ALBRIGHT: Plan for South Bend now Thundering Herd fans

Marshall University Athletic Director Mike Hamrick alongside the football program scored a golden scheduling win yesterday. One victory bringing an incredible amount of respect to the entire university.

The Thundering Herd and the University of Notre Dame Fighting Irish meet for the first time on Sept. 10, 2022 in South Bend, Indiana. Doc Holliday and company have the chance for a Mountain State first with a win. ND stands 4-0 against West Virginia University.

Some people may wonder why this is such a big deal.

Notre Dame prides itself on playing nothing but Football Bowl Subdivision (Division I) competition. No Football Championship Subdivision teams (D-II) ever appear on the Irish’s list of opponents, only teams who could challenge the Irish make the final cut.

ND Athletic Director Jack Swarbrick thought long and hard about adding Marshall to the slate. I know there may be a financial component involved but being asked to face the Irish is a tremendous honor.

Can Marshall pull off the upset? We are at least two years away from finding out the answer, but I can lend some expertise in other areas of concern — rooming and entertainment.

Die hard fans already gearing up for the six-hour trip to the Northern Indiana campus … Plan now. As someone who roots for the Irish and has attended nine home games in my lifetime, lodging can be a real pain.

Hotels in the small town, if you can find rooms, usually require a two-night stay minimum. All hopeful attendees should be prepared to pay some high prices. One-night accommodations are available twenty to thirty minutes outside of the city limits as well. Prices are a bit cheaper, too.

Trust me, the Herd are going to need their fans inside Notre Dame Stadium. Irish supporters and alumni travel extremely well on game days, especially if the team’s current uptick continues the next three seasons.

But the game should not be the only reason you decide to make the trip.

Fans should make time for the festivities and a tour around the beautiful campus before and after the contest. The city also remains alive well into the night after a football game.

Enthusiasts who love a good tradition can visit the ND administration building before game time.

Inside the Irish marching band’s trumpet section serenades attendees with the Notre Dame Victory March under the famous golden dome

Yes you might cheer for the opposing team, but the sights and sounds are impressive to anyone with eyes and ears.

Notre Dame Cathedral, adjacent to the admin building, provides another great destination on the north side of the campus. Religious and architecture fans or the public in general can see one of the most impressive religious structures in the U.S. Catholics also can attend mass shortly after the game if gametime is 3:30 p.m.

Maybe you want to catch a glimpse of the players or get a few jabs in before the contest? The Irish attend mass at the Cathedral before the traditional walk across campus into the stadium.

Another show in itself as the band and the Irish guard (the guys dressed in kilts) see the team into the structure.

Worrying about hostile fans should register on the low end of the spectrum. Irish enthusiasts learn everything about their club’s opponent before a game. Most come prepared for conversations about the visiting team unless it is Michigan, Southern Cal, Navy, Purdue, Stanford, or Michigan State.

If you followed the Irish around the back of the stadium after the campus stroll, you arrive at the selfie or photo opportunity extradonaire. Towering behind you should be the Theodore M. Hesburgh Library featuring the mural of Touchdown Jesus. Pose and snap away with phones or cameras. Everyone understands why you suddenly stopped to look at a library.

Fans hoping to pound on or pose with the ‘Play Like a Champion Today’ sign should make special plans with the University. The famous yellow sign stays tucked away just below the entrance steps to the Irish’s locker room.

Then comes the game …. Nothing beats a football afternoon in South Bend. Watching the golden helmets glint and gleam as the Irish come running out of the tunnel makes a lasting impression. The Irish students whooping and hollering before each kickoff, the playing of Beethoven’s 1812 overture in the fourth quarter, the chant of “Here come the Irish,” all add to send chills down even a visitor’s spine.

No one forgets their visit to The House that Rockne Built.

Contact Joe Albright at jalbright@newsandsentinel.com.


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