Saying Goodbye: Five things I learned writing Inside the Irish – Inside the Irish | NBC Sports

    As Lloyd Christmas said, “I hate goodbyes.” But after eight seasons of covering the day-to-day happenings of Notre Dame football, it’s time to say just that.

    It’s crazy to think that it’s been almost a decade since I convinced the good folks at nbc sports digital to pay me money to cover the daily comings and goings of the irish soccer team. and it’s even crazier that he’s coming this Friday, I won’t wake up wondering what I’m going to write about.

    Reading: Inside the irish keith arnold

    but, it’s time. After eight seasons, two head coaches, 65 wins, 37 losses, and an imaginary girlfriend, I’m spinning on my wings.

    so let’s do it the only way I know how. Here are five things I learned from writing in Irish.

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    No matter how fair you try to be, you will always have favorite players.

    my introduction to notre dame football was memorable. Giant speakers blared down the fourth-floor hallway of Stanford Hall, a rude early-morning wake-up call for an 18-year-old freshman still a bit groggy from the night before. I had yet to see a football game at the notre dame stadium, although I did manage to get through the stadium gates and down the tunnel the night before, executing ghost pass patterns on that shaggy grass field after a night of exquisite trapezoidal lights.

    The next day, the Irish beat the defending Rose Bowl champions. And a very young Keith Arnold wondered if every Saturday would be as magical as this one.

    they wouldn’t be. but that doesn’t mean they weren’t all interesting.

    The story above is license to expand on my first (and last) Irish team all-inside, creating a list of my favorite players to fill their respective positions since the notre dame football virus took hold of me.

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    The Irish team from the inside

    qb: brady quinn rb: autry denson rb: darius walker wr: golden tate wr: michael floyd wr: jeff samardzija te: tyler eifert lt: zack martin g: quenton nelson c: jeff faine g: chris watt rt: ryan harris

    from: justin tuck dt: trevor laws dt: louis nix de: stephon tuitt lb: jaylon smith lb: manti te’o lb: kory minor cb: shane walton s: harrison smith s: tommy zbikowski cb: keivarae russell

    p: hunter smith k: david ruffer returner: julius jones x-factor: tommy rees

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    Because of how close they came, it’s hard not to wonder what could have been.

    for me, the best three minutes covering the irish were the three minutes before the start of the bcs national championship game. I will remember that moment in the press box forever. I could have walked through a wall, I was so excited.

    the next three minutes? not so great but after eight years of seeing the ups and downs, I still have some serious “what could have been” moments left.

    what would happen if jimmy clausen and golden tate stayed in their last seasons? what if dayne crist never got hurt? what would happen if aaron lynch didn’t leave? or eddie vanderdoes didn’t want to see his grandmother? or did tee shepard make it to spring ball? what if brian kelly didn’t hire brian vangorder?

    what if some unidentified student coach didn’t provide much help or if everett golson didn’t take accounting classes? or did the 2015 team not live a final destination movie?

    Follow a team close enough and you’ll go crazy thinking about these scenarios. but at notre dame, a school where you’re always going to be on a razor’s edge, the only thing that struck me was the nature of sisyphus, if anything. just when it seemed the Irish were close to getting that rock to the top of the mountain, he always found a way to get back down.

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    No matter how long I do it, I will never understand people who can’t find a way to enjoy it.

    apologies in advance, but let me vent. There is a passion that surrounds Notre Dame football. but for a highly vocal group, that passion has run amuck, an elephant in the room that’s hard to ignore, even when you’re doing your best to do so.

    I’ll never understand that. how the people who have all the enthusiasm in the world for notre dame football have screwed it up so badly they’ve forgotten this is supposed to be fun.

    it’s sport.

    I won’t miss this part. the uncompromising ones who set kids and coaches a standard so far removed from their own, or those who don’t understand that every Saturday one team comes out with a winner and the other with a loser, and sometimes that loser wears blue and gold.

    make no mistake, I know better than anyone that college football is big business. has helped me and my family make a living, speaking and writing about a team, every day, for eight years. but as good as it is when the team wins, the bad years are much worse.

    It’s hard not to draw parallels between the sad cyber mob infesting Notre Dame football (and I’m sure many other shows) with those who made this political season so toxic. people who refuse to think that there is any nuance, that things are or are not.

    it is difficult to deal with people who believe that notre dame, if it were only managed and operated by competent people, would still be the notre dame of the past. that if only rockne, leahy, ara or lou were in charge of the team, or sorin, moose or father ted were in the main building, everything would be fine.

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    Politics aside, and I’m serious, no one is going to make Notre Dame football great again. at least not like it used to be. and certainly not the ndnation echo chamber. so while that group will be very happy to get rid of me, please know that, for the most part, the feeling is very mutual.

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    enough of pessimism. I will be eternally grateful for the community we built here, mainly thanks to you.

    I have met many wonderful people thanks to this blog. I was even stopped by people on the streets of South Bend, a fact that shakes my head to this day, with the question, “Are you Keith Arnold?” Fortunately, it was for a good reason. mainly, you read the blog.

    so thanks to everyone who has contributed, especially those who have lived below the fold. there is a large community of you that I will sincerely miss, even if I am not willing to single out any individual reader (other than my mom) for being better than the rest.

    We’ve had some wonderful characters in the comment threads. daily participants. some who have come and gone. some that have been banned and respawned. even crazy lawyers disbarred with conspiracy theories.

    The live blogs were fun. the tight 2009 season finale got even crazier when you saw the thousands of people feeding coveritlive with all of their thoughts. so were the (too) occasional mailbags. Thank you all for participating.

    As rude as it was above, there are a lot of people out there doing a great job writing and podcasting about the Irish. interesting and intelligent people whom I am happy to call friends. there are too many people to single out, but whether it’s premium websites getting by on subscribers or blogs run by people with a full-time job, there are too many people to single out, but it’s all very well done. speaking as a daily consumer of an unhealthy amount of notre dame coverage, it’s a wonderful time to be an irish fan, apart from season 4-8.

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    If I’ve learned anything in the last eight years, it’s that Notre Dame tries to be different.

    if you want to roll your eyes, go ahead and tell someone who doesn’t like irish style that notre dame does it better than the rest. (go ahead, it shouldn’t be hard to find someone).

    But as much as that statement gives me goosebumps, and I’m a proud alumnus, the more I dug deeper and deeper into the jack swarbrick football team and athletic department, the more comfortable I felt saying that notre dame tried to get it right.

    That doesn’t mean they always have. In my time covering the team, I had to cover some terrible events and I had to ask some very difficult questions. but more often than not, I was always struck by the conscientious effort put into balancing everything that goes into doing things the right way, challenging student-athletes to excel in an impressive academic environment while also trying to compete for a national championship.

    no matter what the ncaa tells me, i will not forget the 2012 season. i will not forget the moment the irishman was no. 1 graduation success rate in the country and the no. 1 shone proudly atop grace hall.

    My thanks to the team and the people who allowed me to cover them. to those who allowed a guy who lives 2,000+ miles away to pry and ask questions, even if it sometimes resulted in a story being kept secret on purpose. i guess they spent more than a moment inside the gug wondering how a guy with a laptop on manhattan beach figured out something he wasn’t supposed to know.

    While I’m away from the blog, I won’t stop watching the games. And while my time with NBC is over (for now), we’re still thinking of ways to get involved with their always excellent coverage of the Irish.

    so thanks again everyone. I’ll be back later this week to introduce you to the “new guy,” who you’ll soon like a lot more than the old one. and while shorter is often better, anyone who has read this blog knows that it has never been one of my gifts.

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