Notre Dame Club of Austin offers an array of events for Irish football fans

Eric Hansen
South Bend Tribune

Apparently everything really is big in Texas.

Including the ambition of the Notre Dame Club of Austin, which is putting its stamp on things this weekend in Austin, Texas, where the 10th-ranked ND football team opens its 2016 season Sunday night (7:30 p.m.; ABC-TV) against the University of Texas.

Events you normally don’t see at an Irish true road-game venue, or at least one a much smaller scale, include a pep rally, where the Saturday special guests include former Irish stars Mike Rosenthal, Bobby Taylor and Reggie Brooks.

Rosenthal, who was a Penn High standout before matriculating to ND, is currently the head football coach and athletic director at Stephen F. Austin High School. According to the club’s communication chairman, Andrew Barlow, South Bend mayor Pete Buttigieg was originally on the docket, but a later arrival will limit his participation to the game itself.

The full listing of club events, including a cultural event and a service project, can be found at ndtx16.com.

“We were fired up about it,” Barlow said of enterprising array of projects the club has undertkaken. “And in some respects UT was the 800-pound gorilla in town. We felt like it’s the first game of the year. We’ve been excited about football getting back, and I guess we kind of got a little ahead of ourselves.”

Then again, Barlow anticipates of the 100,000-plus who will fill sold-out Darrell K. Royal-Texas Stadium on Sunday night, 20,000 —if not more — will have a Notre Dame allegiance.

“From what we understand, the university was only allotted 5,000 tickets,” Barlow said. “But everything I’ve heard is that folks are finding tickets on the secondary market.”

They’re also finding the club’s T-shirt it created to honor the 12th-ever meeting between the two schools.

The front bears the message: “Messin’ with Texas since 1913.” The back lists ND’s 9-2 dominance in the series that included a 38-3 Irish victory last September at Notre Dame Stadium.

“There were some pretty legendary T-shirts from our days of students, so we wanted to do something special that was not trash talk, that showed the mutual respect but also gives a playful tweak.”

The tweak is a twist on the “Don’t Mess With Texas” slogan that started as an anti-littering slogan but grew to be so much more over time.

The T-shirts are available at the ndtx16.com website and also will be for sale at most of the club’s events this weekend.

The Notre Dame Club of Austin has a hit with its "Messin' With Texas" T-shirts. (Photo provided)