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Dec 22, 2010

The Fall of Troy: Revisited

Wow… They weren’t joking about that whole law school finals thing.  A lot has happened in the land of the Fighting Irish since I last had a chance to put together a real post, so before we jump into hype for the South Bend v South Beach matchup on New Year’s Eve (not exactly Catholics v Convicts anymore) I feel like I need to celebrate the fact that NOTRE DAME FINALLY BEAT U$C!

The October 2009 loss, agonizing as it was,
made the November 2010 win so much sweeter... brah.

Enough has already been written about “what this win means,” or how lucky we were (I prefer to think of it not as a dropped pass, but a pass deflected by God, who was finally sick of seeing his Mom’s team lose) so I will resort to sharing my own opinion on the matter as a fan and former leprechaun:

What does this win mean?

Tommy Reese, the first Notre Dame quarterback to defeat the mighty men of Troy since Carlyl Holiday did so in 2001, described the win in the only way he could by saying "Words can not do it justice."

In words borrowed from Lou Holtz, Brian Kelly talked about taking pride in the fact that his lads "didn't flinch" against a rival that has tormented all of Notre Dame Nation over most of the past decade.  According to Kelly, "We put the fight back into the Fighting Irish today."

I’d love to say that a win over the Trojans has been a long time coming, but I personally can’t.  Even though it feels like an eternity, the misery only began for me in 2005 with the Bush Push (which, Ironically enough… never happened). 

That legendary game between #9 Notre Dame and #1 U$C was the first college football game I watched after applying to college, and my first experience as a Notre Dame fan.  I’ll always remember exactly where I was and what I was doing during that game.  Actually, I was on a double-date at a bowling alley and I was attempting (unsuccessfully) to divide my attention between the amazing spectacle on TV and my date.  I remember jumping up and down screaming when it appeared as though the Fighting Irish had won, since the students had begun to rush the field and there was no sound on the TV at the bowling alley.  I then watched in disbelief as the officials ushered fans back into their seats and added time back on to the expired clock.  Let’s just say what transpired next ruined the rest of the night not only for every Notre Dame fan watching, but for my date as well…

As a student at Notre Dame, I lived through 3 brutally embarrassing defeats before finally feeling the tide begin to change direction during my senior year.  The stars seemed like they just might align in 2009.  The entire campus breathed “BEAT SC,” and loyal students spent more time hanging up posters, writing on sidewalks, and building a Trojan Horse than they did studying for midterms.  At the Friday night rally, I burst out of the horse sporting a mohawk and Tommy Trojan’s sword (which I broke over my knee) and tens of thousands roared as Rocket Ismail delivered a gospel-like speech that none in attendance will ever forget.  I had never been more amped in my life, and the energy coming from the greened out student section during that game lifted our team to come soaring back within striking distance of our mighty foes late in the second half.  Alas, my dreams of standing atop the north-endzone goalpost as the students tore it down flew out the window when our fourth-and-goal pass fell incomplete.  At that moment, in agonizing pain, I vowed that I would one day witness the fall of Troy.

I did what any traumatized recently-retired leprechaun would do when I decided to live in Southern California with fellow Irish Creed writer FightingIrish1313 during the summer of 2010.  While living behind enemy lines, not only did I visit the soon-to-disappear Heisman trophy belonging to Reggie Bush, but I also left behind a small Irish charm somewhere on their campus, thus putting the dreaded Curse of the Leprechaun on the University of Spoiled Children. (You can read about my SoCal adventure here).

Flash forward to this November, as I arrived in Huntington Beach for Thanksgiving by the ocean where the sign at my hotel read “The word of the day is: STOKED!”  Stoked I was, possibly even hella-stoked, to spend a few days soaking up some cosmic rays in the OC before venturing into a quaint neighborhood known as South Central LA for a rivalry showdown featuring backup quarterbacks starting on both sides.  Hella-stoked for a win… brah.

I must admit that I was impressed with the tailgating scene prior to Senior Night in the Coliseum (whoa… totally sorry for spoiling your big night… brah).  Some creative Californians even hanged an effigy of a leprechaun from a tree, which was lovely.

Once inside the Coliseum, I discovered that most Fighting Irish fans had been relegated to the cheap seats that are literally nowhere near the football field.  Not to worry, because the Trojans failed to fill their own house as expected.  It didn’t take long before we created a cheering section of our own in the corner of the endzone.  More than once, our celebratory cheers and jeers could be heard on the field over the lifeless din of the SoCal crowd.  While the Irish Tricolour flag upon which I had spray-painted “KILL SO CAL” did not amuse those around us, it did spark some energy when I joined the crowd-surfing students in the fourth quarter.  Our small band of faithful fans shared tremendous highs and lows throughout the game, and as the clock hit 00:00 an overwhelming sense of relief swept over us all.  An army of security guards surrounded us to make sure any attempts to rush the field would be thwarted, but we were perfectly content standing arm in arm singing our Alma Mater with smiles on our faces.  As we exited the friendly confines of the Coliseum, we thanked our gracious hosts for the win, and echoes of the Notre Dame Victory March reverberated throughout every hallway.

In reference to the thousands of Cali brahs who showed us the real meaning of the term “fair-weather fan” when they left the game early in droves after finding the blustery 50 degree night far too frigid for their liking, I guess revenge actually is best when served cold (pun intended).  I do respect their loyal fans who stuck it out in a losing effort on Senior Night though, because I’ve been there and done that.  

I left the game excited for the future of the “Greatest Intersectional Rivalry” in college football.  It takes two to tango in a true rivalry, and we haven’t shown enough fight to even make the games interesting as of late.   As one of about 3 Notre Dame fans (and the only one decked out head to toe in bright green) at the 9-0 (the CJ’s of SoCal) after the game, I was a bit surprised at how many Trojan fans approached me with toasts “to the rivalry” (and even more surprised that I escaped with my life after half the SC football team showed up).  If Coach Kelly was right, and the Fall of Troy was a sign that we finally put the fight back into the Fighting Irish, then I’d like to join those Trojan fans by raising a glass “to the rivalry.”

All in all, my ND v SC experience has been an eventful journey, and I am hella-stoked for its continuance now that the drought is over and Kelly’s reign has begun (also hella-stoked to have the Jeweled Shillelagh back in the JACC... brah).


  1. Good post, fun to read even all these weeks later.

  2. Thanks James, and sorry for the delay. Law school temporarily got in the way haha. Also, you wouldn't be related to THE James Connolly, Irish socialist rebel and martyr in the Dublin Easter Uprising of 1916, would you? That would give you some major Fighting Irish street cred.

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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, :(