Notre Dame football claims 11 national championships over the course of its illustrious history. The sins of the new Adidas Jerseys the Irish unveiled on Thursday for their Oct. 6 game against Miami threaten to nullify each and every one of them.
Here they are now, lining up one-by-one to turn in their titles on the desk of athletic director Jack Swarbrick, Rudy-style:
1. Words on the jersey. Outlined against the navy blue TechFit™ mesh, there is emblazoned the word "Irish." This is not only a break with traditional austerity, but also clearly intended to mock the famed "Four Horsemen," at least three of whom were probably illiterate. 1924 forfeits its title.
2. One half of the helmet is a disco ball. For years, Notre Dame helmets have sparkled with actual gold flakes. Finally, they can also serve as the perfect dance floor accompaniment to "Dance, Dance, Dance (Yowsah, Yowsah, Yowsah)." 1977 forfeits its title.
3. Billboard Effect. This is not only true of these particular monstrosities. But between the shoes, socks, pants, gloves, armbands, jerseys, base layers, chinstraps and lord knows what else, every single player is pockmarked by at least a dozen Adidas logos, each of them a callous reminder of corporate excess as a beleaguered nation struggles to recover from economic calamity. 1929 forfeits its title.
4. Numbers on the "Base Layer." In fact, venerated coach Frank Leahy and Heisman winner Angelo Bertelli object to the very concept of a visible "base layer" as an extravagant waste of fabric for a nation at war. Whatever happened to the well-ventilated potato sack? 1943 forfeits its title.
5. The other side of the helmet is a distractingly outsized logo. They did this last year, when they put a gigantic shamrock on the helmets for games against Michigan and Maryland, and everybody was like "Mmmm, okay," because there was some obscure precedent for giant shamrocks on the helmets back in nineteen-whatever. Little did we know then that they were only preparing the ground for the emergence of this colossal, monochromatic leprechaun thing standing astride the cranium, openly threatening to engage the entire viewing audience in primitive, bare-knuckle fisticuffs with its freakish orangutan arms. This is unprecedented.
Besides that, the all-white presentation is visually confusing – the Leprechaun's suit is traditionally, you know, green – ensuring that at least half of America will spend the first three quarters of the broadcast squinting at the television, asking repeatedly, "What is that?" 1946 forfeits its title.
6. Wait, the helmet is two different colors? I dunno, man, it's like some sort of Cubist, Harvey Dent thing. (Come to think of it, Two-Face's habit of solving problems by flipping a coin may be as good a method as any for coach Brian Kelly to finally settle the quarterback question.) The psychotic awfulness of these lids cannot be overstated or denied. 1947 forfeits its title.
7. Bottomless Stripe. Any suggestion of a stripe on a Notre Dame uniform is an unfortunate anachronism, historically, but in this case the swath cut down the side of the pants is so gaping it makes Leprechaun bro look like he's plummeting down an unusually placid mineshaft. Good luck punching your way out before you hit bottom, little dude. 1966 forfeits its title.
8. Casual Numbers. Not because they look bad, necessarily, but just for the idea that there is now someone whose job involves thinking really hard about the perfect font for Notre Dame jerseys. 1949 forfeits its title.
9. Jigsaw Gloves. Again with the Leprechaun? Alright, you're Irish, you fight, etc. We get it. This promises to be even more confusing than the helmets. 1973 forfeits its title.
10. "Power Up" Socks. I assume if they run over certain spots on the field, players get an instant, visible energy boost. 1930 forfeits its title.
11. Seriously what is going on with these helmets? Before last year, Notre Dame's helmets hadn't changed at any point – not for a rivalry game, not for a neutral-site game, not for a bowl game, not for the annual shaming of the Naval Academy – in half a century, or roughly since the permanent introduction of the facemask. And why would they? All that gimmicky crap is for places like Oregon and Oklahoma State that feel no special connection to their histories. At this point, two decades removed from its last serious run at a national title, Notre Dame has only the special connection fans feel for its history.
They grudgingly accepted the appearance of the shamrock logo in 2011 because it was a part of that history, albeit an obscure one with no sentimental value. (The handful of teams that originally wore it in the early 1960s were among the worst the school has ever produced.) The contemporary abominations are not only unattractive: They're a middle finger to everyone naive enough to think "The Notre Dame Brand" still has anything to do with tradition or timelessness. Artificial turf in Notre Dame Stadium is one thing; it's a practical renovation. Handing over decades of respected fashion sense that helps bind players, teams and fans across decades to some oblivious marketing team that claims to have its finger on the pulse of whatever it is they think they're tapping into here… that's just desperate. 1988 forfeits its title.
- - -
Attention Michigan, Alabama, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Texas, et al – yes, you're laughing now. But know that you have glimpsed your future. Let this be a valuable lesson to everyone, the same lesson as always: Everything you love will eventually be ruined by someone out to make a buck.