The Hopeful State Of Notre Dame Football, 34 Years Later

June 11, 2022
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Notre Dame is a small catholic school on the plains of the state of Indiana, located in South Bend, and at one time they were the mecca of the college football world. However, it has now been 34 long years since their last national championship. Over the last five seasons this team has won ten or more games and with a new man at the helm the future continues to look brighter and brighter as the reflection shining off the Golden Dome is gleaming as it has been in the last three-plus decades at Notre Dame.

Wake Up The Echos is not just a simple phrase in the Victory March in South Bend, it is something that rings true throughout the beautiful campus. The University Of Notre Dame football team is a sleeping giant, one that used to drive opponents so mad that they were banned from playing in the Big Ten Conference, which remains evident in their independent status today. While the first 70 years were mostly great, sadly the last 30 plus just haven’t been that strong.

“His divine arms are no longer raised in celebration, they are thrown up in disgust, frustration Jesus hear our prayers. There is no more Rockne, no more Gipper, no more Hornung, no more Holtz, they’re gone. They are ghosts, kept company by the reminder of a time now passed, and a Grotto that flickers with unanswered prayers”. 

These words were spoken on September 4th, 2010, in a poem by Wright Thompson, on an episode of ESPN college gameday. It was supposed to be a eulogy for one of the greatest powers in the history of the game of college football. It’s been nearly twelve years since those words have been spoken, over a video of the historic campus at the University Of Notre Dame in South Bend, Indiana. 

The Echos Of Better Days At Notre Dame

Dan Devine, Knute Rockne, Lou Holtz, Ara Parseghian and Frank Leahy, all names that you likely recognize. These five names are responsible for the 12 national championships the University Of Notre Dame has won over the last one hundred or so seasons. A blue and grey October sky may seem like bad weather to you, but to us Notre Dame fans, it reminds us of memories and stories we’ve heard a thousand times. The legends of George Gipp, the Four Horseman, and the Heismans. But truthfully for every Paul Hornung and Gus Dorais, the last 34 years have given us a Dayne Crist. 

For every national championship, there has been a heartbreaking loss, 2012 Alabama, 2014 Florida State, 2020 Alabama, 2018 Clemson, you can go on and on. Back in the day, it was the wins that were remembered, 1988 Miami, 1993 Florida State, once again you can go on. It wasn’t so much a surprise when the Irish won, it was expected, and Notre Dame is on the verge of recapturing that magic here in 2022. But first, we must talk about the heartbreak before we can celebrate the signs of resurgence on the Indiana plains. 

Notre Dame platers at the cotton bowl

 It’s Been Thirty Four Years

Twelve long, agonizing years later, what was once thought to be dead, is now waking up the echoes louder than ever. With a new man in charge, Marcus Freeman, who unlike his predecessor is embracing the spirit of the small little Catholic school in the middle of Indiana. A spirit that transcends their small region, and finds itself being touted worldwide. The spirit of Notre Dame is a passionate one, and it is one that can never truly die, no matter what ESPN and the world of college football would like you to believe.

While there have been flashes of glory, they have yet to reach the mountain top they became so accustomed to. There were two playoff appearances in 2018 and 2020 and a national title appearance in 2012. But those went nowhere, 1988 is still the last time Notre Dame was on top of the college football world. For older fans that feels like forever, and for younger fans, it really is a lifetime, but 2022 and beyond feels different. The hype is back, and the expectations are coming with it, as Notre Dame has been consistently winning double-digit games every single year since 2017. 

The Future of Notre Dame 

This is a year where Notre Dame is once again expected to take the next big step, and that next big step is winning a New Year’s Six Bowl Game. That is something they came close to last year, but once again fell short. Tyler Buchner is expected to take over for the departing Jack Coan, and despite the fact that he is a former five-star recruit, there is a ton of doubt about his ability. Mostly because he hasn’t played in any real live game action consistently since his junior year of high school thanks to COVID and backing up Coan and Pyne. 

They have a tough test right out of the gate in week one of the 2022 season as they face the Ohio State Buckeyes in Columbus. Notre Dame also has to play the Clemson Tigers, USC Trojans, Stanford Cardinal, and BYU Cougars as well. This makes for a bunch of different high-profile games throughout the season. However. Head Coach Marcus Freeman has this program at an all-time high when you take into account the last 34 years and in my opinion, the Notre Dame Fighting Irish are only a few seasons away from reclaiming their spot atop the college football mountaintop where they rightfully belong.

We are only 11 weeks away from the start of the 2022 college football season, and the University of Notre Dame could be well on its way to a 12th national championship this season. The stars are aligning and gathering in South Bend, so watch out college football because “Here Come The Irish”. Notre Dame is stronger than they have been since 1988 and with five and four-star recruits coming left and right, the next four years could be magical.