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)

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