For the second time this season, Notre Dame is calling for a “Green Out” of Notre Dame Stadium this weekend when #7 Cincinnati comes to town. Two weeks ago, Notre Dame did the same for the Purdue game with okay results. If Notre Dame really wants to push for these green outs though, they need to go all in to have the desired effect.
Some will argue that Notre Dame shouldn’t push things like the green out. I am not one of those people. For the games that it’s worked well, it’s helped create a better atmosphere and given the feel of more of a home-field advantage. There is just something a little more intimidating about a loud crowd, all in the same color, screaming and yelling. It’s why so many other programs do it too. You want to do everything you can to enhance your homefield advantage.
Some of you may disagree with that, and that’s okay. If you do disagree, though, then the rest of this column probably ain’t for you.
Notre Dame has had some varying levels of success with “green out” games before. In 2013, Notre Dame called for one against Oklahoma, and no one would have noticed if you didn’t know one was happening. Since then, the University has done more to push the “green out,” and there’s been more success with it even though Notre Dame Stadium is still a far cry from places like Penn State when they call for a “white-out.”
Part of the challenge for Notre Dame in the past with green outs is the wide array of colors that Notre Dame merchandise is widely available in. White, grey, green, gold, and navy are all almost equally available, and thus the stadium usually looks like a mix of them all. Notre Dame hasn’t really pushed for an “official” gameday color in the past, and we all know there will always be an abundance of color options for Notre Dame merchandise because… well, money.
Another part of the challenge in generating the desired effect is there is still a good-sized portion of the fan base stuck in the 1960s who are of the mindset of such efforts being gimmicky or small timey. “We never had to do that when Ara was here, and he won titles” are the kind of retorts that portion of the fan base will quip. Good luck ever getting them to come around to participating. This weekend it’ll probably be a toss-up for which they will be more upset about – Brian Kelly’s recent record for all-time wins or the green-out attempt.
If Notre Dame can get past the fact that some just never will participate, there are still things that Notre Dame can do to facilitate more participation.
For one, having “The Shirt” be green every year if there will be multiple green outs a year seems obvious. Of course, having the same color every year might not be the best for sales of “The Shirt,” but there are things other than color already impacting the sales of the shirt each year – like the crazy graphics on the back every year. Still, if you want to do a green out every year and ever have an official gameday shirt that isn’t green, well, what are you doing?
Handing out green towels also seems like an obvious and relatively cheap way to create more of a “green” effect and adds just a bit to the intimidation factor of the crowd when they are really making noise. Notre Dame did this for the 2018 Michigan game, and that crowd was electric that night.
There is also the real all-in option of actually handing out free green shirts for official green outs. NBA and NHL teams do this regularly. At one point, I had like four or five bright orange free Flyers shirts from their run through the 2010 playoffs and some white ones from Sixers playoff games years ago. Those stadiums only have to have ~20,000 or so shirts to hand out, though, not 80,000. Still, if Notre Dame wanted to, they could get someone to sponsor a t-shirt and just slap their logo on it somewhere to offset the cost.
Relying solely on social media pushes and messaging won’t reach a segment of the fanbase that will be in attendance Saturday and for future green outs. If you’re reading this, you’re likely a fanatic like us and already know about the green out. You might not like it or agree, but you know about it. There will be a lot of fans who will be in attendance Saturday who will find out about it when they get to campus. Putting a simple “wear green” message on the tickets for games a green out is planned seems like a no-brainer.
The weather plays a role in all of this too. This is about as late in the season as you can reasonably plan for a green out because once it gets a little colder and people have to wear jackets or sweatshirts, it becomes pointless even to attempt one.
Perhaps the thing Notre Dame needs to do the most to be all-in on the green out, though, is just be persistent. For years, there was no “official” color on gameday for Notre Dame, and you could always go to the bookstore and find an array of options in five or six colors. That’s years and years of behavior to overcome that won’t happen overnight.
Oh, and if you are wondering why I haven’t mentioned green jerseys yet, those I don’t think need to be brought out for a green out game. Too many times, the alternate jerseys for the home team only end up just motivating the visitor.
Whether or not it works this weekend, or not will be interesting. This one felt a bit last minute compared to previous planned green outs like Michigan 2018 and USC 2019. The fact that the University is pushing a second one makes it obvious that they won’t be going away anytime soon. So if they aren’t going away, why not just go all-in at this point?