Big guys running with the ball, childish celebrations, way-too-hyped-up performances, and more!
Welcome, everyone, to the weekly One Foot Down listicle! Each week on Friday, Matt Greene and I will alternate providing for you all a listicle of the greatest/top/best Notre Dame Fighting Irish-related things we can think of. They might be more serious, but mostly they will probably be wacky (what else would you honestly expect from the two of us?). We are AMPED to provide these for you each week.
This week, we’re going topical — Saturday marks the 91st annual (can we still call it “annual” after missing 2020 due to COVID?) Blue-Gold Game in the history of the Notre Dame football program, and so to celebrate that, I’m going to walk y’all through my top 5 favorite Blue-Gold Game moments.
Top Five Blue-Gold Game Moments in Recent Memory
Let me preface this list by saying that, like a lot of people, I get next to nothing out of Blue-Gold Games. Sure, it’s fun to watch the team play after months of being deprived of college football action, and it’s always intriguing to see how new/young players look in a game-esque setting.
But overall, these spring games really don’t provide a ton of insight or foreshadowing toward how the ensuing season will go, and strong individual or team performances are almost always forgotten soon after, considering they took place during an intra-squad scrimmage and we’ve learned they don’t necessarily mean anything in terms of predicting career trajectories.
Furthermore, there were several Blue-Gold Games where I was…distracted by the chaos of this little thing called Pigtostal.
So, be warned that the below moments may not be exactly what you all would choose if you combed through highlights of ~15 years’ worth of Blue-Gold Games like I did yesterday. I won’t have dominant stat lines or momentous debuts of future stars included here.
Instead, I went for the moments that I still remember all this time later — inane, hilarious moments that made me smile and stood out amongst the otherwise quite boring spring game highlights from over the years.
Let’s dive in.
5. Golson’s Last Dance
This is gonna be obscure as hell, but the 2015 Blue-Gold Game gave us the below GIF, and it’s stuck with me as a wonderful display of fun, goofiness, and brotherhood that I love with all my heart.
To provide some context, Malik Zaire — the guy Golson is dancing with in this GIF — is, at the time of this 2015 spring game, nearing the completion of the process of taking Golson’s starting job from him. Golson’s return from suspension in that wild 2014 season saw the team start 6-0 and then have a huge road upset stolen from them in Tallahassee, leading to a tailspin the team (and Golson) couldn’t halt until the Music City Bowl, when Zaire was given the reins for much of the game and was named MVP.
Soon after this game, Zaire’s competition for the role would push Golson to decide to grad-transfer to FSU, bringing his Irish career to an end — which makes this GIF all the more special to me, a HUGE fan of Everett Golson and everything he did in his time at Notre Dame.
For all his faults and his mistakes, I can confidently say that he was, in my opinion, the most exciting QB that Notre Dame has had in the last 15 years. Of course there were better QBs in that timeframe (Book, Clausen, Kizer), but Golson’s presence under center CONSTANTLY had me feeling like anything could happen on any given play. He was so freaking fun to watch, and he’ll always have my heart for his performances in 2012 (Oklahoma and Pitt especially) and 2014 (Stanford, FSU especially).
So, considering this was his “last dance” with the squad, both literally and figuratively, I had to include it in my list. Now excuse me while I go watch old Golson highlights and have myself a Friday.
4. Getting Ronnie Stanley the Ball Out in Space
I feel like this one requires a lot less explanation than the random GIF I placed at #5. So, let’s just cut to the chase — Ronnie Stanley was an all-time great Notre Dame offensive lineman, and there’s absolutely nothing funnier or better to see in football than a big hoss getting to run with the football.
BK and co. calling some sort of “tackle eligible” play (please do not correct me on “tackle eligible” not actually being a thing — for the purposes of this discussion, that’s what this is…he was an OT who was an eligible receiver on the play) for a senior All-American tackle who had earned a chance to do something crazy in a spring game was absolutely perfect.
And Stanley delivered! Yeah, it was the last play of the half so anything short of a TD was meaningless to the game, but Stanley took that short little pass and managed to pick up some serious YAC, securing a would-be first down and plenty of love from his teammates. This was cool and fun and just entertaining as hell to see him lumbering down the field with the ball.
