When you work at Fighting Irish Media, you never know who you might run into on any given day. It's common for notable athletes, musicians, and actors to visit campus, and sometimes we're lucky enough to meet them.
On Thursday, that notable person on campus was Eddie George. George was an All-American running back at Ohio State and won the Heisman Trophy in 1995. He was taken in the first round of the 1996 NFL Draft by the Houston Oilers (now the Tennessee Titans) and was with the Oilers/Titans for 8 years. In that time, George was named Rookie of the Year, appeared in four consecutive Pro Bowls and won a Super Bowl. Following a brief stint with the Dallas Cowboys, George retired from the game in 2005 with 10,441 career rushing yards under his belt.
George is pretty familiar with South Bend. He was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 2011, back when the Hall used to be in downtown SB.
So, you could say he's kind of a big deal.
While George didn't have time to stop by the FIM office, he was nice enough to chat with me for about 3 minutes while he walked from the Gug to his car, rushing off to catch a flight to his next destination.
George was on campus with Sirius XM as a host for their College Football Camp Tour alongside former NFL coach, scout, and executive Phil Savage and Mark "The Packman" Packer.
"We go around to all the top teams in the country in college football and we figure out what they're up to, what they're doing," said George. "It's a great chance to promote the program."
George and the Sirius XM crew drove in on Wednesday from Columbus, Ohio, where they were visiting George's alma mater Ohio State.
Throughout the day, they met with Notre Dame coaches and players and watched the Irish practice, getting a feel for the team.
"I've only seen one practice but, based off what I've seen, I know that they're a team that definitely believes in competitive excellence," said George. "What I mean by that is they're always competing against one another, trying to make everyone around them better."
One day isn't a lot of time to get to know a team. But, it was enough time for George to pick up on some key aspects of the Notre Dame culture.
"Just talking to everybody around here, the culture is that they truly believe they can go to the next level and really compete for a national championship this year," he said. "This could be a really special year for them because of the closeness of this football team."
So, does George think that Notre Dame can make it to the playoff?
"Notre Dame is returning so many starters this year, 17 starters, and there's some expectations that they could be one of the four teams in the playoff," he said. "They have the players to do it, the schedule to do it, and they certainly have the brand to do it. So, I'm really impressed with what I've seen from them so far."
While George believes Notre Dame has everything in place to make it to the College Football Playoff, when I asked him who would win between Ohio State and Notre Dame, his answer was not surprising.
"There's only one choice. Scarlet and grey runs through my blood, so that's about it."