Four years have passed since that infamous day in October of 2005. Hard to believe it has been that long, it feels like it was last week. How vivid are those memories in your mind to this day? Can you still feel the electricity that flowed through campus that weekend? Do you remember what it was like walking through the gates of Notre Dame Stadium for the pep rally that Friday night and seeing 60,000 people? Each and every person gathered there that night thirsted for something every Irish fan yearns to be part of: a Notre Dame Moment.
A Notre Dame Moment is more than just a victory; it is when the collective will of the team, the thousands of fans in the stadium, and the countless others cheering around the world lift the Irish to new heights. It is when Notre Dame stares at seemingly unbeatable odds and unconquerable foes yet refuses to back down. It is when in victory you not only celebrate the triumph, but you become a living testament to the mystique and aura that cannot be done justice with words.
Think back to that day. Think of how you felt when the team emerged from the tunnel wearing green jerseys. Remember dog-piling in the student section after Zibby ran back a punt in the second quarter. Think about how you screamed at your television in sheer joy and ecstasy when Brady willed his way over the goal line in the fourth quarter.
Try to recreate the feeling of when Trevor Laws sacked Matt Leinart on second down and suddenly everyone KNEW that finally, twelve long years after conquering #1 Florida State, the next Notre Dame Moment—OUR moment—had arrived.
Think about the feeling when that clock hit zero, the scoreboard read Notre Dame 31, USC 28, and the student body poured onto the field to celebrate. It was the most euphoric moment of my life.
We had done the unthinkable—we had conquered the unconquerable foe.
In the blink of an eye it was taken away. That Notre Dame Moment evaporated into the air of that dark October night and left within each Irish fan was an emptiness, a sickening feeling. What should have been one of the greatest moments in the illustrious history of Notre Dame Football was doomed to forever be remembered in the context of what could have been—what SHOULD have been.
Here we are four years later and that feeling is still as real today as it was on the Ides of October, 2005. Those same Trojans of Southern California who stole that Moment roll into South Bend this weekend. There is a slightly different feel in the build-up to this game though and the root of it lies not within the locker room, but in the stands.
It is undeniable that unrest and discord have plagued Notre Dame Nation this season, mainly over whether our coach is indeed the right man for the job. A former Irish football player went so far as to fund a taunting billboard across from the University, mocking it under the smug, self-righteous farce of “support and love for Notre Dame.”
I will not say the doubt is without merit. There are still serious questions pertaining to our football program and people want answers. Many of them will come this weekend, but your personal sentiment for or against our head coach should not affect how you approach this game. It is time to set differences and grievances aside—this game is not about the coach, it is about the players on the field.
No one can question the heart and toughness of this team. Day in and day out they give their sweat, blood, and tears to this program, whether it be in the weight room, the practice field, or the stadium on Saturdays in the fall. Their efforts have put the program back on the right track, resurrecting it from the depths of two short years ago. There isn’t an ounce of quit in this team on either side of the ball. The offense has overcome fourth quarter deficits in the last three games to pull victories out of the fire. The defense turned an opponent back FIVE TIMES inside the two yard line in the fourth quarter when a game-clinching touchdown seemed inevitable. This team has given everything. It is time to return the favor.
This is a call to arms, a challenge to all those who call themselves sons and daughters of Notre Dame.
The time has come to let our players know that WE BELIEVE, what tho’ the odds be great or small. This Saturday we will stand up in unison and tell the masses that WE ARE ND and our support is unwavering no matter the circumstances. It is time to show all the recruits in town this weekend—the ones that will shape the next generation of Notre Dame Football—what they could be a part of should they choose to come to South Bend.
Cynics infer that it will take a miracle for Notre Dame to win. If it takes a miracle, so be it.
This is Notre Dame. Miracles do happen. There isn’t an Irish fan walking this earth that does not believe that.
My friends, the enemy is at the gate. Think about what they stole from us in 2005. Let the emotions that still linger from that day fuel how you approach this game, let those emotions fuel a belief that we can win this game—we WILL win this game. The Trojans will not have to deal just with the players on the field, but 80,000 rabid fans and the ghosts of bygone glories that echo throughout the hallowed walls of the House that Rockne Built.
This weekend we finally receive retribution for the robbery that happened October 15, 2005.
This weekend is when the giant falls.
Saturday our Notre Dame Moment arrives.
GO IRISH, BEAT TROJANS