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  • The Rock Report: What Would Rockne Do?

    by SEE

    jumbotron Ags lead series“My wife and I went to the Notre Dame vs. USC game in 2009. The thing that impressed me the most about the whole experience was the fact that there was NO Gig’tron type artificial hype in the entire stadium. Notre dame’s football stadium is a shrine for the football purist” ~ Keith, Texas A&M graduate.

    That was the most poignant post in a long thread about the abomination that Texas A&M put in that has reduced their 12th man to the 11.25th man. To be clear, fans hate it because it replaces genuine fan participation and experience with an artificial one.

    For an excellent take on Notre Dame’s unique place in college football and decisions, see CJC’s The case for one subjective preference over another (long)

    Or listen to a Tennessee fan,

    “There is something I am encountering every time I walk into Neyland Stadium these days, and it may just make me give up football and head for the nearest golf course It’s called . . . the Jumbotron. First, it converts the thrill and pageantry of a college football game into drive-in movie theater. After every play, 100,000 fans at Neyland face south and watch the instant replay on the Jumbotron. The second problem I have with the Jumbotron is that during time outs you have to turn your attention to the Jumbotron to watch a race between hot dogs”

    Or a Texas fan,

    “I don’t hate the advertising as much as I hate the noise, it detracts from the gameday experience.”

    What’s clearly evident to the rest of the college football world, Notre Dame seems either purposefully or calculatingly deaf and blind to. They do seem determined to make sure you’re not deaf or blind to advertisements and promotional videos in the future.

    Most know that I think Jack Swarbrick has done a heck of job bringing changes to the program, from the training table to medical staff, the program is finally a program. That written, the recent Swarbrick comments somehow implying Rockne would want a jumbotron are absurd. Nothing in Rockne’s past implies that he would want something to interrupt the authentic experience of the game. And to be clear, what Rockne  was great at was recognizing uniqueness and using it to his advantage, he was not about aspirational mediocrity.

    Rockne was a salesman for sure, but he sold Notre Dame’s disadvantages in a way that inspired people to do better. Rockne used innovation to turn disadvantages into advantages (like barnstorming).  It’s not of little note that Rockne had to try new things in his era as he was building the audience back then, he was not acting as the steward of the shrine of college football created 90 years earlier by Rockne himself as Swarbrick is.  Swarbrick’s mission is to “First Do No Harm.”

    Here’s where this whole argument that “Notre Dame needs to get with the times” falls apart. Notre Dame could get rid of the scoreboards and announcer and would still pack the stadium for a winning team. So let’s kill this canard that Notre Dame has to stay “current”… it has to stay true to the experience, which at Notre Dame is more intimate than at any school in the country. Rockne would sell that, not trade that.

    Recruiting? We just hauled in what is arguably a top 5 recruiting class in the country. A jumbotron would just be a sell out for dollars under the guise of “modernization”. And to degrade the one unique experience in college football to be like everyone else would  constitute both stupidity from a branding perspective and a long-term dollar mistake. Ultimately more dollars will be made from keeping the brand unique than could ever be made by pummeling fans, already inundated by video and audio in every part of their lives, with more overkill at Notre Dame stadium.

    In a world full of manufactured experiences, what people crave now is an authentic and intimate experience. The mistake would be to try to be like everyone else and kill the one unique experience left in college football . I’ve met many great people by turning and talking to my neighbors in the seat next to me about plays rather than having us all mindlessly cheering and yelling for Jumbotron replays. It’s not the mission of Notre Dame to fill in any open mental spots with video stimulus. Chatting with your neighbors is far more valuable in allowing people to connect (and far more likely to make them want to come back.) The real question that Notre Dame has to answer is, “how is the Notre Dame experience unique and how can we keep it to that it endures as a symbol that stands out rather than become a trend chasing follower ?” And make no mistake the new designs for Notre Dame stadium will serve up jumbotrons in the experience. And that would be mistake.

    Jumbotrons are an assault on the senses that detract from the experience. The argument that “Rockne would do it” is an insult to the intelligence of the community.


    Here’s how to clear out the noise around the issue. As I wrote in 2007:

    Much of the debate over Jumbotrons and other ideas that could kill the Golden Goose of the Notre Dame brand could be answered very simply by defining exactly what the mission of the Notre Dame experience was, is and should be. From this all options should flow.

    This whole notion of “everything being on the table” shows a complete lack of understanding of the special place that Notre Dame is. Most companies would kill for the unique branding that ND owns in the world of college football. In fact, attaining Notre Dame’s level of uniqueness is the hardest branding issue that exists and Notre Dame owns it almost by default. Yet, if you listen to some, Notre Dame needs to “get with the times”, “keep up with the competition” and “keep all options open.”

    Here’s where emphasizing tradition and experience pays off in both the revenue and branding: Once you commit to this thought process, it raises your level of thinking and creates more and unique options. If one only looks at the landscape that is revenue generation based on current methods, then you, by default, will be picking an option that dilutes the brand. If you focus on enhancing the game day experience, there are a myriad of corporate opportunities that will flow from taking this approach that will ultimately have greater value as a marketing channel for corporations and build the brand that will create still greater value. Building the brand yields greater and unique options for marketing. Having unique options allows you to enhance the brand. Enhancing the brand…

    ND needs to think outside of the toilet bowl. Many companies are forced into bad choices by the market or private equity pressure. Notre Dame doesn’t have that liability.

