Blue and Gold Illustrated

Sept. 25, 2017

Blue & Gold Illustrated: America's Foremost Authority on Notre Dame Football

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4 SEPT. 25, 2017 BLUE & GOLD ILLUSTRATED V isitors to any Notre Dame Internet mes- sage board or fan forum the last week or so likely noticed the first topic being discussed was the disappointment and disgust after about 30,000 Georgia fans made their way into Notre Dame Sta- dium Sept. 9. Some of the posts and reactions were printable, most were not. Here's one that is slightly edited to keep it reader friendly. "People with six-figure salaries and season tickets, or tickets they purchased, sold out their team for a few bucks? The stands were red, and you could hear the roar of their fans outside of the stadium ev- ery time Georgia made a play. In a one-point game, you cannot say it did not make a difference. You should all be ashamed of yourself. You committed the mortal sin of fandom." The scene in the stadium that night and ensuing reaction were reminis- cent of a game that happened 17 years earlier to the day when Ne- braska fans invaded campus en masse. On both occasions, the visi- tors walked away with a close win and the memory of a lifetime at Notre Dame's expense. Even Georgia head coach Kirby Smart made note of the congenial in- game atmosphere at his post-game press conference when he took an unintentional shot at the support of the Irish fans, or a lack thereof. "We never felt like it was so much of a road game," said Smart, explain- ing that his freshman quarterback Jacob Fromm, making his first career start, had no problem delivering his cadence at the line of scrimmage. "You don't get to do that on the road in the SEC. The fan base won't let you do that," he continued. "We were able to go with ours, and I thought a lot of it had to do with the Red and Black." The reasons for the Georgia inva- sion and the massive online ticket push that got them in the gates are many and valid. Georgia was allotted only 8,400 tickets (400 for the band). So for 20,000-plus Irish fans to sell their tickets for this game suggests a pervasive pessimism around a pro- gram that hasn't even won 60 percent of its games during the last three- plus seasons. Many fans also suggest that the added sensory overload in and around the stadium each game week- end has turned a trip to Notre Dame into a carnival stop more than a foot- ball game. The product and results on the field matter little to many visi- tors compared to the pomp and expe- rience surrounding it. For others, the campus of Notre Dame and its stadium serve as a shrine for fans home and away — a reminder of what used to be and a bucket-list visit of sorts for many. The football game has become sec- ondary as loyalty wanes. Financially speaking, with out-of- town demand driving select online seat prices for the Georgia game to $1,000 or more, and Notre Dame sea- son ticket prices on a steady climb, who could blame Irish holders for ditching a game or two — especially the big- gies — to help offset their cost for a Notre Dame team that has lost five of its last eight home games? With rights fees and actual ticket prices included, Notre Dame season ticket holders this season paid anywhere from $1,150 per seat for the upper end zone to $3,500 for the lower prime seats. Re- couping about half of that by skipping one game became an irresistible proposition. And while nobody rep- resenting Notre Dame felt comfortable or amused dur- ing or after the Georgia in- vasion, in many respects, don't hate the monster you created. Not long ago, Irish fans trying to resell their tickets online were tracked by seat number, and the seller fell subject to ticket forfeiture in coming seasons. But in a classic case of "if you can't beat 'em, join 'em," the university this season partnered with online ticket broker Vivid Seats for Irish "fans" to buy and sell their tickets through them, while also keeping secondary market sales and the mas- sive service fees in house. It's a profitable plan indeed, and free market at its finest, but what per- centage of Georgia fans were able to get into the game last week buying tickets right through Notre Dame? Apathy, opportunity, skepticism, profitability — any and all contrib- uted to what happened at Notre Dame Stadium against Georgia. And until the true Notre Dame fans are given a reason to care more about a football game than a Jumbo- Tron and a history lesson, don't ex- pect Georgia to be the last opponent invasion. ✦ Georgia's Invasion Was A Sign Of The Times UPON FURTHER REVIEW TODD D. BURLAGE Todd D. Burlage has been a writer for Blue & Gold Illustrated since July 2005. He can be reached at With an estimated 30,000 Georgia fans in the stands, Bulldogs head coach Kirby Smart (left) said his team's showdown with Brian Kelly and the Irish at Notre Dame Stadium "never felt like it was so much of a road game." PHOTO BY BILL PANZICA

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