clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

The Definitive Notre Dame Uniform History Pictorial

Does Notre Dame have the greatest uniforms in college football?

You can spend hours debating that with Alabama, Penn State, Michigan, Texas, Ohio State, and USC fans, but the Irish certainly have their own glorious uniform tradition that continues to this day.

Over five years ago, a tremendous article on the history of Notre Dame's uniforms was published by the regretfully retired blog The Blue Gray Sky, and that piece served as a the groundwork for this pictorial journey that One Foot Down now presents to you.

There will be a 15 question survey as a companion piece to this pictorial, so make sure to check back for that next week.

Now sit back and enjoy this, while you relive over 100 years of Notre Dame aesthetic history on this St. Patrick's Day.

The very first Notre Dame uniforms were all-white and had a blue ND across the chest. Notice how they are very similar to the baseball uniforms of that era.

By the turn of the century and lasting well into the 1930's, Notre Dame's uniform consisted of a very basic navy blue top with brown pants and leather helmet. During the Jesse Harper era beginning in 1913, white numbers were placed on the back of the uniform as was becoming common practice throughout the country.

By the late 1930's the first drastic change occurred as white numbers appeared on the front of the jersey as well as a white shoulder yoke.

It is unclear exactly when the usage of the white shoulder yokes first began (possibly in 1938), and they were definitely worn in Frank Leahy's first game at Notre Dame in September 1941, but it is believed that they were never used after this game against Arizona.

Although the green uniform had been worn sporadically by coaches before the early 1940's (they were worn for the first time by Knute Rockne in 1921 and made famous in 1927 against Navy), Frank Leahy was the first coach to wear the emerald shade on a consistent basis, including exclusively in some years.

This practice continued right up until 1959, when the green was worn sporadically again for the next five years through the 1963 season.

It is also believed that during the Leahy years the modern-day metallic gold helmet came into existence, although many players continued to wear the old school and dull-colored leather helmets well into the 1950's.

By the early 1950's Notre Dame was wearing white uniforms on the road with simple blue numbers on the front and back. Notice the players in the above picture still wearing leather helmets in the 1957 upset of Oklahoma, ending the Sooners NCAA record 47-game winning streak.

In 1959, new head coach Joe Kuharich added UCLA stripes to the shoulders and numbers to the arms of the jersey. The stripes were gold and white for the home jersey and blue and gold on the road jersey, although the pattern may have changed over a four-year period.

A radical change Kuharich made was placing shamrocks on the golden helmets, having them awkwardly upside down at first then eventually switched to a right side up look. The Irish primarily wore blue during this era but broke out the green on occasion as well.

During Huge Devore's one year stint in 1963, the Irish removed the shoulder stripes, and replaced the shamrock on the helmet with white Alabama-style numbers.

In 1964, Ara Parseghian returned Notre Dame's uniform to a more traditional look, removing the numbers from the helmet. The Irish have now worn this same plain gold helmet for 47 straight years extending into the recent 2010 season.

Also, during this era Notre Dame began wearing the two-piece socks in a style that is mandatory today in the NFL. They were white on the bottom and blue on the top near the knees.

Parseghian never wore green as the Irish wore blue at home for all 11 years of his tenure.

The only change Parseghian brought after his first year in South Bend was the use of helmet stars for big plays, putting blue ones on the front of the helmets. The team never wore name plates on their jerseys during this time, with the only exceptions being for the 1973 Sugar Bowl and 1975 Orange Bowl.

Dan Devine kept the uniforms the same when he took over as head coach in 1975, except he did put name plates on the back of the jerseys.

Trying to stay with the times during the 1970's, the team started wearing socks with striping on them a year or two before Devine became coach and would continue to do so through 1980. They were usually white with one gold strip surrounded by two blue stripes.

Notre Dame also started wearing white cleats during the later portion of the Devine era and would do so until 1986.

Of course Devine is famous for breaking out the green uniforms in 1977 against USC, complete with gold numbers and a gold/white collar striping pattern.

It is important to note that although the pants stayed a rather light colored old gold, the gold used on the green jerseys was essentially the color yellow.

Devine also introduced the first road white version of the green and gold look. These jerseys had green numbers outlined in gold with a green collar and sleeve endings.

Gerry Faust made some changes of his own in 1981 by adding Northwestern stripes to the arms, moving the numbers up to the shoulders, and switching the color of blue to a lighter "Madonna" shade.

Faust kept the names on the back, but eventually removed the stripes from the sleeves for the start of the 1984 season, while also changing the color of blue back to navy in his fourth season in South Bend.

Faust had the Irish wear white knee-high socks during the colder games with the interlocking ND monogram making its first appearance on them during this era.

