It’s one of the most obvious connections out there, and the Fighting Irish embrace it. Yes, they love St. Patrick’s Day.
“Can we make this quick?” Notre Dame coach Mike Brey said Friday. “I'm the honorary grand marshal of the parade in an hour. If I can get out of here, I've got to kiss babies and wave to people. The float I'm on, they say, is awesome.
“I'm just kidding.”
This part isn’t a joke: If any parade is looking for a grand marshal, Brey is the man for the job. After the Irish practiced in KeyBank Center, the coach ran to the locker room to change his shirt and get into shamrock mode.
“It's awesome,” Brey said. “There's always a little buzz around our university and our place on St. Patrick's Day. There's no question about it. I figured I would break out the festive green for it, you know?”
While the Notre Dame campus may be a great place for the holiday, the coach knows he’s in the perfect city. Buffalo celebrates St. Patrick’s Day as enthusiastically as any place in the country.
“The waitress helping us this morning, I said, ‘Is it big here?’” Brey said. “She went on for 10 minutes how it's unbelievable. I'm sure starting today, the bar's open at noon, and we're off and running.”
Someone will surely let him know that a few bars really get cranking at 8 a.m. That's especially true now as Irish fans have two reasons to celebrate. There’s the holiday coupled with Notre Dame’s second-round game against West Virginia on Saturday.
“This town is a good N.D. town,” Brey said. “Over 17 years, I've run into people from here that are big N.D. fans, whether alums or subway alums. I hope they can get out of jail by 8 a.m. tomorrow to come to our game because they're rolling today, I can tell you that much.
“Matter of fact, we have some extra bail money just to make sure we can get them out. We know what happens with the Irish on a day like today.”
Clearly, Brey is a fun guy to be around.
"We do have the loosest coach in America," Notre Dame guard Matt Farrell said. "He comes into the locker room right after he gets off the court and puts on a green hoodie and said he has to get into St. Patrick's mode for the media.
"We've got a game tomorrow to go to the Sweet 16 game, and this guy is worried about what he's wearing for the media. He creates an environment where you're having fun and you've got guys that want to win and want to play for each other and the coaches, and I think that's really powerful."