Herb Juliano had always been proud of his
Italian heritage. In this segment of Herbs Archive we reprint an excerpt from his
book Notre Dame Odyssey. The chapter is called "The Irish Italian Generals:
Some Passing Thoughts." In the chapter Herb chronicles the brilliant careers of
quarterbacks from Rocknes Frank Carideo, a brilliant field general, to the legend
from Monongahela, Joe Montana. Many of these men where friends of Herbs. Bertelli,
Frank Tripucka, Lamonica, and his softball teammate, Joe Montana.
One reason I decided to include this chapter at this time was Herbs
interesting account of the 79 Cotton Bowl, our theme for this edition of Irish
And if you find yourself in the Grotto on your next trip to
Notre Dame, remember, it was Herbs special place on campus. Please light a candle in
THE ITALIAN GENERALS:
SOME PASSING THOUGHTS
For decades the Notre Dame football program has been heralded as
one of - if not THE finest in the country. The Fighting Irish have always boasted a strong
and talented offensive attack, led by some of the greatest quarterbacks in football
history, including four Heisman Trophy winners. But here I am concerned with those Italian
generals who commanded Fighting Irish victory marches, and particularly those whom I have
known and admired.
A pair of outstanding Italian quarterbacks preceded my arrival at
Notre Dame; Frank Carideo, a coffin-corner kicker, led Rockne's troops in 1929 and 1930 to
two unbeaten campaigns and two national championships. (Until that time, Notre Dame's only
national title had been won by the 1924 Four Horsemen team quarterbacked by Harry
Stuhldreher, an All American field general, definitely not Italian), and Angelo Bertelli,
a baseball, hockey and football player from West Springfield, Mass., who gained national
attention with his pinpoint passing in Notre Dame's opening victory over Arizona in 1941,
his sophomore season. He was immediately tabbed "The Spingfield Rifle" and his
touchdown passes spurred the Irish to their first unbeaten season since Carideo's campaign
Although I never met Frank Carideo, I have often met and talked
with Angelo Bertelli, often in the presence of his brother-in-law, Frank Tripucka, Irish
quarterback in 1948 and father of Irish basketball star Kelly Tripucka.
Bertelli was a not-so-fleet-of-foot halfback in 1941, but he had
quick hands and, early in 1942 he loomed as the top quarterback candidate when Coach Frank
Leahy decided to do away with the famous Notre Dame box formation and try his luck with
In 1943, Notre Dame won its first national championship since
Carideo's 1930 title and All American quarterback Angelo Bertelli, who left for the Marine
Corps after the Irish had played and won six games, became Notre Dame's first Heisman
A leg injury frustrated Bertelli's four-year post-war attempts to
scale the professional heights, yet long after retiring as Notre Dame coach, Frank Leahy
called Bertelli the greatest quarterback the T-formation ever had.
Many football observers disagreed with that appraisal, including
the late Arch Ward, sports editor of the Chicago Tribune. Arch had his own candidate,
Ralph Guglielmi, another Italian general who won football letters in 1951-52-53 and 54,
and who often broke bread with me in Rocco's legendary spaghetti and pizza restaurant. To
this day, Guglielmi's name is spoken with reverence in Rocco's place where, after downing
a hearty pasta dinner replete with meatballs and sausage, he would then order his pizza.
Guglielmi, who like Bertelli won the Walter Camp Memorial Trophy,
quarterbacked Leahy's last team, the 1953 Irish that won nine and tied Iowa and who many
believed to be the best team in the nation that year. Guglielmi passed, ran from the
split-T and was devastating on defense during the seasons of the return to single-platoon
football. He was the main reason that Leahy said of those 1953 winners: "The best
team I ever coached."
Guglielmi had to be great to hold off some pretty good contenders
for the No. I quarterback position. Chicago's Tony Carey ("toughest man who ever
played Notre Dame football"), who would probably have been an All American candidate
with any other major college, fiercely but futilely dueled Guglielrni for starting
quarterback. Like "Goog," Carey was a letterman for four seasons.
Besides Carey, in 1954 Guglielmi had to overshadow another great
player, a sophomore quarterback who also could do everything well and whose name was Paul
Hornung. No wonder why Arch Ward wrote: "Gus Dorais, Jimmy Phelan, Joe Brandy, Frank
Thomas, Harry Stuhldreher, Frank Carideo, Angelo Bertelli, Johnny Lujack ... we saw them
at the peak of their skill. And, take it or leave it, Guglielmi tops them all."
Most Notre Dame fans would like to forget Joe Kuharich's elevens
of 1960-61-62 (They won a total of twelve of their thirty games), but many would question
how much that record could be blamed on Kuharich's No.1 quarterback, Daryle Lamonica.
