Bob Birge's Irish Eyes Are Smiling

September 3, 2009 1:09 AM

Getting Ready For Another Notre Dame Football Season

The heart beats a little faster. The palms start sweating. The butterflies appear in the stomach.

The beginning of another Notre Dame football season, the 121st in school history, is less than 72 hours away. For a Fighting Irish fan or any college football fan, this is Christmas, New Year's Eve and the Fourth of July all rolled into one.

We much prefer the college game over the NFL for reasons that will appear in another blog item.

Again, I think of my dad, the biggest Notre Dame fan I have ever known. He would always get excited the week before the Irish's first game, act like a little kid waiting to open presents on Christmas morning.

On Thursday, I will perform my traditional season-opening ritual by visiting his grave and softly singing the fight song that he loved so dearly. We actually thought of playing the Notre Dame Victory March at his funeral in 1987(not really!).

The start of another Notre Dame football season is like a rebirth, a renewal of faith. It is timeless and forever. Really, it's the same on any college campus, except that no school mixes religion and football the way Our Lady's school does.

Indeed, these are traditions that help define the fabric of American life and culture. Saturday's America, as the great author Dan Jenkins so eloquently put it.

And, on a beautiful late summer day inside the House That Rockne Built, Here Come The Irish, Here Come The Irish, Here Come The Irish, charging out of the tunnel.

The Notre Dame band, the band of the Fighting Irish, strikes up the Victory March. Eighty thousand members of the flock begin the rhythmic clapping. If this does not get the juices flowing, then, sir, I would say you have a heart of stone. You also can't be Irish.

Unfortunately, out of the tunnel also comes Charlie Weis, beginning his fifth season - one too many, as far as we're concerned - as Notre Dame coach.

Saddled with a mediocre 29-21 record, Weis is out of excuses and officially has been put on notice by Irish Eyes are Smiling.

Win at least nine games this season, or get out of South Bend. With a favorable schedule and a veteran team returning, anything less than nine wins would be unacceptable. He really needs to win 10 games.

Our prediction for the Irish: 10-2, because we're foolishly optimistic when we should know better.

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