After seeing Notre Dame unveil the Yankee-themed football uniform that they’ll wear for the ‘Shamrock Series’ game at Yankee Stadium November 17th against Syracuse, I got to thinking: “When has Notre Dame gotten it right and when have they gotten it wrong with their uniform?” So, I decided to rank some of the best and worst alternative uniforms Notre Dame has sported over the past 20 years, IMHO.
First is the base uniform – Navy jersey, white numbers (gold outline), gold pants with gold helmet. This is tradition – it’s the sport coat and khakis’ of college football. They’ve made some minor alterations over the years, like replacing the numbers on the sleeves with interlocking “ND,” but overall the design hasn’t changed much; they’ve been wearing Navy for 99 years.
(kinda similar right?)
Let’s start with my top three favorite Notre Dame Uniforms…
#3 – 2013 vs Arizona State (at Arlington, TX), ‘Shamrock Series’
Adidas went all-shamrock for Notre Dame here. Shamrocks on the helmet, the sleeve, the pants… everywhere shamrocks. Notre Dame had worn gold pants for over a century, and this was the first game that they did not, and instead wore white. I loved the white-on-white uniform they wore here: the gold shiny helmet with the gold shamrock and the gold numbers with green outline on the jersey with that neat font were very nice all around. However, I wasn’t a fan of the green cleats, green socks and green facemask on the Irish. I guess any other color would have looked just as odd, so tough call for me not to have this at #2. Irish would beat the Sun Devils 37-34.
#2 – 2012 vs Miami (at Chicago), ‘Shamrock Series’
I really thought I was going to hate these, but they are so original and cool that I can’t get enough of them. The jersey itself is very original: the font used for “Irish” and for the player numbers are unique. Now let’s talk about that helmet – the two-thirds reflective gold with the last 3rd of the helmet being navy and with the fighting Irishman logo. So very different. My only pain point on this uniform are the pants. The massive stripe down the side of the left leg (that’s right a stripe down only one leg) looks as though someone took a massive navy paint roller and just rolled up and down the leg – that’s ugly and keeps this uniform from my top spot. Irish would win 41-7.
#1 – 2011 vs Michigan, ‘Under the lights’
This uniform was an entirely new design, including the helmet, which hadn’t been touched since 1963 (they had numbers on the helmets that year). While they were at Michigan and lost to a much uglier looking Michigan uniform, the Irish and Adidas really won me over with the shamrock decal on the helmet and the white uniform with the shoulder stripes and the kelly green numbers. Looked classic, yet new. Very refreshing look for the Irish. here. Frustrating loss for the Irish against Michigan 35-31.
2011 vs USC, ‘Under the Gold’
Notre Dame updates their “old gold” helmet with the shiny gold. At first, I didn’t like the look, but the nearly reflective gold grew on me quickly. Very much a fresh look and one that became permanent for the Irish from then on. The Irish lost this game.
Now lets shame the Fighting Irish with the three worst uniforms:
#3 – 2016 vs Army, (at San Antonio, TX) ‘Shamrock Series’
I really thought something was wrong with my TV when I saw these. The off-color green/gold looked like some equipment manager messed up the washing of the uniforms. Just gross looking all around.
#2 – 2015 vs Boston College, (at Fenway Park) ‘Shamrock Series’
Oh boy, this one made me really question our place in this world. Under Armour took a lot of liberties with this uniform: the all-green color, the emphasis on the Fighting Irishman logo, specifically his head (on the helmet) was ugly, along with the navy and green split facemask. And what’s with the navy and gold stripe along the front of the pants? The only thing that keeps this from being the worst uniform design I’ve seen is the fact that Under Armour gave Boston College a really nice retro look that was very tasteful in my opinion. The Irish would win this game 19-16.
#1 – 2018 vs Syracuse, (at Yankee Stadium) ‘Shamrock Series’
Where to begin with this monstrosity… Ditching the Gold Helmets, the pinstripe pants, it all just reeks of “Look at me! Look at me!”. It’s one thing for the Fighting Irish to play at Yankee Stadium (which they’ve done 22 times at the old, 3 times at the new Yankee Stadium), it’s another to BECOME the Yankees with an ND logo on the helmet. This just confirms the age-old American sports fan stereotype that fans of Notre Dame are ‘always’ fans of the Yankees. Oh, and why not just upset all the Irish fans in Boston and Chicago while you’re at it, Yankees and Notre Dame? Disgusting.
Notre Dame has tried to spice up their brand and their look to draw attention — sometimes it was refreshing, other times it was laughable — but in all, they’ve always grabbed headlines and drawn attention from college football fans.