Notre Dame: For Real?

It sure looks that way.

This past weekend, my 10 year old niece solicited my help as she sat at the kitchen table doing her homework.  She asked: “Aunt Smash Mouth Diva, what is a “collective noun”?”  I was about to do what most aunts and uncles do and just make something up, but my sister insisted that she needed to know the “correct definition” so instead of me confabulating we went to our usual reliable source: Wikipedia (my patients should rest assure that it not my go to reference when I can’t figure out what’s wrong with them, of course, except in the case of diseases of the thyroid).  There we found many examples of collective nouns, one of the first on the list,  a perfect example if you will…a  “team”.

That is the impression we get as we watch the Irish play throughout this past season.  They are playing like a team. Are they capable of stopping the swift and explosive offense of Oregon?  Maybe, or maybe not, but truth be told their play this past season has surely earned them the right (of course, Kansas State might have something to say about that).  There has been many a close game with much overtime play; they have been exciting to watch.  And even if in some cases, (call it the luck of the Irish if you will),  their wins weren’t pretty, but they still managed to win.

Coach Brian Kelly has brought leadership, discipline and perseverance.  He sits those who don’t play by the rules and those who don’t come to play.  He has them believing that they can beat any opponent; be it on the hallowed grounds of South Bend, or the unfriendly turf of Norman.  He sets his players up to succeed and plays to their strengths. This is most evident in how he uses his young quarterbacks.  He spreads the playing time around and has the depth of talent to do so. He freely alternates his quarterbacks, not as others are forced to do when faced with injuries to their starting QBs, but based on performance, merit and the needs of the team in that particular situation.

Their defense, lead by rock star and hopefully, Heisman candidate, Manti Te’o, is fierce and has won many a game for them this year.  Are you deserving of the opportunity to play for the BCS national championship because of defensive play? Well, if you keep your opponents out the end zone, maybe so.  However, as ND plays their last home game of the season today, all of this may be premature wishful thinking and we have painfully (and joyfully) learned over the years that “it ain’t over until it’s over”. And on any given Saturday anyone can beat anyone.  This is the beauty of college football.

Whether you are an ND lover or a hater, and whether you think Stanford was in the end zone or not, when the dust settles, ND is on the verge of the perfect season.  And they are the perfect example of a “collective noun”.

Dedicated to my 10 year old niece Lanie (we learned about collective nouns together) and my 6 year old nephew Ben, both of whom study like champions every day.

And to my irascible nephew Beau, a senior at ND: Suit up, bro, stay out of the drunk tank and enjoy the last home game of the season.

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