Tag Archives: Notre Dame Fighting Irish

Take a staND? More like take a seat.

– Sgt Shamrock

Notre dame stadium - Notre Dame Stadium

Notre Dame Stadium, the home of the Fighting Irish. One of the most iconic and revered venues in all of sports. One would think that a venue rich with such tradition and history of success would also be one of the most difficult places for opponents to play. But as many Irish fans know, that is not the case. For years Notre Dame has held the reputation for being hospitable and welcoming to visiting teams and fans instead of being an intimidating environment that opponents fear. I was sick of people telling me how much they enjoyed coming to Notre Dame, and how often teams who had no business even being on the same field as the Irish were able to come away with a victory in South Bend. I was sick of being yelled at and scorned by “fans” to sit down while trying to cheer on the Irish. So when Notre Dame announced the beginning of the “Take A StaND” campaign at the beginning of last season, I was excited at the possibility of change in the culture and I know other fans were too. However after two full football seasons of the “Take a StaND” campaign, I am sad to say that that excitement was very premature.

Notre Dame announced the unveiling of the “Take a StaND” campaign prior to the first home game of the season against Purdue last year. On the official Notre Dame blog, senior associate athletic director John Heisler wrote the following,

Notre Dame Stadium, its ushers and other University ambassadors have had a long history of extending hospitality to visiting teams. It’s common, particularly when an opponent plays in Notre Dame Stadium for the first time, for visiting fans to remark on the welcoming atmosphere they find.

Swarbrick would like to see that welcome end once the opening kickoff is in the air. He’d like to see a change to the 17-16 home record Irish teams have recorded over the last five seasons combined.

If you’re paying attention this weekend and in the weeks to come, you are likely to come across the phrase “Take A StaND.” It’s a subtle, yet pointed, way of encouraging fans at all Irish events to become more participatory.

Notre Dame students have participated in a long tradition of standing throughout the entire football game at Notre Dame Stadium—and that group generally makes its share of noise. However, students make up only about 10,000 fans out of Notre Dame Stadium’s 80,795 capacity. So there’s plenty of room for assistance in the decibel category.

Midway through the 2011 season, Notre Dame introduced recorded music (mostly on opponent third downs) to the in-game experience at Notre Dame Stadium. Expect that to continue this fall, with the Irish marketing staff tweaking the plan with three 2011 home games of experience now under its belt.

The 2012 also season marks a celebration of 125 years of football at the University of Notre Dame. You’ll see the logo marking that celebration just about everywhere. That means there are 125 years worth of reasons to throw a season-long party.

Long-time rival Purdue visits Notre Dame Stadium today to open the 2012 Irish home season. The Boilermakers won here in 2004, but, prior to that game, you have to go all the way back to 1974 to find a Purdue win in Notre Dame Stadium.

By Swarbrick’s tastes, that’s more like it.

So, any time you have a chance today, take a staND and cheer for the Irish. It just might make a difference.

Seems pretty simple right? Stand up and be loud. That’s what the initiative calls for. I also emailed the Notre Dame Game day folks trying to get some more information on the initiative but I did not receive a response. Now while its just flat out sad that one of the premier college football programs in the country has to even consider starting an initiative like this to increase fan participation, its good that the university FINALLY realized that it was a problem and began to work to fix it. I still remember when LSU coach Les Miles described Death Valley as “A place where opponents dreams come to die” and hoping that one day Notre Dame Stadium would have the same effect on opponents. I thought the “Take a StaND” campaign was the first step towards fixing the problem of the game day atmosphere. The problem, however, has not only not been fixed, its actually seemingly getting worse with each passing home game.

Since the “Take a StaND” campaign started I have been to home games against Michigan, Stanford last season, and Michigan State, Navy, and BYU this season. Minus the Navy game (I was fortunate enough to be able to sit in the student section) I have been asked by multiple people and ushers on multiple occasions to sit down. In each instance, I was told by ushers that I was not be courteous to others sitting around me, and by other fans that they could not see because they did not want to stand. This is just inexcusable and it aggravated me more and more each time it happened. For people who claimed to be fans of Notre Dame, they sure didn’t act like it. And its not like the games were blowouts either. Every single one of those games was close until the clock hit zero. I could not believe that even after the university made a distinct effort to help solve this problem, that fans still were getting told by ushers in the stadium to sit down. This weekend I finally hit my breaking point. And it was not just because of what happened to me, but more so because what I had heard was happening to others.

