Open the sports section of the daily newspaper, Notre Dame. Turn on a game on Saturday, Notre Dame. Switch on a sports radio station, Notre Dame. Notre Dame this, Notre Dame that. Everywhere you look, Notre Dame.

Notre Dame is not America’s premiere college football team anymore. The Fighting Irish are overrated, overexposed and overdone. Yet I’ll watch them if they’re on the brink of losing. It’s sick and maybe a little twisted, but I can’t help myself.

When South Florida upset the golden helmeted ones 23-20 in the season opener two weeks ago, I leapt from the couch, hiccupped across the dining room floor with my air-guitar Chuck Berry-style, and concluded my celebration with three Tiger Woods fist-pumps, followed by a David Lee Roth windmill Judo kick.

It was a splendid upset.

To see Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly hurling curse words at his players on the sideline in a fit of rage during the game and then see him quickly clean it up for the cameras in a post-game interview? Priceless.

And then God-blessed Saturday night came and just when you thought it couldn’t get any sweeter, Michigan pulls out a 35-31 squeaker over Notre Shame. It was a thing of beauty, one I nearly missed.

(Word to the wise: If you’ve ordered carryout from Leona’s on Madison and you expect to see football being played on at least one of their nine flat-screen televisions during your quick pick-up, be prepared for Dionne Warwick music videos.)

But what’s not to loathe about Notre Dame? They have oversaturated the college football viewing market. All 12 of their games are broadcast on national television, even though they have become a mediocre team. They went 8-5 last year. Since 2007, they’re 24-27. Their last national championship was 1988.

Lest I remind you, you are not Pavlov’s dogs. You don’t have to be a programmed fan.

Hey, I’m not the only Notre Dame basher. I have friends who put the Fighting Irish right up there with the Packers and the state of Iowa on their most despicable list. One pal despises Notre Dame so much, he has a hard time celebrating St. Patrick’s Day. I have yet to take my revulsion that far.

Actually, that brings up another entirely ridiculous thing. It seems if you’re Irish Catholic, then you were born to be a Notre Dame football fan. It makes no sense at all, unless the entire team were made up of guys who look like Conan O’Brien. Free yourself of this hypocrisy.

I can’t wait for this Saturday. Michigan State travels to Notre Dame, and if the Fighting Irish manage their first victory of the season, there’s always Dionne Warwick at Leona’s.

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Brad Spencer

Brad Spencer has been covering sports in and around Oak Park for more than a decade, which means the young athletes he once covered in high school are now out of college and at home living with their parents...

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