Friday, November 17, 2006

Senior Day

In my Irish history books (which dates back to roughly 1991 if you're wondering) I do not remember a class of players that went through so much in their four years under the Golden Dome. They came in as Ty Willingham's first real recruiting class and had a lot of hype around them.

In their freshman seasons expectations were high at Notre Dame but Willingham and his staff did would became a custom during his three year run and that is underachieve. Take a team that was in a New Years Day Bowl one year, and finish with a 5-6 record the next. This was also the year of embarrassing losses at home to Florida State and USC. This year was awful from the start but for some reason I was optimistic coming into '04.

Those dreams were quickly dashed as BYU took it to us the first week of the season. That showed how effective Ty Willingham was at Notre Dame, putting up a lonely 10 points on the offensive side of the ball while Preston Jackson returned a pick for a score. This year featured an upset win against Michigan the next week, where we were able to see what can happen when Brady is allowed to air it out a little bit. Embarrassing losses at home to Pitt and BC summed this season up as it was luckily Willingham's last in the Bend.

Then came last year. After it seemed like nobody wanted the Notre Dame job it really looked like these young men were going to be left for dead. Instead Charlie Weis came in with these players with what was called no talent, and was dubbed by the national media as a team that would be lucky to make it to a bowl game. I would like to think that the team did a ton of growing up over this off season and really found out what Notre Dame football is all about. It was great to see us have a Heisman Trophy contender once again as well as a berth in the BCS.

Then this year started off with high expectations, only to see our dreams of a national title taken away in week three against Michigan. However with this team growing week in and week out, they are well within reason to think they have a chance at a National Title Berth. Its hard to believe but the four years with these young men is just about up.

When they run out of that tunnel for the last time tomorrow I honestly might shed a tear. I am young myself, but I feel like I have watched this specific group of boys mature into men. Maybe its because they are just about the same age as me and I remember like yesterday, being at the Blue/Gold game in 2003, standing around the Joyce Center with the likes of Brady Quinn, and Tom Zbikowski before they were who they are today. Seeing these kids, almost on an orientation day so to say, then going through the same thing myself a year later. I realize that I'm getting older too. I don't know. All I know is that it is going to be a long time until we have another class go through Notre Dame and go through what this class went through.

Congratulations on finally returning the Irish to Glory. Good Luck Class of '07, its been a hell of a run, and it sure isn't over just yet.

Irish 44 Army 10

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