    Focus on improving the game-day experience. Expound and resurrect traditions that are unique.

    ND is now the lone steward of the authentic game day experience, it would be a travesty to give that away for dollars or trends or just because it “seems like we should. If you want to internalize this, think of this Kevin White’s old school, ASU. This article is the ghost of Notre Dame’s future.

    “The band strikes up the school fight song.
    The crowd roars with anticipation.
    But not for long.

    The PA system combines with the giant electronic video board to quash the cheering with a blaring, 30-second commercial for Biddulph Oldsmobile.

    The natural tension of the moment evaporates.
    For the ASU athletic department, the only tally that appears to matter is the more than $2 million it rakes in each year from “corporate partners” whose jingles, slogans and come-ons bombard Sun Devil football fans.

    It’s 90 seconds ’til kickoff.
    Jeff Munn is recognizing the 13 millionth fan to enter Sun Devil Stadium since it opened in 1958. The occasion turns into a marketing moment with striking similarities to a Jerry Colangelo-produced sporting event.

    “That fan is seated in section 8, row 32, seat 1. That fan will receive round-trip tickets for two on America West Airlines, a $50 gift certificate to be honored at Don and Charlie’s Restaurant and $50 in gasoline from 76/Circle K and a bouquet of cookies from Cookies in Bloom. Congratulations!”

    Sixty seconds to kickoff. A heavy-metal track called “The Zoo,” by an obscure 1980s German band the Scorpions, pulses through the PA system, obliterating any attempt by the crowd, cheerleaders or band to stir up some action….;pid=22;d=this

    70 Responses to “The Rock Report: What Would Rockne Do?”

    1. phil saliga says:

      Right on! No comments necessary.

    2. Giggity_Giggity says:

      I take grave exception to one part of this article–since when are The Scorpions an “obscure 1980’s German band?” They’re one of the top-selling rock bands in history and scored a #1 hit with “Winds of Change” in the early 1990’s. Balderdash, I say!

      Also, jumbotrons suck. We agree there.

    3. Irish Mick says:

      I wouldn’t call the Scorpions obscure…..

    4. mic holt says:

      Oldsmobile has been out of business since 2004.Don’t you guys have anything better to bitch about? 50% of you post how you missed the second half of most games to go “out for dinner.”

      • I’ve written many articles supporting Notre Dame’s administration. Here’s a good summary article.

        I agree that constant complaining degrades credibility, but my articles are hardly always of the complaining mode. I try to look at each situation in isolation. If you disagree, you disagree, but I don’t think you will find constant bitching. I would hope you would find targeted disagreement and targeted support depending upon the situation.

        • John Cochtoastin says:

          SEE writes that Swarbrick’s charge is to “first do no harm”. That is 100% correct. But we now live in a society with leaders who believe that successful institutions which have stood the test of time – institutions which have been pillars of our strong society – need to be drastically altered. The arrogance required to challenge decades of successful results is beyond my comprehension.

          But stewardship of a great heritage is not sexy and for too many young people today there is an inverse relationship between their appreciation for this heritage and their belief that they have the ability to make it better.

          Go to Auburn and its an Eagle, miss that you can go to LSU and it a Tiger, miss that and FSU a horse and an Indian. These symbols are Kardashian-like in their contributions to the gameday experience, but what Notre Dame offers is intangible. The spirituality of the grounds, the reverence shown by all who walk them, the Basillica, the Grotto, the cheers are actually lead by their cheerleaders and mascot, the Dome, the lack of advertising, Officer McCarthy, the ushers’ warm greetings.

          There are certain unique sports venues you visit where people stop and ask about your trip…South Bend, Augusta National and Fenway/Wrigley are at the top of that list. Lets keep it that way.

          • Well said, John.

          • cubs fan says:

            Wrigley should not be mentioned with South Bend, Augusta,…

            They ARE putting up a Jumbotron and ruining the only remaining field of dreams.

    5. What about a smartphone app that is accessible in the stadium that would have current stats, replays, etc. If necessary, upgrade the wireless in the stadium and on campus (to better student life) to support the volume on gamedays. It preserves the overall stadium atmosphere, provides the content many people wanting, and gives the University a medium for advertising.

      • Drasail2 says:

        I want to go into business with you!

      • This is a fantastic idea. I wish someone with some pull at ND would consider this as a smarter and better alternative to a jumbotron.

      • MGerth10 says:


      • irishbeach says:

        There is an app for that. NBC Sports Live Extra allows you to watch ND home games live (including replays). There are many apps that provide realtime stats and stats are also shown on the scoreboards at ND stadium at various times.

        • Drasail2 says:

          But tune it for the venue…for people there…provide the words to the Alma Mater in real time (to end the mumblecore). This idea is a great one.

