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Monogram Club Musings: Oklahoma Edition

Oct 1, 2013, 12:43 PM EDT

More than 200 football Monogram winners formed the tunnel before kickoff at Notre Dame Stadium. More than 200 football Monogram winners formed the tunnel before kickoff at Notre Dame Stadium.

During football season, it might seem easy to define a weekend based on what the Notre Dame Stadium scoreboard reads at about 7 pm on Saturday. By that measure, this past one was a disappointment.

But as we all know, it’s about so much more than what happens on the gridiron. For the Monogram Club, it was an exciting few days, and I can confidently say they were some of the best I have had since working at Notre Dame. In fact, I’m not sure the Musings would do justice to a couple of the weekend’s festivities, so stay tuned for separate blog posts on Friday’s SAAC Lunch and Sunday’s Wounded Warrior Amputee Softball game.

For now, I present the Oklahoma edition of the Monogram Club Musings!

Oklahoma Game Notes

  • Before the Fighting Irish took the field, Indiana Senators Joe Donnelly and Dan Coats presented the national colors. Donnelly, a Double Domer (’77, ’81 J.D.), served in the House of Representatives from 2006 until 2012, when he was elected to the Senate.
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Senator Donnelly presents the flag (Photo courtesy of Lighthouse Imaging).

  • Three representatives from the Allstate Sugar Bowl, including former Irish tight end Rod West (’90), a member of the 1988 national championship team and the Board of Trustees, were on campus for the game.
  • Notre Dame Stadium fan favorite and 2010 honorary Monogram recipient Sgt. Tim McCarthy returned with an end of the third quarter traffic safety pun: “Remember, if you have coffee instead, there’s always grounds for safety.”
  • The men’s tennis program hosted a surprise reunion for Bobby Bayliss, who retired earlier this year after 26 seasons as head coach. A 1993 honorary Monogram recipient, Bayliss tallied an incredible 765 victories during a 49-year coaching career. Before the game, family members and dozens of former players joined him on the field.
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Longtime Irish tennis coach Bobby Bayliss, who retired earlier this year, was honored before kickoff
(Photo courtesy of Lighthouse Imaging).

Sightings Around Campus

  • With Oklahoma being perhaps the most high-profile opponent of the year, a number of Irish football greats returned for the big game, including Jerome Bettis, Tim Brown (’88) and Joe Theismann (’71). On Saturday afternoon, The Bus even sat down for his first studio interview with Fighting Irish Digital Media, so be sure to look for that in future productions on WatchND.
  • I’ve never watched a WWE event, but my old friends and colleagues in FIDM tell me that Jim Ross, the Sooners’ self-proclaimed #1 fan, is quite a legend amongst wrestling fans. He has almost one million Twitter followers, so I’ll take their word for it. Anyway, he seemed to really enjoy his first trip to South Bend.

1957 Reunion

More than 50 years ago, head coach Terry Brennan (’49) led the underdog Fighting Irish into Norman, to face the mighty Oklahoma Sooners, a team that had won 47 consecutive games. Thanks to a touchdown late in the fourth quarter, Notre Dame shocked the college football world and ended the historic winning streak.

This past weekend, 22 members of that Irish squad returned to campus for a special reunion. At the pep rally, emcee Jack Nolan welcomed a number of members from that group, including Jim Just (’59), who spoke to the Purcell Pavilion crowd. On Saturday, the ’57 team tailgated outside near the Frank Leahy Gate at the south end of the stadium, before being honored on the field during pre-game festivities.

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Members of the 1957 Irish football team (Photo courtesy of Lighthouse Imaging).

Monogram Club Events

Prior to kicking off the traditional football weekend events, the Monogram Club held its annual Fall Board Meeting on Friday. During the morning, University Vice President and Director of Athletics Jack Swarbrick (’76) spoke to the board about a number of topics, before head coach Brian Kelly arrived, expecting to talk about the Irish football team.

Instead, Monogram Club president Haley Scott DeMaria (’95, swimming) introduced Kelly, and Executive Director Beth Hunter invited a number of special guests into the Monogram Room, where the fourth-year head coach was presented with an honorary Monogram.

“It’s a great honor to be a member of the Monogram Club,” Kelly said. “It’s greatly appreciated, because after being here four years now, I know what it takes to be a Monogram award winner. The sacrifice that you have to make to earn that ND is incredible. I get a chance to see it every day. I live it in the day-to-day discourse with our student-athletes.”

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Head coach Brian Kelly along with Monogram Club president Haley Scott DeMaria (’95, swimming), his parents, Paul and Regina, and his wife, Paqui (Photo courtesy of Lighthouse Imaging).

Kelly also spoke about becoming an honorary Monogram winner during his appearance at the football luncheon on Friday afternoon. You can read more about Coach Kelly’s honorary Monogram in the press release on our website.

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Former Irish leprechaun Mike Brown (’01) joined current leprechaun Johnny Romano at a special sculpture dedication on Friday morning (Photo courtesy of Lighthouse Imaging).

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A new leprechaun sculpture was dedicated inside Gate 10 of Purcell Pavilion on Friday morning. The sculpture is a gift of the Merck family (Photo courtesy of Lighthouse Imaging).

On Friday evening, over 500 football Monogram winners and their guests came to the Schivarelli Football Players’ Lounge to enjoy some appetizers, including chicken wings and sliders, and check out the locker room and tunnel on a perfect fall night.

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The sun begins to set on a beautiful night at Notre Dame Stadium.

On Saturday afternoon, a record number of Monogram winners and guests attended the Club’s pre-game reception. Over 1,100 people stopped by to enjoy the delicious menu picked out by Karen Demeter! Among those guests were over 200 football Monogram winners/senior football managers who also picked up pre-game passes to form the on-field tunnel that the Irish ran through a few minutes before kickoff.

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Football Monogram winners/senior football managers formed the pre-game tunnel
(Photo courtesy of Lighthouse Imaging).

As always, game day wrapped up with another great post-game Mass in the Monogram Room. Honorary Monogram recipient and former football team chaplain Rev. Paul Doyle, C.S.C. (’65) presided once again, as more than 450 gathered to give thanks.

While there were no honorary presentations, or special blessings at Mass this week, guests were treated to a rousing rendition of the Victory March, courtesy of Beth’s daughter, Clare Hunter. Unfortunately, we’ve yet to come across any video, but if you captured the performance, maybe we can send it along to Taylor Swift in case she is looking for an opening act on her next tour.

Next up, the Monogram Club is headed to the Lone Star State for this weekend’s Shamrock Series game, so stay tuned to the blog and Twitter (@NDMonogram) for all the action!

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Irish leading the Wolfpack, 2-1, in the first game of an ACC doubleheader. Congrats to all of tonight's letter jacket recipients!