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Aug 30, 2011


The Notre Dame Leprechaun:  
King of all Mascots, 
Face of the Fightin’ Irish, 
Protector of the Spirit of Notre Dame, 
and The Real Reason Sparty is Green with Envy.

Two years ago, I enjoyed the honor of suiting up in Kelly Green every Saturday to lead the charge as our boys in Blue and Gold rushed out of the tunnel and into battle.  At the end of my senior year, I passed the lucky shillelagh (originally brought from Ireland to Notre Dame by a past leprechaun who is now a Holy Cross priest - can't make that stuff up!) to my brother-in-arms Leprechaun Dizz. We interviewed Dizzy prior to Year One of the Kelly Campaign (catch Part I and Part II here), and now in Year Two we present to you, in two segments, an IRISH CREED EXCLUSIVE WITH THE LEPRECHAUN:

Leprechaun Mike

Leprechaun Mike is a senior Mechanical Engineer from Eden Prairie, Minnesota.  He claims to be an International Leprechaun / Man of Mystery, since his parents live in ZĪ‹rich, Switzerland for the time being, and his sister is studying abroad in Perth, Australia.  He ensures me, however, that his whole family will be watching (either in person or on TV) on game day.

TheNDleprechaun: Mike has been the namesake of Notre Dame mascots since well before our kind began showing up at games.  Do you take any special pride in sharing your first name with the winningest college mascot of all-time?  How would you feel about a possible return of the Irish Terrier in combination with the Leprechaun?

MIKE:  Absolutely!  Having the same name as Clashmore Mike is a great honor.  And I would gladly welcome a furry companion.  Besides both being extremely slobbery (although cute) at the end of big games hopefully we would share luck in common too!

TheNDleprechaun:  You saw your fair share of championship caliber teams as the Blue Leprechaun last year.  What was the best memory you took away from that?  Do you plan on continuing your winning ways when you take over as the Gold Leprechaun for football and men's basketball?  Are you THE key to bringing back the Luck of the Irish?

MIKE:  Last year was an incredible experience.  Not only was I able to experience some amazing runs by our sports teams but I was able to meet different Irish fans from all over, and win over a few new ones too.  I especially loved seeing our Women’s Soccer team defy all the skeptics and take down Stanford for the national championship.  In the same way, seeing our Women’s Basketball team take down Tennessee for the first time ever, and then follow that up by beating UCONN in Indy, in March, was something else.  Those are some games that have already gone down as greats in Irish sports history.  As much as I would like to take credit for the victories, the key to the Luck of the Irish lies in the support of all the Irish fans and in having that Fighting Irish Spirit.  As far as winning goes this year, don’t worry about that.  At Notre Dame we’re all about tradition.  When you look at a few of the more recent championship seasons (’66, ’77, ’88) I think it only makes sense to continue that trend and add one in ’11!

TheNDleprechaun:  How many times a week do you eat Lucky Charms?

MIKE:  That’s a great question! I’m still working out my eating habits for this year.  How’s this for a plan, 12 times a week.  One for each national championship (including this year, of course).  Then again, I’ll have to be careful to make sure I can still fit into my Leprechaun suit come Saturday!

TheNDleprechaun:  What are you looking forward to most on September 3?

MIKE:  I think every Leprechaun dreams about step-off from the Main Building.  Leading all of the Irish fans to Notre Dame Stadium and following that up by taking the team out on our historic field for the best season of Fighting Irish Football yet is a 1-2 punch that has my heart pumping now!

TheNDleprechaun:  Have you ever been to New Orleans?  Do you plan on visiting in January?

MIKE:  I’ve never been to New Orleans, but come to think of it South Bend can be a little chilly around then…and I think I overheard Coach Kelly talking about heading down south around then too!

TheNDleprechaun:  The stash of gold I hid two years ago is running thin... can I get a loan?