That grainy photo above is from the 1983 USC game where Faust broke out the green against the Trojans. He also brought out the green (sans sleeve striping) after halftime of the 1985 USC game.

In a way, Lou Holtz returned Notre Dame to a more traditional look, but he also made some rather radical changes. He added the ND monogram to the sleeves and had both that and the numbers outlined in gold, changed the color of the pants from old gold to the current metallic gold the team still wears today, and put the ND logo on the left side of the pants.

His first season in 1986, the Irish featured the unique look of having the numbers on the shoulders with the ND logo also on the sleeves. Holtz also removed the names from the backs of the uniform and never used them over his 11 years in South Bend, while also returning the team to the two-piece socks for colder games.

Holtz also returned the Irish to black cleats, which they've worn for the past 25 years.

After Holtz' first season he took the numbers off the shoulders and stayed with the above look for the home and road uniforms for the next five years. Notre Dame's last national championship team wore these uniforms.

For the 1992 Sugar Bowl, the Irish wore a green-clad away uniform complete with green numbers and sleeve monogram outlined in blue, as well as green and white two-piece socks.

In 1992, Champion made some changes to the uniforms by adding gold trim to the collar and sleeve endings for the home jersey and blue trim on the collar and sleeve endings for the road jersey.

Starting in 1994 (and not 1992 with the first Champion changes as reported by BGS), a golden dome logo was added to the base of the collar on both the home and away uniforms.

Notre Dame wore green under Holtz for a second time in the 1995 Fiesta Bowl against Colorado. Like the '92 inspired green uniform, the numbers and ND logo were also outlined in blue.

During Bob Davie's first year as head coach in 1997, the uniforms remained the same as the previous three years.

In 1998, a gold-blue-white striping pattern was added to the collar and sleeve endings for the home uniform. Also, a gold-blue striping pattern was added to the road uniform.

Bob Davie's only game with a green uniform was in the 1999 Gator Bowl. This jersey had the numbers and monogram outlined in gold, to go along with the collar and sleeve-ending striping that was introduced the prior season.

During the 2001 Fiesta Bowl, the Irish wore a green shamrock with a gold ND in the middle on the sleeves, instead of the usual blue and gold ND monogram.

Major changes came for the 2001 season as Adidas replaced Champion as the uniform manufacturer. The striping was removed from the collar and sleeve endings, and a green shamrock with the script "Irish" below it replaced the logo of the golden dome at the base of the collar.

In addition, the Adidas logo was added to the right chest as well as an American flag to the left chest after the attacks of September 11th. Also, a green shamrock with a gold ND logo replaced the old blue monogran on the pants.

The road white uniform during this period was surrounded in controversy because of the gold flanks added from the arm pit down to the waist.

In Tyrone Willingham's first season in 2002, the Irish wore green against Boston College. The color of green used was very bright and the numbers and monogram were outlined in gold.

Notice the American flag, shamrock, and Irish script were also removed from the jersey for this game.

In 2004 the uniforms went under another change and would stay this way until 2009. The ND monogram was removed from the sleeves in favor of numbers, the American flag was removed, and the ND logo replaced the shamrock at both the base of the collar and on the pants.

Since Adidas took over as the uniform manufacturer, the Irish have rarely worn the two-piece socks during the colder months, instead opting to wear solid color knee-high socks. Black socks have also become much more common since 2004.

Notre Dame wore green on three separate occasions under Charlie Weis. The Irish wore the dark green in 2005 against USC and again in 2006 against Army. These jerseys are known for reversing the color scheme from the previous five incarnations having gold numbers outlined in white.

The Irish also wore 30th anniversary throwbacks in honor of the 1977 national championship team in 2007 against USC. These were faithful to the original 70's design with the exception of wider stripes on the socks and a much more vibrant yellow used, especially with the pants.

This past season in 2010, the uniforms were changed once again under Brian Kelly. The ND monogram was placed back on the sleeves, and the Adidas logo was put at the base of the collar instead of the interlocking ND logo.

Unlike in previous seasons, the ND monogram outline completely filled in the logo (giving it a more patch-like look), whereas in the past (1986-2004) the base color of the jersey was visible in the middle.

Towards the end of the 2010 season, the Irish introduced the more tight fitting Adidas TechFit uniforms.

Notre Dame did wear two-piece socks against Army (see below) but stuck with short or medium socks (black or white) with Adidas logos otherwise. As is becoming the custom, many players simply wore long spandex underneath their socks in cold weather.

Notre Dame wore green in Brian Kelly's first season during the neutral contest at Yankee Stadium against Army. This version continued the same template used in 2005 and 2006, but with the current uniform design introduced in 2010.

Make sure to check back for the survey next week!