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Manti Te’o Rushes Court With Irish Fans After Upsetting Kentucky [Video]
Manti Te’o is in the running for the Heisman trophy and has a shot at winning the BCS championship this year, but that won’t stop him from having some fun. The Fighting Irish basketball team and their blackout uniforms took down #8 ranked Kentucky 64-50 on Thursday night and Te’o was as pumped as anyone. You can see from the video below that T’eo joined the Irish faithful in storming the court and loving every second of it. Good for you Te’o!
Right Field: Fighting Irish have brains and brawn
Notre Dame's unlikely march to the championship game in college football will probably attract a record audience
Why should college sports be any different? It's not. Collegiate sports is a multibillion-dollar industry in the US and like most such industries there is a plethora of less-than-ethical behaviour. At the big-money elite level, the term "student/athlete" is little more than an anachronism these days. Graduation rates at football and basketball powerhouses are abysmal. None of this is a shock, though. But what is shocking is that a university like Notre Dame, pious proponents of higher education, has the nerve to compete these days in college athletics. And never mind competing, that bastion of American Catholicism actually has the nerve to try to be the best. At this moment, the Notre Dame Fighting Irish are not only the number one-ranked college football team, they are also the number one-ranked football team in graduation success. No school has ever been ranked number one in both polls before and the Irish will hold that distinction for at least another 36 days until they play the winners of the Southeastern Conference (SEC) for the national championship in Miami on January 7.
At 12 and 0, the Irish are not only undefeated; they are unbowed. For years their mighty programme slipped into irrelevance while the school steadfastly refused to alter its admission requirements in order to get the best football players in the country. But this year, a most unlikely campaign that saw the team unranked in the top 25 at the start of the season, could not have come at a more opportune time.
Because Notre Dame are the most loved college football team in the US as well as the most hated team in the country, they are the father, son and the holy spirit of TV ratings with a following that spreads well beyond American soil. They are the perfect foil to the football hegemony of the Deep South. Over the past six years, the SEC has dominated college football by winning every national championship while sending scores of blue chip recruits to the NFL. With Notre Dame slated to play either Alabama or Georgia in the national championship final, this could well be the most watched college football game of all time and the contrast between the institutions is deliciously inescapable.
Don't bother looking for the likes of Georgia and Alabama in the player graduation rankings because you will need a shovel to find them. But you know what, fans of the SEC are OK if their schools are not defined by the number of Nobel physicists on their faculty. They are first and foremost football schools and no conference, in fact no region, is as mad for college football as the folks in the south. Of the top 22 stadiums in the world for seating capacity, six are in SEC schools. And these stadiums are not in Atlanta or Miami. They are in places like Knoxville, Tuscaloosa and Gainesville. In fact, the population of Tuscaloosa is less than 100,000 - it more than doubles on weekends when Alabama play a home game in front of 102,000 diehards. There are six teams from the SEC in the top 10 rankings so they come by their arrogance naturally. They also come by the enmity towards them just as naturally. The rest of the US is flat out sick of the SEC and desperate for anyone, even Notre Dame, to take them down a notch or two. Back in the day when the Irish were a perennial fixture in the top 10, the notion of college fans in places like Michigan or southern California pulling for them in a bowl game would be beyond hearsay.
Notre Dame have long flaunted their incomparable history and fan base and are still the only college team in the country who have their own exclusive national TV deal, with all their games broadcast on NBC. They, too, come by the enmity towards them quite naturally. But now they are seen as some kind of saviour for the college game. The schism that defines America politically also defines college football. Folks in the northeast and the west coast are OK to let the red states gorge on their fill of Nascar. But they want college football back, at least temporarily. Not since the University of Southern California in 2004 have a team from outside the Deep South or Texas won the national championship.
For Notre Dame, the title drought goes all the way back to 1988. They have proven they can win again, now they need to prove they can win it all again. The Irish likely won't be favoured against their next opponents. But these days the most pious and scholastic programme in college football is not just talking the talk, they are walking the walk. How far they walk is yet to be determined.
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