Losing never felt this good

<P>There have been many noteworthy storylines and events throughout this football season stretching from Seneca Wallace's run for the Heisman to the controversy over the BCS. But the most compelling storyline this year is the resurgence taking place in South Bend and in the hearts of the Notre Dame fan base. </P>

People all across America are now talking about the Irish. Some are talking about how Notre Dame is the feel good story of the year with a bunch of overachievers who find ways to win. Others are saying that they are paper tigers and will be exposed many times over by the seasons end. Notre Dame fans are making plans to spend New Years weekend in New Orleans or Pasadena. All this points to one thing, Notre Dame Football matters again.

I can tell this by just gauging my emotions and the emotions of fellow fans before and after each game. You see last year the result of a Fighting Irish game didn't really affect my mood very much. I wasn't very emotional about it. I would not pace around the living room during a close game or yell at the television set when the referee blew the call (like he can hear me). I wouldn't miss any games, but they really didn't stir many emotions in me other than complete frustration. When the games were over I would go about my day like it was no big deal. The only thing that excited me was the fact that we were one game closer to a new coach and a new beginning.

Well that new coach and that new beginning is here and with it, there is a new sense of excitement. I haven't been more excited about sports in my life. Every game determines my mood for the entire weekend. I find myself getting on the computer after games to surf the net for any piece of information on my team. Or talking to as many friends about the game as time will allow.

After the Florida State game, I got a call from a group of friends that went on a pub crawl where they hit eight different bars, one for each victory. Every Monday I am excited about going to work and being able to talk some smack to my coworkers, many of which fall into the Notre Dame hater category.

But the emotion can easily go both ways. Sometimes the emotional low after a loss can be more extreme than the high after a big win. This past weekend I found myself really hurt after the loss. This is because with every victory the stakes climbed. People start saying Notre Dame and BCS in the same sentence. There was a lot riding with this game. But sometimes people say that you can learn more from a loss than from a win.

I learned my lesson while I was sulking over the loss on Monday morning and trying to avoid newspapers and sports radio. That morning I received an email from a good friend of mine that put things into perspective. He mentioned that it actually felt good to be so hurt over a loss. He said, "It seems strange to say, but it is good to actually care this much about a loss again. When the losses stop hurting, that's when there is a problem." And I totally agree with him.

It feels so good to me that Notre Dame football matters in such a big way again. Losses like this will always hurt. And we will have more of them as long as Tyrone Willingham is around because he will have Notre Dame in contention for years to come. But I will take that because I know that games like the one against Florida State will occur more often than the games like the one we just lost to Boston College.

So please be thankful that a loss can hurt so much. It means that you have plenty to be excited about such as a possible Sugar Bowl or Rose Bowl bid and the possibility of National Championship contention year in and year out.

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