Notre Dame Fighting Irish
Notre Dame is a small, private Catholic university located in Notre Dame, IN. Notre Dame is mostly known for its football program, which can be likened to a swarm of cicadas. They're noticeable every decade or two.
Through its 120 year history, Notre Dame has won eleven consensus national championships, had seven Heisman Trophy winners, and the most consesus All-Americans of any football program. Since its entrance into the Big East five years ago for all non-football sports, Notre Dame has won the Big East Commissioner's Trophy each year for men's sports, and for the last four years for women's sports. Unfortunately for the Big East, Notre Dame will not be joining the conference in football, as university officials do not feel that Notre Dame students are ready for couch burnings.
Notre Dame has an exclusive home television contract with NBC, whose production quality is currently on par with Fayetteville, Arkansas Community Access Television. This contract currently provides ND with approximately $9,000,000 a year in additional revenue, and provides fans of all other institutions - particularly that of the Big Ten - with even more of a reason to hate Notre Dame.
The Fighting (?) Irish
It's not known, exactly, where the term 'Fighting Irish' came from. The commonly accepted story is that during the halftime of the Northwestern game in 1899, with Notre Dame leading 5-0, protestant Northwestern fans began chanting 'Kill the fighting Irish, kill the fighting Irish'. Due to Notre Dame's Roman Catholic ties and it's French heritage, Notre Dame struggled accepting this moniker for its athletic teams until 1997. In the fall of 1997, the Stanford Band performed a halftime show with a featurette on the hilarity of the Irish Potato Famine. At that point, Notre Dame officially adopted the nickname, and then told the Stanford Band that it was no longer allowed to eat potatoes.
George Gipp, also known as Ronald Reagan, played football for Notre Dame, the Chicago Bears, Northwestern, Michigan and Wisconsin all at the same time. Incidentally, he also placed wagers with South Bend bookies on Notre Dame, the Chicago Bears, Northwestern, Michigan, and Wisconsin all at the same time. The Gipper was the first true college super athlete, predating such stars as Randy Moss, Maurice Clarett and Marcus Vick. Gipp never actually attended any classes, lived in a posh house provided to him free of charge, and frequented pool houses in South Bend where he often won thousands of dollars in a signle night. Notre Dame looked upon the lack of attendance, the professional football moonlighting and the gambling and threw Gipp out of school. However, Rockne reminded the administration that Gipp was the greatest football player the world had ever seen, and if they saw fit to let him back into the school, he would make Gipp run up and down the stadium steps a whole bunch of times (Note: it is widely believed that Phillip Fulmer based his disciplinary policies on this). Unfortunately for Gipp, the excessive running was too much for his booze-and-cigar lifestyle. He died of strep throat, thus allowing Rockne to make up his 'Win One for the Gipper' speech.
Michigan and Fielding Yost
The University of Michigan 'taught' Notre Dame how to play football in 1887. Until 1909, Notre Dame still hadn't beaten Michigan. Because of this, Michigan, under devout Catholic Fielding Yost, proclaimed itself as 'Champions of the West'. Upon Michigan's defeat at the hands of Notre Dame in 1909, Michigan once again proclaimed itself 'Champions of the West' and dropped Notre Dame from the schedule for the next 70 years. Fielding Yost also began a 'blackballing' campaign of keeping Notre Dame off the schedule of all Big 10 teams. This series of events led to Michigan State striking up a long, historic series with Notre Dame and, ironically, eventually being accepted into the Big Ten. Additionally, the blackballing of Notre Dame led Knute Rockne to barstorm his teams around the country, playing in venues such as Southern California (creating the first great intersectional rivalry) and the service academics in New York (creating the Subway Alumni). Partially due to Michigan's nurturing love of Catholicism and Notre Dame, ND became what it is today.
Notre Dame, in terms of football success, has been as cyclical as any other college football program. Generally speaking, Notre Dame suffers through two bad coaches for every great coach. Many believe these down years to be purgatorial periods brought on by the arrogant success of previous years. Others think that the down cycles are simply due to shitty football coaches hired by shitty athletic directors.
The Knute Rockne Years (1918-1930)
Rockne was a Norwegian-born chemist who landed at Notre Dame on a male pattern baldness research scholarship. Unfortuantely for Rockne, his chemical hair restoration concoctions failed. Rockne's fascination with the aerodynamics of oblong-shaped animal skins led him to coaching the football team. In 1913, Rockne decided to invent the forward pass, in spite of the fact that it had already been invented. Army was shocked by this move, and ended up getting its ass kicked by Notre Dame at West Point, 35-13. The shock of this upset led to William Howard Taft's loss of the White House and the US's involvement in World War I.
To Rock's credit, he has an all-time best winning percentage of .881, six national championships, and 5 undefeated seasons. He perfected the modern pass, invented the intersectional rivalry, coined the term The Four Horseman, and started the trend of celebrities dying in plane crashes.
The Frank Leahy Years (1941-1943, 1946-1953)
Frank Leahy played football for Knute Rockne, and later became head coach of the team. Leahy literally copied the success of Rockne. He had six national championships and five undefeated seasons. Additionally, Leahy's teams once had a 39 game winning streak. Unfortunately for Leahy, he could not match Rockne's .881 winning percentage, reaching only a mere .855. Many believe this is due to Leahy's temporary departure from Notre Dame to join the Navy and fight in World War II, where he personally defeated Emperor Hirohito through the re-invention of the forward pass.
Leahy accomplished one feat that may never again be repeated: he coached Boston College Football to a national championship.
