It's been 20 years since "Rudy" -- the story of Daniel "Rudy" Ruettiger, who, despite obstacles, wanted to play football for Notre Dame -- came out in theaters. The star of the movie, Sean Astin, is often reminded about one of the best sports movies of all time. "Every day, I go out of my house and in public," he said, "someone asks me about it." With tonight being the BCS championship game between Notre Dame and Alabama, Astin talked with ESPN's senior writer Lynn Hoppes about his thoughts on Notre Dame and the game. Here's his column:
In some ways, this is my championship season also.
The movie, which is 20 years old, predicted this when Coach Ara Parseghian said the goal for the team is play for a national title. And here we are.
I love the idea of Notre Dame. The fact that the fans live, breathe, eat, sleep and die thinking about the Fighting Irish is something very contagious. You can easily connect with that feeling. The school has a shiny, golden dome, which is a beacon of hope and faith.
I think the unabashed religious component of Notre Dame also affects a lot of people. It gives people permission on some level to get excited about football. They have the same feelings about football as they do their church. Any time you hear the fight song or see a TV package on the mythical players or see the players coming down the tunnel, it has a dual effect: It makes you so inspired and so passionate about what you're doing or it makes you hate them!
There is nothing really negative about this game tonight. It's a dream for both teams and both schools. There is nothing but positive energy going into this one.
When I was asked to star in "Rudy," some people asked me, "What do you know about Notre Dame?"
I'd say, "Johnny O'Keefe."
That was one of my best friends growing up. He lived six houses down from me. We would play baseball and football out in the street every day until the darkness forced us to come inside. The only time we didn't play was when Johnny had to run inside to watch the Irish on television. I was seven or eight or nine. That's when I realized the power of Notre Dame.
The movie "Rudy" helped capture this idea that in America, anything is possible with hard work. If you choose to put in the time and apply yourself, you can accomplish anything.
Tonight, we will see what hard work can do. For most of these players, it's going to be the biggest moment of their lives. This will change who they are.
For the first time since the movie came out, I was in Notre Dame's stadium this fall to watch a game against Michigan. The school has gone through so much over the years. It felt really special to be a part of that.
I think having the game in Florida will help Alabama, but I think the Irish will be so excited to be in the warm weather also. They will be at peace with things and thunder to the victory.