Saturday night's atmosphere at Notre Dame Stadium could be described in a myriad of ways, depending on who you talk to. Intense. Odd. Loud. Ozzy. Surreal. Crazy Train. Uncomfortable.
Fanning the flames of those feelings were the comments by Brian Kelly yesterday when asked about a video screen in the stadium. Personally, I don't understand the huge reaction to his comments, even from some normally sane Irish fans. He was asked a question about a jumbotron. His response is to either answer that question with his pre-established position on the issue and move on, or what, exactly? No comment a question about a Jumbotron? "No comments" should be saved for actual controversial issues that need avoided, not a question about a video screen.
A few thoughts on the atmosphere this past weekend night:
If the goal of the music was simply to get people loud, then it achieved success. People were jacked up the whole night, even as we all began to realize that maybe Notre Dame should have expanded the playlist a bit. You can edit the song choices in the future, but the main objective of increasing the volume in the stadium was a success. If you want to debate how much of that was on the twelve hours of tailgating preceding the game, the opponent, the kickoff or the music, that's fair, but things did get noticeably louder when the music was turned on.
The use of "Shipping Up to Boston" before the opening kickoff was a fantastic choice. We should focus on that kind of stuff - Dropkick Murphys, The Pogues - and try to stay away from generic arena rock that is older than the students attending the game. I had a friend sitting in the USC section who somberly recalled how they laughed maniacally at our continued use of "Crazy Train." Let's not do that again. In general, the music selection sounded like it was coming from someone who had sort of watched college football and thought they understood what music should be played, but didn't really understand A) Music or B) Notre Dame, save for the previously mentioned "Shipping." When they played "Enter Sandman," Virginia Tech's anthem, I assumed it was a matter of time before we heard "Zombie Nation" or "Jump Around." It was like a college football music's greatest hits, with greatest being used ironically.
While we're making technological innovations to Notre Dame Stadium, how about improving cell service or installing wireless so smart phones are actually worth having? Most of the people I know either A) Turn their phones off or B) Put them on airplane mode during the games. This is 2011, and it's not like it's a surprise so many people are going to be in the Stadium on a given weekend.
Overall, the crowd was great the whole night, especially when you consider the 17-0 deficit and series of back-breaking turnovers in the second half. I also want to give credit to NDSP and the other tailgate patrollers. We were set up right outside of Gate C of the Stadium on the grass and would have been an ideal party to crack down on, but we were left relatively unbothered. Early in the morning an officer in a car asked us to move our cornhole board off the road (a reasonable request), and we responded by picking it up, waiting until he went around the corner and putting it back down (an equally reasonable response.) There was no protesting the piñata assault on the tree just across from Frank Leahy's statue, or the Mad Dog Merry-Go-Round on the same patch of grass. Thank you, NDSP. Our friends kept it (relatively) clean, and you didn't attack us with horses.
I was at Yankee Stadium for the Army game last year and thought the giant video board there was used in a very nice, unobtrusive, complementary way. I don't think the music selection this past weekend was ideal, but it wasn't the end of the world and not completely terrible for a first try. Nothing about either game changed my position on the jumbotron: I don't think we necessarily need it, but I think it will probably do more good than harm when installed, so I don't really care. I think it's good to remember that Knute Rockne was the ultimate innovator and would have demanded the biggest HD screen in the world if he thought it gave him the slightest edge. People throw around the word tradition a lot, but really it just means "What Notre Dame was like when I went there."