      • If many people used that I would imagine it would make things worse. You’d have people staring at their phones instead of watching the game.

        For all the ire a Jumbotron gets, replays do not happen while there is live action. They switch to a live feed usually on the big screen.

    6. While I understand and appreciate your views on a jumbotron, I hardly think a few anecedotal examples from people who don’t like jumbotrons is persuasive. The gist of the article implies that “everyone” except, of course, Jack Swarbrick, understands how a jumbotron will ruin the ND game experience. I, for one, would welcome a jumbotron with open arms.

      Are there negatives? Sure, and you’ve done an admirable job of identifying them. There are also good and valid reasons for a jumbotron but you were afraid to even acknowledge why ND is “alone” if a lack of a jumbotron translates into the only “authentic” gameday experience. If it is so obvious, why are we alone?

      Your failure to acknowledge the obvious benefits of a jumbotron undermines the credibility of your argument in my opinion.

      • Mike Coffey says:

        What are those “good and valid reasons”, and can those reasons be accomplished via other means than a giant television screen?

    7. BeveragePavilion_69 says:

      Im tired of opposing fans walking in to the wonderfull atmosphere of ND Stadium, then talking sh*t on their way out of the stadium because ND laid an egg in there wonderfull family atmosphere! Screw what the opposing teams fans think. If that takes Crazy Train and a JumboTron so be it.

      • Mike Coffey says:

        In your examples, did ND “lay an egg” because there isn’t a jumbotron, or did they do so because they didn’t execute well or the other team executed better?

        Do you have any evidence to suggest an ND home crowd won’t be loud if a compelling game is being played in front of them by a team playing well?

        • BeveragePavilion_69 says:

          I would argue that opposing teams fans are allowed to act like complete idiots in Notre Dame stadium. Then write nice letters to you because we dont have a Jumbotron.

          • Mike Coffey says:

            How is that at all relevant to the topic? If there were a big television screen in the stadium, would those fans suddenly not act like idiots?

            Also, what percentage of fans in Notre Dame Stadium are rooting for the opposition?

            • BeveragePavilion_69 says:

              In the 10 games since they started piping in music on 3rd down etc. Notre Dame is 9-1, in 11 games before that the record was 6-5. Imagine what the 6-5 record wouldve looked like with a diffrent stadium atmosphere.

            • Mike Coffey says:

              And you believe that is due to the music and not due to an upgrade in talent, familiarization with the schemes, etc?

        • You’re asking for data points that haven’t been researched and/or would be very difficult to come by.

          Unlike a sport like baseball, football has short seasons. To compile data that would reach a statistical measure would require several seasons (not that it couldn’t be done).

          You’d look at things like decibels (across several games and within a game with then without a jumbotron), number of opposing team penalties (like offsides, delays, false starts) and timeouts with and without a tron, and a large sample size survey (which I imagine they’re doing) among students, athletes, recruits, alums regarding their feelings on a jumbotron and what they like/don’t like.

          Personally I feel ‘what Rockne would do’ is irrelevant here. And using single quotes from opposing fans is the worst type of evidence for or against a stadium change.

          As an aside, if there was evidence a Tron statistically helped the team, was favored by a majority, helped with recruiting, and made things louder (not as important), I still think this argument is moot. A majority of folks here would not support a jumbotron irrespective of those type of findings. They want things to stay the way they are.

          • Mike Coffey says:

            Except I don’t see how a Tron would “statistically help the team” (it’s not like a screen will have guys block harder or run faster or tackle better) or helps with recruiting (name one recruit ND lost in the last 10 years because of the lack of a video screen, and they just signed a top-five class without one and are on their way to another).

            What it will do is put a giant television screen with annoying noise and electronic distraction on one side of the stadium, where more than half the people attending the game will have to turn away from the field of play to see anything displayed on it. I fail to see how that is beneficial.

            “They want things to stay the way they are” is really lazy analysis. I didn’t object to the original stadium expansion and have no issue with the planned luxury boxes. As with all changes, there’s a cost-benefit analysis involved: What will ND gain, and what will it cost them (financially and otherwise) to realize that gain. In the case of the giant TV, the limited benefits are not nearly worth the cost. Perhaps the Ritalin Generation should spend some time reflecting on the fact that constant sensory bombardment is NOT a good thing.

            • Irishane says:

              I pointed out above what you would have to look at to try to find ‘statistical benefit.’ I didn’t say there was a statistical benefit and wasn’t making a statement that it helps recruiting. Opposing team penalties, decibels, fan/alumni/recruit surveys to determine the specifics of what, if any, video board things would be acceptable or provide a benefit to the experience.

              I am of the opinion that a video board, done well, could add to the experience. I think introductions, clips (rudy, Rockne, old speeches), replays would be nice at times when live action isn’t occurring. I know you and several others are of the opinion that it cannot be done well. That’s a valid opinion as well.

            • Irishane says:

              And “they want things to stay the way they are” was a statement with regards to the video board, not the entire stadium as a whole.

            • Mike Coffey says:

              But that statement implies the reason they don’t want things to change is they don’t like change in general.

