On this date in Notre Dame Football History:
Sources for the calendar are 100 Years of Notre Dame Football by Gene Schoor, The Fighting Irish 1999 Calendar, Knute Rockne by Francis Wallace, The Notre Dame Football Scrapbook by Cohen, Deutsch and Neft and The Fighting Irish Football Encyclopedia by Mike Steele, Shake Down The Thunder by Murray Sperber, One for The Gipper by Patrick Chelland, 75 Years of Notre Dame All-Americans and The Notre Dame Football Encyclopedia.
Knute Rockne was a visionary in many realms of life, not just football. He forsaw the incredible popularity of a newfangled invention -"the television radio" - and he embraced air travel as the wave of the future. "I see the day coming when most college teams will be traveling by air exclusively," he wrote a week before his death. "As a matter of fact, I'm flying to Los Angeles next week."
How popular is Notre Dame's famous fight song? Well, the four songs generally considered to be the most recognized in America are "The Star-Spangled Benner," "God Bless America," "White Christmas," and "The Notre Dame Victory March."
John Scully, a native of Huntington, New York, was the starting center for two years under Dan Devine, from 1979 to 1980. As a junior, the six-foot-five, 255-pounder helped clear the way for star halfback Vegas Ferguson and, as a senior, for Phil Carter. Scully was a consensus All-American in 1980.
Knute Kenneth Rockne is born in Voss, Norway. Five years later, his parents would immigrate to the United States and settle in Chicago. There, young Knute soon would embrace the rugged new sport of football and eventually make it his life's passion. He would become one of the most legendary sportsmen in American history.
Rocky Bleier is born in 1946.
It's safe to say that while playing in South Bend "Rocky" Bleier learned, or at least perfected, many of the moves he used in helping the Pittsburgh Steelers win four Super Bowls. Robert "Rocky" Bleier, the son of an Appleton, Wisconsin, tavern owner, was a two-time all-state running back and captain of the football, basketball, and track teams at Xavier High School, where all of his teams went undefeated in his senior year. He was the starting halfback on Notre Dame's 1966 national championship team and was elected captain for the following season.
During his first season on the Notre Dame varsity football team, Bleier played behind Bill Wolski at left halfback and gained 145 yards on 26 carries. The next year he moved up to the first team and was the smallest member of the starting backfield, but at the end of the championship season he had the numbers to prove his worth. He finished with 282 yards on 63 carries ( third on the team) and was second on the team, with 17 receptions for 209 yards. In his spare time he punted and also led the team in that category.
During the next season, Notre Dame was Bleier's team. He was elected captain in the spring of 1967, and his hard work and skill set a great example on the field. In his senior campaign, Bleier rushed for 357 yards on 77 carries and grabbed 16 passes for 171 yards. His 42 points were third best on the team, but he made very few All-America teams, and his statistics (which were not as impressive as his play) and size made many NFL teams shy away on draft day in 1968. Taken in the sixteenth round, 417th overall, Bleier was the steal of the draft for the Pittsburgh Steelers.
Bleier's outstanding professional career almost came to a halt after one year. After his rookie season in Pittsburgh he was drafted into the army and was seriously wounded in combat duty during the Vietnam War. Medical experts said he would be lucky to ever walk normally again, let alone carry the ball in an NFL game. But mere words could not stop the Rock, who fought his way back onto the Pittsburgh roster in 1971. He continued to improve and earned more playing time; by 1974 he was starting at halfback, and he was a key member of a Steelers offense that won Super Bowls in 1975, 1976, 1979, and 1980.
Bleier retired from the NFL in 1980, with 3,864 yards rushing on 928 carries and 136 receptions for 675 yards. He also scored 23 touchdowns. His autobiography, Fighting Back, was adapted into a television movie.
From The Notre Dame Football Encyclopedia.
Sportswriter and Notre Dame grad Francis Wallace was the one who entrenched the "Fighting Irish" nickname in the 1920s, according to author Murray Sperber. Wallace used the moniker in his stories on Notre Dame football for the New York Post and the New York Daily News. Other papers followed suit, and the school itself adopted "Fighting Irish" as its official nickname in 1927.
Steve Beuerlein, Notre Dame quarterback from 1983-1986, is born.
In a program that can proudly exhibit a quarterback lineage that includes Angelo Bertelli, Johnny Lujack, Paul Hornung, Joe Theismann and Joe Montana, the fact that Beuerlein graduated as Notre Dame's all-time top passer is a remarkable achievement. Steve, who had the fortune of sharing and offense with superstar flanker Tim Brown for three years, left school as the career record holder, with 850 attempts, 473 completions, 6,527 passing yards, and 6,459 yards in total offense. Ron Powlus has since eclipsed most of Beurlein's records.
