Tradition means a lot more when you’re winning

Published 8:22 am Tuesday, August 21, 2012

As an alumnus of the University of Notre Dame, I have learned to live and die with the school’s football team. Although my beloved Irish have not won a national title since 1988, and haven’t realistically competed for one since 1993, I have continued to support them through thick and thin.

However, the football program recently made a move that is very difficult to support. In this year’s game against Miami, Fla., which is being held in Chicago, Ill. (of course), the Irish will be sporting a new uniform look that can only be described in one word — unholy.

The shirts aren’t that bad. Although the traditional block numbers have been replaced by a more rounded font, and the word “IRISH” is now on the front collar, at least they still somewhat resemble a football uniform.

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The helmets, though, bring to mind that classic phrase: “What in the world were they thinking?”

The beautiful golden helmet has been replaced by a garish monstrosity. One half is blue, one half is gold, and on the blue half (and only the blue half) is a bizarre white “fighting leprechaun” logo that obnoxiously covers nearly the entire side of the helmet.

Now, strange uniform choices are nothing new under the sun. The University of Oregon has practically made a name by its odd color choices, ranging from day-glo yellow to black with silver, unreadable numbers. Even the University of Georgia has turned some heads with its alternate uniforms in the past years.

Even so, I thought that my alma mater and its football program were above this sort of thing. I can’t imagine the University of Alabama wearing a white-and-red helmet with a goofy elephant on the side. Of course, Alabama has won two national titles in the last three years and is one of the most popular football brands in the country right now. They don’t need to stoop to tricks like that just to sell more merchandise.

There are a lot of Notre Dame fans who claim that these uniform tricks are designed to rein in younger recruits, who are drawn to the flashy styles of schools like Oregon and Boise State. Pardon me if I think that a winning football program might draw more recruits than a “modern, edgy” uniform ever would.

I realize that very few Southern football fans enjoy reading about Notre Dame, but I brought up this idea for a reason. I can see a similarity between the conservative, Bible-believing, tradition filled values of the South.

Our part of the United States has always prided itself on a respect for God, country, and family. There are many who look at the South with disdain, thinking that we are “backwards” or stuck in the 20th century, and they intend to change our values. I hope that we are willing to take a stand for what we believe in, even if people tell us that our ideals are behind the times.

Otherwise, we might suddenly wake up one day with an ugly helmet on our heads.

Justin Schuver is the managing editor of The Post-Searchlight. You can email him at