Not only will the University of Notre Dame football team take the field "Under the Lights" on Saturday night against USC, the Irish will be "Under the Gold" as well. New gold helmets that is, courtesy of Hydro Graphics Inc.
Here are answers for two big questions that Notre Dame football fans might have about the change:
Are there still gold flakes from the University of Notre Dame Administration Building (i.e. the Golden Dome) in the paint for the helmets?
The tradition of having 23.9 karat gold in the helmet continues. Actual gold flakes, collected when the Golden Dome was regilded, are still included in the painting process by Hydro Graphics Inc.
The end result is a gold helmet that is closer to the color of the Golden Dome than helmets Notre Dame has worn previously - and provides that color on a consistent basis from week to week and year to year.
Notre Dame Director of Athletics Jack Swarbrick has been frustrated with the color of the helmets over the last couple of seasons and charged Notre Dame Football Head Equipment Manager Ryan Grooms with the challenge of getting it right.
There were actually five different shades of gold applied to Notre Dame football helmets during the 2010 season in an attempt to get the color correct. After an exhaustive search and creation process (over 12 different versions) and a goal of having it ready for the USF game, Hydrographics was able to deliver the final product that Irish fans will see Saturday night.
Will the helmets still be painted by the student managers each week?
After exhausting many options, the football equipment staff was forced to decide between continuing the tradition of painting helmets and having a subpar helmet or altering the painting process to get a superior helmet. The football staff, along with Notre Dame Athletics Director Jack Swarbrick and head coach Brian Kelly, felt it was more important to get the color correct.
The student managers will still be involved with the maintenance of the helmet each game week, including inspection, removal of scuff marks and cleaning. The new paint process is so detailed it is unable to be duplicated by Notre Dame, so it is impossible to be applied each week.
Check out the special edition of Irish Connection that covers the entire story of the decision to change the helmets and how it came about right now on UND.com.