Lamonica, whose daring play in the professional ranks was later to
earn him the name of "Mad Bomber," didn't fancy Kuharich's pedestrian offense. A
rumor on the campus those days had Lamonica missing practice and playing golf for three
consecutive days. When a priest asked him what was going on, Lamonica reportedly replied:
"I don't need to go to practice. I already know both of Kuharich's plays."
Surprisingly, the following Friday, the priest saw Lamonica
heading for the practice field. "I thought you knew both of Kuharich's plays,"
chided the priest. "I do," said Lamonica, "But I have to find out which one
he is going to use against Michigan State tomorrow."
With the pros, Lamonica sat on the Buffalo Bills bench behind Jack
Kemp for several seasons before being shipped to Oakland, where Coach John Madden said:
"I wouldn't trade Lamonica for 0.J. Simpson."
Daryle Lamonica was the spark that gained the Oakland Raiders
their first status in the pro game. In 1967 and 1969 he was the American Football League's
Most Valuable Player. He was Oakland's big man until losing the job to Ken Stabler during
the 1973 season.
During the years 1972-73-74-75, a good deal of my attention was
focused on baseball where my beloved A's-after I had faithfully followed them for forty
years-were finally rewarding me by winning three consecutive World Series. At the same
time, Ara Parseghian was rewarding Fighting Irish fans, including that perfect 1973
season, climaxed with a scintillating win over Alabama in the Sugar Bowl that earned Notre
Dame a national championship.
It was during those years that another Italian quarterback named
Frank Allocco befriended me, once again giving me cause for pride in my Italian heritage.
Allocco saw occasional action, but mostly played in the shadow of Tom Clements. Frank
Allocco will never go down in Notre Dame history as a legend, but in my book he was a good
And so we come to the most recent Italian general ... the one I
knew best and will remember most ... Joe Montana. I mean, of course, the one and only Joe
Montana, who in the third game of the 1977 season came off the bench to rally Notre Dame
to victory over Purdue, after Notre Dame had suffered a devastating defeat to Mississippi
a week earlier. From that point on, Montana became another Italian general leading Notre
Dame victory marches.
The marriage between Montana and Notre Dame created sparks.
Montana is a free-spirit, and the Irish take football seriously. But in Dan Devine,
Montana found a coach who understood. Before Devine's arrival, Montana- justly or
unjustly-had gained a bad reputation. He was slow in maturing his talents. On one depth
chart he was listed 10th out of 10, behind a few walk-ons.
But Devine saw something in Montana that other coaches were blind
to. He was patient. Montana sat out the 1976 season with a shoulder separation. As a
matter of fact, Joe's first three years at Notre Dame were almost a waste, until he got a
chance to start full-time in 1977 and took the team to the national championship.
Coming back from impossible odds to achieve unbelievable
accomplishments fit Montana's style. Comebacks. Nobody did it better than Montana. His
legend has yet to be fully appreciated, but it will grow through the years.
John Huarte won the Heisman; Terry Hanratty had a stronger arm;
Joe Theismann was a better athlete; and Tom Clements was more consistent; but
nobody-nobody --- could rally a team like Joe Montana.
Montana's miracles started in 1975, when he rallied the Irish to
twenty-one fourth quarter points against the Tar Heels of North Carolina. The 21-14
victory set the stage for a similar tour de force against the Air Force the following
Saturday. Trailing 30-1 0 in the final quarter, the Irish inserted Montana. Again, he
came, he threw, he conquered. Final score: Notre Dame 31, Air Force 30.
These two scintillating comebacks made the difference between an
8-3 Irish season and what would have been 6-5.
As it was mentioned earlier, Montana was sidelined by a shoulder
injury in 1976, but resumed his heroics in the 1977 Purdue game. In the fourth quarter he
rallied the Irish to a seventeen point burst and a 31-24 victory. Later in the year,
against the deafening noise put out by a hostile Clemson crowd, Montana again spearheaded
a fourteen point fourth quarter, and the Irish emerged from "death valley" with
a 21-17 win. These cardiac conclusions were mixed with stunning upsets of Southern Cal and
Texas (Cotton Bowl), as Notre Dame rolled to the national championship. There was little
doubt that Montana's performance in the Purdue game turned the season around and that Joe
was the key in the drive to the title.
The 1978 season, however, got off to a disastrous start. Notre
Dame lost its first two games and it seemed that Montana and the Irish had lost the magic.
Why weren't the comebacks coming? The reality that a second national title was impossible
was taking its toll on team morale.
Well, the Irish slowly picked up the pieces and started to win
again. There was even a patented fourth quarter rally to beat Pittsburgh, as Montana
showed signs of his old stuff again. As the season unfolded, Notre Dame kept winning, but
there loomed an ominous cloud on the horizon-Southeim Cal, the perpetual nemesis.
