Friday, September 28, 2012

Irish Traditions: Midnight Drummer’s Circle

Before the band, and the drum line, perform on Saturdays (shown above), they put on a show for fans in front of the Golden Dome at midnight on the eve of kickoff. (Photo - Brian Spurlock / US PRESSWIRE )

One of the best things about Notre Dame football traditions is that they happen at all times of the day – and night. In fact, one of the biggest events, and a huge fan favorite, occurs at midnight — The Midnight Drummer’s Circle.

At a time when you’d think most visitors to campus would be back in their hotels preparing for game day, the campus is actually teeming with activity. On the Friday night before home games, students and fans alike gather at the bottom of the steps under the Golden Dome and wait for the drummers to arrive. After the bells of the Basilica chime the midnight hour, the drumline arrives and forms a circle within the middle of the crowd, marking the official beginning of game day.

Once in place, the drummers play for the crowd for forty-five minutes, playing the drum cadences that will be played in Notre Dame Stadium during the football game. These include most of the offensive, defensive, and sideline cheers that the band plays throughout the game. They also play the major fan favorites, the Notre Dame Fight Song and the Rakes of Mallow, which often leads to impromptu jigging from the adoring crowd.

The Midnight Drummer’s Circle, like Trumpets Under the Dome, is a fairly recent tradition. It originated in 2000 by members of the Notre Dame Drumline. “The idea of having it at midnight is that it would be recognized as the official kickoff to game day,” says assistant band director, Sam Sanchez. (Excerpt from )

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Sunday, September 23, 2012

Notre Dame Marches on to Victory

Tommy Rees celebrates in the end zone with Notre Dame wide receiver Robby Toma after scoring a touchdown against Michigan during the first half. (Nuccio DiNuzzo, Chicago Tribune)

Who would have ever guessed that Notre Dame would be 4-0 to start the season, with signature wins over both Michigan State and Michigan? The Notre Dame defense was unstoppable yesterday, intercepting four of Denard Robinson's passes and keeping yet another team from the state of Michigan from scoring a touchdown. They came out on top, for a fourth straight week, beating Michigan by a score of 13-6 on Saturday.

On a day that was supposed to be a Heisman spotlight day for Denard Robinson, he issued an apology to Michigan fans following the game. "I want to say sorry to everyone who watches Michigan football and follows Michigan football," Robinson said. "It won't happen no more. I'm going to be accountable for the rest of the season. I don't want to feel like this no more. In the 22 years I've been living, this is the most disappointed I've ever been in myself." Quite a disappointing day for Robinson, who was also celebrating a birthday yesterday.

Michigan coach Brady Hoke said he never once considered pulling Robinson from the game. "The guy has done a pretty doggone good job being a quarterback at Michigan and made some good throws in the first half," Hoke said. "You know, just better decision making and move forward."

Robinson finished 13-of-24 passing for 138 yards and also rushed for 90 yards on 26 carries.

Notre Dame finished the first half with a 10-0 lead, despite having their own share of bad passes and penalties.

Everett Golson had a rough start on Saturday, and was replaced by Tommy Rees in the middle of the second quarter after throwing two interceptions, one in each quarter. Golson, had his worst start of the year, completing only 3-8 for 30 yards.

Tommy Rees delivered immediate results upon entering the game, driving the team 48 yards, completing 3 of 4 passes in his initial drive, before running in for a 2-yard touchdown increasing the  Irish to 10-0. Tommy Rees finished the day 8-11 for 115 yards, leading the Irish to their first win over Michigan since 2008.

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Saturday, September 22, 2012

Notre Dame - Michigan Game Preview

Gregory Shamus, Getty Images

I never imagined Notre Dame would be sitting 3-0 headed into the Michigan game, but they most certainly are undefeated headed into this game!

This Saturday evening's matchup of No. 11 Notre Dame and No. 18 Michigan will be a fight to the finish for sure. It marks the 40th installment of the storied rivalry, which the Wolverines lead 23-15-1 all-time.

The Fighting Irish are out for revenge this year, after losing to the Wolverines in heartbreaking fashion in the Big House last year by a score of 35-31. Michigan quarterback Denard Robinson was unstoppable and led the Wolverines to a 28-point fourth-quarter comeback victory, after they trailed 24-7 entering the fourth quarter.

