Now that Notre Dame football has been making a yearly “changeup” to its football uniforms for almost a decade, it’s about time the Fighting Irish alternate uniforms get ranked. There is no one else more qualified to do this task than your truly, and I take this whole uniform business very seriously. Before we begin the fun, the rules must be explained. Basically, the only rule is that the uniform must be one that was different than the other uniforms worn for that season. This is like explaining tic tac toe to a 4 year old- it’s simple, so let’s rank these things.
10. 2010 vs Army
This is a classic look. Clean, and undeniably Notre Dame, the green jerseys and green socks with black shoes looks like a uniform that Notre Dame could have used for 100 years. Despite a return to Yankee stadium to face off against a historic foe, these uniforms could have used a bigger game to help with its ranking.
9. 2011 Shamrock Series vs Maryland
For the first time, Notre Dame decided to do something crazy with the helmet. So crazy in fact, that Notre Dame started the Shamrock Series and post-dated it back two whole years (while hoping that some people might not have noticed). It was quite the jagged pill for some Irish fans to see the helmet all jazzed up, but the Irish used virtually the same jersey as the 2010 Army game, and it helped wash that pill down a little bit.
8. 2012 Shamrock Series vs Miami
OH… this is the one. This is the uniform design that really got fans a little hot and bothered. This was the first time that Notre Dame went straight gangster. For the record, I like the uniform a lot, and I wasn’t offended by the helmet unlike some other Irish fans. The helmet wasn’t the best design possible, but it did the trick.
7. 2005 vs Southern Cal
While some may wonder why this uniform is ranked higher than the 2010 Army game uniforms, it gets a huge bump for the significance of the game that these uniforms were worn in by the Irish. Hell, it even lacks the interlocking ND on the shoulders. I don’t care. Even after this horrific and controversial loss, I was reminded how big of a fan I was after chugging my own tears on the front porch steps.
6. 2007 vs Southern Cal
Speaking of controversy… some may wonder how this uniform landed a spot other than 10 or “others receiving votes.” Well, truthfully- BECAUSE IT’S FUCKING AWESOME! Yes, the game was a bitter embarrassment, but these throwbacks to the 1977 “Green Jersey” game were sharp. I’m praying that Notre Dame gives this another shot in 2017 for the 40th anniversary.
5. 2014 Shamrock Series vs Purdue
Without even a game played in these uniforms, the 2014 version for the Shamrock Series makes the top 5. I may have been a little to laid back in my critique of this uniform, but they really are pretty slick. There is a ton of detail throughout these uniforms, but it is all done with a subtle touch for some and nice big BOOM for others.
4. 2011 vs Michigan
Another game we would like to forget, and it would be easier- if those uniforms weren’t so nice. The shamrocks on the helmet and the classic stripes on the shoulders help make this throwback for the sake of throwbacks an iconic image. The kelly green shade of green was not just the right choice, but the best choice. Someday, I would love to see this type of uniform with a home version, but that will never happen. Adidas and all.
3. 1992 Sugar Bowl vs Florida
The first “switch” jersey in the countdown. Back when wearing green was more than just a treat and was as exotic as feasting on a plate of Bronto burgers, Lou Holtz brought these out for the nation. Sometimes a uniform can help sear the memory of an epic win just as well as any touchdown run. The whole thing was just phenomenal, and when you have this picture of Irish players running in them taunting the other team- HOT DAMN ALMIGHTY THAT’S GOOD!
2. 1977 vs Southern Cal
1. 2013 Shamrock Series vs Arizona State
This uniform is perfect in every way. The all white uniform with the shiny gold numbers and the two tone gold helmets with the shamrock and the green shoes and the shade of green used… OH MY GOD THAT’S SOME SERIOUS SWOON. No, there is no real historical significance like they had with the 1977 green jerseys, but no alternate that they have worn or have planned to wear come close to the absolute beauty of this Shamrock Stormtrooper look. It’s wonderful.
While the order can be debated (by you because I try not to argue with myself in public) there is no doubt that the Irish have had some memorable alternate uniforms. A lot were good for various reasons, and others- not so much (looking at you 2002 BC uniforms). The future- especially with Under Armour at the helm, is probably a very bright shade of gold in the department of alternate uniforms.