Got Faith

One of the most enduring and essential gifts of the human spirit is an overflowing cup of faith. Not every man or woman may chose to drink from this cup, but every one of them has the capacity to do so. If and when they do decide to take a sip their faith can give them hope beyond reason and allow them to persevere through unthinkable troubles.

Faith is the staple that is with us from the most joyous occasions such as marriage and children to the darkest of times such as war and illness. And while everyone takes a nip or two from the cup of faith there are few creatures that do so with the perennial gnawing addiction of the Fighting Irish fan in summer.

As the muggy heat of the South Bend August wanes into the muggy heat of September the Irish fan reaches for the cup of faith like a two pack a day smoker reaches for the first butt in the morning. While most people who drink from the cup can do so without any more explanation to those around him than ‘I have faith' the Irish fan is not so fortunate. The Irish fan must also justify his faith to any non-believer who may be offended by the boldness and arrogance of the fan's hope. Few religious zealots could hold up under the onslaught of incredulity and sarcasm that the Irish fan is bombarded with every summer. If one were to look at the demands of explanation, and even apologies, that the unfaithful demand of the Irish fan then one would think they had suggested something far more dubious than a winning season for Notre Dame Football; perhaps cold fusion or the presence of life on Mars.

The hope addict should feel no remorse for their compulsion because they find themselves in good company. This year's freshman class is made up of some of the most talented young men in the country. Looking over the roster there are few players who weren't offered scholarships to other football powerhouses across the country, but they chose to come to Notre Dame despite the record the team posted in 2007. The Irish fan may have a lot invested in the football program, but there is no comparison to the investment that these boys have made. The fortunes of the players are inextricably linked to that of the program itself. While many fans may have to go into the office on the Monday following a loss and take some ribbing, good natured or otherwise, their own lives and careers are not fundamentally affected by the results of the game in the same way that it affects the players. These young men have shown a tremendous amount of faith in hitching their wagons to Notre Dame's star.

Among last year's recruits the most adamant and vocal about their commitment to Notre Dame was Dayne Crist who went so far as to dress up as the Leprechaun for Halloween last year. Even while reporters questioned his judgment in the face of Weis and company's 3-9 record Crist, also offered by the likes of USC, LSU, and Michigan, was credited the Notre Dame campus as the source of his sanguine expectations.

"Honestly, it was from the time I took my first visit here and just everything about Notre Dame and what Notre Dame stands for. Coach Weis and everything I got from my first trip stuck with me throughout the year and a half afterwards and that was pretty much the reason I, and some of the other guys, never wavered," He said recently, "We were so confident in everything that Notre Dame was about and what was presented to us." He went on to praise Coach Weis's style, purity, and honesty as the beginning of a great relationship between the freshman quarterback and the head coach. "The most appealing thing about Coach Weis is he's no-nonsense and he tells it like it is. He has a very challenging mood about him and he's going to try to bring the best out of you and that's what you need as a quarterback."

Michael Floyd gave a very Zen answer as to why he chose Notre Dame over other schools. "This felt like a place where I could be," he said, but went on to add that his entrusting his future to Notre Dame went beyond what he could accomplish on the field. "Coach Weis always talked about academics and how everybody here is going to graduate. Going to one of the top colleges in the nation and getting a degree from there and knowing that my coach really cares about the degree more than the football is really important to me."

Cornerback Robert Blanton offered his own explanation for why the incoming class wanted to become Our Lady's loyal sons. "The coaches here were great and I think that's why we have such a great recruiting class because the people who recruited us were all great guys," he said "When we all came down here they had a great attitude and a great mentality about what we could be in the future."

But is Coach Weis living up to those expectations?

Dayne Crist: Absolutely.

Robert Blanton: Yes, sir. He's a great guy.

Michael Floyd: He's an alright guy. If I do anything bad he'll pull me aside and help me through it. He had a lot of experience at the level above us and this level now. So he's the guy who can critique and give me suggestions on what I can do better.

As Christopher George said to John Wayne in El Dorado "Faith can move mountains, but it can't beat a faster draw or the spread option." The part about the option was not spoken, but was heavily implied in the subtext of the film. The point George was trying to make was that without hard work and skill faith alone is just not enough. Fortunately all of the evidence out of fall camp is that the Irish will have all three of these elements going into the season. The freshmen have staked their talent and futures in the team and are stepping up in practice every day to push the upperclassmen and the upperclassmen are striving to reach the potential that made them Irish recruits to begin with. The players and the coaches are sacrificing, pushing their limits, and giving every last ounce of themselves for the team. All the fans have to do is have a little faith.

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