November 2011 Archives

Notre Dame Culture a Unique One

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martyjames.jpg Napa Valley Register - One of these years I want to make an all-sports trip to the midwest and east coast. The purpose is to visit and spend some time in areas of the country that I've never been to before.

I'd like to start it off by going to Green Bay to see Lambeau Field and the Packers Hall of Fame.

From there, I'd schedule a trip to Chicago and a Cubs game at Wrigley Field.

I'd continue with baseball by traveling to Boston for a Red Sox game at Fenway Park and then going to New York to see the Yankees play.

The golf itinerary of the trip would come next. I've always wanted to see Shinnecock Hills Golf Club, a links-style course located in the town of Southampton on Long Island, which has hosted the U.S. Open Championship four times. Next on my list of must-see places is Winged Foot Golf Club in Mamaroneck, N.Y. I'd wrap up the golf portion of the trip by heading to Augusta National Golf Club, located in Augusta, Ga. Designed by Alister MacKenzie, it's the site of the Masters Tournament, one of the four major championships in professional golf.

The final stop on my trip would be to the University of Notre Dame in Indiana. I grew up on Notre Dame football, hurrying home each Sunday morning during the fall as a youth after my newspaper route to watch the Notre Dame football highlights T.V. show and hear Lindsey Nelson's play-by-play call of Fighting Irish games.

I'd want to spend as much time as possible in order to take in all that Notre Dame -- a school with great tradition and history -- has to offer. One of the first places on campus that I'd head to is Notre Dame Stadium, which has natural grass and a seating capacity for 80,795 fans. I'd want to spend some extra time there, just checking out the facilities and maybe being lucky enough to walk on the field.

"It's not as spectacular as some of the newer stadiums or larger stadiums," said Rich Brumley, a Napa resident. "It's a very traditional, older stadium. But the spirit and the noise inside, it's very unique. And again, it's right on campus."

Brumley has a good friend from Ohio, who is also a Notre Dame graduate, who invited him to this year's USC-Notre Dame game. How are you going to say no to that?

"He took me and showed me every tradition at Notre Dame -- the band preparation, the statues of all the coaches, leading the band into the stadium," Brumley said. "It was just a fantastic experience. All their traditions are alive and well there.

"The spirit is the most unbelievable thing I've ever experienced -- and I've been to Ohio State, USC, Alabama, Ole Miss. Notre Dame is the best. The traditions in the stadium were just fantastic. It was just a wonderful experience. The campus is just absolutely beautiful. Great facilities, historical with many traditions."

Anne Schramm knows Fighting Irish football. Her dad, Thomas Dodd, completed his 49th year as an usher for Notre Dame football games this year.

"He's hoping to make it one more year to get to 50," said Schramm, who attended Saint Mary's College, which is just across the street from the University of Notre Dame.

There is more to Notre Dame than intercollegiate athletics, Schramm said.

"There's a lot of Catholic tradition there as well. It's a relatively small campus, but very powerful," said Schramm, who makes her home in Napa. "You'd want to see the Golden Dome. You would want to go inside there and walk all the way up to the top. There is tradition there. You'd want to see the Basilica. It was re-done in the last 10 years. You can go see the old log cabin where the old school used to be and the log cabin church. You'd definitely want to see the stadium."

Meet Gnomer Dame

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Since being released from his box outside the Hammes Bookstore a few seasons ago, Gnomer Dame (known by his friends simply as "Gnomer") has spent his days glad-handing with Notre Dame fans and catching up with Irish celebrities.

The lack of opposable hands makes it hard for Gnomer (@GnomerDame) to travel alone, so his handlers ensure he makes it to his fair share of games each season.

Before, during and after each game, Gnomer stops to take pictures with adoring fans and later uploads all his pictures to his Facebook account for all to see.

We caught up with Gnomer (and his handlers) to ask a few questions ...

How did you become interested in following the Notre Dame football program?
"I was hatched in the gardens on campus, so I don't know how I can't be a fan of all things Notre Dame."

What is your favorite movie?
"I once saw this moving picture show entitled 'Wizard of Oz.' I really wasn't very impressed (with the movie) until I heard the main character, Dorothy, repeatedly saying 'There's no place like gnome, there's no place like gnome.' At that point I knew that movie would be a classic. As far as I know, it is."

What is a football gameday like for you?
"Gameday for me is like a big family reunion. I like going around and seeing as many friends as I can. I can tailgate like a champion. I also like to observe as many of the gameday campus traditions as I can without wearing out my handlers; my favorite traditions are the players walk to the stadium, the midnight drummers circle and seeing what type of flowers are planted along the sidelines in the stadium."

How well do you and your handlers get along?
"I appreciate everything my handlers do for me. Even though we live Ohio, they help me get to as many games as possible and when we get on campus they take me around campus to see the sights and take pictures. Otherwise, with these short legs it would take a bit longer to get from place to place. For that, I thank them."

What is your gnome family known (or gnown) for?
"This is actually a funny story. My grandfather, Gnick, had a guardian by the name of John Hughes who was a screenplay writer in New York. Hughes was working on a film about a kid who gets left in his room as his family goes on vacation. The film was set for release, yet he couldn't figure out a good title. That's when grandpa spoke up and said (as a joke), 'What about Gnome Alone?' Hughes heard it differently, and the 'Home Alone' title was born. From my family to your family, you're welcome.

Favorite place on campus?
"If I was passing out Olympic medals to certain places on campus, I would have to give Notre Dame Stadium the gold, the Hammes Bookstore (where I was adopted) the silver and the Grotto the bronze medal."

What do you do for a living?
"I am currently working on my dissertation through the University of Alaska-Fairbanks just outside of my parents' home in Nome, Alaska. My paper is looking at the human G-gnome project, a study looking at the interaction of gnomes and their human counterparts. To supplement my small income I work part-time in the nursery at the local Gnome Depot."

Why did you start your own Facebook page?
"I joined Facebook in order to stay in touch with all the friends that I made while going to Notre Dame games. Along the way I have made many friends; from players, to cheerleaders to students and fans alike. My goal is to be friends with anyone and everyone that is a Fighting Irish fan."

What is your favorite joke?
"What city has the largest rodent population? Hamsterdam of course! Isn't that Punny! What? Did you think I would forget to use a pun?"

He's Got Jokes!

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65 Years Ago Today

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Shamrock Series Intro Video

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Boxer Is a Quick Learner, In and Out of the Ring

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MikeLee.jpg Crain's Chicago Business - It's hardly a shock that boxing is filled with people angling to take advantage of young fighters. John Lee, the father of Mike Lee, said the business aspect of the sport is "like the Wild, Wild West."

"Anything goes," he said.

Yet even though Mike Lee , who graduated with a degree in finance from the University of Notre Dame, had a good inkling of what was coming when he turned pro in 2009, there's still nothing like actually going through it.

"You take these business-ethics courses and you're surrounded by all these good people at Notre Dame," Mike Lee said. "The real world (the boxing world) has more of a cutthroat mentality. I've had people going behind my back trying to get higher percentages. It happens all the time. You learn quickly how to read people."

Thus far, the light heavyweight from west suburban Wheaton is winning big. His 7-0 record has earned him a slot on the undercard Saturday for the Miguel Cotto-Antonio Marqarito fight at New York's Madison Square Garden. HBO will show the bouts via pay-per-view.

It's a significant jump in prestige for Mr. Lee, who already has received plenty of hype because of his unusual background. Name another white university grad on the boxing circuit these days.

Now he has to make the most of it.

"I feel like I've got 20 years worth of business experience in the last two," Mr. Lee said. "I've learned what comes out of people's mouths often isn't the truth. I see it as a positive. I'm learning what human nature is all about."

Added his father: "Mike's gotten a first-class education about how tough people are in and out of the ring. I'm shocked at how well he's handled it."

Fast-food chain Subway already has latched on to Mr. Lee's story. He's been featured in a series of ads that include prominent athletes--another big break for a second-year boxer.

"I turned down a lot of offers that didn't fit what I was or where I see myself going," Mr. Lee said. "Subway is a huge national brand that promotes healthy eating. It's a great fit for me."

The Fightin' Irish connection obviously helps from a marketing standpoint. Mr. Lee even had a fight at Notre Dame earlier this year.

But as Mr. Lee goes deeper into his career, with the victories (he hopes) piling up, he wants to be known for being more than a white kid with a finance degree.

"I'm at the point in my career where I want to show people that I'm a good fighter," Mr. Lee said. "I feel like I'm getting better and better. Not to distance myself from Notre Dame, but I want to become more than a Notre Dame boxer. As the fights keep coming, it'll be less about Notre Dame, and more about being a light heavyweight contender."

- Ed Sherman

Following Flynt - Tuesday Clicks

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10.29.11 Gameday 7.JPG Broncos add McCarthy: After spending the season on the practice squad, former Notre Dame safety Kyle McCarthy ('09) rejoined Denver's active roster on Monday. McCarthy played in eight games for the Broncos during the 2010 season, and joins Irish teammates Brady Quinn ('07) and David Bruton ('09) when Denver visits Minnesota this weekend.

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Christmas in Disney World: Though no official announcement will be made until Dec. 4, all signs point to Notre Dame playing in the Champs Sports Bowl on Dec. 29 in Orlando, Fla. ESPN.com's Mark Schlabach projects that the Irish will take on Florida State, while Brad Edwards predicts a matchup with Clemson. Stewart Mandel from SI.com also projects a showdown with the Tigers. Barring any significant shakeup in the season's final weekend, it appears the Irish may be spending the holidays closer to Cinderella's Castle than the Golden Dome.

Te'o Named Lott Finalist: Junior linebacker Manti Te'o was named a finalist for the 2011 Lott IMPACT Trophy, an award that goes "to the defensive player who has had the biggest IMPACT on his team, both on and off the field. The IMPACT acronym is Integrity, Maturity, Performance, Academics, Community and Tenacity." The other three finalists are Emmanuel Acho of Texas, Dont'a Hightower of Alabama and Luke Kuechly of Boston College. Te'o is also a finalist for the Butkus Award, presented to the top linebacker in college football.

Smith also headed to the NFL: According to a tweet he sent earlier this afternoon, former Irish linebacker Brian Smith ('11) may also be NFL bound. Smith spent some time as part of the Cleveland Browns squad during the summer, but was released before the season began in September.

- Josh Flynt ('11)

Irish Connection - Episode 27

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Thank You, Compton Family

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Student. Athlete. Irish.

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Shots From the Heart

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Men's basketball head coach Mike Brey is one of 64 coaches set to participate in the 2nd annual 'Shots From the Heart' tournament.

CollegeInsider.com is spearheading the event in which college basketball coaches will compete in a free-throw shooting contest to help raise awareness for heart disease.

The event, which also includes a tournament for assistant coaches, will benefit the Skip Prosser Foundation. The former Wake Forest head coach passed away in 2007 of a heart attack.

Coaches will not have to actually compete against each other on the same court. Each coach will shoot 25 free throws at his convenience. A member of the athletic department will tally the results and the coach with the most makes would advance.

"The idea was to create awareness for heart disease through competition," says CollegeInsider.com co-founder Angela Lento. "We wanted to create something that coaches could have fun with. The fun but competitive nature of this event is something that I am sure coach Prosser would have enjoyed."

The American Heart Association is also part of the event and is one of the beneficiaries of the Skip Prosser Foundation, which was established in 2011. Prosser spent 21 years as collegiate head coach at Loyola (Maryland), Xavier and Wake Forest.

Fans can follow the season-long event at CollegeInsider.com/shots

Following Flynt - Irish Around The League

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Photo courtesy of ESPN.com

While Notre Dame awaits its bowl invitation, playoff races continue to heat up in the NFL. With three games on Thanksgiving, it was a busy weekend in the league. Here's a look at how former Fighting Irish players performed in Week 12.

As is tradition in the Motor City, Detroit hosted the early afternoon game on Thanksgiving. The Lions however, dropped to 7-4, as Green Bay continued its hot streak with a 27-15 win. Ryan Grant ('05) had six carries for 20 yards and three catches for 20 yards in the victory.

Dallas knocked off Miami on a last-second field goal at Cowboys Stadium, 20-19. Anthony Fasano ('06) had two catches for 32 yards for the Dolphins.

In the battle of the Harbaugh brothers, Baltimore defeated San Francisco, 16-6. Tom Zbikowski ('07) had two solo tackles for the Ravens, including a sack of 49ers quarterback Alex Smith.

New England improved to 8-3 with a 38-20 victory at Philadelphia. Sergio Brown ('10) made three tackles for the Patriots, while Derek Landri ('06) had two for the Eagles. Trevor Laws ('07) had one pass deflection in the loss.

Seattle dropped to 4-7 with a 23-17 loss against Washington, but Golden Tate picked up his second touchdown of the season on a 15-yard pass from Tarvaris Jackson.

Justin Tuck ('05) and the New York Giants travel to New Orleans in tonight's Monday Night Football action.

- Josh Flynt ('11)

Live Chat - Men's Basketball vs. Bryant

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Notre Dame will play host to Bryant College today inside Purcell Pavilion at the Joyce Center. Tip-off is slated for 2:00 p.m. (ET). This will be the first-ever meeting between Notre Dame and Bryant.

Irish UNDerground will have all the angles in and around the action covered throughout today's game. Be sure to share your questions, comments and complaints and let your voice be heard throughout the Notre Dame nation.

Want to track all the action from your mobile device? No problem.

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Notre Dame 14, Stanford 28

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Live Chat - Football at Stanford

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Once again, it's time to go under the lights!

Notre Dame and Stanford will meet for the 26th time tonight with the Irish holding a 17-8 advantage in the series.

Irish UNDerground will have all the angles in and around the action covered throughout tonight's game. Be sure to share your questions, comments and complaints and let your voice be heard throughout the Notre Dame nation.

Want to track all the action from your mobile device? No problem.

Simply click (or to be phone friendly, "touch") HERE.

Following Flynt - Freshman Friday

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Following Flynt - What To Watch for at Stanford

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The Fighting Irish left for California earlier today, headed for Palo Alto and a matchup with the Stanford Cardinal. Here are a few things to watch for in Saturday's regular season finale.

Without Gray: In a heartbreaking storyline of the 2011 season for Notre Dame, the Irish lost running back Jonas Gray to a torn ACL in last Saturday's game against Boston College. After a momentum-changing fumble against South Florida in the season opener, head coach Brian Kelly presented Gray with a challenge: "How do you want to be remembered? As that guy that fumbled on the one yard line or as that guy in your senior year that bounced back from some adversity and had an incredible season?"