Last weekend, for the first time since October of 1983, Notre Dame defeated a Top 10 team during a night road game. The Irish defeated the Michigan State Spartan's in East Lansing by a score of 20-3, with the Spartans' only score coming on a 50-yard field goal late in the second quarter.

The Notre Dame defense dominated the Spartans and prevented Michigan State from entering the red zone for a full 60 minutes. The following detail is even more shocking ... the Irish defense limited the Spartans to only one snap past the 50-yard line during the second half. Here come the Irish indeed.

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Friday, September 21, 2012

Irish Traditions: Trumpets Under the Dome

This is my new series for  featuring the background on some of the most storied Notre Dame traditions. Some will be well-known fan-favorites, and others will seem a little more obscure. For all of them though, there is great Notre Dame history involved, and I look forward to helping share that history; I hope you enjoy it!

My first installment will feature the tradition of – “Trumpets Under the Dome.” At first I felt like I must have been a pretty bad fan as a student to have missed this, because this tradition wasn’t ringing a bell to me at all during my initial discovery of it. However, I later learned that the tradition didn’t start until the fall after I graduated. I felt so much better after that revelation! But without further ado, here’s the history behind “Trumpets Under the Dome.”

November 12, 1993 was the Friday night before the highly anticipated “Game of the Century” — a game which matched up #1 Florida State and #2 Notre Dame. That night, a small group of trumpet players informally gathered outside the Administration Building and together the ensemble decided to play the Alma Mater and the Fight Song. The next day Notre Dame won, which of course had nothing to do with the trumpet players playing the night before, but don’t tell that to the trumpet players – that night a tradition was born. Like all great traditions that begin as superstitions, the band members insisted that it was good luck and must continue. The following year, the trumpets continued to gather under the Dome and play the Alma Mater and the Fight Song on home football game weekends.

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Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Notre Dame Fans To Wear Leis

(Story by Tyler Moorehead)

Manti Te’o is every bit of the “Notre Dame Man” that Irish fans always speak of. A world-class individual, Manti has always been known for his gracious and humble attitude, his hard work in the classroom as well as on the field, and his tremendous leadership abilities.

Manti was a Preseason First Team All-American, and is a legitimate Heisman candidate on the defensive side of the ball. He has been named one of the four team captains for the 2012 season, but there is no doubt that he is the true heart and soul of the Fighting Irish.

Last week, Manti battled through an incredibly trying and difficult experience, when both his grandmother and his girlfriend passed away in a 24-hour period. While Notre Dame Athletic Director Jack Swarbrick told Manti to take all the time he needed, Te’o insisted that he needed to be with his Notre Dame family and brothers on the team to get through this. Manti then played well with 12 total tackles in a dominating road win at Michigan State, but the fact that he played and was out there for his teammates at all was the most impressive thing.

As a sign of appreciation, loyalty, and utmost respect, Irish fans are going to make Saturday’s game versus Michigan a special one for Manti. All Notre Dame fans are encouraged to buy and wear leis, which represent Te’o's upbringing in Hawaii.

In addition, when Manti comes out on the field for the coin toss, the stadium is expecting to raise up five fingers to support #Raise5for5, recognizing Te’o's jersey number.

This is a fantastic gesture from all of the Irish faithful, and something I will be proud to be a part of on Saturday.

Update: Leprechaun Legion, the student body organization dedicated to Irish athletics, will be handing out 7,500 leis to students at the Pep Rally on Friday!

Update 2: Other organizations are getting in on this too now – WSBT Radio and Budweiser will be handing over 10,000 more leis at the game. Wow!

For more information, please visit Tyler's story on


Where Are They Now? Pete Bercich

Pete Bercich, the son of a former NFL player, had one dream as a kid growing up in Joliet, Ill. – to fly fighter planes for the Air Force. A successful high school football career at Providence Catholic High School prompted him to reevaluate his plans. After being recruited by many of the best collegiate football, he decided to play football at Notre Dame before going on to play seven more seasons in the NFL with the Minnesota Vikings. Bercich now lives in Minnesota with his wife Amy and three children, ages 12, 10, and 8. One of his current interests is radio broadcasting and he will be part of the Minnesota Vikings broadcast team this season. Here is a look back with Pete Bercich.

