Notre Dame home games, fake ref whistles, and a pattern.

Submitted by BlowGoo on October 14th, 2012 at 1:07 AM

Two years ago, we were fortunate enough to be in South Bend to watch Michigan defeat Notre Dame. It was a great college football atmosphere. We were sitting in the middle of ND established fan seating, as we were guests of friends whose child is on the ND band. Though we were dressed in maize and blue, the spirit of good sportsmanship and prevailing sense of a common love of the game (with deserved mutual respect for each other's programs) meant we had a good time among the ND faithful.

Fast forward to THIS year, and the atmosphere was different. We should have been tipped off by the article the Friday before about ND's efforts to make their home field louder and more advantageous. Still, we were surprised when the game commenced and the amount of pumped in music was DRAMATICALLY louder.

But, hey, we're used to noise in the Big House, right?

Yet we AREN'T used to piped in music being played CONSISTENTLY even AFTER the opposing QB had STARTED HIS SNAP COUNT. In fact, I had NEVER seen that happen consistently at any football game I had previously attended, on ANY level.

The shenanigans didn't stop there: our friend's child on the ND band told us after the game that, for the first time ever, their band was microphoned the week prior as a warmup to Michigan.

For the Michigan game, ND used DOUBLE the microphones from the week before. All for the sake of amplifying the crowd noise, and irresponsibly TIMING the amplification beyond decent sportsmanship.

Why am I (re)writing about this now? Because throughout that game, we heard repetitively fake ref whistles coming from the crowd. They were subtle enough that they were hard to precisely localize, but they seemed to come from the same part of the field. And occurred throughout the entire game. I had supposed that the whistle was too faint to effect gameplay, because the refs weren't commenting on it... ... until the second half, wherein Michigan fans will no doubt recall the refs threw a flag against Michigan on either a false start or offside, but took the unusual step of announcing that there would be no penalty assessed against Mich due to a whistle from the crowd causing undue/unfair confusion.

No formal penalty nor warning was issued to the fans in attendance by the refs as was their responsibility.

Now, I recognize as much as the next football fan that when you have six turnovers, well, you get what you get and to blame the refs for the loss is tacky. So I'm not doing that.

But after tonight's Stanford game in South Bend, wherein, ESPN writes, "The Irish got a stop on third down, though the Stanford players CONTENDED THEY HEARD A WHISTLE ON THE PLAY AND STOPPED PLAYING.. They settled for Williamson's field and a three-point lead," given how critical that stop turned out to be, well, it seems something stinks in South Bend.

Once again, the refs failed to act, and in so doing, merely encouraged fake whistles in the future.

I've never seen a PATTERN like this before of outrageous lack of integrity. Isolated episodes? Yes, of course. But repeated stuff like this? No.

Am I being naive, and this fake whistle / amped music during snap count / overamplifying home band-stuff happen ALL THE TIME, and I'm only noticing it now? Because I've been to a ton of games at multiple levels and not seen this repeated crap before.

Am I the only one seeing this?

Are there other (in)famous examples of habitual stretching of "home field advantage" to questionable limits?

Is this cheating?



October 14th, 2012 at 10:13 AM ^

is that there isn't anyone with an interest in controlling it.

Anywhere else there would be a conference that wants to ensure fair competition among its members and would step in. And there'd be a network with no particular interest in either side that could bring pressure if it looked like the integrity of the games they were broadcasting were cast in doubt.

But here there's no conference, and NBC's only interest is in preserving the Notre Dame brand and maximizing the value of their contract. If anything they're a participant in the problem by controlling the replays available to the officials when there's a controversy, a power they seem to have used in the past.

I can't imagine what could change things. The NCAA? (that was sarcasm if you're wondering.) The ACC, eventually? Or I suppose schools could simply refuse to play there--it's not as if anyone has to, after all.


October 14th, 2012 at 10:30 AM ^

Excellent points.

It's just a sad state of affairs when it comes to this.

Maybe as this sport we love so much moves to a more unified structure (playoff agreement), that there will be less ambiguity in authority and more motivation to USE that authority.

It just is really sad when the desire at Notre Dame for relevance becomes SO strong that some members of ND nation become willing to trade ONE set of values/traditions with a whole different set of values/traditions.

We really enjoyed the atmosphere there in 2010, win or lose. And it just felt corrupted in 2012.

And again, it's bad enough that the Stanford HC felt obligated to end his presser on it, even though no reporter asked him about the issue.

May WE never get that desperate.


October 14th, 2012 at 10:17 AM ^

Phantom whistle proves costly

Oh, wait, that's from 2000:

Cardinal safety Tank Williams stripped Notre Dame tailback Terrance Howard and Stanford defensive end Marcus Hoover recovered the ball. But while the Cardinal were celebrating, the officiating crew convened. After a relatively lengthy discussion, it was a ruled that an inadvertent whistle was blown, negating the play.

