Hey Knute, Where’s Your Jumbo?

January18/ 2000

… YES, WE WILL TALK ABOUT “THE WEEKEND RUMOR” (really, you should all know better) but the really cool stuff is about Notre Dame.  It’s no wonder that Catholic school in rural Indiana has NO reputation or tradition.  Geezzz, that sad pathetic place has NONE of the “MUST HAVES” that the “real fans” are always saying “a Big Time Football School” HAS TO HAVE to attract “5-Stars”.  No Jumbotron is just the tip of the “don’t haves” iceberg in South Bend.

OK, show of hands … how many of you got sucked in by that Internet Wildfire set by a cyber arsonist Friday afternoon?  Admit it.

Team Swagger was airborne when the fuse was lit and didn’t see the devastation until after a wonderful dinner with the Highland Park BLS Buddy Club.  Firing up the laptop late Friday night, all I could see was smoke, flames and knee-deep bulls**t all across the Internet.  Even WRAL-TV5 was swinging from a chandelier and wearing a WELCOME BUTCH t-shirt.

Hell … this was waaaay beyond “Butch Davis has bought a lot in Governors Club”.  This mountain of hyperbolic manure was much more imaginative.

It was easy to tell who had lit the fuse.  You can figure the same guy will be doing it again in a few days.  ….   I rolled my eyes.  I shook my head.  I took an Advil PM and went to sleep.

Saturday morning I sought out two good friends at the stadium.  One will be the person who will write the actual official UNC AthDept press release when a new coach IS hired.  The other friend  will write the first cumulative official article on the new coach.  “Reasonably credible guys” (!!) despite not having 5,000 posts apiece and not being “All Americans” on some loonie mosh pit.

How’s this … as I was talking to Friend The Writer we were literally standing by the reflecting pool beneath “Touchdown Jesus”.

OK, but BobLee … how much of that Flaming Friday BS is true?

  • Representatives of UNC are indeed talking with Butch Davis about the job.
  • Butch Davis, through his agent, has a definite interest.
  • Talks are proceeding.
  • It might happen.  It might not.
  • Butch Davis’ wife is NOT “already picking out fancy guppies” for the Sallie Brown Memorial Giant Fish Tank.

If it DOES happen, Dickie will want all of you to think he “did it”.  If it DOES NOT happen, all of you will blame Dickie (aka “the UNC Tradition like no other”).  Both assumptions will be incorrect.

This website does not endeavor to be “the first to break the “new coach” story” or any story.  BobLee Swagger’s reputation has a solid foundation of over 1,000 columns.  The one time I was factually wrong (Andre Brown’s academic prowess) I quickly and publicly admitted my mistake.  That honest act alone sets this website apart from the fakes, fops and flaming fools.

Feel free to e-mail BobLee with any questions as all this proceeds.  226 “Hey BLS, whatabout …” e-mails on the Friday Wildfire tell me you’re not shy. …… oh, do I need to remind you one more time …



    The freakin’ stadium is 76 damn years old and DOES NOT HAVE A JUMBOTRON!  Two scoreboards, one at either end of the bowl that “might” be as high tech as what Independence High School has … maybe.  Gosh … Knute, Ara, Dan, …. Ty, Charlie how do you impress “blue chippers” without “a Jumbo”?

No amplified rock music or rap music or any music other than real live “band music”.  So Notre Dame’s version of “Board Loonies” can spend all the bandwidth they want suggesting the best entry music, pre-game warm-up music, etc … but nobody that matters much cares.  Granted, Notre Dame has this one catchy tune that is sorta cool.  They call it “The Notre Dame Victory March”. Other than making the freakin’ hair on the back of your neck stand up and salute … it’s about all they got.  Sure, the band’s pre-game entry led by the Irish Guard is sorta cool (IF YOU HAVE A PULSE!) but, I mean it’s not AC/DC or Pink Floyd.