Early in the fourth quarter, the Trojans had built an impressive
24-6 lead, and Irish hopes seemed hopeless, and when Montana hit Kris Haines for a 57-
yard touchdown, it appeared that it would merely make the final score a little more
But before long the Irish were driving again and momentum seemed
to be on their side. Returning to his old brilliance, Montana lead the team to another
score, and Notre Dame suddenly trailed by only five points, 24-19. The Trojans were
getting scared. Did Montana have it in him for yet another comeback?
Now less than two minutes remain. Montana drops back ... throws to
Holohan ... TOUCHDOWN! ... Notre Dame 25, Southern Cal 24. Pandemonium!
Montana, who had remained properly stoic throughout the ordeal,
leaped in jubilation; his joy was ineffable. Notre Dame players were delirious; Southern
Cal players were crying. Now it was a matter of time as the two teams lined up for the
extra point, and when Montana's pass for a two-point conversion fell incomplete, nobody
was too worried. The Irish were not to be denied.
But they were. Aided by an official's mistake on a play that could
have clinched an Irish victory, Southern Cal mounted a drive that led to a field goal and
a 27-25 victory. The devastated, desiccated Irish stared in disbelief. The impossible
dream had become a nightmare.
Committed to an appearance in the Cotton Bowl against a brash and
surprising Houston team, the dispirited Irish had to slough off their disappointment and
begin preparations. It would be Joe Montana's last game for Notre Dame. Neither he nor we
will ever forget it.
After taking an easy 12-0 lead, the Irish saw the momentum swing
wildly to Houston. By halftime, Houston led 20-12 and when the second half resumed, one
player-Joe Montana-was missing. Piercing cold and cutting winds had lowered his body
temperature to 96 degrees.
While he sat wrapped in blankets, shivering, and being fed chicken
soup, cut and bleeding from the rock salt used to clear the field after an ice storm
struck Dallas, he could hear the roar of the crowd as Houston kept pouring it on.
Pathetic! Notre Dame was getting humiliated and Montana was out of action.
But the home remedy worked. Later in the third quarter, the team
doctors gave him permission and Montana entered the game. At first, frustrations were
compounded when he quickly threw a pair of interceptions, giving him four for the day.
Ignominious defeat seemed certain.
With 7:23 remaining in the game and Houston leading 34-12, the
Irish blocked a punt and turned it into a touchdown. At least this would alleviate the
But all of a sudden, the tide began to turn, and the Irish were
driving again. Could the combination of Irish momentum and Montana magic work one more
time? Irish fans were filled with ambivalence: they yearned, they hoped, they prayed for a
miracle finish. But they were skeptical; the last second loss to Southern Cal was still an
Inexorably, the Irish advanced and when Montana scored on a
two-yard run and completed a pass for the two-point conversion, Notre Dame was in striking
distance. By now the Irish defense abounded in adrenalin and quickly stopped Houston.
Getting the ball on a punt, and trailing 34-28, the Irish were ready to make their move.
Montana started to drive the team; spirits were sky high. Joe set
up to pass, was trapped, scrambled beautifully for a first down; and then tragedy struck-
he fumbled when he was tackled. Once again, skepticism dueled hope.
But Notre Dame's still aroused defense held the Cougar's on a
fourth down gamble. There were thirty-five seconds to go and forty-nine yards to cover. It
was now or never. Montana gamely drove the Irish to the Houston eight yard line with two
seconds to play. It couldn't have been more dramatic; the Comeback Kid's last play for
Notre Dame could be his most spectacular.
Rolling to his right, Montana hit Haines in the comer for a
touchdown and the tying points. Pandemonium! But things didn't come easy for this team and
there was still the extra point to be made.
T'he extra point was successful, but jubilation was curtailed; the
Irish were offside. They would have to kick again. Skepticism and hope were roaring to a
photo finish. You couldn't write a scenario like this. Irish fans were basket cases, but
they managed one last look, one last prayer.
Joe Unis made it! Notre Dame 35, Houston 34! The usually reserved
Father Hesburgh led the band in the Victory March. Both he and long-time athletic director
"Moose" Krause agreed that this was the greatest comeback in Notre Dame history.
Even greater than the 1935 Ohio State game? I'm not so sure.
But whether THE greatest or one of the greatest comebacks in Notre
Dame history, how appropriate that it was led by the incomparable Comeback Kid, Joe
Was I proud? You better believe it! This was the guy I played
softball with. This was the guy I shared meals with. This was the guy I sat all afternoon
and watched as he rehearsed with Bob Hope for a television skit. This was the guy who
always had a smile and a friendly word for me. This was a guy I really liked.
At Notre Dame, Italian quarterbacks and our national championships
go hand-in-hand. So when you're mentioning Carideo, Bertelli, Guglielmi, Larnonica and
Montana, don't overlook the Italian-American quarterbacks who directed Notre Dame to
national championships in 1966 and 1973, Terry Hanratty and Tom Clements.
Hanratty and Clements are Irish names, you say? True. But their
mothers were Italian.
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