Tuesday, August 31, 2010


Today's blog post ... in the countdown to football with blog posts, three days to go ... is about player interactions. (I'm posting this one a few hours early ... I just can't wait!)

I was very fortunate to have been at Notre Dame during four amazing years of football. I was a freshman in the fall of 1989, and Notre Dame had just won the National Championship in January. Lou Holtz was the head football coach, and some of the notable football players that were there when I was include:

Rick Mirer, Jerome Bettis, Chris Zorich, Michael Stonebreaker, Craig Hentrich, Bobby Taylor, Jeff Burris, Rocket, Tony Rice, Ricky Watters, among many others.

Now when you go to school with guys who are on NBC every Saturday in the fall, some pretty typical interactions happen with them on a day-to-day basis in class, and around campus ... but some unusual interactions also occur as well.

Here are a few funny stories of "unusual" interactions during my tenure at Notre Dame.

The Notre Dame/Hawaii game, November 1991:

My junior year at Notre Dame we played the University of Hawaii over Thanksgiving break. Lucky for me, my parents sent me to TOLEDO, Ohio to spend Thanksgiving with my Grandparents, and THEY went to Hawaii for the game. Seriously? Ughh.

So my parents had heard me talking about how nice Irv Smith was, and they were trying desperately to find him while they were in Hawaii. During this part of the story, it was the day after the game, and the players were hanging out on the beach celebrating their win. First, in their quest to find Irv, they find Clint Johnson. My Dad just about shakes the guys hand off .... THIS. IS. THE. KID. WHO. RAN. 99. YARDS. FOR. A. TOUCH. DOWN. Easy Dad.

The next guy they find in their quest to find Irv is Rick Mirer. Now let me set the stage for this just a bit ... my parents are on the beach, in their bathing suits, in Hawaii, when they meet Rick.

Okay, fast forward to the Monday we get back to school. I am walking down the sidewalk towards class, and Rick is walking down the sidewalk towards me. We both turn at the same time to walk up to the building, and we're walking side-by-side. He turns to me and says, "I met your Mom on the beach in Hawaii." (Me, cringe.) He continues on, "She seemed really excited to meet me, but I'm not really sure why? (He shrugs.) I'm a regular guy, just like every one else." (Yeah, who's on NBC every Saturday.)

The Sugar Bowl, Notre Dame Florida, January 1, 1992

So my parents, ever so graciously, take me to New Orleans to see Notre Dame play the University of Florida in the Sugar Bowl. We got down there a few days before the game to see the sites of New Orleans, and we happen to run in to some of the players down at this local shopping area. The first guy we run into is Clint Johnson. So my Mother introduces ME to Clint. Really?? My Mother is introducing ME to a football player from MY school. Oh my gosh, I think I am going to die.

We had an amazing time New Orleans. Celebrated New Year's Eve on Burbon Street. Attended the game (which, by-the-way, was awesome!) and then headed back to the hotel to change before going out to celebrate. We were staying at the same hotel as the players, so we waited for them to come out of their post game meeting before heading out on the town with some of the guys. So finally, we find Irv. My friend Kristi and I introduce Irv to my parents, and my Mom says to Irv, "It is so nice to meet you. My daughter and her friend have told me so much about you. That you are so nice, funny, and such a good friend." Irv looks back at my Mom with a straight face. Puts one arm around me, and one arm around Kristi and says ... "Well, when you surround by company as beautiful as this, how can you not be happy all the time?" Oh Irv!

Then, before we head out on the town we run into Jerome Bettis. I introduce my parents to Jerome, and my Dad was super excited to meet Jerome. They are actually having quite a lengthy conversation, during which my Dad is holding this gigantic chocolate chip cookie. So Jerome is talking to my Dad ... looking at the cookie ... talking to my Dad .... looking at the cookie. Finally my Dad says, "Son, you're not gonna get the cookie. haha

I could probably tell these stories all day, but those are some of my favorites.

Three days til kickoff ... GO IRISH!


Monday, August 30, 2010


Today's countdown to football blog post (Four) includes a few tales of some of the people we’ve seen, and/or met, along the way!

When you are a student, or an alumni, of the University of Notre Dame, a unique and often times famous following is part of the deal.

Through the years, we've seen and/or met many famous people along the way.

Some of the highlights are as follows ...

Freshman year, when we were ranked #1, Julia Roberts was spotted in her sunglasses and Notre Dame hat, sitting on the 50 yard line, just to the left of the Notre Dame student section. The movie Pretty Woman had just come out not too long before, so we were pretty darn excited to see her at Notre Dame!

