Reflections from the Dome

Elmer Layden leaps to intercept one of the two passes he ran back for touchdowns.

Elmer Layden leaps to intercept one of the two passes he ran back for touchdowns.


In his book, Being Catholic, Being American, The Notre Dame Story, 1842-1934, former ND professor Robert Burns gives an excellent account of the reasons behind Notre Dame's decision to play in the 1925 Rose Bowl, the trip to the west coast, the game, and the return trip. Also an interesting analysis of what the trip meant to Notre Dame and to Catholics across America.

Being Catholic, Being American: Chapter 10: Against A Blue-Gray Sky

When negotiations with the Rose Bowl Committee began in October, it appeared that this project was not going to be done right. >From the perspective of the Rose Bowl Committee, Notre Dame was the attraction, Notre Dame would fill their stadium. Because the Rose Bowl Committee wanted to avoid repetition of the embarrassing circumstances of 1921, they decided to ignore the Pacific Coast Conference altogether and contracted with the Haskell Indians to play in the Rose Bowl as the West Coast representative. [Editors note: The University of California had refused to play Notre Dame that year in the Rose Bowl because of allegations that three ND players had played in professional games] The committee had persuaded itself that the present Pacific Coast Conference champion, Stanford, would refuse to play against Notre Dame for the same reasons that the University of California, Berkeley, had refused in 1921: the alleged professionalism of some of the Notre Dame players and the alleged low academic standards of this Catholic university. That was too much for Walsh. What was good enough for Stanford was good enough for Notre Dame. The Faculty Board in Control of Athletics dutifully refused to accept a postseason game with a school as academically suspect as the Haskell Institute.

At this point, the University of Southern California, runner-up in final Pacific Coast Conference standings, offered its team as an alternative to Stanford. However, a better financial guarantee from the Rose Bowl Committee persuaded the academic and athletic leadership of Stanford to reconsider their position. In late November, the West Coast school agreed to play Notre Dame in Pasadena for an even split of 60 percent of the net gate receipts, which in the end amounted to payments by the Rose Bowl Committee of $52,000 each to Notre Dame and Stanford.

Finally, there was irresistible pressure from Father O'Hara, prefect of religion and unofficial keeper of the institutional conscience, to take the football team to Pasadena. O'Hara had a special gift of being able to talk Walsh into almost anything, and the matter of a trip to the Rose Bowl was a case in point. O'Hara saw the Rose Bowl invitation as an almost providential opportunity to counter the extremely negative Klan-inspired image of Notre Dame as an institution populated by well-to-do Irish American Catholic thugs and hooligans who were not serious about academic pursuits. More than that, if properly organized and managed, O'Hara believed, the Rose Bowl trip might well turn out to be the most successful advertising campaign for the spiritual ideals and practices of American Catholicism yet undertaken in this century.

O'Hara explained his hopes for the Rose Bowl trip after the fact in his Religious Survey for 1924-25. "Successful in every contest:' O'Hara wrote, "the team travelled from coast to coast, winning friends by the qualities of gentlemanliness and true sportsmanship. Daily communion was an essential part of the season. ...the fruits of Catholic education were recognized in the gentlemanly conduct of the team while bigotry and prejudice received an abrupt set back."

With respect to the place of Notre Dame football within God's divine plan for the world, which O'Hara sometimes broached in his more euphoric moments of reflection on the memorable events of 1924, he did not address the question directly in the Religious Survey for 1924-25. However, some years later, in the Religious Survey for 1930-31, he raised as a rhetorical question the "far-fetched" idea that by showing that frequent Holy Communion was acceptable practice for full-blooded athletic champions, "God has made use of the Notre Dame football team to spread devotion to the Blessed Sacrament." O'Hara also questioned rhetorically whether or not through the prestige of Notre Dame football achievement God had called attention to the aims, ideals, practices, and successes of Catholic education. O'Hara gave no explicit answers to either of those rhetorical questions in the Religious Survey for 1924-25 or for 1930-31; he did not have to.