Mike Townsend made an outstanding transition from cornerback to free saftey for his senior season in 1973. The Hamilton, Ohio, native registered three interceptions, recovered three fumbles, and was named a consensus All-American selection. He was also a tri-captain of that 1973 national championship squad.
Exactly 100 years and five days after the birth of Knute Rockne, President Ronald Reagan comes to Notre Dame to dedicate the new commemorative stamp issued in Rockne's honor. It is the first time an athletic coach at any level is featured on a U.S. postage stamp. Approximately 160 million Rockne stamps are printed.
Bill Fischer is born. An outstanding lineman, Bill was an Outland Trophy winner and 1983 inductee into the College Football Hall of Fame. He was also an All-Pro and later an assistant coach at Notre Dame.
"Information on football varies a lot, depending on wether you get it from a coach, player, student, alumnus, newspaper man, or whether you are one of these lucky chaps who gets it directly from the barber himself."
Greg Marx of Redford, Michigan, was a consensus All-American as a senior co-captain in 1972. He was second on the team in tackles that year with ninety-six and led the squad with six tackles for losses. Marx also was a two-time Academic All-American who earned postgraduate scholarships from the NCAA and the National Football Foundation.
Chris Zorich is born in Chicago. He would become one of the greatest nose tackles in college football history with Notre Dame from 1988 to 1990. At a squat six-foot-one and 266 pounds, Zorich would boast an amazing strength to shed blockers yet be nimble of foot enough to track down running backs in the flats, even downfield. "He's one of the greatest nose guards we've played against," Penn State coach Joe Paterno would rave.
As a Notre Dame player from 1910 to 1913, Knute Rockne was a pioneer. He was an end who teamed up with immortal quarterback Gus Dorais, and Rockne is credited with devising and running the first "button-hook" pass patterns. Walter Camp named Rockne a third-team All-American after his senior season.
Defensive tackle Oliver Gibson is born.
Gibson's college career got off to a slow start, but he continued to improve, and his final game at Notre Dame turned out to be his best. He had 7 tackles in a 24-21 loss to Colorado in the 1995 Fiesta Bowl.
USA Today named him the high school Defensive Player of the Year for his playas a senior at Romeoville High School in Illinois, where he was captain of both the basketball and football teams. Gibson only played three games as a college freshman because of an injury. He ended up receiving red-shirt status from the NCAA and called the year a wash. In 1991, he played eleven games at tackle and end and showed sparks of life, an indication that he was going to be a player to be reckoned with.
By his senior season, Gibson was the first string's starting nose tackle, and in 1994 he finished fourth on the team in tackles, with 59, and the honors rolled in. He was the recipient of the Lineman of the Year Award of the Moose Krause Chapter of the National Football Foundation and Hall of Fame and won the Nick Pietrosante Award, named in honor of the late Fighting Irish fullback who died of cancer in 1988. His award goes to the player who exemplifies the courage and spirit that was a trademark of Pietrosante. The Pittsburgh Steelers selected Gibson in the fourth round of the 1995 draft. He played there until moving to the Cincinnati Bengals in 1999.
From The Notre Dame Football Encyclopedia.
"That boy is going to make a great coach someday."
---Knute Rockne in 1930, in reference to senior guard Frank Leahy, who didn't play that season because of a knee injury. Leahy would go on to post a .855 winning percentage as Fighting Irish coach from 1941 to 1943 and from 1946 to 1953, second in college football annals to Rockne's .881.
Although the true origin of Notre Dame's "Fighting Irish" nick-name will never be known for sure, the first published reference was probably on November 6, 1909, in the Detroit Free Press's account of Notre Dame's momentous 11-3 victory over Michigan in Ann Arbor: Almost all of Notre Dame's starters were Irish, and the Free Press seized on this in three prominent references. One was a large subhead on the sports front "Shorty Longman's Fighting Irishmen Humble the Wolverines." Another was in the lead of E.A. Batchelor's game story: "Eleven Fighting Irishmen wrecked [Michigan] this afternoon." The third was in a quote from Michigan coach Fielding Yost "I take my hat off to the Irishmen."
Free safety and split end Pat Terrell is born.
All it took was a switch from split end to free safety for Terrell to step up to the top level of college football. At Lakewood High School, in St. Petersburg, Florida, he was an All-American wide receiver, a position he played during his first two seasons at Notre Dame. But in 1988 defense called, and Terrell started six games at free safety. He made 38 tackles and had 2 interceptions to help Notre Dame win all twelve of its games and a national championship.
