SOUTH BEND, Ind. — Joe Theismann made fun of USC coach Pete Carroll's love of guest speakers from Hollywood. Charlie Weis, in a screed against the media's portrayal of his Notre Dame team, bragged about the time his team "kicked the crap out of Hawaii" last December.
But perhaps the most interesting statements shouted into a microphone during Friday's pre-USC pep rally came from Notre Dame seniors Kyle McCarthy and Mike Anello. Both suggested that if the Fighting Irish beat the Trojans, Notre Dame students should storm the field and tear down the goalposts. "On Saturday night," safety McCarthy said, "the only thing that's going to be down are those two damn goalposts." Anello, one of my favorite former walk-ons, seconded McCarthy's emotion. "It's going to be a victory lap around campus with those uprights on our shoulders," Anello said.
I don't pretend to have my finger on the pulse of Domer Nation, but I imagine a lot of old-school Irish cringed at that thought.
They tear down goalposts at Kansas. They tear down goalposts at South Carolina.
They do not tear down goalposts at Alabama. They do not tear down goalposts at Texas. They do not tear down goalposts at USC.
Notice a theme here? Maybe it was just the exuberance of youth, but Notre Dame players should know better. Maybe Theismann or fellow pep-talker Raghib Ismail should have grabbed the mic from the players and set them straight. Nothing says wannabe like a falling goalpost. A Notre Dame win Saturday would help the Irish prove they still belong in that second group. If Notre Dame is indeed still an elite program, the Irish should expect to beat USC. If Notre Dame is indeed still an elite program, the goalposts should remain standing.
Perhaps it's a measure of how far the program has fallen in recent years that players would even consider such a suggestion. It's an awfully nouveau riche thought for an old-money program. What's next? Louis Vuitton uniforms?
A win Saturday would prove Notre Dame is climbing back to where the Domers believe they belong. If the current students respect the program's history, they'll act like they've been there before and leave the goalposts where they stand.