Hello from South Bend, Indiana where I experienced one of the best times in my sports life and one of the worst times in my personal life.
First the good news. Son Dan, his wife Lorri, Gayle and I saw the Notre Dame/USC football game last Saturday. USC won the big game, 31-17, but that was just part of the extraordinary night. This was to be Notre Dame’s night. Seventy eight thousand Irish fans screamed and yelled in anticipation of beating their big rivalry. The game was on! The flags were waiving, the yelling was ear-splitting.
But there were also seven thousand USC fans and the Trojan band made the trip, all 300-plus of them. The weather was a balmy 50 degrees, more than 10 degrees warmer than the nights before. There was little wind and no rain or snow. The Trojans brought their own weather with them!
The electricity in Notre Dame Stadium was amazing. This whole city and state wanted to whip the Trojans. And I’m not kidding. There were Irish shirts worn by everyone. Everyone but us 7,000 red-clad Trojan fans. Being outnumbered like this really made me want to beat them. It really is the most passionate I’ve ever been about a sporting event.
By the way, when I say there were Irish colors everywhere, I mean hotel workers, gas station attendants and hospital workers. Nurses, doctors, everyone!
The Notre Dame game PA announcer played it a little too much in favor of Notre Dame for my taste, but all of a sudden came the big insult. “Time out, UCLA!” We were incensed. You haven’t heard booing like this! After the game we found out it was a mistake from PAC-12 referee Land Clark. He did this in the second quarter so that fired us up even more for the whole game. I wish to express my apologies to the game announcer for the evil words and thoughts sent his way.
I really thought this might be a loss for the Trojans. They were 9-point underdogs playing in Notre Dame Stadium with “Touchdown Jesus” looking down on them. That’s tough to beat!
Matt Barkley and the rest of the Trojans kept their cool letting the Irish get the personal foul penalties. But if it weren’t for a few big plays I might be writing you a different tune today!
The Trojans were leading by seven points in the third quarter and the Irish on USC’s one-yard line. Oh well, I thought. The score would be tied. But wait! Trojan Jawanza Starling picked up a bad snap fumble and ran it back officially 80 yards for a TD and a 14-point witch! Oh, the luck of the Trojans!
Now for the bad news. Gayle developed a bad infection in her hand. We went to a doctor before the game, but by the end of the game it was worse. We went to the ER and the put Gayle in St. Joseph’s Hospital in of all places, South Bend Indiana! She was whisked into surgery and is OK as I write this column.
But I’ve got to tell you more about this. Gayle wasn’t wearing her USC shirt fearing retribution from Irish medical personal. Dan, Lorri and I were pumped up and wore out shirts loud and clear. Gayle was right!
The ER doctor was late because he just came from the game. ALL of the nurses and receptionists, etc., wore Notre Dame Shirts and other paraphernalia. They were very nice. They said State law prohibited them from refusing service!
So there we were, in the emergency room at St. Joseph’s in South Bend Indiana with surgery looming within hours by hospital staff wearing Notre Dame Jerseys after a very upsetting loss. Poor Gayle. She was whispering “Go Irish” hoping to gain liking from the enemy camp. And get this! The hospital is run by the same Catholic diocese as Notre Dame is!
When the nun came in to offer her prayer she saw my USC shirt and Walked out! Really! I just can’t tell you how passionate they are about their football team!
Have to get back to Gayle. Don’t know how long I have to stay in Notre Dame. Much longer and I’ll have to get a Notre Dame jersey or a gold helmet!