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Kelly hints at changes to stadium, playing field

May 19, 2014, 12:14 PM EDT


With graduation weekend behind us, the installation of FieldTurf in Notre Dame Stadium will begin imminently. The stadium’s natural grass will be ripped out on Tuesday, and Irish fans have the chance to buy their own slice of Notre Dame Stadium with a five-foot-by-two-foot roll of grass shipped out and arriving at your home by Friday.

With the turf on its way in, Brian Kelly was asked about what to expect on the actual field when it’s complete. While Notre Dame will stick with its traditional hash marks in the end zone, Kelly hinted that things might be spiced up on the field.

Pete Sampson at Irish Illustrated reports Kelly talked about putting an interlocking ND at midfield and shamrocks at both kickoff markers. More radically, during the redesign of the stadium, Kelly discussed cutting out a portion from the north end zone to make the library’s Touchdown Jesus mural more visible from inside the stadium, while also potentially serving as a much-needed stadium concourse.

As it happens with just about every change to Notre Dame, and especially the House that Rock build, those changes have some traditionalists worried. But former All-American Jerome Bettis talked about the changes coming, and how they’re needed.

Eric Hansen of the South Bend Tribune got Bettis’ take on the upgrades.

“It’s inevitable,” Bettis said. “We want things to stay the same, but, unfortunately, the dynamics of college athletics has changed. And so we’ve got to kind of level the playing field. Right now we’re behind the curve.

“Usually, your tradition is a benefit. But in our particular situation, it’s a crutch, because the kids who are coming out of high school now haven’t seen Notre Dame in its truest luster and in its moment.

“It hadn’t been relevant in so many years, that these kids weren’t born the last time Notre Dame was vying for a national championship outside of the last couple of years. So you have to do something to change the mind-set of the 17-year-old kid who wants to go to one of these SEC schools or wants to go to a Pac-12 school or something like that.

“Obviously, it’s going to rub some people the wrong way, but I think it’s necessary. If they love the university, like we all do, they should understand that it’s time to grow and build. I think this is the right thing to do.”

Kelly hinted at “information boards” coming to the stadium as well, an unofficial and not surprising hint that video boards are coming sooner than later. All these changes that will begin to update both the stadium and the university, as the new Campus Crossroads transformation begins.


  1. jerseyshorendfan1 - May 19, 2014 at 1:28 PM

    Oh the times, they are a-changin. What’s the old stadium grass selling for? I have a patch of lawn where nothing will grow. Maybe a little divine intervention is in order. Nah, on second thought, that field looked crappier than my lawn last time I saw it.

    • idratherbeinsouthbend - May 19, 2014 at 3:37 PM

      $149 for 10 square feet

    • papadec - May 19, 2014 at 4:16 PM

      The grass in the end zones & red zones are hardly touched – so not too bad.

  2. mediocrebob - May 19, 2014 at 2:16 PM

    Have to say if BK is accurate, I love it all. Just my opinion once again but change is happening whether we like it or not. And if there’s change, make it for the better and catch up to others. And fortunately I think that the people making the decisions all understand that it can be both ways. Classy and up to date.

    Go Irish. Beat everyone.

    • ibleedirish - May 19, 2014 at 3:07 PM

      Count me as those who agree. I love traditions, and all of the important ones are still intact. I can’t for the life of me understand all the negativity towards these changes. Clinging to the past like some broken down curmudgeon is decidedly UN-Notre Dame.

      The most important traditions to me? Notre Dame being an innovator on and off the field. Notre Dame setting the standard for excellence is all aspects. Kicking ass, taking names and doing it the right way. So instead of “catch up to others” how about really sticking with an ND tradition and SURPASS others?

      • mediocrebob - May 19, 2014 at 4:53 PM

        Agreed. That sounds a lot better.

    • ndgoldandblue - May 19, 2014 at 4:35 PM

      Yep. Agreeance. Just don’t try to tell our friends over at Rock’s House that these changes are a good idea. I’ll bet Bettis’ comments resulted in him getting ridiculed and labeled as a traitor by those doomsdayers.

      • sjb198 - May 19, 2014 at 9:12 PM

        Ah yes, Rock’s House. Incessant whining by pretentious windbags.

  3. rambler09 - May 19, 2014 at 2:41 PM

    *Ahem*, I believe it’s called the Word of Life Mural.

    • papadec - May 19, 2014 at 4:19 PM

      Except on game day – then it’s Touchdown Jesus.

  4. sullivan1009 - May 19, 2014 at 2:43 PM

    If you’re going to put logos on the field, then change the endzones too. Keeping the traditional diagonal lines in the endzones, but updating the rest of the field doesn’t make sense to me.

