Early Thursday morning as I was just about to wake the kids up for school, I stumbled across Eric Hansen’s article that the home sellout streak for the Notre Dame Fighting Irish football team will end this Saturday.
At first glance, it felt a little disheartening. After all, this will be the first time since Thanksgiving Day in 1973 that the Irish will be unable to say they sold out the House that Rockne built.
But not really — like all the way around, not really.
Jude said it best:
We all know how ridiculous this streak has been, and the fact that Jack Swarbrick called Eric Hansen up to fill him in on it coming to an end, says quite a bit about the mirage the university had created over the past 20 years. In fact, now that this is no longer a thing, Pete Sampson mentioned on the Irish Illustrated podcast that Notre Dame also expects the game against the Boston College Eagles to fall short as well.
One of the common themes from people throughout the day was that Notre Dame’s three November games against mid-level (kind) competition was a back breaker. That’s certainly a very plausible reason, and it gives greater explanation to what Notre Dame and Jack Swarbrick were trying to do with the Shamrock Series.
Notre Dame has played 5 of the 9 Shamrock Series games in the month of November with another game on October 31st. It’s fair to think that if Virginia Tech was a Shamrock Series game this year, Notre Dame would have had an easier time “calling friends” to buy the tickets to hand out for Navy and BC.
The Irish will resume its Shamrock Series in 2020 against the Wisconsin Badgers in Green Bay. It’s a game that would surely sell out with no issue if it was at Notre Dame, but Swarbrick and the powers that be decided they want to continue the gimmick and make it more of a premier game — away from home. After a season that produced one of the worst home schedules is recent memory, Notre Dame chose to not reward a loyal home crowd with a solid slate of home games.
Arkansas, Western Michigan, Stanford, Duke, Clemson, and Louisville will be in South Bend in 2020, and while the Tigers are a HUGE draw — that’s actually it if Stanford can’t get any better.
It really is a good thing the Crossroads project was also about adding classroom space, because as far as scheduling a lineup of multiple big games at home goes... I guess that just isn’t in the plans.
I’m not trying to go all Alex Jones on everyone here, but the reason the home sellout streak is ending is more complicated than just that it’s in November and the Irish crapped the bed in Ann Arbor. There have been fundamental scheduling shifts with the Notre Dame football program over the last decade that has created a lot of problems. Scheduling isn’t an exact science and it’s impossible to know exactly what is really there 3 or 5 or 8 years down the road. So... it’s hard to know if this will all get better or get worse in time.
College football as a whole is dealing with this problem, and Notre Dame isn’t immune — no one is (except maybe Nebraska but what the hell else are they going to do out there?). At least Notre Dame isn’t pretending anymore.