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UPDATE: Campus, Taco Bell to support Irish

Chris Khorey | Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Despite three straight blowout losses to begin the season, coaches putting them through four-hour full-pads practices and ESPN mocking them at every turn, Notre Dame Football players still have support – from two very different sources.

Leaders of The Shirt Project 2007 and student body President Liz Brown are organizing a “green-out” of campus on Friday, while local Taco Bells will distribute free nachos on Sunday, both in an attempt to galvanize the Irish.

Student body president Liz Brown originally asked students to wear The Shirt on Thursday. She sent an e-mail to students Wednesday, changing the date to Friday because of a previously planned day of solidarity with the “Jena 6,” a group of black students in Louisiana charged in connection with an attack on a white student after racial tensions began to simmer in the small town.

Jason Gott, vice president of the The Shirt Project, said he and other leaders want students to wear either The Shirt 2007 or another green shirt to classes to show spirit.

“We just want to show that we’re all solidly behind our football team and that we still care and that we still believe,” Gott said.

Irish coach Charlie Weis said the green shirts will be another sign that the team’s success or failure on the field is the success or failure of the student body as a whole.

“Having been a student here, one thing that this team is counting on is the support of the students,” he said. “When you’re a student, you’re not just a student, you’re part of it.”

Weis also said that student support can and will improve the team’s morale going into the game against Michigan State Saturday.

“The greatest thing that could happen, whether its Thursday or Friday at the Pep Rally, is for the students to say, ‘Hey, we’re on your side,” Weis said.

Fifth-year senior captain and tight end John Carlson agreed.

“We appreciate all the support we can get,” he said. “We’re not giving up. We hope the fans don’t give up either.”

The support isn’t just coming from South Bend. As far away as Irvine, Calif., at the world headquarters of Taco Bell, marketing executives decided to give Weis the “Nacho Day Award.”

“We like to call it a Na-cho Day – as in ‘not your day,'” Taco Bell spokesman Will Bortz said. “We’re trying to put some levity into the situation.”

In honor of Weis’ award, participating South Bend area Taco Bells will give out free nachos to Notre Dame fans between 2 p.m. and 5 p.m. on Sunday.

“The chips are down, and we want everyone to know we have your back,” Bortz said. “To the students, we’re saying, ‘Hey guys, you’ve been at the top, and while it might be a little bit rough this year, you can still have some free food.'”

Bortz said that the nacho promotion, which the company has done for organizations and groups before, is not designed to be a joke about Weis’ weight.

“We would never ever walk that line as far as giving something offensive to somebody,” he said.