Five Foot Nothing: Misery Without Company

Michigan Wolverines quarterback Devin Gardner (98) is sacked in the end zone by Notre Dame Fighting Irish linebacker Prince Shembo (55) during the fourth quarter. (Andrew Weber-USA TODAY Sports)

Misery loves company, and I have lost my company.

As strange as it was to watch Temple across Notre Dame Stadium from the student section last week, it was a different experience entirely to watch last night’s game from a couch in the Chicago area without a single classmate or family member to share in the experience.

I was absolutely glued to my phone—text messages and Twitter galore. At one point, I thought, “What are you doing? The game is on.” I’ve never before been on my phone like that during a game. But then I realized that the constant communication was filling the void left by the absence of all my friends around me in the student section or in the Keough quad game watch.

That Notre Dame was struggling against Michigan made me feel that void much more acutely than I would had we been winning, or even struggling against another opponent.

But this was Michigan.

I was shaking in the aftermath of the two fourth-quarter pass interference calls, completely enraged. “I can’t remember the last time I was this pissed,” I texted my dad, who replied, “2011.”

Oh, yeah. 2011.

As hard as it was to be at Notre Dame in 2011—as utterly depressed as the whole campus was—I think it’s harder to be away. I would take a united, depressed student body over being surrounded by people who think this loss is something I should have been over by 10 o’clock this morning.

“How was the game last night? Oh, they lost? I’m sorry, that’s a bummer.”

Yeah, it’s just one big bummer.

I reserve a special level in my brain for Michigan—and that level doesn’t equate with “bummer.”

If you’ve ever seen Moneyball, you’ll remember the scene in which Brad Pitt says, “The problem we’re trying to solve is that there are rich teams and there are poor teams. Then there’s fifty feet of crap, and then there’s us.”

In my brain, there’s USC, there’s Johnny Manziel, there’s Alabama last January. Then there’s fifty feet of crap, and then there’s Michigan.

Last January, when we lost the national championship game, I cried physical tears. I cried more over that game than I did over breakups in high school. It will probably stand out as the most heartbreaking sports moment of my life. But even then, with so much riding on that game, that team, that season, I didn’t feel like I do now.

Which is really, really angry.

When I try to pinpoint what it is that makes me hate Michigan so much—what really fuels my anger—I think of my day in Ann Arbor before that 2011 game. I think about how outrageously malicious Michigan fans were (which made it surprising when Alabama fans were downright sweethearts in Miami). I think about how they got in my face as we tried to get out of the stadium.

And the pattern continued since then. Last year during Christmas break, all the kids I knew from Michigan shoved “the SEC is too good” down my throat. After our 2012 win over Michigan, fans I knew toted the “Well, three out of four isn’t bad” mantra. Even all the stuff this week about us “chickening out.” Spare me.

I hate losing to Michigan. They make it really hard for me to accept defeat gracefully and with class. They make my blood boil, they make me change the channel when “Pure Michigan” commercials come on, they make me want to punch a Wolverine (that was a thought in 2011).

And they are making me feel the emptiness of not having my fellow Irish fans around me so much harder. Angry tweets just do not compare to the Sunday morning South Dining Hall commiserating.

I guess that’s why God made ND Nation.

This content can also be found on Notre Dame’s official football blog, Strong and True. Click here to read more.

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8 thoughts on “Five Foot Nothing: Misery Without Company

  1. Lauren lives in a very…interesting…world. Like George Bush, it is wholly outside the reality based community:

    http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-201_162-57575929/alabama-fan-receives-3-years-for-auburn-tree-poisoning/

    But that’s okay. I’d imagine a girl who thinks a two handed shove and grabbing onto a jersey and holding on for dear life are not examples of pass interference would lack the judgment not to be judgmental.

    On the bright side, she sure has a way with overstated adjectives and hyperbole! She’ll make a great single practitioner plaintiff’s attorney someday.

    • I’m loving this third person thing you have going on. It makes me feel so important.

      I would totally agree with you that the second call was a correct one, and never in my article did I say that it wasn’t. Saying that I was angry doesn’t imply that I think it was the wrong call. I can be angry for all sorts of reasons.

      As for the fan interactions, you’re going to find crazies everywhere. I’m not so hyperbolic that I would tell you there aren’t any nutcase Notre Dame fans out there. But in my experience, Michigan fans have been very nasty to me. But I suppose that’s just my own interesting little world.

      Thanks for reading!

  2. Your comments about watching the game away from your usual band of compatriots resonated with me. Still, far better to watch alone than, say, watch at a bar or party where viewing is interrupted with inane banter or the usual stupid questions.

    One question: why were you trying to analogize to that line from Moneyball? There, it was used to describe the resources available to the poor-but-scrappy Athletics organization. By contrast, I’ve always thought of Michigan as one of the “haves” of the college football world. If you were merely quoting it to say that you think that Michigan belongs under 50 feet of cr*p, then I think you need to work harder to, in your words, “accept defeat gracefully and with class.” Passive-agressive insults are beneath the teachings of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

    My prayers go out to you. I also pray that Brian Kelly learns to control his red rage, and to run the ball more.

    • I appreciate your ability to relate to the realities of watching alone. About the Moneyball comment, I wasn’t suggesting that Michigan doesn’t have a lot of money or that they belong under 50 feet of crap, I was just saying that my distaste for their program is so much stronger than my distaste for absolutely any other college program.

  3. You’ll probably have some folk suggest that you take in the game at one of the local watering holes sponsored by the ND Club of Chicago. This would be grievous error. Most of the people who attend those events are too busy trading business cards and/or getting drunk to really relish the gamewatching experience. I’d say a full 75% couldn’t tell the difference between a zone stretch and off-tackle. Looking for true ND fans in that environ would be akin to seeking a good man in the Cities of the Plain – you’re unlikely to find any, and even if you do they are tainted by association. Attending one of those events in an attempt to actually watch the game is a doomed effort. And unlike the poor, blessed defenders of Fort St. Elmo, no greater meaning will come of it.

    Again, I’m praying for you. And, again, I’m praying that Brian Kelly learn not to turn purple on national television, and that he installs some option routes for the WRs.

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