The Notre Dame Fighting Irish will be playing yet another Shamrock Series game in 2021. For the second straight year the Irish will bizarrely be the away team in their own series, playing in Las Vegas “at” the BYU Cougars. Leaving aside whatever gripes we may have about the ever-elastic definition of Jack Swarbrick’s favorite traveling football expo, this game is getting the full-on treatment. That means you’re about to see some wacky alternate uniforms unveiled sooner, not later.
We’ve seen a great many uniform varieties over the course of the Shamrock Series experiment. Some have been trash, some have been underwhelming and some have been beautiful. We’ve seen jerseys in blue, green, and white, with all different shades of accompanying pants, helmets and numbers. But one possibility remains unexplored in this era of experimentation: the gold jersey.
The gold jersey is the final frontier, the last true terra incognita of the Notre Dame football uniform world, having been seen only in various fan-made mockups, sporting-goods-store knock-offs and one Willingham-era spring game. Now, with the Irish headed to play in the city so associated with gold that it has its own shade, the time has come. If Under Armour isn’t developing gold jerseys for this game, it should be.
I am still a supporter of green as Notre Dame’s primary alternate/spirit color, and I love the regular uniforms. But this moment was made for something else: something bold, something flashy, something unforgettable. In fact, it’s such a layup of an idea that I would be genuinely shocked if the Irish didn’t do it. Perhaps there could be some sort of reprise of the 2013 white-and-gold uniforms, but come on - why do a rerun when you can do something even bigger? This is the perfect opportunity to finally catch that gold whale, and today I’m going to break down why.
This is What The Shamrock Series Should Be
Irish fans remain divided on the Shamrock Series - how often it should be reprised or whether it should continue at all, whether the alternate uniforms are good or bad, etc. - but I don’t think anyone would deny that if the series is to continue, this is the kind of venue and matchup Notre Dame should pursue. This is not a pointless trip to Indianapolis or Chicago that supplants a more exciting traditional venue; it is not taking away an opportunity to play a classic opponent in Notre Dame Stadium. This is taking a road game in a less-than-iconic venue against a “meh” opponent and moving it to a destination city synonymous with high-rolling excitement, putting the game on a bigger stage and making a true event of it.
In other words, this is one of only a couple Shamrock Series games that can be defended as living up to the series’ promise, and the Irish should lean into that by going all-out on the crazy uniforms. Put on a show on the field in every sense, and do something the program has never done before. If it’s done right - and, of course, if the Irish win - it’ll provide some incredible imagery and could, unlike so many other Shamrock Series games before it, create some great energy around the program.
It’s on Brand
If I had to pinpoint the exact moment a critical mass of Irish fans grew disillusioned with the Shamrock Series, it would be when this monstrosity was announced:
While the ND-Yankee uniforms did look slightly better on the field than in the initial reveal, 2018’s exercise in naked co-branding still stands out as exemplifying the worst pitfalls of the Shamrock Series - the transparent marketing motivation, the utter disregard for the team’s competitive interests and, paradoxically, a diluting effect on the Irish brand. Notre Dame utterly destroyed a very good Syracuse Orange team that day, and almost no one remembered it because all the talk was about how they were dressed up like the Yankees.
Gold jerseys in Vegas would not only not diminish Notre Dame’s brand by diluting it with another, they would accomplish the opposite: putting the Notre Dame brand front and center during what is still, for academic purposes, a BYU home game. Gold is the Notre Dame brand: the dome, the helmets, the throne. This would be the brand statement the Shamrock Series has always promised, done right.
Irish Wear Green; Villains Wear Gold
We don’t have a lot of in-house dogma here at OFD, but one refrain you hear around here a lot is that Notre Dame and its fans should embrace their roles as villains in the college football landscape. And while there is a lot of room for discussion about what that means, I think we can all agree that one mark of a great villain is swagger - the best villains know what they are about and don’t apologize, and wear it on their sleeves.
What better way to carry off that flashy, swaggering villain posture than literally showing up covered in gold and stealing the show in what is still technically an away game? This is a moment where the Irish can make a statement - a villain should relish that opportunity. Let green wait for another year - it’s time to put on the gold.