I had always seen complains from other people on twitter complaining about being told to sit but I never really got any details. So following the game against BYU, I invited anyone who had a story of being told to sit down at games by either ushers or fans to email me so I would be able to see just how big of a problem this really was. The results were astonishing. The first email I received was by far the worse. Michelle, who also attended the BYU game this past weekend, was actually kicked out of the game because she refused to sit down when asked by ushers. When she asked the ushers what she had done wrong, they told her that she had done nothing wrong but they needed to keep the peace. This is appalling. The university comes out with an initiative to try and get fans to stand and be loud, and than the ushers in the stadium kick someone out for doing just that.

I received another email from a man who son regularly attends games with his friends. Every game last season, a group of older fans told the group to sit down every time they stood to cheer even if it was for a third down or when the Irish scored. The older groups of “fans” would always get the ushers involved and each time the ushers would tell the group to sit down. This season the older group moved to a different section but that did not cause the problems to stop. At the Michigan State game, a couple sitting behind the group launched right into them, saying “We sure hope you don’t plan on standing during the game!”Some Michigan State fans were sitting nearby and jumped into the discussion telling the couple to “Shut up at least they are real fans” and “They can stand all the want, isn’t this is what  fans are supposed to do?”. I’m sorry but the fact that visiting fans are doing more to stick up for Notre Dame fans and students than the ushers are is flat out embarrassing.

Another fan named Stan was able to provide even more saddening details. During the Wake Forest game last year, some fans that were sitting near him were escorted out of the stadium by police following a verbal exchange because they refused to sit down. On multiple other occasions, after Stan was told to sit down by ushers, he tried to show them that tweets using the hashtag #TakeAStaND and asked them if they knew what the university was trying to do. The ushers did not know the rules and continued to tell Stan to sit down. Even other fans seemed to be lacking knowledge on the campaign. One group of fans even tried to tell Stan that the “Take a StaND” didn’t even exist anymore.

Reading all of the testimonials of other fans and their experiences since the “Take a StaND” campaign was started, just reaffirms by belief that the entire campaign has been a complete failure. The ushers inside the stadium are as clueless in supporting the initiative as officials in college football are at correctly calling the targeting rule. While the ushers are volunteers, they still represent the University of Notre Dame. The fact that they are unable to help enforce a program that the University itself created is a complete embarrassment and needs to be addressed by the not only Jack Swarbrick, but the entire university as well. The university needs to get together all the ushers that work in Notre Dame Stadium and educate them on “Take a StaND” and what exactly what it means. Notre Dame has some of the most passionate and loyal fans in the world but until the University of Notre Dame takes a long hard look at the “Take a StaND” initiative and the major problems that have been identified with it, the home field advantage that Notre Dame is trying so hard to create will never become a reality. The game day atmosphere in Notre Dame Stadium has been a problem for far too long. I challenge the University of Notre Dame to find a real fix to this problem instead of  just an initiative with a catchy name and no enforcement. Its time that the Notre Dame Football team that we all love, gets the home field advantage that it deserves.

A rough path. The Tale of Tommy Rees

 
– Sgt Shamrock
 
Turnover Tommy, Touchdown Tommy, The Closer, and Reesus. All different names for Notre Dame senior quarterback Tommy Rees, who will be playing his final game at Notre Dame Stadium this Saturday against BYU. Rees could very well be one of the most polarizing figures in the history of Notre Dame football and while there have been their fair share of former Irish players who have caused jubilation and heartache over the years for Irish fans nationwide, it can be safe to say Tommy Rees is near the top of the list. From making game winning throws, to throwing horrific interceptions at the worst possible times, Tommy Rees’s career at Notre Dame has been nothing short of a roller coaster ride. As his career at Notre Dame comes to an end, its time to look back at one of the most interesting, nerve racking, and polarizing careers of any player to play at Notre Dame.
 