Sophomore year, Dick Vitale's daughter moved in to my dorm (she were a year younger than me), and so Dick Vitale was a regular fixture on campus and in our dorm. And let me tell you, you could HEAR him coming a mile away! (On a side note, when I introduced my Dad to him at the Sugar Bowl in New Orleans my Junior year, I didn't think we'd ever get them separated. Mental note, don't introduce two chatty people to each other and expect the conversation to be short!)

Junior (or Senior?) year Regis Philbin's daughter moved on campus, and so Regis became a weekly fixture at Pep Rallies. We never actually met him, but he certainly was around a lot!

Junior year was also the year that they were filming the movie Rudy on campus. We had many movie star sightings, and also saw the real "Rudy" himself, over the course of the several months that they were on campus. Not to mention, being extras in the movie ourselves!

During my tenure at Notre Dame, meeting, getting an autograph, and actually getting to talk to Lou Holtz were HUGE highlights for me. He was such a huge part of our football experience while we were students at Notre Dame ... I will never forget that!

Last year (2009) ... Vince Vaughn was sighted at the Notre Dame/Michigan State game ... that I attended with my children. I did not actually get to meet him, but one of my friends DID actually get to meet and talk to him. Hello. Jealous. Party of one!

But I think the most memorable of the famous (or should I say infamous) people that we met was O.J. Simpson. Our seats for the 1993 "Game of the Century" between #1 Florida State and #2 Notre Dame were just four rows behind where O.J. Simpson was set up to do during-the-game and half-time reports ... just mere months before the "slow white Bronco chase." I can just remember how COOL it was to be so close to him ... and then how creeped out we were after what happened months later.

I wonder who we'll meet this year?


Sunday, August 29, 2010


Here they are, the roots of my love of football, in particular Notre Dame football.

We moved around a lot when I was a kid. By the time I was ten, we had already lived in 5 states. But no matter where we lived, my Dad always seemed to fit in that annual pilgrimage to Notre Dame.

Like myself, my Dad is a Notre Dame alum, and his roommate from college became a professor at Notre Dame, so we always had an friendly place to stay when we made our pilgrimage back.

His roommate from Notre Dame had kids as well ... a daughter a year older than me, and a son a year younger than me ... so when we were little, the adults would go to the Notre Dame game, and leave us kids home with a babysitter. They would always take us to the Pep Rally, though, on Friday night in the old Fieldhouse. I clearly remember bringing rolls of toilet paper and sailing them through the air during the pep rallies.

When I turned ten, we moved to Los Angeles, which was a bit too far away from South Bend, Indiana for our yearly Notre Dame pilgrimage, so our tradition changed a bit. Our new tradition became going to the Notre Dame/USC game when Notre Dame came to Los Angeles every other year. Most usually the weather was delightful, and Notre Dame really had USC's number at that time, so the majority of those games were winners.

The defining moment to me, of my Dad's commitment and love of sports (most importantly, football) was one rainy Notre Dame/USC game in the 1980's. It wasn't too cold, as it was in California, but it had poured down rain the entire first half. This, of course, meant that Notre Dame was killing USC as it rarely ever rains in Los Angeles, and USC has very little practice in being able to control the ball in such wet conditions. Now my Dad never leaves a sporting event early. Never. But int this particular instance my Mom put my foot down.

We are all going to be sick after sitting out in the rain all afternoon. There is no way that USC can win this game. If you are not going to leave with us, your daughter and I are going to go SIT IN THE CAR!
I think that was the only time my Dad has ever left a Notre Dame game early. Smart man to not push his wife over the edge, but that really left an impression on me. He always stuck it out, rain or shine, because you just never knew what was going to happen in the last minute of any game. Thanks Dad ... for teaching me so much about teamwork, good sportsmanship, and for sharing with me your great love of Notre Dame!


Saturday, August 28, 2010


Yesterday's blog was the best Notre Dame football game I've ever seen. Today's blog is going to be the most painful Notre Dame game I've ever seen.

The year after I graduated from Notre Dame, they had one amazing season. When the Irish faced Florida State on November 13, 1993, Florida State was ranked #1 and Notre Dame was ranked #2. In a nail biting game, Notre Dame pulled off the upset of the season, beating Florida State 31-24. (And yes, I was at that game as well! It's funny, because this 1993 Notre Dame/FSU game is called the "Game of the Century" ... but for me, that Notre Dame/PSU game in 1992 is my "Game of the Century!")