  5. irishwilliamsport - May 19, 2014 at 4:15 PM

    Thank goodness, ND had the worst turf in all of major college football. Now they can practice in there during the week and really get used to being in the stadium. Bravo.

    • mcirish27 - May 19, 2014 at 4:20 PM

      That’s an aspect to this that is really not talked about enough. Practice IN the stadium – know that field better than any other practice field and give yourselves a true home field advantage every Saturday.

  6. zygiwilfsmenorah - May 19, 2014 at 6:37 PM

    This is dumb. Watch the clip from the “Rudy Game” and remember: Notre Dame used to have its name in the endzone. Not hash marks. This is not new and has been done before- just as there were logos on the helmets. Had this NEVER happened before, I could maybe empathize a tiny bit, but it has changed before and will again.

  7. onward2victory - May 19, 2014 at 7:25 PM

    Who are these “traditionalist opposing fans” that keep getting mentioned. I have yet to see or hear of anyone who is really opposed to getting field turf. Seems to me that everyone agrees that changes are necessary and welcomed. Are there really people out there who are opposed to these changes or have we just assumed they are out there and made them up in our minds?? My assumption is that if they are out there and making a fuss about this, then they are probably a very small minority of the fan base as a whole, although probably a very vocal minority.

    • notredameirish1980 - May 20, 2014 at 6:00 AM

      And probably $$$$$$.

    • ibleedirish - May 20, 2014 at 10:07 AM

      Glad you haven’t heard or witnessed any of the hand-wringing. Those of us who spend admittedly too much time on other sites have encountered a lot of it. I’m personally really excited about these changes.
      It seems to me that finally we have an AD and coach that really get Notre Dame. The tradition that matters is dominance. In all arenas. Not some dusty corridors or horrible field. I was particularly impressed with the Under Armor deal as an example. Not because of flashy uniforms, but because Notre Dame pulled off something that’s never been done before, just like they have traditionally (NBC deal, remaining independent, telling the BIG Ten to shove it etc). They got Under Armor to pay an absurd amount of money to be able to develop future products in cooperation with ND athletics, and then ND said “oh, by the way, we now own a large part of your company.” That is flat-out gangsta. In a good way. We need more of these types of changes, not less. Swarbrick/Kelly are laying the foundation for years of future success, rather than just making a splash here and there with a five star recruit (not saying we don’t need more of these).

      • ibleedirish - May 20, 2014 at 10:09 AM


  8. standingdomer - May 19, 2014 at 8:10 PM

    i am all for field turf, video boards and some logos/branding on the field. I think selling grass is stupid – queue the dickasman joke here – but seriously… it’ll just wither into a patch of dirt just like it did when in the field. I don’t care for the extra long commercial breaks during telecasts, but at least some of that is going towards scholarships to help lure the best and brightest to attend. but selling the turf is just plain stupid.

    • 1historian - May 20, 2014 at 12:46 PM

      Disagree – I think it would be stupid if they DIDN’T sell it – it’s a no-brainer. On the day it was announced that they’re changing I posted that it would be stupid if ND didn’t make some bux – LOTS of bux by selling off the turf piece by piece.

      Nobody is being forced to buy the stuff but it would be cool to have something like that.

      • ibleedirish - May 20, 2014 at 1:43 PM

        Exactly. Hey standingdomer, how many times would you turn down a million easy dollars?

      • papadec - May 20, 2014 at 5:34 PM

        Screw my kids inheritance – I want a big enough piece to cover my grave.

      • standingdomer - May 20, 2014 at 11:23 PM

        the endowment stands at ~$7 billion. so… $1m is 1/7,000… a drop in the bucket. Our Lady stands for more than money and a quick buck, no? but yes, fools and their money are soon parted

  9. fnc111 - May 19, 2014 at 8:44 PM

    What’s with all the thumbs down on sullivan? I hate the dash marks in the end zone too. Fill the end zones in like they do for the Rose Bowl game. At least they’re getting it half right with the logo at midfield. I can’t wait for the Rice game. The field turf is going to look great.

  10. lightskin350 - May 20, 2014 at 12:47 AM

    Its not 1980 anymore. This field has needed a update for way over a decade. Bettis is 100% correct, these kids don’t care what we did 30 years ago.

  11. yaketyyacc - May 20, 2014 at 6:17 AM

    Imagine, if we still played at Cartier field. while the changes are great, still, I’m for a whole “new” stadium ala Jerry Jones.

  12. buckynd13 - May 20, 2014 at 6:19 AM

    Maybe I’ll buy some grass, grow tomatoes on it. I’ll have three types, the Lou’s which would be smaller but packing a punch of flavor, the classic Knutes which would the gold standard red, sweet and juicy, and of course a Charlie style, big and round but lacking color and taste…LOL.

