the pep rallies and everybody cheers during the game, but in the ensuing four years that I attended Notre Dame after my freshman year, I never felt the hype, the excitement that I felt during that first year.
On Saturday, I gathered together as many former Domers as I could find and watched the game from my couch. Fourteen people, most of whom did not know each other came together in pride to watch their University's representatives do well on the field. But it wasn't only about football. Throughout the game, everyone asked, "Where are the Notre Dame commercials?" Sure they are cheesy, but we all love to see them. We all love to see the University and have pride in its good presentation.
We remember the pride. We remember the feeling of adrenaline and joy that came with the carnival that is Notre Dame Football Saturdays. Maybe you don't. Maybe you are the reason that Notre Dame couldn't finish as the top home football location in The Sporting News this summer. But I hope not. I hope you just weren't ready because the game was a week early.
Matthew Loughran graduated in 1998 with a Bachelor's degree in government and international relations. He also served two years as an associate news editor for The Observer.
The views expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.
All Viewpoint Stories for Wednesday, September 1, 1999