Notre Dame Stadium is more than just a stadium, it is a cathedral to College Football.
The stadium has seen the legends like Knute Rockne, the four horsemen, Joe Montana and Lou Holtz lead teams to an impressive 314-106-5 record in the comforts of South Bend. The fans have produced 228 straight sellouts dating back to 1966. The whole architecture and design of the stadium speaks of the legendary status it holds. Built in 1930, updates have been made while maintaining the integrity of the original design. Players still run through the same tunnel legends have traversed for decades. In representation of this fact, at the end of the tunnel sits a statue of Rockne, a college football Hall of Fame coach, facing Touchdown Jesus as he did long ago before entering onto the field.
One of the most famous pieces of tradition in the stadium is the sign each player touches on his way through the tunnel. The sign reads “Play like a champion today.” Interestingly enough, this tradition, although widely recognized, has not been around for long. The sign was first put up by Holtz in 1986. Holtz told a representative for the football team in 2004 he read a lot of books about the history of Notre Dame football. In one of the books, which he cannot recall, he saw a picture with the slogan on it and decided it was an appropriate piece of history to bring back to Notre Dame.
At four of the gates, fans are greeted by statues honoring the other Hall of Fame coaches, like Holtz, that have roamed the halls. Three gates display the winning tradition of Notre Dame in unique ways.
- Gate A houses a wall of the famous golden helmets of Notre Dame for each consensus All-American who played at Notre Dame. Together there are 80 total helmets on this wall. One represents George Gipp, the first consensus All-American, made famous for purportedly telling Rockne on his deathbed “Win just one for the Gipper.“
- Gate B is a shrine dedicated to Heisman winners Angelo Bertelli, John Lujack, Leon Hart, John Lattner, Paul Hornung, John Huarte and Tim Brown. Fans walk by a painting and an exact replica of their Heisman trophies as they enter.
- Gate E is an altar of Notre Dame’s 11 national championship teams. Each is represented by enlarged replicas of the championship rings.
Like BYU, which houses banners representing several legendary players around Lavell Edwards Stadium, Notre Dame has a banner representing each of their 185 All-American players on display.
Truly there is no way to escape the history played out in this stadium, whether you are a player or a fan.