BONANNO: Watching Notre Dame Football a Unique Experience
By Chris Bonanno // December 28, 2019
Notre Dame defeated Iowa State by a 33-9 score on Saturday to win the Camping World Bowl in Orlando
ORLANDO, FLORIDA – There’s something special about seeing Notre Dame football play live.
While it probably wasn’t quite the same as seeing them play at their historic stadium in South Bend, Indiana or even in a venue such as the College Football Playoff (where the Irish played last season), it is still undeniably unique to see the players wearing shiny golden helmets running out of the tunnel as the Fighting Irish did on Saturday prior to defeating Iowa State 33-9 in the Camping World Bowl in Orlando.
It’s not just that uniform that screams college football, either.
It’s the iconic “Victory March” fight song that anyone with even a passing interest in college football recognizes. It’s the leprechaun mascot. It’s the idea that Notre Dame is the last relevant independent program (sorry, BYU) in an era where conference affiliation means more now than ever before.
It’s 13 national championships and 7 Heisman Trophy winners.
It’s Rudy and Knute Rockne and Joe Montana.
In short, it’s Notre Dame.
Yes, Notre Dame hasn’t won a national championship since 1988 but they are still iconic in much the same way the Dallas Cowboys are still “America’s Team” despite having not won a Super Bowl since the 1995 season.
Heck, the Fighting Irish are such an institution that a major network in NBC is willing to fork over gobs of money just for the right to televise their home games alone – an act which, not coincidentally, helps to allow for Notre Dame to preserve its independent status in football.
To put it in perspective: CBS, which owns the rights to SEC football and only had the chance to show one game involving SEC teams at night all season chose Notre Dame’s trip to Georgia over a game arguably featuring the conference’s two best teams in Alabama and LSU.
Notre Dame is ratings gold.
The Fighting Irish are circled on every team’s schedule and that was perhaps best exemplified in the impressive and enthusiastic crowd that supported Iowa State at Camping World Stadium on Saturday.
That the Cyclones made it to the Camping World Bowl made it a big game in program history for the school. That it was against Notre Dame made it one of the biggest and the school’s fans clearly recognized that, helping the bowl itself set a new record for attendance.
Make no mistake, there is a backlash among rival fans to the success Notre Dame and perhaps some perceived arrogance that accompanies a mention of the team.
But that’s just it, really. No team, not even Alabama, evokes emotion like the Fighting Irish because of who they are.
And that’s what made Saturday afternoon undoubtedly memorable for fans at Camping World Stadium.