Q: You have said that your first love was baseball. What made you decide to play football at the collegiate level?

A: “Baseball was what I loved to do, but then I realized in high school that mentally it was not what I wanted to do. It did not suit me. Baseball is all about dealing with failure. Effort means a lot, but it does not mean as much in baseball as it does in football. How I dealt with failure (in both baseball and football) was getting pissed off. I didn’t deal with failure well at all. In football, if you work hard, you will probably have success. I also learned that it was much easier to take out my frustrations in football, than it was in baseball.”

“At the end of my sophomore year in high school I realized I could play with the seniors and hold my own. We won state that year, and I felt like I was definitely part of the turning point of that team. During junior year letters started showing up from big schools … Miami, Southern Cal, Michigan, Penn State. My father played in the NFL. He played on the original Dallas Cowboy team, and both my parents went to Michigan State. My Dad never talked about football, though. He maybe had one football picture in the house. I think that took a lot of pressure off me.”

“One thing I will say about high school football, your high school teammates are the friends you will keep all your life. In college, you may keep a friend or two. If you play in the NFL, you may keep one or two there as well. Your high school playing days are your glory days. They stay with you with you forever.”

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Sunday, September 16, 2012

Down Go the "Little Giants"

EAST LANSING, MI - SEPTEMBER 15: John Goodman #81 of the Notre Dame Fighting Irish catches a first quarter touchdown next to Johnny Adams #5 of the Michigan State Spartans at Spartan Stadium on September 15, 2012 in East Lansing, Michigan. (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)

Down go the "Little Giants."

All that I could see today, all day, was that "Little Giants" play from two years ago. And with a heavy heart for a struggling Manti Te'o, I waited all day for this game to start. But Te'o and company surely did not disappoint Notre Dame nation today.

Notre Dame and Michigan State both entered this game 2-0. Both teams with young quarterbacks at the helm. Irish fans wondered if their offense could handle the organized chaos that Michigan State's defense brings to the table. Brian Kelly and his Fighting Irish squad answered any and  all the questions that were out there with a resounding ... we're back.

With this Notre Dame upset of #10 Michigan State, the Fighting Irish are now 3-0  and have snapped a six-game losing streak against ranked teams. Notre Dame is off to its best start since 2002 when Tyrone Willingham won his first eight games as head coach. The Irish opened 0-2 last year and 1-3 the season before in Kelly's debut before bouncing back to finish with eight wins.

The pressure did not seem to bother Notre Dame quarterback Everett Golson this week against the Spartans. Golson threw for one touchdown and rushed for another during the first half, against a Spartan defense who had not given up any offensive touchdowns in their first two games. Golson completed 14 of 32 passes for 178 yards. Freshman Spartan quarterback Andrew Maxwell, came out fighting as well, completing  23 of 45 attempts for 187 yards, while the Irish defense held his top running back Le'Veon Bell to only 77 yards on 19 carries. Read more at NoCoastBias.


Friday, September 14, 2012

Notre Dame Football: A Fan’s Guide

Headed back to Notre Dame for a football weekend this fall? I have put together a list of must see things to do when headed back to campus. Hope you enjoy, and feel free to leave a comment … what are your favorite things to do/places to go?

Let’s start out with food. A weekend at Notre Dame typically includes food at the following two establishments … CJ’s and Tippecanoe Place. CJ’s is our Friday night dinner place. CJ’s is known for their great pub burgers, and has been a student favorite since 1984. When I was in school, CJ’s was just a hole in the wall. They recently had a fire and had to rebuild. The new CJ’s is bigger and better than ever! Now we not only include CJ’s in our Friday night dinner plans … but also for a little dancing on Saturday night as well, as they now have a dance floor! Go figure!

(Photo: CJ's Burgers are a staple for any successful weekend trip to South Bend for a game weekend.)