However theologically simplistic or insightful O'Hara's idea of the Notre Dame football team as a providential instrument might turn out to be, Walsh was of no mind even to think about arguing with his popular prefect of religion about it. He had neither the energy nor inclination to do so. If that was what O'Hara wanted to believe and propagate, so be it. A man who could believe such things and say so publicly without fear of embarrassment was so supremely self-confident to be capable of almost anything. Indeed, such a man ought to have a major role in the Rose Bowl project and did. After signing the contract for a Notre Dame appearance in Pasadena on New Year's Day, Walsh turned over the management of the Rose Bowl enterprise to O'Hara. He was the only Holy Cross priest to travel to Pasadena with the team.

Once in charge, O'Hara with full cooperation from Rockne proceeded to plan and then organize a three-week American Catholic public relations spectacular. Influential individual alumni, alumni clubs, and local Knights of Columbus councils were all enlisted as local organizers, hosts, and sponsors of a series of demonstrations of Catholic pride and achievement.

As planned by O'Hara, defeating Stanford and claiming the national intercollegiate football championship was only one of several reasons for going to Pasadena. Much more was involved in this trip than winning an important football game. Here were extraordinary opportunities to redeem the university and Indiana Catholics from the widely disseminated bigoted aspersions of the Klan and to display the manliness and wholesome spirituality of Catholic religious practices to as many journalists and ordinary people as possible. In this enterprise O'Hara was to receive strong support from enthusiastic alumni and Knights of Columbus councils from all over the country.

Among the most important alumni participating in the Rose Bowl project was Angus D. McDonald, a member of the university's Lay Board of Trustees and an executive with the Southern Pacific Railroad Company. McDonald made available for the team and traveling party several Southern Pacific railway cars, including one specially outfitted as a rolling chapel, wherein O'Hara could celebrate Mass for the team, hear their confessions, and distribute Holy Communion on a daily basis. McDonald also facilitated arrangements for an elaborate schedule of complicated routings and stopovers on the way out to Pasadena and then for the return to South Bend.

The Notre Dame traveling party was composed of forty people: Father O'Hara, Coach Rockne, Assistant Coach Tom Lieb, thirty-three players, a student manager, and an influential alumnus and his two young sons. This Notre Dame party boarded their private railway cars in South Bend and went first to Chicago. The arrival of the team in Chicago was a news event and local reporters covered just about everything that happened to them while they were in the city. Local alumni and Knights of Columbus councils turned out in large numbers to honor the team and to be photographed with them. That was to be the pattern in city after city as the trip progressed.

The Notre Dame party reboarded their private railroad cars in the evening of December 20 and then, cheered by a large crowd, departed for Pasadena by heading south to Memphis. Arriving in Memphis in the morning of December 21, the players and coaches received their first taste of southern hospitality. After attending a special mass in the city, they were guests of local alumni and the Knights of Columbus at a hurried breakfast. From Memphis, O'Hara, Rockne, and their charges traveled south to New Orleans, where they enjoyed two hectic days of interviews, luncheons, banquets, receptions, a yacht trip in the Gulf of Mexico, and a tea dance.

The team was a huge favorite of the large local Catholic population, who turned out in large crowds to cheer and follow the players as they enjoyed the city. In between social events, Rockne even managed to hold several workouts for the players in the Tulane stadium, one of which was an utter disaster. The players were so stuffed with oysters and creole food that they could barely run. Rockne was so angered by the physical condition of the team that when two first-team linemen, Edward Huntsinger and John Weibel, broke his ten o'clock curfew to buy postcards in their hotel lobby to send to their families, the coach ordered them to pack up and return to South Bend. Only an eloquent plea for mercy by the team captain, Adam Walsh, and perhaps a kind word from O'Hara caused Rockne to relent and allow the two curfew breakers to continue the trip. However, Rockne's anger with the squad's inordinate consumption of New Orleans hospitality continued unabated.

After the New Orleans episode, the Notre Dame entourage headed west along the Southern Pacific route to Houston, arriving there on December 24. In that city, the team was greeted and hosted at several functions by Father Matthew Schumacher, president of St. Edward's College in Austin. Rockne worked the team hard in practice sessions in the Rice Institute stadium where their performance showed a great improvement over what it had been in New Orleans. After mass and Holy Communion on Christmas Day, O'Hara played Santa Claus for the players at a private party. The holiday spirit continued at a magnificent Christmas dinner hosted by the Knights of Columbus.

