Matt Cashore-US PRESSWIRE
Notre Dame football is back where it belongs, and it might be the best story in sports we've seen in a long, long time.
Rather than wait for columnists to bait readers into blind Internet anger, we at SB Nation believe in setting the curve ourselves and doing so honestly. On Troll Tuesdays, we attempt to construct the most obnoxious column on earth. Today: Our eyes shift to South Bend.
My Aunt called me the other day to talk sports. My Aunt never calls me to talk sports. You know what she wanted to talk about?
Notre Dame football.
Hallowed be thy name!
The Irish are undefeated and looking better than ever, and with Alabama's loss this weekend, ND is in the driver's seat and right on course for the National Title game. The team that built college football is back where it belongs. Open your Irish Eyes and enjoy the view.
Watch those Gold helmets shine every Saturday, and you can't help but think back to the Golden Age in college sports. And now The Golden Age is back. Who's got a better resume than Notre Dame this year? Just look at the facts.
Best coach in America?
Done. Done. Done. Done. Any more questions?
The Fighting Irish have the best defense in America this year and a two-headed monster at QB with Tommy Rees and Everett Golson powering the offense. They're the only team at the FBS Level to allow less than 10 touchdowns on the year, and they're tied with Alabama at no. 1 in scoring defense. The difference between Notre Dame and Bama? Only one of 'em is perfect.
Now, if everything goes according to plan, the Irish will face off against Oregon for the National Championship in January. Can you imagine a better story? Touchdown Jesus' favorite team facing off against the program that sold its soul to Phil Knight.
One team with all the resources money can buy. Another with nothing but a great coach and a bunch of kids looking to wake up the echoes, one touchdown at at time.
Before this season started, even some of the best national columnists had given up hope. "When did I quit on Notre Dame?" Rick Reilly asked at ESPN. "When it quit on itself. You are not royalty anymore, Notre Dame. Turn in your tiara."
Don't worry Mainstream Media: Touchdown Jesus forgives.
But it's more than that just the touchdowns and victories every Saturday. There have been plenty of winning teams over the years, but anyone can win. SMU won, Miami won, Alabama won. Pete the Cheat won at USC, Scam Newton won at Auburn.
Notre Dame wins the right way. Brian Kelly has recruited character guys the past few years, and it's not hard to see how it's paying off. They may not get paid to make plays, but in all these close games, they just keep finding a way. While the rest of the country cheats, Notre Dame just competes. It's what always made Notre Dame great, but in 2012 it's even sweeter.
You can't overlook the context here. The rest of the college football establishment have given us a sport that should make us all ashamed. We watch, but we can't help but wince. Around every corner there's another ugly scandal waiting to shock us all over again. This is what college football has become; a landscape full of dark characters and darker truths.
That's one side of the spectrum, yeah. The other?
South Bend is always gorgeous this time of year, but the view in 2012 can really take your breath away. Notre Dame is bringing class back to college. What a concept!
Put it this way: If this football team was taking your daughter on a date, you'd think your daughter just hit the boyfriend lottery.
Notre Dame's a reminder that we as a society don't have to cut corners to get to the mountain top. You can have Lane Kiffin go on deflating our standards, but I'll take Brian Kelly and his perfect season. Can a coach win the Heisman?
A lot of coaches are brilliant, but Kelly leads with his heart, not his head. You can see it when he's on the sidelines. And with leaders like Coach Kelly shining a light on what's possible, we have a weekly reminder that for every Lane Kiffin or David Petraeus who gets it all wrong, there are still leaders out there who just get it.
When is a game more than a game? It's hard to say, but when a football team leaps off your television screen and makes you believe in something bigger, I think we're getting close.
You know what my Aunt said when she called last night? She just had one question. Is Notre Dame for real this year, or is this all just a fluke?
You mean like "luck of the Irish"?
Not so fast.
To my Aunt and Nick Saban and ESPN and anyone else who hasn't been paying attention: The Fighting Irish are fighting harder and smarter than anyone in America. It's not just a couple of lucky breaks or an easy schedule. They're undefeated now, and Brian Kelly's boys aren't going anywhere soon.
Call me crazy, but I think that makes us the lucky ones.