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Texas v. Notre Dame - A (Highly Subjective) Comparative Study

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Texas and Notre Dame. Between them, 1,633 wins on the gridiron. 16 national championships. Austin and South Bend are - whatever your personal feelings about either program - two of football's Meccas.

And after attending Notre Dame's season opening shellacking at the hands of Georgia Tech, I have now experienced both. What follows is a side-by-side comparison. Take it or leave it, as you will.

TRADITION

This is a tough one to start with, because both schools are literally oozing with tradition. Now, I don't have to flesh out the history of Texas football, of course. We know. What may be decisive, however, is that I don't have to flesh out the history of Notre Dame's football tradition, either. We know that, too.

And that gets, I think, to the crux of the matter. Notre Dame football is openly mocked these days because it has failed to produce a bowl win in over a decade. They've been slaughtered in almost every one of their big games over the last few years. They're a wounded animal right now, and they've got little recent success with which to drive fan devotion.

And yet, it's as strong as it ever has been. And that, I'm convinced after just three weeks here, is because of the tradition. My loyalties to Texas are undying, of course - but in this category, the edge goes to Notre Dame.

CURRENT RELEVANCE

Lest we overrate the importance of tradition, this category squarely clips the wings of Fighting Irish fandom. Notre Dame hasn't been this irrelevant in a long, long time. The devotees are hopeful that Charlie Weis' recruiting will change that soon, but they've got a lot of ground to make up before they match Texas in terms of recent relevance.

TAILGATING

Honestly? The tailgating scene up here is awesome. Midwesterners have a reputation for being a bit of an American oddity, and Domers, in particular, are known for inhabiting a unique place in the universe.

It's all true. It's definitely different up here. But it would be a grave mistake to say that it's anything short of outstanding. These people treat football weekends with the same reverence that us Texas crazies do. They drive and fly in from all over, plan their lives around the fall, and pay attention to detail. And as every good Texas tailgater will tell you - it's all in the details.

With that said, they can't quite match Texans in tailgating prowess. I didn't see any hogs slow-cooked whole overnight. I'm not sure I saw any new gadgets or gizmos which had been invented solely for fall weekend enhancement. The spirit and dedication were there, but that primal devotion to the act itself wasn't present like it is among the burnt orange and white's most dedicated weekenders.

Notre Dame's fanbase gets a lot of credit for their pregame festivities, but they can't match Texans in the parking lots.

STUDENT SPIRIT

This may be a product of Austin v. South Bend, but students at the University of Texas simply don't collectively live and die with the football team like the Notre Dame students do. Truthfully, this category isn't even close. Even if you factor in that there's very little to do up here other than root for the football team, the Texas student section still loses out. With 50,000 students, you'd think we'd have far more insanely wild students at the games.

Not so. The Texas students are, relatively speaking, a country club of restraint compared to the passion with which the Fighting Irish students live and die with the football team. The pep rallies are borderline cult-like. There are coordinated cheers and chants. It's much more like a Texas A&M sense of spirit, except without the fascist toy soldier part.

STADIUM

DKR-Texas Memorial Stadium has evolved from an awkward, multi-sport venue of poor architecture into one of the most memorable destination stadiums in the country. And we're just scratching the surface. The renovations to be completed over the next decade will make DKR one of the most beholding venues in collegiate sports.

Notre Dame Stadium, on the other hand, is more like the Rose Bowl. It is simple and deceptively alluring. There's nothing particularly flashy about it, but it commands a sense of awe and respect for the game being played within.

Call me a wimp, but this one's a Draw.

ALUMNI

This one's maybe the toughest one of all, because Notre Dame's alumni network, though 20% of the size of a school like Texas', is one of the most fiercely loyal and supportive in existence. Still, there's one factor which makes me give this category to Texas: the fact that no matter where I go - literally anywhere in the country - I cannot help but spot burnt orange.

I literally have yet to take a trip anywhere in the country where I've not spotted a fellow Longhorn fan. We're literally everywhere. It's a close call, but no one - and I mean no one - can match Texas fans' ubiquity. We're like cockroaches. Except virtuous.

WOMEN

Oh, please. Like Notre Dame can compete with Texas in the category of beautiful women. We all know that's a mismatch.

Let me just note, though, that the widespread perception that the undergraduate women of Notre Dame are a clumpy bunch of ladies is flat out wrong. I've been spending my time between class periods parked in the Student Union and I can assure you that, were a fellow in search of a hot-to-trot princess to covet, he'd have no shortage of options. There are lots of beautiful co-eds at this school.

If I ever make note that I've started doing my case briefs in the undergraduate library? Now you know why.

--PB--