Averaging 6.9 yards per carry with 791 rushing yards and 12 touchdowns, it's safe to say that Gray bounced back. With 1,001 yards and nine touchdowns, Cierre Wood has also done his share of damage on the ground, but the Fighting Irish are sure to miss the combination of both power and speed that the duo provided for much of the season. Against Stanford and in the upcoming bowl game, freshmen George Atkinson III and Cam McDaniel will have to share some of the backfield responsibility, and receiver Theo Riddick may also see some time at running back, where he played during the 2009 season.

Luck: I have little doubt that Brent Musberger and Kirk Herbstreit will make a couple of references to "Andrew Luck vs. the Luck of the Irish" during Saturday's broadcast. By this point, it may sound cliché and overused, but it is certainly one of this weekend's storylines. Andrew Luck is a Heisman Trophy candidate, arguably the best quarterback in college football and expected to the first pick in April's NFL draft.

If Notre Dame is to knock off Stanford, the team will have to outplay the Cardinal. But battling several key injuries and a few illnesses, it may also take a bit of their own "luck" to pull off the victory. Not to discount whether or not the Irish can beat Stanford with pure talent, but Notre Dame has had its share of bad luck in three losses this season. Remember Ronald Johnson's dropped touchdown in last year's victory over USC? A couple of similar favorable breaks would certainly help the Irish this weekend.

Just Another Saturday Night: That is the mentality that Kelly and his staff have this weekend. As he has explained all season, his team takes the same approach to preparing for every opponent, whether that team is 2-7 (Maryland) or 10-1 (Stanford). Saturday will mark the sixth night game of the season for the Irish. They are 3-2 in the previous five night matchups, with wins against Purdue, Wake Forest and Maryland, and losses versus Michigan and USC. The Fighting Irish have yet to face a truly elite squad like the Cardinal, but they will treat this game like the eleven previous contests.

However, make no mistake about it - this game is unlike any Notre Dame has played all season. A win in late November, on the road and against a highly ranked team, would be the biggest in quite some time for Notre Dame. Last year's wins at USC and over No. 14 Utah were important, but beating Stanford would be the biggest victory in Kelly's young career at Notre Dame.

Finals Week: If the football season were likened to the academic semester, there is no question that this weekend's matchup in Palo Alto is the toughest exam of the season. Stanford is ranked fourth in the Associated Press poll, fifth in the Coaches poll, and sixth in the BCS. The team's only loss was two weeks ago against Oregon. Though its national championship hopes are diminishing, Stanford is certainly still in the hunt for a BCS bowl berth.

For Notre Dame, all signs point to the Champs Sports Bowl being the final destination, but BCS hopes are also still alive - even if they are on life support. A victory at Stanford would improve the Irish to 9-3, technically making them eligible for one of the four BCS bowl games. However, it will take much more than a victory in Palo Alto for Notre Dame to leap all the way to No. 14, the minimum position that the team must reach in order to be selected. Just like the grading curve on a difficult exam, a few D's and F's from other teams might be required for the Irish to receive an "A" and a coveted BCS invitation.

Pro Combat: In the latest uniform change of the 2011 season, Stanford will be wearing a special Nike Pro Combat uniform. The uniforms are all red and feature a black matte helmet instead of the traditional white helmets. Stanford will be the seventh college team sporting the Pro Combat look this season. Army and Navy will also wear this type of uniform in their annual game on Dec. 10.

Fear not, Notre Dame uniform traditionalists, the Fighting Irish will wear their regular road white jerseys and gold helmets.

- Josh Flynt ('11)

With no classes on campus today, sixteen Notre Dame football student-athletes spent the afternoon before practice at Hope Ministries in downtown South Bend. Founded as the Hope Rescue Mission by Tobe E. Schmucker in 1954, the program initially provided shelter, food and ministry for homeless men, before soon expanding to serve women and families.

As an organization, "Hope Ministries seeks to transform hearts, minds and lives by engaging families and individuals in a Christ-centered, grace-based process of examining their current realities, envisioning their future possibilities, and enabling action to achieve their desired futures."

Today, the original facility on Michigan Street provides chapel services and a community kitchen, which serves approximately 300 meals daily. In 2005, Hope Ministries opened a second facility, the Family Life Center. The Family Life Center provides housing for families including single mothers, single fathers and married couples, as well as for single men and women.

On Thanksgiving, Hope Ministries will serve hundreds of meals, while also delivering many to residents around the local community. While at the Family Life Center this afternoon, the Fighting Irish football players helped prepare for the Thanksgiving celebration by filling containers of cranberry sauce, washing windows, setting up the dining area, and writing cards to the visitors.

Hope Ministries offer free meals 365 days per year, spiritual guidance, adult education, child development programs and access to mental and physical healthcare resources, among many other services.

Led by former wide receiver and current team intern David Grimes ('09), today's project was a special opportunity for the team to take some time away from classes and football, to give back to the South Bend community and spread some joy in the holiday season.

- Josh Flynt ('11)

Following Flynt - Tradition Tuesday

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This weekend, the Fighting Irish make their annual post-Thanksgiving trip to the west coast. Since head coach Brian Kelly's team played at USC last November, this year's Notre Dame squad will be playing a few hours north, against Stanford and Heisman Trophy hopeful Andrew Luck.

After starting the season 9-0, the Cardinal was poised to make a run at the BCS national championship. A loss against Oregon derailed those hopes, but at 10-1, Stanford is very much still in the hunt for a BCS bowl bid.

What Palo Alto and South Bend lack in terms of geographic and demographic similarities, these two universities and athletic programs make up for in their commitment to academics. When Graduation Success Rate (GSR) data was released last month, Notre Dame and Stanford were ranked first and seventh for all student-athletes, respectively, among FBS institutions.

On the football field, Notre Dame and Stanford first met in the eleventh Rose Bowl (Jan. 1, 1925), a game featuring two of the most innovative and accomplished coaches in football history - Knute Rockne for the Fighting Irish and Glenn "Pop" Warner in his first season with the Cardinal. Elmer Layden of the Four Horsemen scored three touchdowns to lead Notre Dame to a 27-10 win.

This week's game will mark the 26th meeting between the two football programs, with the Irish holding a 17-8 series advantage. With the exception of 1995 and 1996, the squads have met every season since 1988.

Beginning in 1989, the Notre Dame Club of the San Francisco Bay Area presented the Legends Trophy, a combination of Irish crystal and California redwood, to the winner of the series.

Though Notre Dame holds the advantage in the win-loss column, Stanford has a history of winning the big games. In fact, of Notre Dame's 17 victories, none have come against ranked Stanford teams. The lone exception would have been the 1925 Rose Bowl win. Stanford was 7-0-1 entering the game, but that was before teams were ranked.

In 1990, Stanford shocked Lou Holtz's top-ranked Notre Dame team, 36-31.

Two years later, the No. 19 Cardinal defeated the No. 7 Irish, 33-16. Stanford has also won each of the three additional meetings in which it has been ranked (1997, 2001, 2010).

From 2002-08, Notre Dame won seven consecutive games against Stanford, but the Cardinal have taken the last two, including a 37-14 victory last year.

In that game, Stanford's Owen Marecic scored touchdowns on consecutive plays. After a one-yard touchdown run, he intercepted Dayne Crist's pass and returned it 20 yards for a defensive score. It was certainly not a memorable afternoon for the Irish, but such a feat is quite uncommon and worth noting in the history of the series.

For Notre Dame, perhaps the most exciting victory against Stanford came in 2005, a game in which Brady Quinn threw for 432 yards and three touchdown passes, and Darius Walker scored the go-ahead touchdown with less than a minute remaining.

The 38-31 victory in the regular season finale helped Notre Dame secure a spot in the Fiesta Bowl.

Technically, Notre Dame is still alive in the BCS picture, but even with a win at Stanford, they would need quite a bit of help. Still, a victory in late November on the road against a top-10 BCS (or top-5 in the polls) team would be a major boost for the team heading into the bowl game and the 2012 season.

- Josh Flynt ('11)

Trick Shot Monday

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Irish Connection - Episode 25

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Alumnus Attends 382 Consecutive Home Games

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The Observer- Regardless of traffic, weather or even the possibility of his children being born, for the past 382 consecutive home football games, Notre Dame alumnus Charles "Chuck" Falkenberg has been in the stands.

Falkenberg began attending games with his father in 1939, said Martin Falkenberg '90, Falkenberg's son. Charles eventually graduated from the University in 1952, and continued his streak through the years as seven out of his 10 children went on to attend Notre Dame.

Now, 72 years after his first home game, four of Falkenberg's grandchildren are at Notre Dame.

Brian Falkenberg, a sophomore in Alumni Hall; Tommy Falkenberg, a sophomore in Stanford Hall; Rebecca Moriarty, a sophomore in McGlinn Hall; and Danny Falkenberg, a freshman in Knott Hall, all enjoy the tradition that has been part of their family their entire lives and admire their grandfather's unwavering enthusiasm.

The grandchildren all agreed that their memories, as well as their grandfather's passion for the University, undoubtedly influenced their desire to come to Notre Dame.

"I just have memories going back as far as I can really remember. I mean, just going tailgating with my family, stuff like that," Danny said.

Moriarty recalls attending her first game as a freshman with her cousins Tommy and Brian and how exciting it was to take a picture with them, her grandfather and all of their parents.

Martin said he attributes two major reasons to Falkenberg's passion and dedication: his love for the University and family.

"Obviously the first reason is the love of the University," Martin said. "But secondly, it was something he did with his father. My grandfather went with him every weekend until he passed away in 1972. Then my oldest sisters were old enough to go every weekend, so Notre Dame football was something that transcended the generations.

Most of my family who have graduated [from Notre Dame] go back every week, and it's something we can all do together. It's a social activity -- we all love Notre Dame football, and we love the University and everything it stands for.

"You know, my father is a persistent guy. Whenever I introduce my father at football games, I always say he hasn't missed a game since 1939, and most people are pretty amazed at that streak."

Falkenberg's daughter, Grace Moriarty '80, said that his streak was never a goal. "For him, it's just a part of his life," she said. "I don't think it was ever intentional." As for the countless obstacles Charles Falkenberg faced in attending game day weekends, the alum always found a way to persevere.

"We tried to arrange dates so that they didn't [conflict with home football games]. That was just a given, he was going to be there," Grace said with a laugh. "We didn't schedule things on football days."

Danny said even the greatest of conflicts couldn't deter Charles' devotion to Notre Dame. "He's almost missed his children being born," Danny said.

Saturday's victory over Boston College marked Charles' 382nd consecutive home game and Falkenberg's family said he has no plans of stopping the tradition. His family remains loyal to continuing his legacy.

"It was all him. He was the one who started it," Tommy said.

- Brooke Kovanda

Following Flynt - A Look Back at Boston College

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The game itself was not the most exciting of the season, but there was a lot happening around Notre Dame Stadium during Saturday's game against Boston College.

Check out this YouTube playlist for a look back at Senior Day or visit the playlist page to select individual clips.

Following Flynt - Irish Around The League

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With Brady Quinn, Kyle McCarthy and Chris Stewart among the former players watching from the sidelines, the Fighting Irish gutted out a 16-14 Senior Day victory against Boston College on Saturday.

Once teammates at Notre Dame, Quinn and McCarthy reunited with Denver in 2010. The Broncos defeated the New York Jets on Thursday night, 17-13, with the short week allowing the players to make the trip to South Bend. Another former, and now current teammate, David Bruton ('09) made one tackle for the Broncos.

In other NFL news, Derek Landri ('06) came through with a clutch fumble recovery in Philadelphia's 17-10 win at New York. With the Giants threatening to tie the game, Jason Babin hit Eli Manning from behind, and Landri fell on the football to seal the victory. He also had two tackles and a pass deflection for the Eagles, while fellow defensive lineman Trevor Laws ('07) made three tackles in the win.

Justin Tuck ('05) had five tackles for the Giants, who dropped to 6-4.

After falling behind in the first half, Detroit outscored Carolina, 35-8 after the break. Maurice Stovall ('06) had one special teams tackle and the Lions won, 49-35.

Baltimore defeated Cincinnati, 31-24 to improve to 7-3 this season. Tom Zbikowski ('07) had one tackle for the Ravens.

In Sunday's offensive news, a pair of former Irish tight ends caught one-yard touchdown passes. Anthony Fasano ('06) scored late in the first quarter to give Miami a 7-3 lead over Buffalo. Fasano finished with two catches for eight yards and the Dolphins won 35-8.

Kyle Rudolph had three catches for seven yards and caught a touchdown pass from quarterback Christian Ponder in the fourth quarter, to cut Oakland's lead to six. Minnesota still fell short against the Raiders, 27-21.

Green Bay improved to 10-0 with a 35-26 win over Tampa Bay. Ryan Grant ('05) finished with four carries for 16 yards for the Packers.

Golden Tate had one reception for 16 yards and Seattle knocked off St. Louis, 24-7.

New England hosts Kansas City in tonight's Monday Night Football action. Sergio Brown ('10) should be in action for the Patriots.

- Josh Flynt ('11)

Notre Dame 16, Boston College 14

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Live Chat - Football vs. Boston College

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It's Senior Day in South Bend.

Join us today as we honor the 2011 senior class when the Irish take on Boston College at Notre Dame Stadium.

Irish UNDerground will have all the angles in and around the action covered throughout tonight's game. Be sure to share your questions, comments and complaints and let your voice be heard throughout the Notre Dame nation.

Want to track all the action from your mobile device? No problem.

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The Holy War (On Ice)

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Live Chat - Men's Basketball vs. Delaware State

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Join the conversation as the men's hoops squad takes on Delaware State in non-conference action at Purcell Pavilion.

Irish UNDerground will have all the angles in and around the action covered throughout tonight's game. Be sure to share your questions, comments and complaints and let your voice be heard throughout the Notre Dame nation.

Want to track all the action from your mobile device? No problem.

Simply click (or to be phone friendly, "touch") HERE.

Live Chat - Hockey vs. Boston College

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Notre Dame welcomes Boston College to the Compton Family Ice Arena tonight for the frozen edition of the Holy War.

Irish UNDerground will have all the angles in and around the action covered throughout tonight's game. Be sure to share your questions, comments and complaints and let your voice be heard throughout the Notre Dame nation.

Want to track all the action from your mobile device? No problem.

Simply click (or to be phone friendly, "touch") HERE.

Following Flynt - A Senior Farewell

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On Saturday, 39 football players will suit up for what could be their last game at Notre Dame Stadium. While there is little doubt that some of these players will be back for a fifth year, there are no guarantees.

For the current fifth-year players, the Notre Dame journey began in one of the most discouraging seasons in program history, a year in which the Irish did not win a home contest until Senior Day against Duke.

