October 27, 2012

HD: Ikard took official visit to South Bend before signing with OU

Head to a Bishop McGuinness sporting event and the parallels between the private Oklahoma City school and Notre Dame can seem uncanny.

From Sister Stephanie Sanchez who has become a staple at Irish football games taking tickets at the gate to the fight song that strikes up following an Irish touchdown to the student section chants of 'We are Irish'. It's easy to see the connection even though the McGuinness campus sits roughly 860 miles from South Bend.

This week those ties between Notre Dame and McGuinness will be skewed as the No. 5 ranked Irish head to Norman.

"It's kind of a love, hate thing with Notre Dame," said McGuinness graduate Gabe Ikard. "I grew up in Catholic school my entire life so I was always a Notre Dame fan. Our high school fight song was their fight song. It's kind of like the Yankees. You either love them or you hate them."

Ikard's respect for the Notre Dame program was so much that he even looked at the Irish as a high school senior taking one of his official visits to South Bend during the Charlie Weiss era.

"Notre Dame) was my second or third choice behind here and Stanford so yeah I took an official there. Charlie Weiss got his knee blown out. It was interesting."

While Ikard opted to stay closer to home and sign with Oklahoma the infatuation with the Notre Dame program and growing up in a Catholic centric community is something even his head coach can relate to. As he did himself growing up in Youngstown (Ohio) surrounded by those that religiously support the Irish program.

Though unlike the Reuttiger family there were other college football teams on the Stoops family television come Saturday in the fall.

"Listen I grew up in a primarily dominant Catholic neighborhood and community and sure they do. Everybody to whatever degree but in my area it was very strong," said Stoops on Monday at his weekly press luncheon.

"I had some buddies that were bigger than ours but no we weren't the big (Notre Dame) fans. I wouldn't say that. My father liked them but he kind of liked them just like he liked Michigan and Ohio State too. Just kind of watched but didn't have a really strong allegiance."

There isn't a question where those allegiances will lie Saturday when the Irish roll into Norman.

Sooner players brushing up on history lessons

One of the more popular questions throughout the week for Oklahoma players centered around their knowledge on the history of the Oklahoma and Notre Dame programs.

While most players were well aware the Sooners all-time 1-8 record versus Notre Dame it was evidently clear the past is exactly that. It's history for a reason.

"I know we've played nine times in the history but I don't remember any games or anything like that," said [db]Tom Wort. "History doesn't really matter to me much. I know they are a great program and so are we. I'm just looking forward to the game."

A sentiment echoed by David King.

"None of us had anything to do with any of those games that were played before we were even born," said King. "It's going to be about X's and O's that's how we approach every week and we're going to put our best on the field against their best and see who comes out on top."

"I heard about (Notre Dame) growing up as a kid but I didn't watch much college football. Everybody knows about them and their tradition and it goes back several years. Every school has it but their tradition is a bit more out there because of who they are."

Something both Sooner defensive starters agree on as well is the fact that Saturday's atmosphere surrounding the game will be one to remember.

"It's going to be crazy. It's probably going to be the best since (Texas) Tech came in here in 2008 when they were ranked No. 2 and we were ranked No. 5," said King. "Just from what everyone is saying with Gameday here you know the atmosphere is going to be crazy and we the stadium will be rockin' on Saturday night."

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