MIKE:  Haha!  Once a leprechaun, always a leprechaun! I’ll see what I can do…

TheNDleprechaun:  We interviewed Leprechaun Diz last year, and he represented the Fighting Irish proudly during Coach Kelly's first season.  What did you learn from him last year, and how will it help you be the best Leprechaun you can be this year?

MIKE:  I learned so much from Leprechaun Diz last year, and he definitely left me some big little Leprechaun shoes to fill.  He really knew how to interact with the fans and get everyone riled up.  His passion and unwavering belief in the Irish is something I will carry with me this year to help me be the best Leprechaun I can be!

Leprechaun Mike poses with the National Champions of Women's Soccer
Thanks to Clashmore Mike for taking time out of his gameday preparations to share his thoughts with the fans.  We look forward to seeing him do his thing out there for the first time on what we Leprechauns like to call “The Big Stage.”  May the Luck of the Irish be with you, Mike!

Be sure to check back with IRISH CREED for PART II of this Exclusive!  While your at it, show your current Leprechaun some Twitter-Love by following him @FightinIrishLep

Aug 29, 2011

Crist Quotes

“Success is what drives me. I want this team to be successful. I want this school to be successful. I just care about the guys in the locker room so much that as a team I just want us to be as successful as we can possibly be.”

Aug 23, 2011

2011 Season Predictions

With Kelly's announcement that Dayne Crist will start for the Fighting Irish in 2011, all of the major pieces are in place and it is time for my cautiously optimistic season predictions.  While I did predict big seasons for Theo Riddick and Ethan Johnson last year, I may have been slightly overzealous when I called for a 13-0 National Championship run.  Did I learn my lesson this year?  Read on:

2011 Season Predictions:

Offensive MVP: Mike Floyd - Say it along with me: "Crist to Floyd."  Now repeat, at least 10 times per game.  After an unfortunate misstep that almost cost him his chance to finish out his career and his degree at Notre Dame, Floyd is back and focused on one thing... football.  This is bad news for secondaries everywhere.  

Offensive Breakout Player: Theo Riddick - I'm looking for Theo to take his game to the next level this year as he develops into a Golden Tate type weapon.  By switching into RB mode after catching the ball in open space, he should be able to produce in the same way that GT did on a weekly basis.  The more touches, the better.

Defensive MVP:  Manti Te'o - With another year under his belt, the unmistakeable leader of our defense will undoubtedly continue his trend of leading the team in tackles.  Look for him to make quicker recognitions more often, which will lead to even more bone-crushing hits and hopefully an abundance of turnovers.  I can't wait to see him get his hands on a loose ball with space to run... truck stick!

Defensive Breakout Player:  Louis Nix - Fighting Irish fans will witness a much meaner and leaner "Irish Chocolate" as the redshirt-freshman looks to make a big impact and anchor our defense in 2011.  With support on both sides coming from starting DEs Ethan Johnson and Kapron Lewis-Moore, as well as big time threats offered by true-freshmen Aaron Lynch and Stephon Tuitt, look for "Irish Chocolate" to smother opposing interior lines and rack up TFLs.

Special Teams MVP: David Ruffer - We finally had the type of consistent kicking game that allowed us to convert on drives that stalled outside the redzone last year, due to the 23 straight FGs made by this former walk-on turned all-pro who made Rudy's story look like a joke.  Don't be surprised if he converts on every single kick this year.

Special Teams Breakout Player: Kyle Brindza - Kelly announced that true-freshman Brindza will be taking over kickoff duties this year, and after watching his high school highlights (yes, I watched a high school kicker’s highlight reel, can’t say I don't do my research) during which he showcased his ability to consistently boot the ball well beyond the endzone, I understand why.   Look for touchbacks every time we kick off this year, something we have failed to accomplish for years.

Overall MVP: Mike Floyd - Mike will break many a Notre Dame receiving record this year, and rightfully so.  If he can stay healthy all season for the first time in four years, he has a chance to be the second Firghting Irish WR to win the Biletnikoff Award over the past 3 years.

