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Guessing Game: Shamrock Series

Oct 17, 2013, 12:42 AM EDT

Craig Chval, the official 2013 football beat writer for the Strong & True blog, is currently a junior at the University of Notre Dame. Over the course of the year Craig will bring you insight from within the student section, interviews with Fighting Irish players and previews of each game. You can follow Craig (and the rest of the Notre Dame student beat writing staff) on twitter at @JrNDBloggers.

With the Irish fresh off a Shamrock Series win and getting Saturday off, there wasn’t a whole lot to talk about before getting into USC. I’m not one to get into the season-predicting business, but the schedule looked a whole lot beatable after Saturday. Stanford, the last remaining ranked foe, fell from #5 to #13 in the AP poll after losing to the Utes.

So you can use the bye week to speculate about the remaining slate. But I’m going to play a different guessing game. After last week, some people might have been wondering what future Shamrock Series games would look like. Another baseball stadium? Another game in Europe? The moon? The possibilities are endless.

I’d imagine that next year’s schedule has to come out soon, so this game will only be fun for a short window. Feel free to add suggestions in the comments section.

Disclaimer: I have no idea what I’m talking about or if any of these are actual possibilities. I’m guessing the moon is out.

Guess #1: Georgia Dome, Atlanta

Obviously, a major draw of the Shamrock Series is recruiting. We’ve now played two games in Texas, where a lot of blue-chip recruits come from: Corey Robinson, Torii Hunter, Jr., Boobie Miles.

But the Irish have also raided SEC country, recruiting the likes of Louis Nix, Stephon Tuitt, and Greg Bryant from Georgia and Florida. Since Notre Dame hasn’t played at an SEC school since Tennessee in 2004, I definitely don’t see them passing up a chance to take a game to the southeast.

Who would the Irish play? Opponents are all filled for the next three years, so it probably won’t be a surprise. Playing the Longhorns in the Georgia Dome would be pretty cool, but I doubt either school would want to take away a home game. But they could add another game to the schedule, or I could also see new ACC foes there. Louisville maybe? Michigan has shown they’re not averse to neutral site games, but there’s no way we’ll take away the last scheduled game in that series away from Notre Dame.

Other possibilities: Superdome, New Orleans. Sun-Life Stadium, Miami.

Guess #2: Candlestick Park, San Francisco

Edit: I totally forgot the 49ers were moving to a new park, so change this one to Levi’s Stadium. Playing a game in a brand new stadium would definitely fit the Shamrock Series, though.

Speaking of recruiting, California has always been a pipeline for Notre Dame. In maneuvering around the new ACC deal, Jack Swarbrick has stated the importance of playing Stanford to ensure the Irish have one trip to the West Coast every November.

If this is a Shamrock location, obviously playing Stanford would make sense. The 2011 game in Washington, D.C. showed the “neutral” site could be very close to our opponent. And maybe Stanford would allow a game so close to their campus (about 30 miles) to count as one of their home games in the series.

But the reason I picked Candlestick and not, say, the Rose Bowl, is the connection the 49ers have to Notre Dame. Team owner Jed York graduated from Notre Dame, and students might recognize the name Eddie Debartolo, Jr., who was the long-time owner before York.

Other possibilities: Rose Bowl, Pasadena. Coliseum, Oakland, haha. Qualcomm Stadium, San Diego.

Guess #3: Lucas Oil Stadium, Indianapolis

Swarbrick has a ton of Indy connections – he practiced at a law firm there before coming to Notre Dame and was part of the committee that got the Super Bowl to come to Lucas Oil in 2012.

Last year’s game in Chicago showed Swarbrick has no qualms about playing close to home, and that 2012 Super Bowl garnered rave reviews for the city. In fact, I’m most sure about this as a Shamrock Series location. Book it.

The real question is who to play here. I can see almost anyone on the schedule as a possibility besides the obvious no’s (USC, Michigan, probably Stanford, probably Texas). Your guess is as good as mine.

Other Possibilities: Ross-Ade Stadium, West Lafayette. And while we’re making jokes, Penn High School, Mishawaka.

Guess #4: PNC Park, Pittsburgh.

I mentioned earlier that I could see another baseball park being an option. This is a little iffy since I have no idea which parks can be converted to football fields and which can’t.

But I saw a string of baseball games this summer to check out different parks and got to see PNC for the first time. I know everyone always raves about it, but the hype is real. Seeing a football game there would be gorgeous.

In the same mold as Stanford at Candlestick, we could play Pittsburgh there, but really any opponent is a possibility.

But I have no reason to pick PNC over any other baseball park – I just really like it. Dodger Stadium could work if Swarbrick is looking for that California game. Really, any highly regarded park is a possibility. I would guess Wrigley, but Notre Dame just played in Chicago, so I doubt it.

Other possibilities: Dodger Stadium, Los Angeles. Fenway Park, Boston. Busch Stadium, St. Louis.

If you also feel the need to speculate, definitely comment. If you’re really adventurous, add some sketches of what you think the uniforms will be. I’m guessing these for PNC.

  1. irishgal - Oct 17, 2013 at 2:19 PM

    Okay. I will bite. When you live on the West Coast, the idea of ND coming out here is very exciting. I love the idea of Candlestick Park. Not the idea of Stanford though. Let’s just keep Stanford where it is and add the Cal Bears or Utah or someone else that would like the opportunity to play ND under the big lights. We also don’t want to touch our perfect record in the Shamrock Series and justifiably Stanford makes me nervous. No drawing of uniforms are included due to being blinded by too many Oregon Ducks’ uniforms over the years. GO IRISH!

  2. bschultz17 - Oct 17, 2013 at 9:05 PM

    I could see next year playing Wake, North Carolina, or Louisville in Atlanta, or possibly Charlotte. Those would make the most sense, unless they just keep the Syracuse game in the Meadowlands and call it the Shamrock Series. I would have a hard time believing they would play a Shamrock game in Indianapolis, there would be almost zero benefit in terms of recruiting, desirable location for traveling fans, or just creating any kind of buzz period. Pittsburgh would be another difficult to imagine locale, more specifically PNC. It is a newer baseball stadium, with the bleachers nearly right on top of the field, foul lines, and home run fence, making installing a football field a logistical nightmare (It is my understanding that Yankee Stadium was designed with hosting events other than baseball in mind). Neverminding the fact that Hines Field (Steelers, and Pitt’s home field) is about a block away. And, frankly, Pittsburgh isn’t the most desirable destination for fans, either. Columbus, Ohio is twice the size of Pittsburgh population-wise. Hell, even Cleveland is larger than Pittsburgh. Pennsylvania’s only chance of ever hosting a Shamrock Series game lies in Philly. San Fransico would be a fun trip, but Candlestick has a reputation for being a dump and a dangerous place for visiting fans. And, I’m personally not on board for turning the Shamrock Series, which is considered a home game for us, into essentially a home game for Stanford (probably our toughest opponent regularly for the past few seasons)- giving them back-to-back home games against us.

    So, all that being said, I would think with our impending ACC obligations that a game somewhere in a larger southeastern city would make the most sense. Charlotte, Atlanta, New Orleans, or Orlando seem to be the most obvious choices. Followed by a California location, which we already play in once a season. Possibly San Diego, but that’s not exactly the hotbed of California football recruiting. So, I’m going to guess Charlotte against Wake Forest for our Shamrock Series game next season. The Shamrock Series has already hit Texas (x2- San Antonio & Dallas), Chicago, D.C., and New York. It only makes sense to take it south or west.

    Of course, all of this is under the assumption that there won’t be any drastic changes to the tentative schedule posted as of now.

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