BYU football: Playing at Notre Dame can be like a bowl game

Published: Monday, June 25 2012 10:03 p.m. MDT

One of the things fans should see if they travel to Notre Dame for a game is the Grotto of Our Lady of Lourdes.

Ravell Call, Deseret News

Editor's note: This is the third in a four-part series examining the relationship between BYU and Notre Dame and the impending start of a six-game football series between the Cougars and the Fighting Irish. Read part 1. Read Part 2.

Today: How does Notre Dame view BYU? Is there potential for a rivalry?

PROVO — The reporter dialed Jim Augustine's phone, and the sound on the other end made Augustine's allegiance perfectly clear — it was the Notre Dame fight song.

That was just the first sign that Augustine is a devout Fighting Irish fan. After retiring from teaching five years ago, Augustine opened up a memorabilia shop, called "Augie's Locker Room," on the edge of the Notre Dame campus in South Bend, Ind.

"I've been collecting vintage Notre Dame memorabilia since I was a little kid," said Augustine, 66. "I had my inventory already. I couldn't have asked for a neater place. It's fun."

Among the hundreds of items on display, there's the Knute Rockne Room, and helmets and jerseys signed by Irish legends Joe Montana, Tim Brown and Paul Hornung.

A bigger Notre Dame fan this side of Regis Philbin would be difficult to find.

So what does Augustine think about his beloved Irish playing BYU six times between 2012 and 2020?

"It's going to be exciting. BYU reminds me of a military academy, because they will never give up," he said. "As far as I'm concerned, BYU is a great opponent. My whole family is Notre Dame fans except for my sister and her family. They are BYU fans. They are so excited for this game. When the series started in the 1990s, they've gone to all of the BYU-Notre Dame games. They love the great tradition of strong values and the good kids that go there. It's a great tradition to have BYU come here. I'm looking forward to it."

Because both BYU and Notre Dame are independent, and private, religious-affiliated universities that share a bit of a history, is there potential for a rivalry?

Well, the two schools have played just six times in football, and only two of them — both BYU wins — were close.

Then Augustine points out something that bothers longtime Irish fans when it comes to BYU.

"One of the saddest moments in Notre Dame history was when Rocket (Ismail) got beat out by Ty Detmer in the Heisman (in 1990)," he said. "That was a shocker. That year, everybody in the country knew Rocket was getting the Heisman and that Notre Dame was going to have another Heisman winner. When that announcement was made, it shocked people. Nothing against Ty Detmer, he's a class act."

To this point, not a lot of Notre Dame fans are talking about the upcoming BYU game, Augustine said.

"People won't talk much about that series until it happens. Once that game happens, the excitement will begin to build. I think BYU is a sleeper. That's a team that can come up and bite you. They're a good team and well-coached. People like the excitement of independent schools. That's what makes BYU and Notre Dame a good fit. The whole season comes down to playing each other. What else do you have? The buildup for that game is going to be tremendous. Whoever loses will be hungry for the next year. I'm excited to have BYU back on the schedule."

It could take time for the Cougars and Irish to build a rivalry. Notre Dame already enjoys longstanding rivalries with teams like Michigan, Southern California and Navy.

Dan Murphy, a staff writer for Blue & Gold Illustrated, a publication devoted to covering Notre Dame athletics, said the school's administration likes the idea of playing BYU on a regular basis.

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