It didn’t end. The more time that separated me from my previous life as the Leprechaun, the more I realized that it probably never would. Notre Dame had become part of my identity, as permanent as the logo inked into my arm. It followed me everywhere from back home in Buffalo all the way to the beautiful beaches of Southern California, where I spent my summer between graduation and law school.
Either my steadfast devotion to Notre Dame paid off, the curse I cast on Southern Cal worked, or both. Unfazed by the effigy of a Leprechaun hanging from a gnarly tree outside the Coliseum, I waved my “Kill So. Cal” Tricolour Irish flag with pride while watching my Fighting Irish steal back the Jeweled Shillelagh. As expected, a light drizzle and temperatures in the low sixties kept the fair weather Trojan fans from filling their own house. We took advantage by creating a student section of our own in a vast area of unoccupied seats. When my Dawg Harrison Smith sealed Southern Cal’s fate with an interception on the goal line during the closing seconds an army of security guards surrounded us to make sure we couldn’t rush the field. We didn’t care. Singing our fight song with full heart and voice until it echoed through the cavernous corridors of the Coliseum left us feeling perfectly content.
Despite our lack of style points, our winning ways continued until we found ourselves in a showdown against our Trojan rivals for a shot at the national championship. Southern Cal had started the season ranked #1 while we flew under the radar unranked. The Curse of the Leprechaun must have remained intact, because the tables had turned by the time we marched into the Coliseum as the top team in the nation to face our already-eliminated inferior opponents. Not even the most imaginative sports writers could have made this stuff up. My lucky seventh year as a student concluded with a 22-13 win when our intrepid running back Theo Riddick made a mockery of the Trojan defense. I brandished my “Kill So. Cal” Irish Tricolour flag blatantly for all to see as we filled those corridors with echoes of our fight song once again.