Willie beats the Leprechaun

Well, folks I am getting jazzed. College football is just around the corner. <br>The greatest sport in the world. Yahooooo!

So I'm getting antsy and I had to post something. Thought you might be interested in this. My son is a senior at Notre Dame this year and I think I am in a better position than anyone to comment on what Northwestern football does better than your most hated enemy, The Fighting Irish. So here's a list.

1. Tailgating: I know the parking at NU brings a lot of complaints. However, for those lucky enough to have a pass, or for those who know someone who does, the West and East Lots are THE best for tailgating... anywhere. Nothing beats drinking and eating within the shadow of Ryan and then walking right to your seat. ND has nothing like it. Most schools don't. I love it.

2. Stadium interior: To me, the true test of a beautiful stadium is how it looks empty. Now I have seen many stadiums empty, and none beats the aesthetics of Ryan--the towers, the asymmetrical design, the sunken field. I don't think anything beats it. ND is just a bowl and since they expanded it, they blocked the stadiums most distinctive feature, the view. Neither Touchdown Jesus nor the Golden Dome can be seen anymore except by those very high in the stadium.

3. Fight song: OK. ND's fight song is legendary, and "Go U Northwestern" is pretty darn good, but my favorite fight song (and I can sing many, many by heart) is "Rise, Northwestern". It is stirring and yet haunting. I LOVE THAT SONG! Advantage Northwestern.

4. Fan noise: I know you will find this hard to believe from what you've heard, but the only ND fans who make a lot of noise are the students. Now ND's student support is overwhelming, but the rest of their fans cheering is underwhelming. I was at the NU upset of ND and one of the things that surprised me most
was how little the ND fans added to the home field advantage. They could not lower themselves to cheer against Northwestern. And my many subsequent visits have not changed my mind about this. You think WE need lessons? The only teams ND fans will cheer against are USC, Michigan, and FSU. If it weren't for the students, ND would be in trouble. Believe it or not, NU's run-of-the-mill fans win this contest.

5. School colors: Purple shows in the stands. Blue and Gold don't. Ty Willingham has tried to change that problem by encouraging the students and fans to wear green. Much more effective. So keep wearing purple so they don't catch up.

6. Alma mater performance: This one is closer than you might guess because the ND alums and students do a pretty good job of singing their alma mater. I would rate them second in the nation. However, NU's alma mater is beautiful and when it is sung a cappella, followed by that single mournful horn and then followed by the second horn, it gives me goose bumps, and I didn't even go to your dang school.

7. Season tickets: NU has season tickets available. Better seats, too. ND does not have them available, period. There are very few people who actually have season tickets at all because ND has to appease ND alums with a massive
lottery. Plus parents are offered tickets to some games as well. People who do have season tickets are biggies. At ND, we always parked in a small lot with Heisman Trophy winner, Leon Hart.  He recently passed away so his tickets are available, I guess, but I am not counting on getting them. At Northwestern I get a feeling of home to sit in the same seats at NU with the same people, the few, the loyal, the fans.

8. View: The chances that your seat is a good one at a Northwestern game are astronomically better. ND has a ton of bad seats, and I will bet that I have sat in each one of them.

9. Scoreboard: For those who like that sort of thing, NU has replays and Notre Dame never will.

10. Leaving a game: I have never been to any sporting event that is harder to get out of than a Notre Dame football game. I swear they have the worst system I have ever seen. The police direct traffic to another town that does not
have police directing traffic. What a mess. I don't know why NU games get a bad rap for getting to and from. It really isn't that difficult.

11. Mascots: Willie, in all of his incarnations, beats the leprechaun.

12. Entertainment value of the games: Since 1995, more unbelievable games have been played at Northwestern than any other stadium in the country. And isn't that what it is all about? I realize that there have been plenty of stinkers, too, but who else can say that their season tickets has given them games like, '95 Penn State, '96 Michigan (heck '96 every single game), '97 Michigan State, 2000 Michigan, 2001 Michigan State. (And I would like to add heretically that having been at the '95 NU-ND game, each of these games I've mentioned at Ryan were far more exciting than the one that the good guys won at South Bend. I think people who watched the ND game on TV enjoyed it far more than I did.)

There you have it. So would you guys stop complaining about Notre Dame and start bragging about what you have? It works better for recruiting. And besides, I have to like Notre Dame for my son's sake. He's a good kid. Really, he is.

Mark Donovan
 


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