Although Notre Dame did not exactly take kindly to USC‘s new starting quarterback Max Wittek’s prediction that the Trojans would beat the Irish, word out of South Bend as the team boarded the last plane for the coast is that they are far more offended by the Trojans’ assertion last year that Notre Dame quit.
It started with the comments by USC linebacker Chris Galippo shortly after last year’s 31-17 Irish loss to the Trojans in South Bend.
“At the end there, when they didn’t call those timeouts, they just quit,” Galippo sneered after the game. “And that’s what Notre Dame football’s about. They’re not anything like USC.”
Of course, USC coach Lane Kiffin later got Galippo to issue one of those half-hearted apologies, but the insults of ND didn’t end there, as Trojan running back Marc Tyler then added fuel to Irish ire.
“That’s what happens when you beat them down,” Tyler concurred. “We wore them out. They didn’t want to play no more. We out-physicaled them and beat them down.”
Again, the dust could have settled that Saturday, but none other than USC QB Matt Barkley resurrected it in a radio interview that Monday.
“I would agree with [Galippo and Tyler],” Barkley said during an interview with Max Kellerman and Marcellus Wiley on 710 ESPN. “I was shocked that they didn’t use the [fourth-quarter] timeouts because we got on the field with … about seven minutes left, and I thought they were planning on stopping us and saving their timeouts for the end when they had the ball.”
“It seemed from our sideline and our perspective that they did give up. It seemed uncharacteristic of Notre Dame. I wouldn’t have wanted to have been on that sideline.”
In fairness, there may be some justification for the Trojans’ gut reaction. USC, leading 31-17, took possession with 6:43 left and Curtis McNeal ran it ten consecutive times, getting all the way to the Notre Dame two-yard line before time expired.
Notre Dame coach, Brian Kelly, never did use his timeouts, later explaining he was set to do so if the Irish stopped McNeal on either of his first two third-down runs. But when McNeal made a first down on both plays, Kelly left the timeouts in his pocket, and the game was over.
Of course, it is one thing to question Kelly’s end game coaching skill, but quite another to mock the Irish player’s will…something Manti Te’o and company will surely remember when they take the field today.
Of course, in one sense, Mr. Galippo is right. Notre Dame football isn’t anything like USC football. The Irish play (and live) with class, a class they will show even as they knock each Trojan on his ass—and then help them up—during Notre Dame’s decisive “Saturday Night Special” victory.