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Irish Insights

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Ted McGinley in one of the greatest shows of all time: Married...With Children
Before becoming an actor, Ted McGinley was a standout water polo player at USC.

Why I Love College Sports (Fame And ND) -- Actor Ted McGinley -- Part II

While Insights usually focuses on Notre Dame celebrity fans, we're branching out here and experimenting with chatting with other big college sports celebrity fans about the teams they support, including Notre Dame. If there's someone from the world of celebrity that you'd like Insights to try and chat with, drop a line at mrothstein@jg.net. When we've got someone, it'll run Mondays here at Insights.

This week's guest is someone you likely know if you grew up in the '80s or enjoy college movies. Veteran actor Ted McGinley, whose two most famous roles are Stan Gable in 'Revenge of the Nerds' and Jefferson D'Arcy in 'Married ... with Children' took the time to discuss how he grew up in a Notre Dame household, loved UCLA and ended up flipping to USC. Also, McGinley was a college athlete at USC, playing water polo before discovering acting. Insights thanks McGinley for taking the time to chat and hopes you enjoy his varied opinions. McGinley's interview also marks the first reader-suggested interview Insights has done, so thanks to Insights friend Todd from Milwaukee for suggesting McGinley.

II: Is there one game, one memory of a game that stands out?

TM: "We've seen some great games. My wife and I took the kids to the national championship game, ABC was so nice to me and gave me some amazing tickets and we went to see the Ohio State-Miami game, that national championship game that was beyond words. That was, in my opinion, the greatest college football game ever played. In my lifetime, anyway, I know it was the greatest college football game I've ever seen and it was an amazing game. It was the one where Willis McGahee hurt his knee. That was just an amazing football game. As far as the SC-Notre Dame games, my kids and I went to a game a couple years ago and it was pouring rain in the Coliseum, absolutely pouring rain and we were almost down on the field. We had great seats, once again thanks to ABC, and it was a magical game because there was a fog over the field, it was pouring rain. We were suffering, it was pouring the whole day, we were unprepared and it was one of those games you suffered through and at the end you think 'That was a game.' It was very dramatic and such a great game. I would have to say it's that game. Any time you can have one of those moments with your kids there, there's nothing better. The one thing I will say is I've never been to Notre Dame. When I was in college, all the guys who would go to Notre Dame that weekend, I always had water polo games so I could never go. And after that, I just never was able to get together enough to go. So I'm looking forward to that game as well, going there and seeing it."

II: Is that planned already?

TM: "We're definitely going to do it unless I go down somewhere along the way. But we're definitely going to do it. We don't have a definitive plan and haven't picked the year. Our lives are so crazy with my kids in school and all that stuff that makes it very difficult to make plans when you go away and miss school and all that stuff. But we will. My dream, is before it's all over, go to all those amazing events with my kids. They've seen a lot of national championship games. They saw the USC-Texas game, which we had great seats for where Vince Young killed us and that was the second-greatest game in college football history. That was a great game as well."

II: Since you have a great following of college football, what's your take? Do you want to see a playoff? Do you like the system now?

TM: "I would love to see a playoff. I understand why they are not doing it but if you want to see the best play the best, how could you not want to see a playoff. I don't get it. I think, it's interesting, I still love all the bowl games. I watch them all religiously. I love them. That Boise State game, by the way, was probably the other greatest football game I've ever seen. It goes to show you that you never know. Sometimes these big programs are all just a bunch of hype and are not as fun as that game like that Boise State game, which I will probably never forget. But it would be great to have a playoff and have a real national championship and I know it would go on and on and it's really rough on student-athletes, but it would be really exciting.

"…I just want to see a great game. I like watching the bowl games. We'll get a bunch of my kids' friends in and we'll get dip and I'll make fried chicken and we'll sit down and go at it."

II: How many games a year do you get to go to?

TM: "You mean college football games? I would say we usually go to one or two a year. And I hate to admit it but it's easier to see it from home, running around like we do in our lives. However, you take me to a Ohio State-USC game or a USC-Notre Dame game, you can't pass those opportunities up. It's too good to be true."

II: The way you've watched college sports and being a former college athlete yourself, are you amazed with how it's all evolved? Or do you feel it has stayed the same from when you were in college?

TM: "No, no. When I was in college, it was a little more crooked. When you were on athletic scholarship, there were certain athletic benefits that you were going to receive and it was just, that's the way it had been for years and I think that, I think if you looked back at the John Wooden days and what the supporters of the program were doing for the athletes, nowadays there are so many rules and regulations that really, they are all over it. It's tough to get around but back then, those guys were something. It was just a miracle that they all drove nice cars. Every one of them. And that's kind of how it was and it was sort of accepted, just like it was accepted that President Kennedy might have somebody on the side, that's just the way things were. Now that we're in a PC-correct society and there's a constant flow of information on the Internet and constant news and updating, you know, it's a different world today. You ask any of those guys that were in there in the '70s and the '60s and they'll tell you that they were benefiting, there was a little something on the side that if you raked the leaves, you had a check. If you quote-unquote raked the leaves by the library that would be your job and there'd be a little check for ya.

"The funny thing is I had to get out of sports because I was earning money. I was on athletic scholarship at USC and I started doing commercials and modeling and stuff and there was no one who ever told me what the rules were, like 'Oh, I'm not allowed to do this.' So one day they called and said, the next thing I know, I'm being called in with the dean of the school, the athletic department and the athletic director saying 'I'm sorry, you're going to have to redshirt next year and pay back your athletic scholarship for your junior year and not play your senior year and come back and play your fifth year.' I was like 'What? I didn't know that.' I had no idea. It's a shame because today I'd have people fighting for me but I also would have known what the rules were. I'm still very bitter about it. To this day I haven't seen a college water polo game since. It was painful, really was a tough deal. So, I don't know. I guess you live and learn and college sports have definitely changed. The NCAA committee is all over you nowadays. But I'm living proof that they were still penalizing you back then but nobody was on the ball to tell you what was happening. Now, they sit you down with your parents, with everything and tell you 'These are the rules. Don't violate the rules or you're done.' I think it's a good thing. I think it makes it more fair for everybody. It makes the small programs able to compete. The only thing that's difficult nowadays is that you have universities like, for example Stanford and Notre Dame, whose academic standards are so high. Today, USC has incredibly high academic standards. It's impossible for those schools to compete against schools that have much lower academic standards and can get great athletes. That's a tough one, even though Stanford going to get a premier, smart athlete, it's a much more difficult way for them to compete."

II: Just following up on something you said with the modeling transitioning into acting, you've been in a ton of movies and TV shows, it's the one acting question I'll ask, do you have a favorite role, looking back where you're like 'Man, that was just awesome?'

TM: "I would definitely say it's a tie between Revenge of the Nerds, Stan Gable, which is one that just doesn't die. There's a new group of kids that see it all the time and are always like 'STTAAANNN.' It's a lot of fun. I enjoy that one. And Jefferson D'Arcy was the greatest job I've ever had. By far. It was so much fun. Nobody gets a job like that. I had to pinch myself and said 'I can not believe they are paying me right now.' It was too good."

II: What made it so much fun?

TM: "Just the cast and the crew. The thing people don't get is the crew becomes just as much part of the show as the cast of it. The guys that did the craft service and the props and we just had so much fun. It was one of those experiences that it was like a party every Friday night that we filmed was like a party and every weekday was like, I just went and laughed all day long. You just couldn't wait to get to work. You just don't get that in your life very often and when you're in those situations you have to really appreciate it. I had been on a couple other shows, so I knew that this one was magic."

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