Thursday, October 11, 2007

The R-Word

I hate this week.

I haven't missed it for two years, and when the series ends in 2010, I probably won't ever miss it again.

Win or lose, I can't wait for Sunday, because it'll mean this week is over.

It has nothing to do with boorish behavior on the part of BC fans, nor does it have to do with ND's struggles this season. It has everything to do with the freaking R-word.

It's understandable that the BC people would use it without hesitation, because I suppose it is a rivalry to them. But then ND people start using it, and it sets my teeth on edge.

Set aside visits to the dictionary (although I've linked it here if you're sufficiently interested) and whether BC has anything that ND could possibly want from them. My distaste for the word is borne of the disrespect its use in this context shows to decades of ND football history.

A time of prolonged struggle in a program is also a time when its traditions can get lost or muddied. I saw it happen on the basketball side during the 1990s, when neglect of the program resulted in people drifting away from it. They forgot the things that had made the program a great one, and started measuring things differently. It's easy to start recasting roles when your short-term perspective is skewed by a departure from traditional success, but that doesn't make it the right thing to do.

Rivalry implies philosophical equality, and that's just not the case here. No one was about to call Air Force a "rival" in the 1980s when they beat Faust-coached ND teams four years in a row. No one would call Michigan State a "rival" these days, and they've won six straight games in Notre Dame Stadium and have played ND a lot longer than BC has.

I get upset when words like "rival" are thrown around easily because Notre Dame's football tradition is unmatched in the history of the sport. So to say you're Notre Dame's "rival" should be something equally as meaningful because that's based on a significant role in that unmatched tradition, which should take a great deal of time and effort to achieve. To bestow the moniker on schools like Air Force or Michigan State or BC is disrespectful to the programs that have earned their place in Notre Dame's tradition over decades.

Notre Dame has one rival, one friend, and one enemy, and all three have had a strong effect on what Notre Dame has done (or hasn't been able to do) throughout its history.

Southern Cal is Notre Dame's rival. They've won almost as many titles and have almost as many Heisman winners as the Fighting Irish. They've played us almost every year since 1926. The list of meaningful games the teams have played is as long as my arm, and a lot of those games have propelled the winner to a national title or contention for one. Their current ethical troubles notwithstanding, it's a relationship almost a century long based on mutual goals and understanding. Each team has enjoyed win streaks during that time, but the pendulum always swings back around.

The Naval Academy is Notre Dame's friend. If it weren't for the Navy opening a training center at ND during World War II, the school might not exist today. ND may have won a lot of games in a row in that series, but the level of respect going both ways in this relationship has not diminished one whit. Navy will always have a protected place on Notre Dame's football schedule, and that's how it should be.

The University of Michigan is Notre Dame's enemy. No school has worked harder since the 1800s to undermine ND's position in college football, and when the schools meet, lofty rankings in all-time wins and win percentages are on the line, not to mention national titles. As much as BC fans may annoy us, it doesn't even approach the level of hate we reserve for the Skunkweasel faithful.

Right now, no other programs need apply for anything. No other program has had that level of effect on Notre Dame's for that amount of time. Schools may put together winning streaks, schools may beat their breasts and claim superiority, but we've heard that song before from a number of other crooners, and all those claimants eventually faded into the mist. The Rival, Friend, and Enemy have stood the test of time, and deserve the consideration they receive.

If you want to talk to me in 15 or 20 years about BC's place in ND football history, I'll be willing to discuss it. But until then, as they say in LCN, the books are closed.



Anonymous Geaux Irish said...

Required reading for any new Irish fan or any new poster on NDN.

10/11/2007 10:54:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank you, no one gives a crap about BC... if they want a rival go play hockey against BU!

10/11/2007 11:03:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I couldn't agree with you more on this one, because just as you say there's nothing that you want from BC, there's nothing that BC wants from Notre Dame. There's no denying that Notre Dame is an elite academic and athletic institution, but there's also little denying that it's the type of place that all schools below it try NOT to become (instead aiming for schools like Stanford. Who wouldn't want to be Stanford?). The air of arrogance and elitism that is consistently demonstrated by ND fans and alumni is downright repulsive. The only way in which I would consider this a rivalry is that we at BC take immeasurable pride and happiness in being able to beat you, and for some reason we keep thinking that this will finally be the year that we can expose some of that arrogance and instill a sense of reality in your fanbase, but who are we kidding? As a hockey fan first and football fan second, I can tell you there's no shortage of both rich tradition and modern success at this school. It's a great time to be an Eagle, and I'm looking forward to this 'rivalry' game on Saturday. Maybe this will be the one...
Oh, and if you disagree with my point of view (as I'm sure you will), then respond to it however you wish, but don't hide it just to for the sake of protecting your readers' emotions.

