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New Notre Dame football coach brings back game day Mass

J-P Mauro - published on 04/04/22

Players will return to the tradition of attending Mass before walking from the Basilica to the stadium.

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The University of Notre Dame football team is returning to the time-honored tradition of attending Mass before their Saturday home games. The move reverses the policy of Brian Kelly, head coach from 2009 to 2021, which moved the team’s Mass to Friday nights. Kelly is leaving South Bend to take the top coaching job at Louisiana State University.

The decision was made by the school’s incoming head coach, former NFL star Marcus Freeman. Freeman said that the Mass before home games was a tradition that made an impression on him 20 years ago when he visited the campus as a prospective student. When he returned last year to interview for the head coach position, he was surprised that it had been discontinued.

According to Creative Minority Report, Freeman began inquiring about the tradition shortly after accepting the position. When he was informed that the decision rested with the head coach, he immediately called for a return to the old way.

“I said, ‘OK, let’s change it,’ “ said Freeman, who starred as an Ohio State linebacker from 2004-08. “We’re going to do that now. Kind of like it used to be.”

“The Walk”

The return to Saturday Mass will also reinstate the original route of “The Walk,” in which the team travels on foot from the Basilica of the Sacred Heart to the stadium. When the pre-game Mass was held on Fridays, “The Walk” still took place, but on a route that went through the library. Video of this route can be seen above. 

After Mass, players will now leave the Basilica through the “God, Country, Notre Dame Door” crossing through the campus. Freeman said that having the team walk through the door together is one of his favorite Notre Dame traditions. 

Winning strategy

The reversion to tradition has been welcomed by many, but it’s hard to say how it might affect the team. The Fighting Irish were never hurt by the Friday night Masses, as shown by Brian Kelly’s record of 92-39. After all, it’s hard to argue with a 70% win rating through a decade of coaching. 

Formers Notre Dame players have weighed in on the change. While the return to Saturday Masses seems popular, one former player noted that it can be hard to “turn on the game switch” after spending an hour at Mass. 

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