One of the unalloyed joys of this week is reliving the pleasure of my trip to South Bend in 2017. I’ve come across several articles that have made it clear what an impact our fan base had on the players in that game.
The 2017 game in South Bend, Indiana, was a launching point of sorts for both schools. Smart was in his second season. Georgia squeezed out a 20-19 win that was significant because SEC schools seldom challenge themselves with such true road nonconference games outside the Deep South.
“I most definitely remember the fans,” Georgia defensive back J.R. Reed said. “Being in that stadium and seeing that sea of red made me think it was a home game. I knew the Georgia fan base was for real.”
There were an estimated 30,000 Dawgs at Notre Dame Stadium that night.
Georgia players didn’t know what to expect before they arrived. What would the environment be like? The fans? Bellamy remembers a “fear of the unknown” because they’d never played Notre Dame and only heard about the school in a mystical sense and from watching old games on ESPN Classic.
But by this point in their careers, Bellamy and his fellow seniors had played in some intimidating places. Tennessee twice, Florida twice. Then they ran out of the Notre Dame Stadium tunnel and saw…Bulldogs fans. It put the team at ease.
“It was like a home game,” Bellamy says.
“We were pissed off,” McGlinchey says.
We really were awesome, weren’t we?
There will be far less than 30,000 visitors in the stands tomorrow night, but I do hope we show some legit Southern hospitality to those Irish fans who do brave the trip. I know I’m repeating myself here, but I was so impressed with how gracious everyone was in South Bend, before and after the game, despite their obvious disappointment that so many of their ticket holders sold their seats to invaders wearing red and black.
These aren’t Tech fans, so reciprocate if you get the chance, Georgia folks. It’s how your mommas raised you. (Or should have, anyway.)