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Notre Dame hoping fans are ready to take a staND

Sep 6, 2012, 2:51 PM EDT


It’s hardly newsworthy to mention the fact that Notre Dame Stadium isn’t the most daunting home field advantage in college football. Between welcoming fans, overly protective ushers, and a geriatric portion of the fanbase that spends most of the game sitting on their thumbs, it’s been far too easy for opponents to walk into South Bend and exit with a victory.

The Irish have put together a mediocre 17-16 record over the past five seasons at home. The laundry list of ugly losses is far from impressive: Navy (twice at home), Air Force, Syracuse, UConn, Tulsa, and South Florida. All games you’d expect Notre Dame to win easily.

Make no mistake, the Irish didn’t lose those games because fans weren’t loud enough. They lost because the brand of football that’s taken place over the past few years has been about as unenthusiastic as the 80,000 fans passively supporting it.

But athletic director Jack Swarbrick has decided to be proactive about the demise of Notre Dame’s home field advantage. Last October, Notre Dame started piping in music during the games. It might have been a rough start (I’m not sure Crazy Train will ever be played again without a few people snickering), but the athletic department is committed to helping the Irish win by helping to elevate the crowd noise.

Eric Hansen of the South Bend Tribune spoke with Swarbrick about the challenges that come with trying to do the illogical: Making Notre Dame a less pleasant place.

“You have to change the culture,” Swarbrick told Hansen. “The ushers are often reacting to a request from somebody else who wants the person to shut up and sit down — and that’s what we have to get to. That’s what we’re trying to change.

“We still want to be the most welcoming place in the country. But I don’t want athletic directors telling me, ‘We love playing here,’ which is what they say to me with some frequency.”

Over at Strong and True, the official Notre Dame football blog, senior associate athletic director John Heisler announced Notre Dame’s official intentions to fix the problem: Take a StaND.

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.

Of course, the elephant left in the room is the product on the field. Put quite simply, win more games and the crowd will have a much easier job doing their part. Brian Kelly already knows that’s on his shoulders.

“I think it’s up to me to provide a better atmosphere in that stadium,” Kelly said. “We win games, it will be nice and loud.”

A boisterous home crowd and the Irish taking back their home field? It’s going to be hard to find anyone that can’t stand up and cheer for that.

  1. dickasman - Sep 6, 2012 at 3:20 PM

    Sounds like we need criminals up in the stands too Allen! Attention rich ol geezer season ticket holders: please let your equally rich kids, grandsons, nephews and nieces(especially if they’re HOTT) attend the game more than once in a while during the season. Stand, what do you mean stand? We don’t stand, we re too rich and classy to be standing.

    • bernhtp - Sep 6, 2012 at 3:46 PM

      In honor of Pinkett, maybe Crazy Train should be replaced by Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap.

      • dickasman - Sep 6, 2012 at 5:25 PM

        I have a feeling they will play that song but we re not playing LSU are we?

    • mimefrog - Sep 6, 2012 at 6:50 PM

      I’m curious to see how the ushers balance this effort in the gold seats. Maybe they won’t bother. As the son in law of a rich geezer alum (heck of a guy btw), I’ve spent a fair amount of time in those gold seats. I’ve often been the only one standing in my row. Even on critical 3rd downs for our D, folks around me have looked pretty annoyed that I was up screaming (appropriate, PG rated things, of course) and shaking my keys. I’ve even been asked to sit down on kickoffs by the people behind me. I don’t see that changing …

  2. ndtoronto - Sep 6, 2012 at 3:28 PM

    BINGO! I couldn’t have said it better myself…

  3. domer77blowsgoats - Sep 6, 2012 at 3:30 PM

    I remember watching games 20+ years ago (well before the expansion) in which the ND was penalized because the CROWD was too loud and the opposing offense couldn’t hear – no over-hyped music needed – was the fan base in attendance that different then

    the music playing experience was a complete joke and made us look ridiculous last year – there is a huge difference in being cool and hip and acting cool and hip – just ask Nude – we were acting

    • bernhtp - Sep 6, 2012 at 4:07 PM

      The stadium expansion made it less loud. It diluted the noisy student section and put 20K people further from the field.

      The smaller problems are:

      – Relatively small student population (Notre Dame has 20% of the enrollment of Michigan, Ohio State, Texas, etc.). Adults don’t make a fraction of the noise of 18-22 yr-old kids.
      – Older. It is expensive to go to Notre Dame. Unlike other college games, a high percentage of attendees fly in (I will be flying in from Texas this weekend) and stay in expensive and limited hotels. Older people tend to be wealthier and with the disposable income to afford this.
      – Civil. Yes, Notre Dame people tend to have a more charitable and civil disposition, which is quieter. I remember being in the stands during the “Bush Push” USC game where the USC fans behind me (they must have spent a fortune for those tickets) got totally drunk, yelled boorishly the entire time, and actually broke the bench. This was unusual coming from the Notre Dame sections.

