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Monogram Club Musings: USC Edition

Oct 22, 2013, 3:37 PM EDT

Notre Dame. USC. A classic fall Saturday in South Bend. Nighttime in Notre Dame Stadium. This rivalry needs no introduction.

As always, the big matchup between the Fighting Irish and Trojans brought a huge crowd to campus, and a number of special guests and groups watched as the blue & gold defeated USC, 14-10.

Here’s a recap of another great home football weekend, in the latest edition of the Monogram Club Musings!

USC Game Notes

  • Prior to kickoff, representatives of the Lott IMPACT Trophy presented a $25,000 check to University Vice President and Director of Athletics Jack Swarbrick (’76). Swarbrick, a 2013 honorary Monogram recipient, accepted the check on behalf of Manti Te’o (’13, football), who won the Lott award last December.
  • During the first timeout of the first quarter, the 2012-13 Notre Dame women’s basketball team was recognized for reaching the 2013 Final Four. Competing in New Orleans in April, it was the third consecutive Final Four appearance for head coach Muffet McGraw’s team. Several recent graduates, including student-athletes Skylar Diggins (’13) and Kaila Turner (’13), and senior managers Katie Schwab (’13) and Brigitte Lawless (’13) joined their former teammates and coaches in the recognition.

  • As always, Notre Dame Stadium fan favorite and 2010 honorary Monogram recipient Sgt. Tim McCarthy provided the sellout crowd with an important traffic safety pun at the end of the third quarter: “Remember, you get the best mileage home, when not driving, half tanked.”

Sightings Around Campus

  • The biggest group to return to campus for Saturday’s game was the 1988 national championship team (more on that later), but there were also several recent Notre Dame football Monogram winners who came back for the big game. After being on opposite sidelines for Thursday’s NFL game, Seattle Seahawks receiver Golden Tate and Arizona Cardinals receiver Michael Floyd (’12) spent Saturday back home in South Bend.

  • Fellow receiver Robby Toma (’13) enjoyed the opportunity to meet rock star, ND fan favorite and Irish football dad Jon Bon Jovi.
  • At halftime, the Band of the Fighting Irish was joined by members of Chicago, to perform a number of the group’s greatest hits including “Saturday In The Park” and “25 or 6 to 4.” The two bands have long had a great relationship, thanks in part to Chicago’s manager, Peter Schivarelli (’71, football).

  • I’m only halfway through season 2 on Netflix, so I don’t know too much about the legend of Hank Schrader, but Breaking Bad‘s Dean Norris returned to his hometown and caught the Irish game this weekend. Norris is a Clay High School graduate, attended Harvard and he currently stars on CBS’s Under The Dome (which, despite the title, has nothing to do with Notre Dame). Assistant athletics director for compliance Jen Vining-Smith had a chance to meet him on the sidelines. Check out her tweet below.

  • USC grad and Hollywood funnyman Will Ferrell made the trip to South Bend. Unfortunately no one was brave enough to wander over to the Trojans’ sideline and snap a picture with him.

1988 Reunion

For the third consecutive home game, the Monogram Club welcomed back a group of former Irish football players for a special reunion weekend. For USC, more than 50 members of the 1988 squad returned to campus. It was only fitting that Notre Dame’s last national championship team celebrated its 25th reunion on a weekend against the Trojans. After all, it was a 27-10 victory at the Los Angeles Coliseum that kept the Irish unbeaten and earned them a spot in the Fiesta Bowl.

At Friday’s luncheon Ned Bolcar (’89), Pat Terrell (’90) and Jerry Barca (’99), author of the recently released book Unbeatable, sat down with emcee Jack Nolan to discuss the historic Irish season.

“The team was very close. We all came to Notre Dame to win—to win for the school, ourselves, and all our great fans,” Bolcar said. “We all made sacrifices.”

Watch the ’88 segment of the luncheon below.

At the pep rally later that evening, Bolcar and Terrell, along with former defensive coordinator and current Wisconsin athletics director Barry Alvarez, spoke to the crowd on Library Quad, before head coach Brian Kelly handed the mic to the man everyone had come to hear speak – Lou Holtz. You can watch the entire pep rally directly below, or just check out the second video for Holtz’s rousing pep talk.

Following the pep rally, the ’88 squad gathered for its reunion dinner in the Monogram Room. Bolcar kicked off the evening with some opening remarks, before Darrell “Flash” Gordon (’88) delivered the invocation. After dinner, which was sponsored by the Fiesta Bowl, Tony Rice (’90) introduced Holtz, who spoke to his former players and guests for about 15 minutes. Senior Associate Athletics Director (and 1991 honorary Monogram recipient) John Heisler wrote a nice recap of the evening on

On Saturday, members of the team and their families enjoyed a tailgate in a tent on DeBartolo Quad, before making their way over to Notre Dame Stadium, where they were honored on the field during pre-game festivities. Watch the video below, as public address announcer Mike Collins (’67, honorary) introduces the team to a rousing ovation from the crowd of 80,795.

ND Sports Blogger Aaron Horvath was also up close to the huddle, and captured a few seconds of the ’88 team getting hyped before taking the field. Some of them look like they can still suit up!

As part of the weekend, Fighting Irish Digital Media also put together a great retrospective video on the 1988 team, featuring interviews with Holtz, Terrell, and Rice, as well as Scott Kowalkowski (’91), Steve Belles (’89) and Rocket Ismail

Monogram Club Events

On Friday evening, close to 500 football Monogram winners and their guests came to the Schivarelli Football Players’ Lounge to enjoy some appetizers, including sliders and mini-brats, and check out the locker room and tunnel on another great fall night.

On Saturday afternoon, over 1,000 Monogram winners and guests attended the pre-game reception in the Monogram Room. The popular event keeps growing, and in order to better accommodate visitors, the room featured a different reception-style set-up with bistros instead of the usual sit-down tables.

Once again, game day wrapped up with another great post-game Mass in the Monogram Room (the only “Midnight Mass” on campus following the night game!). Football team chaplain Rev. Mark Thesing, C.S.C. (’81, ’85, ’92) presided, as more than 200 gathered to give thanks.

The Irish travel to the Rockies this weekend for a matchup with Air Force (5:00 pm ET on CBS Sports Network), before returning home against Navy on Nov. 2. Stay tuned to the blog and follow on Twitter (@NDMonogram) as we enter the home stretch of the 2013 Notre Dame football season!

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