This senior class came to South Bend on the heels of that 3-9 season. It would seem to be a telling testament that the university is about much more than football, that highly-touted prospects such as Michael Floyd, Dayne Crist, and many others, signed their letters of intent following such a trying year.

From a coaching change to the tragic accident involving student videographer Declan Sullivan and the loss of intern and former student manager Xavier Murphy in his battle with cancer, this group has had endured several hardships.

While they have not won BCS titles or Heisman trophies, there is no doubt that this team has also had its share of moments that they will always remember. Wins in Hawai'i, San Antonio, New York, and Washington, as well as the memorable four-game stretch that all started with Blanton's blocked punt against Utah, to close out the 2010 campaign.

When these seniors leave Notre Dame, they will not be among the most decorated in the university's accomplished football history. But perhaps they will be remembered for turning the tide of Notre Dame football, for building a new football culture in South Bend and for setting the stage for the next truly great Irish team.

With two games left to play, and a bowl game matchup to be determined, let's hope they can muster up some more of that late-season magic to close out their careers in style and send the Fighting Irish into 2012, destined for a great year.

- Josh Flynt ('11)

Following Flynt - Freshman Friday

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Live Chat - Women's Basketball vs. Hartford

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Notre Dame takes on Hartford tonight at Purcell Pavilion in non-conference women's basketball action.

Irish UNDerground will have all the angles in and around the action covered throughout tonight's game. Be sure to share your questions, comments and complaints and let your voice be heard throughout the Notre Dame nation.

Want to track all the action from your mobile device? No problem.

Simply click (or to be phone friendly, "touch") HERE.

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A Sea of Green: Our official colors are blue and gold, but given our Irish tradition, one might as well add green to that list. On Saturday, 80,000 green pom-poms will be handed out to fans in attendance, courtesy of the Kelly Cares Foundation. While I would personally love to see everyone in the stadium wearing a unified color shirt, the likelihood of that scenario is slim, given both the chilly weather and the sheer number of variations in Notre Dame's colors.

However, a crowd full of green pom-poms could certainly create a similar effect and I'm interested to see how Notre Dame Stadium looks when the Fighting Irish take the field on Saturday.

A Busy Weekend: The House That Rock Built won't be the only venue hosting a game this weekend. The Fighting Irish hockey team will play Boston College at 7:35 p.m. on Friday night in the dedication game for Compton Family Ice Arena. The men's basketball team will clash with Delaware State at 9:00 p.m. in the Purcell Pavilion. The hockey game has been sold out for weeks, but will be televised on CBS Sports Network. In addition, the final pep rally of the year will be held in Purcell Pavilion at 6:00 pm.

Finally, since it is the last home football contest of the year, it will also be one last opportunity to catch drummers' circle, trumpets under the Dome, the players' walk to the stadium and the various other home weekend traditions until the Irish return in Sept. 2012.

An Upward Climb: Following the past several games, head coach Brian Kelly has spoken to his team about the journey they are on and their continued pursuit to "play like a champion." With three straight wins and victories in seven of their last eight contests, the Irish are on that trajectory. While they will not reach their ultimate goal this season, building a winning environment and continuing their recent success can go a long way on the journey to BCS appearances and a national championship.

The uphill climb continues this weekend, with an opportunity to extend their winning streak and build momentum before visiting Palo Alto, Calif. after Thanksgiving. Though Stanford fell out of the BCS national championship race with last week's loss to Oregon, the Cardinal may still be a top-10 team when they face the Irish on Nov. 26, a game that looks to be Notre Dame's toughest test of the season.

Mr. November: The eleventh month of the year has been particularly kind to Kelly during his coaching career. The second-year Irish head coach is 53-13 in November and has not lost in the month since 2007 against a fifth-ranked West Virginia squad. The only month in which Kelly has a better winning percentage is December (.900), but he has only coached ten games in that month. Kelly and his staff hope to continue their November streak against the Eagles this weekend.

Senior Day: On Saturday, Notre Dame will honor 39 seniors before kickoff. Though some of these seniors will return for a fifth year at the university, for many, the game against Boston College will be their last in Notre Dame Stadium. The players and their families will be introduced, before taking a picture with Kelly.

Whether at the high school or collegiate level, Senior Day games can be a whirlwind of emotion because in many cases, these games mark one's "retirement" from organized athletics. In 2008 and 2009, the Fighting Irish seniors ended their home careers in heartbreak. Last year, Notre Dame upset No. 15 Utah, sending the senior class, both the players and the general student body, out with a vindicating win.

As Kelly said in his press conference on Tuesday his message to the seniors is simple: "Win. You'll remember this a whole lot better if you win."

Here's a complete list of those seniors being recognized on Saturday:

S Harrison Smith (Knoxville, TN/Knoxville Catholic)
PK David Ruffer (Oakton, VA/Gonzaga)
TE Mike Ragone (Cherry Hill, NJ/Camden Catholic)
OL Andrew Nuss (Ashburn, VA/Stone Bridge)
CB Nick Lezynski (Newtown, PA/Notre Dame HS)
CB Gary Gray (Columbia, SC/Richland Northeast)
OT Taylor Dever (Nevada City, CA/Nevada Union)
RB Patrick Coughlin (Oak Lawn, IL/Brother Rice)
NG Hafis Williams (Elizabeth, NJ/Elizabeth)
WR Deion Walker (Christchurch, VA/Christchurch)
S Jamoris Slaughter (Stone Mountain, GA/Tucker)
CB Ryan Sheehan (Purcellville, VA/Loudown Valley)
WR Ryan Sharpley (Marshall, MI/Marshall)
S Chris Salvi (Lake Forest, IL/Carmel Catholic)
OG Trevor Robinson (Elkhorn, NE/Elkhorn),
ILB David Posluszny (Aliquippa, PA/Hopewell)
CB Andrew Plaska (Zeeland, MI/Zeeland West)
ILB Sean Oxley (Avon Lake, OH/Avon Lake)
NG Brandon Newman (Louisville, KY/Pleasure Ridge Park)
QB Matthew Mulvey (Del Mar, CA/La Jolla)
ILB Anthony McDonald (Burbank, CA/Notre Dame High School)
S Dan McCarthy (Youngstown, OH/Cardinal Mooney)
OT Dennis Mahoney (Baltimore, MD/Boys Latin High School)
DE Kapron Lewis-Moore (Weatherford, TX/Weatherford)
LS Ryan Kavanagh (West Chester, PA/Salesianum [Del.])
DE Ethan Johnson (Portland, OR/Lincoln)
P Mike Grieco (Glen, IL/St. Ignatius)
RB Jonas Gray (Pontiac, MI/Detroit Country Day)
WR John Goodman (Fort Wayne, IN/Bishop Dwenger)
C Mike Golic Jr. (West Hartford, CT/Northwest Catholic)
OLB Jonathan Frantz (Avon Lake, OH/St. Ignatius)
WR Michael Floyd (Saint Paul, MN/Cretin-Derham Hall)
OLB Darius Fleming (Chicago, IL/St. Rita)
OLB Steve Filer (Chicago, IL/Mount Carmel)
NG Sean Cwynar (McHenry, IL/Marian Central Catholic)
QB Dayne Crist (Canoga Park, CA/Notre Dame High School)
OT Lane Clelland (Owings Mills, MD/McDonogh School)
C Braxston Cave (Granger, IN/Penn)
CB Robert Blanton (Matthews, NC/Butler)

Following Flynt - Beyond The Game

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IMAG0472.jpg For the second consecutive year, I was fortunate to attend Notre Dame's Shamrock Series home-away-from-home game in one of our nation's great cities. Last season, the Irish took over the Big Apple, playing Army at the new Yankee Stadium, a flashback to the historic games of decades ago at the old House That Ruth Built.

This season, the matchup lacked the historical flair of 2010, but that is beside the point. For me, despite a resounding Fighting Irish victory over the Maryland Terrapins, the game was somewhat of an afterthought.

The weekend was about much more than football. It was about a university, a team and its dedicated fans and alumni, coming together for a full weekend, bringing Notre Dame's spirit and tradition on the road.

On Veteran's Day weekend, the location of this year's Shamrock Series game was especially significant. Notre Dame does not have a long history of football in Washington, D.C., but our nation's capital is of great importance to our university.

Inscribed on the east door of the Basilica is a memorial to the Notre Dame men who died in World War I. "God, Country, Notre Dame," however, is much more than a memorial to those who've passed. From students and alumni to faculty and staff, it is an ever-present phrase on campus, and may as well be the university's unofficial mantra.

It's four simple words, but it is also a set of guiding principle for how Notre Dame people lead their life. Hosting the Shamrock Series game in our nation's capital brought those three pillars together perhaps better than any other city could have.

On Friday evening, a pep rally was held on the National Mall. Don Criqui emceed the event, which featured appearances from tight end Mike Ragone, Director of Athletics Jack Swarbrick and former Notre Dame standouts Reggie Brooks and Joe Theismann, both of whom played for the Washington Redskins.

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Weather in the D.C. area is typically a bit warmer than in South Bend, but on this night, it seemed we brought along the northern Indiana cold. Despite the chilly weather, there was a great crowd on hand for a very unique Notre Dame pep rally.

Swarbrick spoke about the purpose of the Shamrock Series, explaining that it is a way of "connecting a great university with great American cities." These weekends are an opportunity to bring Notre Dame, academically and spiritually, as well as athletically, to other areas of the country.

Brooks talked about the nature of the Notre Dame fan base. "What sets Notre Dame apart from everyone else is the fans. We're nationwide. We're worldwide," he said.

Likewise, Theismann described the special bond that exists between Notre Dame alumni and supporters. "No matter where you go, where you travel, you always have a home because there's a Notre Dame family to take you in," the College Football Hall of Famer said.

On Saturday morning, University President Rev. John I. Jenkins, C.S.C. presided over Mass at the Cathedral of St. Matthew the Apostle in downtown Washington.

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Several trumpet players from the Notre Dame Band performed the alma mater, "Notre Dame, Our Mother," at the conclusion of the Mass.

IMAG0509.jpg At noon, the Band of the Fighting Irish performed on the lawn outside the U.S. Capitol. The concert featured the traditional Notre Dame music, as well as selections from the halftime show, "God, Country, Notre Dame."

The entire weekend, especially the events leading up to the game, demonstrated what makes the Shamrock Series and Notre Dame football special - the fact that it is about more than the Fighting Irish and their opponent.

When the "off-site" home games began in 2009, many wondered why Notre Dame was playing a home game away from Notre Dame Stadium. These games however, allow us to step away from our incredible campus and truly recognize how special this university is and why so many of us love Notre Dame.

It's not surprising to see old friends for home games in South Bend, but running into them more than 600 miles from campus, in bustling cities like Washington and New York, demonstrates the loyalty that people have to the university.

For many, Notre Dame football has played a significant role in developing that pride and dedication to the university. However, weekends like this past one in Washington, also provide evidence that even when connected to football, our passion for Notre Dame goes far beyond the gridiron.

It is about a fervent spirit for an institution that is much more than a center of intellect and academia. It is about "God, Country, Notre Dame." And it is about the people we grow to know and love during our time at the university.

- Josh Flynt ('11)

Following Flynt - Walk-on Wednesday

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Live Chat - Men's Basketball vs. Sam Houston State

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Following its comeback win earlier this week against Detroit, the men's basketball team takes on Sam Houston State tonight at 7:30 p.m. (ET) inside Purcell Pavilion.

Irish UNDerground will have all the angles in and around the action covered throughout tonight's game. Be sure to share your questions, comments and complaints and let your voice be heard throughout the Notre Dame nation.

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Movin' Like Bernie

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Hear It From a Student - My Weakness

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I have something of a weakness for Notre Dame basketball. Yes, I know we're often labeled as a football school. Yes, I know after losing three seniors, we're all a little dubious about what exactly this season is going to look like. Yes, I know you have a test on Thursday and you can't afford to spend three hours of your Wednesday night in Purcell Pavilion.

The men's team has never won a national championship and the height of its greatness was under Digger Phelps many moons ago. But still, that opening video always gives me chills.

I was fully invested last year. That's another thing college basketball has over college football: You can still afford to be fully invested after a loss. I was fully invested all the way to watch the third round of the NCAA Tournament in the United Center when we lost to Florida State.

This season, on paper, looks less promising than last season. Although we started the season receiving votes in the polls, our team is undeniably young. Tim Abromaitis and Scott Martin are the only real veterans, and even though Jack Cooley and Joey Brooks aren't exactly young, they are new to having considerable weight on their shoulders.

All of that said, there is something wonderful about having a young team. There is usually an immense amount of growth that happens from start to finish, a bonding and a love that pulls young players together.

During the post-game press conference this past Monday, I witnessed an exchange.

Eric Atkins was being interviewed by a reporter while Jack Cooley sat back on the couch, done with his own interviews. When the reporter moved away from Atkins, Cooley turned to his teammate.

"Eric!" he called out. "You said 'um' 21 times during that interview."

Atkins grinned and rolled his eyes, and I got the sense that this sort of ribbing is pretty common between the boys. They are going to be a fun group to watch, not only because they're growing as a team together, but because they're quite obviously friends.

Bring this season on. Procrastinate your tests and join me in the investment. All the way to the United Center.

- Lauren Chval ('13)

Irish Update

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Shamrock Series Box Finds the Right Home

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NBCsports.com - It wasn't exactly under the radar, but on the official Facebook page of Notre Dame Football, they gave away a Shamrock Series Promo Box, a limited edition collectors item that would've turned your opinion on last weekend's uniforms pretty quickly.

The beautifully designed treasure chest - only eleven were made and designed by adidas - contain the Irish's shamrock helmet, their green jersey and gloves, and a bunch of other cool goodies like collectors pins, a gold iPod nano, and some golden noise-canceling headphones.

Notre Dame decided to give one box away to a fan that posted the best photo and explanation of why they deserved the box. Their selection of the Brooks family from Hampton, Va., is a tough one to argue with.

Here's the submission from the Brooks family:

"My husband (huge ND fan) is in the military and serving a one year tour in Korea. When the game doesn't air over there, he skype calls us and we have to turn the computer towards the tv so he can still watch the game. That's dedication! This is our son watching the Irish with his dad...half way around the world!"

Having scrolled through about 500 of the photos, there was no shortage of true Irish fans in the running for the box. Tattooed bodies, in-home shrines, you name it, there were Irish fans deserving. But just one look at the photo lets you know that the adidas box is going to the right home.

Great job by the group at Notre Dame Football putting together an awesome promotion. Hopefully the entire Brooks family will be able to enjoy the collection together in the very near future.

God. Country. Notre Dame.

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Caption Contest

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This picture is brought to you by the number 2, which is also the number kneecaps which should not be showing in this photo.

