Notre Dame draws mixed reviews with unveiling of ‘Shamrock’ uniforms
BY MARK LAZERUS firstname.lastname@example.org August 16, 2012 5:04PM
Tight end Tyler Eifert models the new look the Irish will sport on Oct. 6, when they host Miami at Soldier Field in the Shamrock Series. | Joe Raymond~AP
Updated: September 18, 2012 6:23AM
SOUTH BEND, Ind. —
The whole point of the Shamrock Series — Notre Dame’s annual barnstorming event, in which it plays a ‘‘home’’ game at a neutral site — is to draw national attention to the program and the university, to highlight its history and traditions.
And while athletic director Jack Swarbrick said Chicago — where Notre Dame will ‘‘host’’ Miami on Oct. 6 at Soldier Field — was the ‘‘logical’’ place to celebrate the 125th season of the program, tradition will take a back seat to trendy.
Notre Dame joined the alternate-jersey craze Thursday by unveiling what gently can be described as a bold new look — one that was met with wailing and gnashing of teeth online by many in its fan base.
The biggest change is a two-tone helmet — gold on one side, blue on the other — with an oversized leprechaun logo on the blue side. The logo is flipped around, so it’s facing the opponent.
Linebacker Manti Te’o and tight end Tyler Eifert modeled the uniforms and raved about the ‘‘swag.’’
‘‘I love them,’’ Te’o said. ‘‘Look good, feel good. You feel good, you play good.’’
Swarbrick said the Irish will unveil a new look for each Shamrock Series game going forward, essentially taking the fabled green jerseys out of the rotation for the time being. Notre Dame plays Arizona State next season in Dallas.
So far, the Shamrock Series has taken Notre Dame to San Antonio, Washington and New York. On top of that, the Irish open the season against ‘‘host’’ Navy on Sept. 1 in Dublin, Ireland.
There also has been talk about moving the game next season against Stanford to China, though that discussion was derailed — temporarily, at least — when Stanford athletic director Bob Bowlsby became the commissioner of the Big 12.
‘‘Football at Notre Dame is all about promoting the University of Notre Dame,’’ Swarbrick said. ‘‘Chicago is a great example of that.’’
The Irish will hold a luncheon Friday, Oct. 5, at Navy Pier, a pep rally that night at Millennium Park, a mass Oct. 6 at Holy Name Cathedral and two pregame concerts on Stadium Green outside Soldier Field.
Swarbrick — and coach Brian Kelly, who also has been trying to modernize the Notre Dame game-day experience — said the school uses neutral-site games as a way to test potential changes at Notre Dame Stadium, including music, a JumboTron and other home-field advantages the Irish have eschewed for decades.
Swarbrick said that he wants Notre Dame Stadium to be the ‘‘Augusta of college football’’ and that preserving the tradition of the program is paramount, despite the annual uniform splash.
But while he wants to continue to roll out the red carpet to opposing fans, Swarbrick doesn’t want to do so to opposing teams.
‘‘It’s not tough enough for our opponents to play [at Notre Dame], and we’ve got to be better at it,’’ he said. ‘‘I don’t want athletic directors telling me, ‘We love playing here,’ which is what they say to me with some frequency.’’