I sat down in front of my computer about a week ago and I felt nothing. I had every intention of writing a story about something about Notre Dame football and something about something about the preseason. Something. I don't quite remember. I felt empty, I had no emotion, and I was completely disconnected.
I shook it off as just "real life" creeping into my blog world. I'm married, I have two kids, I got a mortgage… a "real life." Sometimes this part-time gig can get the better of me, and even though there was nothing life threatening going on, I could not shake that feeling of emptiness as I rolled through the list of shit I had been dealing with over the past 3 months.
Looking for inspiration, as I was determined to write something other than the typical late July preseason BS that we all write and read every year, I went to YouTube to just throw on a full game. I didn't really care which one, but I eventually chose the 2012 USC game. I wasn't 30 seconds into the game and was just about to go full screen, and then I saw it out of the corner of my eye…
Yeah, we've all seen it more than a handful of times over the past 7 and a half months. With all due respect to Oldie, it is the single greatest Notre Dame highlight video ever uploaded to YouTube.
I put my headphones on and sat back to watch the 35 minute masterpiece- and then it happened. Slowly at first, and with goosebumps rising from the small of my back upwards through my neck and shooting out towards my fingertips. The emotion flooded my heart, my brain, and then my eyes started to flood.
I fucking loved that team.
I'm not sure if I can ever remember loving a Notre Dame team more than the one that took the field in 2012. I'll be 35 in one week, if you need some perspective on my perspective. Sure, we've had some great years and great teams and great players during my lifetime, but I was 10 in 1988 and 15 in 1993. At those ages, it's hard to process exactly what those types of season mean to a person. Hell, at this age it's hard to process exactly what last season meant to me.
In many ways, I regret how I handled last season. I was always waiting for the bottom to drop and for more of a 2005/2006 result. This blog seemed to take a different tone than in the past. It seems that in the last year, this site has been far more reserved than in the past and seemingly runs contrast to my Twitter account where the feeling runs strong.
Maybe that's how it's supposed to be? Maybe.
As the video finished, instead of wishing that players like Manti and Kap and Golson were still a part of this team, I found myself excited again for Louis Nix, Bennett Jackson, Tommy Rees, TJ Jones, Zack Martin, Carlo Calabrese, and on and on. I love this team.
#NotreDame's Tommy Rees on not considering a transfer: "I signed my LOI to come here for 4 years. I love my teammates. I love this school."
— Matt Fortuna (@Matt_Fortuna) August 4, 2013
Maybe it stems directly from Tommy Rees? Here's a guy who has gone through all sorts of ups and down and has given 110% of everything that he has to the team. he never complained. He never gave up. A guy who was booed horrifically when inserted late into the game against Purdue. Yet, Tommy led a sputtering and uninspired team to victory that day, and then went back to the bench- only to rise to the occasion the next time he was called upon.
Tommy Rees has found grace. Tommy has changed his legacy dramatically since the Champs Sports Bowl in 2011, and now he has the chance that he deserves in his senior year to cement his legacy at Notre Dame. It won't be as one of the all-time great quarterbacks at Notre Dame, but he could go down as one of the all-time great teammates at Notre Dame.
That in itself is worthy of all of our respect and has me bouncing off of the walls with excitement. It's bringing the emotion and the fun back into this game and this team that I love. I feel great abut 2013 and I am ready to catapult players like Rees and Tuitt and Nix and Fox, and others into the category I have reserved for players like Burris and Taylor and Bettis and Rocket and others.
This is the team. This is the team that has the chance to firmly put ND back on top of the mountain with the rest of the big boys. It almost doesn't matter to me right now if ND goes back to the BCS Championship game. I just have this feeling shooting out of every part of me that something great is possible, and that's all I ever can truly ask for each year. Call me a homer and call me naive. I don't really care- you won't call me a robot. I'm feeling this.