SOUTH BEND, IN - NOVEMBER 18: Brady Quinn #10 of the Notre Dame Fighting Irish looks to pass against the Army Black Knights at Notre Dame Stadium November 18, 2006 in South Bend, Indiana. The Fighting Irish beat the Black Knights 41-9.
Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images

Notre Dame's Green Jerseys Have a Storied Past

The Notre Dame Fighting Irish have a fascinating history of wearing their green jerseys against certain opponents.

Irish fans will do their best to keep the red out of Notre Dame Stadium this Saturday as they host Ohio State for the first time in 27 years.

Visiting fanbases invading Notre Dame stadium has been a storyline seen several times over the years, and the Irish hope they can drown out the red in attendance Saturday with a green wave of their own. This game has been circled on the schedule for a long time for both programs and was declared a "green-out" game by the university in August. A Jerry Maguire spoof turned  jersey reveal video followed shortly to announce the Irish would once again wear green alternate uniforms, and they would wear them in one of the biggest games in the year against Ohio State.

The green jerseys have been famous for decades in South Bend, and have roots deeper than many Irish fans realize.

Notre Dame's Green Jerseys Have a Rich History

SOUTH BEND, IN - APRIL 16: The Notre Dame alumni team (white) plays against the Notre Dame varsity team (green) during an alumni game on April 16, 1957 at Notre Dame Stadium in South Bend, Indiana.

Photo by Hy Peskin/Getty Images) (Set Number: X4496

Joe Montana and the 1977 Irish may have rocked the most iconic versions of the kelly-green kits en route to their national championship that season. Irish head coach Dan Devine surprised both his squad and the Notre Dame fan base earlier in the championship season when his players ran onto field against USC clad in green after already warming up in their traditional navy blues. The eleventh ranked Irish dominated the fifth ranked Trojans 49-19 in front of a raucous Notre Dame home crowd.

Charlie Weis tried to follow in the footsteps of Devine in his team's 2005 matchup with Southern Cal, again surprise debuting one of Irish fan's favorite editions of the green jersey just before kickoff.  Again the crowd went berserk for the switcheroo to the forest green jerseys with gold numerals, and it looked like the Irish faithful could be ready to witness another historic green jersey victory. An inspired performance from Brady Quinn and the Irish defense left ND with a 31-28 lead with only 2:04 left on the clock. USC's Matt Leinart and Reggie Bush had other ideas as they orchestrated a now classic game-winning drive that left Notre Dame stadium stunned.

This loss led to the rekindling of one of the wider, crazier theories seen around the program to spread anew amongst the Irish fans. The green jerseys must be cursed, Joe Montana and the 1977 Irish be damned. 

It is true, the Irish have suffered their fair share of losses when clothed in emerald, but the victories far outnumber those defeats. Former head coach and College Football Hall of Famer Frank Leahy liked the green unis so much his teams began to wear them full time. Leahy's Irish racked up a record of 87-11-9 in green, and 1947 Heisman winner Johnny Lujack sported the 40's edition jersey on the cover of Life magazine for the whole nation to see.

With so many notable appearances of the green jerseys going back so many years, it should be no surprise that the father of the green jersey in South Bend is the father of the Notre Dame program and perhaps college football in general. Knute Rockne. Rockne's inspiration for switching to green wasn't motivational or for recruiting purposes though. A pragmatic coach who cared about winning above all else, Rockne had his boys switch to green jerseys to help stand out and be more visible to teammates. Specifically in the forward passing game where Rockne was an innovator. The green garb was instantly iconic and became a revered tradition for the majority of Irish teams since. 

Notre Dame has continued to wear green in recent seasons, but perhaps even the administration had caught on the "green curse" rumblings, as the Irish have generally rolled out the emerald against opponents they expect to beat. That won't be the case Saturday as the green jerseys will see another top ten team for the first time since that 2005 clash against USC. Ohio State leads the series 5-2 and has won the last five meetings in row. The Irish may very well need some extra luck to pull off an upset on Saturday, maybe the newest edition of green jerseys can provide it. 

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