Miller: Embrace the green
Jake Miller | Wednesday, April 26, 2023
If you’re like me, last Friday’s The Shirt unveiling was far from a surprise. Last month, on St. Patrick’s Day, the Athletics Department announced that the Irish would wear their green jerseys in their primetime matchup against Ohio State. If the team planned to sport the green in their biggest game of the year, there was no doubt in my mind that fans would wear that same iconic color.
Notre Dame’s support of green has grown recently — even in the last few years of Brian Kelly’s tenure. In 2021, for three straight games, the Athletics Department employed the use of the “Irish Wear Green” campaign. Some argue the campaign is a way to push clothing sales and force longtime fans to add green attire to their inventories which primarily consist of blue and gold. Of course, there’s some truth to that; Notre Dame, Under Armour and Barnes and Noble (which operates Hammes Bookstore) all want to increase their merchandise revenues.
While many students were tired of wearing green week after week, to some extent, the campaign worked. Notre Dame Stadium looked as coherent and united as it ever has. Notre Dame has notoriously faced challenges when hosting primetime games at home. In 2019, Georgians flocked to South Bend, infamously creating a sea of red across the southern half of the stadium. To a lesser extent, in 2021, Cincinnati fans did the same thing. Ohio State will be the biggest challenge the Irish have faced so far. The quantity of Notre Dame single-game tickets available to the market at affordable prices is far higher than what most other programs offer. For many Irish fans (such as those who win tickets in a lottery), selling tickets at a ridiculous markup may be more appealing than coming to one of the best games across all of D1 football.
Notre Dame clearly needed to establish a winning strategy. In my opinion, they did. Green should be the official color of Notre Dame Athletics. No other power-five program uses a green like the Irish. Before someone fights me, Oregon’s green is lighter, Michigan State’s is darker and Baylor is irrelevant. Green provides a sense of uniqueness which can spark energy among the fans. Unlike gold, green creates a striking appearance like the iconic whiteout at Penn State.
Of course, some fans continue to make the outrageous, erroneous claim that Notre Dame somehow plays worse in alternate jerseys. When looking at stats alone, at first glance, this appears to be true. In reality, this is a made-up storyline that has received too much attention. Players of D1 caliber don’t win or lose games based on what color they wear. Games are lost due to poor decisions, lack of physicality, improper game preparations and differences in the level of talent. Notre Dame has always had louder fans and better crowd support when they encourage their fans to wear green. This would never make a team lose a game; if anything, it might help a home team draw one extra false start from the crowd noise.
Don’t get me wrong — the Irish’s blue and white jerseys are clean, sleek and polished. I love them both. In a sense, they’re very polite colors. But against Ohio State, the fierce, tenacious Fighting Irish need to come out. Notre Dame faces a team they have a legitimate chance to beat. For the fans, something needs to be different to highlight the solemnity of this game. This is the biggest game the Irish have hosted in three years. The Irish can’t be polite. To create a home-field advantage, the green needs to punch the red in the face. If we call Notre Dame Stadium “our home,” this is the time to prove it. Green is the right place to start.
The views expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.