When Notre Dame opens the season against Navy in Dublin, Ireland, it's expected to be the biggest single-day sporting event in that country's history. More than 35,000 tickets have been sold for the game in the U.S., and Sept. 1 is expected to be the busiest day in the history of Dublin's airport. ESPN will broadcast the game to more than 20 million households in Europe alone.
The not-so-Fighting Irish might not be the heavyweights they once were, but plenty of people still care passionately about them.
College football fans either love the Fighting Irish or hate them, as there's very little middle ground when it comes to Notre Dame football.
"I'd look at it as the most loyal fan base in the country because we haven't won," Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly said. "Football is really, really important here."
As Kelly prepares to begin his third season as Notre Dame's coach, he's trying to accomplish something his three predecessors (Bob Davie, Tyrone Willingham and Charlie Weis) couldn't do: guide his team to at least eight victories in three consecutive seasons. Somehow, the Irish haven't accomplished that modest feat in 18 seasons, when current ESPN analyst Lou Holtz was nearing the end of his tenure as Notre Dame's coach.