The next day, the Notre Dame party left Houston, decided to cancel a scheduled stop in El Paso, and went directly to Tucson, where they stayed for six days. In Tucson the players enjoyed the hospitality of the local Lawyer's Club at a luncheon, visited an old Spanish mission, attended a grand banquet hosted by the Knights of Columbus, and were honored guests at several other dinners. The team also endured four days of vigorous football practice at the University of Arizona stadium. In Tucson the Notre Dame coaches were joined by Edward "Slip" Madigan, a former Rockne player, who was then head football coach at St. Mary's College in the Bay Area. Madigan had scouted Stanford for Rockne and had noted a sideline screen pass that the Stanford coach used two or three times a game. Quickly Rockne devised a defense for this pass play. While in Tucson he drilled his defensive backs, especially Crowley and Layden, to recognize situations when the play might be used and to cope with it.

All pregame festivities and celebrations ended in Tucson. When the team and traveling party arrived in Los Angeles at 7:00 A.M. on December 31, they were greeted by several thousand supporters at the railroad station. At that early hour and place, local alumni, Knights of Columbus councils, and chapters of the Ancient Order of Hibernians presented a large silver football to the team. After this presentation, Rockne and O'Hara wasted little time there. They took their charges directly to the Hotel Maryland in Pasadena and prepared for an afternoon practice session in the Rose Bowl.

In Pasadena all social activities and public appearances by the team either had been scheduled or were rescheduled as postgame events. New Year's Eve celebrations of any sort were scrupulously avoided. To insure that nothing untoward would occur on the night before the game, Rockne ordered an 8:30 bed check for all players on New Year's Eve and instructed the hotel telephone switchboard to hold all incoming calls to players until the next day when the game was over. Thus isolated and protected, the players awaited the greatest moment in Notre Dame football history. On January 1, 1925, that great moment was upon them. After Mass, Holy Communion, and a hearty breakfast, the team and coaches went out to the Rose Bowl physically and psychologically ready to play, firmly believing that they could not lose. That belief, so firmly held when the team began its pregame warm-up in the Rose Bowl at 1:45 P.M., was to be severely tested before the day was out.


All-time great Ernie Nevers with Stanford coach "Pop" Warner

All-time great Ernie Nevers with Stanford coach "Pop" Warner

The enormous pregame promotion and publicity notwithstanding, both Notre Dame and Stanford lived up to their respective football reputations and gave the 53,000 fans crowded into the Rose Bowl the great individual and team performances that they had come to see. Notre Dame defeated Stanford 27 to 10, but the issue was in doubt until the closing minutes of the final period. Even though the Notre Dame defense could not contain the running and passing of Stanford's huge fullback and All-American candidate, Ernie Nevers, it was a few timely spectacular defensive plays that won the game for Notre Dame.

Indeed, in game statistics Stanford outplayed Notre Dame in every important category except points scored. Stanford out rushed Notre Dame from scrimmage, registering seventeen first downs to only seven for Rockne's men. Stanford also out passed Notre Dame, completing eleven out of fourteen attempts for 128 yards. Notre Dame completed only three out of seven attempted passes for forty-eight yards. Moreover, Stanford's powerful line managed to stop the running attack of the Four Horsemen, and after the start of the second period kept the Notre Dame offense contained well within its own territory. Yet, Notre Dame won the game, because Elmer Layden played the best football game of his life.

Once again, Rockne started his second team, and they quickly showed themselves unable to stop Stanford's bruising running attack. Stanford scored first, early in the game, by kicking a field goal. Offensively, Rockne's first team proved to be no better than the reserves. The Four Horsemen could not mount a sustained drive against the huge but agile Stanford line. A game break occurred late in the first period when a poor Stanford punt put the Notre Dame offense on the Stanford thirty-two yard line. Seven plays later, Layden scored the first Notre Dame touchdown on a three-yard run early in the second quarter. Crowley's try for the extra point was blocked, but Notre Dame had taken the lead in this game, 6 to 3. That touchdown was to be the only one scored by the Notre Dame offense in the entire game.

Stanford fought back fiercely, driving to the Notre Dame six yard line. After failing to gain on an off-tackle rush, Nevers attempted the long-awaited sideline screen pass which Madigan had alerted Rockne to expect. Layden was perfectly positioned to intercept, which he did, and then ran seventy yards for Notre Dame's second touchdown. Crowley kicked the extra point, giving Notre Dame a halftime lead of 13 to 3.

