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 firstname.lastname@example.org. 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.
For more with McGinley, be sure to also check out Part II, where he explains how the NCAA essentially forced him to stop playing water polo in college, his take on the difference between college sports now and then and his favorite all-time roles.
Irish Insights: I know you went to USC. Is that how you became a USC fan or was it something that you paid attention to them and Notre Dame beforehand?
Ted McGinley: "Well, my grandfather is from Ireland so I was raised on him loving Notre Dame. My dad was born in Chicago and the Irish immigrants, Notre Dame is our team. But I grew up in Newport Beach, California and everyone was an SC fan. All my parents' friends were SC fans and I hated USC. I grew up a Bruin fan. I was a die-hard Bruin fan and I was recruited by USC to play water polo there and I decided that I would remain a Bruin fan in football and everything except for water polo and after my first game against UCLA at UCLA, it was like a war and from then on, I hated UCLA. So I became an SC fan, sort of begrudgingly at first, and now they're my guys."
II: Like you said, your family has the Notre Dame lineage, though. What was that like growing up? What was that like once you became a USC fan? Was it fighting every year?
TM: "It was fine. We didn't have a whole lot of time for sports. Everybody was just trying to survive so there wasn't a whole lot of time for sports. However, I will say, we used to watch the USC-Notre Dame game. It was like religion. That was sometimes with my granddad, sometimes not. We always talked about it. I think they were thrilled that I went to college and cared about anything, so, it wasn't that big a deal. But, it was fun. In our house, it was certainly fun. We didn't have that really die-hard sports fan. My dad was a boxer and didn't grow up playing any of that stuff."
II: What's it like for you now on a game day?
TM: "Unfortunately, or, I should say fortunately, I've got two young kids who play every sport known to mankind except for football, now. They play flag football, they don't play tackle football. Usually, I find myself situated, I'm a guy who would really, depending upon the game, would rather watch it on TV. I love getting the reporters' insight. I love the closeup shot. I'm addicted to college football. That's my number one thing. My favorite sport is college football and I live and breathe it. I don't dislike pro football, when I was a kid, I much preferred professional football, but now, I'm definitely a college football guy and I try to watch as many games as I can get away with but it's really hard for me with my kids' schedule and we've got baseball, football, basketball, soccer, you name it, all over the place, so if I miss a game, if it's a great game, I try to TiVo it. I do whatever I can to see a game.
"When I was doing 'Hope and Faith,' every so often, at the beginning of the show, I had to stay in New York and so, Kelly Ripa's agent would get us this private room at the ESPNZone, where we got this huge screen and I should say ABC, one of the guys who worked for ABC would get it, we were all college football fans. So we would go in there and watch the games. That was like being in heaven. The food and beer just kept coming and the greatest football games on every screen that you could see, I thought I had died and gone to heaven. That was, that's my perfect day, college football day." "The other thing was, probably the greatest day of watching college football that I can honestly ever remember was with my wife a year ago in Vegas. We were in the sports room at the Wynn and it was spectacular. To sit with your wife, (Eds. note: Gigi Rice) my wife loves college football, that's pretty tough to beat. A guy whose wife loves college football, a couple cold beers on the table, appetizers, you cannot beat that. And then up all night gambling. That is heaven for me."
II: When you're watching a USC game, when you do get to watch them, are you pretty focused in on it? Is it on in the background and you're paying somewhat close attention?
TM: "I'm sitting down watching unless I have to get up and do something. But we have a pretty good rule in my house. See, my wife is, there's only one kind of Buckeye fan and that's a die-hard Buckeye fan. So she's a Buckeye and I'm a Trojan. The only problem is that I've noticed, for me, when SC plays the Buckeyes, if I win, I lose. If I lose, I lose. It's a no-win situation for me. But that's when it's really fun in our house. My wife is a much louder, boisterous fan than am I. I'm more intent and with my hands over my eyes watching. She's yelling and screaming. It's a lot of fun. My kids love watching college football with her."
II: Are your kids SC fans? Ohio State fans? Have they gone off the deep end and liked Idaho?
TM: "They probably will. They are SC fans as we speak but they have a deep-rooted respect for Ohio State. But between the two, they would probably root against Ohio State and I think that's only because they've been to the games and been to the student store. USC is a little closer. But they root for my wife's team whenever possible."
II: What's it like for you during a Notre Dame-USC game since your family grew up Notre Dame fans and you like USC?
TM: "I'm a huge IndyCar fan. I love the Indy 500, it's my most favorite sporting event of all other than Game 7 of a Stanley Cup final. I really like the Indy 500, so for me, I like to just square away the day and it never happens. I have to TiVo it and I have it like dessert. Whenever I can get to it, I get to it and I make sure I don't listen to anybody and don't do a thing with the USC-Notre Dame game. Now we have a lot of friends, by the way, up where we live, who went to Notre Dame so there's a fun rivalry that goes on. But if I'm at a soccer game, I won't even look people in the eye the whole day. I don't wear anything that says USC, I don't have anything to do with it so it doesn't come up. People keep coming up to me and say 'Hey, the Trojans …' or whatever it is. I immediately put headphones on, don't talk to anybody, don't hear anything, don't want any information. And I'm very good at reading people's expressions so I say 'I don't want to talk to you. Don't even look at me.' I can tell just by looking at them what the score is."
II: With the USC-Notre Dame games, is it like that every week or just ND-USC?
TM: "Just historically the USC-Notre Dame games have been phenomenal. It's one of those games where if we lose, I can always say 'At least we lost to Notre Dame.' That one doesn't hurt so bad. Notre Dame is the only team in college football that is luckier that USC. I think USC is an incredibly lucky team and you know what they say, that you make your own luck by all those hours in practice and I think that's true in USC's case. However, I do think that USC seems to be just so fortunate all the time and I think Notre Dame is very much the same way. They are a very fortunate team and constantly get the break and I don't know why. Whenever we play Notre Dame I'm constantly worried, like 'Oh my God. Here it comes. Here comes the Hail Mary or whatever it is. Notre Dame is going to do something great.' And in those off years when USC was having those really tough times and Notre Dame was doing really well, it was great for me because I felt, well, my other team is doing OK."
II: Is that tough a little bit, being on both sides of a rivalry?
TM: "I don't have any issues with it whatsoever. I have, and always have, and I was the same way in professional football, that I have players more so than teams that I respect and like. I like to pick out guys that I root for and it really doesn't matter what team they are on so much. Even a team that we're playing against that I have great respect for, I will enjoy watching that player play. But when it comes down to one thing, I want the Trojans to win. I want to see them in the national championship game without a doubt."
For more with McGinley, check out Part II, where he explains how the NCAA essentially forced him to stop playing water polo in college, his take on the difference between college sports now and then and his favorite all-time roles.
- Fame And Notre Dame: Actor Tom Cavanagh -- Part I
- Fame And Notre Dame: Actor Tom Cavanagh -- Part II
- Why I Love College Sports (Fame And ND) -- Actor Ted McGinley -- Part II
- Why I Love College Sports (Sometimes Known As Fame And Notre Dame): IRL Driver Ryan Hunter-Reay
- Why I Love College Sports (Also Known As Fame And Notre Dame): IRL Driver Graham Rahal
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- Fame And Notre Dame: Stone Temple Pilots Frontman Scott Weiland Part II
- Fame And Notre Dame: Villanova Basketball Coach Jay Wright