Let’s back-up a few steps … you arrive in South Bend on GameDay and get the feeling these people have done this before.  “Not their first rodeo” AT ALL.  “General Parking” is a HUGE grassed field a mile north of campus.  How huge?  Well recall my suggestion a few years ago of bulldozing Derm and making what used to be Derm into a shuttle lot for Kenan?  About “that huge”.   It costs $20 to park there but the roundtrip shuttle and unlimited use of porta-johns is included.

All the parking attendants and shuttle drivers and concession tent people and, apparently, EVERYBODY IN INDIANA is incredibly friendly.  Again, these dummies don’t read those threads about “gotta create a hostile environment for opposing team’s fans” in order to be “a Big Time Football School”.  So these South Bend hayseeds see your Carolina Blue and say “hi, welcome to Notre Dame” and say nice things about UNC Basketball and smile and stuff.  I asked them if they were as friendly to Michigan and Southern Cal fans.  They said sure, why not?  Why not indeed.

Speaking of UNC Basketball … Guess who flew up on the American flight with Mizzus Swagger and BobLee?  None other than Ye Olde Legend In The Basement” – His Deanship Hisownself.  He didn’t attract much attention from the several hundred Tar Heel fans on the plane … nah … NOT MUCH!  I was grateful as it allowed BLS to be incognito.  I could have used Dean on the return flight.

So, the endless stream of shuttle buses delivers you in five minutes to “the Library” aka “the Touchdown Jesus building”.

The campus is nice if you like pretty buildings, lots of trees, tons of history, 80,000 nice friendly people, and a perfect Fall Football chill in the air … although it was November 4th, it could have been that “blue gray October sky outlining the Four Horsemen…” that some guy named “Grantland” wrote about way back in the 1920s.

We rendezvoused with the Shadow of The Bell Tower Gang about a lob wedge from the stadium.  “Eric” knew somebody who must have known somebody named Hornung or Montana to get a parking space THAT CLOSE.  Again, more annoying Notre Dame fans smiling, waving and welcoming us to the game … geeezzzz, do they think a football game is “A SOCIAL EVENT”?  No wonder those Fighting Irish knuckleheads have no football tradition.

I asked our ND host about “tailgating rules”.  “Do you have “rules”?  “Sure”.  Do you have “problems”?  “No”.  “Why not”.  “Most people follow the rules”.  Obviously this place will never be a “Big Time Football School”.

The campus reminded me a lot of Duke (yuck, ptui, gack …) which I also think is pretty.  Mizzus says it is prettier than Duke.  The SofBTG toured the whole campus.

Apparently those poor schlubs in South Bend stole our Old Well Walk idea.  Except theirs is about a mile long and has about 20,000 fans lining the walk.  Instead of our really cool “water fountain” they have to use some old building with “a Golden Dome” to start the walk.  They make do.

We shopped at the bookstore where I ran into Lump The Mike Man and his pals.  They seemed impressed with the whole Notre Dame GameDay thing too.

We got to our seats about 30 minutes before kick-off.   A quick look around and it was obvious these folks were clueless about being a “Big Time Football School”.  “No Jumbotron” was just the beginning.

No giant logo painted at midfield.  What do Michigan and USC players “stomp” after they win?  They don’t stomp anything.  Oh …

No fancy endzone design … unless horizontal lines qualify as “fancy”.

No helmet decals … No “atta boy” stickers.  Just “a plain gold helmet” …  just a plain gold NOTRE DAME helmet.

No names of the backs of the jerseys.  Guess they haven’t heard that 18 y/os with 4th grade reading comprehension need that ego trip.  No wonder no kids want to go there.

The “press box” is bigger than Carter-Finley’s old “Double-Wide In The Sky” but not a whole lot bigger.  It looked like there was a relatively small “VIP box” in the press box but definitely NO SKY BOXES for corporate schmoozing.  I mean REALLY … IT’S THE NEW MILLENIUM YOU YAHOOS! … WAKE UP!

