July 20, 2007
NOTRE DAME, Ind. – In the first of a series of “off-site” Fighting Irish football games, the University of Notre Dame and Washington State University will square off on Oct. 31, 2009, at the Alamodome in San Antonio, Texas.
Notre Dame officials expect to play one “home” game per season beginning in ’09 at locations in Texas, Florida and in other cities.
The Irish and Cougars will be meeting for the first time since 2003, their only previous meeting. Notre Dame won that one 29-26 in overtime to open the season in Notre Dame Stadium. The 2009 game will be played at the 65,000-seat Alamodome, with the Valero Alamo Bowl serving as the host.
The Alamodome played host to a Texas A&M-Army regular-season matchup in 2006, served as temporary home to the NFL New Orleans Saints for part of the 2005 season in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina – and is the home of the 2007 NFL Dallas Cowboys preseason training camp and the ’07 Big 12 Conference Football Championship. The NCAA men’s basketball Final Four was played at the Alamodome in 2003 and will be again in 2008.
“On behalf of the Valero Alamo Bowl and the Alamodome, we look forward to welcoming the history and tradition of Notre Dame to San Antonio and showing the team and their loyal fans our Texas hospitality,” said Derrick Fox, Valero Alamo Bowl president.
Notre Dame expects to make tickets available to its contributing alumni and fans through its alumni lottery as it does with all other football games. Washington State will receive an allotment of tickets as the visiting team.
Notre Dame has more than 4,600 alumni in the state of Texas, most as part of alumni clubs in San Antonio, Dallas, Austin, Corpus Christi, El Paso, Fort Worth, Houston, Laredo, the Rio Grande Valley and West Texas/Eastern New Mexico.
NBC Sports will have the live television rights to the game, as with other Notre Dame home games.
“Notre Dame has never played in San Antonio, so this will be a tremendous opportunity to showcase our program in a new city, and in a state in which we have a strong emphasis in recruiting,” said Notre Dame athletics director Kevin White.
“San Antonio has become a consistent stop on the men’s basketball NCAA Final Four rotation, and the Riverwalk and other areas make it a great venue in terms of hospitality – so this will be an extremely attractive option for fans in general.”
The off-site home game concept, as originated by White, came about once the NCAA opted for a 12-game regular season.
“We already had plans to play seven home games per year in Notre Dame Stadium,” said White. “We considered the prospect of playing eight times in South Bend, but we determined we could make more effective use of that extra game by moving it around the country and playing not only in some areas very important to us in terms of recruiting, but also in some locales in which our fans and alumni might not otherwise see us as part of any future schedules.
“It’s a little bit like the barnstorming approach that Knute Rockne took back in the 1920s. We believe these events will provide great opportunities for fans to see our team play when they may be otherwise challenged to travel or obtain tickets for games in South Bend.”
Notre Dame’s two most recent trips to the state of Texas produced a 27-24 win over Texas in 1996 in Austin – followed by a 24-3 loss to Texas A&M in College Station in 2003.
The Irish have played in the Cotton Bowl Classic in Dallas on seven occasions – following the 1969, 1970, 1977, 1978, 1987, 1992 and 1993 seasons. A victory in the Cotton Bowl facility in 1977 earned a national championship for Notre Dame after the Irish defeated top-ranked and unbeaten Texas. Notre Dame also faced unbeaten and top-ranked Texas teams in Cotton Bowls following both the ’69 and ’70 seasons (winning in the second of those games to end a 30-game Texas win streak). The Irish are 5-2 in Cotton Bowl appearances, also winning 35-34 over Houston to close out the 1978 season in Joe Montana’s final collegiate appearance.
Notre Dame also has played in Dallas against SMU in 1949 (a 27-20 win for the top-rated Irish), 1954 (a 26-14 Notre Dame victory), 1956 (a 19-13 SMU win), 1957 (a 54-21 Notre Dame win) and 1958 (a 14-6 Irish triumph) – giving the Irish a 9-3 overall mark in Dallas. Other Notre Dame appearances in Texas came in Houston for games against Rice in 1915 (a 55-2 Notre Dame win) and 1973 (a 28-0 Irish victory).
All those contests combine to give the Irish a 12-4 mark in games played in Texas.
Notre Dame’s Alamodome appearance will be a homecoming of sorts for a number of Irish players who were invited to the Alamodome as high school seniors to participate in the U.S. Army All-American Bowl prep high school all-star game. Among those who presumably would be on the ’09 Irish roster are current Notre Dame sophomores James Aldridge, Matt Carufel, Barry Gallup Jr., Demetrius Jones, Raeshon McNeil, Konrad Reuland, Chris Stewart, Darrin Walls, Bartley Webb, Dan Wenger and Sam Young, plus incoming freshmen Armando Allen, Jimmy Clausen, Gary Gray, Robert Hughes, Duval Kamara, Aaron Nagel, Mike Ragone and Matt Romine.
Among former Irish players from San Antonio are quarterback/wide receiver Carlyle Holiday (2001-04).
— ND —