Notre Dame-Army: Pregame presser


NEW YORK -- Two hours before kickoff on Saturday, a news conference was held here at Yankee Stadium, featuring the athletic directors of both Notre Dame and Army, along with two New York Yankees executives.

"This is a great, great honor for us to have you here for the inaugural college football game at Yankee Stadium," said Yankees president Randy Levine.

"To have Notre Dame and West Point be the two institutions that can re-open college football at Yankee Stadium is something that we could not even fantasize about," said Yankees chief operating officer Lonn Trost.

Both athletic directors seemed very excited about tonight's game -- the 50th meeting between the two schools. They played 22 times at the old Yankee Stadium, the last time being in 1969.

"It means the world to us," said Col. Sam Johnson, Army's interim AD. "To be here, as the inaugural football game at this stadium, it's history. And that's just a great thing for us."

"When we first started talking about this, it was very important to us to be the first game at Yankee Stadium. Because we thought that was the best way to celebrate the tradition," said Jack Swarbrick, Notre Dame's AD. "And we also felt strongly the opponent needed to be Army, because of all they had meant to the history of Notre Dame, and the history of college football with Notre Dame in Yankee Stadium."

Tonight's game -- which is considered a Notre Dame home game -- is sold out, and we've been told that it will be the biggest crowd this stadium has ever hosted since it opened.

Col. Johnson said Army coach Rich Ellerson decided to bring his team to visit the stadium on Friday, the day before the game.

"Coach wanted to do a walkthrough yesterday to get rid of the 'Wow' factor. Because he knew when the team walked in the first thing they would do is go 'Wow,' Col. Johnson said. "Because this field is so different than any other stadium -- no matter how big the stadium is.

"We played at the Meadowlands this year, just as [Notre Dame] played [there] -- and that was a terrific event. But this stadium has a very different feel to it than any stadium, whether it seats 80,000 or 20,000. It's just Yankee Stadium -- it's what it is.