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When it Comes to Notre Dame Football Jerseys, There’s Only One

No swords were drawn in the making of this post

Tony Rice
Notre Dame Quarterback, Tony Rice

I’m a traditionalist, I suppose, when it comes to Notre Dame football. While I do like some of the changes that have been made to the program (the jumbotron and the Shamrock Series would be two of them), there are some things I wish would never have been changed. I miss the walk from the church (after the players attended Mass) to the stadium. I miss real grass in the stadium (I know, you don’t have to tell me how wrong I am about this). And I miss the classic Notre Dame Fighting Irish uniforms that were worn in the late 80’s/early 90’s.

Yes, I understand I am biased. And yes, I know exactly why I like these particular jerseys so much. It’s because these are the years that I was a student at Notre Dame, and so of course they are going to be my favorite.

Photo via Notre Dame Uniform History

There’s just something about the classic color of the gold pants, which matched the weekly spray painted gold helmets, and the classic Navy blue (or white) jerseys.

University of Miami (FL) Hurricanes vs Notre Dame Fighting Irish
Rick Mirer #3, Quarterback for the Notre Dame Fighting Irish calls the play during the NCAA Independent college football game against the University of Miami (FL) Hurricanes on 20 October 1990 at the Notre Dame Stadium in Notre Dame, Indiana, United States. Notre Dame won the game 29 - 20.
Photo by Rick Stewart/Allsport/Getty Images

And come on, who doesn’t need those giant shoulder pads ...

Jerome Bettis
Jerome Bettis

... and cropped jerseys back in their lives. (And check out the tape on Zorich’s shoes!)

Notre Dame Fighting Irish vs Stanford Cardinal
Chris Zorich
Photo by Otto Greule Jr/Allsport/Getty Images

Jerome Bettis looks larger than life in that uniform!

Air Force Falcons vs Notre Dame Fighting Irish
Jerome Bettis #6, Running Back for the University of Notre Dame Fighting Irish runs the ball during the NCAA Western Athletic Conference college football game against the Air Force Falcons on 13 October 1990 at the Notre Dame Stadium in Notre Dame, Indiana, United States. The Notre Dame won the game 35 - 34.
Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Allsport/Getty Images

Here are a couple more examples of the jerseys from the late 80s/early 90s.

Oscar McBride:

Notre Dame v Northwestern
EVANSTON, IL - SEPTEMBER 15: Oscar McBride #80 of the Notre Dame Fighting Irish celebrates a touchdown during the game against the Northwestern Wildcats at Dyche Stadium on September 15, 1992 in Evanston, Illinois.
Photo by Chris Covatta/Getty Images

Lee Becton:

Lee Becton

I also love the tradition of no names being on the back of the jerseys. As Coach Holtz used to say, “you’re playing for ND, you’re not playing for yourself. To win, it is always about putting the team first.”

I also loved the pop of green the in the 1991-1992 Sugar Bowl jerseys. And really, I don’t mind a green jersey at all, as long as you’re in the Kelly green color family (please no Hunter or Army green).

While I don’t mind some of the Shamrock Series uniforms, overall I’m not a big fan of the flashy uniforms and helmets. I can look past some of the changes to the uniforms, but the helmets should never have anything on them. They should always be gold, plain old gold. Remember what they told head coach Lou Holtz when he wanted to change the helmets? He went to the University because he wanted to add the letters “ND” to the players’ gold helmets, and the school officials responded with a resounding no. “The helmets represent the golden dome” of Notre Dame’s landmark Main Building, dating to 1882. He stewed and then said: “Well, could we paint ‘ND’ on the golden dome?” (From Stephen Moore’s 2013 WSJ article.) On a sidenote, apparently Holtz wanted to change the hog on the helmets at Arkansas as well when he became their new head coach, however the Razorback fans were infuriated, and so the hog stayed the same.

I know that I sound like that old man yelling at the neighborhood kids to “get off my lawn,” but these are the jerseys, and the uniforms, that I like best. I’d love to hear which jerseys/uniforms are your favorite? Do you like the new flashy gold helmets? Do you like the Shamrock Series uniforms? Do you like it when they put names on the back of the jerseys? Let me have it!

Cheers & GO IRISH!