During early moments of the third quarter, Stanford moved the ball well but was unable to cross the Notre Dame goal line. They had two missed field goals. Notre Dame could do nothing offensively and were contained within their own thirty yard line throughout the period. About halfway into the third quarter, a Stanford halfback fumbled a punt reception on his own twenty yard line. An alert Notre Dame end - Edward Huntsinger, one of the players almost sent home from New Orleans - scooped up the ball and ran for a touchdown. Again, Crowley kicked the extra point, thereby increasing Notre Dame's lead, 20 to 3.

Stanford's best scoring opportunity came toward the end of the third period when Nevers intercepted a Layden pass on the Notre Dame twenty-nine yard line. Seven plays later, Nevers threw a ten-yard touchdown pass. Cuddeback kicked the extra point, narrowing Notre Dame's lead to only ten points.

The final quarter opened with Stanford intercepting a pass on the Notre Dame thirty-one yard line. In seven running plays Stanford moved the ball to a fourth down situation inside the Notre Dame one yard line. Never's rush for the touchdown failed by inches, and the ball passed over to Rockne's men on downs. Notre Dame was unable to move the ball and punted it away. Stanford drove down the field deep into Notre Dame territory, only to lose the ball on a pass interception.

After an exchange of punts and with about two minutes to play, Stanford had the ball on the Notre Dame thirty-five yard line. Once again, Nevers attempted a sideline screen pass. Once again, Layden was properly positioned, intercepted the pass, and ran seventy yards for his third touchdown of the day. Crowley kicked the extra point, giving Notre Dame a comfortable lead, 27 to 10. The game ended shortly there after with Notre Dame in possession of the ball on their own twenty-two yard line. The national intercollegiate football championship indisputably belonged to Rockne's team. Celebration of that fact followed the team wherever it went in Los Angeles and elsewhere and lasted for twelve days.

For the players, the Rose Bowl game had been so physically exhausting that no one thought seriously about celebrating their great victory that evening. Most of the players were too tired to attend a postgame dinner dance that had been scheduled for them. Instead, they elected to retire early in order to be rested and refreshed for the many events and activities that the Notre Dame Alumni Club of Los Angeles had organized for them on Friday, January 2.


Rock with silent film star Rudolph Valentino.

Rock with silent film star Rudolph Valentino.

The day began with a grand tour of Hollywood and its studios. Movie stars and starlets were present and waiting for the team. Photograph opportunities were abundant. Movie stars posed with players, and photographers captured the moment. Agents handed out studio publicity pictures of their clients, and the stars were there to autograph them. This very busy day ended with an elegant dinner dance for the team and traveling party hosted by the Notre Dame Alumni Club in the Hotel Biltmore in Los Angeles. It was an affair to remember, described by one the participants as "one of the outstanding events of the trip." If O'Hara can be believed, through all of this socializing in circumstances rife with the most dangerous sort of temptations, the players always deported themselves as good Catholic gentlemen. They were a credit to their university and to their religion and probably an utter astonishment to some of their Hollywood hosts.


Rockne and captain Adam Walsh, with film star Coleen Moore.

Rockne and captain Adam Walsh, with film star Coleen Moore.

In the early morning of Saturday, January 3, the Notre Dame traveling party boarded their railroad cars and headed north for San Francisco with O'Hara and assistant coach Tom Lieb in charge. Rockne and his wife remained behind in Los Angeles resting and attending to personal business. O'Hara, Lieb, and the team arrived at the Palace Hotel in time for still another magnificent dinner dance hosted by local alumni and several Knights of Columbus councils and attended by the Irish American mayor of the city and other local dignitaries. Once again, the players and coaches were charming, properly dressed, and well behaved.

On Sunday, the team rose early and traveled to the cathedral for a Mass celebrated by Archbishop Edward Hanna. The players greeted parishioners after Mass and then returned to the hotel for breakfast. Next followed an automobile tour of San Francisco, ending at the home of Senator James Phelan, Montalvo, about fifty miles south of the city. Phelan had arranged a formal reception for the team, and they spent most of the day at Montalvo, returning to San Francisco in time to be guests of the cast of Mitzi, then playing at the Columbia Theatre. After the performance and cast party, the Notre Dame group boarded their railroad cars and departed for Salt Lake City.