    8. FightingSonOfNotreDame says:

      I agree with you on the jumbotron. However I want to state for the record that the argument for turf is different. There is a legit need that Coach Kelly has articulated for helping the team assimilate to gameday. He can’t do this with natural grass as it tears up the field.

    9. mic holt says:

      I couldn’t agree more Mr Beverage Pavilion. To many seats being wasted by stuffy alums that don’t know a football from a hole in their head and leaving at the start of the 4th quarter. Bring on the jumbotron, Ozzy and more subway alum’s in the seats!

      • Mike Coffey says:

        How would a screen and Ozzy result in “more subway alums in the seats”?

    10. Tom Nash says:

      Do you have one of those electric football games with the yellow and red teams that all run in circle still because it’s pure? Get OVER this already.

      • Mike Coffey says:

        How is that at all equivalent to what SEE wrote? In fact, the post he linked to written by CJC addresses this point specifically

    11. old school says:

      Hear, hear, SEE. It’s good to read an article on this subject that appreciate tradition, grace, simplicity and aesthetics.

    12. Peter Herrly says:

      First of all, congratulations to SEE for having played an extremely positive, insightful, and at times inspirational role in the dialogues on this website concerning other critical matters, like our coach, players, athletic director and staff, etc.
      Second, thanks to Mike Coffey and his colleagues for their many years of faithful stewardship of this site. As one of your many ex-pat readers, much appreciated. In my case, especially so as I come from four generations of Notre Dame, my grandfather taught chemistry with Rockne, my mom grew up with Rockne’s kids, I grew up in South Bend , and saw every home game for 20 years, etc. Despite some rampant negativism as some of your regular contributors seemed to grow crankier as they got older, it’s been overall a very fun experience to lurk on the board.
      To the point of this thread: while acknowledging the potentially grave drawbacks of a misused and/or abused Jumbotron, let me propose to analyze this from the standpoint of getting our crowd to be more of what it ought to be. From the standpoint of crowd dynamics, I have actually been working this issue hard since 1993 when Lou Holtz put me on the case. Some progress has been made under Jack’s administration — special thanks to Josh Berlo for good initiatives to try to fix some of the most egregious crowd spirit “input” issues. Those include the notoriously bad timing of the consistently feeble efforts to inspire the crowd by the various assets that are actually supposed to do that (band, cheerleaders, the voice of the press box, ushers, etc.)
      But as many of you have acknowledged, and I think SEE, you and Mike ought to acknowledge, our crowd remains remarkably quiet and ineffective, especially at key moments in the game where it would really be nice to help build an audible spirit which would actually bother the other team.
      So from that perspective, a key questions ought to be asked: could bigger and better scoreboards help energize the crowd? Clearly they could, just look at the mild impact that the current ridiculously inept efforts to use the existing scoreboards has enjoyed (on the infrequent occasions they actually asked the crowd to make noise at a good time). Actually, a better measure might be when the scoreboards show the words to America the Beautiful and the Star-Spangled Banner and the crowd actually sings along. (Imagine doing that for our four great fight songs!)
      In my assessment, somewhat larger and higher tech boards could be an asset in this area. Let’s not forget the extremely effective use of boards like that in the Yankee Stadium Army game a couple of years ago. Another example is the effective use of videos this last year at the otherwise morose indoor “pep rallies.”
      In this sense, I say let’s push for a medium solution — bigger and better boards, say in the four corners or some such solution, with a pledge by the University for no ads, and other promises of good behavior. Heck, we can push to have SEE and Mike on the governing oversight committee of these enhanced scoreboards.
      Go Irish,
      ND in France (whence it all started!)

      • ND in France – Thanks for the kind words. I agree with your overall assessment, that ND has a “crowd issue” and it’s something I tried to tackle in 2011.

        Cheer, Cheer, (but not too loud)

        Cheer, Cheer (but not too loud) – The Fans Respond

        Part of that is makeup of the crowd, part was the “blue cards” that ND ushers were handing out and part was the “tradition” of down in front. Notre Dame did start the StaND initiative to address it and I agree that the music, though hideous at the USC game, has helped breathe some life back into the stadium.

        That said, there’s nothing a jumbrotron could accomplish that isn’t already happening. Then there’s the law of unintended consequences. When you’re constantly being “exhorted” to cheer, it simply becomes counter productive.

        I guess my question to you is “what would a jumbotron do to affect the crowd situation?”

        I don’t see how flashing a bigger version of “GET LOUD” will impact the stadium.

        • The jumbotron is not wanted so we can see “Get Loud” in a bigger font. Seriously.

        • A jumbotron would let the crowed freak if a call is missed. Telling the refs that they will be held accountable in our house, they are human and will at least subconsciously be affected. A second of hesitation may be the difference in a call or no call.

