During his first few years on campus, part of Brian Kelly’s overhaul with the Notre Dame Fighting Irish was to alter the player walk from the Basilica to Notre Dame Stadium. In 2011 Notre Dame started doing a different ritual.
Following Mass at the Basilica, the players will exit through the God-Country-Notre Dame doors and then the team will walk back to the buses. They will board the buses and turn left on Holy Cross Drive, towards St. Mary’s Lake and the Grotto, and follow Holy Cross Drive all the way to the parking lot south of Notre Dame Stadium. They will then drive the buses THROUGH the South parking lot so that the tailgaters get a chance to experience the football team and then will continue on to “The Gug” where they will finish game day preparations.
After the pre-game rituals are completed, the players will walk from the Gug, past the Jordan Hall of Science, and over to the Hesburgh Library, which is where the official walk to the stadium will start. For a 3:30 PM game time, this will happen at about 1:15 PM. The team will walk over to the statue of Father Hesburgh and Father Joyce in front of the library, where they will turn and make the walk to the stadium, next to the reflecting pool which reflects the mosaic of “Touchdown Jesus.” The team will then enter the stadium through the Knute Rockne gate on the North end of the stadium as they head to the locker room to get ready for their opponent.
According to Marcus Freeman, Notre Dame will be going back to the original tradition.
Notre Dame head coach Marcus Freeman says the Irish will reintroduce game-day Mass.— Tyler Horka (@tbhorka) April 2, 2022
“It’s what I remember from my recruiting trip — watching the players walk out of the Basilica on the way to the stadium. I was a little caught by surprise when we didn’t do it last year.” pic.twitter.com/kdg98S90dz
It’s not that Brian Kelly was wrong for trying to make a better gameday schedule for the players, it’s that this change wasn’t needed — nor did it seem to have an impact on how the Irish played on Saturday afternoon. What it did do, was further add to the narrative of Brian Kelly as an outsider that “doesn’t get ND.”
In restoring this tradition, Marcus Freeman likely gains a lot of bonus points from the administration, alums, and fans that are looking for a returned reverence for the unique traditions of Notre Dame that help separate itself from the rest of college football.
It’s a direct path from God to battle. If we are still allowed to use the analogies of war with football, it’s a reminder of days long ago when warriors received the blessing of Holy Mother Church before taking on the enemy.
Remain hyped for the future.