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First Football Game Fashion

Sam Stryker and Matthew DeFranks | Friday, September 7, 2012

MD: Let’s make one thing clear, Sam. Notre Dame football fans are stingy, demanding and deathly afraid of change. Mention artificial turf in the sacred Notre Dame Stadium and they shiver just as much as the Jamaican bobsled team in “Cool Runnings.” Pump in music during a night game and they’ll cry more than a newly-crowned Miss America. But mess with the uniforms? Now, we have problems.

Forget the fact that Notre Dame’s uniforms have been changing plenty over the years. The adjustments have been subtle and minute, so it makes sense the fan base has not gone into a giant uproar over them.

In the past, the pants have been shiny and glittering gold-old gold.  More recently, the pants appeared in a darker mustard hue that looked like it belonged in Crayola’s pack of 64 crayons. There have been stripes, numbers and the interlocking monogram on the sleeves of the jerseys. And sometimes, the numbers are under the sleeves in the jersey, like they are for this year’s Shamrock Series uniforms.

Which brings me to my next point, Sam. I think those uniforms looked less like a mixture of a schizophrenic Domer and its alter ego and more like a mixture of Fergie and Jesus. What say you?

SS: Matt, it seems we are the only two fans who DIDN’T lose their shamrocks when they first saw the Miami game uniforms. The outcry has been ridiculous – you’d think they had asked Obama to speak at Commencement again. I’ve heard of an alum who bought two tickets so he can move to the opposite side of the field at halftime, and never see the leprechaun side of the helmet. Aren’t there better things to spend your money on, like hot dogs or charity?

Seeing Notre Dame players in these uniforms is like seeing that quiet girl from your freshman seminar dancing in the cage at Fever. Yes, these uniforms are bold, but that isn’t necessarily a bad thing.

Lest fans forget, there is more in common with these new uniforms and the traditional Irish garb than there has been in past seasons.

Blue and Gold? Check. Shiny helmet? Check. Yes, there is a leprechaun on the side of our helmet, and yes, the gloves are pretty snazzy for Notre Dame. But guess what – we’re only wearing these uniforms once. After that, they’re history.

Listen, the Shamrock Series is supposed to be a special occasion for Notre Dame football. Think of it as visiting your relatives during the holidays – it happens once a year, you have to get dressed up for it nice and fancy and what you wear is certainly something you wouldn’t don on an everyday basis. Listen, we’ll never be the Oregon Ducks, who make more outfit changes than Lady Gaga at the VMAs, so cool your roll, Irish fans.

MD: Exactly, it’s not like Notre Dame is trotting out the Maryland crash test dummy/medieval knight uniforms for a few games. The Shamrock Series getups are more like a Caribbean cruise to me: not everything is going to be pretty, but you only do it once in a while, so just go for it. If the Notre Dame faithful can withstand a 3-9 season, they sure can handle a half-blue helmet for one game. And if they can absorb last year’s helmet that looked like the Dancing With the Stars trophy (what, no, of course I don’t watch that show), they must be able to deal with lettering across the chest.

Enough about the Shamrock Series uniforms, let’s get back to the normal Saturday attire.

Since the Irish introduced the new, sparkling helmets against USC last year, Notre Dame only had one sunny day to showcase the shiny headgear. That changes this Saturday against Purdue, when the forecast calls for partly cloudy skies.

In the sun, the helmets glitter so much it feels like you are continually in a photo shoot. Not that that’s a bad thing, though.

SS: Matt, I’m glad you pointed those shiny gold helmets out. Last week in Dublin, you really could tell the difference the new gold helmets made, as Navy has helmets similar to what Notre Dame used to sport.

While the Irish helmets were shinier than a Vegas showgirl’s sequined dress, Navy’s were dull and gold in name only – they certainly lacked the luster of real Notre Dame gold.

It’s amazing, because the Irish uniforms are about as timeless as you can get – we’ve seen fans go into an uproar over the smallest tweaks, yet I would say the helmets have been a resounding (and refreshing) success. After all, if you’re going to splurge for gold helmets, you may as well make sure they glisten in the sun.

All in all, I think Irish fans get to have their proverbial cake and eat it too. Fans get to enjoy the classic Blue and Gold, while also seeing futuristic (a word I never thought I would use to describe the University) duds for the game in Chicago. While South Bend will never be confused for Milan or Paris, fashion-wise the football team looks better than ever.