3. Duck, Duck, Goose
This was Charlie Weis’s last Blue-Gold Game, and although he didn’t have a fantastic career overall or a very strong 2009 season (6-6 with Clausen, Tate, Floyd, Rudolph, Hughes, Allen, etc. is preposterous), his guys did give us the best Blue-Gold Game touchdown celebration of all-time, without question.
Robert Blanton had just done his thing and brought an interception back for a TD, and the defense decided to celebrate his achievement by sitting in a circle and having Brian Smith and Sergio Brown play a quick round of Duck, Duck, Goose. Other notable folks involved included Harrison Smith, Ian Williams, and Kyle McCarthy (again, how did this team go 6-6 with the talent they had???). You love to see it.
Also, I love this YouTube video because it features some idiot fan yelling “let’s win a game before we showboat” at a bunch of college kids playing Duck, Duck, Goose.
In the team’s defense, they were fresh off the program’s first bowl win in nearly 15 years — maybe just let the kids have some fun, alright, guy???
2. Junior Jabbie, One-Hit Wonder
I know I said I wasn’t going to be including a bunch of individual performances in this list, but I had to make an exception for the 2007 Blue-Gold Game turned in by Junior Jabbie, a senior running back with 0 career carries to-date who’d converted from defensive back and decided to have himself just a fantastic day running the ball, completely out of nowhere.
Jabbie was named Offensive MVP of the game after rushing 13 times for 87 yards, looking MUCH more impressive than Travis Thomas (9 carries, 36 yards), James Aldridge (9 carries, 34 yards), and Armando Allen (5 carries, 19 yards).
More importantly, though, Jabbie’s name and performance are virtually guaranteed to live forever — because now, anytime someone plays well in the spring game, hoards of people will come clamoring with the Junior Jabbie example as to why Blue-Gold Game performances mean absolutely nothing.
Let’s normalize NOT dragging Junior Jabbie’s name through the mud each year just because he balled out for a spring.
That’s a YOU problem if you diagnosed it wrong.
— One Foot Down (@OneFootDown) April 30, 2021
It’s unfortunate for sure that Jabbie is used as an example of “his good day didn’t mean he was great,” considering Jabbie was just an unheralded guy who got his position switched and then had an awesome day on a relatively big stage. He didn’t choose to have everyone hype him up as a potential key player for the following year.
And hell, he might not have proven any of the unasked-for hype correct, but he DID show a little production in his limited playing time in that disastrous 2007 season following this spring game, catching 14 passes for 123 yards and rushing 10 times for 35 yards that season. But still, just because of the media/fan hype machine, he is now unfairly immortalized as the cautionary tale about getting excited about Blue-Gold Game performances.
So, I want to just give a big ole shout-out to Junior Jabbie, wherever he is — I’m sorry for how your awesome performance is now referenced, but thank you for being the kind of one-hit wonder that can actually make spring football games somewhat fun, considering the surprise and feel-good aspect of a kid who worked hard for 4 years finally having his day in the limelight.
1. Louis Nix, Dual-Threat Quarterback
This would be #1 on just about any Blue-Gold Game “best moments” list in normal circumstances, considering it’s a better version of the Ronnie Stanley play.
A beloved behemoth of a player and person and personality — who put in years of hard work in the trenches — was rewarded by being given the chance to play quarterback on a two-point conversion in his final spring game. His exaggerated calls made at the line pre-snap, his feigned attempt to find an open receiver, and then his runaway-boulder mad-dash into the end zone are a combination that warmed our hearts at the time, giving us a fun little memory involving one of the most beloved players at ND in years.
Now, after the sudden and tragic death of Louis Nix in late February of this year, this moment holds even more importance to us all. It embodies exactly the kind of funny, loving, hard-working guy who Louis Nix was, and his teammates’ and coaches’ reactions to his converted 2-point attempt shows just how great of a teammate he was and how loved and respected he was in the ND locker room.
Louis Nix gave us so much as ND football fans over the years, and we all have various great memories of him. But this will always go down as one of the brightest moments — a huge, talented, beloved player being treated to a little QB action in his final Blue-Gold Game with the program. Nothing is better than this.
RIP Big Lou!!!