In case you are unaware, the “Green Out” or the “Irish Wear Green” campaign is the University attempting to get fans to wear green in large numbers to the season opener against Michigan.
“We are listening to what our students wanted,” Brian Kelly said earlier this month. “ It started back in April with our shirt. As you know, the shirt is green,” he added. “They wanted that to be emblematic of a color that was outside maybe our opponents at home, and so we’ve taken that, we’ve listened to their wants and desires to be unified in that stadium with a color, and obviously the green is the one that they have chosen.”
This isn’t the first time Notre Dame has attempted this spectacle. Just five years ago an attempt for a “Green Out” against Oklahoma was a total failure. But under new circumstances, will this year’s “Green Out” of South Bend be a success? Notre Dame has their work cut out for them.
Significance of this Matchup
When the Fighting Irish and Wolverines clash, it will have major College Football Playoff implications. Both teams are ranked in the top 15, and since these programs haven’t squared off in four years, the anticipation has caught the eye of College GameDay. The entire crew will be returning to South Bend for the first time since 2012.
The last time that Jim Harbaugh or the Michigan Wolverines won in South Bend was back in 2010. During that meeting, the Wolverines were coached by Rich Rodriguez. Conversely, Jim Harbaugh was coaching a Stanford Cardinal team led by Andrew Luck, that left South Bend with a 37 to 14 victory.
Under Jim Harbaugh Michigan is a paltry 1-5 against their 2 main rivals Michigan State and Ohio State. Harbaugh gets his first taste of the Michigan Notre Dame Rivalry in week one. The biggest storyline of this game will be Michigan’s new transfer quarterback Shea Patterson, who has been hyped up the entire offseason. Experts say that he is the missing piece that Michigan has desperately needed the past few years.
Many believe this is the year that the Wolverines will make the playoffs, and lots of experts have picked Michigan in this matchup. The key advantage for the Irish will be playing in their home, the house that Rockne built. Perhaps the “Green Out”, if successful, will give the Irish a mental edge.
Oklahoma at Notre Dame 2013 Failure
After Oklahoma fans striped out Notre Dame in 2012 with Red and White checkered stripes, the Notre Dame fans responded with a “Green Out” of their own when the Sooners came to visit in 2013. Instead of a stadium full of green shirts, the stands were filled with navy, white, grey, gold, and every color of merchandise available. Oh yeah, there was a healthy bit of Sooner Red as well. The build up for this event only took place a few weeks prior, and never fully reached the masses.
Will the Irish wear green jerseys?
According to Brian Kelly, Notre Dame will be wearing their traditional Home Blue Jerseys. “I have not made a decision on that. My sense is, there’s going to be plenty of green in that stadium. Our home jerseys are blue. I love that tradition,” Kelly said at his opening presser for fall camp.”
He did leave a little wiggle room though. “Unless something happens drastically in my thought process, you know, we’ll wear our traditional blue coming into that game.”
So you’re telling me there’s a chance?
If they do wear green, it wouldn’t be the first time they did it as a surprise. In 1977, the Irish warmed up in their traditional uniforms, but went into the locker room to find green jerseys awaiting them. After players ran onto the field, Notre Dame Stadium went berserk and the rest is history. The same occurred in 2005 for the USC game when the Irish warmed up in blue but came out in their hunter green jerseys.
Although Brian Kelly has denied rumors, wearing green jerseys is something that is supposed to be a surprise, not something that a coach announces 50 days before a big game. Green Jerseys are something that the coach shocks the players with right before the game. Still, the odds of this happening at least appear low at the moment.
For the full effect, Notre Dame would need to come out wearing green jerseys after they went through warmups in the traditional navy jerseys.
Color Outs the Irish have Faced
The Fighting Irish have been the road team for several of these Color Outs, which present an astonishing visual appearance and hostile environment.
- Penn State Nittany Lions: White Out (2007)
- Oklahoma Sooners: Red and White Stripe Out (2012)
- Michigan Wolverines: Yellow Out (2011 and 2013)
- Michigan State Spartans: Green and White Stripe Out (2017)
Unfortunately it’s easier for these schools to support a Color Out, because they don’t have nearly as much colors associated with their athletic teams.
Marketing the “Green Out”
In order for this project to work, Notre Dame will need to do more than social media marketing. I have no doubt in my mind that everyone who is on social media is aware of Notre Dame’s efforts. However, there is a large group of older fans that may never see this message, and even if they do, would not be persuaded on supporting the cause.
— Notre Dame Football (@NDFootball) August 1, 2018
Notre Dame could market the “Green Out” on their tickets which would be a great way to guarantee all the fans were informed, but that ship has likely sailed. Perhaps the University could give the fans green t-shirts, but that would be costly. Maybe Notre Dame will provide towels (ND USC 2011) or pom-poms (ND BC 2011). That might be a more realistic option, but that campaign would likely need a sponsor.
Will it Work?
This remains to be seen. The movement has been going on for several months and has gained the support of everyone associated with the football team. However, the “Green Out” is dependent on two factors. First, have Notre Dame fans sold their tickets like they did last year against Georgia? Secondly, has the University marketed the event in a way that reaches the entire Notre Dame fan base?
I believe that we will see a majority of the Irish fans in the stands sporting green – easily more than 2013 when Notre Dame barely marketed the effort. How much Notre Dame Navy (white, grey, gold) and Michigan Blue will be in the stands? We’ll find out soon!
Notre Dame has never pulled off a green out. If this endeavor works, it’ll be the first time and it could give the Notre Dame players an added mental edge. At the same time, if the “Green Out” fails, that edge could be headed Michigan’s way.If it doesn’t work, it’s also very likely that such efforts won’t ever work for Notre Dame unless they go all in.