I still to this day hate Notre Dame more than just about any other college football program, with the Gators and Buckeyes only coming close. One of the big reasons was the 1988 game between my Canes and the Fighting Irish. The lead up to the game annoyed the hell out of me because it was all about the “Catholics vs. Convicts” storyline and it was filled with biased reporting.
For instance, they would talk to a Hurricane about how heated the rivalry was and after he would say something about how the teams hated each other and they wanted to knock the snot out of the opponent, the announcer would comment about how that was why they had the thug and convict persona. Then, immediately after, a Notre Dame player would say how it’s one of those rivalries where when there’s a pile, you take the opportunity to throw a few punches, maybe try to gouge the guy’s eyes out and take cheap shots, and the announcer would follow this by saying this was tough, hard-nosed, old-school football and would praise the Notre Dame guy for it. I was only 15 years old at the time, but saw this as a clear double-standard and cried bull shit.
It was all worsened by the fact that the officiating was horrible — as it often was against the Hurricanes throughout the late 80s and beyond — and this was highlighted by the “fumble” call late in the game on what was obviously a Cleveland Gary touchdown. The ref claimed he lost the ball before he was down, but it was clear to everyone that wasn’t a ref wanting the “Convicts” to lose to the “Catholics” that Gary extended the ball across the goal line before he lost the ball. It was an obvious TD, an obvious bad call, and one of the reasons we ended up losing the game 31-30. Yet, because of it, the Irish went on to win the National Championship and many of called it one of the best college football teams ever. Bull shit. They weren’t even the best team in 1988 and it should’ve been the middle National Championship of a Miami three-peat.