It’s a great day for us here at the KCCGD headquarters. Later today we will wrap up out series on the Big 10 Expansion, and we are taking a look at the last real candidate for expansion we have yet to cover in our mascot playground. Not only that, but we are out of Big 12 mascots to feature. So what better way to knock out two birds with one stone, or in this case a fist, with the Notre Dame Fighting Irish and the Leprechaun. Believe it or not, this green fella was not the original mascot way back when. Also, the mascot is one of the more unique type of mascots out there. Smack down some shepherd’s pie and pull back a Guinness, we are about to crazy Irish here.
Notre Dame’s unusual nickname came from the Irish immigrant soldiers who fought in the Civil War under the Union’s Irish Brigade. How they became the Fighting Irish depends on who you talk too. One story talks about the phrase “Kill the Fighting Irish” belted out by Northwestern students after halftime during their 1899 game. Another one talks of a player calling out his teammates for being Irish and not fighting a lick against Michigan in 1909. They came back and won that game by the way. Yet another one came from a 1924 fight with the anti-Catholic Klu Klux Klan in South Bend. No matter the story, the ending always ended up good for the Fighting Irish.
When Knute Rockne rode the team to national prominence in the 1920’s, he also carried some unofficial nicknames. Notre Dame were called the “Rovers” or “Ramblers” because of their massive national travel schedule. What first led Notre Dame to the formation of a mascot was another unofficial nickname. An Irish terrier would stalk the sidelines representing the other name, the “Terriers.” Eventually the terrier would be named Clashmore Mike. It stuck that way until 1963 until the Leprechaun became the official university mascot in 1965.
So how does the Leprechaun stack up? Not too tall, that’s for sure. Okay, we get that it’s an Irish joke but hear us out. Yeah he’s a short guy. They campus holds auditions for a Leprechaun every year and some lucky fella gets to don a full threaded green outfit and a gold or plaid vest. This is the most well dressed of all of the mascots. The tiny nature of the Leprechaun leads to a serious case of little man’s disease and ultimately fits with name the “Fighting Irish.” We like all of this, but the guido beard cut needs to go.
The Leprechaun is short on temper but we’d make sure he’s on your side when a bar fight breaks out. He doesn’t need a big head, a cartoony outlook, or some beast to ride, he’ll just bring the attitude and a pair for brass knuckles. Speaking of short, the time is running out on Notre Dame to decide if they want to dance with the Big 10 from now on. The tradition of Notre Dame will roll on regardless of the decision and this little type will be there to do push ups and drinking contests every step of the way. For some reason, we’re hungry for Lucky Charms now.