Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Happy St. Patrick's Day - Wearin' of the Green!

Many fans of the University of Notre Dame believe the tradition of wearing green jerseys began against USC in 1977. Well, it really began in the 20's under Knute Rockne. Back then the Freshmen football teams wore green jerseys, while the Varsity wore blue. When teams showed up at Notre Dame wearing blue jerseys, Rockne would switch his team over to green jerseys to better distinguish his players from the opposition. In a game against Navy, Rockne had his teams wear a green jersey underneath their blue ones and when the Midshipmen scored first in the game - Rockne ordered his team to tear off their blue jerseys and wear the green. And, as George Trevor of the New York Sun reported; "Instantaneously, the Notre Dame regulars yanked off their blue outer sweaters and - like a horde of green Gila monsters - darted onto the field. From that moment on, Notre Dame held the initiative, imposed its collective will upon the Navy." Notre Dame came from behind to win that game, 19-6, and then used the same maneuver the following year at Chicago's Soldier Field. That 1928 game saw Notre Dame beat Navy, 7-0, with the Scholastic Football Review including this description: "Mr. K.K. Rockne may, or may not, be a psychologist. But, he did array his team in bright green jerseys for their battle with the United States Naval Academy. Mr Rockne evidently surmised that garbing a band of native and adopted Irish in their native color is somewhat akin to showing a bull the Russian flag." The green jerseys remained prominent throughout the Frank Leahy years - particularly in September of 1947, when Heisman Trophy winner Johnny Lujack graced the cover of Life magazine clad in green. Digger Phelps used to trot out the green jerseys during the NCAA Tournament when the Irish played on or near St. Patrick's Day. Muffet McGraw has done the same with her teams. Will Brey bring the "green" to New Orleans tomorrow? The link below shows the Irish running onto the field in green jerseys in the famous 1977 game against USC: