On Saturday when Notre Dame's hosts Navy it will end the Fighting Irish's home sellout streak at 273 games. That's the second longest mark in NCAA history behind only Nebraska's 373-game active run. The 7-2 Fighting Irish and 7-1 Navy will meet for the 93rd consecutive season, but this time not in front of a full capacity crowd.
The last time Notre Dame football played in front of a less than maximum capacity crowd was on Thanksgiving Day in 1973. Jack Swarbrick, the university's athletic director since 2008, said keeping this streak alive was never on his list of priorities.
Via the South Bend Tribute:
"It was never sort of important to me to keep it alive, but I understand why other people thought so. It's a point of distinction to a lot of people and our fans."
He said that what matters more is what feeling the fans that do arrive at the stadium are creating.
"For me it's always been: What's the stadium environment like? Are we creating a great environment for our team and for our student-athletes? That you can say it's also sold out is sort of a byproduct of that," Swarbrick explained. "...But if my choice is [77,622] people in an environment that's not really good versus 75,000 in a raucous environment, I'll take the latter every time."
Swarbrick noted that because of the change from playing one November home game to three, Notre Dame's athletics department knew over a year ago this week might be when the streak ends. Selling out November games has always been tough, for the school, he said.
Notre Dame has the fourth-longest active home winning streak in college football at 16 games, behind only Clemson (21), UCF (20) and Ohio State (19).