Notre Dame President Father John Jenkins and other University administrators joined a happy group of Irish players and coaches on the Sun Bowl Stadium field for trophy presentations after the 33-17 Irish victory over Miami on Friday. The celebration was relatively short-lived, no doubt due to the freezing cold and snow flurries. Everyone was ready to head up the tunnel, onto buses and back to South Bend.
About 275 members of the Notre Dame travel party left the stadium around 4:40 p.m. for the El Paso airport, where a Delta Airbus 330A lifted off at 7:30 p.m. for the 1,299-mile trip home. Since the players still have a couple of weeks of Christmas break remaining before returning to campus for the second semester, most stayed in El Paso to catch flights today to their hometowns. Among those who were on the flight to South Bend were quarterback Tommy Rees and center Braxton Cave.
The plane left El Paso a little later than planned and landed at the South Bend airport at 11:50 p.m. (EST), meaning that all on board welcomed in the New Year while gathering belongings and preparing to deplane.
Upon arriving back on campus, the Notre Dame contingent proceeded to Club Naimoli in the Joyce Center for an informal New Year’s celebration, then picked up luggage and headed home.
The unseasonably cold weather in El Paso the last two or three days of Sun Bowl week put something of a damper on various festivities. But there was nothing that could diminish the warmth of the people of that city. In particular, members of the Notre Dame alumni club could not have been nicer and made the trip to El Paso a memorable experience for all.
- Many fans arriving at Sun Bowl Stadium for the 12:15 p.m. kickoff Friday found an icy slush on their seats.
- Light snow fell before the game, stopped during the first half, then picked up again in the third quarter. It was nothing significant, but the game-time temperature of 34 degrees (compared to the mid-50s in South Bend) made for a lot of shivering.
- The U.S. Army’s Golden Knights parachute team brought the game ball, team flags and a U.S. flag into the stadium just before kickoff.
- Singer Lee Greenwood performed the national anthem and “God Bless America” in the pre-game ceremony. After the Notre Dame and Miami bands played at halftime, Greenwood returned and finished the longer-than-usual intermission with a rendition of his signature song, “Proud to be an American.”
- The concessions stands ran out of hot chocolate by halftime and, unlike Notre Dame Stadium (and not surprisingly), the restrooms at Sun Bowl Stadium aren’t heated.
- When the Notre Dame defense stopped Miami on a fourth-down-and-one play with 4:45 to go in the third quarter and the Irish leading 30-3, there was a large exodus of fans from the stadium.