Notre Dame AD Jack Swarbrick Talks Stadium Music, ND Digital Network, and More

Earlier tonight, Notre Dame Athletic Director Jack Swarbrick decided to participate in his second Google+ Hangout with writers from around the Notre Dame Blogosphere. Five Notre Dame bloggers (which I was lucky enough to be one of the five selections — representing the Leprechaun Legion on campus) got to ask Swarbrick any question they wanted, which he was not briefed on beforehand. Check it out below:

The five bloggers are listed below:

  1. Ryan Ritter “NDTex” — HerLoyalSons
  2. Mike Coffey “El Kabong” — ND Nation
  3. Josh Vowles — Subway Domer
  4. Pat Mistch – Blue-Gray Sky
  5. Tyler Moorehead – Leprechaun Legion

Here is the transcript for the questions that I asked Jack — I will add the links here to the posts that all of the other participants write once they are up:

Tyler Moorehead: Jack, last Google Hangout you said that, relevant to Notre Dame, we do not have much of a home-field advantage. The Leprechaun Legion is a student body organization that really prides itself on 1) optimizing the stadium experience for both students and fans alike, and 2) increasing the home-field advantage by really making the atmosphere more intimidating. One of the big pushes that we have been working on is the music in the football stadium, which has gotten great publicity, and we’ve been really pleased with the results. Now, knowing the overwhelming student support for this initiative, we were kind of surprised to see the music in the stadium take a step backwards per se versus Michigan. Is that something that is going to continue in the future, or how do you work with both what the current students want in the stadium, versus what may be popular in the eyes of many alumni?

Jack Swarbrick: In what sense did it take a step backwards?

Tyler Moorehead: I guess the music was just less prominent. We reduced the amount of times it was played on third downs and TV timeouts were now given to the band, which had been the place of actual music over the last several games.

Jack Swarbrick: Thanks. First of all I want to congratulate the Legion, because it has been a huge difference-maker for us. That environment was spectacular against Michigan. We were so pleased — I can’t tell you the number of people, even those who had been critical prior to this, came up to me and said that this was the best environment that they can ever remember in the stadium. So thanks to the Legion for making that possible in so many ways.

One of the differences in this game was that the band was mic’d, so the band was able to play a different role than it had [in past games] at critical times, so that was one element that may have been why there was less recorded music. The other was that I didn’t particularly care for the music so it was my choice here, during the timeouts. I think the music really energizes the crowd, and during a timeout it felt awkward, having music and the crowd not react to it. So those were the only two differences that I can think of. I had a number of people come to me and say this was the first time, they had been critical of it before, but they appreciated it this time because it blended in with the crowd noise. It didn’t sit apart from it — it energized it and raised the entire level of the stadium, and I just think it was a spectacular environment.

Tyler Moorehead: Do you see that there may be a difference in how much music is played in a night game versus Michigan compared to a day game versus Wake Forest? And I know that the music goes hand-in-hand with a lot of other very positive initiatives, such as the Take a StaND initiative that was launched. Do you plan on continuing to beef up the home-field advantage, and do you have any idea of what those future plans may be?

Jack Swarbrick: I don’t know that I can cite any particular plans, but we evaluate it every week. After each week we sit down and you guys (the Leprechaun Legion) give us input, and we work with our promotions staff, Josh and his team (Josh Berlo, Assistant AD), and the football people and week talk about it — what works, what didn’t work, and what can we do better. So I’m so pleased with the progress, so pleased with the environment we’ve created. You’ve heard a lot of our guests commenting about it, tweeting about it after the game, so I couldn’t be more pleased with where we are headed.

Tyler Moorehead: You also mentioned in your last Google Hangout that Notre Dame would never have its own network in the sense of the ESPN Longhorn Network, but you really wanted to continue to expand the digital media rights, and kind of expand a digital network. Now with the move to the ACC, do you have to work with them and their media rights, or how will that digital network, or those goals, be affected by the move?

Jack Swarbrick: The structure is very similar, relative to the television rights with the ACC and the BIG EAST.  That is to say, there is a tiering of the rights, their network partners get first choice, the ACC digital network has a secondary choice, and then if things haven’t been picked up by those methods, the school has a choice. So we’ll still have a lot of inventory to develop and work with, and in that sense there’s no significant difference between that structure within the Big East. So we don’t think it will impact us adversely at all, and in fact, given the depth and breadth of the Olympic sports, it probably gives us some really high-quality inventory to work with in the years ahead.

Check back tomorrow for my thoughts and analysis on Jack’s answers.


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Former Managing Editor at College Spun. Notre Dame alumnus from Erie, PA. Diehard sports guy, obviously. Love 90's music, naps, and watching movies. I hate vegetables. Extremely sarcastic. Love reading comments on my pieces. Follow me on Twitter @TMoorehead627.