Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Notre Dame To Field All Walk-Ons Against Air Force

South Bend, IN (Nov. 7) - Inspired by the movie "Rudy", Notre Dame football coach Charlie Weis announced that his roster will be filled entirely with never-say-die walk-ons when the Fighting Irish take on Air Force this Saturday.

"We have a group of 65 young men whose dream it is to play football for Notre Dame University," Weis said after running the collection of dreamers thru a non-grueling, 15-minute practice. "Well, I'm proud to give them their chance, this Saturday."

"Rudy" was the story of Rudy Ruettiger, a walk-on who eventually lived his fantasy and appeared in a game for Notre Dame.

Weis said the regular players would "sit this one out," and watch from the stands. In order to satisfy NCAA rules, Weis suspended every player for "conduct detrimental to the team."

To make it official, Weis listed the detrimental conduct as "being 1-8."

"This will be the feel-good story of the year," predicted longtime ND booster Sean O'Hallaran, at a local pub that shares his last name. "When those 65 ragamuffins take the field ...," O'Hallaran continued, before becoming overcome with emotion.

Weis said the roster would be divided this way: 23 pre-med students, 17 theatre majors, 11 alumni with college eligibility left (including one 42-year-old plumber), 7 resident advisors, 5 ROTC members, and 2 undeclared majors whose names are Rudy.

"Just to be safe -- and authentic," Weis explained about the two Rudys.

Weis acknowledged that he would have to cut the playbook down dramatically in order to provide a "comfort level" for starting quarterback Elliott Nusbaum, a 37-year-old ND alumnus and South Bend dentist. Despite his medical degree and dental license, Nusbaum has two weeks of eligibility remaining, due to a technicality.

"I like Elliott's arm," Weis said of the dentist, "but he's not very mobile. In fact, he's damn near a statue in the pocket. But by God, I like that man's attitude."

Weis heaped praise on his group of eager but mostly untalented players.

"Rudy's story was one of perseverance and the triumph of desire over ability," the coach said, his voice raising. "He couldn't play a lick, but oh how he tried. I've got 65 men who probably couldn't win an intramural game of flag football, but they'll give me everything they've got."

Weis said he plans on adding about 25 more walk-ons later in the week, in anticipation of losing scores of players due to horrific, gruesome injuries.

"There's no limit as to how many we can dress for home games," Weis explained. "So I think we'll dress 90 on Saturday, just to be safe."

Weis said Air Force might be confused by the scalawag ND roster, which would play into his team's hands.

"They (Air Force) won't have any film on these men, don't forget," Weis said.

That's not totally accurate. There does exist some home movies of Nusbaum as a 16-year-old high school junior, in some mop-up quarterback duty. Weis felt compelled to turn the movies over to the Air Force coaches, "Just to keep my conscience clear," he said.

According to Notre Dame officials, the walk-ons will be presented with their "authentic" uniforms at a special pep rally on campus Friday night. Ruettiger will be in attendance and will address the crowd.

"I get to live a dream," Nusbaum said via phone as he worked on an impacted molar.

But the new Fighting Irish QB is taking his unexpected opportunity seriously.

"Coach let me take home some film (of Air Force)," Nusbaum said. "I think they might bite on a pump fake."

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