2011 Season Record:  13-0 (NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP!)

Go ahead and hate, but as my good friend TenDomer would say, Kelly's got me CHUGGING the Green Koolaid right now...  He just may be the best coach in college football, his players know his system, he knows his players, and year 2 is the new year 3.  We have the weapons we need to win every game on our schedule, and for the first time in my 6 year tenure as a student (I'm currently enjoying my super-super-senior year), we actually have DEPTH ON DEFENSE!

The way I see it, after a dominating opening day performance against USF we will finally put the Big House to sleep under the lights in week 2.  Then we will show Sparty he doesn't deserve to be ranked ahead of us when we come out on top in a fierce week 3 matchup, after which we will make quick work of Pitt, Purdon't, and Air Force.  Then comes our epic showdown against archrival $C under the lights in Notre Dame Stadium.  The entire campus will be so amped that we will have won even before the opening kick.  Next, Kelly will solve the mystery of Navy's option, prove that Wake is fake, trample the turtles, and outclass Backup College.  As a grand finale, the battle of the nerds will fail to live up to its hype as we smoke the trees and make Andrew Luck wish he had chosen the Carolina Panthers over the lamest school west of the Mississippi.

In the end, we will exorcize the Ghost of Sugar Bowl past by beating FSU in the BCS National Championship... after which we will paint Bourbon Street green.

Aug 18, 2011

Welcome to the Center of the Universe

the only greek letters to be found at Notre Dame
Friday marks the beginning of Frosh-O 2012.  To all those freshman Domers about to begin their journeys as part of the Notre Dame Family, welcome to your new home.  To all those returning to campus, enjoy it while it lasts because it goes by far too fast.  To all those lucky enough to join the ranks of the Blessed Men and Brothers of Alumni Hall, congratulations.  As of tonight, our letters have been lit and we are ready to rule campus once again from atop our throne located at the Center of the Universe.  Visitors on campus are reminded to arrive at the South Quad Alumni Quad entrance of Alumni Hall at precisely 12:38pm every friday before home football games to witness the greatest sight anyone's eyes have ever seen (the one of a kind music and dance extravaganza known simply as Quad Dancing).
All Hail The King.  All Hail Alumni Hall.

Aug 16, 2011

Kelly quotes:

"Our recruiting has changed in that you are coming here to play for Our Lady."

"You know, it doesn't matter if I believe it. It's what our players believe in. We believe in them. As I said, our weaknesses are in depth. I'll put my 22 against anybody else. But the game's not played with 22. You got to have other guys right to go. We think we have some areas we need to address that give us more depth. But we're confident in our 22 against anybody in the country."

Aug 11, 2011

Fitting Tribute to Devine

The late great Notre Dame head football coach and College Football Hall of Fame inductee Dan Devine will finally join the ranks of Rockne, Leahy, Parseghian and Holtz as the University plans to complete its tribute to the five coaches who have led the Fighting Irish to national championships by unveling his likeness outside Gate A of Notre Dame Stadium on Friday, October 7, the day before Notre Dame takes on Air Force.

Rockne outside the North Tunnel

Leahy outside Gate C
Parseghian outside Gate B
Holtz outside Gate D

In six seasons as head coach of the Fighting Irish, Devine compiled a record of 53-16-1 (.764).  He brought Notre Dame to the pinnacle of college football during his 1977 national championship run, which included the legendary  “Green Machine” game against our arch rival Cal Southern Trojans (click the link for a great video recapping that game).  

The Trojans came into Notre Dame Stadium in 1977 riding a 7-1-2 record over the past ten contests against the Fighting Irish. Recognizing that “something special was going to be needed to get the Fighting Irish back in the winning trend,” Devine reached back to the days of Rockne and beyond in order to give his team the edge they needed.

After their final practice leading up to the game, he spoke to the team as a whole about the name “Fighting Irish” which they shared with the famous Irish Brigade of the Civil War.  He told them the story of the Irish Brigade’s notorious green flag that brought fear to the hearts of Confederate soldiers while inspiring the Union forces to "fight like Irishmen." He then explained how the color green symbolized a great struggle for freedom in Ireland during which brave men had "died so that Ireland might be free."

