Mike Fanning grew up an Oklahoma football fan in Tulsa, so when the Sooners started to recruit him in 1970, it seemed an obvious choice to go to OU.
That was until the Tulsa Edison product got to South Bend, Ind., for a recruiting trip.
“You just get up there and it's a special place,” Fanning said. “I was raised Catholic. I got up there and I thought I could play.”
Truth told now, Fanning said he would've rather gone to Oklahoma State to wrestle.
“I didn't want to wake up in 20 years and wonder what would've happened if I would've tried to play football,” Fanning said. “I don't know if I would've even gotten to play if I'd gone to OU as it was.”
The decision worked out for Fanning, who was a 1974 All-American and drafted No. 9 overall by the Los Angeles Rams in 1975.
Fanning plans to be in Norman on Saturday when the Sooners and Irish play.
He's far from the only Oklahoman athlete with ties to Notre Dame. Here's a look at Fanning and others with Oklahoma ties who are affiliated with Notre Dame.
Oklahoma connection: Brooks was a standout at Tulsa Washington high school, following in the footsteps of his brother, Tony. Reggie Brooks missed nine games in his final two seasons with the Hornets but still ran for 1,283 yards.
Notre Dame: Brooks followed his brother to Notre Dame and became a record-setter at running back after moving from defensive back early in his career. He finished fifth in Heisman Trophy voting in 1992 behind winner Gino Torretta.
Notable: Brooks played four seasons in the NFL, mostly with the Redskins. Since retiring from football, Brooks has returned to South Bend, where he's the manager for Monogram/Football Alumni Relations. Brooks' nephew and Tony's son, Anthony Barr, is a starting linebacker for UCLA.
Oklahoma connection: Fanning was an All-State defensive at Tulsa Edison in 1970 and was named second-team defense in The Oklahoman's high school All-Century team in 1999.
Notre Dame: Fanning was a starter for the Irish in 1973 and 1974, helping the Irish win a national championship in '73.
Notable: Fanning played 10 seasons in the NFL, recording 13 sacks in his final three seasons (after it became an official stat). Fanning currently lives in the Tulsa area and works for the University of Tulsa athletic department. His son, Casey, was a thrower for the Golden Hurricane track team.
Oklahoma connection: Hight did a little bit of everything as a standout multisport athlete at Bishop McGuinness. She starred in basketball, soccer and track for the Irish. In soccer, she posted 35 shutouts as a goalkeeper, including 11 as a sophomore in 2010. She helped McGuinness to the 2010 Class 5A finals and a pair of semifinals appearances. She was also named the 2012 Bob Colon Scholarship winner by The Oklahoman and the Jim Thorpe Association.
Notre Dame: Hight is the first Oklahoman to play for Notre Dame's women's soccer program. In her freshman season, Hight has started 10 of Notre Dame's 18 games so far, with a 6-3-1 record and an .864 save percentage.
Continue reading this story on the...