A few months ago I wrote an article detailing the history of Notre Dame's football uniforms (http://bleacherreport.com/articles/210445-my-changes-to-notre-dames-football-informs ) and made a few suggestions about what I would like to see different with the Fighting Irish wardrobe.
I thought now that we are heading into Notre Dame's first ever primetime "home" game that it would be a good idea to revisit some of my ideas and recap some of the things we have seen this year.
First off, as expected Charlie Weis has not made any major changes to the Notre Dame uniforms this year. In fact, he has kept the same design for five straight years now which is the longest Notre Dame has gone without major changes since probably the Holtz era.
The only minor change this year (although visually it makes a big difference) is that Weis has had the Irish wearing "pro-style" socks in the last two home games now that the weather is turning cold.
In past years throughout Weis' tenure, Notre Dame would wear knee high navy blue socks during this time of year with the Adidas logo prominently displayed. I never had a problem with this look, although I was never crazy about having the Adidas logo on there.
Does anybody else think it is cool that Notre Dame and many other college programs go without socks when it's in the warmer part of the season, and then decide to wear them when it is cold? I've always thought this was a neat thing to do and just another thing that makes the college game better than the NFL.
This year, Notre Dame has decided to wear blue socks with white on the bottom, giving the team a more professional NFL-style look. Normally, I would shy away from anything making the Irish look like some of the NFL teams today, but I really like this look.
One reason is that the blue used in the socks seems to be brighter than in the past (although being paired with white it may just seem that way) and it stands out much more. The other reason is that I it makes the team look bigger (two colors make the legs look longer) and faster (the eye cannot track white as quickly as dark colors thus giving the appearance of more speed).
Also, when Notre Dame wore the long dark blue socks they always looked black to me and didn't seem to match the uniform that well. I wonder if we will see the pro-style socks with the away uniform in the future or if Weis will have the Irish stick to the long knee high white socks.
Now let's revisit some of my suggestions on uniform changes:
Shamrock on the Helmet
As of today, Notre Dame currently holds the longest streak of wearing the same helmet (Gold with gray facemask) in NCAA history. I am very supportive of traditional styles, but I really think it would be neat if Notre Dame wore a shamrock on just one side of their helmet (worn on both side of the helmet from 1959-62).
They wouldn't have to do this for an entire year (although I think I'd support that), but I believe it would be an interesting idea to use (a la the green jerseys) and pump the team for a big game against say...Boston College perhaps?
Has there ever been such a great logo that is so under used? You can walk around the Notre Dame campus for hours and never see the fighting leprechaun logo. Something has to be done where this wonderful mascot is displayed more prominently by the school.
I don't think it should be put anywhere on the uniforms (except perhaps at the end of the collar where the inter-locking ND logo currently is) but there could be some other good places. How about putting the leprechaun on some sideline hats or on the back of those giant winter coats guys like Crist wear on the sideline or even on the skull caps like Golden Tate wear?
ND Logo on the Sleeves
I've never been too crazy with the current jerseys and the absence of the inter-locking ND logo on the sleeves. This is probably because I grew up watching Tim Brown, Tony Rice, and Rocket Ismail flying down the field with the ND logo so prominent.
Moreover, I always thought having four sets of numbers on a jersey was a bit much but in this age of television it is probably a necessary evil. How about a compromise? Notre Dame should keep its current style for home games and switch to the inter-locking ND logo on the sleeves on the road.
As I've stated in my previous article, I am in favor of removing the gold outline from the numbers on the road white uniforms. I believe this would be beneficial because it is how the uniforms looked when first used under Ara Parseghian and it would bring more attention to the gold helmets.
As far as the green jerseys are concerned, a more traditional look based on the Paul Hornung era is what I would like to see. Just a simple green jersey with white numbers will do the trick!
I've already covered the changes in the socks, but I have some ideas of my own. One would be to utilize some striping, but with the new style Weis has been favoring this year it seems unlikely.
If I remember correctly, we have seen some striping on the lower cut blue socks in the recent pass. I believe Clausen had white stripes (Adidas socks perhaps?) during the Hawaii Bowl, and both Clausen and Allen had the same socks for the Michigan game. It also seemed that Allen had this pattern on his forearms during the Michigan came as well.
The other small addition I would make is to put a green shamrock on the socks. It would certainly be better than the Adidas logo we have seen in the past.
Paint the Field
Other than changing the helmets, this subject is sure to rile up the fan base more than anything else, especially from the more traditional folk.
Side note: Can we finally get rid of the natural grass in Notre Dame Stadium? I know it gives it that old-school look and many say football is supposed to be played on it, but it is getting out of hand.
How many more times do we have to see Armando Allen slip on that cut that could spring him for that much needed long touchdown run? Or how many more times does Clausen have to slip while in the pocket? And let us not forget Kamara's slip on the last play against USC.
You may say that both teams have to play on it, but I'm just sick of watching the field look like eastern France during World War I after only a few series. Seriously, it looks like ten of the world's worst golfers were let on the field and allowed to just hack away at the turf leaving dinner plate sized divot holes in their wake.
During last week's game against Boston College an Eagle defensive lineman came to hit an Irish lineman and they just slid backwards about three feet while engaged. This field is a mess and stuff like that should not be happening.
So, if Notre Dame was to install field turf next season it would make it that much easier to paint the field. I'm not advocating anything too radical, but I think there should be some paint laid down.
If they are going to keep the old-school white diagonal slash marks in the end zone, why not put a logo at midfield? Don't tell me a giant ND logo, shamrock, or leprechaun wouldn't look totally amazing because it would. Plus it's easier to tell where the ball is on television with a midfield logo.
And if you don't want that, then why not put something in the end zone? It's curious that many people believe that Notre Dame's current uniform is the "traditional" style, yet they have only been worn from 1964-77 and since the Holtz era in the late 80's.
That is nearly three quarters of a century wearing the supposed "non-traditional" uniforms.
The same goes for the end zone paint. It hasn't always been in its current style and the field has been painted before. In video clips and pictures I have seen, the end zones were definitely painted in the 1970's during the Rudy and Montana era.
These designs included the word mark IRISH or FIGHTING IRISH, along with the leprechaun and football logo. If it has been done before, then I don't think it is too much of a break with tradition to do it again.
If anything, it could be used like the green jerseys as something to do for a big game that is getting a lot of hype. Can't you just see ESPN Gameday remarking on Saturday morning, "And they've painted the end zones for today's game folks...you better watch out!"
The last thing I'll say is directed toward this weekend's neutral site "home" game in San Antonio, Texas. Will we see the field painted in Notre Dame colors? Will it be treated like a bowl game where both teams get their own end zone painted? What are the chances we see some sort of patch on the jerseys to mark the occasion?
I guess we'll just have to wait and see. Go Irish!