Notre Dame is one of the most powerful and iconic sports brands in the country on par with the New York Yankees and Dallas Cowboys. Notre Dame Football creates a lot of emotions. Notre Dames myths and legends are larger than life. The stories of Rockne, Gipp, the Four Horseman, Leahy, Parseghian, the Golden Dome, Touchdown Jesus and even Rudy have built strong connections with fans across the country.
However in recent years, the brand has lost relevance especially with a younger audience. The football product has not kept pace with this legacy. From 1993 through 2011, Notre Dame had no fewer than three losses in any season. When the product slips brand relevance usually follows. Prior to the season award winning Sports Writer Rick Reilly questioned Notre Dame’s relevancy. “Notre Dame is not a national brand any more than USC, Alabama or Stanford. What would its slogan be, “Dominating Navy just about every year”. What kind of national brand loses to freaking Tulsa (2010)?
I have been a Notre Dame Football Fan for my entire life. I remember vividly the tie with Michigan State in 1966 and National Championships in 1973, 1977, 1988. I have seen two games in South Bend and attended the 1991 Orange Bowl when Rocket Ismail’s punt return for a late touchdown was called back due to a clipping penalty.
Tonight’s BCS Championship Game with Alabama marks the revitalization of the Notre Dame brand of football. This season is about sustaining the brand for the next generation. You couldn’t have a whole generations of fans who know Notre Dame as a 7-5 football team. This will help Notre Dame in building a connection with the next generation of fans and recruits who don’t remember when Notre Dame Football was larger than life.
Notre Dame being good is good for college football. Notre Dame’s drive to the BCS Game produced huge ratings and a big increase in merchandise sales. Tonight’s game will draw a huge audience and is likely to be the highest rated cable program in history.
Will Notre Dame defeat Alabama and win college football’s National Championship?