So I finally get to tell cool stuff heading into today's matchup, which is just hours away from what is expected to be another home sellout at Notre Dame Stadium (a late Friday rally, and the consecutive sold-out streak is still intact).
What many of you know by now is that I'm a Washington State Cougar. But in terms of family who went to college before me, my uncle played football at Notre Dame under coach Ara Parseghian.
His name is Fred Swendsen, and he played on the defensive line. He was a three-year starter, and was drafted in the NFL by the Buffalo Bills (although he never played because of an injury).
I could never go anywhere with my family without hearing about the Fighting Irish of Notre Dame (I have a lot of Irish blood in me, in fact). My grandfather would tell me stories constantly about football game-days, home and away. He even kept an old scorecard from the university golf course that you see just west of the stadium.
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So, today … I finally got to see what the commotion was about in South Bend, Ind. Needless to say, this is a day I've long anticipated because of those ties.
The two of us – myself and teammate Eric D. Williams, our Seahawks reporter – arrived at 1:45 p.m. EDT in the media lot, which is east of the stadium. We parked right in the middle of a Notre Dame tailgating extravaganza.
And while we walked, we were offered food and drink. I guess we could have also hung around and played a little bean-bag horseshoes, which is popular here on campus.
Our path took us right by the statue of Knute Rockne and Frank Leahy, former Notre Dame coaches. And as we made our way past the Leahy shrine, one Husky fan walked by, and sarcastically asked where the "Tyrone Willingham" statue was built.
The press box is on the west side of the venue, and massive with big windows and an unobstructed view of the field (which reminds me a lot of the field at the University of Montana with its narrow sidelines).
Notre Dame Stadium seats more than 80,000, but seems more confining than that. Thing I like about the venue is the simplicity of it. Corporate sponsorship and other advertisements are nowhere to be found. Just a Notre Dame flag, an NCAA logo and "Touchdown Jesus." It's a place to play football, and that's it.
Just to relate, a pretty good representation of the purple-and-gold faithful milling around the stadium.
From the field, looks like the UW will wear its all-white ensemble (away white jerseys and alternative white pants). Linebacker E.J. Savannah (foot) has been out doing some pre-game stuff. Will update his status later.
** UPDATE I: Some of the folks who are on the travel roster that normally would not have if it was a Pacific-10 Conference road game:
TE Marlon BarnettWR Tony ChidiacS Nate FellnerTE Ben HayesDB Taylor LappanoS Alvin LoganFB Kimo MakaulaQB Keith PriceRB Cole SagerLB Fred Wiggs
A no-go on receiver Luther Leonard, who did not accompany the team.
** UPDATE II: Savannah has been scratched, but Quinton Richardson (ankle) is back on kickoffs, along with Cole Sager. A surprise, to say the least.