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September 29, 2013

Notre Dame Stadium thick with tradition

SOUTH BEND, Ind. — One of the better pregame moments at Owen Field arrives when the Sooner starters introduce themselves on the giant video board above the south end zone. That didn’t happen at Notre Dame Stadium and the primary reason is pretty simple.

Notre Dame Stadium can handle a little more than 80,000 fans. Other than that, it is decidedly less modern than even a fair number of high school stadiums in Oklahoma.

There is no giant video board, or even a large scoreboard. There are two very small boards, facing each other at opposite ends of the stadium, only displaying the time, down, distance, line of scrimmage and time outs remaining.

Further, the number of luxury boxes remains zero. The stadium, which opened in 1930, looks its age. Venerable is the best description, though charmingly venerable seems like a stretch.

History: The stadium likely remains lost in time as a nod to the Fighting Irish’s glorious history, which drips in every direction.

There’s Touchdown Jesus looking down upon the field. There are statues of five ex-Irish coaches at different points outside the stadium: Knute Rockne (North Tunnel), Dan Devine (Gate A), Ara Parseghian (Gate B), Frank Leahy (Gate C), Lou Holtz (Gate D).

Inside the press box are oversized reproductions of magazine covers depicting Irish football. Among them are 28 Sports Illustrated covers, only one of which also includes OU (sort of). 

The issue date is Oct. 29, 1956 and Notre Dame’s Paul Hornung is on the cover, which also reads, “Paul Hornung: He leads the Irish against Oklahoma; scouting reports on the two teams.”

The coverage is pretty amazing considering Notre Dame was already 1-3 heading into that game, had just lost 47-14 to Michigan State and would go on to lose 40-0 to Oklahoma.

Another interesting cover is The Sporting News from Dec. 16, 2002, in which Irish coach Ty Willingham is named the magazine’s Sportsman of the Year. It was Willingham’s first season and the Irish were 10-2. 

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