The Good, The Bad And The Ugly: The 2013 Notre Dame Fighting IrishColumns, Football, Sports, The Fam — By E. Maisonet, III on September 6, 2013 at 10:37 am
By Sumit Dasgupta / @skd_thExchange
If you were to play a word association game with a large sample college football fans, I would bet that one of the most common responses to “Notre Dame” would be some permutation of “overrated,” “overexposed” or whatever the spoken word equivalent of an eye-roll is. It is a somewhat justifiably common refrain due the mythicism attributed to everything Notre Dame, from The Four Horsemen to winning one for The Gipper to Rudy. The irony of this is that the abject weirdness of what has transpired in the past year for Notre Dame football goes far beyond anything that can be manufactured or embellished by even the most creative of scribes, revisionist historians or screenwriters.
The season started with third-year head coach Brian Kelly handing over the offense to redshirt freshman Everett Golson, with the hope that his athleticism would lead to enough big plays while a rapidly improving defense would cover up for the young QB’s inevitable rookie mistakes. Aided by the depth and consistency of the Irish running game and a handful of fortuitous bounces, the plan worked flawlessly. Notre Dame went undefeated in the regular season and appeared in its first national title game since 1988. Standing in the way was Alabama. The dream season realistically fell apart by the middle of the first quarter of the BCS Championship, as Alabama moved the football at will while throttling Notre Dame’s previously opportunistic offense.
That was just the beginning of the story. Less than a month later, Lennay Kekua became a household name despite not actually existing. Ronaiah improbably became the most famous (and definitely the creepiest) Tuiasosopo brother despite possessing the least athletic ability of the clan. And Notre Dame Athletic Director Jack Swarbrick taught us all about catfishing in one of the most surreal press conferences in the history of mankind sports.
Already shaken by the Manti Te’o catfish extravaganza, the Fighting Irish fan base was temporarily panic-stricken by Kelly’s flirtation with the Philadelphia Eagles’ vacant head coaching position. Lest the program feel comfortable with the continuity of Kelly ultimately returning to South Bend, the expulsion of Golson for academic improprieties removed the talented young signal caller from the team for at least the upcoming season.
If the 2012 Notre Dame regular season was a 12-game bender, what took place in the months since qualified as a particularly painful hangover. Consequently, most Irish fans enter 2013 in something between a haze and an outright stupor.