Notebook: Notre Dame PA announcer Mike Collins caps memorable career with an Irish win (copy)

Carter Karels
South Bend Tribune

Joined by his wife Melissa in his last game as the voice of Notre Dame Stadium, Mike Collins received two different standing ovations.

Midway through the first quarter before the No. 2 Irish (10-0, 9-0 ACC) defeated Syracuse (1-10, 1-9) on Saturday, 45-21, Collins received a standing ovation from the home crowd. Their applause came after a tribute to Collins’ career played on the stadium’s video board.

Later, after the clock expired in the fourth quarter, the video board showed Collins again. The crowd saluted him again after he said goodbye.

“I promised I wouldn’t cry. I am,” the 75-year-old Notre Dame graduate told the crowd. “I’ll leave you with the words of Father (Theodore) Hesburgh, ‘God. Country. Notre Dame.’ Godspeed. Godspeed to all of you.”

Those parting words ended Collins’ 39-season run as PA announcer for Irish football home games. He served the role for 233 straight home games after starting on Notre Dame’s season opener with Michigan in 1982.

In an interview with the Tribune hours before Saturday’s game, Collins reflected on what the job meant to him. He used a sports comparison that he heard from a friend this week to describe his decision to retire from the role.

“You want to go out like the great running back Jim Brown. He was still the best running back in the NFL,” Collins said. “Rather than go out like Willie Mays, who literally stayed two seasons too long in Major League Baseball.

“While I am neither Jim Brown nor Willie Mays, I’d like to get out a little bit early rather than finding out myself I got out too late.”

And what a way Collins went out.

Collins saw the Irish accomplish plenty of historic feats this season. Notre Dame clinched a berth to the ACC Championship Game in its first and only year in the conference. For the first time in program history, the Irish won 10-plus games for a fourth consecutive season. Earlier this season, Brian Kelly (102) became the second-winningest Irish head coach ever. By beating the Orange, Ian Book (30 victories) became the winningest Notre Dame quarterback in history.

“It’s easier to be a PA announcer when your team is winning than when your team is losing,” Collins said. “There have been times in the past where I thought my job was to wake up the dead. Even with the fewer people in the stands, I could ride the wave of the crowd. I don’t have to scream at them, ‘Will you get up, please?’ So it’s special.”

Book makes Golden Arm watch list

Earlier his week, Book was named to the top 10 for the Johnny Unitas Golden Arm Award.

The Golden Arm recognizes the nation’s top senior or fourth-year quarterback. The winner will be announced on Dec. 21. Sam Ehlinger (Texas), Justin Fields (Ohio State), Mac Jones (Alabama), D’Eriq King (Miami), Trevor Lawrence (Clemson), Kellen Mond (Texas A&M), Brock Purdy (Iowa State), Kyle Trask (Florida) and Zach Wilson (BYU) also made the watch list. Book made the top 10 cut last year.

Transfer news

Former Notre Dame reserve nose guard Ja’mion Franklin will play next for Duke, he announced via Twitter on Friday.

Franklin made public on Oct. 29 the news that he would transfer from the Irish football program. In that announcement, he cited the impact that contracting COVID-19 had on him. He tested positive in late September and posted on social media about his struggles.


• Notre Dame extended the FBS’ longest active winning streak to 16 games. The Irish also completed their third undefeated regular season in the Kelly Era, joining 2012 and 2018. There have been 14 undefeated, untied regular seasons in Irish history.

• The Irish extended the second-longest active home winning streak in the FBS to 24 games. Book is 15-0 as a starter at home.

• Saturday was the first Notre Dame home game in December since the Irish hosted SMU on Dec. 5, 1953. The last time Notre Dame ended a home game in December came against Boston College in 1993.

• By accounting for 110 yards on 20 attempts against Syracuse, Notre Dame running back Kyren Williams eclipsed the 1,000-yard rushing mark on the season. Josh Adams (2017) was the last Irish running back to accomplish that feat.

• True freshman running back Chris Tyree recorded a 94-yard touchdown run, the third-longest rushing score in Notre Dame history. Former Irish running backs Josh Adams (98 yards in 2015) and Dexter Williams (97 yards in 2018) tallied are the players with longer touchdown runs. Tyree turned 19 on Saturday.

• Notre Dame generated the most turnovers (four) in a game all season against Syracuse, recovering three fumbles and collecting an interception.

• Irish defensive lineman Daelin Hayes hauled in the first interception of his career. Defensive lineman Myron Tagovailoa-Amosa forced his first career fumble, while linebacker Marist Liufau recovered his first fumble.

• Book represented Notre Dame as a captain for the opening coin toss.

Notre Dame Stadium PA announcer Mike Collins, third from right, reacts after a tribute video in his honor played during the game between the Notre Dame and Syracuse. Collins retired Saturday after 39 seasons in that role.
Mike Collins