The next season, as a senior, Terrell started all thirteen games. He compiled 44 tackles and finished second on the team in interceptions, with 5. In Notre Dame's 21-6 Orange Bowl victory over the University of Colorado, Terrell had 9 tackles and recovered a fumble, and postseason honors included being named a first-team All-American. The Los Angeles Rams selected him in the second round of the 1990 NFL draft, and he played with the Rams through the 1993 season. From there he went to play for the New York Jets in 1994 and 1995, and for the Carolina Panthers in 1995 and 1996.
Pat will always be remembered for his knockdown of Miami's pass attempt for a two-point conversion in the epic game against Miami in 1988.
From The Notre Dame Football Encyclopedia.
Rick Mirer is born in Goshen, Indiana. He would go on to star at quarterback for three years under Coach Lou Holtz from 1990 to 1992, finishing with several school passing records and a shining 29-7-1 record.
"One loss is good for the soul. Two many losses are not good for the coach."
"After drifting around Chicago for more than a year in the usual succession of odd jobs, and lacking the desire or talent to become a mechanic, Knute Rockne took the civil service examination for postal clerk. It was necessary to write an essay for the exam and Rock's subject was: The Advisability of Our Having a Larger Navy Is Becoming Greater Since Japan Whipped Russia."
From Francis Wallace's Knute Rockne.
Defensive end and all-time Notre Dame great Ross Browner is born. Ross Browner came to Notre Dame from Warren, Ohio, with outstanding credentials. He left with even better ones.
A high school All-American at Warren Western Reserve, which he led to an Ohio state championship, Browner was a two-time college All-American (1976-77) and winner of the Outland Trophy (1976) and the Lombardi Trophy (1977). The defensive lineman was also fifth in the voting for the Heisman Trophy (1977), which traditionally is awarded to an offensive standout.
Defensive tackle Ross Browner was the winner of the Outland Trophy and the Lombardi Trophy and had a ten-year career in pro football.
A starter from his freshman year, Browner made his presence felt from the beginning. In his first-ever college game he blocked a punt for a safety as Notre Dame drubbed Northwestern 44-0 in the 1973 season opener. His first college team was undefeated and won a national championship. Browner was a big contributor, especially for a first-year player. He had 68 tackles, third on the team.
Browner missed the following season with an injury, but came back in 1975 with a vengeance. He made 71 tackles and recovered 4 fumbles. Then, as a junior, he had 97 tackles, including a school record 28 for negative yardage, and also recovered 4 fumbles. His junior season might have been a tough act to follow, but with 104 tackles in his senior year, Browner made it look easy. The team won another national championship, and his brother Jim was also on the same defense.
Browner holds the Notre Dame career record for tackles by a front-four lineman (post-1956), with 340. He also recovered 12 fumbles, forced 2 safeties, and scored a touchdown. He was selected eighth overall in the 1978 NFL draft by the Cincinnati Bengals, taken one pick after his Notre Dame teammate, tight end Ken MacAfee.
Browner was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 1999.
Demetrius DuBose, Linebacker from 1989-1992, is born
DuBose may have been smart enough to graduate from Notre Dame a semester early with a degree in government, but it was Irish head coach Lou Holtz who knew enough to make him a starter during his sophomore season.
DuBose was an AII-American football player and three-sport star at Bishop O'Dea High School in Seattle, Washington. By the time he was a college junior he led the team in tackles, and he repeated that feat in his senior season. DuBose, who started eleven games and was known for running down the opposition allover the field, made 127 tackles, was named a first-team AII-American, and was one of ten semifinalists for the Butkus Award, presented each year to the best linebacker in the nation.
As a senior, despite missing two games with injuries, the savvy and agile DuBose led Notre Dame in tackles, with 87. He was captain of the team, earned honorable mention All-American honors, and was also presented the Nick Pietrosante Award by his teammates. The award is named after the star fullback who died of cancer on February 6, 1988, and goes to the Fighting Irish player who best exemplifies courage, loyalty, team work, dedication, and pride. It was the first year that the award was given.
After his Notre Dame career was over, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers selected him in the second round of the 1993 NFL draft. He played for the team through the 1996. Season. On July 24, 1999 he tragically lost his life in an altercation with the San Diego Police.
The student newspaper, the Scholastic, announces that arrangements are being made for Notre Dame's second - and third - ever intercollegiate football games, against the same school that provided the introductory contest the previous November- the University of Michigan. "We are pleased to note the interest taken by the students in the Rugby football game," the Scholastic indicates. "It is an interesting game, and affords exercise at those times of year when baseball and rowing cannot be enjoyed "
Told by Marchy Schwartz, famous halfback on Rockne's 1929 and 1930 teams...
"Another Rockne story? Well, in my junior year I was sitting in my room in the dorm one night and one of the student football managers dropped by. He suffered from curvature of the spine and was quite lame. Yet he never let his handicap bother him. You never heard him complain. I told him to sit down and we started shooting the breeze. I asked him how he happened to come to Notre Dame.