Irish Connection - Episode 26

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Following Flynt - YouTube Clicks

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On This Day: While many fans know that the Notre Dame men's basketball team ended UCLA's historic 88-game winning streak in 1974, fewer are probably aware that the Fighting Irish football team also broke a significant streak, 54 years ago today.

In 1957, Oklahoma was a 19-point favorite against head coach Terry Brennan's Fighting Irish. Notre Dame however, scored a late touchdown to shock the Sooners, 7-0, and put an end to their 47-game winning streak.

In each case, Notre Dame bookended the streak. In 1971, the Irish defeated the Bruins, 89-82 in South Bend. Three championships and 88 wins later, Notre Dame pulled off the historic defeat against UCLA, winning again at home, 71-70.

On the football field, Notre Dame handed Oklahoma a 28-21 loss to open the 1953 season. In the following game, the Sooners tied Pittsburgh, 7-7, but went on to win their next 47 contests before falling to the Irish in Norman on Nov. 16, 1957.

The squads will meet again next season, on Oct. 27 at Oklahoma Memorial Stadium.

Concert at the Capitol: For this past weekend's Shamrock Series game in Washington, D.C., the Band of the Fighting Irish performed on the lawn outside the U.S. Capitol. I had a chance to catch the performance and shot a few short video clips. Here's a compilation from their concert.

I also had a chance to see the band perform in Times Square prior to last year's game against Army at Yankee Stadium. Both performances were very special, but I would have to give a slight edge to the concert in New York. To decide for yourself, check out the following video from nknkproductions.

- Josh Flynt ('11)

Not Just For Football Players

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Following Flynt - Tradition Tuesday

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It's a series regarded by many as the "Holy War," a meeting between the only two Catholic universities in the FBS and a pair of institutions so often compared to one another. Truthfully, there might not be as much in common between Notre Dame and Boston College as many people assume, but the schools do share some similarities, as well as a history of exciting football games.

Before he became a legendary head coach of the Fighting Irish, Frank Leahy spent two seasons in Chestnut Hill, guiding the Eagles to a 20-2 record. In 1941, Leahy returned to South Bend, where he led his alma mater to four national championships in 11 seasons.

Leahy's connection to the two universities remains present in the series today. The Notre Dame Club of Boston presents the winner of the game with the Frank Leahy Memorial Bowl.

On an unrelated, but interesting note, Boston College's current president shares a last name with the former Notre Dame coach. Father William P. Leahy, S.J. became the university's 25th president in 1996.

In addition to the Leahy Bowl, Notre Dame's student government also presents the Ireland Trophy, a symbol of sportsmanship and friendly competition.

Many people believe Notre Dame and Boston College have a longstanding football history, but the series actually only dates back to 1975, when the teams met in Foxboro, Mass. The Irish won that game, 17-3.

Eight years later, the squads met in the Liberty Bowl in Memphis, Tenn. Behind 111 rushing yards and two touchdowns from Allen Pinkett, head coach Gerry Faust's team knocked off the 13th-ranked Eagles, 19-18.

The series gained momentum in the 1990's, when the teams met for thirteen consecutive years between 1992-2004. To the heartbreak of Notre Dame fans, the most notable contest came in 1993, when the Eagles stunned the unbeaten Irish on Senior Day. The 41-39 defeat ended Notre Dame's hopes for a twelfth national title.

In 1998, Notre Dame's Autry Denson ran for 128 yards and two touchdowns, but it was Deke Cooper who stopped the Eagles' Mike Cloud on fourth-and-goal from the 1, to seal a 31-26 victory.

Saturday will be the 21st meeting in the series, which Notre Dame leads, 11-9. The Eagles have struggled this season, but have won seven of the last 10 meetings with Notre Dame, including six in a row from 2001-08.

In 2009, Notre Dame ended that losing streak by defeating the Eagles, 20-16. Quarterback Jimmy Clausen connected with receiver Golden Tate for two touchdowns, including the go-ahead score midway through the fourth quarter.

Last season, the Fighting Irish jumped out to an early 21-0 lead, and cruised to a 31-13 victory at Alumni Stadium.

The two teams have met three times previously on Senior Day at Notre Dame Stadium, with the Eagles playing spoiler in both 1993 and 1999. For Notre Dame fans everywhere, and especially for the 39 seniors being honored this weekend, let's hope the Irish are celebrating a fourth straight victory on Saturday.

- Josh Flynt ('11)

Live Chat - Hockey vs. Western Michigan

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It's a midweek hockey night in South Bend?

Irish UNDerground will have all the angles in and around the action covered throughout tonight's game between Notre Dame and Western Michigan at the Compton Family Ice Arena. Be sure to share your questions, comments and complaints and let your voice be heard throughout the Notre Dame nation.

Want to track all the action from your mobile device? No problem.

Simply click (or to be phone friendly, "touch") HERE.

Trick Shot...Tuesday

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IMAG0566.jpg While the NBA lockout continues, Trick Shot Monday also faced a break from its regularly scheduled action. The timeout in the weekly YouTube tradition however, can only be blamed on an all-around poor shooting performance.

After hearing the usual cheers from the players' lounge on Monday evening, I assumed someone had made the shot. But the yelling continued on and off for about fifteen minutes.

The TSM "rule" states that no one eats dinner until someone makes a shot, but that philosophy only applies to the nine or 10 weekly trick shooters.

Most of the players had finished dinner and were waiting to go to meetings. As a result, this week's Trick Shot Monday crew was the largest of the season.

I went downstairs and Mike Golic Jr. yelled to me, "Josh, tell them we're not going to make it to dinner!"

So, as to not stray from the golden trick shot rule, Mike, one of the TSM "Founding Fathers" was wiling to miss dinner. Remember, Mike is an offensive lineman. Offensive linemen like to eat.

When I made my way upstairs, someone made the game-winning shot. The players checked in for training table, grabbed a quick dinner and got to their meetings on time. In their hurry however, the cameras were left behind.

At any rate, the Boston College Week edition of Trick Shot Monday might as well be called Trick Shot Tuesday.

One more thing - don't expect multiple angles this week. The Flip video cameras had about 30 minutes of battery left, but ran out of space before making the shot. Thanks to one player's cell phone, not all was lost.

- Josh Flynt ('11)


Following Flynt - Irish Around The League

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While the Irish football season nears its final weeks, the NFL is in full swing, just past the midpoint. It was a busy week on the gridiron, and here's a look at how former Notre Dame football players performed in Week 10 of the NFL season.

Miami's Anthony Fasano ('06) turned in a solid performance for the second week in a row. After catching two touchdown passes in Week 9 at Kansas City, Fasano had three receptions for 60 yards in a 20-9 victory against Washington.

Philadelphia dropped to 3-6 following a loss to Arizona. Defensive lineman Derek Landri ('06) registered three tackles, including one sack and a tackle for a loss, while Trevor Laws ('07) also had two tackles for the Eagles.

Seattle surprised Baltimore, 22-17 at CenturyLink Field. Golden Tate had three catches for 46 yards in the win. Tom Zbikowski ('07) recorded one tackle for the Ravens.

Chicago crushed Detroit, 37-13, in a battle of NFC North foes at Soldier Field. Lions receiver Maurice Stovall ('06) had one special teams tackle.

San Francisco continued its surprising run, defeating New York, 27-20 and improving to 8-1 this season. Justin Tuck ('05) had one pass deflection for the Giants.

Safety David Bruton ('09) had one solo tackle for Denver in a 17-10 win over Kansas City.

New England bounced back from consecutive losses, beating the New York Jets, 37-16 on Sunday night. Sergio Brown ('10) made one tackle for the Patriots.

In ESPN's Monday Night Football action, Green Bay continued its hot streak, defeating Minnesota, 45-7. The Packers improved to 9-0, while the Vikings dropped to 2-7. Ryan Grant ('05) had just six yards on eight carries for the Packers, but also had a 17-yard reception to help set up a touchdown in the third quarter.

Kyle Rudolph provided one of the lone bright spots for the Vikings. The former Irish tight end caught three passes for 37 yards, including an outstanding one-handed catch late in the fourth quarter. But as the YouTube video above shows, one-handed grabs are nothing new for the Cincinnati native.

- Josh Flynt ('11)

Live Chat - Men's Basketball vs. Detroit

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The men's hoops squad continues its homestand tonight against Detroit at Purcell Pavilion.

Irish UNDerground will have all the angles in and around the action covered throughout tonight's game. Be sure to share your questions, comments and complaints and let your voice be heard throughout the Notre Dame nation.

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19 Years Ago Today: The Snow Bowl

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Where's Waldo?

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Inside the Irish Insider

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Win One For The Home Team

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skylardigginsjersey.jpg Sports Illustrated - When Skylar Diggins arrived in South Bend for her official recruiting visit on Halloween weekend in 2008, she was handed a 21-page printout three weeks in the making that detailed how her future would unfold if she committed to Notre Dame. The color-saturated pages carried a title - SKYLAR DIGGINS: FOUR YEARS UNDER THE GOLDEN DOME - that might have been lifted from a theater marquee. In more than two decades with the Irish, coach Muffet McGraw had never collaborated on such a document. But then she had never pursued a player like Diggins, whom she deemed the most important recruit in the history of the program.

The Timeline, which is how everyone refers to the printout now, foretold Diggins's academic and basketball accomplishments, such as when she would receive the Nancy Lieberman Award, recognizing her as the nation's top point guard (March 29, 2012). It also specified the speeches she would make and the community service she would perform, important matters to a high school star who grew up seven miles southwest of Touchdown Jesus. The predictions even included a SPORTS ILLUSTRATED profile of her on Sept. 12, 2011: The Sky Is Unlimited. The final entry, dated May 23, 2013, had Diggins entering training camp after being selected by the WNBA's Indiana Fever.

Although the SI profile comes two months late (and the headline doesn't quite match), many of the projections, like her status as a 2011--12 preseason All-America and winning a gold medal at the World University Games, have come true. "It's pretty eerie," says Diggins's mother, Renee Scott. "I should ask them to make out a life plan for me."

Written by assistant coach Jonathan Tsipis, the Timeline did not predict a title for the Irish in 2011--12, because forward Devereaux Peters and guard Brittany Mallory were not expected to be in South Bend. But both have been granted a fifth season of eligibility after missing a season due to knee injuries, giving Diggins a chance to rewrite her own history. "It would be a huge disappointment if we don't win a national championship this year," she says.

Taylor Keeps Moral Compass Pointed In Right Direction

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billytaylorballstate.jpg TheStarPress.com - Ball State hired Billy Taylor in August of 2007 to cleanse a basketball program stained by NCAA violations and a messy divorce with previous head coach Ronny Thompson.

Taylor offered the Cardinals a head coach with previous success, but just as importantly he presented the tarnished program a man of unquestioned character.

The Cardinals open the 2011-12 season tonight at No. 16 Arizona, and the Ball State program is pointed back in the right direction under the tutelage of a man whose moral compass is always pointing that way.

Taylor credits his parents, his wife, their three children, his past coaches, his current and former players, his coaching colleagues, and dozens of other associates for molding him into a man of integrity. But his path to righteousness starts, and for that matter ends, in his faith in God.

"He's a faithful person and truly practices what he preaches," says Ball State associate head coach Bob Simmons, who assisted Taylor for five seasons at Lehigh before following him to Ball State. "He doesn't talk about it a lot, but he is very, very spiritual, and I think that's what helps him be the man that he is in every situation, whether it's in the office, in the arena, in the meeting room. It all comes back to his spirituality and his beliefs. That's what I think makes him not only a great person but a great coach."

Taylor, his wife, Avlon, and their three children, Tamia, Gavielle and Savion, obey five simple rules: love God, put family first, tell the truth, always work hard, and always be kind.

"That's really how we try to live," Avlon says. "As you know with kids, it's not flawless. With adults, it's not flawless, but it's something we can refer back to that they understand this is what we're about. So the day Billy and I are no longer around and somebody asks them what were your mom and dad like, they can go back to those five simple points and say this is how we try to live."

The Taylor family is the American dream -- with a catch. Avlon actually hails from South Africa. She came to the United States to study at Oral Roberts University, a Christian college in Tulsa, Okla. Her family still lives in South Africa, and she returns home for visits every few years.

Avlon befriended a woman named Monica at Oral Roberts. Taylor just so happened to be childhood friends with Monica, and she introduced him to Avlon. The sparks soon flew and after dating long distance for six months, Avlon decided to move into an apartment in South Bend to be near Taylor, a first-year assistant basketball coach at Notre Dame.

Irish Connection - Episode 23

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What Would You Fight For?

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Live Chat - Women's Basketball vs. Indiana State

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Notre Dame will play host to Indiana State in preseason WNIT Quarterfinal action today at Purcell Pavilion.

Irish UNDerground will have all the angles in and around the action covered throughout today's game. Be sure to share your questions, comments and complaints and let your voice be heard throughout the Notre Dame nation.

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Notre Dame 45, Maryland 21

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Live Chat - Football vs. Maryland

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From the Golden Dome to the Capitol Dome.

Notre Dame and Maryland will meet on the gridiron for the second time in the 123-year history of Irish football. Notre Dame shutout the Terrapins, 22-0, in the 2002 season opener at Giants Stadium.

Tonight's game will be played at FedEx Field in Landover, Md.

Irish UNDerground will have all the angles in and around the action covered throughout tonight's game. Be sure to share your questions, comments and complaints and let your voice be heard throughout the Notre Dame nation.

Want to track all the action from your mobile device? No problem.

Simply click (or to be phone friendly, "touch") HERE.

Live Chat - Hockey vs. Alaska

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It's a hockey afternoon in South Bend!

Irish UNDerground will have all the angles in and around the action covered throughout today's game between Notre Dame and Alaska. Be sure to share your questions, comments and complaints and let your voice be heard throughout the Notre Dame nation.

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Notre Dame faces Mississippi Valley State today at Purcell Pavilion in non-conference hoops action.

Irish UNDerground will have all the angles in and around the action covered throughout today's game. Be sure to share your questions, comments and complaints and let your voice be heard throughout the Notre Dame nation.

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Customized

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Live Chat - Hockey vs. Alaska

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The Irish hockey squad returns to the friendly confines of the Compton Family Ice Arena to face Alaska tonight at 7:05 p.m. (ET).

Irish UNDerground will have all the angles in and around the action covered throughout tonight's game. Be sure to share your questions, comments and complaints and let your voice be heard throughout the Notre Dame nation.

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Live Chat - Women's Basketball vs. Akron

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Notre Dame opens the 2011-12 season tonight with a home contest against Akron.

Irish UNDerground will have all the angles in and around the action covered throughout tonight's game. Be sure to share your questions, comments and complaints and let your voice be heard throughout the Notre Dame nation.

