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The Notre Dame Fighting Irish were led by Bob Davie and represented the University of Notre Dame in NCAA Division I college football from 1997 to 2001. The team was an independent and played their home games in Notre Dame Stadium. Throughout the five seasons, the Irish were 35–25 and invited to three bowl games, including the school's first ever Bowl Championship Series (BCS) bowl.

After the 1996 season, eleventh–year head coach, Lou Holtz, who had led the Irish to 100 wins and a national championship, retired. The Notre Dame administration quickly named defensive coordinator, Bob Davie, as his replacement. Davie inherited a team with high expectations, and won his first game. He went onto, however, lose his next four games. Though his team rebounded and were invited to a bowl game, he lost in his first post-season attempt and ended with a 7–6 record. His second year team returned many players and began the season ranked in the Associated Press (AP) poll. After an upset of highly ranked Michigan, the team stayed in the rankings throughout the season. With a loss in the final regular season game, though, the team lost their first chance of being invited to the BCS in its first year. The team once again lost in their bowl game and ended the season with a 9–3 record. Davie's third season started with a win, but three early losses dropped the team from the rankings. Although the team went on a four game winning streak, they finished the season on a four game losing streak to end with a 5–7 record and the first losing season for the Irish since 1986.

Davie's fourth season looked to be as bad as his third, as the team played four ranked teams early in the season and had to replace many graduating players. However, with two wins, and an overtime loss to the top-ranked team, Nebraska, the Irish moved into the rankings again. The team ended the season on a seven game winning streak and were invited to their first BCS bowl game. Though they lost Davie's third bowl game, he signed a contract extension after the season. Davie's fifth season began with high expectations once again. The team began ranked, but three losses to begin the season dropped the Irish from the rankings. Though the team came back and won five games, the 5–6 record was called the wrong direction by the administration, and Davie was fired. After some controversy during the hiring process, Tyrone Willingham was hired, ending Davie's era at Notre Dame.

Contents

Before Davie

For the 11 years before Davie, the Irish were coached by Lou Holtz. Holtz, who, it was reported, had returned the program to excellence,[1] led the team to a national championship in 1988 and had been given, what was reported to be, a lifetime contract by Notre Dame.[2] By his final season, 1996, Holtz had tallied 92 wins to put him third on the all-time Notre Dame wins list (only behind Ara Parseghian with 95 wins and Knute Rockne with 105 wins).[3] Throughout the season there was speculation that Holtz, who passed Parseghian's mark, would retire rather than break Rockne's record,[4] and on November 19, a week before his final home game at Notre Dame, it was revealed that he turned in his letter of resignation to the Notre Dame administration. In his final game at Notre Dame Stadium, where the team shut-out Rutgers 62–0, Holtz got his 100th and final win for the Irish.[5] The Notre Dame administration didn't look far for Holtz's replacement, as their defensive coordinator, Bob Davie, who was hired by Holtz three years previous, was named as his replacement.[6]

1997 season

1997 Notre Dame Fighting Irish football
NotreDameFightingIrish.svg
Independence Bowl, L, 27–9 LSU
Conference NCAA Division I-FBS independent schools
1997 record 7–6 ( Independent)
Head coach Bob Davie
Offensive coordinator Jim Colletto
Offensive scheme Option
Defensive coordinator Greg Mattison
Base defense 4–3

Home stadium

Notre Dame Stadium (c. 80,795, grass)
Seasons
« 1996 1998 »
Date Opponent# Rank# Site TV Result
September 6 Georgia Tech #11 Notre Dame StadiumNotre Dame, IN NBC W 17–13  
September 13 at Purdue #12 Ross-Ade StadiumWest Lafayette, IN L 28–17  
September 20 #17 Michigan State Notre Dame Stadium • Notre Dame, IN NBC L 23–7  
September 27 at #6 Michigan Michigan StadiumAnn Arbor, MI ABC L 21–14  
October 4 at #19 Stanford Stanford StadiumStanford, CA L 33–15  
October 11 at Pittsburgh Pitt StadiumPittsburgh, PA W 45–21  
October 18 USC Notre Dame Stadium • Notre Dame, IN NBC L 20–17  
October 25 Boston College Notre Dame Stadium • Notre Dame, IN NBC W 52–20  
November 1 Navy Notre Dame Stadium • Notre Dame, IN NBC W 21–17  
November 15 at #11 LSU Tiger StadiumBaton Rouge, LA CBS W 24–6  
November 22 #22 West Virginia Notre Dame Stadium • Notre Dame, IN NBC W 21–14  
November 29 at Hawaii Aloha StadiumHonolulu, HI ESPN W 23–22  
December 28 vs. #15 LSU Independence StadiumShreveport, LA (Independence Bowl) ESPN L 27–9  
#Rankings from AP Poll.
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Season overview

Despite having a new coach, the Irish had high expectations before the 1997 season,[7] and were ranked eleventh in the pre-season polls. Led by fifth–year senior quarterback Ron Powlus, a running back crew of Autry Denson, Tony Driver, and Joey Goodspeed, a wide receiving corps of Joey Getherall, Bobby Brown, and Malcolm Johnson, and on defense by cornerback Allen Rossum, the Irish looked to have a good enough team to challenge to be in the top-10. The Irish began the Davie era at home, playing Georgia Tech in the newly renovated Notre Dame Stadium.[8] The Irish christened the stadium with a close win over the Yellow Jackets that was sparked by a renewed running game and key defensive stops late in the game.[9] With the close win, the Irish showed their weakness and dropped a spot in the national ranking. The next week, at Purdue, though the Irish had 4577 total yards, they only managed 17 points. With key mistakes on offense and a confused defense, the Irish lost 28–17 and dropped out of the rankings.[10] With losses against Michigan State,[11] at Michigan,[12] and at Stanford,[13] the Irish were suddenly 1–4 and struggling to find an offense. Offensive coordinator, Jim Colletto, took most of the flak for the struggles.[14]