The next weekend I returned to campus for the Notre Dame/Boston College game, which should have been a fairly easy win for the Irish, and should have taken them one step closer to Notre Dame's 12th National Title. The year before, in 1992, the Irish had easily beaten Boston College 54-7, but on this cold South Bend day, that would not be the case.

With just over a minute left to play in the game, Notre Dame finished a winning drive, scoring the should have been winning touchdown, putting the Irish ahead of Boston College 39-38. The student body had already begun to celebrate their win, thinking that it would be no problem to hold Boston College for just over a minute ... when all of the sudden we looked up to see Boston College getting dangerously close to field goal range. Before we even really knew what had happened, Boston College ran one final play that got them into field goal range ... and David Gordon kicked the winning 41 yard field goal ... upsetting the #1 ranked Irish 41-39.

We were absolutely stunned. Had we not just beaten the #1 team in the nation last weekend?? Was our guard really down that much that we lost to Boston College, on Senior Day ... the last game of the season. Yes, that was the case.
I will never forget that feeling ... that pit in my stomach. And I will never underestimate what any team can do with only a minute left on the clock!


We're now just seven days from the kick off of Notre Dame's 2010 campaign with Purdue, and I'm going to count down the season with football blogs!

Blog "Seven" will be memories of the best Notre Dame football game I ever attended.

Notre Dame-Penn State 1992 ... The Snow Bowl

The last time Notre Dame and Penn State played each other was in November of 1992. It was the last regular season game for both teams, and they were both headed to bowl games ... but knowing this would be the last time they would meet, the game had extra meaning for both teams. And to add even more drama to the scene, the movie "Rudy" was being filmed on campus at the time. (And it was also my senior year at Notre Dame!)

It snowed like cats and dogs the majority of the game. The officials kept having to go out on the field with brooms to sweep snow off the field because they could not see the yard lines.

Penn States won the toss but deferred to the Irish, and Rick Mirer and Irv Smith start driving down the field. The Penn State defense digs in as Notre Dame gets close to scoring and the Irish only end up with a Craig Hentrich field goal, and a 3-0 lead.

Then Penn State gets the ball and proceeds to drive down the field and score a touch down. But on the extra point kick, the Notre Dame defense holds their ground. Soon to be Notre Dame star, Freshman Bobby Taylor, jumps high in the air to block Penn State's extra point kick, making the Penn State lead only 6-3, and setting the stage for one of the greatest finishes in Notre Dame stadium history.

With the score tied 6-6 early in the second half, Rick Mirer hits Lake Dawson, who takes the ball down to the 20 yard line. But once again the Penn State defense digs in, and the Irish walk away with only a field goal, bringing the Irish to a 9-6 lead.

Penn State quarterback Kerry Collins then sends a spiraling pass down the field and the receiver is stopped at the one yard line by Bobby Taylor ... and what comes next is one of the greatest goal line stands in Notre Dame history.

On first down, Penn State tries to leap over Notre Dame's defense for no gain.

At second down, the Notre Dame defense pushes back the Penn State rusher for a loss of two yards.

On third and goal from the 3 yard line, Kerry Collins decides to take to the air, but when he cannot find an open receiver he has to throw the ball away.

So now it is 4th down on the 3 yard line, and the Nittany Lions settle for a field goal and a 9-9 tie.
During the ensuing drive, Irv Smith ... fighting for possession of the ball ... fumbles, and Penn State takes over at the 44 yard line. In just three short plays the Lions are able to score from 13 yards out, and they take a 16-9 lead over the Irish.

With four and a half minutes left in the game, Notre Dame regains possession of the ball and Rick Mirer and company, including Irv Smith, Jerome Bettis, and Ray Griggs drive the ball down the field, towards the opposite end of the stadium from where the student section sits.

With under a minute left in the game, and the entire student body leaning forward and craning their necks to see what is going on, Rick Mirer is on the move and trying to find an open receiver. His intended target, Irv Smith, was covered and then in the middle he sees Jerome Bettis open and hits him for a touch down (with 25 seconds left on the clock) bringing the score to 16-15.
Then, Lou Holtz sends Mirer back in for the two-point conversion play. At this point the entire student body is leaning forward trying to see what is going on. Mirer is rolling, rolling, rolling right ... trying to find someone open. He catches sight of Reggie Brooks open in the far right corner of the end zone, and lofts the ball into the corner to a fully outstretched Reggie Brooks, who catches the ball to seal a 17-16 victory over the Nittany Lions. And at the exact moment that Reggie Brooks made that winning catch, the entire student body fell forward, as they were leaning so far to see what was going on.

