I attended the University of Notre Dame from the football seasons of 1987 through 1990. During that time, I saw a Heisman Trophy winner, a national championship and a lot of really good football.
In my student lifetime there, I attended every home game and sat in the student section, and since graduating, I've attended at least a few dozen more home games and sat in the regular civilian areas. So I can say, with a massive amount of experiential equity, that Notre Dame is largely (compared to other major college football crowds) a wine-and-cheese kind of crowd.
Yes, the House That Rock Built can get loud, even disruptive, under the proper circumstances, but it's never somewhere that you're fearful of engaging in any hand-to-hand combat.
Put it this way -- in what's easily been between 50 and 60 games in the stadium, I've never seen an actual fistfight, which is an astonishing streak for that much major college football, until you realize that people at Notre Dame games who get drunk are generally more the jovial or frustrated kind of drunks, not the belligerent kind.
So that's my preface for the next chapter in the 2014 Fan Fighting League -- a short donnybrook at the Notre Dame-Syracuse football game last Saturday night.
In 2014, as part of their "new age" scheduling initiative ("new age" meaning "maximizing revenue while also scheduling five ACC opponents per year"), Notre Dame is playing more and more games at big neutral-site stadiums. Thus, the Orangemen and the Irish squared off in MetLife Stadium in north Jersey on Saturday night.
Which means four things --
1. The crowd was decidedly (and in some areas of the stadium, somewhat randomly) interspersed, with Syracuse and Notre Dame people mixing together in close proximity.
2. The game is being played in an NFL stadium, not on a college campus, so beer was available for sale inside the stadium.
3. The game is in the New York City area, which means a lot of "subway alumni" from Notre Dame, in plain English, a lot of people who grew up Notre Dame fans but didn't wind up going to school there, for any number of reasons.
4. Any Notre Dame alum or fan used to frequenting games at Notre Dame Stadium was going to be completely out of his or her natural habitat (i.e., the aforementioned "wine-and-cheese" crowd), especially in the upper reaches of MetLife Stadium.
And that's where we go for Saturday night's main event, to the lofty upper tier of MetLife Stadium for Notre Dame versus Syracuse, Zapruder analysis to follow!
Okay, let's break this down....
0:01 -- Notice off to the far left of this video, a handful of (I assume, because they're wearing green) Notre Dame fans jostling back and forth with somebody behind them, almost like they're trying to keep a dam from breaking.
0:10 -- Whoever is causing the ruckus behind these Notre Dame fans is catching the wrath of "small blond chick in green Notre Dame ball cap." On any given Saturday at a Notre Dame game, there are roughly five thousand of "this chick." Also, old-school #83 Jeff Samardzjia jersey sighting on brunette in the same row!
0:13 -- You can sense a ruckus bubbling....
0:14 -- ....where is it.....where is it....
0:15 -- ...oh! THERE it is! Middle of the screen, dark blue T-shirt. Because both schools have dark blue as part of their color scheme, it's impossible to know which side the ruckus causer is on until he decks somebody, so hopefully he will hurry up and deck somebody!
0:21 -- WHOA! A couple of Syracuse dudes (in orange, so again, I am assuming) climb over two rows of people to jump in and help their fellow Orangeman in peril. Arian Foster, peaceful as he is, would respect these guys because they are being the best teammates they can be!
0:24 -- DOUBLE WHOA! One dude is in a Syracuse basketball jersey with no shirt on underneath it. I can say with a thousand percent certainty that I would never be friends with this person. Not because he is rooting for Syracuse, but because he is pasty white and chose to wear a basketball tank style shirt to a sporting event on Saturday night.
0:27 -- Fists are being thrown, screams are audible, cell phones are out, RING THE BELL....
0:30 -- Dark-Blue-T-shirt guy is being held off by someone in a white shirt with a forearm leaning against the middle of his chest, so we are still unclear which side Dark Blue is on. This much I do know -- any Notre Dame fan sitting in this section who is accustomed to Notre Dame Stadium is out of sorts, if not terrified, right now. They'd be less nervous if you dropped them in the middle of an African safari wearing a vest made of beef tenderloin.
0:33 -- TRIPLE WHOA! Dark-Blue-T-shirt guy just wound up and swung his right arm like it's the hammer at that circus attraction where you try to ring the bell at the top of the pole! (By the way, lamest circus attraction ever. Terrible.) He is standing over his prey like the Mountain about to squeeze out Olberyn's eyes. If you listen closely, I think you can hear Dark Blue T-shirt growl "ELYA MARTELL....I KILLED HER CHILDREN...."
0:36 -- Okay, thanks to several frightened Notre Dame fans scurrying for cover, we get a good look at the fight, and it appears that Dark-Blue-T-shirt guy is teamed up with Syracuse jersey guy (since he's throwing hands and getting into trouble, let's call him Eric Devendorf) and they're whaling on some dude in an even darker blue T-shirt. (I feel like I'm following the first three minutes of a 40-man battle royal here...who's sided with who???)
0:38 -- Some dude in a white shirt is involuntarily lying in a seat hammock-style, while the crowd begins to...WAIT, QUINTUPLE GREAT GOOGILY MOOGILY WHOA!!! DID YOU SEE THAT PUNCH?!? DARKER BLUE T-SHIRT GUY IS FOR REAL!!!
0:40 -- And he's not holding back!! In a ten-second advertisement for why you can no longer bring your kids to games if you're seated in the upper deck after 4 p.m., and with multiple color commentators, BOTH guys go tumbling down several rows of seats into a sea of various colored Brady Quinn jerseys. (Also, Ron Powlus appears to be in the aisle trying to make sure people don't go near the carnage.)
1:00 -- Double-fisted beer guy, with his plate of nachos, breathes a sigh of relief that he didn't wind up with all of that shit splattered on the front of his shiny new ND pullover.
1:05 -- The fighters are eventually subdued. Because Devendorf was partnered with the guy who got his face caved in, I am going to declare Notre Dame the winner by knockout, which gives the Irish a clean sweep on the weekend, having won the game on the field 31-15.
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Next week, Notre Dame returns home to take on Stanford in Notre Dame Stadium, where our best chance at a fight would be for a spelling bee to break out in Section 118.
(H/T The Big Lead)