AN EXERCISE IN KINDNESS (THROUGH GRITTED TEETH)
It’s been six months since any of us watched a college football game live, and we’re starting to suffer. We’re left staring out to sea, wondering if our beloved will ever return, wondering what will become of us if they don’t, wondering if Georgia’s going to have a major regression this year just because.
It gets us wondering: did college football leave us because we were wicked? Do we need to pay some sort of penance?
In that spirit, we’re going to start saying nice things about college football, even when they hurt. We’re going to say the nice things that are hardest for us to say. We’re going to say nice things about the teams we’d really rather not.
We’re going to start with a real challenge here:
We’re going to say nice things about Notre Dame.
WHERE ACTIONCOOKBOOK SAYS NICE THINGS ABOUT NOTRE DAME
- As always, they boast one of the most solid, front-to-back schedules in the country: ACC games against Florida State and Virginia Tech, traditional rivalry games with USC, Stanford, and Navy, and a rekindling of two historic regional rivalries in Michigan and Northwestern. Even the “cupcake” game on their schedule is nearby Ball State. Yes, they went 2-10 in the MAC, but I firmly believe that if you’re going to schedule non-Power 5 opponents, they should be the schools within your state and not geographic oddities. There’s no complaint I can make about this schedule.
- Well, there are some geographic oddities - “home” games against Navy in San Diego and against Syracuse in Yankee Stadium, reflecting their national fanbase. I think it’s nice that they reach out like this, and nice that they’re giving Syracuse fans a rare chance to experience a bowl game-like environment.
- They’ve got a balanced, strong, young defense that should only improve this year, and the potential for a genuinely special secondary. Now, personally, I’m an idiot who loves 55-53 Big 12 games, but I respect this nonetheless.
- They play a lot of mid-afternoon games, which means they’re often on when my kids get up from naps. I can ask them, “which team are you rooting for?” and they’ll probably say “I like the gold helmets” and then I can tell them that you shouldn’t judge people by their appearances.
- The gold helmets are slick as hell, though.
- Beating Michigan in Week 1 is just charitable, it’ll keep expectations in check in Ann Arbor.
- My face flushes easily when I get angry, and representation in media matters. Thanks, Brian Kelly.
- They went 4-8 in 2016, then recovered to 10-3 and a Citrus Bowl win in 2017, proving that it’s not really such a big deal if your team happens to go 4-8, and you should still be proud of your team and hopeful for them, no matter what the comment section says.
- Despite their scheduling agreement with the ACC, Notre Dame’s continued resistance to joining a conference provides a healthy source for speculative realignment content, the lifeblood of a healthy online sports media company.
- This catch, by returning senior Miles Boykin, in their Citrus Bowl win over LSU:
I know I’m supposed to be saying nice things here but I’ll at least say that Midwesterners are supposed to be polite and not wear our terrible-ness on our sleeves but it’s helpful that the worst people in this region can identify themselves as “I’m a Notre Dame football fan and an Indiana basketball fan”. Thank you for self-sorting.
WHERE SPENCER ACTUALLY SAYS NICE THINGS ABOUT NOTRE DAME
- First of all: Golden Tate
- The student section rules, full stop. They’re an unreservedly great part of going to Notre Dame for a game — maybe the only unreservedly great part of the experience, because once any nostalgia vapor wears off you remember you’re basically watching a game with a bunch of venture capital dudes and grumpy people from Indiana. Without the students tossing each other around, it would get dreary fast.
- The diagonal-lined endzones are dope, and so are the wooden seats. It’s also cool to watch how fast they replace them, because the cool part of being in fascist football Disneyland is watching how well fascist football Disneyland works sometimes. THE TRAINS RUN ON TIME.
- Tiny scoreboard makes watching a game there quaint and charming, like staying overnight at Grandma’s used to feel. Not even joking here.
- Notre Dame produced Quenton Nelson, arguably the biggest meanest badass lineman of the past twenty years, joining Orlando Pace, and then Rasputin. (Rasputin died three years ago, and played right tackle for Alabama in 2011.) Bonus points for being a White Quenton, complete with spelling variation. He had no choice but to be ornery in life.
- Alizé Mack. A name = destiny legend currently on the roster.
- They got trashed in Miami and ended up in a bad place and we respect that because it’s the proper way to do a weekend there.
- Brandon Wimbush is fun! Notre Dame under Brian Kelly also enjoys scoring points and playing offense and we can never frown on that. Ooh! Chase Claypool at wide receiver, too, because big-ass receivers are a joy forever.
- Tommy Rees kind of ruled, if we’re all being honest here. Not from a Notre Dame fan’s perspective, but from someone just watching it? A joy, even in implosion. (And there were going to be implosions, always.)
- Admire the perpetual negging of the ACC despite being all-but-official members of the conference. Strong Tolkien Elf vibes here, like sure: Notre Dame will totally help out the Fellowship of the Ring, but is still planning to sail north across Lake Michigan when the time is right and dwell in its new and rightful home in the CFL. Alone, without y’all.
- Notre Dame put the base layer of immortal, dominant chub on Jerome Bettis. We owe y’all forever for that gloriousness, even if he ran all over Florida in the Cheerios Bowl.
- Someone still reminds us annually about Notre Dame beating Florida almost thirty years ago. Respect.
- If we’re all not done being honest: as a fanbase, takes being mocked about losing the most lopsided championship game in recent history pretty well. We’re not counting the subway hop-ons who know two college football teams here, and neither should you.
- The blue in the uniforms is underrated. Gold cleats, too.
- Scheduling Vandy consistently to book easy wins against the SEC is petty and we appreciate that.
- Refused to let Navy win for decades despite them being Navy and ready to die for our nation at the drop of a hat. See previous comment re: Petty, and respect thereof.
- Tolerated Lou Holtz for ten years so you know the commitment to penance for all of their sins is real.
- Hates Boston College football for real, which is so unnecessary and funny because they’re Boston College
- Hates Stanford, which is funny because a.) Stanford plays the way a lot of older Notre Dame fans wish they played, and we respect that irony, b.) private school people getting het up about anything but the estate tax or a zoning board or funding public schools means they must really passionate about it
- Hates Florida State, which...which is good, nice job, y’all
- It’s actually a very nice fanbase in person, this is sincere and all the way down here so no one will read it or see a sincere sentiment
- Plays a tough schedule and travels, unlike some teamsCOUGHFLORIDAcough
- Ted Leo went there, that’s pretty good
- The field really is some of the nicest grass in football. It’s almost trucked-in custom Rose Bowl sod good. It’s Starkville good, which is probably the only time that word combo has been used as a positive term, ever.
- Mascot is a positive role model for athletic gingers, and those are in short supply. There’s Blake Griffin, Andy Dalton, and the ND mascot. That’s it. He’s a necessary inspiration for thousands of sunscreen-slathered redheads everywhere, and it’s time someone appreciated that.