(Matt Cashore--US PRESSWIRE )
The last time Notre Dame won a national championship in football was Jan. 2, 1989, or 24 years and four coaches ago. Tonight, the 2012 version of the Fighting Irish take the field in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., against Alabama to try to win another one.
If they do, it will be the first in the lifetime of Lakeview resident Annie Scully, an alumna who was one of the first to arrive at Racine Plumbing this afternoon. Scully, 23, may not have seen the title, but her father, John Scully, was an offensive lineman on the 1977 championship squad and even co-wrote the popular school song, "Here Come the Irish."
"It means a lot to me," she said. "And it doesn't feel very 'ra-ra' to say that we think we're going to win. I think this is a good team."
That claim was endlessly disputed this season, one of the hallmarks of this year that has made it special for fans to enjoy along the way.
"It's nice because every game, every week, every announcer, all your friends are telling you how bad you are all year," visitor Adron Scott, 32, said. "Now they're sitting at home with their wives watching us play."
Mark Vermeersch, 26, of Lincoln Park echoed: "We tend to be rated really high early in the season, choke, come up overrated. It's nice to come into the season and find out we were vastly underrated."
While fans said they've enjoyed the ride to an unexpected national title game, they are expecting a win tonight.
"We're gonna win!" Scully's roommate and fellow ND alumna Cassie Belek said when asked for a prediction. The pair is so prepared that they've already called off work Tuesday. It's a group of fans that hasn't tasted its historic level of success in recent years, but they've rekindled its expectations quickly.
"Once you get here, you gotta win," Scott said. "We're not Boise State."
Indeed they are not Boise State. They are Notre Dame, a program with 11 national titles and a "Play Like a Champion Today" mentality. Said Jake Marmul, an alumnus who is now an employee as well, "You're not gonna see people settle for getting there at a place like Notre Dame."
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