Before Wednesday night, Mike Brey had never been to the Linebacker Lounge.
After his final home game following 23 years as Notre Dame’s men’s basketball coach, he celebrated with a shot of whiskey at the landmark South Bend dive. Jameson, of course.
Brey announced his intentions on Tuesday while speaking with media in the day leading up to Notre Dame’s home finale against Pittsburgh. He’d previously announced that this season would be his last in South Bend, though he hasn’t ruled out a return to coaching.
“I have never — I’m very proud of this stat — I have never stepped foot in the Linebacker in 23 years,” Brey said with a smile on his face. “I know you don’t believe it. But I’m going in tomorrow night.”
So Brey was going, win or lose. After he helmed Fighting Irish basketball for two-plus decades, the visit would mark a proper setting for his South Bend farewell. Established in 1962, the Linebacker’s become a staple for students, alumni and passersby alike.
Fortunately for Brey, he was able to call it a celebration. The Irish beat the 25th-ranked Panthers, 88-81 in a highlight of what’s been a largely disappointing 12-19 campaign. After the win, he followed through on his word. With a beer in his right hand, Brey downed a shot of Jameson with his left while surrounded by Notre Dame faithful.
The house was packed as Brey chatted and took photos with Notre Dame fans.
Where did the evening lead for Brey? That much wasn’t clear at the time of this post. But Brey vowed on Tuesday to keep the party going.
“We’re closing that sucker,” Brey said. “There ain’t no curfew.”