Dan McGrath of the Chicago Sun-Times writes:
I did a double-take to make sure I was in the right place last week as the Notre Dame Club of Chicago’s annual Knute Rockne dinner got under way inside a Sheraton-Chicago ballroom.
The usual cast of ardently believing Domers was on hand, only not as many of them. Not nearly as many. In past years, the hotel would set up extra tables to accommodate the throngs eager to be enthralled by Ara Parseghian or charmed by Lou Holtz. Even Charlie Weis might draw a full house as he blustered on about the Decided Schematic Advantage he’d brought to South Bend.
The dinner’s proceeds support a good cause: scholarship assistance for Chicago-area students attending ND, a high-end-and-climbing university. (In fact, if you plan to enroll your toddler, start saving now.) It may be a sign of the times that the room was maybe two-thirds full for Brian Kelly; the Irish are coming off back-to-back 8-5 seasons and have won 10 games only twice in the last 10 years.
It was an oddly subdued crowd, too — not especially interested in enhancing its modest size with fervor.
With the Rev. John Smyth laid up after hip surgery, the Rev. Raymond Klees served as a pinch-hit greeter for the reformed Irish hoops enforcer, whose post-basketball career has been a selfless crusade for the betterment of young lives. And the Rev. Gene Smith’s invocation was an inspiring reminder that a life-threatening stroke doesn’t have to be life-altering.
Kelly, though, was the undisputed headliner. And while he proclaimed himself ‘‘excited’’ by a laundry list of recent developments, he didn’t shake down much thunder.
Too much sugar at times.
The rest here.