When he got to the podium to speak at Notre Dame's football awards banquet in December, Jack Swarbrick pointed to the four different pieces of head gear the Irish had worn in 2011 and cracked: "Let's hear it for the helmets." The athletic director then joked that his inbox had never seen so much activity than when the team wore a new helmet or when the stadium blasted "Crazy Train" a few too many times against USC.
The gimmicks have drawn plenty of attention from players and fans alike. Coach Brian Kelly has said he's fine with them so long as his players are, and every single one I talked to last season had been in favor of all of the different uniform designs. (I did not ask them about Ozzy Osbourne, for the record.)
I have gotten plenty of questions in chats and in my mailbag asking what the Irish will break out this year. They're hosting their second straight night game, against Michigan. They have another big-city off-site game, against Miami in Chicago. And, of course, they open the season against Navy all the way out in Dublin, Ireland.
This picture comes courtesy of equipment manager Ryan Grooms. It is our first look at what the Irish will be wearing Sept. 1 in, well, Ireland. The adizero cleats are green, white and orange, just like the country's flag.
At first glance, I like the design and look on its own, in a picture with nothing else in it. But I will reserve overall judgment until I see 11 men running around the field at once wearing these. If you watch the game on TV -- at 9 a.m. on a Saturday, no less -- a sharp picture display may be a bit much to handle. For now, I'll just take solace in the fact that I didn't wake up this morning to the same number of emails Swarbrick probably did.