Coach Dan Devine of Notre Dame was wearing religious medals on a chain around his neck when he met the media today. He has on a kelly green cardigan sweater and green plaid slacks, too, but staff aides insisted they were not just for Saturday's game against Southern California.
(The game will be televised in Washington by WJLA-TV-7 at 12:45 p.m.)
Two seasons ago, Notre Dame came onto the field wearing green jerseys instead of the usual blue and gold and surprised Southern Cal, 49-19. The Irish have been adhering to "The Wearin o' the Green" ever since.
White was more on Devine's mind for Saturday's game -- Trojan tailback Charles White. Dutifully, Devine siad, "Charles White is one of the best backs I have ever seen. He is a tough inside runner who has the speed to go outside, and has the niftiness to juke ((deceive) defenders."
"He has great endurance and is popular with his teammates . . He must be, the way they block for him. The quarterback, Paul Mcdonald, is almost underrated because of the attention given to White.
"The USC defense is big, strong and quick. Any team that plays a schedule like the Trojans' is going to lose a game sometime," Devine said in a hopeful if gloomy way.
He made that statement because he was expecting someone to bring up the fact that unbeaten Southern Cal was tied by Sanford last week.
"We'd like to have seen USC win," Devine said. "We didn't want an angry, well-coached, talented football team coming in here. 'Angry' is the extra ingredient. They play with intensity, but play very clean, and they play intelligently."
Will Devine have any new gimmicks to try, such as springing the green jerseys on the Trojans in 1977?
"I thought about some, like putting the Golden Dome on our helmets.
"I remember when I was coaching out in Missouri and we got beaten by Nebraska. The Cornhuskers' bank kept playing the Nebraska song until we got tired of hearing it. They played it a lot because they scored a lot.
"during the week before the Nebraska game the next year I noted that nearly every team plays disco numbers in the locker room. But I got a record of the Nebraska song and played it all week as loud as possible, while our players dressed for practice, and after practice. The day of the game, I had the record in my hand and I said, 'Now, I am going to break this into a thousdand pieces because I think you're sick to death of hearing it.'
"I threw the record down with a lot of emotion but it nearly bounced back in my hands; I forgot it was plastic. I couldn't even break it. I know some of the players wanted to laugh at my embarrassment, but they didn't. They did win that day, anyhow."
Devine mentioned that he was "torn up" by a controversy involving Coach Frank Kush of Arizona State, who used to be one of Devine's assistants, and some other things.
Asked about "the other things," he said, "I have some bad news -- my wife suffered four broken ribs and two fractured vertebrae 10 days ago; the car was totaled. There was that girl (his wife) lying the with multiple sclerosis and hospital people picking glas out of her nose and face." (Mrs. Devine was stricken by sclerosis before the accident).
"the good news is that she will be at the game on Saturday in the press box. It seemed like the whole project this week on the sixth floor of the hospital was to see that she gets to the game."
Only a churl would speculate on whether the Notre Dame players will take inspiration from their compassion.
Devine then talked in terms of harsh reality: "We are not going to stand up easily to this type of USC team, that made fools out of us last year with our one-on-one pass coverage."
Are the Notre Dame players still bitter about a controversial decision on a fumble last year that was blamed for a 27-25 loss in Los Angeles?
"I don't know if our players are still distressed over the fumble call. I know we haven't fanned any bitterness. I can't tell if Notre Dame is angry, or even well-coached.
"I do know it is not 'just another game' to us. I heard someone say on the air the other night that the greatest thrill in sports is playing in baseball's World Series. Well, I think the greatest thrill is to play in a USC-ND game. John McKay (former Southern California coach) says that, too.
"There is not the bitterness in this rivalry as there is in some I know. Our people respect USC. They make no late hits. If someone does come in late on a tackle in this rivalry, it is overeagerness.
"This is the kind of game USC-ND is: John Robinson, the USC coach, sent a handwritten letter this week to my daughter Jennifer, who is chair-person of a fund drive to combat multiple sclerosis."
In another top game Sunday, second-ranked Texas travels to Arkansas to face the 10th-ranked Razorbacks in a Southwest Conference rivalry that goes back 85 years.
The game will follow the Irish-Trojan game on WJLA-TV-7.