The Ara Parseghian Years (1964-1974)
Despite the fact that Ara Parseghian coached at the epicenter of Big 10 protestant evil, Northwestern, he was hired by Notre Dame. Ara is the first Notre Dame coach to admit that the stress of the job nearly killed him, causing him cancer, Lou Gherig's disease, rickets, AIDS and chronic nosebleeds. Fortunately for fans of the Irish, Ara stuck around long enough to win two national championships, multiple bowl games and attain a winning percentage of .836. Ara is also noted for being smart enough to not put Rudy Ruettiger in a football game.
The Lou Holtz Years (1986-1996)
Holtz is generally considered the worst of the great Notre Dame football coaches, having led his teams to a mere .765 winning percentage, one national championship, and a few bowl wins. At most schools, Holtz's tenure would have been considered a wonderful success. However, at Notre Dame, losing to Stanford 33-16 with the likes of Jerome Bettis, Reggie Brooks, Rick Mirer, Jeff Burris and Chris Zorich on the field is considered bad. Additionally, despite not having slept with Kim Dunbar himself, he allowed her to sleep with just about everyone else on the team. Normally, this would not be an issue, but she also stole millions from her employer and was giving gifts to players on the team. Even though her only official connection to Notre Dame was her membership in a $25 quarterback club, she was considered a booster and her actions led to Notre Dame being placed on probation by the NCAA. Had Notre Dame actually attempted to defend itself during this fiasco, the probation would not have occurred.
Note: Holtz is the first Notre Dame coach to require the use of a spittoon on the sidelines.
The Black Years (2002-2004)
Notre Dame's success under Bob Davie came to a screaching halt under the guidance of the cruel pagan coach Ty Willingham. Beset by the voodoo magic of the ebony coach's devilry, the team failed to capitalize time and time again. But despite these problems, the Notre Dame administration forgave and forgot, giving Willingham opportunity after opportunity to put together a winning season. He never did. After his third losing season in a row the administration finally realized that their charity was for naught. Willingham was finally fired and Irish Nation rejoiced. The only question left was who would bring the Irish back to national prominance and television sets across the country. That man would be Charlie "Disrespect" Weis.
The Charlie Weis Years (2005-Present)
Many Notre Dame fans, desperate to be considered a national power once again, have already put Weis amongst the likes of Holtz and Parseghian. Weis did lead his team to a 9-3 record and an excellent recruiting class in the 2005 season, and achieved some unique accomplishments:
- Running coaching circles around Dave Wannstedt (oh wait)
- Ruining Michigan's season in the first month of the year (see: Oregon, Tyrone Willingham)
- Losing at home to Michigan State (see: the four previous meetings in South Bend)
- Not losing to USC by 31 points (at least it was an improvement)
- Losing a bowl game (see: every bowl game since 1994)
Despite repeating some history, Weis made it clear that he can actually outthink other coaches, make adjustments during the game, recruit five star players, and take blame after losses. This is very different from previous coaches. Notre Dame rewarded Weis with a 5 year contract extension during the 2005 season and increased his buyout to a reported 300 million dollars. Jerry Jones is expected to meet this contract buyout in 2008.
His ability to outthink other coaches and make adjustments during the game allowed Weis to have the record breaking 2007 season.
- Broke the school record for number of losses in a season
- Broke the NCAA record for the longest consecutive winning streak against a single team
- Broke the school record for most consecutive losses to start a season
- Broke the school record for the most lopsided loss in a season opener
- Managed to be the absolute last place Div-1A team in offense
- George O'Leary - December 9th, 2001: "By George, it's O'Leary!". December 14th, 2001: "George O'Leary resigned as Notre Dame football coach five days after being hired, admitting he lied about his academic and athletic background." Woops. Do-over?
- Bob Davie - During his tenure at Notre Dame, he perfected ruining quarterbacks, losing key games, backstabbing great offensive line coaches, pronouncing the word 'football' as 'footbaw', and taking a knee on his own 35 yard line against the #1 team in the country at home.
- Gerry Faust - Notre Dame had the brilliant idea of hiring a high school football coach. Faust proceeded to lose to Air Force four straight times and ended up resigning after his fifth season.
- Dan Devine - Devine wasn't actually a failure. ND won a national championship under his watch, and he had a .764 winning percentage. Unfortunately for Devine, he made the decision to play Rudy Ruettiger in a football game, thus creating the most annoying, shameless self-promoter in human history.
- Joe Kuharich - Notre Dame has a history of hiring former players to coach the program, hoping to repeat the success of men like Rockne and Leahy. This is a really, really bad idea.
- Hugh Devore - See Joe Kuharich.
- Terry Brennan - See Gerry Faust. Then see Joe Kuharich. Stir until combined. You will then have Terry Brennan.
- Ed McKeever - A good guy who had the unfortunate job of coaching Leahy's teams while Frank was serving with the Navy. Went 8-2 in one year for an .800 winning percentage, which was actually a step down from Leahy.
- Elmer Layden - One of the members of the Four Horsemen, Layden won 77% of his games. Layden never won a national championship, however, and is known more for his tailback career at ND than for his coaching.
- Heartley Anderson - Nicknamed 'hunk' because of his metrosexual physique, he took over the program after Rockne's tragic death. Anderson could have cured diseases, invented electricity, and brought peace to the world during this time and everyone would have still said, "Man, Notre Dame just isn't the same without Rockne."
- Jesse Harper - Believe it or not, Harper was a very good football coach. Unfortunately, he came prior to Knute Rockne. See: Hunk Anderson.
- 1887-1912 - Notre Dame had a variety of coaches during this period, but struggled to achieve its identity as a football program.
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