Blue and Gold Illustrated

Nov. 27, 2020

Blue & Gold Illustrated: America's Foremost Authority on Notre Dame Football

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6 NOV. 27, 2020 BLUE & GOLD ILLUSTRATED BY LOU SOMOGYI T he official attendance listed at Notre Dame Stadium for the Nov. 7 meeting with No. 1 Clemson was 11,011 in a venue that seats 77,622. Yet never was crowd control a greater con- cern in the 90-year structure than in the minutes following the 47-40 double-overtime triumph against the No. 1-ranked Tigers. The first Notre Dame victory in 27 years against a No. 1-ranked team set off a cathar- tic, rush-the-field eu- phoria by the Fighting Irish student body. In the year of social dis- tancing because of COVID-19, concerns immediately arose about how that action could possibly become a super-spreader of the coronavirus. Medical professionals were critical of that celebration, which also made the national news rounds. The day after the game, Notre Dame president Rev. John I. Jenkins C.S.C. — who had a well-publicized bout with CO- VID-19 in October after failing to follow his own mandates while at a White House ceremony for new Supreme Court Justice Amy Coney Barrett — fired off a stern letter and rep- rimand to the student body. It included placing "a registra- tion hold on the record of any student who fails to appear for testing when asked to do so … you may not leave the South Bend area until you receive the results of your exit test." Numerous shots were fired back at Jenkins for his "do as I say, not as I do" policy. Fortunately, four days after the conquest, Notre Dame head coach Brian Kelly told ESPN Radio host Mike Green- berg that no positive tests for the coronavirus occurred when the players were tested on the Sunday and Tuesday after the game (as of Thursday before the Nov. 14 Boston College game, it remained status quo). The Clemson contest was the last home appearance for the Notre Dame student body this year because the first semes- ter ends Nov. 20, and students would be back in hometowns for the Dec. 5 game versus Syracuse. Kelly had warned his players about a potential rushing of the field after a win, and overall his troops made their way off the field quickly. "For them to give up so much and not have a real Se- nior Day and not really have the kind of things that other seniors have had, it's been so odd," Kelly said. "The fans rushed the field and our players were like, 'This is crazy,' but they also knew it was those seniors' last home game. "There was just so many emotions, and I think most of it was centered around our veteran players and all of our players that have worked so hard to get to that moment." While Notre Dame was able to continue its preparations for Boston College unin- terrupted, No. 1 Ala- bama had its Nov. 14 game called off versus LSU, among other SEC schools. No. 3 Ohio State had the same happen with its game against Maryland be- cause of the coronavi- rus. The 2020 college football season might come down to a battle of attrition and a matter of who the last teams are left standing. While this year has presented an immense challenge, Kelly noted he has been in awe of the consistent applica- tion of his team's week-in and week-out regimen during these times with classroom work, practice, weight training — and to not stray away from those goals. "The discipline your team has to have when they leave the football field, in terms of how they handle themselves away from here," Kelly told Greenberg. "It's not just about playing the game. The teams that are going to win this championship are also going to be the most disci- plined teams away from the football field. "I'm energized as a coach because they look at this as an opportunity. They're not negative about it. They're positive. And every single day they meet it with, 'Okay, these are the things we have to do if we want to continue to play football.' I'm amazed about how they have disciplined themselves. "I look back on my college years, I don't know that I could have done it. To see these guys and the way that they handle themselves on a day to day basis is just inspiring for me." Kelly admitted that in the preseason he wondered whether it was worth it to have a college football season. However, when he saw the resolve and dedication of the players, it uplifted everyone on the staff as well. Even having a sack lunch instead of sitting down at training table has become chic again. "This is a throwback to the days where there were no trappings of some of the things they've had from days before," Kelly said. "They're playing football because this is what they want to do." ✦ UNDER THE DOME CROWD CONTROL Irish players react well on and off field to social distancing protocols The Notre Dame student body rushed the field to celebrate in a cathartic moment after the team's double-overtime win over Clemson, but the field storming drew national criticism for the potential danger of it becoming a coronavirus spreader event. PHOTO COURTESY FOX NEWS VIA YOUTUBE

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