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Notre Dame Football: The Shamrock Series Must Come To An End

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The charade of the Shamrock Series is just another thing holding the Notre Dame football program back. Let it go.

The 4 Horse-Men of the Apocalypse
@ndmspaint

We need to get this out of the way... this post is NOT an overreaction to the uniforms that the Notre Dame Fighting Irish unveiled for the 2018 Shamrock Series. My opinion of the series has been expressed on numerous occasions over the last 4 or 5 years. The unveiling of that hideous uniform combination is causing a reaction from me — but it’s one of those moments that happen when you know you’re right... you keep saying I TOLD YOU SO.

There are a few other things that need to be said before we begin... I LOVE alternate uniforms. I fully believe that a good alternate uniform for one game a year is awesome sauce. I was also one of the loudest and strongest supporters for fieldturf and a jumbotron. I think the Campus Crossroads project kind of missed the mark a bit, but overall it was an excellent project.

Now that you have an FBI profile of my fanhood in your pocket, we can talk about why the Shamrock Series must die — like forever.

YOU SHOULD SCHEDULE TO WIN

The most frustrating thing about an annual neutral site game is that you TAKE AWAY a home game. One of the best known phrases in all of sports is “home field advantage.” The thing is, that doesn’t just mean for the game at hand.

As an Independent, and a blue-blood program, Notre Dame should and can schedule just about any way that it wants. If the goal each year is to compete for a national championship, Notre Dame makes damn sure that their path is ridiculously hard by their own hand.

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

I could go on and on about the foolishness of ending every season with a trip to California, or how they fit Navy into the season, but staying on point with our purpose here; the Shamrock Series makes the season HARDER.

Since 2009 (the backdated beginning of the Shamrock Series) Notre Dame is undefeated in the series (8-0). The problem really isn’t the game itself (partially because almost all of the Shamrock Series games have been against much lesser teams).

The biggest issue is all of the miles Notre Dame has to travel to play these games — unnecessary miles. These should have been home games, which are of course ZERO MILES.

Travel beats a person down in all sorts of ways. Jude Seymour did an excellent post the other day documenting how many miles teams across the country have to travel this season. Notre Dame will travel 2 times more than the Clemson Tigers, 3 times more than the Alabama Crimson Tide, and 6 times more than the Auburn Tigers (along with many others).

So what happens after a Shamrock Series game? Here are a few stats to eat up:

  • Notre Dame is 5-3 in the game following the Shamrock Series.
  • 2 of those wins had a bye week scheduled between them.
  • Notre Dame won those 5 games by an average score of 20-14.
  • Notre Dame lost those 3 games by an average score of 31-29.
  • Notre Dame is 4-3 in regular season games following the games that follow the Shamrock Series.

Those are definitely not good stats, and shows (in a broad sense) how this game hinders the season. In 2015 when Notre Dame was in prime position to make the playoffs, they traveled to Fenway to play the Boston College Eagles. The Irish barely won this volunteer road game 19-16. The next week they traveled to the other side of the country to take on the Stanford Cardinal. Notre Dame lost that game 38-36 and missed out on the playoffs.

Notre Dame is NOT scheduling to win, and that’s a giant problem moving forward.

WHAT IS NOTRE DAME TRYING TO DO?

I think a normal person could look at that data and say... “this just isn’t worth it.” Instead, Jack Swarbrick and Notre Dame have one of the most vague and indeterminable reasons for the Shamrock Series...

Brand

It’s one of the hottest terms inside athletic director circles... “brand.” They’re trying to build up their brand. They want the brand to go worldwide.

WTH?

Notre Dame football is not the Indiana Hoosiers, Oregon State Beavers, West Virginia Mountaineers, or whatever program you want to think of in these terms. Notre Dame is ALREADY a giant in terms of a brand. They got that way by winning a lot of football games, and the ONLY way the brand will truly grow — is by winning a lot of football games.

Yes, Knute Rockne went barnstorming across the country and won a lot of games and made Notre Dame a major player and brand. BUT THAT WAS BEFORE THEY BUILT HIS HOUSE. I think it’s safe to say that he was ready to play a whole bunch of games inside that house.

It’s not the 1920’s anymore. People in the 21st century know what Notre Dame is, and they know (regardless of hate) that Notre Dame is a monster brand.

SO IS THIS A MONEY GRAB?

That is usually the first thought, and it was always one of mine. After thinking about it just a bit, I just don’t see how that’s the case. Without seeing any numbers at all, I would bet that Notre Dame will make more money playing the Vanderbilt Commodores at home than the Syracuse Orange in Yankee Stadium. They will probably make more playing the Ball State Cardinals too. Throw in travel expenses, the difference in vendor sales, and everything else that comes with a cash register on gameday, and I’m willing to say the difference is probably staggering.

WHAT ABOUT THE UNIFORMS?

Speaking of a “cash grab,”... making an alternate uniform, and then releasing an entire line of apparel to coordinate with those uniforms — IS a cash grab. But, as we are probably seeing this year, bad uniforms will barely move the needle. Besides, who needs a neutral site game for alternate uniforms? Notre Dame did them in 2017, 2011, and every time they throw on the green jerseys.

This argument is silly.

RECRUITING RECRUITING RECRUITING

Very briefly, I’ll ask you a question: What Notre Dame recruit since 2009 was majorly impacted by a Shamrock Series game? The answer is “none” or we would have heard about it. New York City isn’t known for its high school football.

This is the silliest argument.

OH WOW AN NFL STADIUM!

Play college football in college stadiums (Sorry Pitt). I don’t even remotely see the appeal of playing in an NFL stadium. This is more of a personal choice, but I’d rather play the North Carolina Tar Heels in Chapel Hill than in Charlotte. I’d rather play the Wisconsin Badgers at Camp Randall than in the homes of the Green Bay Packers or Chicago Bears.

AND I MUCH RATHER PLAY SYRACUSE AT HOME THAN IN A BASEBALL STADIUM. (Personal choice).

JUST END IT ALREADY

Look, I know many fans like the fact that the Shamrock Series comes to their “neck of the woods.” I get it, but Notre Dame plays all over the country anyways. Go to an away game — I’m sure there’s one close enough, and away games are a blast if done right.

What’s the point of seeing the Irish win when statistics show that they are going to struggle for the next two games?

There really is nothing good that comes from having the Shamrock Series, and it seems clear to me that it is actually a detriment to success on the field. Why on earth would we still want to do this?

— end rant —

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