Wake Up the Echoes
1:56 PM, Nov 19, 2012 • By GEOFFREY NORMAN
Those who doubt the possibility of comebacks (Republicans, for instance) can take heart from the revival of Notre Dame's football fortunes, this morning's number one college team.
It has been 19 years since Notre Dame has been ranked #1 in the polls. Its last national championship season was 1988. Notre Dame's fortunes had declined so grievously that the school actually began losing to the Naval Academy, which it had been accustomed to treating as a doormat, beating the Midshipmen 43 consecutive times before 2007, after which Navy won three of the next four. Notre Dame went through several coaches during the long years of wandering the football wilderness. It endured the usual scandals, which were all the more embarrassing since the university likes to consider itself a model program that does not recruit sub-average students and borderline (and some not so borderline) outlaws the way most football powerhouse schools do. Some Notre Dame faithful had wondered if perhaps the school might ease off on those high standards, just a little, and admit a few of what one of its former stars called "criminals," if it wanted to regain the football heights.
It was that, many Notre Dame fans must have believed, or football mediocrity, now unto eternity.
Well, Notre Dame is now undefeated and ranked at the top of the football world with one game left to play in the regular season and that one against long time rival and nemesis, the University of Southern California.
This had been a great rivalry back before Notre Dame descended into mediocrity and lost nine of the last ten to USC. Now, Notre Dame team can rehabilitate its reputation with a win, Saturday night, in California. Of course, an indifferent USC team could pull off the upset. Miracles do occur, as was demonstrated Saturday when both the number one and number two teams lost to underdogs, making possible Norte Dame's ascent to the number one position and football glory. Miracles, it seems, tend to favor Notre Dame (wonder why) so a win over USC seems almost ordained as this would guarantee a trip to the national championship game in Miami on January 7 against ... well, possibly Alabama which is currently ranked 2nd and would have to beat arch rival Auburn and then win the Southeastern Conference championship game against Georgia.
The last time Alabama and Notre Dame played for the national championship was in 1973 in a game where the lead changed six times with Notre Dame winning 24-23.
Comeback? No, more like a resurrection.
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