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Jul 22, 2010

Behind Enemy Lines: Cal Southern

A recent recon mission for Irish Creed brought me to the south central LA campus of Cal Southern in order to check in on our long time rivals and see what I could dig up in the aftermath of recent NCAA sanctions.

It’s common knowledge by now that Cal Southern was hit hard by sanctions resulting from the “lack of institutional control” exhibited by their athletic department, specifically regarding illegal benefits taken by athletes Reggie Bush and O.J. Mayo.  These sanctions went beyond the punishments placed upon the football team.  They led to the eventual firing of running backs coach Todd McNair, athletic director Mike Garrett, and they also forced head coach Pete Carroll to jump ship just before everything came crashing down.  Several players have already taken advantage of the "get out of jail free cards" issued to them by the NCAA by transferring to play for other programs.  Others are expected to follow in their wake.  Most importantly, it seems as though a once prideful legacy will forever be sullied in the eyes of honest men.

Most recently, Cal Southern President Steven Sample announced his decision to remove all jerseys, trophies, and depictions of Reggie Bush and O.J. Mayo from campus in an attempt to “disassociate” the school from said offenders.  By a stroke of luck, I was able to sneak past the watchful eyes of Tommy Trojan and gain access into Heritage Hall just days before Reggie’s Heisman was taken down from its proud position alongside fellow upstanding Cal Southern alum O.J. Simpson. 

As you can see by my smile, I thoroughly enjoyed my first visit to Cal Southern.   Even so, I began to question myself while strolling their campus decked out in Fighting Irish gear and enjoying the plentitude of death stares being thrown my way.  I had to ask myself one important question: Is it acceptable for Loyal Sons and Daughters of Notre Dame to take joy in the collective misery of all those at Cal Southern?

There’s an old Irish toast that says, “Here’s to the health of our enemies’ enemies!”  Should we raise our glasses to the NCAA for sticking it to our mighty foes after we failed to do so on the gridiron over the past 8 years?  Should we kick back as happy spectators to watch the Fall of Troy commence?  Should we answer every call of “Fight on!” with jeers of “Cheat on!”?  My answer is a resounding YES, but only if we do so for the right reasons.

As a witness of three brutal defeats during my first three years as a Notre Dame student, I may be am definitely bitter about the recent embarrassment that my beloved Fighting Irish have been handed by Cal Southern.  Then last year we came so close to making an epic comeback inside Notre Dame Stadium, with one second left on the clock and one yard to go, only to be slighted by our destiny as we failed to tie the game.  Yes, some of the sting fades away when I see the same football player who torched our defense so many times publicly embarrass himself and become an exile at the very school that once sang his praises.  I feel guilty for doing so, though.  It can’t be right to gloat and be so happy for this reason.

After all, Notre Dame v Cal Southern is arguably one of the greatest rivalries in all of sports.  The two schools began playing each other annually in 1926 with the Fighting Irish now holding a 42-33 edge in wins, and “The Greatest Intersectional Rivalry” has produced countless legendary moments.  It takes two to tango, and I respect our rivalry too much to take joy in watching our opponent crumble beyond the point of recognition.  In the same vein, the recent happenings at Cal Southern bring me joy precisely because I respect the rivalry so much.

The longstanding tradition of excellence at Cal Southern has recently become overshadowed by the circus surrounding their athletic department.  It was clearly getting out of control with constant celebrity appearances at games and practices and the overall promotion of a Hollywood image encouraging student athletes to focus more on living lavishly than on being either students or athletes.  Those in charge could only turn a blind eye for so long, and when the level of absurdity peaked with Reggie Bush and O.J. Mayo something had to give.

It will be interesting to compare post-sanction Cal Southern to pre-sanction Cal Southern after the Hollywood image that drew so many athletes seeking fame and fortune gets replaced by a far less sexy  “culture of compliance.”  Changes are already starting to take place, hence recent hirings and firings along with these flyers that I found posted at every entrance to Heritage Hall:

I sincerely hope the new compliance programs work, and I look forward to November 27th when Notre Dame resumes a fair and balanced rivalry with Cal Southern.  So rather than saying "slainte" to our enemies’ enemies for the wrong reasons, I’d like to propose a toast in hopes that everyone at Cal Southern learns from their mistakes, our storied rivalry regains its true integrity, and college football lives on powerfully in its purist form.

I can’t wait to visit Cal Southern again in November.  Next time the scenery will look a little different with fewer trophies and jerseys on display, and I'll be happy to know that an army of Fighting Irish Faithful have my back.  As per true Irish custom, I left them with a parting gift to enjoy until we meet again.  A small Irish charm now resides somewhere on their campus and along with it lives the dreaded curse of the Leprechaun.  I have a feeling that everyone in the Coliseum on November 27th will witness some newfound good fortune for the Fighting Irish.

During my escape I decided to send Traveler to the glue factory as well.


  1. ... This is the kind of thing fans of other schools hate us for. Get over yourself

  2. ^You are an idiot

  3. love it!!! wish i could have gone with you!!!

  4. Ha. No. This is classic.

  5. great post Dan. Keep up the good work. I am looking forward to what you and your crew has to say come Football season.

    In FGR,
    Ken Hamilton

  6. Love it! Love It! Love It! Keep up the good work
    and as always
    Jim in Orlando

  7. Great writing, great details, great story. GO IRISH!

  8. I almost feel sorry for Reggie...which of course means I don't. This is a victory we have waited too long for and it should be celebrated.

    Well Done!

  9. I'm not really sure but I don't believe that either O.J. Simpson or Reggie Bush received a degree from USC. Could someone enlighten me?

  10. haha!! these are great!!

  11. awesome dan, i completely agree. yeah it's fun to gloat, but it's much more important that our rivalry continue FAIRLY. the challenge of sports is to play within certain guidelines and out-perform your opponent... winning isn't really winning when you refuse to play by the rules, because it really doesn't measure true ability with everything else being equal. cheating is just taking the easy way out. its unacceptable for anyone, but especially programs like USC that could be very talented and successful WHILE playing by the rules.

    glad to see theyve cleaned house - no more cheaters, just murderers :)


  12. the first anoymous poster, should be dragged in the streets and beaten. It college life. Something your preppy self cant understand. Its USC. And who cares who hates us. We're the greatest name in sports. People hate you when your on top. The names Tyler, and I dont hide behind "anonymous"

  13. Thanks for all the great feedback, I guess the Curse of the Leprechaun really did hit home this November.


2012 Notre Dame Football Schedule

2012 Notre Dame Football Schedule
DateOpponent / EventLocationTime / Result
09/01/12vs. Navy Dublin, IrelandW, 50-10
09/08/12vs. PurdontNotre Dame, Ind.W, 20-17
09/15/12at SpartyEast Lansing, Mich.W, 20-3
09/22/12vs. SkunkbearsNotre Dame, Ind.W, 13-6
Shamrock Series
10/06/12vs. Da UChicago, Ill.W, 41-3
10/13/12vs. TreesNotre Dame, Ind.W, 20-13 (OT)
10/20/12vs. BYU Notre Dame, Ind.W, 17-14
10/27/12at Oklahoma Norman, Okla.W, 30-13
11/03/12vs. Pittsburgh Notre Dame, Ind.W, 29-26 (3OT)
11/10/12at Backup College Chestnut Hill, Mass.W, 21-6
11/17/12vs. Fake Worest Notre Dame, Ind.W, 38-0
11/24/12at U$C Los Angeles, Calif.W, 22-13
1/7/13vs. AlabamaBCS CHAMPIONSHIP
(Miami, Florida)
L, :(