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The Death of the Shamrock Series And Possible Resurrection

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Notre Dame’s barnstorming days are over with... for now.

Notre Dame v Arizona State Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

It was a novel idea, but one that never really took off the way that the Notre Dame Fighting Irish had hoped. The business plan for the Shamrock Series on paper seemed like an okay idea, but in retrospect, you can say that it was a horrible.

Here was the Shamrock Series lineup from 2009-2016

  • 2009 Washington State in San Antonio (Alamodome)
  • 2010 Army in New York City (Yankee Stadium)
  • 2011 Maryland in Washington D.C. (FedEx Field)
  • 2012 Miami in Chicago (Soldier Field)
  • 2013 Arizona State in Dallas (AT&T Stadium)
  • 2014 Purdue in Indianapolis (Lucas Oil Field)
  • 2015 Boston College in Boston (Fenway Park)
  • 2016 Army in San Antonio (Alamodome)

Take a few more looks at that list and come up with an argument for the Shamrock Series to continue.

Boston College v Notre Dame Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images

The list of opponents is bad enough, but the locations are just as bad- if not worse. And that’s the thing. The Shamrock Series blueprint called for "location" to drive the game. Location. So for Notre Dame and Jack Swarbrick it almost didn’t matter who the Irish were playing just so long as they got the venue they were looking for for that year.

The whole thing has been one head-scratcher after another. You can make an argument that the two most successful games were in 2011 and 2013. You can also make the argument that the best uniforms of the series were in 2013- so that makes 2013 the best of the worst games.

But this isn’t a ranking game. It’s a rating game.

Although it was already known that the Shamrock Series wasn’t coming back in 2017 due to the completion of the Crossroads project, 2018 was left up in the air as a "probable". I mean, after a rating of 1.0 it’s not hard to see why a a total rethink on the series is due.

SportsMediaWatch.com believes the 1.0-mark could be ND's lowest overnight rating on NBC in the 25 years since it signed a contract with the television network.

So, the Shamrock Series is dead. According to Jack Swarbrick, the series when resumed, will be more opponent driven rather than location driven. Because Indianapolis, Chicago, Boston, and New York were just awesome recruiting locations.... The smoke in the room has just cleared and it turns out that the smell that was choking us was indeed a turd in the corner.

Miami v Notre Dame Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

These were just bad games when you lump them in as a whole. It’s great that Notre Dame was 8-0, but it was a lousy 8-0. I get that Notre Dame wanted to take its brand and and cover the country, but this isn’t the 1920’s and the days of having to be the Ramblers are long gone. Honestly, nothing about these games were that special despite Notre Dame and its fans saying that they were.

Now we look ahead to the possibilities of 2018 and beyond. For the sake of brevity, lets look at 2018-2021. Remember, any possible game would be OPPONENT driven. It would also have to be a "home" game.

Here are Notre Dame’s home opponents for those years:

2018 2019 2020 2021
Michigan New Mexico Stanford Toledo
Ball State Virginia Duke Purdue
Syracuse Bowling Green Clemson Georgia Tech
Stanford Virginia Tech Louisville Navy
Pitt Navy TBD Southern Cal
Florida State Boston College TBD North Carolina
TBD Southern Cal 2 TBD

2018

The Shamrock Series is said to return in 2018 and it will have an opportunity to do just that. There is still one game to be scheduled for 2018, and none of the current home games would make sense to try and change to a neutral site game. So, Jack will have a game to play with. I’m not researching a bunch of other school’s schedules right now, so I don’t have a good list to give for any possibilities- but 2018 is very near. It may still prove very difficult to find an opponent for such a game to fill the 2018 slot.

2019

The entire schedule is full for 2019, and the only home game that would meet the criteria is Virginia Tech (USC will never get moved to a neutral site). So... the Virginia Tech Hokies in Charlotte? Maybe.

2020

Louisville? Jack has 2 games to play with in 2020, and with a fair amount of time between then and now, perhaps a great game can get scheduled. Who knows if Louisville will be able to maintain their current status for 2020 anyways.

2021

Looking at the list, and North Carolina is the only team that jumps out. There are 2 games left to schedule, and really, there is a ton of breathing room here as the schedule sets up for 8 home games. A 7-4-1 is a real possibility, and given the time until then, it can be managed.

The Shamrock Series can definitely come back, but should it? Will it ever live up to any of the hype as it pertains to the opponent?

Purdue v Notre Dame Photo by Michael Hickey/Getty Images

As for me and my house, we prefer college football games to be played in college football stadiums. Notre Dame deprives its fans, and the college football world, by playing so many neutral site games every year. It does the opposite of the great Rambler teams of the 1920’s.

I’m not a simpleton, and I understand why these games are scheduled and played, but they never have to be scheduled and played. The Notre Dame brand isn’t going anywhere. Want proof? How about 25 years of mediocre football, and they still are one of the single best attractions in all of sports.

My advice? Get your house in order Jack. Get your new house in order and focus on winning football games- which does far more than any neutral site game in terms of brand inflating. Sure- bring out a fancy fun uniform once a year, and who cares if it has to be inside Notre Dame Stadium or on the road somewhere. After all, the all whites in 2013 were the best uniform of the series anyways.