Notre Dame’s home field advantage has been a topic of extensive discussion for quite a while, especially since the Stadium expanded. When Nebraska came to Notre Dame in 2000, we had the infamous “Sea of Red”. When Georgia visited in 2017, the hue repeated to an extent (although there may be an explanation for that).
But shouldn’t we be putting more effort in? How can we as fans contribute to a win? How can we let the team know we’re there? It’s not always an easy thing to do, but there seems to be plenty of enthusiasm to, if you’ll excuse the phrase, give it the old college try.
Trying to create that advantage, however, involves walking a thin line. As much as people may roll their eyes at the “Welcome to Notre Dame” stuff, you’d be lying if you said you don’t take a bit of pride in that. When you hear stories about people’s trips to Ann Arbor, Columbus, and other mouth-breathing nexus, part of you is glad you don’t have to worry about that kind of thing in South Bend.
Having said that, there has to be a way to bring more focus to Notre Dame’s presence both at home and on the road, right? Of course there is, and we’re going to talk about those options right now.
PART 1: KNOW IT
If we’re going to have this discussion, we have to set some ground rules.
Ground Rule #1: When it travels, Notre Dame gets its opponents’ best efforts both on the field and off. It’s kind of like reading your friends’ Facebook feeds — it’s all about the one kid graduating magna cum laude, but the younger brother with the meth lab ain’t getting nearly the bandwith.
Put more visually, we all saw this display a couple weeks ago:
But when we’re gone … and it’s not at night ….
I think Dom said it best:
Ground Rule #2: Everybody wants to see our house. Notre Dame is a bucket list destination, and when you have a team visiting for the first time in a while (if not ever), some people will try to move mountains. As the article linked above said, the Georgia fans in 2017 were willing to pay through the nose. If 2016 had been a better season, maybe ND fans would have been more resistant. But, as the saying goes, it wasn’t so they weren’t. When there’s a unique game on the schedule, ND fans who have more opportunity to be in Notre Dame Stadium may take advantage, and while we want to get to a point where that’s less of an issue, that’s on the long-term want list.
None of that, though, means we shouldn’t try. To that end, I have a couple ideas.
PART 2: WEAR IT
Schools like Georgia can make their presence felt because their primary color is eye-catching. As ND fans saw in 2000, if every fan of the other team shows up in a primary color, you’re going to know they’re there.
In this regard, Notre Dame is starting off behind the 8-ball. Navy Blue is not an eye-catching color during the day, and it’s even worse at night. I’m not suggesting their long-time primary uniform hue be abandoned, but we have to start thinking outside the box a little.
Step 1: Agree to wear something consistent. ND fans can’t be showing up wearing whatever they want. If we’re going to do this, thought and planning is required, so the agreement has to be made up front.
Step 2: Agree on what that color is. We’ve established that the navy blue is out. That leaves us with the official ND gold, RGB #D39F10. The gold is good, and may stand out better at night games.
But I’d prefer ND adopt an actually kelly green in the permitted spectrum, especially for day games. There’s a “tertiary” assignment of #00843D, but it’s a little deep. I’ve always been a fan of the 1977 uniforms (and in fact wish ND would wear them full-time), and regardless of how much gold would stand out in the dark, still want the more-Irish representative color.
Regardless, pick something with visual reaction in mind.
And finally, the step I hope won’t be the deal-breaker….
Step 3: Make that color the primary color sold, including The Shirt. Yes, if it’s the same color each year, there’s a chance ND fans will skip buying it every now and then. Have confidence in your fanbase and their desire to support The Shirt’s charitable efforts. Sacrifice a couple dollars to help support the team in a non-financial way.
PART 3: SEE IT
There aren’t a lot of visual opportunities during ND games. There’s a well-established tradition with the 1812 Overture (provided, as I said, they slow it down a little). But a nice organically-grown effort seemed to show itself at the Southern Cal game. Irish fans augmented their usual arm movements during 1812 with the flashlights on their cell phones, creating a nice effect in the dark outside the field boundaries.
(I’d love to show it to you, but my video searches have come up empty. Perhaps someone will have it in the comments below)
My antipathy towards night games notwithstanding, this is a great example of Fighting Irish fans creating something they can call their own.
PART 4: SING IT
Notre Dame certainly has its in-game traditions, including the 1812 Overture (provided they play it a little more slowly). But I think there’s room for other things just as Irish, and I was inspired by another school’s choice recently.
A couple weeks ago, I caught the end Kansas State’s upset of highly-ranked Oklahoma. The fans in the stands were wearing their distinct purple, which always helps. But they had a unique send-off for the Sooner fans as the game wound down, and I thought it was a very appropriate song to use:
(yeah, that’s not them playing it at the game, work with me)
Finding something directly applicable to your school creates a strong affiliation and is something you can use to bind your fans together. Kansas is a plains horse-riding state, so they chose a very appropriate song and made it their own.
So how can Notre Dame do the same? Anyone can use Seven Nation Army or Shipping Off to Boston or any of the other mass-media-type songs available. Using something unique to us that other schools would look stupid trying to copy? Now we’re talking.
But where would we find such a song? Why am I asking you?
Let’s familiarize ourselves with the Wild Rover, an old Irish song that I know the Band of the Fighting Irish can play because I’ve seen/heard them do it:
(I know, Dropkick Murphys, I’m trying to get people on board here)
It’s got a good beat, so you can lead into it with the drum section to get the crowd into it. Everyone should be able to clap their hands four times. All you need is some lyrics.
AND IT’S NO, NAY NEVER (CLAP CLAP CLAP CLAP)NO NAY NEVER, NO MORE!WILL WE LOSE TO THE [OPPONENT]?NO NEVER, NO MORE!
Yeah, helps if we win, but you gotta start somewhere. I doubt the KSU band unloads Happy Trails when they’re down three touchdowns in the fourth quarter.
That would be a song the whole Irish crowd could take part in, at football games and basketball games or soccer games or whatever. It’s got a good rhythm so crowds could sing it a capella. It’d be even better with lyrics for the lead in verse, but I’ve taxed my creativity writing this article in the first place, so I’m depending on you folks to throw in some ideas.
Tell Mike what you think (or suggest some lyrics) in the comments below