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Gastelum: Jerry World lived up to the hype, impressed fans (Oct. 7)

Andrew Gastelum | Sunday, October 6, 2013


Jaws dropped, hitting the dusty trail. Cowboys tipped their 10-gallon hats in respect. In Arlington, Texas there was a knife shop here, a saloon there and a longhorn steer at every corner, which made the site of this anachronism even more stunning. 

This was the Wild West, as pure as it can get. Then in the matter of two blocks we teleported back to medieval times. Before us, a palace stood in all its futuristic glory.  

With the sign of a check and a welcome wave of hand, King Jerry opened the eyes of Notre Dame fans who dared to step outside their bubble.  This, my friends, was Jerry World: the happiest place on Earth. 

The Shamrock Series got one right for once. For the first time, the Shamrock Series was supposed to be about the matchup on the field and not about the city, jerseys or expanding the brand – at least that was the idea against No. 22 Arizona State. It’s not our fault that the stadium wooed us into a hypnotic stupor. At Jerry World, all who were invited took a stadium tour and forgot to watch as a football game broke out.

It was as if Domers were the Amazon tribes who had just been introduced to modern technology, a word perhaps overshadowed at Notre Dame Stadium by “tradition.”

There were actual speakers (not the whiny, blown-out computer speakers in South Bend), there was a 160-foot-long Jumbotron, there were actual replays on challenges (not your dad texting you to say it was incomplete), there was a 72-foot-tall-Jumbotron, there were game highlights (not waiting until Sunday to watch a four-hour replay) and there was a 25,000-plus square foot high-definition Jumbotron.

But ultimately, there was a lesson learned. Get the picture? 

Notre Dame fans went home with vertical whiplash, square-eyed vertigo and a dream of what could be from all the TV they watched.

The Notre Dame graphics department, Fighting Irish Digital Media, and the poor, deprived scoreboard operator got their one chance a year to go big (literally). Yet they painted their high-definition canvas to perfection. No obnoxious advertisements, no “Catch of the Game” sponsored by Allstate and no cheesy promos. 

The thing is, Notre Dame has never been able to do “hip” right without embarrassing itself. If Friday’s lame, cringe-worthy pep rally in Fort Worth was any indication of how Notre Dame would use a modern stage, a network crash was sure to ensue at AT&T Stadium in front of over 65,000. 

Instead, they marveled. High-production value videos showcased the University. A “#shamrockpics” feature let fans fill the screen(s) with their own shots of the game. Standing ovations for veterans replaced yawn-inducing professors of the month. 

And on multiple occasions and choice third downs, a noise meter and some catchy tunes brought to life the dead noise when the band wasn’t cutting it. Sorry, no one wants to hear “Every Time We Touch” every quarter or do the Irish jig after a devastating touchdown. The words “Take a Stand” and “All Aboard” did more than any “Celtic Chant” ever could.  

So ultimately, there was a lesson learned. 

Jerry World taught us that a Jumbotron is the future and it should be the present if Notre Dame wants to finally make the “being hip” thing work out and create a real game-day atmosphere. Despite a 70-30 ratio of ND to ASU fans, there was a certain energy present that has never really been present in the Bend. 

Surely, all of the lights and noise will change the athletic department’s mentality into nothing was the same, ever since Jerry World.

And oh yeah, there was a game going on. The Catholics in angelic white conquered the Devils in black or something like that. At least, that’s what I could tell from the tube. After all, you felt like royalty from the four-course press box meals to the star-studded VIP cast on the field. 

“It was like a palace,” linebacker Prince Shembo said.

Indeed, a palace fit for a prince, y’all.

Contact Andrew Gastelum at [email protected]

The views expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.