Alright, so in the past week I have avoided talking about last weekend. It's not really because we lost (after all, we'd done that four previous times and I'd talked), it's because I was at the game last Saturday and for the first time ever it wasn't a "magical" weekend. I came out to South Bend with my parents, Aunt, Uncle, and two little cousins (17 and 13)--the latter four had never experienced a Notre Dame football weekend. Real quick I'll recap it.
On the Pep Rally (or what they now call the "Pep Rally")
What an embarrassment. I had told my extended family they needed to get into town in time for the pep rally Friday evening because it was something everyone needed to experience. Instead of being held in the JACC like I was accustomed to it was held on the "Irish Green" behind DPAC. There were literally less than ten students there. There were only about 20 players there. Charlie Weis wasn't there.
Let me repeat: it was an absolute EMBARRASSMENT.
I understand the pep rally has gotten lamer and lamer, but last weekend hit a new low. In my four years I missed a pep rally only once (my freshman year because I was trying out for the golf team) and I watched it get worse and worse, but I kept going. You know why? Because I'll walk across campus every Friday afternoon just to listen to the band come into the JACC without fail. It was always one of my favorite moments of the entire weekend--to hear the drums lead and then one by one have the greatest band in the country pour into the arena. Now the entire thing has been catered toward little kids and families; it feels more like a carnival than a pep rally. It just made my stomach churn. I will never go to a pep rally again unless they change it. Let me tell you how to save it.
1. Have the host dorms do a skit to kick it off
We have funny people on campus...the host dorms (or one host dorm, who cares) put on one skit to kick of the pep rallies like it was in the '90's...make it funny, I have faith you can find people who can do it.
2. When the skit is done bring the band in
It's really awesome, just get right into the great part.
3. After the band comes in immediately bring out the team
That's what they were doing the past couple years.
4. Bring back the celebrities
The fact that you had someone like Wayne Gretzky or Carson Daly (both people I saw when I was younger and visiting) coming brought STUDENTS to the pep rally...you know, the people you SHOULD BE CATERING TO.
5. Have three or four speeches
A player, the celebrity, a former player if present, and the head coach
6. Wrap it up when they're done
It doesnt have to be an hour or 90 minutes, it can be 45...just make it worth going to again.
I hate to break it to the older alums but it's never going to be like the ones in the Fieldhouse or Stepan. If the students want to host one just for them once or twice a year I'm all for it, but as far as the main one goes let's just get it back to something worth going to because the format right now sure as hell isn't.
On the Game
The first thing that sticks out is the Sergio Brown late hit that shifted the momentum of the game. We were up 14-0 and about to get the ball back when Sergio took a bazooka, aimed it at our foot, and UNLOADED to turn the entire contest around. I don't care if he's running to Coach Weis's office at 11pm, 1am, or 4am to apologize, there is no excuse for how STUPID that play was and no way of understating how huge that was in contributing to the final result.
Another thing that I remember specifically was Michael Floyd's fumble. Get your head in the game and FOCUS Michael. That should've been a drive that ended with a touchdown; instead because of sheer carelessness it turned into just another debilitating redzone turnover for the Irish.
Last thing I remember all day was the terrible tackling. It's just another indictment of the Weis Regime--and frankly an even bigger indictment of Tenuta and Corwin. Bad enough to make yourself purge yourself after every defensive snap.
On the Student Section
I snuck in with my little cousin for the second half and I was totally embarrassed. Look, I understand this team and more specifically Charlie Weis has been a disappointment (to say the least). That is no excuse for raining down chants of "F&*% YOU CHARLIE" accompanied by middle fingers during the Overture of 1812 and at the end of the game. People have pointed out that it wasn't the "entire student section" and to say all of them were doing it is "ignorant," but I'm hear to tell you that at least a third of the student section was extending their middle fingers at the end of the game to salute Charlie during the final Overture. I hate to be someone standing on a pedestal and talking down because God knows I did plenty of stupid things in my years as a student (which was only two years ago), but goddammit that's absolutely inexcusable. I don't care if you're fueled by disappointment, Keystone Light, or unadulterated hate--there are NO viable excuses. You're an absolute EMBARRASSMENT TO THE SCHOOL if that's how you chose to express yourself.
I'm well aware this isn't the first time the student body has been an embarrassment. In '77--a national championship season--there were "Dump Devine" bumper stickers being handed out. One of my good friends from school told me that the most embarrassing and enraging moment of his four years was in 2003 when the freshmen and sophomore sections booed Carlyle Holiday (who was literally the teams entire offense during the "Return to Glory" year of 2002) off the field hoping that their fellow underclassman Brady Quinn would be inserted. Some times it's sad how the student body reacts, but it's reality.
Most of the time I hear stupidity and ignorance flowing in regards to Notre Dame on things like message boards I shrug it off saying "well they're fans but they're not alums or students of the University...they don't provide a true cross-section of what we're all about." Yet here I was in the senior section listening to people openly rooting for UConn in the 4th quarter (specifically it was a kid from my own beloved O'Neill Hall--let's call him T. Emptage for discretionary reasons...no, that's too obvious...let's call him Tyler E.). When UConn scored their winning touchdown Tyler E. screamed with delight.
I don't give a dam who the head coach is or how much you love or hate him; if you are a Notre Dame student and you're blatantly and obnoxiously rooting against Notre Dame you should be ashamed of yourself...and more importantly you should never, ever, EVER in a million years have the GALL to stand there for the alma mater when the game is over. You can take a walk before it's played if that's how you feel about the school because if you're still present while the words "LOVE THEE NOTRE DAME" are being sung you sully the experience for every true Golden Domer. Tyler E., I hope you lost friends and that something happens in the second semester that prevents you from graduating.
To the student body: This is Notre Dame. Act like you're proud to be a part of it and conduct yourselves in a manner that would make alums proud to call you part of their family. The actions of a lot of people within the student section last weekend were disgraceful. I don't want to group everyone into what I just described because it absolutely was not the entire section. However, it was not just a handful of people so it deserves mentioning.
Overall it was an incredibly depressing end to the year and the entire Charlie Weis Regime. I hope all the people who are unloading these personal attacks against Coach Weis--including the student body--reevaluate their attitudes. Charlie has done a lot of good and worked his ass off. Unfortunately it didn't work out and it's time to move on. Show him the respect he deserves as a Notre Dame man.