      The bigger problem is not winning. The place does get loud when things go well.

      With all that said, my aging ass will be standing and yelling most of this Saturday.

      • domer77blowsgoats - Sep 6, 2012 at 4:21 PM

        adding 20k made it less loud and put 20k people further from the field?

        so…adding 20k people resulted in a negative impact on total noise and how did adding 20k people that didnt exist before put them further from the field they were never by to begin with

        subtraction by addition, must have been a snow day and didnt feel like walking to Debartolo for class that day….

      • seadomer - Sep 6, 2012 at 4:46 PM

        Yeah .. i know its cheating a little … maybe a couple of bull horns in the student section to make up for the lower student population. I know when I was there, you got to do a presentation tomorrow, and you actually have to get some work done before dinner and drinks.

      • dickasman - Sep 6, 2012 at 5:29 PM

        That’s HOTT Berno! You might get laid this week then, I have a feelin, I’m just sayin! Have fun at the game and let’s not forget to pack the extra depends in the suitcase cuz This should be another 50-20 game…hell I might just throw one on myself.

        Gooooo Iriiiiiiiiiiiiish!

      • alsatiannd - Sep 6, 2012 at 10:33 PM

        bernhtp is completely right that more people made a quieter stadium. It’s called following the crowd and acoustics. In the small stadium the student section was a larger portion of the crowd and more influential. If a 1/3 of the place is yelling, you’ll join in and yell too. If the same size student section is in a bigger stadium, they’re a smaller portion of the crowd and their influence is gone. Now it’s the quiet sections that influence the dynamic. The middle of the roaders choose to stay quiet instead of cheer. And too, the new architecture does not focus the noise on the field like the smaller confines of the old stadium. All the people in the new upper sections can yell as loud as they want, most of the decibels are going into thin air.

    • fentocamarillo - Sep 6, 2012 at 5:20 PM

      domer77blowsgoats…I am 100% Irish fan and bleed gold and blue, but crowd noise is pathetic, with or without your addition by subtraction model. Kinda reminds me of the ‘ol backward bending supply curve taught in the Engineering auditorium. I digress, have you ever been to Michigan or Ohio State during a truly meaningful game. I am not talking about sitting on your hands in “B” box watching Wisconsin…I mean something special, like Michigan. While I loathe OSU with every breath I take, and a former walk on named Klostermann, a lesson or 2 could be learned…the Irish tailgating faithful are either too hung over to care or simply waiting for obligatory Officer McCarthy 4th quarter pun in order to wake up. You want a fun crowd that is in to each and every play and never turns on their (wretched) team, try Wake Forest. Pathetic team, great, loud fans. ND fans need/must re-take their home turf and make it once again electric. The way it used to be…anyone remember ’73 USC game?? Troy were beat before they took the field. Here’s to the second coming of Luther Bradley!!! Go Irish!

    • dickasman - Sep 6, 2012 at 5:24 PM

      I wasn’t fan of the crazy train every 5 min either but I thought they made vast improvement after that. I think they got rid of the one trick pony geezer volunteer that was handling the muzak duty. You need music through out the game to keep the crowd bouncing and excited. In the nfl, it’s the dam zombie nation song but I almost expect it when ever the tv comes back to game from commercials.

    • nudeman - Sep 6, 2012 at 5:50 PM

      Regrettably I must agree with Goat.
      While I wasn’t there last year for the USC game, those who were seemed to have almost nothing good to say about the piped in music. An Ozzy Osbourne song as the mantra. Really?

      Not going to go all Lawrence Welk on anyone here, but seriously. That’s just awful

      Give me the DJ job and I’ll have that place rockin’.

      • Jennifer - Sep 6, 2012 at 11:12 PM

        I was at that USC game and had heard piped music was being coming. I really liked it at first, but after constant play, and with ND struggling, it got a bit annoying. In retrospect, maybe it wasn’t Ozzy blaring that was bringing me down but the fact that there were four (really nice i must admit) USC fans screaming and sitting right next to me, throughout the game. ND fans were groaning with their heads in the hands. Not good Karma. And so, resurrecting my six year stint as a cheerleader, I felt duty-bound to out-shout them at every good ND down. That whole game was an emotionally exhausting experience.