Devine’s history lesson left his team feeling confused as they left practice, but when they arrived for battle the next day they were greeted by the sight of bright green uniforms hanging in each of their lockers. The players’ adrenaline began to pump at that moment, and when they came charging out of the tunnel into a surprised Notre Dame Stadium they overawed their fans and their opponents alike with “Fighting Irish” bravado.

Their newfound swagger led them to a 49-19 annihilation of the Trojans, and the momentum generated by that game carried them all the way to the Cotton Bowl, where they defeated Texas to claim their spot atop the college football world once again.  The “Green Machine” game engineered by Devine would become a legendary symbol of the “Fighting Irish” spirit. 

Fr. Corby blesses the Union and Irish Brigade flags at the Battle of Gettysburg
prior to becoming the president of Notre Dame.

Despite his success, Devine was never fully embraced by the Notre Dame fanbase during his tenure as head coach.  It is good to see that he will finally be memorialized alongside his peers as one of the leading figures in Fighting Irish history.

Only one gate remains bare after the addition of Devine's statue, but rumor has it that a spot has already been reserved for the instalation of a bronze piece under what is sure to become Brian Kelly Gate.

The 2011 Campaign: 1st Day in Full Pads

The weather gods smiled down upon our campus as God's Mom watched her favorite football team practice in full pads for the first time this year.

Notable moments of the day included the impressive play of a leaner, meaner Louis Nix (recently self-nicknamed Irish Chocolate), an intense pancake block by freshman TE Ben Koyack that fired up the whole squad (at 1:55), and the ferocity of freshman DE Aaron Lynch as he initiated contact with opposing offensive lineman to reach the ball carrier on multiple occasions (at 2:18 and 2:55).

Overall, today demonstrated how the focused energy and the all-in attitude shared by the squad's established leaders make this team stand out in comparison to those of the recent past.  

On Day 1 of Year 2 under the Kelly Regime, the Fighting Irish looked driven, locked in, and fueled by a fresh sense of confidence.  As an added bonus, the flashes of brilliance shown by Kelly's first class of recruits (though they are admittedly still very raw) stand as signs of good things to come for the future of Notre Dame Football.  I am known by many to be a slightly delusional optimist, but I do believe that our return to glory is looming just over the horizon.

Aug 3, 2011

Summer Ode to Our Lady's University

It’s August at Notre Dame.

The most sacred of all stadiums soaks in the cosmic rays that feed its emerald green blades of grass. 

Its hallowed halls are empty.

The scoreboard stands aloft, unlit.

The Mural of Life peers through the steely gates that safeguard the silent tunnel.

Then, as if out of nowhere, to those true keepers of the faith who stop and listen closely alongside Rockne while he holds his all-knowing smirk forever cast in bronze, a faint whisper rises to an almost audible level. 

A new feeling floats through the air. 

Something different is soon to come. 

Soon, the shrill shriek of whistles mixed with the unmistakable cracking of helmets and pads will escape over the fortress walls of Labar. 

Soon, Kelly's Irish Brigade will earn their path to glory through blood and sweat, but never a tear, as they toil under the summer sun. 

Soon, as his exhausted troops lay snug in their beds, visions of slant routes and Hail Marys will dance through their heads. 

Soon, blue gray skies will settle in over the Golden Dome as the leaves begin to change color. 

Soon, the oldest band in the land will send volley cheers on high, and the greatest of all fight songs will bathe our campus with a spirit that, if bottled, could light up the universe. 

Soon, that barely perceptible presence will swell into a rising rumble and the echoes of our past glories will reawaken, slowly mounting until that day when the Fighting Irish once again begin to shake down the thunder from the sky that hangs over the Cathedral of College Football… 

Soon, the loyal sons of Notre Dame will rally. 

Soon, throngs of her fans will sing her glory and sound her fame. 

Soon, all will be right in the land of the Fighting Irish as we march onward to victory. 

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, :(