Perhaps we hate them so much because we fear that we are headed down the same path...or perhaps that's why it's so tough to hate them. They have been an afterthought in the college football world for several years now, but beyond those several years, they hold a place in college football history that is unparalleled.
Today however, they are coming very close to losing a generation. Those in their teens and early twenties only know of the legend of Notre Dame, they have not seen it in practice. They know Bob Davie, Tyrone Willingham, and Charlie Weis. They only know Lou Holtz as the weird old guy on ESPN with the lisp. They don't know this rivalry, which finds its roots at the turn of the last century, and its fervor in the 80's and early 90's.
If you happen to be traveling to the Indiana border town this weekend, there are some things you should know. As you enter the world that is South Bend, you find that it is a city not unlike Ann Arbor. A campus entrenched in the city limits, built on traditions of exemplary education and football.
Then you park your car and open your door to a world where everyone is convinced that they were born with a golden domed pot to piss in. There's an episode of South Park that exemplifies this world perfectly. A world of the smug where people enjoy the smell of their own farts. That's Notre Dame.
It's the only place where a Michigan fan can find people looking down their noses at them. We are the trash. We are Michigan State to them. They will wash their hands after shaking yours. They will play classical music at their tailgate and recite poetry. And while many a Michigan fan has been accused of clinging to the past, you will find that the Notre Dame fan doesn't cling to it, but lives it...because that is all they've got. They've returned to glory and awakened the echoes so many times that it no longer has meaning. Rebuilding isn't a process in South Bend, it's a way of life. Every win is THE turning point, every loss is but a hiccup on their way back to dominance. By the time the losses pile up enough to give up on the present, they find themselves ready for the next season, ready to rebuild again. It's a cyclical process...they're working on it, they promise.
As this edition of the Michigan Wolverines enters the stadium this Saturday, they find themselves in Notre Dame's shoes...somewhat. All indications are that this is that year we've all been dreading. While we are seemingly optomisitc about the future, we are out to defeat that which we don't want to become. We are playing, essentially, ourselves. Perhaps our patience for a bright future belittles the importance of the rivalry on this day. No doubt that ND needs this win much more than we do. But on the field, we will be looking to prove one thing: we can still win while we wait for perfection. While we adjust, while we endure, we can never return to glory. Because glory is something that we have never put to rest. Our world, our record, our dominance, and our tradition...continues.
To hell with Notre Dame.