  4. bjc378 - Sep 6, 2012 at 3:58 PM

    I hope Jack and the stadiums guys realize this because it was lost last season. Before kickoffs, especially the first of the game, the crowd starts with a low, “oooooooooooo” then as the kick goes off you hear the familiar, “oooooooooOOOOOOOHHHH…IIIIIIRRRRIISSSHHHH!!!!!” That is the rowdiest part of the game. I recall how pumped I used to get hearing that before big games. Last season they played music over it and it was ruined. The music is fine, but it should be stopped when the team lines up for kickoff, so the crowd can build that collective adrenaline and let the visitors know the game is on. That is intimidating.

    • dickasman - Sep 6, 2012 at 5:34 PM

      Bj, it’ll get better, don’t worry. Remember this is first time and they are all new at this, they will get better w experience like the girl u slept with in sixth grade and when you sleep with her again in high school, all of sudden you’re like, dang girl that’s the way to hit it, it should’ve been like this in the 6th grade I never woulda left ya.

  5. agoodmedium - Sep 6, 2012 at 4:03 PM

    A little off subject but none the less…. I have a wedding to attend on Sat…..BLAH!! Wondered if NBC will be broadcasting the game through android phones? Is there an app I need to download? Any help at all in this matter will forever be appreciated!

    • dickasman - Sep 6, 2012 at 5:39 PM

      I believe there is also NBC sports app you can watch all home games.

  6. glynis1979 - Sep 6, 2012 at 4:03 PM

    Domer: The problem may be all those fans were 30 or 40 back in the ’80s or ’90s. Now they’re in their late 50s or 60s (if not older). I’m not sure the university knows what type of fight it’s picking. We all seem to like being friendly to visitors and pointing them around campus. It’s difficult to ask people to be sweet one minute and pumped up the next.

    bjc: I couldn’t agree more. If we’re willing to make noise on our own, hold off on the music until we’re quiet.

  7. bearcatirishfan - Sep 6, 2012 at 4:18 PM

    Affordable and available ticket prices would be nice, I’d love to come nd yell can’t afford the $1,500 non alumni fee I have to pay just for the pleasure of buying tickets.

    • domer77blowsgoats - Sep 6, 2012 at 4:24 PM

      starting at $53 here for this weekend….

      • nudeman - Sep 6, 2012 at 11:22 PM

        Liked it better when you were gone

    • kansasirish - Sep 6, 2012 at 5:44 PM

      Bought tickets thru last week to the Pitt game. Lower level 2 sections from the tunnel close to the student section on row 20 for $73 a piece. Give it a shot.

      • seadomer - Sep 6, 2012 at 9:14 PM

        Watching Pitt right now vs cincy, umm … make sure you get there in time, game will be over midway 2nd qtr, then have lots of drinks and cheer on the 3rd string in 2nd half.

  8. irish1958 - Sep 6, 2012 at 4:27 PM

    Free beer would loosen things up a bit

    • papadec - Sep 6, 2012 at 5:31 PM

      1958 – you bet! Even inexpensive beer. I went to the Air Force game last year – we were well primed by game time. I left the game pretty hoarse, and I’d say we were pretty darn loud in the upper end zone. @ 69 years old I don’t consider myself geriatric – just slowed down a bit. I cleaned my act up quite a bit for the game – I left my Marine Corps vocabulary in the parking lot. I didn’t want to offend the women in our group with “Hit that SOB”, OR “Hit that mother f****er”. I had a great time – but the crowd wasn’t like back in the late 60’s either.

    • nudeman - Sep 6, 2012 at 9:03 PM

      now THIS is a man who understands sports
      Free beer … effing beyootiful

      • 9irish - Sep 6, 2012 at 10:07 PM

        See that’s the good thing about these Shamrock series games. Pro stadiums, and the games “at” Navy too ….the beer is a’flowing!

        It’s a fine line…I get their point but I don’t know how to do it. I try to go to one game at home a year, sometimes it doesn’t work out. But it is a little bit “stiffy”. I’ve gone occasionally when they were playing AWAY from ND….it’s fun. Easy to get a hotel, all the students are out getting tanked, it’s a different experience.

  9. surly1n1nd1anapol1s - Sep 6, 2012 at 4:33 PM

    Home crowd is a minimal cause of missing expectations these many years.

  10. jerseyshorendfan1 - Sep 6, 2012 at 4:41 PM

    Is there any way to phone it in? It gets pretty loud at my house. There should be an app for that.

    • arkirish - Sep 6, 2012 at 5:23 PM

      No doubt. It is plenty loud in my living room during game day…and occasionally vulgar.