Notre Dame players ride the range in Cheyenne, Wyoming.

Notre Dame players ride the range in Cheyenne, Wyoming.

After arriving in that Mormon-dominated community in the morning of January 5, the team was given a bus tour of the city and of points of historic interest. Apparently O'Hara made a quick decision that the famous Mormon Tabernacle was not really a non-Catholic church and allowed his charges to visit this historic building and attend an organ concert there. After the concert, there was dinner, a reception, and late evening departure for Cheyenne and a taste of the Wild West. When they came into the capitol of Wyoming on January 6, O'Hara, Lieb, and the rest quickly discovered that local Catholics intended to make the most of their visit. The team was supplied with six-gallon cowboy hats, serenaded by a local military band, given the key to the city, and feted at a western barbecue. On leaving Cheyenne in the evening of January 6, the Notre Dame party proceeded straight south to Denver, where the Notre Dame Alumni Club had organized what turned out to be the most spectacular reception of the entire trip. Every moment of their time in Denver was accounted for and nothing was left to chance.

A huge crowd thronged the Denver railroad station to greet them. In the first rows of this crowd was a large group of mothers of Notre Dame students from the Denver area and elsewhere in Colorado. Behind the mothers were rows of attractive, well-dressed young ladies who surged forward to decorate the players with flowers and kisses. Liberated from the young ladies by Alumni Club leaders, the team and coaches were piled into Packard cars and driven up Seventeenth Street through the heart of the financial district. They received continuous ovations from crowds lining their route, which ended at the Denver Athletic Club. The Notre Dame party escaped into that facility, where they were able to rest and get some refreshment.

That evening, the Notre Dame team and coaches were honored at a grand banquet held in the University Club of Denver. They formed a receiving line and stood in it for almost two hours. Everyone in Denver of any standing from the governor of the state on down passed through it. Over two hundred attended the banquet, including college presidents, football coaches, newspaper publishers, and sports writers. Notre Dame colors were everywhere, and Notre Dame songs were sung.

The Denver business and professional community heard more about the athletic and academic history of Notre Dame that night than they could ever possibly internalize and remember. Tom Lieb spoke for the team and for the Notre Dame administration at the banquet when he tried to tell the audience in a simple but convincing way what the university meant to them. First, he introduced the players one by one. Then, when speaking about the university Lieb made points that O'Hara and enthusiastic alumni had been making in every place visited on the trip.

The purposes and values of American Catholic higher education - instruction in a morally and philosophically secure environment - had been articulated so often by so many that neither Lieb, O'Hara, nor any of the the other Catholics there present needed to do more than allude to them. Indeed, Catholic assumptions that Thomistic philosophy born and developed in the thirteenth century could teach correct thinking processes to contemporary students and provide worthy answers to the great philosophical and ethical dilemmas of the modern era were not shared by many Americans of the other persuasions or by those of no persuasion at all.

However, the idea that morality could be taught and learned, that human behavior could be changed, that people could be improved- that is, made better persons for having taken a specific set of college courses - was something that Americans of all persuasions wanted to believe. That was the aspect of Catholic higher education, the morally secure environment of Notre Dame and the moral improvement going on there, that Lieb addressed in the Denver Athletic Club. He tried to explain to his audience that what made Notre Dame different and special was the religious and moral spirit of the place. Everyone at the university was touched by it.

No one attending the Notre Dame banquet that evening, wrote one account of Lieb's speech, "could ever forget that Notre Dame builds character, manliness, and uprighteousness, along with wonderful football elevens." The appearance and mien of the players reinforced everything that Lieb had said. The Denver press picked up on Lieb's explanation of the Notre Dame spirit and lavishly praised "the quiet unassuming young men who came through as the University's football heroes." The message about Notre Dame and American Catholic education that O'Hara wanted to deliver had been delivered all across the country. If Denver was any example, this message was received and believed.

The next stop after Denver was Lincoln, Nebraska, and because of past anti-Catholic and anti-Irish American expressions by locals when the team had played there, no one in the Notre Dame party knew what to expect. The team arrived in Lincoln on Thursday morning, January 8, and the people of Lincoln were on their best behavior for the short time Rockne's men were there. The Notre Dame party was greeted and treated in a manner befitting the new national intercollegiate football champions. They were hosted at an informal dinner by the chancellor of the University of Nebraska, the head football coach, and other university officials. The highlight of the stay in Lincoln was a collective invitation to attend the inauguration of the new governor of the state.