          • Mike Coffey says:

            a) Don’t we do that already?

            b) As already stated, any replays that could be in any way controversial will not be shown. They already do that on the screens in the hockey and basketball arenas

            • a) Yes people do freak out… if they see it. You mean to say you catch EVERYTHING, it’s hard to tell many times even when watching a questionable play on tv. You have NBCIT vision and then you can tell. Sometimes it’s blatant on the tv and not from the stands and video replay would sure be nice for assistance.

              b) How do you explain the uproars on missed calls when replayed then? Late hit, face mask, toe on the line, pass interference, false start, offsides and leading with the helmet to name a few. These no calls are ALWAYS shown on the replays and they are most certainty controversial. Stating anything controversial isn’t shown is straight up false. Yes fans would already be a screaming, but when it’s shown over and over on the big screen…it tends to get people/players riled up.

            • Mike Coffey says:

              Are you suggesting if officials fear for their lives, they’ll “give us calls”?

            • To answer Mike, No. You should let people answer the question on the boards when one is asked. There is a BIG BIG difference between a fan freaking out and screaming and killing someone. Don’t skirt the issue in question by throwing out wild accusations of someone implying the endorsement of murder 😉

            • Mike Coffey says:

              Your example says if the crowd can watch the calls a bunch of times (assuming they’d be shown on the screen, which history at ND tells us they won’t), they’ll give the refs incentive to give ND calls, or at least not to make bad calls. What incentive is that if not the threat of harm? If they’re going to be punished by their overseers, a TV screen isn’t needed for that. They know if a call they made was bad or not — ask any referee out there — so the refs don’t need the screen to tell them that. And I don’t need a screen to tell me when a ref potentially has made a crappy call.

              So given those things, how will the presence of a giant TV screen in ND Stadium benefit ND from an officiating standpoint? The crowd will yell more? Again, refs don’t give a crap about the crowd unless they feel that crowd is going to injure them. Is that what you’re espousing?

            • Basketball and hockey are completely different sports. They are both played in one continues motion back and forth without breaks. After each play in football analysis can be done with highlights shown. When a play is stopped and officially reviewed for either sport the entire game comes to a halt and that is the same for football. Stoppage of play accompanied with an official review is different. In those circumstances replays would not be reiterated, I agree. Replays of other game changing plays (which is basically every play) would be shown though, at least I would guess. David Grimes’s diving catch at Stanford in 2007 was probably shown on the video screen prior to it being officially reviewed and if it happened in SB the story would probably be the same(if we had one haha).Point is, replays are instant and when they are under further review they will then be stopped.

              You don’t have to physically harm someone to get your point across. If you did something wrong and 80,000 people continued to yell at you, you’d probably blush. In effect, you would try extra hard for the calls to be right on. Repetitive public humiliation off a call/no call in front of 80,000 is the incentive you seek. I want a fair game called and aside from last season we seem to have been on the short end of the stick. When players see a missed call and it is reaffirmed/magnified, they will have extra fuel in the tank to play with. That fuel is to be used for playing harder and going the extra mile because of the refs. The extra fuel should NOT be used to harm the refs.

              I would guess at some point you have missed something and went home to get a closer look at the recording. Sitting hundreds of feet away you must have missed something at least once.

              Again, I DO NOT WANT ANYONE HARMED. I am NOT espousing injury upon anyone. You don’t have to spank someone for them to understand. Physical pain is not the only motivating factor.

              I’m sure we can both agree on another 12-0 season :-)Thanks for the site 🙂 Let’s GO IRISH

    13. mic holt says:

      It seems like the football program as well as the university as a whole has seen and felt the benefit of the music being piped in.

      • BeveragePavilion_69 says:

        How much are the Ozzy Osborne and AC/DC CDs? That could be going to Muffets indoor practice facility.

    14. mic holt says:

      I know this is slightly OT but what about having a “celebrity sing along” at the end of the 3rd quarter much like the Cubs tradition of the seventh inning stretch? It would be live crowd noise and might fire up the fans as well as the players. Any thoughts?

    15. Skip Bracken says:

      Absolutely, right on the mark. NO JUMBOTRON!

    16. I have been to numerous games over the years.there is nothing better than getting In your seat early and watching team warm up,anticipating start of game.then when you watch band run onto field led by leprechaun, not need jumbotron to enhance me old school but anybody who has been to notre dame on gameday will tell what a great feeling it is just the way it is,go irish

    17. Proper stewardship of a jumbotron could result in an effective asset to:

      1. Get the crowd loud and ostracize the blue-hair ‘quiet-please’ crowd, and
      2. Enhance the stadium experience by combining the stadiums traditional look with an ultramodern edge.

      The vision of such a video screen, for me, includes:
      a. No sound.
      b. Usage only for:
      i) replays of significant plays and flagged plays, and
      ii) well-done ‘get loud’ messages in graphics on the screen before appropriate big moments.
      c. No uses other than these from 5 minutes before kickoff forward.
      d. Small, fixed advertisements near the board, not video advertisements.

      As a practical matter, though such a weapon of mass distraction will almost surely be misused. Eventual mission creep probably would result in a aTm type mess.

      (Another thoughtful, well-written and effective piece, SEE. – Signed, a lurker)

      • Your remark “get the crowd loud and ostracize the blue-hair quiet please crowd.”

        IOW – screw the old timers – like me.

