Alabama-Notre Dame a tough call for neutral fans
On Friday, Bazzel threw the question to his listeners with an informal poll, and in Arkansas, SEC pride still runs deep. Of the 30 or so callers who voted, about two thirds said they’d prefer an Alabama win.
Elsewhere, SEC fatigue is a very real phenomenon _ and Notre Dame’s recent floundering may have insulated the Irish a bit from similar envy.
“Notre Dame is obnoxious for all the reasons that Notre Dame is obnoxious, but they’ve been down for so long,” said Peter Bean, a 2003 Texas graduate who runs the blog Burnt Orange Nation. “It’s been 15 years of schadenfreude with the Irish, so it kind of feels like you’re throwing them a bone.”
Bean actually went to Notre Dame for law school, but he’s no Irish supporter. The question is whether Notre Dame’s return to glory _ for years a sarcastic punch line but suddenly a legit possibility _ would be as grating as another showcase of SEC dominance.
The Irish could be double-digit underdogs at kickoff, making Notre Dame _ gulp _ a sentimental favorite?
“It’s kind of bizarre to be honest,” said Joe Hettler, a 2005 Notre Dame grad who hopes to attend the championship game. “I’ve been a fan since I was literally 6 years old. Nobody ever roots for us.”
Perhaps that’s the next step for the Irish. Does Notre Dame need to win a national championship or two to rebuild the animosity of the neutral fan?
“Hopefully, we’ll be hated back to the level that we’re accustomed to,” Hettler said.
Bean can certainly see that happening.
“This is the one opponent that’s more hated than they are,” he said. “Give the Irish fans a chance to squander the goodwill.”
It may be only a matter of time before it’s chic to loathe Notre Dame again, but for now, public scorn will have to be shared with those bullies from the South.
“Most of the Ohio State people that I talk to down here are going to root for Notre Dame,” said Shawn Murnahan, president of OSU’s alumni club of Atlanta. “One of these two teams is going to be national champions. Which would you rather it be?”
Of course, there’s a flip side to that statement.
One of these teams also has to lose.
“Somebody’s going to be sad,” Bean said. “So we all win.”