BELMONT CRAGIN — Dan Santucci might be having more fun off the football field than he did on it.
And he played four years in the NFL.
The post includes coordinating events for Notre Dame's home football games, including pep rallies, academic events and band concerts.
"It's a blessing to be here. It's unbelievable," said Santucci, 29, who will be making the trip to Florida to see the No. 1 Irish face No. 2 Alabama for the BCS national championship on Jan. 7.
"Everyone around this place is just happy and energetic. There's never a day when I'm not happy and just glad to be here," he said.
Santucci and his wife, Meredith, and their two children, Johnny, 4, and Avery, 2, live close to the Notre Dame campus, where Santucci starred for the Irish as an offensive lineman before he played for the Cincinnati Bengals and Carolina Panthers.
Getting in the door at Notre Dame wasn't easy.
After Santucci's NFL career ended following the 2010 season due to injuries and lack of playing time, he and Meredith — a former Irish cheerleader — decided to move back to South Bend.
Santucci spent four months networking while renting a home owned by the parents of former Notre Dame teammate Chris Frome. Finally in May 2011, he beat out "hundreds of candidates" for a game day coordinator position at the school, said Mike Seamon, Notre Dame's director of game day operations.
"Every time I talked with him, it became more and more clear that he was the real deal," Seamon said. "He really had his act together and had a true, true passion for Notre Dame. That really catapulted him to the top of the list."
He was promoted to his current job last January, and he recently moved into a new home across the street from the Fromeses.
Santucci, a Chicago native who also attended St. Francis Borgia School in Dunning, works long hours.
On game day, he directs 40 guest team service members and ushers, plus organizes a golf cart transportation service that averages 2,000 rides per weekend. Santucci, a marketing major who graduated from the Mendoza School of Business, also runs and writes blogs for the website gameday.nd.edu, a one-stop shop for different events on campus.
"When he knew his playing days were over, he went back to Notre Dame," said Russ Lucas, St. Patrick's dean of students and an assistant football coach. "He's got a great gig."
For the national championship game, Santucci will be working with the university relations department escorting VIPs to private dinners and pep rallies.
"He is committed to excellence in terms of everything he does," said St. Patrick football head coach Dan Galante, a Rogers Park resident. "He really is a great representative and ambassador for Notre Dame and St. Patrick."
And Santucci has no problem predicting an Irish victory over the favored Alabama Crimson Tide.
"I think we win 24-14," he said. "This team just proves everybody wrong. As a former player and as employee of this university, it's been fun to watch."