Harrison: Notre Dame is now America's Team

Posted Jan 6, 2013

Notre Dame has a shot to win its first national title since 1988 and the team that college football loves to hate has the the opposite sentiment in this one. If the Irish can win, it'll provide some respite to the SEC fatigue that many are dealing with.

By Phil Harrison
Follow me on Twitter @PhilHarrisonCFN

The Irony of Rooting for Notre Dame

It has one of the most recognizable fight songs in all of college football. It also has Touchdown Jesus, the Golden Domes, leprechauns, bagpipes, and an ardent Catholic following. There are also an embarrassment of riches in regard to national titles and Heisman trophy winners. There are more All-Americans than you'll find in a pot of gold at the end of a rainbow. It's Notre Dame football.

But it's not all chocolates and roses.

Being an iconic college football program also comes with the understanding that people love to rail against the big man on campus. In fact, for some, the mere mention of anything that has a gold, green, and blue hue to it is enough to invoke nausea within the core of their being. It can often conjure up violent tendencies from the meek, and boastful pride from the humble. In sum, Notre Dame football is a beloved college football program, but it is also a despised college football program.

And that's where the irony of this national-title affair comes in.

Did we already mention that folks love to root against the big dog? The Omega, the first in his class, the crème de la crème? Well if that's the case, then you can bet there is a vengeful sentiment that has been building across the college football landscape for quite some time in regards to the big, bad SEC.

You know it, I know it, the whole world knows it at this point. The SEC has won six-straight BCS Championships and is going for yet another on Monday night. The conference has almost every recent bragging right there is to think of, has performed admirably on almost every big-stage, and there doesn't appear to be an end in sight. Heck, teams are even getting a boost in recruiting by simply putting their name in the ring with the three letters S...E...C (We're looking at you Texas A&M). Worse of all, SEC fans are not bashful about pointing any of it out--adding even more restlessness to the fatigue that has been cast in stone.

We'll pause now for non-SEC fans to put down some saltines and water to curb the nauseous feeling that just came over them.

Okay, are we okay to proceed? Good. It's clear that the current state of affairs in college football has gotten to the point now where many college football fans would root for anything short of a figure with a pitchfork and horns to beat the conference that loves to thump its chest. And even that might be a toss-up. The sentiment that the SEC has gotten too big for its britches is ready to go all in with rooting interest for the lesser of two evils, especially considering the greater of the two evils has a tendency to remind everyone within the area code of the Milky Way Galaxy that it is king.

Hello Notre Dame.

Move aside Dallas Cowboys, because Notre Dame is playing the part of America's Team Monday night. Don't expect to see your neighbors wearing kilts, or starting every sentence with "stir-up the...", or having a modest dinner of corned beef and cabbage. But you can bet there will be several whoops and cheers when the SEC representative goes three and out, throws a pick, misses a field goal, or gives up a touchdown to the--er, Irish.

Quite simply put, there won't be as many fans rooting for the Irish as there will rooting against Alabama and the collective brashness of the SEC. Notre Dame--for one night--will be the most pulled-for team in perhaps the history of the nation since the Revolutionary Army went against the British-imperialist Redcoats. Roll back the Tide, and roll-back the occupancy on college football.

So let's get this party started. In one corner you have the SEC beast, snarling and gnashing its teeth with the confidence that has come from years of dominance. In the other corner, there is the upstart Fighting Irish looking to gain what it once felt it was entitled to. It'll be looking to play the role many opposing teams once played against it decades ago. And the Golden Domers will be doing it with the support of many who are ready for a change at the top. After all, death, taxes, and SEC championships are a way of life.

Stir up the echos of the many--but only if the Irish pull this thing off.