They even have narrow wooden bleachers.  Ever heard of ALUMINUM?  No stadium seats with cupholders ???  Guess it’s a money issue, huh?  I understand some operation called NBC televises all their home games.  Wonder how much that costs the University … huh, NBC PAYS THEM ???  Yikes!  And a freakin’ BLIMP advertising tires circling overhead … how lame is that?  Give me a piper cub dragging a Jesse Jones Sausage banner any day … right?  Oh, did I mention a four jet fly-over?  Mizzus Swagger goes bonkers at fly-overs.

Other than that tire company’s blimp, there were no corporate logos ANYWHERE.  Speaking of blimps … did you see Charlie Weis in the gray mu mu?

The concourses inside the stadium have all these old black & white pictures on the walls.  Guys in leather helmets and “Knute” … and Hornungs, Montanas, and other has-beens.  Oh … guess what else?  They have “PEEING TROUGHS” in the Men’s rooms.  Not a “peeing wall” but “troughs”.  I could not help wondering … “did George Gipp ever stand here doing this?”

The ND band’s pre-game entry, as noted, is OK if one likes that sorta thing … and that one tune is kinda catchy.  I think they borrowed it from that movie Rudy.

In the pre-game, their band does America The Beautiful then The National Anthem.  80,000 folks stood the whole time singing along and EVERYONE wearing a hat took it off through both songs.  EVERYBODY, I checked.  A bunch of goofy patriotic galoots no doubt.  Smiling, friendly patriotic football fans … boy, are these people out-to-lunch or WHAT?

Notre Dame sells out all 80,000+ seats to season ticket holders.  The tickets are $59 each.  In order to even get to buy season tickets, one must contribute $4,000 to the University.   That minimum is going up next year.  Imagine how well they could do if it was “a hostile environment” and if they had a Jumbotron?

I understand a lot of Tar Heel “real fans” decided not to make the trip to Notre Dame because (1) they wanted to show Dickie how upset they are, and (2) they could not get a weekend good conduct pass from “the home”.  Probably a good thing they stayed home what with that no frills stadium, no AC/DC music, all those friendly Indiana people, that Golden Dome thing, the big “Jesus” wall, and the band with THAT ONE SONG.

The Tar Heels played very well albeit in a losing cause.  Considering that whole “lame duck thing” the players and coaches deserve a heckuva “atta way to go”.

While waiting for our flights Sunday both at O’Hare and Washington, guess what Internet Legend kept having Carolina fans walk up and ask “Aren’t you BobLee … what about that Butch rumor?” It wasn’t quite like the fuss over Dean on Friday.  Only one couple from Pinehurst asked me to pose for a picture … and the guy from Roxboro wanting me to say hello to his wife on his cellphone … “She’s your biggest fan. She reads every column.” … yeah, yeah that’s what they all say.  “What’s her name? Hand me the phone.”


 “Outlined against a blue gray October sky the Four Horsemen rode again.  In dramatic lore they are known as famine, pestilence, destruction and death.  These are only aliases.  Their real names are ______, ______. ______. and ______.”

   BobLee now owns a t-shirt with the Horsemen picture and Grantland Rice’s famous paragraph.  Is that cool or what?  I think I’ll wear it as I type future SSayscolumns … not bad inspiration, huh? 

   Where do I rank “my first Notre Dame game”?  Right up there with “first visit to Augusta” … ahead of “standing at the Start/Finish Line at Daytona … way ahead of “seeing Cybil Shepherd at the Golden Globes” and “mid-court at Madison Square Garden in 1968”.   If you didn’t go, I hope I’ve done a decent job describing what you missed.  If you DID GO I’d love to get your impressions. 

“The Shoe” at Ohio State is more MORE and even “Death Valley” far louder and intimidating, but this was Notre Dame.  It was “old school” for sure … I liked it.

 Want to e-mail BobLee?

[email protected]

0 0 votes
Article Rating
Notify of
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Would love your thoughts, please comment.x