Notre Dame Athletics Friday Fire: Which Sport Should Notre Dame Crash Next?
Irish baseball team Notre Dame Fighting made us all proud with their run in the College World Series. Although the Irish were ultimately defeated by the Texas A&M AggiesThey’ve earned a lot of respect and credit by upsetting the heavyweight division Tennessee volunteers and Texas longhorns. Aside from kicking off the dead of all dead periods in the collegiate world (which has absolutely nothing to do with the existence of this article), this conclusion also begs the question: which party should the Irish topple next?
Notre Dame has achieved a high reputation in many sports. Football is of course the most prominent and will always have a special place since it all started, but many other great programs have sprung up alongside it. From women’s basketball to men’s soccer, hockey to fencing, the Irish compete for titles all year round. Yet there are still areas (like baseball up until the last few years) where Notre Dame is, or would be, an outsider; nor corners of the sporting world where the Irish flag has not been flown. Let’s take a look.
Notre Dame’s men’s golf has had some success in the past Great East, who won eight conference titles from 1995 to 2012 but has been mediocre in conference since joining the ACC and has constantly lingered on the fringes of national competition. That’s also pretty much where the women’s team is, which last competed in an NCAA championship in 2011. The men’s team has a national championship that dates back to 1944.
While there is nothing wrong with these results, the Irish have the potential to aim higher at the national level. It has access to a great course nearby, and the sport undoubtedly fits the culture. With Brian Kelly no longer hogging the links, it might be time for Jack to invest more resources and take this program to the next level.
Rowing is the oldest collegiate sport in the United States. Do you know who loves old things? Old school Notre Dame alumni and donors, that’s who. Unfortunately, our gold-seated compatriots Passion for antiques did not translate into Irish rowing dominance. Men’s rowing is a club sport with a vibrant and fun campus culture but does not compete at the NCAA level, while the women’s team is a varsity program but is a mediocre competitor in the ACC.
With Notre Dame surrounded on all sides by lakes and rivers, this is a sport that is definitely possible in Notre Dame. Given its association with the old-school prep aesthetic and overall elite college vibe, it would likely make many higher-ups at Notre Dame happy if the Irish were successful at it. All of this makes a prime candidate for revival.
Notre Dame has had some pretty solid tennis players over the years and competed regularly in NCAA tournaments, with the women’s team in particular making themselves felt in several solid post-season runs. However, there was never enough sustained success to establish the Irish program as a powerhouse.
Much like golf, this is a country club sport that many Notre Dame students have either played or will play in their lifetime, so it makes cultural sense and has the added benefit of being playable indoors, which means that harsh winters in South Bend would not be a problem. Breakthrough would just be a matter of finding the right people at the right time.
Notre Dame is one of the OGs of intercollegiate rugby with the oldest college rugby club in the Midwest. The Irish were even crowned national champions in 1966 and have been consistently strong regional players for decades. However, consistent behavioral problems with the club culminated in its eventual dissolution in 1995 by the university. When the club was re-established in 2007, it had a lot of work ahead of it in order to catch up with a national landscape dominated by the California Gold Bears and BYU Cougars alongside a handful of service academies, Ivy League schools, and giants out of thin air (holy shit life university!) The Irish have made great strides in re-emerging as a competitive threat, having played in every college rugby championship tournament since 2010 and recently joining National College Rugby.
All of that fine work is to be commended, but it would be truly awesome to see Notre Dame reclaim its place as the dominant national force in the sport that has done so much to popularize it at the collegiate level. The university has shown interest in raising the profile of the sport on campus, upgrading it from club to Olympic status and opening up more opportunities for funding. More than any other, rugby feels like a sport where Notre Dame should be a powerhouse – cultural, historical, etc. – and they are already making strides in that direction.
Yes I know. South Bend is thousands of miles from any serious beach volleyball location (or an actual beach). The weather is totally hostile to him and there is little appetite among students and fans. But you know which school does Love beach volleyball?
Great rivalries are built on sheer pettiness, and what could be pettier than building an entire collegiate sport from the ground up only to take it away from the other? So let’s do it Jack. Invite Tom Cruise over and teach the Irish the art of beach fun. Train them in the Warren Dunes. Train them on the court behind Lyons Hall. Train them until they are ready to hit the beaches of Troy and conquer them.