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Irish Connection - Episode 22

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Q&A With Mike Brey

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ND.edu - Going into the 2010 basketball season, Notre Dame Coach Mike Brey had a pretty good idea of what his team would look like and found success with a veteran-laden squad. The Irish posted more than 25 victories and earned a second seed in the NCAA tournament before losing to a hot Florida State squad.

The 2011 version of the men's basketball team is a much less known group, especially with the loss of Ben Hansbrough '11, Carleton Scott '11, and Tyrone Nash '11.

"We've lost some men. One of the things I have to keep in mind is patience," Brey said recently in an interview with ND Today. "Last year's team on the first day of practice was ready to play Georgetown. Especially the five seniors, the guys who started, they were ready to go."

Here are some excerpts from Brey's interview with ND Today last month as the Fighting Irish take to the court for another season.

Q: What do you think the success last year means for the team and the program as a whole?

A: It probably brought to the forefront, even more so, our consistency. We have had a great run over 11 years of being right there and consistent. We're proud of that and I would hope moving forward it would give us momentum as we go into this season. We have a nucleus of young men that were part of that success but we also have a nucleus of young men who were in our program, didn't play the minutes, but yet felt what it felt like to go through that. I am really counting on them to use that last year in residency, so to speak, practicing against those main guys and watching them play, and have success to carry over into this year. That's a real important factor for us. (Alex) Dragicevich, (Jerian) Grant, (Joey) Brooks, (Eric) Atkins, (Tom) Knight -- they have all been here with us. They have all been here and they have all felt and saw how we handled last season.

Q: Is it important to witness success as well as play alongside it?

A: I think one of the identifying factors of our program is guys get better here. We don't have guys leaving after one year. They aren't "one and done." We have guys who are with us four and sometimes five years. And what we have done, when we have asked a guy to do more, we have asked him to do it a lot of times in his second or third year with us. Our percentage is probably very, very good that they have delivered because they have been with us, they have been in the classroom with us, so to speak. (Tim) Abromaitis is a great example. For two years he just wasn't ready, and then his third year he burst on the scene. Everybody said, "Where was that guy?" Well, he was getting better. We got him older, we got him stronger, we got him better.

Timeout With Tambo

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Ramona Sentinel - I have an athletic Bucket List. I have been fortunate enough to attend several famous athletic venues and events: Several World Series games, an MLB All Star Game, a Super Bowl (it wasn't called the Super Bowl when the Chiefs played the Packers in the Coliseum), NFL Pro Bowl games, games in Yankee Stadium, Fenway Park, Wrigley Field, Rose Bowls, a World Series game in the Coliseum, Roy Campanella Night, The Indianapolis 500, an NCAA final four, finished a marathon, etc. But nothing I have ever done or experienced compares with the bucket list my daughters, Gina and Tina, gave me on Oct. 29.

I am and always have been a fan of the Fighting Irish of Notre Dame. My Irish Catholic grandfather and my Italian Catholic father drummed the "Victory March" into my head before I knew the national anthem or the "Hail Mary."

Notre Dame's motto may be "God, Country, Notre Dame," but the university and its football program are really about tradition.

I have attended dozens of Notre Dame games at the Coliseum and one at Arizona State and I went to one at South Bend when I was 5 years old (well over 39 years ago), but I don't remember much about the game.

My daughters, Gina and Tina, went to a silent auction that had a Notre Dame Football package and purchased the package last spring. So on Oct. 27, my daughters and my wife, Margaret, and this writer left sunny San Diego for fall in South Bend, Ind., via Chicago.

The actual game was only a part of the experience. Driving from Chicago to South Bend with a side trip to Gene & Judes for the world's best hot dog was a treat. The colors of fall in the Midwest are majestic.

Restic Giving Back

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joerestic.jpg OregonLive.com - All fall, Joseph Restic has left his Wilsonville orthodontist office to head to the football field, where he has served as the volunteer head coach of the Wilsonville Wildcats eighth-grade football team.

"I love working with the kids," he said, noting that coaching is an opportunity to give back to the community that has supported his practice for more than 20 years.

The players were fascinated to learn that he played football at Notre Dame alongside legendary quarterback Joe Montana as well as Eugene "Rudy" Ruettiger, the impetus for the movie "Rudy."

A longtime coach for his son's Lake Oswego youth football team, Restic says he heard about the opportunity from Barry Larsen, a Wilsonville youth football coach who is the father of one of his patients.

Restic, the son of a Harvard University football coach, said he grew up on the sidelines, helping at practice and serving as water boy.

He earned a football scholarship to Notre Dame and was subsequently drafted by the Chicago Bears, though he was eventually cut. While earning his doctorate in dental medicine at the University of Pennsylvania, he was recruited by a United States Football League team, the Boston Breakers, which eventually became the Portland Breakers. Restic fell in love with the area and attended Oregon Health Sciences University for his orthodontic training.

Following Flynt - What To Watch For Against Maryland

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For the third consecutive year, Notre Dame takes to the road for a home game. This weekend's Shamrock Series game will feature the Irish against the University of Maryland at FedEx Field, the home of the Washington Redskins. Here are a few things to watch for on and off the field this weekend.

Not Your Grandfather's Uniforms: When Notre Dame and Maryland kick off at FedEx Field, don't expect to see a traditional look from either team. The university announced on Monday that the Irish would be wearing special helmets for Saturday's Shamrock Series game. Created in partnership with adidas and Troy Lee Designs of Corona, Calif., the helmets are covered in 24-carat gold leaf and feature green shamrocks on each side, as well as a leprechaun decal on the back. The Irish will also be wearing their green adidas TECHFIT jerseys, the same ones they donned against Army at Yankee Stadium last year.

Yesterday, Maryland head coach Randy Edsall tweeted that his captains decided that the team would be wearing its Pride uniforms, which were the subject of much discussion when the Terps debuted them at the beginning of the season against Miami. These Under Armour jerseys are modeled after the Maryland state flag.

The uniforms will certainly be different than the ones that Notre Dame fans have come to know and love, but unique jerseys and helmet combinations will become a new tradition of the Shamrock Series. Look for something new at Soldier Field next season and Cowboys Stadium in 2013.

Home Away From The Dome: Like San Antonio in 2009 and New York in 2010, Washington, D.C. will become the home of the Fighting Irish this weekend. There are a series of events planned throughout the weekend, including a luncheon and pep rally on Friday, as well as a Mass and marching band concert on Saturday. Visit the gameday.nd.edu website for a complete schedule of events.

The Basilica will be traded for St. Matthew's Cathedral, while the steps of Bond Hall will be swapped for the U.S. Capitol Lawn. Be sure to catch all of the events if you will be in the Washington, D.C. area over the weekend.

Injured Irish: With three-quarters of the season in their rearview mirror, the Irish have reached that point when months of football and the physicality of the game have taken their toll. It's inevitable. The nature of the sport is such that it's nearly impossible to make it through an entire season unscathed.

With Kapron Lewis-Moore already lost to a season-ending knee injury, starting center Braxston Cave went down in the Wake Forst game, and will also be sidelined for the remainder of the year. In addition, Manti Te'o and Aaron Lynch have suffered ankle injuries that have slowed them in practice. Both are expected to play against Maryland, but just how much they can contribute remains to be seen.

Finally, receiver Theo Riddick is battling a hamstring injury and will not be making the trip. Robby Toma is expected to start in his place.

We have already seen Mike Golic Jr. fill in nicely in Cave's absence against the Demon Deacons. Saturday will give us a look at how Toma and others step into their increased roles in the Irish gameplan.

The Road (Back) to the Final Four

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Following Flynt - Walk-on Wednesday

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Sign Here, Please

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Caption Contest

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"If Liberace played football ..."

Following Flynt - Notes From The Gug

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In preparation for Saturday's Shamrock Series game against Maryland, Harrison Smith and Tommy Rees sat down with the media at the Isban Auditorium in the Gug this afternoon. Here are a few highlights from the press conference:

Smith on his development at Notre Dame: "There's a lot of things that go into maturing and develoing as a player, physically and mentally. Halfway through last year is when I really had a lot of confidence on the football field. Really knowing what I'm supposed to do and where I'm supposed to be...This staff does a great job at getting across to the players exactly what they want to."

Smith on responsibility and leadership: "You just have to know exactly what you're doing every time. When I make a call or if I speak up, people are going to listen, so it better be right. Spending extra time going over plays and watching film. Things like that, just so you know every call to make."

On the off-site "Shamrock Series" home games...
Rees: "Getting the opportunity to play on the east coast and in a different venue where a lot of people don't get to play is definitely a special thing."

Smith: "They're exciting for fans that don't always get a chance to travel here, just because we have such a broad fan base. Having a home game in a different stadium gives it a different feel, but every time I think it's been great for the team and the fans." 

Smith on Manti Te'o being limited in practice with injuries: "I actually try to give him a hard time when he's not practicing. I kind of try to joke with him. He always wants to be out there because he knows how practice affects the game...but he's still been out there, he's still going and taking every rep he can take."

Rees on Mike Golic Jr.: "He's done a great job. Throughout the year the QBs rotate through the top two centers just to get some familiarity. I've worked with him a bunch in the past and there's really not a transition period."

Rees on QB chemistry with center: "It's a lot more than just getting the snap. There's a lot of communication that goes on with the center. Like I said, I've worked a lot with Mike in the past."

"We have the whole 'next man in' philosophy. I think he came right in and did a good job. Obviously you don't want to see [Braxston Cave] go down...but you feel happy for [Mike] coming in and helping us win."

Smith on defending two-quarterback situation: "They definitely are different. One of them likes to throw more and one likes to run more...there is a little bit of difference in the preparation. If you want to be successful you have to stop the run and stop the pass depending on who's in."

Smith on being the 'old guy' veteran: "I get that a lot. Almost daily. I'm actually not the oldest guy on the team, but I'm definitely one of them. They like to call me Grandpa."

Rees on team chemistry: "I definitely think we've come together and strengthened. All the way from the top to all the guys on the team. We've built a chemistry here. Everyone's playing for each other. I think success is kind of a product of that."

Student. Athlete. Irish.

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Following Flynt - Tradition Tuesday

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Much like last week against Wake Forest, it is difficult to write a Tradition Tuesday blog about this Saturday's opponent, the University of Maryland. Like the Demon Deacons, the Terrapins, who have been playing football since 1892, are in the Atlantic Coast Conference. Despite playing college football for nearly as long as Notre Dame, the Terps and the Irish have only met once, in 2002 at Giants Stadium for the Kickoff Classic.

Notre Dame controlled that game, shutting out Maryland, 22-0. In the third quarter, Vontez Duff returned a punt 76 yards for the only touchdown of the game. Kicker Nick Setta connected on five field goals for the Irish, leading head coach Ty Willingham to a victory in his first game at Notre Dame.

This week's Shamrock Series game will be played at FedEx Field, the home of the Washington Redskins. In 1998, Notre Dame met Navy on the same field, which was then known as Jack Kent Cooke Stadium. Behind Autry Denson's two touchdowns and 107 rushing yards, the Fighting Irish dominated the Midshipmen, 30-0. In that game, Denson eclipsed Allen Pinkett's career total to become Notre Dame's all-time leading rusher, a mark that still stands today.

Though Notre Dame does not have much of a football history with this week's opponent or the Washington, D.C. area, the university has a rich and storied history with our nation's government and military, a point that is especially significant given that Veteran's Day is this weekend.

We will have more on Saturday's Shamrock Series game, as well as Notre Dame's tradition with the United States military, so be sure to check back to Irish UNDerground throughout the week.

- Josh Flynt ('11)

Behind the Shamrock Series

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Irish Update

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Gold On Gold

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Inside I-80

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chriswatt.jpg Daily Herald - Roughly four years from now, expect release of the first book from Richard and Mary Pat Watt of Glen Ellyn, a collaboration titled, "Inside I-80: A Mile-By-Mile Guide of Things to Do and See Along the Indiana Toll Road."

The Watt parents are already experts on the subject, considering the number of miles they've put on two cars this fall.

The reason is a recession-era dream come true: Three kids on scholarships playing Division I college sports at the same time.

The oldest, Kevin Watt, is a fifth-year defensive end at Northwestern and graduate student in Learning and Organizational Change. He was selected NU's defensive player of the week after the Penn State game on Oct. 22.

The middle child is Christopher, who has started every game at offensive guard for Notre Dame this season.

The youngest is Katie, who plays soccer at the University of Toledo. She's appeared in 12 of 20 games as a freshman.

The Watts are trying their best to have one parent at every sporting event this fall. So needless to say, the odometers have been spinning constantly.

"It's been probably the golden period of my life," Richard Watt said. "It's a lot of fun. This is Kevin's last year. It's going to be sad. But I have two more years, hopefully, with Christopher and three years with my daughter, Katie. It will be a little easier (in the future)."

Here's the Watt itinerary for this past weekend: Mary Pat flew down to Wake Forest to watch Notre Dame beat the Demon Deacons 24-17 in Winston-Salem, N.C.

Richard followed Northwestern on its first-ever trip to play new Big Ten rival Nebraska. He drove that one, trading the Indiana Toll Road for a cross-Iowa trek on I-80.

"It's only like seven hours away," Richard shrugged. "I'm going to have a couple people with me, so we all share the driving; makes it a lot easier. Nobody gets tired.

"I've always heard good things about Nebraska fans. I would love to see an upset there," he said before knowing the Wildcats would pull off an improbable 28-25 victory. "That would be the ultimate. That would be better than a bowl game."

The Watts actually missed Katie's soccer game Friday, a rare occurrence. But since the Rockets beat Buffalo 3-1 and advanced to the MAC tournament championship game, the parents planned to meet at O'Hare on Sunday morning and get to Toledo in time for opening kick of the title game against Western Michigan.

Last month, Mary Pat achieved the ultimate college road trip. She saw Toledo soccer play at Bowling Green on Friday night, then crossed over to Kankakee, spent the night, and watched Northwestern play Illinois on Saturday morning.

"I graduated from Illinois, so it was a real trip down memory lane going down I-57," she said. "I was with my brothers, which was really fun."

The weekend was only half over. Notre Dame played that night at Purdue, so the Watts made the relatively short journey from Champaign to West Lafayette in plenty of time. Then they watched Katie play at Miami of Ohio on Sunday.

McCoy To Serve As Honorary Chairman

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mccoymike.JPG GIFT2012.com - Former Notre Dame All-American and Green Bay Packers first round draft pick Mike McCoy will serve as an Honorary Chairman for the Global Ireland Football Tournament (GIFT) 2012 when high school and college teams from the United States play a series of games in Dublin, Ireland, next summer.