10/11/2007 11:11:00 AM  
Blogger emil said...

You sire, are a pompoous ass. Small woder that ND generates a lot of contempt among football fans. Its not due to jealously either. What a blowhard.

10/11/2007 11:14:00 AM  
Blogger Mike Coffey said...

"The air of arrogance and elitism that is consistently demonstrated by ND fans and alumni is downright repulsive"

Fortunately for us, it's been well-earned by decades of success. Jealousy, on the other hand, isn't becoming in anyone.

10/11/2007 11:18:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm a BC alum with enough respect for college football tradition to agree with you. However, ND has done as much to muddy the waters on whether or not it's a rivalry as we have. The Fredo stuff, the green jerseys, the ratcheted-up hatred....I don't think it's a rivalry in a true sense, but there's something different about this game.

10/11/2007 11:19:00 AM  
Blogger Mike Coffey said...

Well, at least you knew your place well enough to call me "sire". It's a wise man who knows his betters, after all.

10/11/2007 11:21:00 AM  
Blogger Mike Coffey said...

The green-jersey thing was just dumb, and it had nothing to do with using them for BC. They shouldn't have used them at all. Another example of a level of ND tradition being misused. (and for the record, I wasn't thrilled about Charlie bringing them out either).

We'll be happy to ratchet down the hatred, providing your players will stop trashing our locker rooms and field and your students will stop pissing on and throwing batteries at our fans.

10/11/2007 11:23:00 AM  
Anonymous Tim said...

Anonymous, it's 'repulsive' to you because it's an uncomfortable reminder of the reality that you'll find at this link. And hockey doesn't really count.

10/11/2007 11:24:00 AM  
Anonymous rkelley07 said...

this should be locked on all boards as a required read... excellent... but i still encourage supporting the team after a potential victory this weekend in whatever manner the student body seems fit... lets get back on top and our traditional expectations and mannerisms will follow suit

10/11/2007 11:26:00 AM  
Blogger Jeffery said...

"Fortunately for us, it's been well-earned by decades of success. Jealousy, on the other hand, isn't becoming in anyone."

Yes, sniffing the jock-straps of your football team and writing a crummy book about an average basketball program is really "well-earned..success". These same Athletes laugh at nerds like you.

10/11/2007 11:29:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Actually, the word "Rival" comes from the Latin "Rivalis," which means two people drawing water from the same river. Given that BC and ND draw from similar populations to make up their student body and football team (though ND does get many higher ranked recruits than BC), I think BC is a better rival for ND than any other school out there.

10/11/2007 11:31:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The locker room trashing was unfortunate, and I'd be surprised if it happened on Jags' watch. I've never heard anything about batteries being thrown at ND fans....sounds apocryphal to me. Frankly, I don't care about the's more amusing than anything at this point. ND has unbelievable tradition that present-day reality hasn't matched in 20 years. Times change. Perhaps the behavior on both sides will also change come Saturday. I'm not holding my breath, though.

10/11/2007 11:34:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


Stop being fatuous.

10/11/2007 11:38:00 AM  
Anonymous Tim said...

Wait, now our arrogance is just 'amusing'? 'Cause a few minutes ago you said it was 'repulsive.' Seems like you want to beat a hasty retreat. And if you want to bust out the Latin, here's one for you: Duo cum faciunt idem, non est idem. Et contumelium si dices, Fredo, audies.

10/11/2007 11:48:00 AM  
Anonymous Aces-Up said...

"Given that BC and ND draw from similar populations to make up their student body and football team (though ND does get many higher ranked recruits than BC), I think BC is a better rival for ND than any other school out there."

You see, there's an error in your premise that renders your conclusion faulty and ineffective. Be honest with yourself. You know as well as the rest of us that Boston College takes Notre Dame leftovers and rejects when it comes to both the student body as a whole and the football players it recruits. And forget what any student or alumnus of Boston College may tell you about why they chose to go to school there; they're lying to you and to themselves.

10/11/2007 11:53:00 AM  
Blogger Tim said...

In the interests of clarity:

Those were two different posters who were "anonymous."

I was the one who said that I respected the college football tradition, and later that the arrogance was amusing. Someone else called it repulsive.

10/11/2007 11:59:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Yes, sniffing the jock-straps of your football team and writing a crummy book about an average basketball program is really "well-earned..success""

LOL. I'm an ND fan and tend to agree the game is not a rivalry in the traditional sense, but the above is the best comment in this thread. That's a pretty good insult; You gotta give it that.