  13. knuterocknesghost - May 20, 2014 at 8:21 AM

    Apparently the original stickler for tradition when it came to turf was Knute.

    Per a recent Notre Dame Magazine article, when ND stadium was being completed for the 1930 season, he had the turf stripped from Cartier Field and installed as the turf for what was then the new ND stadium.

  14. knuterocknesghost - May 20, 2014 at 8:24 AM


    Number of ND players drafted into the NFL after BK’s first season? One. Kyle Rudolph who left early.

    Number of ND players drafted into the NFL after BK’s second season? Four, including first round picks Michael Floyd and Harrison Smith.

    Number of ND players drafted into the NFL after BK’s third season? Six, including first rounder Tyler Eifert.

    Number of ND players drafted into the NFL after BK’s fourth season? Eight, including first rounder Zack Martin.

    The eight picks also marked the most in a single draft for the Irish in 20 years, as they had 10 draftees in 1994. If not for his head injury, Danny Spond likely would have made it 9 draftees this year.

    Per recent article I spotted – here’s what the reporter found out what it means to beat the rest in the recruiting game:

    Seven of the past 12 teams to finish No. 1 in’s rankings played for the national title within three years, and seven won the title. The only Rivals No. 1s not to play for the title within three years were USC in 2006 and 2010. Alabama is still within a three-year window from its No. 1 recruiting ranking in 2013.

  15. irishwilliamsport - May 20, 2014 at 8:57 AM

    Keep in mind that all those players were recruited by Charlie Weiss not BK except Tuitt and Niklas. The cupboard is kind of bare for the 2015 draft and that’s kind of scary when you think about it.

    • shaunodame - May 20, 2014 at 7:31 PM

      It’s not who buys the groceries that matters, it’s who cooks the meal.

      Charlie may have recruited most of these guys, but make no mistake, it was Kelly and co. who grew them into NFL caliber players.

      • knuterocknesghost - May 20, 2014 at 7:41 PM

        Shaundame…. my exact point.

    • knuterocknesghost - May 20, 2014 at 7:32 PM


      You miss the point. The cupboard was bear with Charlie Weis and that meant that fewer players were drafted into the NFL early in BK’s tenure as head coach at ND. The further on we go into his time as head coach, more players are being drafted by the NFL, which means the BK has tooled up the pipeline signficantly from what it had been under Charlie.

      • knuterocknesghost - May 20, 2014 at 7:40 PM

        I need to add a word about my use of the word “pipeline”. By pipeline I mean the pipeline into the NFL, which if the trend continues is a recruiting plus for BK and ND.

        Notice the difference in coaching talent, not recruiting talent. Charlie did recruit a lot of talented players, but did that talent grow to be come skilled enough to be considered for the NFL draft?

        Kelly took what Charlie brought in, but improved the performance of the players. We can credit Charlie for bringing these kids to ND, but the credit for the growing number of NFL draftees before we get to BK’s seniors is owed to BK and his staff.

  16. getsome99 - May 20, 2014 at 8:42 PM

    I too would like to hear some facts to support these libelous claims that Neal was kicked out of school or off the team.

  17. jem5b - May 20, 2014 at 8:55 PM


  18. irishdog80 - May 21, 2014 at 12:25 AM

    I have to admit that I had been brainwashed into thinking that the field always had diagonal lines in the end zone despite having attended dozens of ND games going back to the ’70s. Based on some comments above, I took a look at the tape for the ’77 Green Jersey Game against USC:

    I was at the game and my mind’s memory had filled the end zone with diagonal lines due to the “traditionalist” brainwashing we have all undergone to varying degrees. Take a look at the end zone and you will see Fighting Irish with a painted Leprechaun.

    Bottom line, I trust Kelly and Swarbrick to do the right thing with the field. Paint a big Shamrock or ND Monogram in the field. I no longer care. I just want to see crowds as fired up as the one for the ’77 USC game. I will draw the line at sponsors names on the field of play. I recommend that everyone watch the telecast a bit, if you haven’t before…it is awesome. One of the greatest games ever at the Stadium.

  19. irishwilliamsport - May 21, 2014 at 11:01 AM


    My point is to look at the 2014 seniors, there does not look to be a first rounder there, they look to be later round guys. Daniels, Koyack, Ishaq, McDaniel, Lombard, Brindza ? Russell if he leaves early ? They were all BK recruits that he’s had 4 years to develop.

    The big question for 2015 is how many of the 15 eligible Seniors get offered a 5th year.

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