Exhausted by the required socializing of the last nine days, and by now sick to death of nonstop smiling in receiving lines, the Notre Dame party returned to their railroad cars in the late evening of January 8 for a night's sleep and an early morning departure to Chicago. When they arrived in the Windy City on January 9, the Notre Dame traveling party broke up. Some remained in the city to be entertained by alumni, others visited family and friends in the Chicago area, and others went directly to South Bend. One way or another, the entire Notre Dame group was back in South Bend and at the university by January 12. Rockne arrived shortly thereafter.


Notre Dame's first concensus National Championship team and Rose Bowl Champion.

Notre Dame's first concensus National Championship team and Rose Bowl Champion.

Indeed, the heroes were home at last. The great cross-country tour was over, and no one who made it would ever forget the experience. They would not forget because there simply had never been anything like this Notre Dame Rose Bowl tour in the entire history of American inter- collegiate football up to this time. Even more important, because the circumstances surrounding the tour were so extraordinary there would never be another like it ever again.

The Rose Bowl victory and triumphant tour was too glorious an event to be remembered only as a football game. The sort of historical experiences encountered by the Notre Dame community during 1924 could not be repeated. In particular, for O'Hara the emotional experience of the trip to Pasadena and back, constant attention from the press, and recognition as national champions was too much for him to internalize in a totally rational way. He saw the hand of God clearly at work during the football season of 1924. In route to the Rose Bowl most of the Catholic players received Holy Communion every day, and in O'Hara's mind this extraordinary example of religious observance by renowned athletes had profound consequences for the team, the university, and perhaps even the whole country. This trip and the religious behavior of the players making it, O'Hara believed, turned out to be among other things a great "crusade for the spread of Holy Communion."

Moreover, in the trip to and from the Rose Bowl, O'Hara saw and articulated an extraordinary relationship between a "properly guided sport" such as football and good religious practices. Simply stated, O'Hara considered football as developed and played at Notre Dame as an aid to religion and as a character builder. Because of the physical risks attendant upon playing the game, good Catholic players acquired the desirable habit of frequent prayer, that is, by praying for protection from football injuries.

Beyond the value of prayerful habits, there was, of course, a high probability that temptations of the flesh would be lessened. Players simply would not have enough time for such diversions. By occupying all idle time and by providing the disciplinary training of physical mortification, submission of the will, and by promoting such natural virtues as courage, initiative, generosity, equanimity, dependability, alertness, and frankness, football was in many of its effects spiritually uplifting. This form of argument was original to O'Hara at the time and has generally remained such ever since. Not many other responsible academic and athletic administrators since those inspiring days of 1924 and 1925 have had the nerve to use it.

Actually, O'Hara pushed this argument about as far it could go by contending that the university varsity monogram had historic associations and special religious sensibilities attached to it. According to O'Hara, that monogram was regarded by the players as being another type of devotional aid, much like a rosary, scapulars, or holy pictures. The monogram was seen by most of the players ''as a badge of Our Lady, the heavenly patroness of the school; and its wearers looked upon themselves as her knights, performing a lowly honorable service in her honor, just as the fabled Juggler of Notre Dame did his tricks before her shrine, and as David danced before the Ark of the Lord. Given the utterly corrupt world of intercollegiate athletics, this sort of argument went very far indeed and was credible only to the most uncritical true believers ofNotre Dame mythology.

Having said that, however, and even after discounting O'Hara's emotional excesses, one must recognize that the religious spirit informing the football team during the season of 1924 was so powerful and evident that even Coach Rockne, the great motivator, was touched by it. Although he was normally undemonstrative about religion, some time after the Rose Bowl victory and triumphant national tour Rockne asked for religious instruction, was baptized, and was received into the Catholic Church in November 1925.

In the end, the Notre Dame team had played and convincingly defeated an academically respectable opponent and had visited the West Coast and many other places for the first time. With the Rose Bowl payment of $52,000 in hand, Walsh got an improved and expanded gymnasium, but improved and expanded far beyond what he had initially considered.

