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.
Oklahoma connection: Humphrey was a high school All-American at Tulsa Washington, leading a team that included future NFL player R.W. McQuarters and another future NBA player in Etan Thomas. Unlike the other players on this list, Humphrey spent time at both schools, averaging 11.1 points and 7.5 rebounds as a sophomore for OU in 1998-99 before deciding to transfer after helping the Sooners to the Sweet 16 in 1999. Humphrey left OU as the Sooners' third-leading shot blocker in history behind only Stacey King and Wayman Tisdale.
Notre Dame: Humphrey had an immediate impact at Notre Dame, helping the Irish to the NCAA Tournament in each of his two years. As a senior, Humphrey averaged 18.9 points and 10.9 rebounds as Notre Dame reached the Sweet 16. Humphrey was a first-round pick of the Jazz in 2002.
Notable: Humphrey spent parts of four seasons in the NBA, mostly with the Grizzlies. He hasn't been in the NBA since 2005 but has since spent time playing in the NBA Development League and overseas in Cyprus and Spain.
Oklahoma connection: Martinovich was a standout at Bartlesville before beginning his college football career.
Notre Dame: After playing defense his first year on defense, Martinovich moved to the offense line and blossomed, blocking for Joe Montana. After his college career ended, Martinovich was picked in the 10th round by the Chiefs in the 1980 NFL Draft.
Notable: After graduating from Notre Dame, Martinovich went on to graduate from Harvard Business School's Advanced Management Program. In 2007, after working for DCP Midstream since 2000, Martinovich joined ONEOK. He is currently the Tulsa company's executive vice president, chief financial officer and treasurer of ONEOK and ONEOK Partners as well as a member of ONEOK Partners' Board of Directors.
Oklahoma connection: West was a standout on both sides, as well as special teams, at Northeast, earning Little All-City honors at wide receiver in 2005 after recording 28 catches for 469 yards and five touchdowns. He also had 38 tackles and four interceptions as a senior.
Notre Dame: West's best season at Notre Dame came as a sophomore in 2007, when he started seven games and played in 12, with 21 catches for 172 yards.
Notable: Since graduating from Notre Dame in 2009, West has remained in the South Bend area. West was the second player from Spencer to play for the Irish. Linebacker Justin Thomas played for Notre Dame from 1999-2002 after registering 144 tackles as a senior at Star Spencer and earning The Oklahoman's All-State defensive player of the year honors.
Oklahoma connection: Wisne was a standout at Jenks, playing on both the defensive and offensive lines and being used at tight end. He logged 260 career tackles for the Trojans, including 25 sacks. He was named first-team All-State at defensive line by The Oklahoman in 1994 and earned Parade All-American honors.
Notre Dame: There wasn't much doubt where Wisne would wind up if the Irish pursued. Wisne's father, Gerry, was an offensive lineman on Notre Dame's 1966 national title team. Jerry was a two-year starter at Notre Dame after moving from the defensive to the offensive line not long after arriving in South Bend.
Notable: Jerry's brother, Andy, was also a standout at Jenks who went on to play at Notre Dame. Andy was a reserve defensive lineman for four years, including Notre Dame's 9-3 season in 2000.