Teams from Arizona, California, Connecticut, Illinois, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Texas and Wisconsin will play in three doubleheader matches staged in three different stadiums in Dublin, making up the Global Ireland Football Tournament on August 31. The following day, Notre Dame and Navy will clash at the city's Aviva Stadium.

Mike McCoy is a native of Erie, Pa., and a graduate of Cathedral Prep High School. He graduated from the University of Notre Dame with a degree in economics where he played football and was an All-American. He was the UPI Lineman of the year and was sixth in the Heisman Trophy balloting his senior year. He was the number one draft choice of the Green Bay Packers where he played defensive tackle during an 11-year NFL career, spending seven with Green Bay, two with the Oakland Raiders and two with the New York Giants.

"I am honored to have been asked to undertake this role and look forward to sharing this once in a lifetime opportunity with the athletes and their families who are traveling overseas and with the sports fans in Ireland," said McCoy.

"American football provides a positive influence in many young people's lives and I look forward to sharing my experiences with everyone I meet during this event. I am also delighted to be going back to my roots to a country where I have many relatives."

Global Football President Patrick Steenberge said: "Mike was my boyhood hero in Erie, as he was three years ahead of me at Prep, and he had a big influence on my selecting Notre Dame. He and I have stayed in touch over the past four decades, and it is special to have him play an integral role in this historic football event in Ireland. I proudly serve on his Board, and know he will have a positive impact on the young men coming to play in Dublin."

Rowing Suits Conlin

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Daily Herald - After four years participating on the Rolling Meadows girls basketball, swimming and soccer teams, a 2010-2011 Daily Herald Female Athlete of the Year has found a new sport at her new school.

Maddie Conlin is a freshman on the University of Notre Dame rowing team.

"I am loving it so far," said the first female to earn 12 letters at Rolling Meadows. "I decided to try out because I already started to miss the team atmosphere and I had a friend whose older sister walked on to the rowing team and loved it."

Because it is not one of the more common sports, Conlin said there are a lot of girls like her who had never tried the sport.

"So we all got to learn together," Conlin said. "The main skill from all three sports I played in high school is just how important it is to be on the same page as all of your teammates. Our coach always talks about how we can only move the boat the fastest if we are all locking in together and thinking about 'What can I do to make my team better?' "

Conlin helped make the Meadows basketball team better as it went from four wins her freshman year to 19 her senior season.

In soccer, her coach Jeff Adkins called Conlin the "heart and soul" of the team for four years."

In swimming, Conlin was a captain and member of Meadows' 200-yard and 400-yard freestyle record-setting relay teams.

Now, she's back in the water in a different sport.

"I think the dryland training and muscle-building from swimming really helps (for rowing), and the endurance from both basketball and soccer are important.

"This will definitely satisfy my desire for sports because rowing is a lot about heart and determination," Conlin added. "I am extremely excited for my first race (next spring season)."

Twin Plays Big Part of Novosel Success

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ESPN.com - Twins Natalie and Nathan Novosel might well finish their senior seasons sharing a unique bond as champions and All-Americans on the basketball court. The more important bond, the one that made it possible, is one familiar the world over.

It's nice to have someone who knows what you're going through. It's sometimes better to have someone who simply knows you.

And for what it's worth, if you don't have to share a car with that person, that would be swell.

Long before she was the leading scorer for a team that came within one possession of winning a national title last season, Natalie was the frustrated kid who couldn't buy a basket in her own backyard. Nathan, a 6-foot-5 forward for Division III University of Rochester, and older sister Shannon, a former all-conference 6-foot-1 center for the University of Evansville, were always bigger and stronger than Natalie, who even now is the lone sibling checking in shorter than 6 feet. The results in the games of one-on-one-on-one played outside the family home weren't pretty for anyone within earshot.

"I would lose every single game out in the backyard, and I would get so mad at them," Natalie said. "I'd throw the ball, I'd throw a tantrum, cry, swear; it was unbelievable how much of a sore loser I was. They really instilled my competitiveness in me and gave me that drive I have today. They put up with a lot."

The friction between the twins didn't stop when the games ended. Twins might share a special connection, but the sibling relationship between Natalie and Nate growing up was more along the lines of plugging an American cellphone charger into a European outlet. They played the same sport, took many of the same classes and generally couldn't get away from each other from dawn to dusk. Even when a measure of independence presented itself in the form of driver's licenses, they remained at odds, sharing -- to stretch that word to its breaking point -- an aging Ford Explorer.

It wasn't until late in high school that the two started to see eye-to-eye, at least metaphorically. Instead of the family living room serving as some sort of demilitarized zone in their cold war, they found themselves willingly talking to each other for hours on end. When they left for college, the distance that separated them only strengthened the bond.

If this season concludes with Notre Dame's second national championship, there is no doubt the writers of history will begin the story with the day local high school star Skylar Diggins committed to stay home.

Trick Shot Monday

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Live Chat - Men's Basketball vs. Stonehill

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The men's hoops squad is back in exhibition action tonight when it faces Stonehill at 7:30 p.m. (ET) at Purcell Pavilion.

Irish UNDerground will have all the angles in and around the action covered throughout today's game. Be sure to share your questions, comments and complaints and let your voice be heard throughout the Notre Dame nation.

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Following Flynt - Irish Around The League

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As the NFL season hit the midpoint, Sunday's slate of games featured several key matchups between teams jockeying for position in the division standings and playoff race.

It was also a big day for one winless team. Miami defeated Kansas City, 31-3, to pick up its first victory of the season. Tight end Anthony Fasano ('06) played a pivotal role for the Dolphins, catching two touchdown passes from quarterback Matt Moore. Fasano's first score came late in the first quarter, a 3-yard catch in the back of the end zone. He also hauled in a 35-yard pass on Miami's first possession of the second quarter, to give the Dolphins a 14-3 lead.

In a rematch of Super Bowl XLII, Eli Manning outdueled Tom Brady, leading New York to a 24-20 victory at New England. Justin Tuck ('05) had three tackles and one pass deflection for the Giants. Trying to make a play in the closing minute, Patriots safety Sergio Brown ('10) was flagged for a tough pass interference call that set up the Giants' game-winning touchdown.

Tim Tebow led Denver to a 38-24 win in Oakland. David Bruton ('09) had three tackles, including two solo tackles for the Broncos.

Green Bay continued its hot streak, winning a shootout in San Diego, 45-38. Ryan Grant ('05) had four carries for 16 yards for the defending Super Bowl champions.

Golden Tate had one catch for eight yards in Seattle's 23-13 loss at Dallas.

Philadelphia hosts Chicago in tonight's Monday Night Football action. Trevor Laws ('07) should be in action for the Eagles.

- Josh Flynt ('11)

Hear It From a Student - Three Things

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eifertwake.jpg Three things we learned ...

1.) The Irish can win a grinding game ... Not all games are going to be pretty over the course of a season, but the great teams in college football can find a way to win a close game when they may not be playing perfect football, especially on the road. The Irish accomplished the feat earlier in the season against Pittsburgh when they grinded out a 15-12 victory on the road. In that game, Tommy Rees orchestrated a game-winning drive with a touchdown pass to Tyler Eifert. Rees once again came through for the Irish as he hit Michael Floyd for a 16 yard passing touchdown to take a 24-17 lead against Wake Forest this weekend in another hard fought victory on the road.

The Irish are proving that they can go into a tough environment against quality competition and consistently grind out a win. Additionally, the Irish accomplished another "first" of the Brian Kelly tenure as they battled their way back to victory after trailing at halftime for the first time under Kelly.

2.) Notre Dame's dynamic running duo has made incredible strides ... Arguably the biggest improvement over last season has been the running game this season. The Irish have been able to run the ball effectively when they need and want to over the course of the year. Both Jonas Gray and Cierre Wood had at least 14 carries and 87 yards in the contest against Wake Forest and Gray recorded his sixth straight game with a touchdown. Both players are in the top 100 in terms of yards per game in the nation. The Irish were able to run the final five minutes and 24 seconds off the clock with an effective rushing game to seal the win for the Irish. Notre Dame recorded three first downs and converted on a critical third down in their last drive to keep the Wake Forest offensive off the field. Gray and Wood have been dominating the Irish opponents this season with the help of an elite group of offensive lineman and have made incredible strides since last season.

3.) Notre Dame is bowl eligible for the fourth straight year ... With its sixth win of the season, Notre Dame is now bowl eligible for the second straight year under Kelly, and fourth straight year overall. While just winning six games would be considered a major disappointment for an Irish squad, it is important to realize the significance of the sixth win. It gives the seniors one last game to play in, it provides a great atmosphere for all the student athletes involved, it is the first checkmark on the list of season goals and most importantly it gives the Irish a substantial amount of more practice time. Kelly utilizes the early bowl practices to really develop his younger players and going into next year, this time that he has with his players will be critical. While we aren't supposed to look ahead, the Irish secondary will be depleted due to graduation and a number of other positions will also lose quality players due to attrition. These extra practices are critical to continuing to build the depth of the Irish program and for this reason alone, the sixth win of the season is a big one.

- Andrew Bartolini ('13)

Irish Connection - Episode 21

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Live Chat - Volleyball vs. Rutgers

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It's Senior Day in South Bend. The Notre Dame volleyball program will honor Frenchy Silva and Kristen Dealy today prior to its match against BIG EAST Conference foe Rutgers at 1:00 p.m. (ET).

Irish UNDerground will have all the angles in and around the action covered throughout today's game. Be sure to share your questions, comments and complaints and let your voice be heard throughout the Notre Dame nation.

Want to track all the action from your mobile device? No problem.

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Notre Dame 24, Wake Forest 17

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Live Chat - Football at Wake Forest

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Notre Dame and Wake Forest will go head-to-head on the gridiron for the first time ever tonight at 8:00 p.m. (ET).

Irish UNDerground will have all the angles in and around the action covered throughout tonight's game. Be sure to share your questions, comments and complaints and let your voice be heard throughout the Notre Dame nation.

Want to track all the action from your mobile device? No problem.

Simply click (or to be phone friendly, "touch") HERE.

Live Chat - Volleyball vs. Seton Hall

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BIG EAST Conference volleyball action returns to Purcell Pavilion today when Notre Dame welcomes Seton Hall at 2:00 p.m. (ET).

Irish UNDerground will have all the angles in and around the action covered throughout today's game. Be sure to share your questions, comments and complaints and let your voice be heard throughout the Notre Dame nation.

Want to track all the action from your mobile device? No problem.

Simply click (or to be phone friendly, "touch") HERE.

Following Flynt - #1 vs. #2

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When the Irish play Wake Forest tonight, it's safe to say that much of the college football world will be focused on a different game. For the first time since Ohio State beat Michigan in 2006, the two top-ranked teams in the nation will meet in a regular season contest. Bryant-Denny Stadium in Tuscaloosa will host a showdown between No. 1 LSU and No. 2 Alabama and many believe that the winner will have a direct path to January's BCS championship game.

On Wednesday, ESPN counted down the top 10 games between No. 1 and No. 2 teams. Notre Dame appeared on that list four times, including the victories over Michigan and Florida State in 1989 and 1993, respectively, as well as the ties with Army in 1946 and Michigan State in 1966. This week's Sports Illustrated also included the 1993 and 1966 games ranked third and fourth on their list of the top 5 regular season games between the nation's top two teams.

It has been nearly 18 years since Notre Dame played in such a game, but the Irish have appeared in more of these top-ranked battles than any other team. Since the Associated Press began ranking teams in 1936, there have been 45 games between No. 1 and No. 2 squads. Notre Dame has played in nine of them and compiled a 5-2-2 record.

Here's a complete look at Notre Dame's history in No. 1 vs. No. 2 matchups:

Nov. 13, 1993 -- No. 2 Notre Dame 31, No. 1 Florida State 24
Sept. 16, 1989 -- No. 1 Notre Dame 24, No. 2 Michigan 19
Nov. 26, 1988 -- No. 1 Notre Dame 27, No. 2 Southern Cal 10
Sept. 28, 1968 -- No. 1 Purdue 37, No. 2 Notre Dame 22
Nov. 19, 1966 -- No. 1 Notre Dame 10, No. 2 Michigan State 10, tie
Nov. 9, 1946 -- No. 1 Army 0, No. 2 Notre Dame 0, tie
Nov. 10, 1945 -- No. 1 Army 48, No. 2 Notre Dame 0
Nov. 20, 1943 -- No. 1 Notre Dame 14, No. 2 Iowa Pre-Flight 13
Oct. 9, 1943 -- No. 1 Notre Dame 35, No. 2 Michigan 12

It remains to be seen if LSU and Alabama will live up to the hype of what could be a classic game, and while "Roll Tide" and "Geaux Tigers" will be the rally cry of the nation later tonight, Notre Dame fans should remain both hopeful and optimistic that it will not be long before "Go Irish" is heard far and wide in a game of this magnitude.

- Josh Flynt ('11)

Remember Last November?

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Hear It From a Student - Going Bowling

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In the aftermath of tonight's Notre Dame-Wake Forest game, my friends and I spent a lot of time dissecting the team's performance. We talked about yet another excellent performance from Harrison Smith, a tremendous effort from Jonas Gray, and even Austin Collinsworth's potential to develop into an impact player. We covered just about everything.

But you know one thing that didn't come up? The fact that tonight's win made Notre Dame bowl eligible once again.

I think my sports-fan background makes me appreciate this accomplishment a bit more than other Notre Dame students. I grew up a fan of the Golden State Warriors and San Francisco 49ers, two teams who as of late have found playoff appearances hard to come by. I've rooted for the Fighting Irish for as long as I can remember, but my second team has always been the Army Black Knights (my dad is a West Point alum), who hadn't made it to a bowl game since 1996 before winning the Armed Forces Bowl last year.

For a long time, my teams struggled to simply get into the playoff discussion. That made rare moments of success mean that much more to me when they finally did come around. Golden State's "We Believe" fueled trip to the playoffs in 2007 and upset of the No. 1 seeded Dallas Mavericks stands out as one of the best experiences I've had in sports.

That's why to me, becoming bowl eligible is definitely a big deal. It means a lot to make it to the postseason. Becoming bowl eligible means we are one of the better teams in the country this year, it means we've given our seniors the chance to finish the careers at Notre Dame on a high note, and it means we'll have something to play for in our last game this year.

I don't think getting to a bowl game should be our ultimate goal every year; Notre Dame has too much tradition, history, and talent for that to be our target. We should be aiming to win a national title every season. But that doesn't mean we can't have lesser goals, and getting to a bowl game should be one of them. Getting to a bowl game lets us extend our season, get valuable experience, and connect to recruits all over the country. It's a huge help in building a championship-caliber program here at Notre Dame.

