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Saturday, April 2, 2011

The Subtle New Marketing of Notre Dame Football

It started with the much maligned former athletic director Kevin White. Yearly “Home Games” scheduled at neutral sites. The Irish versus Washington State in San Antonia Texas in 2009 although White’s brainchild, it came under current Athletic directors Jack Swarbricks watch. It worked out quite well, it filling the stadium for a prime time night game. While Notre Dame handled WSU quite handily, 40-14, Dayne Crist went down with a season ending leg injury and the game is remembered more for that than the marketing tool it introduced.

In 2010 a few new wrinkles were added. In addition to the first college football game played in new Yankee Stadium. It too played during evening prime time versus old rival Army but with the Irish wearing the Kelly Green jerseys. Throw in the Bronx, the original subway alumni and some very well produced NBC programming throughout the game, it was a great hit. The media and fans loved it. Of course it helped that Notre Dame won 27-3.

So what’s in store this year as a marketing ploy to promote the national fan base of the Irish?

The Blue-Gold game will be televised live by The Versus Channel on April 16th. This is a first and highly anticipated by loyal Notre Dame fans across the country that cannot trek to South Bend.

Michigan has added lights to the Big House and Notre Dame will play them in the first night game on September 10th. To provide additional fuel to the marketing fire, Notre Dame and Michigan will wear throwback uniforms. While this is not a new concept, it is for the two rivals. Here is a pretty good idea what the Irish will look like coming out of the tunnel, shamrocks and all. We’re hoping for the Kelly Green Jerseys instead of the White traveling uniform.

The University is not finished in 2011. The Southern California game will be played under the lights at Notre Dame. This is the first night game in 21 years for the Irish on October 22nd. NBC has to be pleased; after all they paid for the lights when the stadium was renovated. USC fans have to be pleased since the game does not start in the morning for them.

Down the road the schedule looks like this:

2011 Maryland at FedEx Filed MD

2012 Navy at Dublin Ireland

2012 Miami at Soldiers Field Chicago IL

2013 Arizona St. at Dallas TX

2014 Syracuse at New Meadowlands NJ

When the Notre Dame - Miami series and first game at Soldiers Field was announced it got the rivalry juices flowing. Unfortunately they were somewhat reduced by the 2011 Sun Bowl where Notre Dame dismantled Miami 33-17.

Conventional wisdom tells us Notre Dame is gearing up for the negotiations and rights to televise Irish Football in the future. The current NBC contract expires after the 2015 season. Where is Notre Dame headed? Continue with NBC or go with another Channel like Fox? Collaborate with a national network to provide a total Notre Dame Sports package. Hmmmm. The way marketing is going, anything is possible. $$$$.

Is this the start of how the University is going to combat the BCS, conference realeignments, Super Conferences and protect independence?

We hope so.

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