Notre Dame in the big bowl is healthy for college football

College football needs Notre Dame the way baseball needs the Yankees and the NBA needs the Lakers.
by Berry Tramel Published: January 6, 2013
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photo - CELEBRATION: Notre Dame linebacker Carlo Calabrese (44) celebrates after the college football game where the University of Oklahoma Sooners (OU) were defeated by the Fighting Irish of Notre Dame (ND) 30-13 at Gaylord Family-Oklahoma Memorial Stadium in Norman, Okla., on Saturday, Oct. 27, 2012. Photo by Steve Sisney, The Oklahoman
CELEBRATION: Notre Dame linebacker Carlo Calabrese (44) celebrates after the college football game where the University of Oklahoma Sooners (OU) were defeated by the Fighting Irish of Notre Dame (ND) 30-13 at Gaylord Family-Oklahoma Memorial Stadium in Norman, Okla., on Saturday, Oct. 27, 2012. Photo by Steve Sisney, The Oklahoman

Archie Bunker always liked to say that what's good for General Motors is good for America.

Archie never seemed to be much of a college football fan — who in Queens is? — and even if he had been, he wouldn't have been a Notre Dame fan, for religious reasons.

But his GM theory applies to the Irish. What's good for Notre Dame is good for college football.

The Irish play Alabama on Monday night for the national championship in a sport that needs Notre Dame to be relevant. Needs Notre Dame to win, and not just to stem the SEC momentum of six straight Big Bowl victories.

College football needs Notre Dame the way baseball needs the Yankees and the NBA needs the Lakers.

Notre Dame draws in the undecided voter. A casual fan might not schedule around an Oklahoma-Southern Cal, a Florida-Ohio State, an Auburn-Oregon title game. But no casual fan channel surfs past Notre Dame.

The Fighting Irish are college football's only national team. This is a provincial sport. Regional ties rule.

Oh, the Sooners of the ‘70s, Miami of the ‘80s, Florida State of the ‘90s, USC of the ‘00s all attracted fans from all over, mostly of the younger variety. But they were largely passing fads.

Notre Dame allegiance has staying power. Notre Dame passion — love or hate — is generational. Sorry, Dallas, but Notre Dame is America's Team. The Irish are no bigger in Indiana than they are in New Jersey or California. Subway Alumni, they are called. Irish loyalists who never have stepped foot in South Bend.

A Notre Dame game is something special, be it the Big Bowl or the Irish's October trip to Norman or even a nondescript home game during the Irish winter going back almost two decades. In 2010, when Tulsa upset Notre Dame, TU folks called it the biggest win in school history. That Irish team played in the Sun Bowl.


by Berry Tramel
Columnist
Berry Tramel, a lifelong Oklahoman, sports fan and newspaper reader, joined The Oklahoman in 1991 and has served as beat writer, assistant sports editor, sports editor and columnist. Tramel grew up reading four daily newspapers — The...
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