Happy Thanksgiving Notre Dame nation!

My turkey is in the oven, the Mrs. is sitting by the fire loving life and my dogs are relaxing. There is certainly a lot to be thankful for, and I wanted to take some time today to share some of the things I am thankful for with all of you.

1. My Wife — When I was considering making the move to Maven to run this site there were a lot of reasons not to make the move. Even though I was ready to move on from my previous employer, the move to Maven was certainly filled with risk. My wife was incredibly supportive, and without that support making this move would not have been possible. Having her by my side makes this whole venture worth it!

Now that I’ve made the move I’m so thankful I did. I absolutely love working for Maven, and I love what we are building here. Of course, it helps that she’s a huge Notre Dame fan, of course. So are my parents, who are two absolutely amazing people.

2. Notre Dame Fans — This job is incredibly demanding. The hours that it takes to do it well are enormous, and that’s especially true now that I’m running my own site. If not for Notre Dame having so many incredible fans, I’m not sure the job would be worth it. Over the last decade I’ve gotten to know so many amazing people while covering Notre Dame, and this fanbase is so much fun to write for.

The back-and-forth is always fun, the words of encouragement are always appreciated, and going through the journey with all of you is incredibly rewarding. Many of you also have huge hearts. A few years ago my wife ran a marathon to raise awareness for leukemia and lymphoma. I made a post asking Notre Dame fans to help, and Irish fans stepped up and donated thousands of dollars.

You folks are awesome!

3. Those Who Serve — I get to cover sports for a living. Think about that. My job is to watch football, analyze football and write about football. I get to that do that in a free country, and those freedoms don’t come without a cost. But the cost isn’t being paid by me, it’s being paid those men and women who serve and protect our country.

Many of them don’t get to enjoy Thanksgiving with their families today, they are thousands of miles away from home in service of our great nation. I am forever thankful that they risk their lives to protect the freedoms I get to partake in every day.

4. Clark Lea’s Defense — As a former coach there is nothing I enjoy more than well-coached unit, and that is what Clark Lea puts on the field week after week. In the few instances where we get to attend practice, watching Lea is truly a joy. He has a passion for young people, he’s a great teacher and he knows how to develop young people.

After Notre Dame got embarrassed against Michigan, Lea was able to quickly rally his troops, and in the four games since the Irish have been playing brilliant defense. It says a lot about a coach when he can get his unit to bounce back so quickly, and so dominantly, after such a devastating performance.

Notre Dame needs to step up very soon and offer him a lot of money. Lea has already emerged as an lite defensive coordinator.

5. Asmar Bilal Making Me Look Bad — Being right is an important part of my job, so when I am wrong I usually don’t enjoy that. But sometimes being wrong can be rather enjoyable, and that is the case this season with linebacker Asmar Bilal.

I said all offseason that you can’t play championship caliber defense with a guy like Bilal as a starting inside linebacker. After the opener I felt justified in that statement, but starting the next week Bilal went on a season-long mission of making my statements about him look mighty dumb. Bilal has been outstanding all season, and he’s one of the best players on one of the best defenses in the country.

Without Bilal playing the way he has I’m not sure Notre Dame could have been as good as they have on defense this season, and that is especially true in the last four games.

6. Chase Claypool — His numbers don’t truly show how dominant he’s been this season. Claypool has put the offense on his shoulders week-after-week, and seeing his growth as a player and leader has been truly fun to watch. I’d love to see him have a monster game against Stanford and get over 1,000 yard son the season.

7. Watching Players Develop — One of the best parts of this job is watching these young people develop over the years. It seems like it was recently that I was at Notre Dame’s Irish Invasion watching Jalen Elliott go through drills. Elliott was a raw high school quarterback that grew into a team captain and a productive safety. I could share story after story like that, and that is part of the fun of doing this job.

That’s what I’m thankful for today! What about you?