We have to remember that dynasties don't emerge overnight: they're built, slowly and only with a lot of hard work. Brian Kelly is trying to lay the foundation for something special, but it will take time for his plan to come together.This is a process, and we should remember to savor each of the small victories along the way. After all, Notre Dame didn't go to a bowl game at all a few years ago.

Notre Dame should continue to strive for the goal of winning a national title. But it's going to take time to get there. Until then, we should savor every accomplishment along the way. And getting to a bowl game is a pretty fantastic goal to have reached.

- Tom McGuire ('14)

The Making of an Irish Insider

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Hear It From a Student - Three Things

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Heading into Saturday's game at Wake Forest, let's not forget what we learned last week against Navy ...

1.) When the Irish play together, they are very hard to beat ... The Irish put together what was arguable their best all-around game of the season against Navy. Kelly said it best after the game when he referred to the Irish as a family. "At the end [of the day], like all families, if there's a disagreement, if there's any kind of need to communicate, it needs to get done and we did that," said Kelly. "We communicated with each other as a team and as a family, and you saw it today. You saw a team that played together."

The road to the top of college football will not always be at a steady incline. There are going to be some valleys before you get to the summit. The teams that get to the top are the ones that can get themselves out of the valleys of adversity. The Irish showed they can do.

2.) Notre Dame has the ability to stop the option ... Before the game, Kelly said that he did not really care about giving up yardage to Navy. He said that when playing an option team you are going to give up yardage, but it is more important to limit big plays and surrender points.

Well, the Irish not only managed to stop the big play and keep the points down but they also limited Navy's yardage output. The Irish only gave up 196 yards of rushing against Navy on 50 carries (good for an average of 3.9 yards/carry). Last season, Navy had 367 yards rushing on 60 carries (6.1 yards/carry). Also, Navy had only rushed for less than 274 yards in a game once this season. The longest rush on the day for Navy against the Irish was just 15 yards, which is evidence that the Irish stopped the big play.

In each game this season before facing Notre Dame, Navy had at least one rush for over 20 yards.

But most importantly, the Irish held Navy to just 14 points. That number does not do the defense justice as both scores came off Notre Dame turnovers in short fields.

3.) Jonas Gray is a great running back ... Jonas Gray's first touchdown did not come until his 26th game as an Irish running back. Since he found the endzone for the first time against Pittsburgh, he has been getting there with ease. Gray has eight touchdowns on the season, with all of them coming in the last five games. He had three of the eight against Navy and continued to run physically behind a superb offensive line.

Coming into the season, Kelly wanted Gray to run the ball physically and Gray has delivered. He has been the perfect change-of-pace-back to Cierre Wood and has dominated over his last five games.

He may not have a huge number of yards, but he is executing each carry to near perfection. Over the course of this season he has molded himself into a great running back and is now a legitimate NFL prospect.

- Andrew Bartolini ('13)

Following Flynt - Freshman Friday

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On Your Feet!

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Following Flynt - What To Watch for at Wake Forest

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10.22.11 Gameday 2.JPG The Fighting Irish travel to Winston-Salem, N.C. for their first-ever game against the Wake Forest Demon Deacons. Here are a few things to keep an eye on this weekend....

November Perfection: As the leaves fall, the temperature drops and the days become shorter, November is probably not a favorite month for many people. Yet head coach Brian Kelly might be one person who looks forward to the final month of the regular season. In the past three seasons, Kelly is a perfect 10-0 in November, and in his 21 years as a head coach, he has won nearly 80 percent of his games (51-13).

Last season, the Irish were 4-5, and it looked like they would need an eleventh hour miracle to become bowl eligible. Beginning with a 28-3 victory over No. 15 Utah, the Irish won three straight November games, and closed the season with a Sun Bowl victory against Miami.

On Saturday, Kelly will seek to continue his November success against Wake Forest. Both the Irish and Demon Deacons enter the game at 5-3, with the winner moving one step closer to bowl season.

Born To Run: Last week the Irish rode seven rushing touchdowns to a 56-14 win, their most lopsided victory of the season. Jonas Gray and Cierre Wood are the only pair of running backs in the FBS with at least eight rushing touchdowns each. The duo has provided Notre Dame with a strong ground combination of power and speed and both backs have provided a spark in the last two Irish away games. Gray dashed for a 79-yard touchdown run against Pittsburgh, while Wood broke off a 55-yard rushing touchdown at Purdue.

Wood and Gray have been superb for most of this season, but a lot of credit should also be directed towards the offensive line, which did not allow a single sack in October. A strong rushing game and a great offensive line can take a lot of pressure off of the quarterback, a situation the Irish have not found themselves in for a few years.

Continued strong play from Running Back University, as the players affectionately call it, would go a long way towards building an Irish winning streak in the last third of the season.

Hendrix Time: After a strong first performance against Air Force, sophomore quarterback Andrew Hendrix saw very limited action against USC and did not play against Navy. His absence against the Midshipmen was of interest to many reporters at Tuesday's press conference, but Kelly insisted that no one should read too far into it. Notre Dame scored almost at will last week, and there was no need to mix up the offense with Hendrix. That might not be the case on the road against the Demon Deacons, and calling upon Hendrix could be a good curveball in the Irish offense. 

ACC Territory: In the ever-changing landscape of college athletics, there is a lot of speculation about whether or not Notre Dame will be able to keep its independent football status. Starting with the game against Wake Forest, the Irish will begin a stretch of three straight matchups with ACC teams. Next week, Notre Dame and Maryland will meet at FedEx Field, the home of the Washington Redskins. On Nov. 19, Boston College pays a visit to South Bend for the final game of the year at Notre Dame Stadium.

While Notre Dame is hopeful that it will be able to remain independent, the expansion of other conferences has jeopardized the future of the BIG EAST. If Notre Dame is destined for football conference affiliation, the ACC is one of the possible homes where the Irish might wind up.

North Carolina Night: At the start of the season, the game between Notre Dame and Wake Forest was listed as TBD and many people expected a late afternoon start. Last month, the ACC announced that it would be played at either 7 PM or 8 PM ET. This past weekend, the conference chose the latter. The game will be televised nationally on ABC and ESPN2, depending on geographic location.

As I mentioned in this week's Tradition Tuesday, Wake Forest is the third-smallest school in the Football Bowl Subdivision in terms of undergraduate enrollment, and the smallest in an automatic-qualifier BCS conference. Nationally televised primetime matchups are a rare occurrence at BB&T Field in Groves Stadium, a venue that only holds 31,500.

All five of the largest Wake Forest crowds at BB&T Field have been against fellow ACC opponents, so it will be interesting to see how the crowd compares for what is sure to be one of the biggest games in the university's football history.

Notre Dame has already played in Michigan Stadium this season, a venue with a capacity of over 110,000. It is safe to say that Saturday night will be a significant contrast from that atmosphere, but it should still be an exciting atmosphere in Winston-Salem.

And There's a Magic ...

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For Those of You Scoring With Grade Points

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Navy 17.jpg The Wall Street Journal - Enough about LSU-Alabama. Let's talk about the real Game of the Century.

Notre Dame (5-3) is at Wake Forest (5-3) Saturday, which - based on those schools' performances in Graduation Success Rate - is the premier showdown of the college-football season.

If you're not familiar with it, GSR is the metric the NCAA uses to determine the number of student-athletes on any team who actually earn a college degree. Unlike the federal graduation rate, the GSR takes into consideration transfer students, so long as they're academically eligible.

In the latest report, which was released by the NCAA last week and was based on student-athletes who entered school from 2001 to 2004, Notre Dame's overall GSR (99%) ranks No. 1 among the 120 major-college schools. Wake Forest (94%) is tied for No. 7. In terms of football GSR only, Notre Dame (97%) is first and Wake Forest (81%) is 16th.

But if you consider these school's athletic programs as a whole, it's No. 1 vs. No. 2. Eighteen of Notre Dame's 22 teams (82%) got a perfect GSR score - the highest percentage nationally. Wake Forest's 79% "perfection" rate is second-best. In case you're wondering, 25% of Alabama's teams received perfect scores (four out of 16), while just one of LSU's 16 teams did.

This Time It's Different

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ESPN.com - We've heard it all before.

Maya Moore was the future of women's basketball. (Quick! What team does she play for now?) So was dunking phenom Candace Parker. Before them were the fiery Diana Taurasi, the lethally explosive Sheryl Swoopes and the glamorous Lisa Leslie -- all of them projected to lead us to the promised land, a place where aging meatheads finally appreciate the beauty of women's sports. But this time, we mean it. Skylar Diggins is changing the game.

She demands attention. On the court, the 5'9" southpaw pushes the pace, finds the open teammate, gets in people's faces, finishes in the paint, takes the big shot. At the end of March, Notre Dame was just another team chasing Tennessee and Connecticut. One week later, in a three-game stretch during March Madness, Diggins scored 24 points in an upset of Tennessee, 28 to upend top-seeded UConn in the Final Four and then 23 in Notre Dame's loss to Texas A&M in the title game. Along the way, the TV audience for the 2011 NCAA women's tournament increased by 16 percent from the previous year.

Moore and Parker and Taurasi all had great tourney runs too. None of them, however, had Lil Wayne tweeting them best wishes before the biggest game of their career. When Weezy sent this burst into the ether -- "Good lukk to my wife Skylar Diggins and the Fighting Irish" -- before Diggins faced off against UConn, it altered the women's hoops landscape. Diggins' Twitter following swelled from 5,000 before the tournament to nearly 65,000 just after the national title game. LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Kevin Garnett sang her praises as a player. Lil Wayne performed wearing her jersey. John Wall sent her virtual air kisses.

All of this brings us to another undeniable fact about Skylar Diggins: She is attractive. And she's attractive with a growing profile in a privacy-challenged world. Fair or not, there are superficial reasons for some of the attention she's receiving. That is not lost on Diggins. "People are like, 'Hold on, this is different,'" she says. "'She's getting 40 points, what?' They don't expect me to be like that on the court. I don't know what they expect a hooper to look like, but obviously it wasn't me."

Diggins is now in that middle ground between being a normal 21-year-old college athlete and being a burgeoning superstar. And as part of a generation raised on social media and its power to gift instant fame, she is comfortable with that. Her response to the Weezy shout-out? She thanked him and called him "husband."

Following the Lil Wayne exchange in the spring, a Diggins tweet became a trending topic within hours. Soon after that, Notre Dame called on media consultant Kathleen Hessert for guidance. When asked about the player's appeal, Hessert referenced the book The Attention Economy, which makes the argument that the global economy's new currency is the ability to capture people's increasingly fractured attention. She considers the book her bible, but she pushes the idea a step further. "We've moved from the attention economy to an attraction economy," says Hessert, whose clients include ESPN Plus and Auburn University athletics. "It's no longer enough to get attention. You have to attract people. And social media, combined with a presence like Skylar, attracts people to the sport, to the team, to her personal brand in a way that could never happen before. People who never followed women's basketball are following it because of Skylar."


South Bend Idol

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Ask Us Before You Ask Them

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A Holiday Hockey Treat

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When Notre Dame announced last month that the Fighting Irish hockey team would be moving to the Hockey East beginning in 2013-14, it also announced that home games would be televised on the NBC Sports Network. Though that television deal does not kick off until Notre Dame begins play in the Hockey East, fans will have an opportunity to catch the Irish on national television when they host Boston University on Dec. 31.

Earlier today, NBC Sports Group announced a 16-game collegiate hockey package, which launches on New Year's Eve at the Compton Family Ice Arena. The Irish will face off against the Terriers in what will be one of the final broadcasts on Versus, before it is officially re-branded as the NBC Sports Network on Jan. 2.

The weather is still nice here in South Bend and I am in no hurry to rush the holiday season, but this announcement should give fans an early look at Irish hockey on the NBC Sports Network, and something to look forward to while preparing to ring in 2012.

Visit College Hockey News for a complete schedule of NBC's college broadcasts.

Daily Dish - 11.2.11

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- Linebacker Manti Te'o was named one of 16 semifinalists for the Chuck Bednarik Award, the Maxwell Football Club announced Tuesday ... the Bednarik Award is presented to college football's best defensive player ... Te'o leads the Irish with 82 tackles, 11 tackles for loss and four and a half sacks ... he has already set career highs this year in tackles for loss and sacks ... Te'o has recorded at least 10 tackles in six of eight games this year and he leads the Irish in solo tackles, assisted tackles and tackles on running plays ... among all middle or inside linebackers in the NCAA Football Bowl Subdivision, Te'o ranks tied for first in solo tackles for loss, tied for first in solo sacks, second in total sacks,second in total tackles for loss, second in tackles for loss per game and third in sacks per game.

- The LSU-Alabama game this weekend has prompted lots of revisiting of previous No. 1 vs. No. 2 college games ... SI.com's Richard Rothschild rated the best previous regular-season collisions based on quality of the game, impact on the season and long-term ramifications - and he put 1946 Notre Dame-Army 10th on his list, 1966 Notre Dame-Michigan State sixth and 1993 Notre Dame-Florida State fifth.

- Through eight games, Notre Dame's Tommy Rees has completed 179 passes for an average of 22.375 per game ... if Rees continues that pace and the Irish play 13 games, Rees would finish with 291 completions - one short of Brady Quinn's Notre Dame single-season record of 292 from 2005 ... Rees has played only about the equivalent of one full season, but his career .641 pass completion percentage is the best in Notre Dame history ... he needs one more TD pass to match (1943 Heisman Trophy winner) Angelo Bertelli's career total and four more to catch Joe Theismann at 31.

- Michael Floyd ranks second nationally among active players in career pass receptions and career reception yards ... through eight games he has caught 63 balls - for an average of 7.875 per game ... if he continues that pace and the Irish play 13 games he would finish with 102 catches (which would easily eclipse Golden Tate's Irish single-season record of 93 from 2009) ... Floyd currently has 1,025 receiving yards (128.125 per game) - which would project to 1,665 over 13 games (better than Tate's single-season Notre Dame record of 1,496 from 2009).

- Saturday is the seventh annual National College Football Day, originally created by the Cotton Bowl Classic.

- Anders Lee has been selected as the RBC Financial Group CCHA Player of the Month for October ... the 6-3, 227-pound left wing has helped the fourth-ranked Irish get off to a strong 5-2 start this season as he has scored at least one goal in all seven games, with a two-goal effort and a hat trick thrown in for good measure ... after seven contests, Lee leads both the conference and the nation with 10 goals and has added three assists for 13 points.

Live Chat - Women's Basketball vs. Windsor

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Less than seven months after a captivating run to the NCAA national championship game, Notre Dame returns to the court at 7:00 p.m. (ET) tonight as the second-ranked Fighting Irish play host to the reigning Canadian national champion, the University of Windsor, in an exhibition game at Purcell Pavilion.