The relatively modest expansion originally envisaged in the earlier Shanley scheme, [A wealthy benefactor withdrew his offer to build the addition on the gymnasium after his son and a friend were not given the campus accomidations that they desired] which would cost only $27,000, escalated significantly. As Walsh saw the present situation, the university needed a basketball facility that it could be proud of. That meant not only a facility with a seating capacity of at least 5,000 but also dressing room accommodations worthy of the athletic reputation of the institution. Notre Dame athletics, Walsh argued, was on the "crest of a wave" and with the right kind of a basketball facility "high class teams could be brought to the University."

When plans for the gymnasium expansion were completed, Walsh expected the cost to be $50,000. The first bids received from contractors priced the project at $180,000. Changes in the plans reduced the costs to $149,000, but even that amount was too much for Father Gilbert Francais, the superior general, to approve for a gymnasium. Only after Father Charles L. O'Donnell, the provincial superior, assured Francais that there would be no need to borrow money for the project because football profits would provide the cash to pay for it, did he approve the expenditure of $149,000 for the basketball arena. Begun in the summer of 1925 and completed in the fall, the new facility opened formally on November 20,1925, with a memorable concert performance by the celebrated Irish tenor John McCormack.

O'Hara's idea of turning a trip to the Rose Bowl into a spectacular cross-county Catholic public relations tour with many stops en route as well as his management of that tour had been brilliant. In this whole episode, O'Hara's unfailing optimism, good sense, and indefatigable energy marked him as one probably destined for future leadership roles in the university community and perhaps even in the American Catholic Church itself. Not only was O'Hara a highly successful pastoral innovator, but he was very much a practical man of affairs. He understood money and possessed excellent managerial skills. Most people liked him personally and would usually take his advice or do what he asked.

For the university, the tour was a public relations triumph. For American Catholics generally, Notre Dame's victory over Stanford was an achievement that no one could diminish, and the tour was a magnificent opportunity for them to express collective pride and group solidarity. Not only were these extraordinary athletes and coaches from a Catholic university a group of genuine American heroes, but they had behaved on and off the field as exemplary Catholic gentlemen. Rockne's ever-present smile and wry sense of humor made friends for the university at every stop. Layden's modest off-field demeanor combined with his superb performance in the game was inspiring. Lieb's simple but moving exposition of the Notre Dame spirit in Denver was unforgettable. All of this, O'Hara orchestrated brilliantly. These Catholic gentlemen athletes from Notre Dame were special men from a special place. Forgotten and now totally replaced was the recent Klan-inspired image of Notre Dame students as hooligans.

For the Four Horsemen, the Rose Bowl was a fitting climax to a splendidly played and expertly managed intercollegiate football career. The adulation heaped upon them was overpowering, and at least one of them was not able to handle it well. Crowley, never a strong student, had tried both the College of Arts and Letters and the Law Course of Studies and was unable to finish either one. He stopped going to classes during the spring semester of 1925. There are no existing university records indicating that Crowley ever graduated from Notre Dame. Stuhldreyer graduated from the College of Arts and Letters cum laude in June 1925. Miller and Layden managed to complete the Law Course of Studies and graduate with their class.

After leaving the university, each of the Four Horsemen tried to make the most of their celebrity status. Each of them played professional football for one team or another on weekends, and all became college coaches at one time or another and enjoyed modest to great success in that very uncertain trade. Of course, Layden returned to Notre Dame and served as head coach, 1934-1940, moving on to become commissioner of the National Football League, and later an executive in the transportation industry. The others all enjoyed varying degrees of success in business after leaving coaching. Because the American public would not forget them, the Four Horsemen were always in great demand as speakers and presenters. Like it or not, these men would always have a public life of some sort and each in his own way had to adapt himself to the demanding role of an untarnishable American sports icon.

With regard to Stanford, beyond the financial guarantee it is not clear what that university got out of this entire Rose Bowl episode. The Stanford coaches and players made mistakes which lost them a game that they probably should have won. The great Ernie Nevers made this same point in a slightly different way. Responding to an interview about this game thirty-five years after the event, Nevers observed, "A total of 150 yards in two tries and two touchdowns makes the passing combination of Layden of Notre Dame and Nevers of Stanford the best in Rose Bowl history." In any case, Stanford and Notre Dame did not play another intercollegiate football game until 1942.


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