Whether Notre Dame Runs the Table or Not, the Irish Are Winners

Emily O'Neill ElmerCorrespondent IINovember 21, 2012

SOUTH BEND, IN - NOVEMBER 17:  Manti T'eo #5 of the Notre Dame Fighting Irish waves to the crowd as he leaves the home field for the last time during a game against the Wake Forest Demon Deacons at Notre Dame Stadium on November 17, 2012 in South Bend, Indiana. Notre Dame defeated Wake Forest 38-0.  (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

If Notre Dame lost every game it played for the rest of the season, it would already be a winner in the eyes of the Irish faithful.

Maybe I'm a dying breed, but when I turn my TV on every Saturday I do it to see real student-athletes play a clean game and slug it out every weekend because they love their school, and they want to make their teammates proud.

Not because they are trying to impress some NFL scout up in the stands so they can make seven figures, though.

That is what is wrong with the sport today.

Everyone is talking about "style points" and BCS Rankings. Computers are continuously telling us who the "best" team in our sport is, and teams are losing bowl eligibility every year in a never-ending parade of cheating scandals. 

The Kiffins and Reggie Bush's of the sport have deflated the spirit of what made college football truly great.

What happened to sportsmanship?

When coaches were able to recruit a star player based on the strength and appeal of their program, not what they would garner in return for their commit. College football fans don't tune in on Saturdays to see the perfection of the NFL, they watch to see kids play their hearts out in a game where anything can happen and sometimes luck is a factor.

Who better exemplifies the old values of football than Notre Dame?

These are real guys who are the best at what they do because they work the hardest. They are the Seabiscuit of college football. Every time the media said it couldn't be done, they came in and finished the job: One play at a time.

The media can sing the praises of teams like Oregon and the likes of Johnny Football from the rafters, but no team in college football today functions better as a unit than Notre Dame. A few players may stand out, but all are necessary to get the win.

They do not play for individual glory, they play for each other.

Whether they win this Saturday against USC, go on to the BCS championship and triumph or fail, they gave their fans something real to believe in and be proud of—by playing a clean game with integrity and grit.