    18. Peter Herrly says:

      This is obviously a key question. The whole crowd dynamic issue in our stadium is complex — so allow me to put off issues like changing demographics, lengthy TV timeouts, administration policies on things like seating classes together, etc. etc.
      Having 15 years worth of logged firsthand observations of our crowd, one of the critical issues is the timing of our spirit and noise. Clearly, our crowd still has the capability to get loud – the beginning of the USC game of two years ago, Stanford in overtime, are cases in point. But one of the clear issues is the timing of crowd noise. Typically, per my logs, our crowd gets noisiest AFTER the other team snaps the ball… which of course is fun for all of us but doesn’t do a damn thing to throw off the other team. Fixing that is a specific crowd dynamic issue that ought to draw its inspiration from something like a major rock concert — for instance, my fellow old men, the Rolling Stones, who still know everything about getting a crowd up and on its feet, but rely partly on inputs orchestrated by a director behind the scenes, miked up with all the inputs they control.
      In a similar way, imagine someone at Notre Dame playing that role. Let’s say we’ve had a “sudden change” where we’ve turned the ball over, the other team is coming up to a critical third-down situation, and there is a timeout. The management of that timeout becomes crucial. Obviously, that timeout is not the time to have the nanotechnology professor of the year acknowledged on the 20 yard line (that can occur during other timeouts where we really don’t care how the crowd acts when time is called back in).
      In the case above, using larger and better scoreboards could help the coordinator focus the crowd on the measures he or she undertakes to build a buzz. There are several ways that could happen, but imagine first of all showing a short 15 to 20 second well produced video, let’s say, Louis Nix III pancaking opposing centers — then using the scoreboards to ask the crowd to join the band in singing “On down the Line” — then in coordination with the cheerleaders, flashing the words for a particular cheer which experience shows gets the juices flowing — and then just as time is called back in, flashing some super good high-tech version of “NOISE” WHILE BLASTING ABOUT TEN SECONDS OF SOME VERY PULSATING MUSIC…
      You get the idea, I hope. Essentially, bigger and better scoreboards could and should be a useful tool to enhance the combination of other measures.

      But that is really all bigger and better scoreboards ought to be allowed to do. Every negative observation you cite above is obviously a danger from such scoreboards (note I have not used the term Jumbotron because I’m not convinced we need something that big and like many of us I have no desire to block views of the Hesburgh Library, etc.).
      But the weakest point of your analysis above is ignoring the feeble nature of our crowd – and yes, I remember very well your trying to take that issue on back in 2011. My take, is, bring something on that the Rock would have loved – and he would have loved a louder crowd — ours started to get softer about 1990, when we were still winning big… but that’s another story.

      • SubwayAlum_2012 says:


        I will probably catch big-time flak for this, but there are two song riffs that would implode lake michigan with the sonic force coming from the stadium: “walk” by pantera, and “raining blood” by slayer. i played against chuck martin when he was at Grand Valley State in 2008, and raining blood blared right up until the opening kickoff. I am a huge fan of 80’s speed metal, (no, Ozzy and AC/DC are not 80s speed metal, but i’ll save my anti-ozzy diatribe for the metal blogs) but hearing the machine gun riffs of that song scarred me… and i was on kickoff return for the visiting team! At my core, i will side with the anti-jumotron camp; i love Notre Dame Stadium, and if i wanted to watch the game on the TV, id save the 75 bucks, and stay at home. That being said, however, i do agree with the lack of stadium energy. ive heard high school playoff games that rock louder than the stadium.
        For my 2 cents, try playing some music that requires a liberal interpretation of the term “music.” I doubt that an institution such as Notre Dame would ever agree to play music from a band like Slayer, whose discography includes songs such as “christ illusion” and “angel of death”. That being said, I think that critical, high-tension game moments require high tension music, and bands like slayer, pantera, pre-1995 mettalica, and mastodon could turbo charge people with blarring riffs, and hyper-blasting double bass drums.
        as always, GO IRISH!

    19. Even if Notre Dame let the “staff” of NDnation run the jumbotron, they would still oppose it.

      • I am opposed to the death penalty. If the authorities put me in charge of executions, I’d still oppose it. I oppose it because I believe it is wrong, Whoever they put in charge of it doesn’t change my mind.

    20. I appreciate the arguments here about the unique nature of Notre Dame’s gameday experience. And I appreciate the unique branding, similar in a way to Penn State’s throwback plain uniforms. However, the crowd noise and overly genial atmosphere is a real problem in all but the best games.

      So for those against it, I will point out one clear example of how a Jumbotron can make a difference. In the 2011 night game at Michigan, the Wolverines were starting their ridiculous comeback when Denard threw an interception. TV went to a timeout. When those of us watching at home came back to the game, the crowd was going ballistic. I wondered how they weren’t deflated, as ND Stadium often is after a turnover. Later, a friend at the game said Michigan’s Jumbotron spent the entire timeout showing well-edited highlights of Michigan wins over ND (to a rousing soundtrack), especially focusing on the Desmond Howard diving TD catch. The crowd went crazy and were in a frenzy by the time the game resumed. Result: three and out for ND and absolutely no change in the amorphous feeling of game momentum in Michigan’s favor.

