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The Journal Gazette

  • Brian Windmiller and wife Cat, with daughters, Audrey, 2, and Cora, 5, will split allegiances tonight as Notre Dame takes on Georgia. (Michelle Davies | The Journal Gazette)

Saturday, September 09, 2017 1:00 am

Irish, Georgia allegiances to make it a house divided

AUBREE REICHEL | The Journal Gazette

When the Notre Dame and Georgia football teams last met, neither Brian nor Cat Windmiller was alive.

But neither of them can forget that the Bulldogs won the 1981 Sugar Bowl 17-10 to clinch the national championship in the teams' only meeting.

Until tonight, when Georgia comes to Notre Dame Stadium for a 7:30 game.

“I'm very excited,” Cat said. “I've been excited for years for this game. They almost played each other in the 2012 national championship. If Georgia would have won the SEC championship (over Alabama), they would have played.”

Cat, a native of Lawrenceville, Georgia, graduated from Georgia in 2006, and Indiana native Brian graduated from Note Dame in 2005. The couple met while Brian was in the Navy. They moved to Fort Wayne to be closer to family living in Indianapolis.

“I've tried to become a better Notre Dame fan since moving to Fort Wayne since I'm in that territory, but my heart is in Georgia,” Cat said. “(Brian) owns a couple Georgia T-shirts that my mom has bought for him.”

During the season, the couple typically don't have to wrestle for the remote as most games are on at different times.

This weekend, though, Brian's work schedule requires an early Sunday morning, so Cat is planning a watch party for herself.

But if Georgia wins, Brian will hear about it in ways comparable to 2007, when Navy beat Notre Dame for the first time in 44 years.

“There were two of us that went to Notre Dame on the ship, and the other guy was a way bigger fan and was a lot more obnoxious about it,” he said. “He got woken up like a dozen times. When the Naval Academy beats Notre Dame for the first time in (decades), it was a pretty big deal. My friend saved me because he was more of a big mouth about Notre Dame stuff.

“The job was hard enough without getting into fights about football.”

Cat rebutted, laughing, “Now you can do that in your marriage.

“I'm going to stay up for the whole thing. I am probably going to gloat on Facebook a little bit.”

Regardless of the outcome, 5-year-old daughter Cora will be pleased as she's grown up to cheer for both sides. But if she had to choose one, she bashfully would choose Georgia.

Meanwhile, 2-year-old Audrey, while wearing a red and white cheerleading outfit with a big “G” on the front, said nothing. Perhaps pleading the Fifth in her own toddler way.

“I'm going to dress that little girl (Audrey) in that Georgia dress for church on Sunday if they win,” Cat said. “If they don't, she can wear whatever she wants.”

Cat also told her husband she has something else planned for him if Georgia prevails.

“You get to ring a big bell called the Chapel Bell and swing on it. That's what I'm going to do,” she told Brian. “If Georgia wins, I'm going to wake you up with a video of the Chapel Bell ringing. ... I'm going to have my mom call you, too. It'll be great.”

With the series between Notre Dame and Georgia in Athens, Georgia, next year, the Windmillers hope to be in attendance.

“If we would have gotten tickets, we would have found a way to go,” Cat said. “The tickets were just out of reach, financially. ...

“They're playing in Georgia next year, so maybe we can make that happen. Maybe tickets won't be so obscenely expensive.”

areichel@jg.net