      • papadec - Sep 6, 2012 at 5:36 PM

        ark – see my post above to 1958 – it’s very loud & often very vulgar when I’m watching the game – mostly when the defense is on the field!

    • dickasman - Sep 6, 2012 at 5:44 PM

      No but there is a tv show on MTV about it. I watch it religiously and I think it’s faf(funny as fok) but makes me ashamed to have to say that jersey shore is part of US, vomit! Jersey is worse than Gary, in. At least in Gary they shoot each other.

      • nudeman - Sep 6, 2012 at 9:06 PM

        “At least in Gary they shoot each other.”


        Hey wait a minute … do they recycle shell casings?
        I’m a bit of an environmentalist and, well you know … every little bit counts

      • dickasman - Sep 7, 2012 at 12:53 AM

        Yeah the Cops pick them up n sells it to the rappers who then promptly put it on their teeth. Environmentalist, hey? I didn’t know you were democratic gay? 😉 I am a bit of environmentalist myself but I was wondering if jersey shore recycle all the stainless steel on the dildos since they consume such high quantity of it.

  11. standingdomer - Sep 6, 2012 at 7:07 PM

    I for one couldn’t be happier to see this story posted. Glad Jack is so committed to improving the atmosphere. I rarely post (but of course read the comments here 24/7/365), but posted a reply to bern on this topic last fall. it’s not a “free to stand” section, but it’s a step in the right direction. Full disclosure, I was not yelled at to sit down during last year’s SC game, and it was awesome

    “TOTALLY feel you on this, but disagree with the conclusion.
    I am sick of getting yelled at to sit down…either on third down in the 2nd half down to USC 2 years ago or in the 2nd half of the opener this year.

    What made the drive back from Ann Arbor especially bad last month was how awesome the atmosphere was compared to ours (even taking out the jumbo-tron, music and maize pom poms or whatever they’re called). Sitting in Wolverine territory, I thought my standing would be an issue. NOPE! the old geriatrics in our section stood. and when they were tired, they sat and peered through the crowd, but were still LOUD. AND all were super good sports. when we were up, when they were up… didn’t matter. we were all excited to be there and cheering at the top of our lungs. it was always about the play on the field. raucous and decent behavior are not mutually exclusive.

    but there IS something Swarbrick can do. This may sound totally lame, but how about a ‘free to stand’ section? it could start off small. in the back row so no views are obstructed and if the experiment works, it could extend down progressively row by row. or extend from behind the student section? fans applying for tickets could check a box asking for seats in this section.

    honestly, the hassle from other fans has ruined the experience for large parts of the game. i wish i could get back into the student section and stand the whole time just to avoid the hassle of showing my support for the team.”

  12. norcalirish - Sep 6, 2012 at 8:03 PM

    domer77blowsgoats is right on with his post about pretending. The music is dumb and all of our gimmicks of late just make us look like the creepy 20something dude at the high school prom: trying too hard.

  13. irisheyesnate - Sep 6, 2012 at 8:47 PM

    It’s crazy.
    I have sat in both end zones last yr.
    The south end zone is dead!!
    The north is a fricken party the entire time.
    And let’s face it the fifty yrd line is where it’s at! Every yr I sit in each end zone and a couple at the fifty.
    It just seems like old people get the south end zone.
    The only time noise is made is when the visitor scores.

    I will make a staND this weekend against purdue!!

    GO IRISH!!!!!!!

    • kansasirish - Sep 6, 2012 at 11:12 PM

      Sweet! Can’t wait for the party in the north endzone on Nov. 3rd for the Pitt game!!! They look terrible tonight.

      GO IRISH!!!!!

  14. loadofwash - Sep 6, 2012 at 10:28 PM

    Ha ha and then some. When I was at ND I thought it was a high school game or something. Don’t they have a weight room. Really.

  15. glowplugv - Sep 6, 2012 at 10:41 PM

    I’m one of the “geriatric” alums from the ’66-’70 era. I can make noise just as easily sitting down as standing up. I don’t recall the whole stadium standing during the ’66 season, but the team still won. Yes, ND supporters in the stands should make noise but when it come right down to it, shouldn’t the team take care of business? I’ll tell you what, if you want to keep a crowd riled up, get a Jumbotron (use it wisely) and show the missed calls, near misses, and big hits during the TV time out or between plays and you might continue to keep folks loud and noisy in their seats. People forget that Rockne was a showman and if there are changes in the stadium to showcase his team and make the fans more interested he would be all over it. So lets stop using “tradition” to stop progress in providing a safe field and better involvement of the fans.

