As I peruse the various media outlets covering Notre Dame football, it strikes me how much attention is being paid at this particular point in time to what the future holds for the Notre Dame program.
I realize that the world does not stand still, and that despite the current success of the program, these matters are still interesting and relevant. But as a fan I am having too much fun focusing on the present during this incredible period in Notre Dame football history, either from the technical standpoint of reading about the X's and O's of the Irish/Tide matchup or from the more light hearted, "gosh, this is so much fun" standpoint.
In other words, I'm just having fun and trying not to worry too much about what happens post-January 7, 2013. I just want to enjoy the moment! I have, after all, been waiting almost a quarter century for what is happening before my eyes right now. I can certainly wait four more weeks to worry about next year and beyond.
I am a fan and I couldn't be happier—short of a BCS Championship—than I am right now. I just want to enjoy the ride, not worry about when the next ride is going to come along and whether the tires will be flat or the gas tank empty.
In the time since the last Notre Dame National Championship, my wife Mary and I have become parents, purchased three homes and seven vehicles, quit jobs, been promoted, started and lost a business, buried three parents, two dogs, one cat, six rats, five parakeets—and an assortment of other small critters—all while raising two children as Notre Dame fans (one a 2012 Notre Dame graduate and the other a current St. Mary's College student).
So, now, rather than dwelling on the next football season, I hope you will forgive me if, instead, I just enjoy the moment and share with all of you the joy of seeing our Irish back at the top of the college football world. I am also loving seeing the joy my children and their friends are finally getting from a football program which brought my family and siblings and friends in the Chicago area such joy in a bygone era.
While I will not be attending the game in Miami, my heart is full for my children and their friends who will be going and who will create a memory to last them a lifetime. I have been to my share of "big games" over the years, including the 1988 31-30 win over Miami. I have been alive for four Notre Dame National Championships and remember them all and cherish those memories. And of course I am hoping, as you are, for yet another in a few short weeks. After all, my kids are not the only ones who have been waiting for too long!
But to me, the game on January 7 is less about people like me who have seen the Irish atop the college football world a few times in their lifetimes. It's about those fans like my kids—and so many other people's kids all the way up to age 35 or so—who grew up from birth wearing ND bibs and "Onesies" and t-shirts, and carrying ND back-packs to school with ND pencils and pencil cases inside. It's about those fans who, as kids and as young adults, have seen "Rudy" 27 times or who had to sit for hours watching old ND VHS tapes with coach Holtz prowling the sideline in order to get some idea of what their parents meant about "the glory days". To these young folks, a Notre Dame National Championship team was as remote a concept as a Chicago Cubs World Series Championship team was (actually still is) to me.
So, as my son said to me at the Notre Dame freshman orientation in 2008: "Dad you are like a kid at Christmas!" A subway alum, I did not attend ND, so I was living vicariously through him, being, as they say, "on the inside" myself for the first time, vs. being just an outsider visiting on a football Saturday—as I was so many times over the previous 50 years—never feeling like I really belonged there. And now, with the Irish revival, I'm like a kid at Christmas once more.
My point is that, yes, I am enjoying this ride as much as any ND fan of 55 years would. But I am happier for those younger than me who have never been on such a ride. I would admonish all young ND fans that have paid their dues to now just sit back and enjoy the moment, and, like me, try not to worry about what happens with the Irish next year and beyond. That, with Mr. Kelly's help, will take care of itself. Let's all just enjoy today!