Chicago Sun-Times
with Mark Lazerus

Campaigning for a LOUDER ND stadium

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USC coach Lane Kiffin raised the ire of some Irish fans when he compared Saturday's night's game to Notre Dame's "Super Bowl." 

In case you missed it, here's the quote from Kiffin:  "They've made it, I'm sure, their Super Bowl by putting a bye before it, putting it at night. We're glad to be a part of their history."

As the week has unfolded, however, the statement has seemed more and more accurate. Not only will Notre Dame debut new gold helmets during the first night game at Notre Dame Stadium in 21 years, and host as many 60 recruits, but athletics director Jack Swarbrick has been campaigning for a livelier --- and louder --- stadium atmosphere.

The athletics director has been going to dining halls this week trying to fire up the student body. Although he told the South Bend Tribune that he believes Notre Dame's student section is as loud as any in the country, it's others in the crowd that could help give the team a greater home-field advantage.

The question of stadium noise brings up the age-old topic of tradition versus technology in the stadium itself, which may be too much for many purists, especially during a week when coach Brian Kelly announced the end of the tradition of student-managers painting the team's helmets.

"Our students are awesome," Kelly said. "I know he knows that as well. But there are some things we don't have in there that that our kids are used to seeing. You go to Michigan with JumboTrons and you have music and 115,000 screaming people. You go on the road and you're involved in those kind of environments. I think it starts with playing good football, myself. 

"We've got to get the crowd into it. Play exciting football, and I think those other things will naturally come. That all of those things are part of the atmosphere you want to create and the home-field advantage. I'm sure we'll look at all of those things closely. It's not really on my radar right now. It's more about getting our team ready for USC."

Most players diplomatically avoided the noise issue when it came up this week. Senior cornerback Gary Gray said it best.

"I don't think it's a quiet place but it could be louder," he said.

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This page contains a single entry by Neil Hayes published on October 20, 2011 10:24 AM.

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