There was no ‘California Earthquake’ this time around |

There was no ‘California Earthquake’ this time around

Post Independent
Glenwood Springs, CO Colorado
Mike Vidakovich

Nov. 24, 2012, was a great day to be a Notre Dame football fan. Nov. 30, 1974, was not.

If you like the Irish, then you dislike the University of Southern California Trojans. It’s as simple as that.

I definitely fall into that category.

Other than looking at their cheerleaders, I find little reason to ever turn the TV dial to a USC game, unless I hear they are getting beat.

I root, and I root hard, for every team they play against. I know Trojan fans share similar sentiments in regards to the Irish.

USC has broken the hearts of Irish fans on more than one occasion, and mine was shattered on that fateful, late November day in 1974, when I watched in horror as Southern Cal running back Anthony Davis led the Trojans to a 55-24 victory at the Los Angles Coliseum in what would be Notre Dame coach Ara Parseghian’s final season.

After jumping out to a commanding 24-0 lead in the opening half, the Irish could only watch and wave as Davis took the second half kickoff 102 yards for a touchdown to start a comeback that would be dubbed by Sports Illustrated as “The California Earthquake.”

USC scored 55 unanswered points behind Davis, who did a little “grass dance” on his knees in the end zone after every one of his scores, and quarterback Pat Haden, who threw a couple of scoring strikes to the coach’s son, J.K. McKay, and super receiver Shelton Diggs.

I was so distraught at the conclusion of the game that I had to run upstairs and lock myself in the bathroom of the old house I grew up in to avoid the nonstop razzing I was catching from family members who sat watching, grinning ear to ear, as the day’s catastrophe, and I, unfolded.

After much thought, I emerged from the bathroom and did the only noble thing I could think of – run away from home and this cruel, anti-Notre Dame family.

I headed down the back stairs, cursing Anthony Davis under my breath, still sniffling and vowing never to return.

A couple hours later, just before dark, and dinner on the table, I humbly tiptoed in the back porch of my house, through the laundry room and into the kitchen where I found the family gathered. My plate was set in the usual spot. Disappointed that no search party had been sent for me, I scooped up some food from the stove and quietly settled into my chair for a delicious dinner.

No one was too surprised at my entrance, since I had run away several times before, and always returned in time for supper.

I thought I may have to run away again during the fourth quarter of the 2012, and latest version of the ND vs. USC game. The Trojans were at the goal line and threatening to score in the waning moments, and possibly ruin the upstart Irish’s chance at the national championship.

This time, though, Anthony Davis and Pat Haden had used up their eligibility, and thank goodness, the Trojans were forced to use a freshman backup quarterback.

Things may have turned out differently if USC’s No. 1 signal-caller had been healthy.

At the end of the game, two things were certain to me: A season-long run of good fortune will allow Notre Dame to play for the championship of college football, and even if they had lost and I was forced to run away, I would have certainly been back home in time for dinner.

Mike Vidakovich is a freelance sports writer for the Post Independent.

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