Tim Nowatzke was an unheralded receiver from Michigan City, Ind., a 45-minute drive from Notre Dame. The Cougars stayed in his hometown because they couldn’t find enough hotel rooms in South Bend.
Nowatzke wasn’t listed on the two-deep. Still, with numerous family members living in the area, he coaxed 80 tickets from teammates and officials.
It’s a good thing he did. Coach LaVell Edwards put him in the game, and in the third quarter, with the Cougars trailing 21-9, Nowatzke caught a touchdown pass. Though the Irish prevailed, there was certain symmetry to the situation.
Just as the Ruettiger’s story was taking shape, Nowatzke was living a dream of his own.
* * *
Hollywood didn’t disappoint.
“AFI 100 Years” rated “Rudy” the 54th most-inspiring film of all time, in any genre.
When the film came out, the Irish’s opponent wasn’t BYU; it was Georgia Tech — aptly played by Boston College.
Since BC was in South Bend two weeks after the Cougars, the filmmakers decided to cast the gold-helmeted Eagles as Georgia Tech, the Irish's 1975 opponent when Ruettiger had his day.
“Rudy” went on to be a hit, a based-on-a-true-story piece about a kid who wouldn’t give up.
As for the Cougars, at least they can say they warmed up the crowd.
Email: firstname.lastname@example.org; Twitter: @therockmonster; Blog: Rockmonster Unplugged
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