Notre Dame's Fight Song rings true

02/07/2013 11:54 AM ET
By Rob Coloney

Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly was named the AP college football Coach of the Year.(AP)
Cheer, cheer for old Notre Dame.

Since 1988, that's exactly what fans of the Fighting Irish football team have done. Thanks to the program's storied past, Notre Dame is relevant every year; relevant in the fact that they are nationally broadcast. That is, not deservingly so, anyway. In 2012, after two consecutive seasons of mediocre football, headlined by overrated quarterbacks, and costly red zone turnovers, Brian Kelly read the next line of the Irish fight song.

Wake up the echoes cheering their name.

Notre Dame was, again, relevant. With huge road victories over Michigan State, and Oklahoma, and thrilling home victories over Pittsburgh, Purdue and Stanford, the Irish finished their season at 12-0, a trip to the program's first-ever BCS National Title game, and a chance to silence all the critics that said Notre Dame was overrated, under-challenged, and not worthy of competing against an SEC-team for college football's ultimate prize.

Send the volley cheer on high.

Notre Dame took it all in stride, riding the coattails of one of the most bizarre and emotional stories to break in a long time – the simultaneous deaths of people close to Heisman-runner up and team defensive captain, Manti Te'o. The team, riding an emotional high, jet set to Miami for the big game. All of the buildup, hype, anticipation and questions as to whether or not Notre Dame could compete with an SEC powerhouse like Alabama were answered in the first five minutes. Alabama led 7-0, but it may as well have been over. The Irish went 3-and-out on their ensuing possession, en route to a 42-14 dismembering. Nick Saban brought his dynasty onto the field to play the Notre Dame team that naysayers had waited to show up all along.

Shake down the thunder from the sky.

Ten days later, as if Notre Dame nation wasn't disappointed enough, news broke that their star, leader, and spokesman, Manti Te'o had been "catfished." Te'o's longtime, and now "deceased" girlfriend, Lennay Kekua, was not dead, nor was she Te'o's girlfriend. In fact, she wasn't even real. College football was riding an emotional roller coaster without the emotion. Combine that with the fact that head coach Brian Kelly interviewed with the NFL's Philadelphia Eagles just hours after the 42-14 shellacking in South Beach, turned South Bend upside down. Notre Dame had a Cinderella season. They went from bridesmaids to the bride. They proved everyone wrong, and then proved everyone right. They silenced their enemies, and then silenced their supporters. 2012 was one of the best, and most exciting football seasons Notre Dame has seen in decades, yet, it was one they seemingly couldn't wait to forget.

What though the odds be, great, or small, Old Notre Dame will win over all.

On February 6, Brian Kelly and company proved, yet again, that they are staying true to their fight song. With the biggest recruitment cycle in the program's history, including four five-star recruits, and 22 overall, the Irish are currently ranked third overall according to Brian Kelly and the remaining roster of Irish competitors seem locked and loaded, and ready to prove that 2012 was not a fluke, or the end, but merely just the beginning.

"If you want to be in Alabama territory that means you have to put four great classes back-to-back-to-back-to-back," Kelly said. "Notre Dame has not been able to do that. So depth-wise, talent-wise they're not able to practice as hard as Alabama is because one guy goes out they have another guy just as good to come in. Notre Dame didn't have that luxury."

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