The second food stop is brunch at Tippecanoe Place. Tippecanoe Place is the former Studebaker mansion. It is one of the premiere landmarks in the heart of South Bend’s historic district, and the mansion is teeming with the charm and grace of yesteryear. The gracious spirit of the past still thrives in the mansion’s 40 rooms with their wealth of fine antiques, 20 gorgeous fireplaces, and hand-crafted woods. This is definitely a must see experience!

Moving on to nightlife, there are two spots that just can’t be missed on a weekend to Notre Dame … The Linebacker Lounge and Corby’s.

Read more of my "Notre Dame Football: A Fan’s Guide" at


Hate State Week

(ND and MSU roll into this top 25 matchup with 2-0 records. Both teams also have an easy blowout win and a victory coming by four points or less, Photo: John Gress)

With two games behind them, the Fighting Irish are 2-0 and ranked 20th in the nation as they prepare for a Saturday road game against 10th-ranked Michigan State. After barely pulling off a win against the Purdue Boilermakers last week , there is quite a bit of concern headed into this showdown. Notre Dame leads the series with Michigan State, 46-28-1, including 18-15-1 in East Lansing. Both teams enter the match-up undefeated for the first time since 2005.

While Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly admitted in his press conference Tuesday that his team did not play its best game against Purdue, the good news is that the Irish did come out of that lackluster performance with a win. A year ago that might have been a loss, so some improvement has been shown by Kelly’s squad.

Notre Dame quarterback Everett Golson had flashes of brilliance last week mixed with less than stellar moments. While his overall performance against Purdue was still impressive given it was his second collegiate start (21-of-31 completions for 289 yards and one touchdown), there is still room for improvement.

After running the ball up at will against Navy (293 yards total rushing), Notre Dame’s running game evaporated against Purdue with just 52 yards. Notre Dame knew that Purdue’s defensive line would be significantly larger than Navy’s, but that alone should not have limited the Irish rushing attack. The lack of success on the ground forced Golson to try to become more of a factor, putting unnecessary stress on a young quarterback. Kelly also hopes to get running back  George Atkinson III more touches this week. The Irish faithful are also anxiously awaiting the return of running back Cierre Wood, who missed the first two games due to “violating team rules.”

Read the rest of my Notre Dame-Michigan State preview at Hate State Week


Wednesday, September 12, 2012

ACC Accepts Notre Dame as New Member

I’m not even six months into my reign as the "Biggest Fan of the Big East" conference … and it looks like my conference alignments are already changing.

This morning the University of Notre Dame and the Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) announced that Notre Dame will be the 15th member of their league.

The Irish will compete as full members of the ACC in all sports, with the one exception being football. Notre Dame football, as part of the deal, will play five games annually against ACC opponents.

"We are committed to keeping the Atlantic Coast Conference a vibrant and competitive league dedicated to ensuring the appropriate balance of academics, athletics and integrity," said the ACC Council of Presidents in a joint statement. "The addition of Notre Dame further strengthens the rich tradition and culture of the ACC as well as allowing for future academic collaboration and we enthusiastically welcome them into the league."

Notre Dame had the following response this morning. "The ACC is composed of some of the most highly respected universities in the country, and we at Notre Dame look forward to joining them," said Notre Dame president, Rev. John I. Jenkins, C.S.C.

"We have monitored the changing conference landscape for many months and have concluded that moving to the ACC is the best course of action for us," said Jack Swarbrick, Notre Dame Vice President and Director of Athletics. "We are able to maintain our historic independence in football, join in the ACC's non-BCS bowl package, and provide a new and extremely competitive home for our other sports."

The exact timeline for Notre Dame’s entrance into the conference is not set in stone yet. Big East Conference bylaws state a program must wait 27 months between announcing a departure and actually leaving. However, Pittsburgh, Syracuse, TCU and West Virginia have all left or will leave the Big East before that waiting period, which may influence Notre Dame’s time table.

One other notable tidbit in the ND/ACC press release … "In addition to extending an invitation to Notre Dame, the Council of Presidents voted to increase the conference exit fees to three times the annual operating budget. Currently this would equate to an exit fee of over $50 million."

Whoa … that's quite a stiff penalty. I guess Clemson, Florida State and Miami may be staying put after all.

