Wanted to share with all Notre Dame fans a nice writeup about the trip by a reporter for the Atlanta Constitution:
SOUTH BEND, Indiana — Check out most any list of the most disliked teams in all of sports, and somewhere on the list you’re bound to find Notre Dame football. Like the New York Yankees, the Dallas Cowboys, and the Los Angeles Lakers, the Fighting Irish are one of those squads that...with its national following and long history of success...is reviled by most everyone else.
So when I and about 30,000 other Georgia Bulldog fans arrived for last weekend’s game, we came loaded for leprechaun. And we promptly found ourselves among...well...just about the nicest people anywhere.
There were little old men in green blazers stopping us to ask if we had questions or needed anything. A campus cop offered tips for touring the basilica. The stadium and basketball arena were open Friday afternoon for fans to have a look-see. A waitress at a sports bar remarked — after we’d left the tip — about how “snazzy” the visitors from Georgia looked.
And the fans: They were out early Saturday morning, setting up tailgate spreads for all. There were flags, cornhole boards and the biggest bottle of Fireball whisky I’ve ever seen. Everywhere you looked, there was socializing between partisans wearing Bulldog red or Irish blue and gold. Inside the stadium we spoke affably, in between screaming for our players to drive theirs into the turf.
I’m sure others among the assembled thousands could tell of less friendly engagement, but I neither saw nor heard of any. Every fan base has its knuckleheads, but at $500-plus per ticket, maybe most of ours and theirs stayed home.
Some Georgia people attributed it to the fact we’re not longtime rivals with Notre Dame — it was only the second time the teams have played — or that it wasn’t an SEC game. Perhaps. Certainly, encounters between Southeastern Conference cousins have produced uglier scenes over the years, though I’ve been to games in Auburn and Tuscaloosa and Knoxville and Jacksonville, and never witnessed much that was out of step with what I saw in South Bend.
No, I don’t think the lack of contempt at Notre Dame owed to a lack of familiarity. I chalk it up to the fact we were face-to-face, not swapping nastygrams in the septic tanks that online message boards can be.