Yes, nose guard Louis Nix III was born in 1991, a few years after the height of the old Catholics vs. Convicts rivalry between Notre Dame and Miami. But nobody in the Notre Dame locker room knows more about the Hurricanes than Nix, a Jacksonville native who grew up a Miami fan.
But while all the other Irish players — most of whom only know about the great Jimmy Johnson-coached Miami teams of the 1980s from the ESPN “30 for 30” movie, “The U” — are saying that rekindling the rivalry Saturday at Soldier Field is exciting, Nix brushes it aside.
It’s just not the same, he said.
“I hear it every day,” he said. “Everybody tells us about the big rivalry, the Catholic vs. Convicts. To be honest with, I think that’s over with. That was years ago and nobody even thinks about it. In the hearts of Notre Dame fans, that might be a big game. Me? My team? I think we just see it as another game we got to play hard at.”
One big reason Nix doesn’t think the rivalry’s all it’s cracked up to be? Recent history. Notre Dame’s last national championship was in 1988 — when the Irish beat Miami when the Hurricanes went for two rather than a tie — and Miami has just one (2001) since 1991.
“We hear everybody and every Notre Dame fan and everybody around here
talking about it, so you’ll get enough of the history about that,” Nix said. “I
think I know a lot about it. I don’t think it’s that much
hyped up cause both programs have been in a slump for a while, and Miami
has really turned its program around from being ‘convicts’. They’re a
great program now.”
Of course, it’s nothing new for Notre Dame fans to delve into the team’s illustrious past for inspiration — or to get nervous every time the Irish get close to recapturing that status as one of the nation’s elite. At 4-0 and ranked No. 9 in the country, Nix thinks that’s just happening again.
“People are just worried, like they always are,” he said. “We haven’t gone 5-0, 6-0, or whatever in a while, so people are like, ‘Oh, God, I hope they don’t get too hyped up, or come out sluggish, or don’t take Miami seriously, stuff like that.”
That said, Nix is hearing plenty of chatter from back home regarding Saturday’s game at Soldier Field.
“A lot of people telling me we’re gonna get our … no, I can’t say it,” he said with a laugh. “A lot of people talking smack. Half the people I know are obviously Florida State, Miami or Florida fans. So I hear a lot of that, but I don’t waste my time arguing with them. I’ll just show them Saturday, play a good game, hopefully come out with a win.”