Coming out of high school, Tommy Rees was a 3 star recruit who held offers from Tennessee, Stanford, Bowling Green, Miami (OH), and Central Michigan. Not what you would call a very strong offer list. Fellow Irish quarterback Andrew Hendrix, who was in the same recruiting class as Rees, was rated a 4 star recruit with a much more solid offer sheet. Rees committed to the Irish while Charlie Weis was still the head coach and remained committed once Brian Kelly took over for Weis in 2010. Brian Kelly keeping Rees in the class was a surprise to some, as he was more of a pro style quarterback, and Kelly was bringing the high octane spread offense with him from Cincinnati to South Bend. However keeping Rees in his first recruiting class turned out to be one of the smartest decisions he could have made.
 
In his freshman year Rees was not expected to play. Dayne Crist, who was a 5 star quarterback recruit and had years of experience under his belt, firmly held the starting job for the Irish and clearly had the better physical attributes. It was only after Crist suffered a season ending knee injury against Tulsa, was Rees thrown into action. Rees didn’t play all that bad however the game ended on a Rees interception and an Irish loss. The rest of the season, however went pretty well for Rees. After the loss to Tulsa, Rees and the Irish went on to win the remainder of their games to include wins at USC and against Miami in the Sun Bowl. It was a strong finish to the first year of the Brian Kelly and it showed hope for the future of the Irish program. Rees played well to end the season, and because of it, the first of many quarterback controversies was born.
 
Going into the 2011 season the main offseason storyline was who was going to play quarterback for the Irish. While Rees played well to end the 2010 season, he still was responsible for his fair share of turnovers. Throughout fall camp everyone was waiting for who Brian Kelly was going to name his starting quarterback for the 2011 campaign. Kelly finally made the decision that most thought he was going to make and named Dayne Crist the starter for the season opener against South Florida. The decision only lasted for one half. Crist started the 2011 season just about as bad as you could imagine for Notre Dame and by halftime the majority of the stadium was chanting for Tommy Rees to be inserted into the game. And I was one of them. I was also in favor or Crist getting the nod to start the game. But after how the game began for the Irish, it was time for a change. Insert Tommy Rees. However it just wasn’t enough and thanks to five total turnovers by the Irish, South Florida won the game spoiling what was supposed to be a special season for Notre Dame.
 
Following the loss to South Florida, Brian Kelly kept Rees as the starter headed into the game under the lights at Michigan. Its a game we all hope to forget. I will have to say in all my years of watching Notre Dame football, that it was one of the worst losses I have ever witnessed. Thanks to 5 more Notre Dame turnovers, Michigan made an almost impossible comeback to put the Irish at 0-2. Quickly Rees became the new scapegoat for Irish fans everywhere and the term Turnover Tommy started circulating everywhere. And the misery continued all season. It was almost as if everything that could go wrong for the Irish, did go wrong. Rees just kept turning over the football and the Irish, who had hopes at a BCS bowl to start the season, where relegated to the Champs Sports Bowl to play against Florida State. For a while the Irish were playing well against the Seminoles and it looked as if they might pull out a victory to end the season on a high note. That was until the Rees again caught the turnover bug and the Irish ended up losing yet another close game, ending a frustrating and disappointing season for the Irish.
 
The majority of Notre Dame fans had had enough with Tommy Rees following the 2011 season. I will be the first to admit that I was one of them. I was tired of all the turnovers and the frustration that came with them. I was ready for a new quarterback. Everett Golson, who redshirted his freshman year at Notre Dame, was the fan favorite to take over the starting job. Still Brian Kelly would not name a starting quarterback following the 2012 spring game, and allowed the quarterback competition to continue into summer workouts and fall camp. That all came to a screeching halt when Rees was arrested following a college party and trying to run from the police. Rees famously was tackled by a cab driver, starting numerous jokes about Rees’s mobility. Not going to lie a lot of them were really funny. Following his brush in with the law, Brian Kelly suspended Rees for the season opener and seemingly answering every prayer of Irish fans everywhere. Notre Dame was going to have a new quarterback. With Tommy Rees out of the competition, Golson won the starting job and fans thought that we would never see Rees on the field again. They could not have been more wrong.
 