After the clock ran out, the student body rushed the field to celebrate the unbelievable win against Penn State ... the poor ushers had no idea what hit them!

That my friends, is the best Notre Dame game that I have ever attended.


Wednesday, August 18, 2010

First Day of School

First Day of School

I love the first day of school. A day of new beginnings. A new school year. A new teacher. New friends. New classes. New clothes. New adventures. There’s nothing better than starting off with a clean slate. A book filled with blank pages that are yours for the writing!

Our first day of school traditions are as follows. Well, the night before, everyone picks out their first day of school clothes. There’s nothing better than that brand new outfit for the first day of school! Then on the morning of the first day of school we have several traditions. First is the taking of pictures. I’m sure I won’t get too many more years of that, seeing as Offspring #1 is in 8th Grade this year (the top of middle school), and Offspring #2 is in 5th grade this year (the top of grade school) … so I figured I’d milk that for all it’s worth this morning! Haha!! We do a few pictures in the house, and a few out in front of the house, and usually a few at the bus stop … but we passed on the bus stop pictures this year as I decided to drive them to school on their first day.

Next comes breakfast. Usually I cook them a special first day of school breakfast, but today I decided to treat them to breakfast out. Why not, right? So they chose McDonald’s, and so we had our first day of school breakfast at McD’s … complete with a few more pictures …and the accompanied “MOM” groans!

Then comes the drop-off. Seeing as Offspring #1 will be in High School next year, I decided to accompany him into school this year. I know that will NOT be cool next year … so I walked him in and took the obligatory photo of him in the locker hall, before he shot me that look and I gracefully exited stage left! I’m so glad that he is such a nice boy … most kids just would not tolerate that! Next I took Offspring #2 to school. I always walk her up to her classroom, and take photos of her sitting at her desk, and at her locker, but today it was like pulling teeth. For some reason she was SO embarrassed by me today. I guess maybe she’s a tad bit less tolerant than her brother is. Oh well … enjoy it while I can, right?

And then off I go to work. This is my kids last years in Middle and Grade school … how DID that happen?? How can I possibly be old enough to have a kid that will be in HIGH SCHOOL next year?? Ahhhhhh!

So what does your family do on the first day of school? Make it a great one … they are only little once!


Monday, August 16, 2010

Blue Monday

The mind is a powerful thing. You can either be happy … or not … but a lot of that has to do with the frame of mind that you keep. And when I feel like I am falling into some sort of “funk,” what best pulls me out of it is music!

So here we are, on yet another Monday, and I’d like to reflect for a moment on my “happy music.” Happy music to me is the music I listened to in the 80’s when I was in high school. My favorite radio station, KROQ, ROQ of the 80’s, can still be found and listened to online on a KROQ HD2 station out of Los Angeles (which, by-the-way, is the best internet find I’ve made yet). And it is still a marvel to me that I can turn on KROQ and instantly fall into my happy place. Is it really possible that something as simple as a few good tunes can really improve your mood that much? I think it can!

Now if you asked me to give you my typical KROQ play list for a happy day … this would be it!

My happy music on KROQ, ROQ of the 80’s:

Roxanne … The Police
Why Can’t I Be You? … The Cure
Rock Lobster … B52s
Route 66 … Depeche Mode
Dead Man’s Party … Oingo Boingo
Fire Woman … The Cult
Promises Promises … Naked Eyes
Pop Song … REM
Head Over Heels … Tears For Fears
Mony Mony … Billy Idol
Never Tear Us Apart … INXS
Jane Says … Jane’s Addiction
Walk Like An Egyptian … The Bangles
Heart of Glass … Blondie
Electric Blue … Ice House
How Soon Is Now? … The Smiths
Don’t Go … Yaz
Life in a Northern Town … The Dream Academy
Love My Way … The Psychedelic Furs
Rip Her to Shreds … Blondie
The Metro ... Berlin
It’s My Life … Talk Talk
A Hazy Shade of Winter … Bangles
I Want Candy … Bow Wow Wow
Suddenly Last Summer … The Motels
Tesla Girls … OMD
Always Something There To Remind Me ... Naked Eyes
A Girl Like You ... The Smithereens
Masquerade ... Berlin
Should I Stay, Or Should I Go? ... The Clash
What Is Love? ... Howard Jones
Buffalo Stance ... Neneh Cherry
Message in a Bottle ... The Police

(I'm sure I'm missing some great ones ... but this is what rolled off the top of my head!)

What’s on your “happy soundtrack?”