Chicago -- It has been 22 years since Miami and Notre Dame faced off in a regular-season game. In 22 years, Miami has won two national championships, Notre Dame has won five bowl games and each program has had five head coaches since 1990.
As Miami and Notre Dame fans flooded Chicago’s Soldier Field on Saturday for a chance to see the rivalry renewed, neither forgot the storied history.
Whether it was Irish fans dressed as leprechauns or Canes fans decked from head to toe in orange-and-green, all were passionate about the rivalry.
Vince Fitzpatrick, 60, and his son Ray, 25, from Ocean City, N.J., flew in for their first Miami-Notre Dame game. Vince is an Irish fan, while Ray, a University of Miami grad, pulls for the Canes.
“I got tickets for a Christmas present from Ray,” Vince said. “We made a trip out of it. It’s been a good bonding experience, and the game is going to be great.”
With plenty of fans recalling the “Catholics vs. Convicts” era from the 1980s, images from decades past seemed as fresh as last week’s game film.
“We need revenge from the Gerry Faust years,” said Steve Stacker, 59, a Notre Dame fan from Blacksburg, S.C. “I just remember getting spanked by Bennie Blades and Jimmy Johnson and all the names.”
“I just remember that Cleveland Gary was down; he didn’t fumble, and that Gerry Faust deserved to get the score run up,” said Matt Mellott, 21, a Canes fan from Cincinnati. “Now it’s new. Al Golden has the Miami Hurricanes in a new time.”
Despite the history behind Saturday’s matchup, the present was very much on fans’ minds as both teams are off to their best starts in recent history. Said Derrick Cohen, a diehard Canes fan from Fort Lauderdale, “Seeing as we are coming back up I am hoping that these boys can understand what that tradition was like and bring that same intensity that we had back then to the game today.”
If there was one sentiment the fans at Soldier Field shared, it is that Saturday was the beginning to a new chapter in this unique story.
“These are life-and-death games,” said Bruce Nirenverg, 55, from Coconut Creek. “And today will get us on path to where the rivalry is meaningful again. That’s what we are hoping for.”