After playing well to start the 2012 season against Navy, Golson looked to be what fans had been waiting for. A mobile, athletic quarterback with outstanding arm strength that would fit into the offense system that Brian Kelly wanted to run. However late in the game the following week against Purdue, the Irish were in a close one. Late in the game Golson scrambled and took a hit that forced him to leave the game. In comes Tommy Rees to a loud and thunderous roar of boo’s from the Notre Dame faithful. Just imagine how Rees must have felt running onto the field when the entire stadium was booing the fact that he was forced into the game. It would be hard for anyone to focus and play after hearing that. But not Rees. Rees led the Irish down the field capped off by a key throw on 4th down that lead to the game winning field goal. While Irish fans were happy the game was won, mostly nobody wanted to see Rees at quarterback over Golson, and were happy to see Golson play well the following week as the Irish picked up a win on the road at Michigan State. Again it looked as if Rees’s playing time was done at Notre Dame. Than came the Michigan game.
 
As I sat in the stands that September night as the Irish took on Michigan, you could feel the excitement in the stadium. The Irish were 3-0 and fans were starting to believe we could be in store for a special season. When Tommy Rees was inserted into the game to take over for a struggling Golson, all that energy seemed to leave the stadium in a heartbeat. And yet against all odds Tommy Rees did it again for the Irish, leading the only touchdown drive for the Irish and completing a key pass to Tyler Eifert to ice the game and bring the Irish another victory. Rees quickly became known as “The Closer” as he seemingly would come of the bench in relief and bring home the victory. Rees was again called upon to start for an injured Golson against Stanford and BYU and in both instances Rees delivered. Rees had become an invaluable asset to the Irish and without him, its safe to say that the trip to the National Championship would have never happened.
 
And that brings us to this year. Nobody thought that Tommy would start another game following the 2012 season. Everett Golson had a firm grasp on the starting job, and former 5 star recruit Gunner Kiel seemed to be the favorite to take over the back up job. The only future that Rees seemingly had left at Notre Dame was to sit the bench. But thanks to Kiel transferring, and Golson being suspended for an academic issue, Tommy Rees again was thrown into the starting job for Notre Dame. So far this year Tommy Rees has had his ups and downs and has again drawn criticism from fans everywhere including me. But when Rees was knocked out of the game against USC this year, the true value of Tommy Rees really started to show. Andrew Hendrix came into the game with the Irish leading 14-10. Andrew Hendrix did not complete one pass and the offense came to a screeching halt. It really made people realize just how valuable Rees has been to the Irish.
 
While I am sure that many fans will be glad to see Tommy Rees move on from Notre Dame, I myself am going to miss the kid. I have been very critical of Rees during his career and I am not afraid to say that. Rees has deserved more than his fair share of criticism. But what I love about Tommy Rees is that no matter what the kid never gives up. He never let his head get down and always gave his all for Notre Dame. He overcame so much during his time at Notre Dame and embodies the Notre Dame spirit. Now on senior day, Tommy Rees gets a chance to run out onto the field for the last time and finish his Irish legacy on a high note. And I am glad I will be there to see it and cheer on Tommy and the Irish in the final home game of the season. So while you may not be the biggest Tommy Rees fan, take a moment to look back on Rees’s career, and thank him because without Rees, many of the success that have taken place over the last 4 seasons would have never happened. The future looks bright for the Irish and a large portion of that can be credited to Tommy Rees. Thanks Tommy for all you have done for Notre Dame.
 

Leprechaun’s, Falcons, and lighting blots!!! Oh My!! An Air Force Preview

Well folks, it’s already Thursday and we are inching closer to this weekends matchup between The low flying Air Force Falcons and the Fighting Irish. The Irish travel out to Colorado Springs, Colorado where the temperature is cold and Brian Kelly’s nipples are sure to be front and center depend how many layers coach actually wears. The week after a huge win over your rival is always a letdown alert however I think the burning of Troy was just the beginning of a successful second half of the season.

