New uniforms just part of ND's modernization

New uniforms just part of ND's modernization
August 16, 2012, 9:47 pm
Share This Post

SOUTH BEND, Ind. -- When Notre Dame unveiled a new adidas-made uniform to be worn Oct. 6 against Miami, the threads were, as expected, met with plenty of derision, at least on Twitter. But that same criticism -- mainly of the helmet -- wasn't shared by Notre Dame players.

"I love them," linebacker Manti Te'o said. "You look good, you feel good, you feel good, you play good. It's true."

"The last couple years with what adidas has done for us, and the Shamrock Series, we've got so much swag now," added tight end Tyler Eifert. "They're pretty neat."

These specific uniforms are a one-time deal, to be worn only for that early October contest against Miami, which is part of the school's Shamrock Series that has taken the Irish to San Antonio, New York and Washington D.C. in the last two years.

The goal of the Shamrock Series was essentially to put Notre Dame on tour, taking not only the football program, but the school to other parts of the country. But instead of taking the classic uniforms with them, Notre Dame views the Shamrock Series as a chance to try something different.

"Because the concept, because the game is now part of something that is going to last and has its own identification as the Shamrock Series, we decided, in a very conscious way, to take this and use it as the one time each year that we modify our uniforms," athletic director Jack Swarbrick said.

"To make it a special, different event, to embrace the notion that we're going to bring an exciting and new opportunity with us when we come to a city, and part of that is the uniform."

That idea of trying something new extends beyond just the uniforms. Swarbrick mentioned he enjoyed the video board capability at Yankee Stadium in 2010, and isn't completely against an upgrade to a Jumbotron at Notre Dame Stadium sometime in the future.

"That's what we're trying to do -- can Notre Dame Stadium still be the Augusta of college football," pondered Swarbrick, "and provide an environment that allows you to communicate about the school more effectively. That's my frustration. I sort of enjoy it from a football perspective when there's a close call and I watch the opposing coach get whiplash trying to find the video board trying to decide whether or not to call for a review.

"But it frustrated the heck out of me when we honor a professor in between the first and second period by bringing him out to the 30-yard-line, making an announcement about him or her and handing them a football and nobody in the stadium knows what's going on. We ought to be calling great attention and focus to that person. And that's hard to do in our current environment."

Last year, Notre Dame Stadium played music over its sound system for the first time. That's another change that's come to the gameday atmosphere in South Bend, even if it meant Ozzy Osbourne's "Crazy Train" playing seemingly on repeat during the Irish's contest against USC.

And Swarbrick wouldn't rule out a change in playing surface, perhaps from natural grass to the flashpoint idea of artificial turf. Notre Dame will have to replace its turf after this season, so that's when the issue will be addressed.

A quote from Mark Daniels, director of football for adidas America -- which designed the Shamrock Series uniforms -- seemed to sum up the balance Notre Dame is attempting to strike, not only with the uniforms, but with music, video, turf, and so on.

"We expect strong reaction regardless of what we do," Daniels said. "We fully understand the heritage, the tradition, the rituals of what Notre Dame is. And we like to take those, celebrate those moments but modernize it, bring it into the future a little bit."