We’re not sure the November breezes were strong enough to help, but Notre Dame fans who threw caution to the wind were likely hoping for the best on Sunday.
Thousands of students stormed the field Saturday night after the Irish beat Clemson 47-40 in double overtime, kicking off a social media storm of criticism for ignoring COVID-19 protocols.
Several students could be seen on the national NBC telecast and in photos not wearing masks or with masks pulled down. “Approve of the win, but this is concerning,” tweeted St. Joseph County’s deputy health officer, Dr. Mark Fox. “At least there are masks and all undergrads were tested this week!”
Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly could see it coming. “I just want you to know,” Kelly said during a pregame walk-through with his players, “when we win this thing, the fans are going to storm the field.”
On Saturday, Notre Dame’s limited attendance – made up of students, faculty, players’ families and university personnel – was reported at 11,011.
Clemson players and coaches made it off the field quickly, with coach Dabo Swinney saying he was not upset at the fans’ behavior. “It was an epic game,” he said.
Notre Dame reported 71 positive COVID-19 tests Wednesday and 29 on Thursday.
In a video published on Thursday, the Notre Dame president, the Rev. John Jenkins, implored students to follow guidelines addressing the pandemic, saying in part that the campus “must recognize that not wearing a mask or maintaining distances now is considerably more risky with the rapid rise of the virus than it was even a few weeks ago.”
The fans were repeatedly asked to disperse, with the stadium PA voice Mike Collins appealing to the college students’ psyche.
“If you leave now you can get out before last call,” Collins said.