Now, that’s just not true.Â In fact, it’s moronic and impossible.Â But walking around ND this past weekend, that saying kept popping into my head.Â The truth, though, is that the more things change, the more they change.Â And there’s a lot of change happening at ND.Â From the campus atmosphere to the facilities (and a LOT of the facilities) to the leadership to the football team and its fanbase.Â But there’s a lot that remains the same too.Â
This post isn’t so much about the game as it is about what I noticed while walking around campus, checking things out, and enjoying a weekend back at Our Lady’s University.Â So if you want rah rah or football analysis, feel free to skip this one. But if you want one blogger’s take on some of these changes, and non-changes, read on…
The first blatant change I noticed is campus itself.Â The school has expanded, grown and pushed itself out onto what was once surrounding fields and/or homes.Â New roads, new buildings, new entrances, new lots of stuff. I’ll get more into the facilities, but along with this something else struck me:Â structure.Â There’s just a ton more structure to this school now, compared to X years back when I walked onto the heralded campus for the first time. The stadium was the first change, happening early in my ND tenure.Â Since then, it feels like everywhere you look there’s development, newness and structure.Â Structure to the plans of the buildings.Â No more old fences kinda hanging together – they’re new and bright and perfect.Â Â No more crappy looking gate on the walk to St. Mary’s.Â Things are newer, bigger, and definitely better.Â And certainly much more structured – the way you get into the stadium.Â The way you park.Â The way you tailgate feels more structured, as does gaining access to the pep rallies.Â This is an area where ND needs to be careful.Â Yes, things were a bit rag-tag in the past, but it feels like we’re going a bit too far the other way lately.Â (read:Â Gestapo Cops)Â But, that’s for another post.
One thing that’s been changing rapidly is the face of the school – the campus.Â There are new buildings where there were none.Â New quads and changed quads.Â New roads or no roads where they used to be. Just a couple of the new projects follow, in pictorial form for you all:
Jordan Science Hall is a new building that’s just amazing.Â Right in front of Rolf’s and next to the JACC, it seems to stretch forever.Â
Speaking of the JACC, remember that road that used to gut through campus just behind the Library, and that separated the Stadium and the JACC?Â Gone.Â Now, it’s grass and walkways…and it’s a huge improvement.Â This picture doesn’t show it all that clearly, but it’s the best I got:
There’s also a very cool new extension being built onto the Law building.Â It extends out on one side of Main circle, with this fairly sweet arch leading into the Debartolo Quad.
And a view from the other side facing towards South Quad.
Next to the new Law building is the new Engineering building, that’s about halfway done as well.Â It’s amazing how much construction is going on right now, and how big/ambitious it all is.
And finally, the new Ryan Hall, a GIHUGENORMOUS women’s dorm settled in between Keough and the Bookstore.Â I thought Dillon was big, but there’s a new big hoss dorm in town, and it’ll be full of ladies.
On top of all of these projects, there’s a new Center for Social Concerns building going up right in front of the library (well, slightly to the side) and a new mixed-use project combining residential condos with commercial real estate for new shops, bars, etc over in the old soccer fields off Angela.Â Physically, I’d bet that the last few years represent the biggest change to ND’s campus since the re-building of the Main Building after the big fire took it down way back when.
It’s great progress for the school, and needed to compete in today’s higher education market, and to accomplish the university’s goals.Â But, I really do hope the school doesn’t lose that small feel that really made it easy to fall in love with the campus.Â I think they’re doing things the right way.Â I hope they are.
One thing that hasn’t changed much, despite all the issues with The Man and all coming down on this, is tailgating.Â It’s still a great atmosphere. Lots of good times, lots of grilling and football and running around enjoying the day.Â And of course, lots of beer, even if we’re all getting a little older:
Yes, that’s one of my fellow blogger’s baby strollers with, count ’em, 2 beers resting in the baby bottle holders.Â Awesome.
Another thing that’s changed?Â Dillon Hall.Â Part of this is facilities as well.Â Check out this freaking brand new bathroom:
That’s the nicest bathroom Dillon has ever seen. Totally re-done.Â I probably lost about 2 pounds a few minutes after this picture, and it was the cleanest/nicest bathroom experience I’ve ever had in my old dorm.Â I mopped those bathrooms every Saturday morning for a few weeks at one point, and I can’t even tell you how much worse it was than the above pic.Â These lads are coddled, lucky.Â
While doing my best to appreciate the new bathrooms for all they’re worth though, I noticed this little number in the Big Red Insider that just screams change:
Now, Dillon and Alumni aren’t even supposed to like one another.Â Today, they’re throwing a dance TOGETHER?Â Â “Dogs and Cats, living together, MASS HYSTERIA!” (quick, name that movie!).Â Seriously, when we were there, doing something fun with Alumni involved some kind of prank that generally left us running for our lives and Alumni Hall without a single roll of dry toilet paper, or muchÂ much worse.Â This is madness, folks.Â
One thing that hasn’t changed is Dillon’s sense of humility though:
Speaking of banners, the tradition continues where banners are put up by dorms to support the team. However, in this Age of the Internets where everyone knows everything about recruiting before the recruit or the coach does, we see a bit more insight and strategic use of the banner:
These kids are clearly dialed into the program, and this is a great use of a sign.Â Shows the recruits that the kids care, and welcomes them to campus.Â Another nice change is the quantity/quality of recruits on that sign.Â In Ty Willie’s days, we’d have had 2 names, neither checked, and no one would’ve have heard of either.Â Great change there.
The in-game atmosphere has changed from recent years, yet stayed the same (I said it again).Â This Stanford game was the first time since Lou was in the stadium that I felt the WHOLE CROWD really get into it.Â Seriously, things are on the up-tick with the crowd’s enthusiasm in the stadium.Â
Not changed?Â The band.Â Over 100 years later, they still rock.
Something else that’s changed is our team’s fire.Â This team is fired up and ready to win some games, and it showed at the end of the game when Stanford decided to be a bunch of babies and try to push us around on our own turf.Â (See the post below as well.)Â
Unchanged remains the feeling of a sweet, sweet Irish victory over a dis-liked foe.Â (Actually, I think that’s somehow gotten better).
Completely unchanged is Notre Dame’s mission, nicely summed up in these signs around campus:
It’s a mission that is 100% unique to Notre Dame. And I’m extremely proud of that mission, and that our football program extends this mission to our football players.Â Â This is a young 4-1 Notre Dame football team.Â Â A team full of kids that actually take calculus, that actually take classes seriously, and that will actually earn a degree over 90% of the time.Â This is something that hasn’t changed at all, and one of the things that ND does right, and shouldn’t ever allow to change.
And, finally, very much unchanged is that feeling you get at Notre Dame.Â That feeling of safety and comfort.Â The feeling that there is hope in the world, and that you have the ability to make positive change out there.Â That feeling that there is something bigger than you at work here, and you’re a small but important part of it.Â That feeling you get when you walk by the lake at sunset, stop by the grotto to light a candle in memory of a loved one, or when you pass under the majestic spires of the basilica…
And one thing that will never change, is that Our Lady will remain close by watching over us, Her Loyal Sons,Â forever.