The move to the ACC seems to be a good one for the Fighting Irish. Football will benefit by playing the likes of Florida State University, Georgia Tech, Miami, Virginia Tech and long time foe Boston College. Basketball will also benefit by adding Duke and the University of Notre Carolina as conference foes, as well as familiar (former Big East) names such as Pittsburgh and Syracuse.

There are already rumors that Purdue, the University of Michigan, and Michigan State University will no longer play Notre Dame in football with the new conference alignment, which would be quite a shame. I guess only time will tell how this will truly shake out.

Here come the Irish ...


Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Never Forget

As we all go through our hectic day today, let us stop for just a moment.

Remember those we lost.

Pray for those still fighting to protect us.

Mourn those who have since given their lives in defense of our nation.

Celebrate the strength and beauty of our great American people.

WTC circa 2000, via my bestie THB
9.11.2001....Never Forget.


Saturday, September 8, 2012

Notre Dame Squeaks Out a Win Over Purdue

(Notre Dame quarterback Everett Golson runs away from Purdue defenders during a NCAA college football game on Saturday, Sept. 8, 2012, at Notre Dame. (Photo: South Bend Tribune/JAMES BROSHER))

Well, my prediction was not correct. OK, it was not even close. But a win is still a win, even if it is a last-second kick that brings it home.

Notre Dame starting quarterback Everett Golson struggled all day against an overpowering Purdue defense. When Purdue forced the Irish to cough up the ball late in the fourth quarter, Notre Dame Coach Brian Kelly resumed his merry-go-round of quarterbacks and called in backup Tommy Rees to run a two-minute drill and save the 22nd-ranked Irish from suffering a loss in Week 2.

Golson, in his first start at home, finished the day completing 21-of-31 passes for 289 yards. He threw for one touchdown and ran for another, but was sacked five times and presided over a game that was riddled with errors and penalties (eight Irish penalties). He seemed to have a difficult time settling himself and never really seemed comfortable leading Notre Dame down the field. He did, however, manage to connect several long passes with such receivers as Tyler Eifert (caught passes for 22 and 25 yards) and DaVaris Daniels (a 41-yarder), to give the Irish faithful a glimpse into what could be a bright future.

In his postgame interview with Alex Flanagan, Kelly said Golson is still the starting quarterback. “Everett Golson is our starter," Kelly said. "I’ll get that out of the way right now.”



Friday, September 7, 2012

Three Little Birds

Bob Marley
This week's edition of Retro Friday features the song "Three Little Birds" by Bob Marley and the Wailers.

"Three Little Birds" appears on their 1977 album Exodus and was released as a single in 1980. The song reached the Top 20 in the UK, peaking at number 17. It is one of Bob Marley's most popular songs (and one of my all time favorites).

The source of Marley's inspiration for the lyrics of the song "Three Little Birds" is still disputed today. They're partly inspired by birds that Marley was fond of, that used to fly and sit next to his home. Marley's longtime friend, Tony Gilbert, was present at the time he was writing the song and says, "Bob got inspired by a lot of things around him, he observed life. I remember the three little birds. They were pretty birds, canaries, who would come by the windowsill at Hope Road."

However, three female singers, from the group I Threes, who did shows with Marley, claim it is a reference to them. I Threes member Marcia Griffiths says, "After the song was written, Bob would always refer to us as the Three Little Birds. After a show, there would be an encore, sometimes people even wanted us to go back onstage four times. Bob would still want to go back and he would say, 'What is my Three Little Birds saying?'"

I absolutely love this song. I have always been a happy person. Sunshine, music, sweet canaries singing, are all things that make me smile. A friend in college once referred to me as the "eternally happy person." That's just who I am. I always see the bright side, the silver lining ... it's what I do. This song brings me back to such a happy place. Every time I hear it, I absolutely can't help but to smile. I hope it makes you smile, too.

And here it is, for your listening pleasure, Bob Marley's "Three Little Birds."

And the lyrics ...

Don't worry about a thing,
cause every little thing gonna be all right.
Singin: don't worry about a thing,
cause every little thing gonna be all right!

Rise up this mornin,
Smiled with the risin sun,
Three little birds
Pitch by my doorstep
Singin sweet songs
Of melodies pure and true,
Sayin, (this is my message to you-ou-ou:)

Singin: don't worry bout a thing,
cause every little thing gonna be all right.
Singin: don't worry (dont worry) bout a thing,
cause every little thing gonna be all right!