I guess there really is nothing new under the sun.


October 14th, 2012 at 11:16 AM ^

if anyone has bothered to make a list of all the times we've had questionable calls or flukey things happen against notre dame.  It does seem like there's a disproportionate amount. 


October 14th, 2012 at 12:12 PM ^

by not ranking them in the coaches' poll, which will hurt them in the bcs? seems like they deserve a little retaliation from michigan and stanford, if not others.


October 14th, 2012 at 1:41 PM ^

... It wouldn't effect both teams equally if one team knew to EXPECT IT, and to continue play until SURE they've heard a FIELD LEVEL whistle, and if one team had HEARD IT ENOUGH (assuming it's coming from the same area (and I think it was coming from the student area consistently)) to know what the fake whistle tends to sound like.

Now,I SUPPOSE you could call it just one aspect of home field advantage, but it still feels wrong. And as someone here posted, physically DANGEROUS.

Just sayin'.

We'll see how they do on the road. Karma's a bitch.

Just needed to vent. Bless the blog! Thanks, gang.

Now let's just win the B1G. I'm ready to pass this bitter baton to the Cardinal.

To hell with Notre Dame, if hell will have them.


October 14th, 2012 at 11:21 PM ^

As a Purdue fan, I am used to getting beat by Notre Dumb.  But this year was a complete screw job by the officials.  I have replayed the game and taken screen shots of several disputed calls.  The piped in music is extremely loud as you said.  Several times the music played while Purdue was in formation, well after breaking the huddle.

Notre Dame will do anything for wins.  The coach is sleazy.  The Athletic Director is sleazy.  The fans are sleazy.  Whistles in the crowd? " Just don't blow 'em when the Domers have the ball."

What other school has no shame in announcing they don't cut the grass on the field to slow down USC?  Still didn't work, by the way.

Where Purdue got screwed, and now Stanford, was by the officials.  Not the ones on the field... B1G and Pac12, respectively, but the replay officials.  They are Big East per Notre Dame's agreement.  Flat out bullsh!t on both games.  What I don't get, is why the Big East would do anything to help ND, especially now that they are in the ACC (kinda)... unless it involves lots of money. 

Notre Dame has money.  We all know that.  Purdue's AD Morgan Burke will gladly bend over and take ND in the @ss for our guaranteed $1 million every other year.  Purdue is a mid-level B1G team.  Michigan has it's own money and doesn't need ND.  And that game is off the schedule.  Stanford has it's own money, too.  They need to grow a pair and tell ND to f off. 

Let Notre Dame play the Armed Forces, ACC teams that rhyme with puke, and money whores like Purdue.  Then they get the automatic BCS bowl with 2 or fewer losses.  I wonder how ND is going to weasel their way into a first round bye in the 4 team playoffs?

Cheat.  Lie.  Kill (Lizzy).  Cover up.  Repeat.  "This is Notre Dame."


October 15th, 2012 at 11:20 AM ^

Isn't whistling pretty much standard at football games? I sometimes whistle loudly at the games when I'm trying to create noise. And actually, I just watched the Michigan-Alabama game again and noticed quite a bit of whistling from the fans, just as loud as that at ND. Also, there may be whistling but the refs whistle is distinct. I can usually hear it loud and clear over any other whistles from the stands.

I'm not try to defend ND. I just think whistling is standard practice. 



October 15th, 2012 at 11:51 AM ^

Ok, yes, thanks for clarifying. But that's not just an ND issue. Out of 80,000 or 100,000 fans in a stadium, there's bound to be a few jerks with loud whistles.

Also, I'm not sure why the officiating crew on the field didn't do anything about it. They were a PAC12 crew, after all.



October 15th, 2012 at 12:39 PM ^

Is it common?

I don't get to see nearly as many D1 football games as most of you, but only once in my life have I been at a football game at any level where somebody in the stands had an actual whistle and the first time they blew it they were pointed out by their neighbors and promptly escorted from the stadium by ushers and police.


October 15th, 2012 at 3:33 PM ^

I've been to a LOT of Michigan games, and a number of road venues, and over all those maybe once or twice has it ever happened, and not in excessive regular circumstances.  I couldn't even name a time, I'm just guessing that it's happened and there was the old "stadium warning" at least a couple of times. Never in successive weeks like seems to be happening at ND.


October 15th, 2012 at 2:57 PM ^

I don't really care about the loud music during the huddle (that's bush league but seems fairly widespread), but they've got to do something about the whistles in the stands. It shouldn't be that hard to take care of - have a PA announcement about it before the game and then eject anyone who violates it.