As for how jeffrey defines "rivalry," it's much ado about nothing. The term is thrown around too much perhaps, but in common football jargon, it's often understood as a blood feud type relationship, and in my opionion schools tend to have several "rivalrys" Everyone knows BC is not on the same level of "rivalry" as SC, but it's not worth an obnoxious speech explaining why BC is not. Lets consider some other traditions. take Tennessee vs. Alabama- it's most certainly a rivalry in the traditional sense, but both schools have other rivalry games. Bama vs. Auburn, UT v Florida, ect.. One could say the same thing about OU v Texas, whereas OU v OSU and OU v Nebraska are still heated rivalry's. I tend to agree with the poster who explained the etymology about drinking from the same river. In that sense, BC is a rivalry in some ways, yet obviously not on the same level as a Michigan or SC.

But let's not kid ourselves here. The author of the blog is not so much concerned about the "true" definition of rivalry, rather, saying BC is not a rivalry is just a good opportunity for a backhanded slap at BC. It's a little over the top, in my eyes, and I'd venture many an ND fan takes some exception to it.

Why not just continue to call them Fredo and be done with it. Fredo says it all,Full Stop. There's no need for blowhard treatsies on what the word rivalry means.

10/11/2007 12:01:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The only ones that have the "earned" the right to be arrogant are the individuals who built ND into a powerhouse program - Brown, Rice, Montana, Parseghian & their predecessors. You, Mike Coffey, have earned nothing. And yet surprisingly you display so much more arrogance than any of the aforementioned. For the love of god, get over yourself.

And yes, I am an ND fan/alum.

10/11/2007 12:03:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yet another example of why the rest of the world thinks that Notre Dame is full of itself. ND hasn't won a bowl game in over a decade. You will finish 2007 with a losing record. You've been thumped by GA Tech, Michigan, Penn St, MSU and Purdue - all very average teams. Sure, everybody wants to be just like you. Keep on believing that.

If you knew just how silly you look, you would tone down the arrogance.

10/11/2007 12:06:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Just a couple things...

""The air of arrogance and elitism that is consistently demonstrated by ND fans and alumni is downright repulsive"

Fortunately for us, it's been well-earned by decades of success. Jealousy, on the other hand, isn't becoming in anyone."

I think you're missing the point here Mike: arrogance and elitism are bad, yet you've just admitted to 'earning' both as though that's something to be proud of. And my whole point was that I'm not jealous. In fact, I couldn't be happier to be at BC (top 15 in my major, great sports and social scene, and we have Boston right next door. What's not to like?)

Second, to respond to Tim's accusation of beating a hasty retreat, I'd just like to say that not all posters listed as 'anonymous' are the same person. It's two different adjectives used by two different people.

10/11/2007 12:09:00 PM  
Blogger Mike Coffey said...

Actually, I fail to see anything that was said in the blog that could be labeled as "arrogant" or "obnoxious", my in-fun response to a rude commenter notwithstanding.

I don't care enough about BC to make any slaps one way or the other. I merely think it's important to keep perspective about something as important as ND's football tradition when using words like "rival", that's all. That tradition is what gets us things like the NBC contract (and I certainly am glad for that given the angst trying to find UCLA on TV last Saturday), so I feel they're worth maintaining.

10/11/2007 12:11:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


Similar to your view of your football team, your view of your school is about 20 years old. Once upon a time, people went to BC because they couldn't get into ND. That's still certainly the case for some people. But there are also many people who get into ND and not BC, or get into both and choose BC. It may sounds crazy to you, but some people prefer going to school in one of the great American cities, being superior at football and basketball, and not having to spend four years in South Bend, IN. Being ten spots higher in the US News rankings isn't everything. But, I'm sure this won't get posted, so your self-delusion can run on unabated.

BC '03

10/11/2007 12:13:00 PM  
Blogger Mike Coffey said...

"I think you're missing the point here Mike: arrogance and elitism are bad, yet you've just admitted to 'earning' both as though that's something to be proud of."

Or I might have been having fun at the expense of someone who made a dumb comment.

I don't view anything I said as arrogant or elitist. There's a reason ESPN commentators have been bringing ND up in game broadcasts (e.g. Pitt v. Navy, Oklahoma v. Tulsa) and on other sports programs. ND has an extremely strong tradition in football, and a large number of people take an interest in it. When you have a tradition like that, things like the relationship between ND and other schools need to be viewed in that context. What's "arrogant" or "elitist" about that?