"I was working in an electrical plant back in Schenectady," he said, "and Rockne happened to come in with some of the high officials on an inspection trip. He singled me out and asked me to tell him about the particular job I was doing. I gave him the details. He then said: 'Have you ever thought about going to college?' I said, 'No, I haven't.' Then he said, 'Well, why don't you come out to Notre Dame next semester? We need a lot of managers and you strike me as a young fella who does a pretty good job. I know we can work something out for you.' Which is how I happen to be at Notre Dame today. I owe my college education to Coach Rockne."
Michael Stonebreaker of River Ridge, Louisiana, was a magnificent inside linebacker on two of Lou Holtz teams, 1988 and 1990. Both years, Stonebreaker was a consensus All-American pick. He finished his career with 220 tackles, five sacks, two fumble recoveries, five interceptions, and eitht passes broken up.
Lou Holtz didn't approve of wild celebration when Notre Dame scored a touchdown. "I'd prefer the players act like they've been there before," he once said.
The most prolific kicker in Notre Dame history, and one of the most accurate in NCAA history from long range, is John Carney, who played for Gerry Faust and Lou Holtz from 1983 to 1986. The native of West Palm Beach, Florida, was good on fifty-one of sixty-nine field-goal attempts in his career -- both Fighting Irish records. He also set the long-standing NCAA record for the most consecutive career field goals made from 40-49 yards (twelve between 1984 and 1985), and highest season field-goal percentage from 40-49 yards (ten of ten in 1984).
Frank Carideo of Mt. Vernon, New York, quarterbacked Knute Rockne's last two teams, which won national championships in 1929 and 1930. Carideo may have been the quintessential Rockne player -- smallish (five-foot seven, 172 pounds) but very quick, agile, and loaded with smarts. He was a unanimous All-Amercian selection in both 1929 and 1930.
Don Miller was born this day in 1902.
Halfback (1922-1924), 5'11", 160 lbs.
Don was not only the best of five Miller brothers from Defiance, Ohio, to play football at Notre Dame, he was also the best (statistically) of the quartet that was dubbed the Four Horsemen. Miller led the Horsemen in receiving 3 times, in rushing twice, and in scoring once.
Indeed, he almost didn't go to Notre Dame at all, but a hard sell by head coach Knute Rockne eventually won him over, and Miller decided to follow in the footsteps of three of his brothers to South Bend. Harry "Red" Miller was an All-American in 1909; Ray, who was eventually elected the mayor of Cleveland, played backup to Rockne; and Walter was a starting fullback in 1917. His fourth brother, Gerry, played at the same time as Don and was a backup.
Rockne, usually taciturn when it came to public praise of his players, was quick to call Miller the best open-field runner he ever coached. Miller had the speed to turn the comer, and he averaged 6.8 yards per carry during his career, still a school record. During his sophomore season, Miller emerged as a starter. He was second on the team - behind Jim Crowley's 566 yards - with 472 yards and 3 touchdowns on 87 carries. He was also a feared kick returner, running back one kickoff for a 95-yard score, and he caught 6 passes for 144 yards and a touchdown.
As a junior, in 1923, Miller emerged as the team's leading rusher, with 698 yards on 89 carries and 9 touchdowns. He also caught 9 passes for 149 yards and a touchdown, had an interception, and returned 4 punts for 69 yards and one kickoff for 15 yards. He was the only member of the crew soon to be named the Four Horsemen to earn first-team All-Amencan honors.
In 1924, Miller was the starting right halfback on the undefeated national championship team, the first consensus title in school history. He rushed for 763 yards on 107 carries and scored 5 touchdowns, caught 16 passes for 297 yards and 2 touchdowns, made 2 interceptions, and returned a kickoff for 20 yards, This time, however, things evened up, as Miller was the only Horseman not to make first-team All-American.
Miller graduated from Notre Dame second on the all-time rushing list, behind only George Gipp. At the beginning of the 2001 season, his total of 1,933 yards on 283 carries still ranked fourteenth all-time. Miller also played varsity basketball at Notre Dame, and he was the president of his college senior class. He graduated in 1925 with a law degree, and after a year of playing professionally for the Providence Steam Roller he embarked on his career as a lawyer-football coach. He worked as an assistant at Georgia Tech and Ohio State in the fall months, and the rest of the year at his firm, Miller, Hertz, and Miller, in Cleveland. As the business took off he phased out coaching. In 1941, President Franklin D. Roosevelt appointed Miller as U.S. district attorney for northern Ohio. Later he became national president of the United States Attorney's Association, and was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 1970.
Source: "The Notre Dame Football Encyclopedia: The Ultimate Guide to America's Favorite College Team."
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