Blue and Gold Illustrated

Sept. 10, 2022*

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

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52 SEPT. 10, 2022 BLUE & GOLD ILLUSTRATED IRISH ECHOES JIM LEFEBVRE BY JIM LEFEBVRE T hese are bewildering times for traditionalists in college football. The transfer portal has made thousands of players essentially free agents. Dollars paid in name, image and likeness deals almost guarantee abuse. Massive media agreements dwarf any- thing previous. What used to be con- ferences are now coast-to-coast mar- keting alliances. More shifting is likely, and the future of the College Football Playoff is up for grabs. But when Notre Dame opens its 135th home season against Marshall Sept. 10, some things will be certain. Alums and other fans from near and far will gather and renew friendships and traditions. Whether it's Sean Quinn ('94) and his pals having a quiet "top o' the morning" at Rockne's grave, or the biggest, loudest bash in Tailgate Heaven, the celebration of another Fighting Irish season will begin. And all the noise of the larger college football world takes a back seat. Across the acres of parking outside Notre Dame Stadium, various flags — of families, Notre Dame clubs, high schools or other teams — pinpoint the locations of countless tailgate parties. Some have held the same location for decades and are long-standing meeting places for friends. Marcus "The Admiral" Wolnitzek ('99), senior football manager in 1998, holds forth in a location that attracts lots of folks from the Cincinnati area with its specialties like cheesy-melt and potato chili. Once a season, the bash is known as The Uber, with special addi- tions attracting as many as 250 visitors. Wolnitzek crosses paths with lots of ND fans on his travels. "A lot of people I come across men- tion that they've been to one of my Uber tailgates over the years," Wolnitzek said. "It's taken on a life of its own." Some events are annual gatherings. A group of 1991 alums, mostly from Grace Hall, started tailgating around the theme of a Bachelor Bounty, a pool for the last member of about 50 to be mar- ried. The winner (Dr. Michael Rodricks in 2010) donated the kitty back to the group for future tailgates. "Our annual tailgating experience co n t i n u e s to e n e rg i ze t h e l i fe l o n g friendships that began on campus 30-plus years ago," Mike Nead ('91) said. "No matter the weather or the game outcome, it is always a day full of connection, laughter, food and great stories." Those taking in the sights and sounds of campus itself also don't go hungry. In between photo opportunities in front of the Dome, a visit to the Basilica or Grotto, many make their traditional stop for a Knights of Columbus steak sandwich, a tradition for half a century. Others make a point of supporting food stands operated each game by a shifting roster of student organizations, includ- ing club sports teams. Gameday represents an opportunity to replenish one's Fighting Irish swag. For some, that's the "dropping of the hundreds" at the Hammes Notre Dame Bookstore. Others make the short trek off-campus to Augie's Locker Room at 1811 South Bend Avenue. Or, as propri- etor Jim Augustine said, "The ND foot- ball museum where you can buy some of the exhibits." There are also bargains to be found at the sales tables outside the Basilica, manned by volunteers to benefit the charities of Sacred Heart Parish. STRIKE UP THE BAND So much tradition, color and pag- eantry of game day is tied up in the Band of the Fighting Irish, it's natural that many Notre Dame fans build some of their traditions around enjoying the at- mosphere created by the band. When Larry Dwyer, Notre Dame as- sistant director of bands, was an ND student in the 1960s, the pre-game The Notre Dame Marching Band was on hand for the very first home game against Michigan in 1887, and it has been there for all 659 home games since then. PHOTO BY ANDRIS VISOCKIS Time-Honored Campus Traditions Stay Strong

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