Notre Dame is one of the most storied programs in all college football. Entering its 126th year on the gridiron, the Irish have accumulated a large and diverse following.
Although the school has been a target of criticism—dare I say envy—over the last few decades for their NBC contract and lack of a conference affiliation, the Irish faithful remain unswayed.
While at times it can be lonely for those of us outside the major Irish fan hubs, rest assured Notre Dame faithful, you are in good company.
From Rudy to Knute Rockne: All-American, Hollywood has engaged in a perpetual love affair with the Fighting Irish. Several celebrities, including outspoken television personality Regis Philbin and rocker Jon Bon Jovi have all sported the blue and gold.
Let's take a look at the top five celebrity fans of the Fighting Irish.
*Rankings for this list are based on: 1. the level of celebrity the candidate possesses, and; 2. how vocal they are about their love of the Fighting Irish.
While many know George as Norm Peterson from the iconic '80s television show Cheers, few are aware that he attended the University of Notre Dame.
Wendt spent two years at the university before he was expelled in the middle of his junior season, a result of his receiving a GPA of 0.00 that semester.
"Da Bears" super-fan doesn't hold a grudge though. He's been a vocal fan of the Irish for years, even writing fondly of his time there in his recent memoir Drinking with George: A Barstool Professional's Guide to Beer.
Always the comedian, George addressed his final semester at the school in the aforementioned book (according to reviewer Rick Shaq Goldstein from Amazon.com) as "perfect" and "unblemished by even the smallest speck of academic achievement."
The President of the United States is a fan.
At least, as far as fans of The West Wing are concerned, anyways.
Martin Sheen has been a fan of the Fighting Irish for decades, even sporting a Notre Dame jacket in the final episode of the aforementioned hit television show.
The jacket was not the only time the Fighting Irish made an appearance on The West Wing, Sheen's character once punished a staffer by sending her away on a trip for making fun of the school.
Apparently the admiration is mutual, as the university honored the actor and activist with its Laetare Medal for his humanitarian work in 2008. You can watch a video of his acceptance speech here.
That's right haters, we really do have Jesus on our side.
Before he became Jesus in Mel Gibson's controversial 2004 film The Passion of the Christ, Jim Caviezel was just another average kid dreaming of an education at the University of Notre Dame.
That dream became a reality recently, when Caviezel began studying Spanish in South Bend. “It’s like home here,” he told Michael Sneed of Notre Dame News. “Like family. Notre Dame was a no-brainer. I plan to be studying here when I’m not working."
Caviezel is also a regular at Notre Dame stadium, even engaging in the Fighting Irish fan tradition of "push-ups" when his favorite team scores. I highly recommend watching this video of him getting tossed up in the air by fellow students during a game in 2006.
Honestly, can it get any cooler that Bon Jovi?
Between the president of the free world, Jesus and one of the biggest rock stars ever, Notre Dame definitely has the best celebrity fans.
The New Jersey native came out to support the Irish last October when they took on the BYU Cougars, telling WNDU.com "They are playing well, and I just love the whole way they are playing from the top down, from Coach Kelly to the players and across the campus. It’s a great time to be here.”
In fact, Bon Jovi has made regular appearances at Fighting Irish games over the years, most recently making the trip down to Miami to support the Irish in their BCS title bid. He even made a sideline appearance before the game, wishing head coach Brian Kelly and his team good luck.
Honestly, who didn't think this guy would be No. 1?
Philbin graduated from Notre Dame in 1953 and has been singing the school's praises ever since.
Philbin has incorporated the university into many of his professional endeavors. A special edition of his 2005 Christmas album featured tracks recorded with the Notre Dame Glee Club. He even narrated the two audio CDs that accompanied Joe Garner's book, Echoes of Notre Dame Football: Great and Memorable Moments of the Fighting Irish.
Always vocal about his team, he told Rachel George of USA Today how excited he was to see Notre Dame in the BCS Championship game: "Can you believe we're getting ready for this? 25 years we've waited for God's sakes. We gave up waiting."
As far as celebrity Notre Dame fans go, Regis Philbin is the granddaddy of them all.