There aren’t many football programs that have a tradition as rich as Notre Dame. Even so, most of Georgia’s young football players, who will take on the Fighting Irish Saturday, pointed to Joe Montana, Brady Quinn and the movie “Rudy” when asked for their familiarity with the historical program.
Matthew Beringer, a fourth-year junior on the Georgia men’s golf team, has a much greater understanding of Notre Dame lore.
After all, his great-grandfather, Don Miller, was one of the famed Four Horsemen of Notre Dame.
The Four Horsemen came to national prominence after legendary sports writer Grantland Rice wrote a story for the New York Herald Tribune that began, “Outlined against a blue, gray October sky, the Four Horsemen rode again,” following Notre Dame’s 13-7 upset win over Army in 1924.
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Miller was the right halfback, to go along with quarterback Harry Stuhldreher, left halfback Jim Crowley and fullback Elmer Layden. The four posed for an iconic photo on horseback the following week.
Beringer, who grew up in Macon and won the GISA golf championship at Stratford as a freshman in 2011, grew up incredibly familiar with who his great-grandfather was. Miller’s picture and the famous story can be found all around his parents’ home. It’s a family tale he has long cherished, especially since he grew up a huge Notre Dame fan.
“It’s something that I’m incredibly proud of, for sure,” Beringer said.
Stories have certainly been passed down, but one theme about Miller always has stood out to Beringer.
With Rice’s story, and the subsequent photo, Miller and his three backfield mates achieved a level of celebrity that would rival a person going viral online in today’s world. That kind of attention never changed Miller, which Beringer said has been instilled during the three generations that followed.
“I think it’s really interesting because they had the closest form of instantaneous fame you could have back then,” Beringer said. “But what’s really enjoyable for me to hear is how my great-grandfather Don Miller carried himself. He never let that unexpected fame change who he was or his character.”
Beringer joked, however, that it would have been nice for Miller to pass down something extra for him.
“Unfortunately, I feel like I got a little shafted, and he didn’t pass down his athletic genes,” Beringer said.
As a child, Beringer always assumed he would end up at Notre Dame. That started to change during his freshman year at Stratford, however, as he started to think about his golf career in the long-term. Georgia had established itself as a giant in college golf, and the opportunity to play for head coach Chris Haack’s program was too big to turn down. Beringer committed to the Bulldogs instead of chasing his childhood dream.
When it came to his Notre Dame allegiance, Beringer admitted there were struggles between his head and heart from the time of his commitment until he stepped foot on campus as a student-athlete.
Three years into college, Beringer is no longer the Notre Dame fan he once was. He’s with the Bulldogs, through and through.
“I had always dreamed and aspired to go there,” Beringer said. “That was something that weighed on my heart a lot, to not go to Notre Dame. Now that I ended up at Georgia, three years into my career here, I can’t thank God enough for leading me here. I feel really blessed I ended up at this unbelievable school.”
Beringer will make the trip for Georgia’s game at Notre Dame, catching an early flight Saturday morning. He’s hopeful the trip goes as planned so he can make a tailgate his parents are hosting. There probably won’t be too many people other than Beringer himself wearing red and black at the tailgate.
His mother, Karen Beringer, was a swimmer at Notre Dame. She also has a twin who attended Notre Dame. Beringer has two older siblings who chose to attend Notre Dame, and he has another older sister who chose Georgia Tech for college, so it’s unlikely she will be on his side for the game either.
Having lived in Macon since the first grade, Beringer grew up battling friends who cheered for Georgia, since “being a Notre Dame fan in the Southeast isn’t very popular.” Even now, he has a couple of friends who question whether he is a true Bulldogs fan, perhaps ignoring the fact Beringer chose to compete collegiately for one of Georgia’s athletics programs.
While Beringer is proud to be a direct descendant of one of the famed Four Horsemen, it is clear where his alliance is now.
“I will say, I hope we absolutely destroy Notre Dame on Saturday,” he said.