Rise up this mornin,
Smiled with the risin sun,
Three little birds
Pitch by my doorstep
Singin sweet songs
Of melodies pure and true,
Sayin, this is my message to you-ou-ou:

Singin: don't worry about a thing, worry about a thing, oh!
Every little thing gonna be all right. dont worry!
Singin: don't worry about a thing - I wont worry!
cause every little thing gonna be all right.


Thursday, September 6, 2012

Notre Dame – Purdue Preview

(Michael Floyd celebrates with Theo Riddick after scoring a touchdown in the first quarter of Notre Dame’s 2011 meeting with Purdue. (Photo: Matt Cashore-US PRESSWIRE, US PRESSWIRE)

Notre Dame came out of the gate quickly against Navy last weekend, jumping to No. 22 in the AP poll after a 50-10 victory over the Midshipmen in Dublin, Ireland. However, Purdue is not to be easily dismissed.

While the trip home from Ireland is a concern weighing on some people's minds, Irish coach Brian Kelly seems to have a good plan for keeping his players rested while also preparing them for their next opponent.

"I think everybody has talked about how our team will bounce back from the trip to Ireland," Kelly told reporters at his Tuesday news conference. "We had a great shakeout yesterday. Our guys had good energy and today we'll have a full two-hour practice. ... My own eyes, talking to our players, no excuses."

Notre Dame and Purdue have met a total of 83 times, with Purdue trailing in the series 55-26-2. The Boilermakers are still an in-state rival, there are bragging rights involved and each meeting between them and the Fighting Irish is emotional. Notre Dame has not lost to Purdue in South Bend since 2004.

Purdue is coming off a 48-6 thrashing of Eastern Kentucky that saw senior quarterback Robert Marve ring up 295 yards and three touchdown on 30-of-38 passing.

The Irish offense, with quarterback Everett Golson at the helm, had no problem putting points on the board last week against Navy. Notre Dame rolled up 293 yards rushing (490 yards of total offense) and averaged nearly 6 1/2 yards per carry, But it will be interesting to see how they will fare against Purdue's defense. The Midshipmen defense was a bit undersized versus Notre Dame's offense and larger, more athletic Purdue team should be a better matchup for the Irish. Notre Dame will face two top defensive lineman on Saturday in Kawann Short and Bruce Gaston.

The Irish defense proved that they could stop the run quite effectively last weekend against Navy, but looked a bit unstable when the Midshipmen broke out the passing attack at the beginning of the second half. Hopefully those mistakes can be worked out this week at practice.



Sunday, September 2, 2012

Notre Dame Dominates the Midshipmen

Notre Dame's Theo Riddick, right, reacts with Robby Toma after scoring a touchdown against the Navy's during their NCAA college football game in Dublin, Ireland, Saturday, Sept. 1, 2012. (AP Photo/Peter Morrison)

With four players out on suspension, including a senior running back and veteran quarterback, there were a lot of questions regarding the Fighting Irish heading into this game. Coach Brian Kelly, however, had his squad prepared and focused for their opening contest against the Midshipmen of Navy.

Theo Riddick and George Atkinson III stepped-up in Cierre Wood's absence. Together, they rushed for over 200 yards and contributed four scores. Robby Toma and Tyler Eifert each scored one touchdown, while a lumbering Stephon Tuitt provided defensive points when he ran fumble all the way back for six points. Tuitt's 77 yard return is the longest fumble return since 1985, as well as the third-longest in school history. Quite impressive for the six foot six inch, 302 pound defensive end.

Sophomore quarterback Everett Golson had quite a day himself. His numbers on the day came in with 12 completions on 18 attempts, for 144 yards, and only one interception on an attempted pass to Tyler Eifert into double coverage. Golson showed Notre Dame nation that he should most definitely be a contender for the starting quarterback role.

The other shining star of this game is Notre Dame captain Manit Te'o. Te'o recovered one fumble along with intercepting Navy quarterback, Trey Miller's final pass of the game.

Read more at NoCoastBias ...