With it being the last home game of the season, I’m going to spotlight some of Notre Dame’s seniors this week in the blog. Here are some comments from center Eric Olsen:
On his last home game: “It’s tough, because I know what to expect, but at the same time it hasn't really sunk in yet. I mean, obviously it's the last time I'm going to run out of the tunnel into our stadium. That's kind of hard to swallow. But at the same time, I'm really just worrying about winning this game right now. I'll worry about the emotions afterwards.”
On his class: “We have unfortunately lost a lot of players for all kinds of different reasons. But I think that first recruiting class kind of got the ball rolling, kind of set somewhat of a foundation. There's enough core players on the team that are from that recruiting class still around here and have had an impact. I think we've kind of set the foundation for all the great recruiting classes that have followed us.”
On Notre Dame: “For me personally, it's definitely been up and down, you know, whether it's winning games, losing games, personal stuff on and off the field. In the end, you have to look at the big picture. I kind of said this to guys earlier in the week: To play football at Notre Dame is a big-time accomplishment. To play major, Division I-A college football is the closest step to playing professional football. Sometimes guys get caught up in having to get up early and work out or having to go to class. They really don't see the big picture of how big an accomplishment this is in someone's life. If a lot of these guys go on and do nothing else, which none of them will — everyone is going to go on to do something great with the degrees they're getting from here, whether it's the NFL or whatever. If you go on and do nothing else, you know, playing football for the University of Notre Dame and graduating from this place is a hell of an accomplishment and, just looking at the big picture of that, how much it means to be from a place like this, how special that is, is really something.”
On the football program: “From my freshman year to my sophomore year, going from a Sugar Bowl team to a 3-9 team was obviously a difficult transition. Obviously we lost a lot of stars, NFL players, from that team. That made it really tough for young guys to step up. We were kind of thrown into the fire a little bit. It's no one's fault. But it was rough. I think that from that point all the way till now, I mean, obviously we don't have a perfect season going right now, but I think there's been so much growth as football players and as human beings. Guys have matured so much, have learned how to handle the stress, learned how to handle different situations, you know, just kids that are coming in, whether they're 17, 18 years old, they're really growing up to be men now. For me, I've been here all the way from the beginning, all the way from that Sugar Bowl year. It's interesting to see how things come full circle. We're kind of back to those men it seemed like we had as seniors when I was a freshman. Now that I'm one of the older guys on the team, seeing those other guys in the class grow up around me, it's something special, it's something fun. The friendships, the relationships have really been awesome. As football players, too, guys really starting to step up, understand, whether it's the schemes or everything that comes with playing offense, defense, special teams, it's really interesting to see all these guys grow in different ways.”
On coach Charlie Weis: “He's definitely been there through some of the tough times in my life, whether it's football related or not. He's kind of like a father figure for me. When people attack him or say things about him, it personally offends me. It comes with the job. He knows that more than anybody else, just to calm me down a little bit, because I kind of get worked up. You have to take the good with the bad when you're in the spotlight like he is, like the team is. It's just part of the job. … People don't know who Coach Weis is as a person, just like they don't know any other college football coach. I mean, you only see who he is in the press conferences or on the sidelines. I mean, he's so loyal to his friends and his boys and the people that he really cares about. You know, I say 'His boys. All the guys on the team, he looks at us like we're his sons. The other coaches and stuff, he's so loyal to us, he would never throw any of us under the bus, even if it's our fault. He always takes the blame, he always takes the brunt of anything from the media and the fans and everything. I mean, Coach Weis, people don't really know the real him. He's a real family-oriented guy that cares a lot. If people really knew who he was as a person, he stands for everything a Notre Dame man should stand for. That's a big thing that's really overlooked. As far as winning football games and stuff, he always wants to do it right the way. He's never going to cheat, he's never going to lie, he's never going to do anything dishonest and do things the wrong way like a lot of programs do sometimes, whether it's intentional or not. He really prides himself on doing things the right way around here and I think that's overlooked by a lot of people.”"