  16. loadofwash - Sep 6, 2012 at 10:42 PM

    Me thinks they need to do something about the product on the field first. Baby steps Bob.

  17. dbldmr - Sep 7, 2012 at 8:18 AM

    The biggest difference between the “good old days” and now is the television. Now we have everlasting TV timeouts. ND intercepts a pass…and we go to break. The stadium crowd is entertained by an engineering professor being honored for his work. The commercials end…and the crowd is politely seated. JUMBOTRON!!!!

  18. ndsugarsand - Sep 7, 2012 at 10:37 AM

    Sitting and cheering are NOT mutually exclusive activities. Has anyone ever been to a hockey game?
    For an institution that prides itself on individuality both on and off the field, I cannot for the life of me understand an initiative that further incites bad behavior and continues to pander to the lowest common denominator. (Poorly executed music, the Shamrock unis)
    I find it curious that there have been numerous University ticket sales this fall and the students did not take their allotment of tickets. It is not just the economy or the unique road trips this year that caused this.
    Condoning someone’s desire to stand thus blocking the view of others is just all kinds of inconsiderate. I don’t go to the theater and blind fold myself. Apparently the University has adopted the “Me first” mentality as well. I feel for the ushers as I think it will be a long day for them.
    On a positive note, it will be a teaching opportunity for me to explain to my ten year old why it’s inappropriate for a stranger to tell others to F off because they are unable to see the game and why we should be considerate of those around us. Go Irish!

    • 9irish - Sep 8, 2012 at 4:24 AM

      Well, there’s a rock concert and there’s an opera…take your pick. I think of football games as rock concerts. You can maintain sanity without everyone feeling like their grandparents are waiting for them in the Assistant Principal’s office.

      • ndsugarsand - Sep 8, 2012 at 8:04 AM

        Try using earplugs at your next rock concert and see how well you enjoy it. Football games are visual events. Are you unable to sit and allow others to see the field and still cheer? Next time you you don’t feel like sitting try kneeling….that’s pretty much the same view for those that are behind the standers. While you are at it you might want to ask for the grace of God that you get to the age where sitting is better.

  19. loadofwash - Sep 7, 2012 at 10:12 PM

    Baby steps would tell us to find a quarterback with a backbone first. The criminals can follow.

  20. cfcsman - Sep 7, 2012 at 10:12 PM

    Let’s face it “sitters” or “standers” – be you rich or poor, young or old, active or passive Notre Dame football supporters – since the ascension of NBC-TV and BCS subsidization “money changers” into Notre Dame’s mythical “temple of independence – there has not been a great deal to stand and cheer for. – With for what amounts to a dismal home and “away” home game record since the early ’90s; for the mediocrity in performance shown by a once great football institution whose teams now make brief appearances between momentum killing TV commercials; for the seemingly lack of offensive and defensive incentive “to win” suspiciously inspired by the yearly guarantee of millions of dollars heaped upon Notre Dame in payment for the prostitution of their vaunted “tradition”; and, finally for the “independence bred arrogance” of their administrative leadership, athletic department lack of vision, and wealthy “Eastern Seaboard” fan base; it has become all too easy for us old “gas passers” to whine and moan at the games. – Personally, this old “gas passer” has retired from the monotony of “TV time out whistles” and loud music and cussing.- I’ve retired to the sanctity of my “family room” where I can exercise my right to an occasional beer during the interminable commercials. – God Forbid that I might become an alcoholic by their frequency; therefore, I occasionally switch to the Golf Channel. – Now, before you can say “good riddance”, I will leave you, only to pray that tomorrow’s game ends sometime before my 9:30 bedtime.

  21. loadofwash - Sep 7, 2012 at 10:16 PM

    What a gas bag, did anybody really read all that crap?

  22. exile69 - Sep 8, 2012 at 10:31 AM

    Being an Irish fan in the UK, I have problems even watching the games here, let alone making enough noise for you guys to hear me all the way from South Bend (My neighbours might say otherwise LOL).
    If I can ever make it to a home game I promise I’ll make enough noise for the whole stadium :)
    Until then I’ll wait for you all to make the trip to Ireland again, so far I have been lucky enough to have attend both games (‘1996’ and ‘2012’) and have the t-shirt to prove it LOL).
    ‘Go Irish’

  23. ndsugarsand - Sep 9, 2012 at 2:31 PM

    I don’t think ND intended for the crowd to stand and boo one of their own at home. But when you encourage inconsiderate behavior this is what you get. What’s next, throwing trash at the clergy?

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