That one word describes what millions of college football fans feel toward Notre Dame. For whatever reason, anyone not a Notre Dame fan seems to root against the Irish.
The only thing I can seem to chalk it up to is jealousy. People are jealous of Notre Dame's history. They are jealous of the attention the Irish receive. They are jealous that Notre Dame football has stayed relevant, even during the longest championship drought in the program's history.
Almost every week, because of their deal with NBC, Notre Dame plays in front of a nationally televised audience with announcers calling the game as if everyone watching is rooting for the Irish. The thing is, they probably are.
As much as I hear people talk about how much they hate Notre Dame, I don't see many of them watching Notre Dame games. Instead, they monitor the score of the games, celebrating when they lose and cursing the Gods of college football when they win, never knowing what went down on the field until the highlight reel later in the evening.
The funny thing is, if even the most rabid Notre Dame haters would tune into an Irish game on a Saturday in 2012, they'd see a team that is rather easy to like. That's right, I said it. You might like these guys if you actually discount the uniforms they are wearing and watch them play!
If you do, you'll see a scrappy offense with few if any recognizable names. They'll rotate quarterbacks, both of whom have their pluses and minuses. They'll hand off to backs you've never heard of, yet run the ball like they are trying to beat out Rudy for the final roster sport. You'll even see some NFL-caliber talent at tight end.
Defensively, you'll see arguably the nation's best college football player, Manti T'eo, leading an elite (that's not a typo) defense that could swap jerseys with the best SEC defenses and nobody would know the difference. They have yet to yield more than 17 points in a game.
On the sidelines, you'll see a coach in Brian Kelly, a man who has worked his way up through the ranks while having considerable success at every stop he's made, leading the most storied program in the land back to the top of the mountain.
I'll never convince anyone to become a Notre Dame fan. I'm not one. But if you call yourself a college football fan, there is no way you can tune into a Notre Dame football game in 2012 and not like what you see.
I've always been a supporter of the mid-major programs like Boise State and Texas Christian getting a fair shake, however, I know that the game is at its best when the blue bloods of the sport are winning.
There is arguably none bluer than the Irish. It is time to stop hating and accept it.
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