First Impressions of Tyrone Ball

<P>The day began with a trip to the liquor store. 30 cases of beer, 4 bags of ice and a South Bend Tribune. I followed with a trip to Martin's for 300 pieces of chicken, some potato salad and a few items I forgot while shopping the previous day (sorry Kayo). The optimism was high but the clouds cast over gray sky and the eventual fears of rain were imprinted in my mind as I left Martin‘s. </P>

I kept wondering what the real story is? Is this the opposite reaction to the announcement of Tyrone Willingham as the new head coach of Notre Dame football and the sun will shine? Is this the same path that will follow once this era of Notre Dame football finally unravels? Is the real story that quiet optimism will only to be washed out by the rains?

I remember the days leading up to the announcement of Tyrone Willingham as head coach of the Notre Dame football team. "He can't motivate" were the cries. "He can't recruit" were others. "His team is up one week and down the next" was stated on every message board. "We need a guy who can get the fans and team excited again" seemed to be final conclusion on Ty Willingham.

After one press conference, the mood of the "net" fans had changed. "Here is a guy we can get behind." "He isn't going to embarrass the University." It quickly changed from "We should have paid Gruden" to "I didn't like this decision but this might not be a bad thing." Willingham is making believers out of all of us. Is it the fact that Notre Dame fans are blind and want so badly to believe in anything? Has it become the "anything but Davie" crowd? Can we really believe that Ty can turn this thing around?

I was at the spring game. I saw 20,000 strong brave the cold, wind and rain just to see a glimpse of Tyrone football. Do we want to believe or do we actually believe? We all knew it was going to rain, no matter how much we didn't want it to happen, we knew it was going to rain. I showed up and so did all the rest of the die-hards that could make it. Is this a sign of belief or hope?

3 total points were scored by the offense in the spring game. Even Davie managed more than that in his career. Reading about this scoring explosion might have given you the wrong idea. This was the most celebrated 3 points in the last 7 years of ND football. While the actual number wasn't impressive, the way they scored 3 points was very impressive and the reason many of the 20,000 showed up.

If you think about it, the only thing that matters in all of this is that Notre Dame fans are willing to give Ty a chance. Notre Dame fans showed up in the 20's where Davie's last year was in 10's, if that. 20,000 people aren't a big deal in an 80,000-seat stadium. I am going to guess if the weather was nice, 40,000 would have shown up.

The real story here is that so many people had stamped Willingham with a big F before he spoke a word. I must admit, he wasn't my first or even second choice. Willingham spoke and he changed a lot of minds that day, including mine. If nothing else, that is a credit to him as a person and an individual. That same impression is going to be given in every living room of every player he recruits.

As we wait for the final verdict, are we going to have the "here we go again" attitude or the quiet optimism that I had that day of the spring game? I think we all have that quiet optimism. I think all Notre Dame fans want to give Ty our full support. The real problem is we are always looking over that shoulder for that gray sky and to be washed out by the rain, much like we were that day.


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