SHUCK OF THE IRISH….As a USC fan, I’m always happy to see a beatdown of Notre Dame football, even if it comes from a Big Ten alumnus like Jon Chait. And today’s column, which also calls out Rudy Ruettiger for being the annoying twit that he is, definitely made my corn flakes go down easy this morning. And yet, check this out:

Newspapers in the Midwest generally have dedicated beat writers for the hometown teams and one other program: Notre Dame….Notre Dame has its own network, NBC, whose college football coverage is limited solely to Notre Dame games, which it covers with all the journalistic tenacity of a church newsletter.

….Why does Notre Dame football hold such a prominent place in our culture? The answer lies in the power of myth….Myth is deeply embedded in Notre Dame football, the way it is in no other sports team.

….In this country you can make yourself into whatever you want, and sometimes all you have to do is convince everybody else that you are who you say you are. Pundit Michael Novak recently rejoiced that Notre Dame had become “America’s team.” Fans of other programs may bridle, but the appellation fits.

Hmmm. I could swear there was something else at work that helps explain Notre Dame’s unique nationwide popularity. It’s on the tip of my tongue. Starts with a “C,” maybe. Perhaps Michael Novak could tell us?

(But hey ? nice comeback yesterday against Michigan’s other team, guys. We’ll see you after Thanksgiving in the Coliseum. We’ll even mow the grass.)

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