      Did the Jumbotron make ND play worse or Michigan better? Of course not, but the feeling of ‘Here we go again’ that is often palpable at ND could be lessened with a well-done video/music. And that’s about all a crowd can do.

    21. C. Carroll says:

      I have no problem with a Jumbotron under the following conditions:
      – no speakers
      – only replays of plays that go to the replay booth for decisions
      – commercials on screen only during half time and the interminable TV time outs (so long as they also stop trotting out every possible person affiliated with the University during said timeouts for recognition)
      – money generated by the Jumbotron advertising to go toward reducing ticket prices.

    22. You don’t go to the stadium to watch the game on a jumbotron. You watch the game and then the jumbotron lets you get a closer, better look at what you just had the privilege of seeing live. That’s silly to say that one goes to the stadium to just stare at the jumbotron and not watch the game on the field.

    23. Peter Herrly says:

      Some comments from Paris:
      mic holt – a celebrity sing-along sounds fun, and depending what is sung and when could help the dynamic. Great idea, we’ll put it into the tool kit!
      JAC – thanks for the agreement in principal – now to be positive (and construct university policy that will have safeguards)..
      Subway alum – you get it. Awesome sound choices. My son the senior says so too.
      BOS – amen, bro!
      Mike Coffey – it’s just because you are such a principled opponent that you should be on the oversight community of the smaller ‘tron things that (prediction) we will install as a compromise…

    24. Hooray says:

      Jumbo’s coming. Y’all gotta get over it. Montana, Zorich, Luther Bradley, Rocket, Browner & Fry, lujack/Army ’46, on and on. Great film to fill down time. How ’bout Austin Carr lighting up UCLA. Jumbo’s coming and it gonna be great. Get over it.

    25. WWJD? Jesus was a slight man, physically. He wouldn’t go near a football stadium. Second that notion as far as “Jesus the Fan” goes…Jesus was all about the underdog, remember, not the champion. So WWKD? (What Would Knute Do?) I have no idea. No one else writing here has any idea, either. The game of football is not the same. “The jumbotron is not about the X’s + O’s, though,” you might contend. Well, neither is it “about the Jimmies and the Joes.” (qualification: that’s “Joes” the football players, not “Joes” the fans) The jumbotron is about the fans. The jumbotron is also about the $. Neither were a consideration to Knute, the ultimate purist. So to answer WWKD? is like answering “How would George Washington deal with nuclear weapons?” See what I’m saying…?

    26. I am “one and done” with Jumbotrons. Er, make that “two and done”.

      Let me explain.

      In 2003, a Michigan grad and close friend invited me to attend the ND/Michigan game with him in Ann Arbor. ND lost 0-38. It was depressing, and it was made worse by having to watch all the good plays by Michigan again and again on the Jumbotron.

      Any time Michigan gained over 4 yards or shut ND down with a sack or interception, all the Michigan players would turn on a dime and watch the play again on the Jumbotron. It was stunning to see this. I was used to ND Stadium, where players focused on only one thing: the game happening at that moment.

      The Jumbotron creates a split in the attention span of everyone in the stadium. One second they are watching the game and the next, they are looking into the past watching the ‘Tron. Then, back to the present, then to the ‘Tron.

      It is schizoid, live action / past action / live action / past action. Then the commercials. Ugh.

      And, the pleasure, if I can call it that for a moment, of watching the Tron, is only enjoyed by the home team. The gerbils on Mountain Dew and Snickers that run the Tron are all homers who cue up only home town snazzypants clips that show the home team looking good, Billy Ray, looking good!

      Visiting fans had better enjoy their team’s interception or circus catch because they might not see a reply on the Tron – no reason to bum out the home town crowd there to see Centrifugal Bumble-Puppy played by their favorite team.

      The second and done experience was at SC games in the Coliseum. The gerbils manning the ‘Tron not only pull up instant replays, but they torture ND fans before the game, during breaks, and during halftime, with clips of Anthony Davis, and other Trojan heros running game-breaking plays that are already burned into our cortex for all time. Now, we get to see them again. And again, and again, and again.

      The Jumbotron should be re-named. It should be called something like a “Home Town Fan Attention Electro-Magnet & Soul Capture Device”.

      As a 1970 ND grad who was named a Luddite by a Cal EPA employee at a meeting at EPA headquarters when she saw me sign a document with a 1981 Pellikan Souveraign 800 Green and Black Extra-Fine Fountain Pen, I proudly sport the appellation “Luddite” and feel lost if I leave home with out the fountain pen.

      There is comfort in tradition. Tradition means a lot to those who want to preserve it. As ND alums move away from the school, their sense of tradition grows more valuable to them, the longer they spend away from South Bend.

      I want our traditions to keep us pure and good – able to recognize the football experience and ritual today as some of us would from the 1960s.

      Yes, I would proudly wear a “I’m a Luddite When IT Comes to ND Stadium – You Can Be A Luddite To!

