1 This is the 27th season of “Fighting Irish Preview.” How do you stay motivated?
A: When you truly have a passion for something, motivation is not an issue.
I’m a Catholic kid who was born and raised in the shadow of the Golden Dome. I went to my first game in 1970. My sandlot growing up was Knute Rockne’s yard, and I used to trick or treat at Ara Parseghian’s house.
I consider Notre Dame football and its rich history that I have witnessed to be the soundtrack to my life. I have no problem being motivated to do the “Fighting Irish Preview” radio show and to write for FightingIrishPreview.com; in fact, I consider it to be a great privilege.
2 The home opener was in Dublin. What was that experience like?
A: This was my second trip to Dublin and it is, to say the least, a fun town and beautiful country. Within Temple Bar, which is roughly a square mile area located in the heart of downtown Dublin, there are roughly 50 pubs, dozens of restaurants and museums, and amazing historic architecture. Mix in 30,000 Notre Dame fans and thousands over from the States for (the game against) Navy, and you can get an idea of the fun.
The pageantry surrounding the game was over the top. It was a Notre Dame home game, 3,614 miles from home. From the Mass in front of 7,500 faithful in the courtyard of 700-year-old Dublin Castle on game day morning to the parade down Dame Street (renamed Notre Dame Street for the week) to the pregame flyover of Navy Osprey aircraft and the postgame traditional singing of each school’s alma mater, it was an unforgettable visit.
3 As a lifelong Irish fan, how do you explain the team’s historical fandom that transcends sociological and geographic barriers?
A: Notre Dame football started in 1887, and by the early 1900s the small Midwestern college was knocking off the big boys. This David vs. Goliath story appealed to many who had no particular reason for loyalty to any college or university, so they adopted Notre Dame as their team.
Since then Notre Dame has won national championships and Heisman Trophys, produced hundreds of All-Americans, had a movie made starring Ronald Reagan as “The Gipper” and Pat O’Brien as Knute Rockne m– and who hasn’t heard of Joe Montana and Lou Holtz?
Finally, in the 20th century, Notre Dame grew into an academic powerhouse rated right up there with the Ivy League schools.
Those kinds of things get people’s attention. I once saw a statistic that said 10% of the households in the U.S. owned some kind of Notre Dame logo wear. That is a powerful brand!
4 How do you balance fandom and commitment to providing honest analysis of the team?
A: I’ve been in sports journalism for over 30 years now. I cut my teeth doing high school games in the ’90s.
For 14 years I did color commentary for the University of Saint Francis. In fact, I owe a lot to that great program and to a big influence in my life, coach Kevin Donley.
“Fighting Irish Preview” was born in 1997 and FightingIrishPreview.com in 2018.
I understand my responsibility as a journalist to tell the truth, but I always remind myself that sports are supposed to be fun, so I try to emphasize the positives.
I don’t feel like much of a fan anymore because immersing in the coverage, including sitting in press boxes and press conferences for so many years, has changed me. The “fan” inside has faded, and now I more love the process. I don’t get so upset when Notre Dame loses these days, but I do enjoy trying to figure out why.
5 What is your take on conference realignment and the future of college football?
A: NIL (under which amateur athletes are able to benefit financially from their name, image and likeness), the transfer portal and conference consolidation – I don’t particularly like any of it, but money has, over time, had a predictable influence on the sport.
I see the college game eventually evolving into a couple of “super conferences.” Notre Dame is well positioned to hold out for awhile as an independent with its recently extended deal with Under Armor and a soon-to-be-negotiated new TV deal, but their hand may get forced eventually.
I understand the frustrations with all this change, but on Saturday afternoons as I sit in a stadium press box covering my passion in life, Notre Dame football, I still love it. And nothing is going to change that.
For the original article, please visit The Journal Gazette