10/11/2007 12:16:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Food for thought;_ylt=ArxSRmSBg6NDeBQ17.tdi785nYcB?slug=dw-bostoncollege101007&prov=yhoo&type=lg

And I know ND has a 93% grad rate as well, but the article really says it all.

ND Football 2007: Together as One (and six)

10/11/2007 12:17:00 PM  
Anonymous Maj. Tom Kelleher, USMC said...

You do understand that the Fredo moniker makes no sense, right? Notre Dame has been the "Big Brother" in this relationship, just as Fredo Corleone was Michael Corleone's big brother. And then Michael surpassed Fredo and eventually had him killed. It would seem to me that the Fredo moniker works much better with Notre Dame in the role of Fredo--as well it should, since BC had a "ND is Fredo" T-shirt that dates back to the 1994 game.

As for the "rivalry", I could care less one way or the other. As long as we continue to beat you on the field, I don't care what you call us or classify us.

In conclusion, I would add that the battery and spitting allegations are complete fabrications. However, the story about ND fans tossing stuff at BC fans after the 1999 game is well-documented (including a complaint lodged by a ND donor to Monk Malloy). I doubt that you will have the intellectual courage to publish this missive, as I have noted that you very rarely publish anything that challenges your self-delusion. No matter, you and I both know the truth Mike.

10/11/2007 12:19:00 PM  
Anonymous Tim said...

I can't keep all these anonymites straight. For the one at 12:03, again, click on my name for some instruction in just how little reason Fredo has to crow about ND's recent difficulties. Summary: You'll need another decade like the last one before you can do so.

And for the one at 12:06, who purports to be an alumnus, you apparently didn't pick up much on this point during your putative time at ND: What we speak only sounds like 'arrogance' to you and Fredo, because neither you nor Fredo understand what ND actually is; in fact, what sounds like 'arrogance' to you and Fredo is merely truth. Fredo at least has an excuse or two for their ignorance -- they didn't get to go to ND, and they understandably want to believe that it's 'arrogance.' You, on the other hand . . .

10/11/2007 12:19:00 PM  
Blogger Mike Coffey said...

In conclusion, I would add that the battery and spitting allegations are complete fabrications.

Sorry, Tom, they happened to two classmates, a number of board users, and three family friends at three separate games in Boston. All described varying levels of harassing behavior, including the urine (reported by a woman, no less) and batteries.

OTOH, I'm unaware of any "well-documented" evidence of the 1999 event. If you'd like to provide a link to that documentation, I'd be happy to look it over.

10/11/2007 12:26:00 PM  
Blogger Kevin said...

I come from a funny angle regarding this matchup. My mother's brother is a former walk-on QB at ND. He played during the Faust era and I was too young to have watched him play. Growing up I heard the stories from my mother and Grandfather about him and Notre Dame. I grew up a die-hard ND fan and aspired to follow in my uncles foot steps. Too bad I urged to follow my father's foot steps and attend Iggy downtown Chicago(no football team, I still have a rocket arm btw). Where did my mother and father go to school? None other than Boston College. I cried in 93' while my parents jumped for joy. Flordia State vs. ND ( the game of the centry) was the week before if you remember and that was on my birthday. To go from such a high to such a low in one week, while having your parents laugh at you crying is quite a turn of events, Thanks Gordon. In my generation (senior in college, at Marquette) I would consider BC one of Notre Dame's top 3 games. Especially considering all of the kids I know who go to both school. I would consider it a rivalry, I mean just wait for how up the crowd will be tomorrow. The universities strive for the same goals off the field, why can't you give this game some much due respect?

10/11/2007 12:26:00 PM  
Anonymous Tim said...

Ground control to Major Tom:

The genesis of the Fredo moniker is at the link you'll find my clicking on my name. It fits Backup College like a glove.

And if you imagine that Fredo fans are somehow above throwing batteries and urinating on women, I query whether you actually went to BC. Your team has never been above such things, so what example have the fans had?

10/11/2007 12:31:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

1994-Present? That seems arbitrary. Oh, hold on a second, it's not arbitrary at all. Including those mid-90's years favors ND a great deal. I can add up numbers, as well, tim. And if you look at a more conventional sample, say, the last ten years, the records look like this:
BC: 76-31
ND: 66-49

Head to head: BC 5-2

BC '03

10/11/2007 12:36:00 PM  
Anonymous IrishPreacher said...

Great work Mr. Coffey.

10/11/2007 12:37:00 PM  
Anonymous basil > iggy said...

BC Fans:
Sure, your football team may have "more wins" than us.