    27. Do not get gentle into that good night — rage, rage against the dying of the light (or the dying of the Notre Dame experience because of a jumbotron)

      Does this sound familiar – post-game tailgate conversation: “Can’t believe they called that an interception/fumble/incomplete, etc”. “I couldn’t see it, I was in the oppposite end zone”. “Same here”. For the “purists” – to better “soak in” the atmospehere do you leave your radios and smart phones in the car, too, or do you bring them in to listen to the game and/or check scores from other games? Or are they okay because you’re a “real fan”, they’re your “distractions” and it adds to your experience? I would say that the fact that the games are close to 4 hours plus because of the TV contract detracts more from the authenticity and intimacy of the experience than a jumbotron – but I don’t see anyone clamoring to get rid of the NBC contract because if we can’t go to the game we better be able to watch it on tv. LSU has a jumbotron, and a night game there is insane. A jumbotron is merely another “bell and whistle” that will have a nominal effect – good or bad – on the experience. Sure a jumbotron may enhance or detract from your experience depending on your point of view, but I’m sure that that somehow everyone will be able to soldier on and adapt if ND gets one. We did it with the other affronts on the purity of the experince, like lights in the stadium, stadium expansion, music piped in, etc. Simply put, don’t let a jumbotron, or lack thereof, define your experience.

      • Mike Coffey says:

        Couple points here:

        1) A screen is different from lights in the stadium and the stadium expansion. Both of those things addressed specific issues, neither of which affected the “purity of the experience”. A screen is, however, similar to the piped-in music, which also blows.

        2) What’s more likely to make LSU night games there insane — the psychological makeup of LSU fans plus the amount of alcohol they’ve consumed all day, or the giant TV screen? Since ND is not about to allow the former, would you not agree it’s going to diminish the alleged affects of the latter?

        3) Anyone who needs video stimulation to cheer or to be told when to cheer is too stupid to attend a Notre Dame football game.

        4) I’ve never brought a radio into a game. But if I did, I would be the only one “distracted” by it, unlike a giant television, which would distract everyone. If I check my smartphone for other scores (which I seldom do, as the game I’m watching is the one I care about), I am, again, the only “distracted” one.

    28. Ed Mattingly says:

      Increase game day excitement is a must. For 20 years ND was morbid compared to earlier years. Get cheerleaders to lead cheers instead of flips and dances. Cell phone app is great idea since everyone has a cell phone nowadays and can watch replays again and again if they choose to do so, rather than one time on Jumbotron. Heck, work a deal with NBC to allow live streaming to cell phones within the stadium. Thus, NBC gets the ad revenue, which will trickle down to ND in the next contract negotiation. Finally, loud music via audio only is OK, but Jumbotron is NOT OK. Ed

    29. Peter Herrly says:

      To rebut one of your points, when you saym”3) Anyone who needs video stimulation to cheer or to be told when to cheer is too stupid to attend a Notre Dame football game” are you not forgetting that ND has had a group of students for a very long time called “cheerleaders” whose original function was to lead cheers? Plus, most of ous in ND Stadium do not in fact know the optimum ways/moments to cheer.

      • Mike Coffey says:

        You cheer/make noise when the opponent is trying to line up to call their play to distract them, and you cheer/make noise whenever something good happens that benefits ND, whether on offense or defense.

        Not difficult.

    30. brad Chicago says:

      I don’t think anyone should confuse anecdote with evidence. Some people like Jumbotrons some do not. What we have here is three quotes from people who believe the same as the writer. I do not think that should be confused with full and complete sampling of people who attend college football games.

      Moreover, the word authentic seems misplaced. It seems old and new are being replaced with authentic and by extension inauthentic. Careful using this pretext anything new is inauthentic. Innovations of the forward pass may not have seemed authentic to the game in the 20s but imagine modern football without it. You may not like it but I would say that fact that 90 percent (or more) college football teams having Jumbotrons would be an check in the “authentic” part of the game but not certainly part of the original game of football. (much like the forward pass)

      I applaud your passion. I do not care for Jumbotrons but that is just my humble opinion and I would not assume that I know the mind of a man like Rockne who is long dead. My guess is if you made a chart you’d find division along line of age. If I’m right then the older opinions will eventually die out and those of the younger generation will win out.

    31. Peter Herrly says:

      Very seriously — that is exactly right. But our crowd is not “savvy” in this regard. It could be seen as a detail, but it is a crucial detail — we just simply start to make noise too late to have any effect. I’ve actually got documentation on that based on two decades of looking at this issue
      The various “inputs” need to be better themselves, and better coordinated amongst themselves, to help us all out in this regard.
      We do not NEED any bigger screens to help, though if used correctly they could help to some extent.
      This is a serious issue, the problem has complex origins and requires a comprehensive approach to solve, as are most tough problems. But you are a serious fan, with a serious site which has done much for our ND “Nation” which is why I have kept banging the drums on this thread.

      By the way – the compromise solution for the scoreboards is to make 100% use of the same exact scoreboard surface area we already have now. Which would mean, electrifying the whole surface, with the default view being the way the boards are now, but with the capcity to switch to a full screen as required.