Irish UNDerground will have all the angles in and around the action covered throughout tonight's game. Be sure to share your questions, comments and complaints and let your voice be heard throughout the Notre Dame nation.

Want to track all the action from your mobile device? No problem.

Simply click (or to be phone friendly, "touch") HERE.

Women's Tennis Duo Continues To Impress

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Seniors Kristi Frilling and Shannon Matthews wanted to leave their mark on Notre Dame before they left school. By winning the 2011 ITA Midwest Regionals Doubles title last week, this dynamic duo has certainly achieved that goal.

Frilling and Matthews jumped out to an early 4-1 lead over the top-seeded team of Northwestern's Nida Hamilton and Linda Abu Mushrefova in the championship match and never looked back. The Irish pair rode the momentum from winning four of their next five games to a commanding 8-2 victory.

"Shannon and I were both very happy with the win and I think, overall, how we played, as well," said Frilling.

Filling and Matthews' title is the first won by an Irish pair since 2008, when Frilling (a freshman at the time) teamed up with current Irish assistant coach Kelcy Tefft to come out on top.

"It was a great way to start our senior season, and it was especially sweet to get some revenge against the Northwestern team we struggled against last year," said Matthews.

Both Matthews and Frilling have enjoyed illustrious careers at Notre Dame. Each has won BIG EAST Player of the Week Awards in the past, and Frilling was named both an ITA All-American and the BIG EAST Player of the Year following her sophomore year.

Frilling and Matthews were also named co-captains of the women's tennis team for the 2011-12 campaign.

The two seniors are determined to end their time here at Notre Dame on a high note, and winning the ITA title was a good way to start.

"It's our senior year, so I know we both want to end our careers here at Notre Dame as positively as possible," said Frilling.

By winning the regional title, Frilling and Matthews qualified for the ITA National Individual Indoor Championships which will take place Nov. 3-6 in New York, N.Y. This will be Frilling's third trip to the Indoor Championships, while Matthews will be participating in the event for the first time.

"I am extremely excited to play in the National Indoor Championship and having the opportunity to play in New York," said Matthews. "Playing on the same courts at the U.S. Open will be an amazing experience.

The pair is ready to take on the competition in the Big Apple. Frilling said, "We feel pretty good. We've been practicing what we needed to work on after regionals, and are really looking forward to playing in New York City."

The Indoor Championships will provide the Irish pair with a difficult new set of obstacles to overcome, yet Frilling and Matthews remain confident and focused on the task at hand. Frilling explained, "As always, we want to come out of the tournament knowing we played our best and hardest, and hopefully that translates into a win."

Matthews added, "Our goal is to bring home the ITA Indoor Championship title to Notre Dame."

The way these two are playing right now, playing their best could very well mean that they will indeed achieve that goal.

- Tom McGuire ('14)

Gray Running Toward History

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ESPN.com - Wait until February to ask Tim Hinton how satisfying it is to see Jonas Gray have the kind of farewell season he is having. Right now, there are at least four games left in which the running backs coach would like to see the senior continue to improve.

"You don't have time right now, it's all critical," Hinton said of reflecting. "You feel bad about it sometimes. ... Until the NCAA tells us we can't play another second, then we're gonna improve. That's our job."

Gray has made plenty of strides up to this point, however, scoring eight touchdowns over his past five games and rushing for 502 yards this season. He made his first start of the season (second of his career) Saturday against Navy, and he is averaging 7.97 yards per carry, just shy of George Gipp's single-season Notre Dame record of 8.1.

Who?

"I know a little bit about him, not a whole lot," Gray said of Gipp, laughing. "I know quite a bit. Like, I know that he passed away -- I don't know what it was from exactly. ... And after he passed away one of the legendary coaches we had had a speech: 'Win one for the Gipper.'

"I guess I need to really check up on it."

Gray can be forgiven for mis-remembering one of the many tales of Notre Dame lore. He recognizes, however, just what it would mean to leave with a school record.

"It is crazy," he said. "Especially thinking about where I came from, where I started, and talk about breaking a record of a guy like that is just -- just breaking any type of record at Notre Dame from where I started from is pretty incredible."

In his three previous seasons, Gray had just 75 carries for 309 yards. He had fumbled four times, adding to that total when his third-and-goal carry from the 1 in the Irish's opener was stripped and returned 96 yards for a momentum-turning South Florida touchdown.

Head coach Brian Kelly challenged Gray afterward to make sure that he would be remembered for overcoming a tough start to his senior year, not be defined by it. Gray said Kelly has been in his ear since, from telling the senior before the following game at Michigan that he was pulling for him to demanding him to set the tempo as a starter before Saturday's game against Navy.

Before that contest, it hit Gray that he would have just one more game left at Notre Dame Stadium.

"It's been so much of a journey," he said. "It's had its ups and downs, its negatives and its positives, but I wouldn't change a thing. I love this university; I love everything that it stands for. I'm gonna be upset when it's all over."

But as his position coach will remind him, there's plenty of time left for things to improve or go south in an instant.

For Hinton, seeing Gray complete that journey serves as a form of validation.

"Keep coaching them; that's what our jobs are," the running backs coach said. "It's easy to coach the one who does it naturally. Everybody can do that one, right? Why do [they] need us? It's getting the other guys to get to the level they need to be. That's what coaching's all about. That's what you try to do."

Following Flynt - Walk-on Wednesday

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The Legacy of Knute Rockne

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Irish Connection - Episode 20

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Carroll and Jackson Return

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South Bend Tribune - When a college season stretches nearly seven months and practices tumble well into triple digits, it's necessary to sometimes stray from the script.

Saturday was one of those days for the Notre Dame men's basketball team.

Operating on the main floor of Purcell Pavilion while observers wandered in from tailgating, the Irish workout looked just like any other under coach Mike Brey. There was individual instruction, 5-on-5 situations and free throws to end the 75-minute session. To the casual fan, nothing seemed out of the ordinary.

But the presence of two individuals made this practice far different than maybe any other during Brey's tenure in South Bend.

Knowing that nearly 80 individuals associated with the program would be back on campus for the annual basketball reunion, and with his team short on able practice bodies, Brey extended invitations to former guards Matt Carroll, now with the NBA's Charlotte Bobcats, and Tory Jackson, set to rekindle his professional career in the NBA Development League's Fort Wayne Mad Ants, to suit up, tape up and go to work.

Imagine quarterback Brady Quinn returning to run a two-minute drill in practice. Or center Ruth Riley posting up in The Pit and demanding an entry pass from Skylar Diggins.

"As soon as I got the text this week (from Coach Brey) that said, 'I want you to practice,' there was no hesitation," Jackson said. "Anytime I can give back and help the young guys, it's good."

Carroll originally was expected back the previous weekend for the football game against USC. But those plans fell through. So with the NBA still mired in a lockout, Carroll, who serves as the union representative for the Bobcats, knew he couldn't miss a second chance to return.

"I said, 'I'm there. Let me get my (plane) ticket and I'll let you know what time I'm getting in,'" he said. "To get a chance to be here was really special.

"I've had a blast."

Wearing gray low-cut Nike basketball shoes to go with his adidas-issued Notre Dame practice gear, Carroll wandered out of the locker room just after 11 a.m. and was immediately ordered by former teammate and current Irish assistant coach Martin Ingelsby to grab a basketball and jump into the rotation of Irish guards working on pre-practice shots. Jackson, who had arrived minutes earlier, already was well into his sweat and running through the same routine he last experienced as a senior during the 2009-10 season.

Many of the current Irish once called Jackson their teammate. Everybody on the roster still was in middle school when the 31-year-old Carroll, eighth on the school's all-time scoring list (1,850 points), was busy becoming a first team All-Big East selection his senior season. But they worked with him as if they had played pickup together for years. Carroll screened for them, passed to them and, regardless if a play finished with a basket or a miss, exchanged quick hand slaps.

"Your shot, big man," Joey Brooks yelled before finding Carroll for his trademark corner 3-pointer.

Carroll stayed long after practice ended to share words of encouragement and drill tips with Tim Abromaitis, Brooks and Jerian Grant.

"I got a chance to meet a lot of the guys I didn't even know," he said. "One of the biggest things for me and my message I wanted to get across for them is being here is special. You don't realize it until it's over."

Carroll didn't even bother to check with his agent about insurance to make sure it would be wise to participate. For him, there was no debate - it had been too long since he ran through the regular practice routine. He needed a sweat.

"There was no stopping me," he said. "I wasn't going to dunk (though he did once), so I knew I'd be all right.

"If there's one positive about the lockout, it gave me a chance to do this."

Stepping back onto the arena floor to play for the first time since he graduated following the magical run to the Sweet 16 in 2003 was nothing like stepping back in time for Carroll. Saturday was the first time he had been back to campus since the arena renovation. For a minute, he didn't think he was in the right place.

Where were all the multi-colored seats that threatened to distract as pure a shooting stroke as any Irish has ever owned? Where were the bleachers? The old, tired and run-down feel of the place?

All gone.

"I felt like I was walking into an NBA arena," Carroll said. "It's beautiful. I love it."

Jackson still was his usual hyper, talkative, energetic self. He leaped high into the air to swat a certain Tom Knight dunk at one end of the floor, ran the blue (reserve) team with a cocky confidence on the other. He also made sure to give sophomore point guard Eric Atkins a strong look. Atkins, many agreed afterward, responded with one of his most efficient practices this preseason. He was crisp, mainly because he had his hands full with Jackson.

Afterward, Jackson brushed aside any concern that this might be a long, rebuilding year for a program that went 27-7 overall and 14-4 in the Big East last year.

"I don't think they're going to miss a beat," he said. "With the guys that graduated, some of these guys here are going to come out of their shadows. The guys that didn't get playing time last year, they're going to be good this year."
rock.jpeg San Antonio Express-News - The name doesn't always ring a bell anymore, let alone the face.

Still, it's a bit of a surprise when the man wearing a Hawaiian-style Notre Dame shirt strolls into the crowded sports bar at the JW Marriott San Antonio Hill Country Resort & Spa, and no one seems to notice.

But Nils Rockne, now a San Antonio resident, doesn't mind in the least.

"I'm happy just being one of the guys," he said.

That's not always possible, however. Not when you're the grandson of the greatest college football coach of all time.

Not when you bear a striking resemblance to one of the most iconic figures in all of sports.

Knute Rockne coached 13 seasons at Notre Dame, winning six national championships. Five of his teams went undefeated.

His .881 winning percentage (105-12-5) is still the gold standard for college football coaches.

In 1931, Rockne died at age 43 in a plane crash in a Kansas wheat field, and since then, his name has been elevated to mythical proportions, popularized by newsreels, books and, of course, Hollywood.

Nils Rockne said he has seen the movie, "Knute Rockne: All-American," about 15 times. He keeps it at the ready whenever friends or family stop by his North Side home. The name Knute Rockne, he concedes, sadly is losing its power with each succeeding generation.

But not with him.

"I've always been very proud of what my grandfather was able to accomplish in a very short lifespan," Nils Rockne said. "I've been able to appreciate it more the older I get."

Following Flynt - Tradition Tuesday

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10.29.11 Gameday 6.jpg

For an opponent that Notre Dame has never faced in its illustrious history, it is difficult to write my weekly Tradition Tuesday blog. In the upcoming matchup against Wake Forest, there is no rivalry trophy, no string of last-second finishes, and no comparison between the universities' football accomplishments. Many sports fans probably do not know much about Wake Forest's athletic programs, maybe only that they have produced NBA stars Tim Duncan and Chris Paul.

While much of the nation will be focused on the showdown between #1 LSU and #2 Alabama on Saturday night, there is still a lot of intrigue surrounding Notre Dame's trip to Winston-Salem, N.C.

Both Notre Dame and Wake Forest are 5-3 and each team had a four-game winning streak earlier in the year. While both squads are aiming higher than simply reaching bowl eligibility, the winner of Saturday's game will qualify for the postseason. Though the Demon Deacons lack the historic success of the Fighting Irish, they began play in 1888 and are by no means a newcomer to college football.

Like Notre Dame, Wake Forest is a small private university. Wake Forest is just over half the size of Notre Dame, with an undergraduate enrollment of approximately 4,400. It is the third-smallest FBS school and the smallest in a BCS automatic-qualifier conference.

With a capacity of just 31,500, BB&T Field in Groves Stadium will be the smallest stadium the Irish will play in since 1945. To date, the record capacity for Wake Forest at BB&T Field is 37,623 against North Carolina in 2004. All five of the largest home crowds have been against fellow ACC programs and each of these games resulted in a loss for the Demon Deacons.

Notre Dame may not be accustomed to playing in front of smaller audiences, but the Irish have fared well against unfamiliar foes. They are 117-20-3 all-time when facing an opponent for the first time. Between the primetime ABC/ESPN2 broadcast, Notre Dame's national prominence and rich football history, it will be interesting to see Saturday's crowd at BB&T Field come alive for what is sure to be one of the biggest home games in years.

To many Irish fans, the addition of Wake Forest to Notre Dame's schedule seemed to come out of left field. However, there is in fact a connection between the two universities. Wake Forest University president Nathan O. Hatch joined the Notre Dame faculty in 1975 and also served as the provost from 1996-2005. After spending 30 years in South Bend, Dr. Hatch began his current appointment in Winston-Salem in Oct. 2005.

There are a few other unrelated, but interesting connections between the two universities. Notre Dame Vice President/Director of Athletics Jack Swarbrick's oldest son is a 2011 Wake Forest graduate. Football equipment manager Ryan Grooms was a student manager for Wake Forest head coach Jim Grobe while at Ohio University. Before coming to Notre Dame in 2006, assistant media relations director Michael Bertsch worked in a similar capacity at Wake Forest. After traveling to the east coast this year, the Irish will host the Demon Deacons at Notre Dame Stadium in 2012 and 2015.

It might not pack the same national punch as the SEC showdown, but Notre Dame's game against Wake Forest is still accompanied by several interesting storylines. You can find more about this weekend's matchup with Wake Forest on the game notes page.

Live Chat - Men's Basketball vs. St. Xavier

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Notre Dame will open its 2011-12 exhibition slate tonight against St. Xavier University. Tip-off is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. (ET) at Purcell Pavilion at the Joyce Center.

Irish UNDerground will have all the angles in and around the action covered throughout tonight's game. Be sure to share your questions, comments and complaints and let your voice be heard throughout the Notre Dame nation.

Want to track all the action from your mobile device? No problem.

Simply click (or to be phone friendly, "touch") HERE.

Respect Your Elders

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The Showdown of the Moles

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VS.


Don't worry, Tom. You've won this round.

Trick (or Treat) Shot Monday

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Irish Update - 10.31.11

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