Sure, you may "be heavily favored."

Sure, ND is having a difficult time "playing the game of football."

But damn it, at least we aren't Jesuits.

10/11/2007 12:39:00 PM  
Anonymous Tim said...

Oh, I'm sure that numbers are your game -- you did go to Bookie College. But the 1994 date was presumably chosen because of your team's coup at season-end 1993 -- which you folks usually cite as the beginning of the rise of BC football. And in any case, the point remains the same: You're Fredo, and unless both you and we have another decade like the last one (good luck with that), you shall ever be Fredo.

10/11/2007 12:50:00 PM  
Anonymous Aces-Up said...

BC '03:

Keep telling yourself that. The distance between your position and rationality is exposed when you claim that Boston College is "superior in football." If you fail to grasp why that is an irrational position, I can't help you because you have chosen willful blindness to simple and unassailable truths about the universe--the last 10 years of Notre Dame football mediocrity notwithstanding.

I'll grant you this: Boston is a greater American city than South Bend.

However, Boston College is inferior to Notre Dame in virtually every other aspect. And you know it as well as I do. No matter what you may want to believe, virtually no one gets into both Notre Dame and Boston College and chooses Notre Dame, and no one who gets into Notre Dame fails to get accepted to Boston College.

We're better than you, and you know it, deep in your heart, deep beneath the so many lies you've told yourself over and over since you were rejected admission to Notre Dame.

I regret to inform you that the time I have to spend interacting with people like you has expired.

10/11/2007 01:01:00 PM  
Anonymous Capt Ferrell USMC (since that matters) said...

Great job Mike - and to the posters on both sides, kudos, but especially to the "you don't have the courage to post my truth!" rantings from BC fans.

I don't think the swipe at BC academics is becoming, it's just mean-spirited. But with our love of ND football, why all the complaints of our arroganceand elitism? Listing the many accomplishments of a team we love only underscores why BC is not a rival. Yes, ND is an elite program, don't get used to the sub-.500 seasons.

Read the article again. For that matter, read Rock, NFTG, JVan, etc. over the past two seasons if you wish to pretend to understand what ND football (and the Nation) is all about.

Trading stories of boorish fans misses the point, because with a large enough fan base, any school has its battery-throwing bottom feeders, and we rightly condemn their actions.

The legend of the annoying BC fan, now, there's something that could "rival" even tOSU fans.

Sparky ND'00

10/11/2007 01:09:00 PM  
Blogger Mike Coffey said...

Whiskey in the Jar, Sparky.

10/11/2007 01:12:00 PM  
Anonymous Brian said...

Funny that you should provide your Fredo definition at a time when it completely contradicts itself. BC is playing for a national championship while ND is merely trying to sidetrack a great team. In all this talk of rivalry or no rivalry can we just look at the 2 teams records (ND 1-5, BC 6-0) and go from there?

10/11/2007 01:15:00 PM  
Anonymous Mr. Underhill said...

You're absolutely correct, and this article should be required reading for all new ND students and fans.

The idea that BC is our "rival" has largely been driven by young alums and current students hailing from prep schools in the Northeast. Their old high school classmates go to BC, and these "friends" love to give their Irish counter-parts grief, especially since BC's recent success in the series has given a cabal of history-ignorant, nouveau riche jamokes a false since of superiority.

I get it: the Northeastern Domer kids catch hell when they go home for Fall Break. In turn, they profess to "hate" BC, and try to take refuge from our Davie and Willingham-led failures by resorting to high school-level pettiness, such as the lame "Backup College" taunt.

Sorry, lads - your personal animus toward BC doesn't make them our rival. It's not a family problem; it's your personal issue with an inferior foe whom you've chosen to elevate to an undeserved position of importance, much to the bewilderment of the those of us who grew up west of New Jersey. You guys picked this fight with BC. You deride them on t-shirts. You let them stay in our dorms. You wear your "I Heart TY" shirts, and take cold-comfort in your "ND rejects" pettiness when we get rolled on the field.

Don't expect the Family to bail you out on this one, and don't try to elevate your personal spats to Family business. You guys want to spar with the Tattaglias? Fine. But remember, Tattaglia never could've out fought Santino. You may not have known it to this day, but our Family's rival has been Barzini all along.

10/11/2007 01:24:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Brian, you need to have your head examined if you think that BC is playing for a national championship. They'll lose at least twice, and probably thrice, and be stuck heading back to the beautiful blue turf in Boise. The question I've been wondering about all week is not whether BC is overrated or not, but rather the extent to which they have been overrated.

10/11/2007 01:28:00 PM  

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home