The incredible victory over USC by Notre Dame highlighted by a goal-line stand for the ages writes a whole new chapter in the legend of the Fighting Irish.
Now that they are in the BCS bowl game the legend will live on stronger than ever.
Unranked this season, they opened in Dublin, Ireland and rediscovered their Fighting Irish roots there.
Yet, none of the 50,000 present would have foreseen an unbeaten season despite thrashing a poor Navy side.
The most optimistic projections were 9-2 with near certain defeats to Oklahoma and USC who were ranked No. 1 in pre-season.
But with a team that simply refused to quit (see goa lline stands against Stanford and USC) and gave new meaning to the terms of heart and courage, Notre Dame pulled off the impossible.
Their drive from unranked to undisputed No.1 was a journey for the ages and for Irish fans the greatest thrill in decades.
The Dublin trip bonded the team in a way they had never bonded before, a point made by several players during their magical run.
Notre Dame's resurgence this season has captured the public's imagination like it has not for decades as they attempted to reclaim the top spot in college football.
The Fighting Irish were once perennial challengers for the best team in football under legendary coach Lou Holtz but a period of mixed results on the field left fans wondering if they would ever see those heady days again.
This year under coach Brian Kelly the team has gone through a resurrection of form that has reignited the passion of all supporters of Notre Dame.
“There’s a romance with Notre Dame,” Neal Pilson, a former president of CBS Sports told the New York Times. “It’s like all is right with the world when Notre Dame is winning football games. Major sports franchises are like beachfront properties; they’re not making any more of them. You can’t just say, ‘All right, everybody, let’s get excited about Louisville.’ It doesn’t work that way.”
Notre Dame as an iconic sports franchise has held strong "even in leaner years" says the NY Times, but this season has shown that when the team wins, rating and dollars go up and up.
“This season is about the sustainability of the brand,” said Paul Swangard, the managing director at the University of Oregon’s Warsaw Sports Marketing Center. “Like, you couldn’t be mediocre for too much longer and have a whole generation of folks know Notre Dame as anything other than 6-5.”
This season, Notre Dame averaged 4.4 million viewers, up 69 percent from last year.
“If there has ever been a year that validated everything, it’s this,” said Jack Swarbrick, Notre Dame’s athletic director.
Brad Agate, the senior vice president for research at the media service company Horizion Media, said that if Notre Dame beat the Trojans he believes "numbers for the Bowl Championship Series title game could break records for cable viewership."
“If Notre Dame gets in, it will be the most watched cable program in history,” Adgate said. “We’re talking 30 million, just because it’s Notre Dame.”
This season could help Notre Dame in "securing its next generation of fans."
“Teams fade,” said Harvey Schiller, a longtime sports executive and the former commissioner of the Southeastern Conference. “Back when the Chicago Bulls had Michael Jordan, they carried the television package. Today, it may be Miami. I’m not even sure a teenager today knows Notre Dame is in Indiana. But they know Notre Dame this year. They know Notre Dame is good.”
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