Monogram Club Musings - Michigan State

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This past weekend the Monogram Club's mission of "bridging the gap between legend and legacy" took center stage, as members of the 1966 national championship football team returned to campus to celebrate the 45th anniversary of its historic season and witnessed the current Irish squad upset 15th-ranked Michigan State Saturday in Notre Dame Stadium. The 1966 team famously played to a tie with the Spartans in the penultimate game of the season before throttling USC, 51-0, en route to the national title.

In addition to the '66 team reunion, members of the Monogram Club board of directors gathered for the organization's fall meeting on Friday and attended all of the Monogram Club events throughout the weekend.

- Monogram Club president Dick Nussbaum ('74, '77) and his wife, Mary Pat, presented the national colors during pregame festivities. The first family of the Monogram Club was joined by three members of the Notre Dame women's basketball team who led the United States to the gold medal this summer in the World University Games - Devereaux Peters, Natalie Novosel and Skylar Diggins.

- In celebration of the 2010-11 women's basketball team's magical run to the 2011 NCAA Final Four, Peters, Novosel and Diggins joined their teammates on the field at halftime to take part in a special recognition ceremony. They were accompanied by head coach Muffet McGraw (honorary), who was inducted into the Women's Basketball Hall of Fame this past June.

- For the second-consecutive game, a pregame flyover electrified the crowd before the opening kickoff. Saturday's flyover featured two USAF A-10Cs.

- Former United States Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice ('75 M.A.) spent the weekend meeting with University brass including president Rev. John I. Jenkins, C.S.C., and football head coach Brian Kelly. She also made a stop at Friday's pep rally and was recognized on the field Saturday during a first quarter timeout. Rice earned her master's degree in political science from Notre Dame before beginning her political career in 1977 as a State Department intern in President Jimmy Carter's administration. The highlight of Rice's weekend on campus may have been at the Warren Golf Course, where she stepped up to her shot and sunk an improbable hole-in-one while playing alongside McGraw. Way to go, Dr. Rice!

- The Muse spotted members of one of Hollywood's most buzzed-about families on the field prior to the contest against the Spartans, as actor Martin Sheen and his son, Emilio Estevez, were in South Bend to promote their new film, "The Way." In addition to being a huge Fighting Irish football fan, Sheen famously portrayed one of Notre Dame's most prominent fictional alumni, President Josiah Bartlet, on "The West Wing." There was no double-crossing President Bartlet when it came to Notre Dame football.

- NFL veterans Ricky Watters ('90) and Jerome Bettis ('93) checked in at the Monogram Club's Friday football reception at the Schivarelli Players' Lounge. Bettis and Watters spent some quality time catching up with former teammate and all-around good guy Reggie Brooks ('93). The trio formed one of the most intimidating Notre Dame backfields in recent memory during the 1989 season, which culminated for the Irish with a 21-6 win over top-ranked Colorado in the Orange Bowl.

- Former Notre Dame Bengal Bout champion Mike Lee ('09) won a unanimous four-round decision Friday night over Jacob Stiers of Kansas City, Kan., in front of 3,296 fans at Purcell Pavilion. The event benefited both the Ara Parseghian Medical Research Foundation and the Robinson Community Learning Center. Notre Dame alumnus and super fan Regis Philbin ('53) emceed the main event.

- NASCAR driver Kurt Busch attended the game while in town for the GEICO 400 at the nearby Chicagoland Speedway. Busch works with former Irish football walk-on defensive back Chris Ham in the marketing arena. A 1995 Notre Dame graduate in business, Ham lives in Winston-Salem, N.C., and is president of his own consulting firm as well as director of motorsports for Lennox Motorsports.

- During Friday's Monogram Club fall board meeting, the organization welcomed five new directors that will serve on the board until 2014. The group includes Chris Stevens ('74), Byron Spruell ('87, '89), Bryan Fenton ('87), Tom Arkell ('94, '97) and Carolyn Cooper ('06).

- Another standing room only crowd of 675 packed the Monogram Room before heading to Notre Dame Stadium to watch the Irish upset the Spartans.

- Mark LaFrance

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