Editorial: Notre Dame Week

It is "Notre Dame Week" and everyone is expected to pretend it is the biggest thing for BC fans since the invention of alcohol. For the last few years, everyone has tried to play along with varying levels of success. This year, it is impossible to pretend any longer. The mask has to be dropped and the truth be told. Notre Dame Week is just "Another Game On The Schedule Week" for most of us.

If you are a freshman at BC right now, you don't remember the 1992 trip to South Bend to play Notre Dame. You were just out of the womb. That year, BC was 7-0-1 and headed into the first game against the Fighting Irish since 1987. Coach Tom Couglin seemed to have worked a miracle with the Eagles in his second season. The game against the Irish was a measuring stick, a measurement of the authenticity of his team.

The result was a blowout. BC was never in the game and convinced everyone they were not ready to play with the big boys. Lou Holtz even took pleasure in rubbing in that fact by calling a fake punt when the game was out of hand. That not only put Lou Holtz in the pantheon of great scumbags in college sports, it changed how BC fans looked at this game.

The next year, Coach Coughlin took his 7-and-2 team into South Bend to face the top rated Fighting Irish. All of the experts figured it was just going to be a redo of the prior season. A not ready for prime time BC would melt against the vaunted Fighting Irish. BC won that game with a last second field goal and ended the Notre Dame drive for a national title.

At the time, that was a big deal. BC not only knocked off the #1 team in the country, they avenged the prior year's bad sportsmanship by a program most of us thought was the template for how to play big time football and be true to big time academics. It was important and the Notre Dame game became important as a measuring stick.

Since then, BC has won most of the games with Notre Dame, including six in a row. Some have been close and some have had importance in terms of the season. For the most part, however, the game has become just another game for most of us. Conference games have taken on greater importance, as well as rivalries with teams like Clemson and Virginia Tech.

The truth is, BC has slowly moved on from Notre Dame and the connection to the past as an independent, playing other independents. In the final years in the Big East, winning the league was the goal. In the ACC, reaching the title game has been the goal. Beating the Irish has become just another out of conference game on the schedule.

This year, playing Notre Dame is about as interesting as playing Kent State. It is not unimportant. All of us would love to see BC win this Saturday. Such a win, however, would mean as much as beating Kent State. Heck, beating Central Michigan would mean more, because they are a better team than Notre Dame right now.

For most BC fans, this is just the way it has developed. There is no need to pretend. We're just not that into Notre Dame as a rival. The trouble is the national media and most of the Boston media continues to pretend it is 1993. That's an improvement, in some ways, as most of the media think it still 1968. The over indulged baby boomers who make up the bulk of the media still think we read newspapers and watch whoever is doing the network news these days. So, 1992 thinking makes them hip by comparison.

For the rest of us, this has become as dull as Woodstock retrospectives on PBS. This week we will hear how this is BC's Super Bowl and how it means more to BC than Notre Dame. Of course, we will also be treated with moronic jibes from Notre Dame kids that were not alive the last time anyone gave a crap about Irish football.

That's what makes this a miserable week for many of us. We are looking forward to the rest of the ACC schedule and how the rest of the teams in contention for the Atlantic title play this week. The dopes in the media will want to dwell on a past that none of us find particularly interesting anymore. Of course, three hours of Notre Dame house boys calling the game will make, what should be fun, into misery.

In a way, Notre Dame has done us a favor. They want to dumb down the schedule and that means dropping BC. This is the second to last game in the series. One more year of this crap and we can finally leave the past in the past. Notre Dame can keep pretending, but do so without dragging the rest of us into their nightmare.

Every BC fan hopes the Eagles win this Saturday. Getting the first road win of the season will go a long way to building the team's confidence. Of course, it would add another win to the record and that can only help with the bowl scenarios. Otherwise, it is just the second to last step to leaving the past behind, once and for good.


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