We’re all aware that the empty summer months tend to push the conversation to off-field topics, but this year seems to have been over the top for non-football related conversations in the realm of Notre Dame Football. It seems that, as we approach the last 2 weeks of our football-less existence, most every topic (sans QB-Derby) from this summer’s general consciousness boils down to one real topic: What parts of Notre Dame Football are essential to Notre Dame’s tradition and what are just details that happen to be associated with Notre Dame at this point in time.
To me Notre Dame reminds me of these things/symbols, more or less in order:
- The Golden Dome
- The Monogram
- The gold helmets
- The idea of success of our players as both athletes and people (academic, religious, etc)
- The atmosphere in the stadium (colored by my time in the student section)
- The feeling of history that surrounds you when you walk into Notre Dame Stadium
That’s it. That’s the list. That’s the list of things that represent Notre Dame football and that we should be building upon. What other essential parts of Notre Dame football am I missing? And more importantly, how does those things mesh with the changes being made/discussed over the last 8-12 months?
I don’t care what kind of turf Notre Dame plays on. I know the field has sucked in recent years, and from stories I’ve heard, it’s not for lack of trying. I’d rather go with the Lambeau Grassmaster system than field turf because I think it will look better, but to me this is a non-essential part of the current state of Notre Dame football. As long as it’s not blue/gold or have all sorts of funky designs on it, it’s not going to mess with the atmosphere of the game.
From my list above, what I care about first and foremost is the feeling of history when you walk into Notre Dame Stadium. When I walked in there for the first time, I knew it was something special, and since then it’s a place I’ve been bringing my friends so I can show them how special it is. When you take a few Michigan fans, a few OSU fans and a few fans of other random schools and everyone can see (or better yet, feel) that it’s something special, then you’ve really got something worth preserving. Will a video board ruin that? Maybe, depends how it’s done. I'm very wary of the possibility that adding a jumbotron just becomes a loud, blaring, non-stop advertisement, and thatwould considerably hurt the atmosphere.
I do know/recognize that some people who are only partial football fans (the people that are somewhere between tolerate and like actual football, independent of football atmosphere and football partying) have a hard time without a video board, after having grown up with one always accessible. Like it or not, that’s a good chunk of our fan base and having replays available would certainly help keep them engaged in the game, which I believe would help the atmosphere.Uniforms
To me, after reading through a good chunk of BGS’s uniforms though ND history recap
(http://bluegraysky.blogspot.com/2005/05/uniformly-excellent.html), it would seem that the jerseys themselves (and cleats, pants and socks as well) have changed significantly from coach to coach, era to era and generally changed with the times. The same is true with decals, logos and stripes on the helmet. For the most part, I don’t think any given look is essential to Notre Dame Football’s tradition. Reasonable minds may differ on the looks and changes, but I’m good with them if the players and coaches like them.The base of the helmets are an entirely different matter. The helmets have been a base shade of gold as long as we've had real helmets. They are a nod to the Golden Dome in the center of campus and as such are part of tradition and not something that should be messed with. Let me say this again, categorically and with emphasis: It doesn't matter whether you think the helmets look good, decent, bad or awful, the helmets are an essential part of Notre Dame tradition, and should not be messed with. This isn’t changing the grass or the flipping the jerseys to a different shade of blue, it’s modifying part of who Notre Dame Football, as an identifiable brand, is. And as such, the view that "eh, they look alright" (or even worse "I kinda like them" isn't just a different opinion here, it’s a wrong one. Quite frankly, the fact that nobody from Notre Dame has told adidas to throw that helmet in the garbage and start again worries me about the people steering the ship. Modifying tradition so we can make a buck should be unacceptable, but more and more it's seeming like par for the course at ND.