Mike Collins, the voice of the Fighting Irish, begins his final season

NOW: Mike Collins, the voice of the Fighting Irish, begins his final season

NOTRE DAME, Ind. -- The 2020 season will be the last season announcer Mike Collins utters his now iconic words "Here come the Irish." After nearly four decades of announcing Notre Dame football, Collins is retiring.

He says while this season will be different with just 25% of fans in the stadium, it won't affect what he does.

“I just feel I have to be as enthusiastic as ever. The people who are there are spending those 3 plus hours as sort of getting away from all of this nuttiness," Collins said. "And things that have impacted them that they can have three plus hours of just enjoying something they’ve enjoyed for years. I want to give them that."

"One of the things I'm proudest of is almost by chance, I'm the one who came up with 'Here come the Irish' which is now being used at almost every sporting event," Collins said.

Before Collins made 'here come the Irish' a household phrase he was a Catholic kid from Pittsburgh following his dad's orders to attend the University of Notre Dame.

"63 67. Ara came and started coaching my sophomore year, so I saw the turn around of Notre Dame football. We could hardly believe it as it was happening. We thought at first it was just some pure luck and then they kept winning and they kept winning," Collins said.

He was the sports director of Notre Dame's student station calling hockey and basketball.

While he considered himself a sports fan he was a news man at heart.

"I was anchoring the news at the age of 22, every night. That was my first full time job," Collins said.

Collins was a respected news anchor in Michiana for years.

But in 1982, the opportunity of a lifetime came calling.

"As far as anyone knows, there's only been three Public Address announcers at Notre Dame Stadium. And my predecessor had been there for some time and just two days before the start of the 1982 season, he made the decision to retire. So, the sports information director at the time decided to call me and said, I swear, I was at work and said, 'Can you work the game Saturday?' And I said 'Yes.' And I never told him that I had never worked football in any way before," Collins said.

Notre Dame vs Michigan in prime time.

"I wasn't going to say no under any circumstances and I'm sure glad I did not say no," Collins said.

That one yes turned into 238 consecutive Notre Dame games and counting.

Collins has his game day routine down pat from his throat lozenges to his pronunciation guide, his fedora and pre game banter.

The booth is his sanctuary and while it's a scene he has witnessed so many times, it is ever changing.

Game after game he settles in and welcomes you to Notre Dame.

"People tell me when I come on, if I say 'Good afternoon ladies and gentlemen.' They said that in their mind cues them that we're about to start. It's amazing how 'Good afternoon ladies and gentlemen' can get such a round of applause. I didn't know that could happen,"

It has been an unprecedented preseason and no one can predict how 2020 will unfold.

"We don't know how this season is going to play out, there are too many variables, too many things we don't know. Basically what I told Notre Dame is, I want to do one more season of football. I want that excitement, the thrill, the joy of doing it. So I'm going to see how this plays out before I cash my check," Collins said.

As the first game of his final year of Notre Dame football approaches he knows he still has a job to do.

"I always keep in mind that there are some people out there who may be at Notre Dame for the first time. They deserve my very best effort. My very best," Collins said.

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