In reply to: The broken link: What has ND's football tradition meant to you? posted by Board Ops
Bobby was at Notre Dame during some pivotal years in Notre Dame Football history. He was there to experience the last year of the Faust regime, a 5-6 season that ended in a 58-7 drubbing by Miami to closeout the 1985 season.
Bobby didn’t see the playing field that forgetful 1985 season, and it would have been easy for him to throw in the towel. But Bobby didn’t quit.
1986 presented new opportunities for Bobby and for Notre Dame Football with the hiring of Lou Holtz as head football coach. On paper the 1986 squad looked remarkably similar to the previous 1985 squad. The records were identical: 5-6 seasons. Yet, this was a different team, a team that played top-ranked Michigan, and eventual national champion Penn St. to the wire. A team that we could be proud of. A team that demonstrated “significant progress”. This was a team that had again found the fighting spirit. Bobby Satterfield was a part of this. Again, though Bobby didn’t see much playing time, he persisted, and continued to contribute in helping the team. Two straight losing seasons, yet Bobby didn’t quit.
In Bobby’s 1987 junior season, the Irish started out strong going 8-1, only to close-out the season with 3 straight losses to Penn St., Miami, and Texas A&M in the Cotton Bowl. Although the season was a success relative to the prior two seasons, 8 wins and a Heisman trophy winner in Tim Brown, there remained distaste over how the season had ended. Again, Bobby didn’t see much action, but he continued to persist. Bobby didn’t quit.
Finally, in Bobby’s senior season in 1988, that magical season, the Irish went 12-0 including victories over Michigan, Miami (the famous “Catholics vs Convicts” game), Penn State, and West Virginia in the Fiesta Bowl. From two straight losing seasons to 12-0! Bobby Satterfield was a National Champion.
It was during Bobby Satterfield’s tenure at Notre Dame that the coaching staff coined the term “pitbulls” to describe the tenacity and perseverance of the walk-ons that served on the scout team, mimicking the upcoming opponents week in, week out—preparing the team to do battle on Saturday.
During the national championship campaign, Bobby was fulfilling the role of “Pitbull” on the scout team. There was an intra-squad scrimmage on Cartier Field. Bobby was playing cornerback, when Tony Brooks (proto-typical big back with speed) swept right with the ball, Bobby Satterfield came up from his corner position, shed his blocker, and stopped Brooks stone cold in his tracks. It was a hit that got the attention of everyone. To Bobby, it was about respect. It was about not backing down from a challenge, what tho the odds. Bobby was rewarded with the respect of his teammates, and a national championship.
Bobby was invited, along with the rest of the team to meet President Reagan at the White House in January of 1989, Reagan’s last official week in office. It was no doubt, one of the happiest days of Bobby Satterfield’s life. After returning home a few hours later from the trip to Washington DC, Bobby Satterfield unexpectedly collapsed and died from natural causes—only hours after meeting “the Gipper”.
Indeed, it was the best of times, it was the worst of times. Suddenly, what seemed so important (winning a National Championship) now seemed unimportant. Notre Dame had lost a member of its family.
The team attended a service in a packed Basilica, to honor their fallen teammate. As the team gathered outside the Basilica, not far from the shadows of Our Lady and the words “God, Country, Notre Dame”, they huddled together silently as the snow gently fell, as if to say a silent goodbye to a friend. Barely a word was spoken, but much was said. A “Notre Dame Moment” if ever there was one.
So from now on when you see my handle, “pitbull”, think of Bobby Satterfield to whom it is dedicated, and think of his undying spirit.
Bobby Satterfield, Pitbull, Notre Dame Man, Loyal Son, Fallen—but not forgotten.