Today's Tidbit... Notre Dame's Halftime Jersey Switcheroo
In an age in which teams swap alternate uniforms as easily as a pair of socks, it seems odd that football teams once wore the same uniform game after game, home and away. You wore your team colors regardless of who you played and what they wore. That's just the way it was.
There were the trendsetters, of course, who chose a different path. Cornell was one of them. Their early 1920s teams under Gus Gilmore often wore white practice vests over their red jerseys when facing similarly-hued opponents. Others did the same, but the approach did not become popular.
Other schools had a second set of jerseys in their secondary color they used when facing a team wearing a similar colored jersey, and others, like Notre Dame, generally wore navy blue jerseys but pulled out green versions on occasion.
For example, Notre Dame publicized their intention to wear green jerseys against a black-jerseyed Princeton team in 1923 but ended up wearing their traditional navy blue, perhaps hoping to confuse scouts attending the game.
For their 1926 game versus Penn State, the Nittany Lions came out late for pre-game warmup wearing navy blue like the Irish, leading Rockne to send his boys back into the locker room to don green jerseys.
They did the same versus Army in 1927 and Navy in 1928 and caused a minor scandal in 1927 when the numbers on the green jerseys did not match those listed in the program. Rockne shrugged off the complaints, noting that they had ordered the jerseys late and could not coordinate consistent numbering.
The oddest jersey switcheroo pulled off by the Irish came when Elmer Layden's undefeated #3 ranked Notre Dame team visited the 4-1 Iowa Hawkeyes featuring Nile Kinnick. The game started like any other, with the Hawkeyes wearing black jerseys and the Irish in navy blue. It was scoreless near the end of the first half when Notre Dame's Steve Sitko intercepted a Kinnick pass in the end zone, ran the ball out of the end zone, and fumbled on the 4-yard line following a hard hit. Iowa recovered the ball. Three plays later, Kinnick ran over left tackle for the touchdown and booted the extra point to make it 7-0 at halftime.
A clip from a YouTube video of the game shows the teams also looked similar in color.
The switcheroo came when Notre Dame went on the field for the second half wearing green jerseys with gold covering the top of the shoulder pads. Perhaps the jersey change made a difference for the Irish, but they waited until the fourth quarter to pick up a touchdown and then missed the extra point, so the game ended in a 7-6 victory for the Hawkeyes.
Notre Dame or other teams may have swapped jerseys at halftime on another occasion due to muddy conditions or to differentiate themselves from their opponents. Still, I couldn't remember or find another example, though I did not look very hard.
The NCAA stepped in for the 1949 season by mandating that teams wear contrasting colors. The onset of television soon led to teams wearing white on the road so that viewers could more easily distinguish the teams on the black-and-white television sets of the day.
Please comment below if you know a team that switched their jerseys at halftime, like the 1939 Golden Domers.
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