Tuesday, June 12, 2007
The University announced earlier this week that the Irish will be wearing green jerseys to celebrate the 30th anniversary of the 1977 game against USC.
I have mixed emotions about this. Green jerseys have been around for quite some time, long before the 1977 USC beatdown. I've read that Leahy's teams wore green jerseys. Since 1977, the green jerseys have been used a handful of times as a gimmick to get the fans and teams excited.
This kind of locker room rah-rah is part of Notre Dame lore. Rockne was renowned for his motivational tactics. Everyone who loves Notre Dame football is familiar with (indeed, if you are as obsessed as I am you can probably recite it verbatim) the "Win One for the Gipper" speech.
My favorite Rockne motivational story, however, is when he regaled his team during halftime with a tearful story of a little boy who was deathly ill back in South Bend, and had asked the Rock to get the win for him. Rockne tearfully told the team how the young boy's dying wish was for the team to go out there and crush the other team. Whipped into an emotional frenzy, the team tore out of the locker room and tore apart the opponent.
Upon arriving back to the train station in South Bend, the little boy was waiting cheerfully for the team to return - he didn't even have a sniffle.
Weis has shown that he, too, has a certain amount of flair for the dramatic. His first use of the green jerseys against USC whipped the stadium into a frenzy that I've never seen before in my few years of attending games at the University.
Weis however, unlike Rockne, has generally been very sincere when appealing to his team. The famous "Pass Right" incident comes to mind. Before leaving for the game against Washington, Weis asked the terminally young boy Montana Maszurkiewicz to call pass or run for the first game from scrimmage. Montana, like any good Notre Dame fan, wasn't satisfied with run or pass - he wanted Pass Right. And with the opening kickoff sitting on the 1-yard line in the shadow of his own goalposts, Weis didn't back down. He called pass right, and Anthony Fasano not only made the catch, but Monatana gave him wings as he pushed forward for the first down.
Weis seems to understand the importance of the green jerseys, having been a student in the stands during the 1977 game. I generally have no problem with busting out the green jerseys against USC on the 30th anniversary of the Trojan Horse game.
What I have a problem with it is how the powers that be at the University have transformed this from what could have been a great moment for the team [surprising fans with throwback jerseys and hopefully a student built Trojan Horse on the day of the game] and instead expoliting it as a marketing ploy. They issued a press release to generate interest in the throwback jerseys so that Adidas can get them out and start churning out the money to line everyone's pockets.
They would have made plenty of money on the jerseys after the game - the #10 green jersey with gold numbers from two years ago hasn't exactly been a lackluster seller. Hell, I still want one (although the lack of a job is really cramping my style). But that wasn't enough. They want them out there during the summer, and all through the first few home games before the Trojans come to town.
And that's where I part company with the administration of the University. Notre Dame has built a mystique over the last century. They have a magical aura and a flair for the dramatic that other Universities just can't copy. Which is why the Monk Malloy era and the hiring of Ty Willingham were so bad for the University. Willingham busted out the green jerseys against lowly Boston College - and then promptly lost the game due to his incompetence as a big time football coach. This move reeks of that same type of aspirational peer attitude that Weis has done such a great job of removing from the program.
Now that the word is out on the green jerseys, Weis damn well better find a way to win that game.