Playing an option team like Airforce is always a headache for both sides of the ball. The defense must watch for the fullback dive, the quarterback keep, or the pitch to the running back. The offense must take advantage of every possession, as option teams tend to win the time of possession battle due to a heavy running game. This matchup will be different from the past few games for the Irish who will now face a run heavy option attack instead of the drop back pro style quarterback in USC or the spread offense of Arizona State. While defending the option is always a tough task, the Irish have a huge advantage in one of the key areas in this game. In the trenches.

To get an effective running game going the offensive line must get a good push off the line of scrimmage and open running lanes. Air Force has been able to run the ball against their opponents very well so far this season averaging 268.6 yards per game with ranks 12th in the FBS. Notre Dame on the other hand is allowing only 123.3 yards per game which is 25th in the FBS. That’s not good force Air Force. What’s even worse is the Irish defensive line is a man amount boys compared to the Falcons. The Irish defensive line has an average of 323 pounds while Air Force is averaging a measly 261 pounds. It shouldn’t be all that surprising since all the players will be serving in the Air Force upon graduation and therefore being a big boy is not encouraged. Can you imagine Big Lou or Tuitt trying to fit in a cockpit of a fighter jet? That would not end well. The defensive line is one of the best in the nation and they will look to disrupt the Falcons rushing attack and force them to throw, which is something they desperately need to avoid as they have one of the worst passing attacks in the nation averaging only 102.3 yards per game.

What I’m really looking forward to this week is to see how well the Irish are able to run the ball against the horrific Falcons defense which ranks 113th in scoring defense giving up 37 touchdowns already this year, 111th in rushing defense giving up a whooping 221.3 yards per game, and a passing defense which ranks 102 giving up 267.4 yards to game. To put it simply the Falcons defense is god awful. They can’t stop anyone and it’s a large reason as to why their only win this season has been against Colgate. The Irish running game, which is only averaging 136.6 yards per game, struggled to begin the season but has played better in the last few outings. This week they can really break out and should have no problem running at will. The Irish offensive line weights an average of 311.4 pounds while the Air Force defensive line weights only an average of 256.7 pounds. Simply put the Irish should own the line of scrimmage and open huge running lanes all game long.

Overall the Irish should win this game with ease. Air Force has lost 5 games in a row and are really just a bad team. Expect the Irish to lean on the running game as they are careful with Tommy Rees as he comes back from a strained neck injury suffered against USC. Notre Dame should have their way with the Falcons and move to 6-2 on the season.

Players to watch

Offense: I’m really looking to see Tarean Folston this week. He showed a glimpse of brilliance with a long run against the Sooners but since then has been nursing an injury and has not seen much of the field. I expect all the Irish running backs to have good days but in especially interested to see how well this kid ca play.

Defense: We all know that Jaylon Smith is a stud. However I have my eye on him this week. This will be his first time playing against an option team and it’s a lot different especially for a true freshman. I’m eager to see how he handles his assignments.

Prediction: Notre Dame 41 Air Force 13

Other games to watch

12 UCLA at 3 Oregon – Oregon has been playing lights out again this season on offense under quarterback Marcus Mariotta and the defense has been outstanding and forcing turnovers. UCLA has been playing well under Brett Hundley at quarterback but they will be playing 3 freshmen on the offense line on the road. Yikes. Oregon 56 UCLA 31

10 Texas Tech at 15 Oklahoma – The Red Raiders are going fairly unnoticed despite their top ten ranking. Since the win at Notre Dame, Oklahoma has looked sloppy causing Irish fans to wonder where this Oklahoma team was when they were in South Bend. Texas Tech 35 Oklahoma 28

21 South Carolina at 5 Missouri – Missouri has been one of the surprise teams in the country this year and I’m pulling for them since it causes chaos in the SEC East. Matty Mauk has played well in the absence of injured QB James Franklin. South Carolina is on the road playing a backup QB with Connor Shaw out with an injury. Missouri 28 South Carolina 21

Upset Special

6 Stanford at 25 Oregon State – Since losing the season opener to FCS opponent Eastern Washington, the Beavers have won 6 in a row under the leadership of Sean Mannion who leads the nation in passing touchdowns. Not many people are giving the Beav’s a shot against the Stanford defense but I am. Oregon State 31 Stanford 30