During these recessionary times, it will be a bit of a boon for the Dublin economy that a significant American sporting event will be hosted by the Lansdowne Road based Aviva Stadium next September as the Notre Dame Fighting Irish are scheduled to commence their 2012 season with their annual encounter with Navy.
My tickets for the Emerald Isle Classic have already been booked and tonight’s Champs Sports Bowl on ESPN involving Notre Dame and Florida State will be the final game of a season which promised much but failed to deliver for the team from South Bend.
Domers are still trying to shake off the disappointment of losing out in the race for top QB prospect Gunner Kiel, who chose the Deep South university of whose students Randy Newman famously remarked “when in dumb come out dumb too”- but that’s just me being bitter…..It also helped that Louisiana State University will be competing for the National Championship in just over a week’s time.
Notre Dame Head Coach Brian Kelly is coming off of a second disappointing season at the helm, struggling to satisfy the insatiable demands of a fan base longing for the bygone era of Fighting Irish dominance which led to multiple National Championships, Heisman Trophy winners and an unparalleled prestige within the college football fraternity. Or, at the very least, a return to BCS relevance….
Kelly’s woes start and end with his inability to develop an effective lead quarterback throughout the season. His initial support for Dayne Crist lasted just two quarters into the season, with the former Cincinnati coach displaying a ruthless streak in punishing the starting QB (now Kansas bound) by dropping him for the season thereafter following a number of careless turnovers, sticking with Tommy Rees, whose composure still did not conceal his many weaknesses which meant that Notre Dame failed throughout the season to capitalise on the impressive array of offensive options open to them.
Andrew Hendrix’s second half run out against Stanford has now provided Coach Kelly with a possible alternative to Rees, though the excitement surrounding Hendrix’s less than flattering outing suggests a degree of desperation. Hence the importance of an impressive performance tonight by whoever is under the gun.
Notre Dame will seek to sign off on a high note with a third successive Bowl victory (the previous losing bowl streak of 9 games was a shameful stain on the team’s record) but, ironically, all attention will shift in the forthcoming recruiting window and subsequent team training sessions to discover who will be the starting quarterback when the Fighting Irish take the field in Dublin to commence a 2012 season which will undoubtedly make or break Brian Kelly as Notre Dame coach.
There have been media reports suggesting that as many as 20,000 US fans will be making the trip to Dublin for the game with Navy, with a weekend of activities being planned, including games between other American universities and high schools at venues across Dublin.