The Irish looked to be getting back on track with a trip to face Pittsburgh. With a renewed running game, the Irish beat the struggling Panthers by 24,[15] however, with the offense struggling once again in their next game, a loss to rival University of Southern California (USC), the Irish hit, what was called, "rock bottom."[16] With a slight quarterback controversy, the Irish next faced Boston College. Though backup quarterback Jarious Jackson played 21 downs, Powlus led the Irish with 267 passing yards to rout the Eagles and put the Irish offense back on track.[17] With a last minute win over Navy the next week,[18] the Irish moved to 4–5 and would need to win their final three games to become bowl eligible.

The Irish next went to Louisiana State University (LSU) to face the 11th ranked Tigers. Looked to be outmatched, the Irish didn't commit a penalty all game, had no turnovers, and didn't give up any plays longer than one 28 yard pass, to upset the Tigers and move back to 5–5 on the season.[19] The Irish then faced 22nd ranked West Virginia for their final home game. With the game tied late in the fourth quarter, Powlus led the Irish on a drive that was capped by his final touchdown pass at Notre Dame Stadium for the game-winning touchdown.[20] With the win the Irish beat ranked opponents on consecutive Saturdays for the first time since 1992,[21] and with the last minute win at Hawaii the next week,[22] the Irish moved to 7–5 and were bowl eligible. Once again facing LSU in Louisiana (in the Independence Bowl), this time with the Tigers ranked 15th, LSU dominated on offense and beat the Irish 27–9.[23] Though the Irish finished with a loss, the 7–6 record was the biggest Irish turn around in team history.[21]

By the end of the season, Powlus set a single season Irish record for pass attempts and completions. He would leave Notre Dame with 20 individual records, including career passing yards, attempts, completions and touchdowns, all marks that would finally be eclipsed almost ten years later by future Irish quarterback Brady Quinn. Cornerback Allen Rossum, who also served as the Irish kick returner, set an NCAA single season record with nine returns (three each of interceptions, punts, and kickoffs) for touchdowns. He would also leave Notre Dame with the Irish all-time leading kick return average (23.5 yards per return). Autry Denson's 1268 rushing yards were fourth in the Irish single season record and moved him to third on the Irish all-time list in career rushing yards.[21]

1998 season

1998 Notre Dame Fighting Irish football
Gator Bowl, L, 35–28 Georgia Tech
Conference NCAA Division I-FBS independent schools
Ranking
Coaches #22[24]
AP #22[24]
1998 record 9–3 ( Independent)
Head coach Bob Davie
Offensive coordinator Jim Colletto
Offensive scheme Option
Defensive coordinator Greg Mattison
Base defense 4–3

Home stadium

Notre Dame Stadium (c. 80,795, grass)
Seasons
« 1997 1999 »
Date Opponent# Rank# Site TV Result
September 5 #5 Michigan #22 Notre Dame StadiumNotre Dame, IN NBC W 36–20  
September 12 at Michigan State #10 Spartan StadiumEast Lansing, MI ABC L 45–23  
September 26 Purdue #23 Notre Dame Stadium • Notre Dame, IN NBC W 31–30  
October 3 Stanford #23 Notre Dame Stadium • Notre Dame, IN NBC W 35–17  
October 10 at Arizona State #22 Sun Devil StadiumTempe, AZ ABC W 28–9  
October 24 Army #18 Notre Dame Stadium • Notre Dame, IN NBC W 20–17  
October 31 Baylor #16 Notre Dame Stadium • Notre Dame, IN NBC W 27–3  
November 7 at Boston College #13 Alumni StadiumChestnut Hill, MA CBS W 31–26  
November 14 at Navy #12 Jack Kent Cooke StadiumRaljon, Maryland CBS W 30–0  
November 21 LSU #10 Notre Dame Stadium • Notre Dame, IN NBC W 39–36  
November 28 at USC #9 Los Angeles Memorial ColiseumLos Angeles, CA ABC L 10–0  
January 1, 1999 vs. #12 Georgia Tech #17 Alltel StadiumJacksonville, FL (Gator Bowl) NBC L 35–28  
#Rankings from AP Poll.

Season overview

With wins in their final five regular season games of 1997, the Irish started Davie's second season with confidence. Despite losing record-setting quarterback Ron Powlus, the Irish returned 14 starters, including tailback Autry Denson and three senior linebackers that were placed on the preliminary list for the Dick Butkus Award.[25] Powlus was replaced by Jarious Jackson who had played sparingly in 1997 but had amassed almost 200 passing yards in the time.[26] In Jackson's first start, against Michigan, he threw two touchdowns to lead the Irish, ranked 22nd, over the 5th ranked Wolverines. Denson added 162 yards and two touchdowns to give the Irish a 36–20 win.[27] The Irish moved to tenth in the rankings, however didn't stay long, as Michigan State, who led by 39 points at halftime, beat the Irish for the second year in a row.[28] Dropping back to 23rd in the nation, the Irish returned home to face Purdue. The Boilermakers handed the Irish their first loss in 1997 which dropped the Irish from the rankings, and the Irish looked for retribution in this game. With the Irish down two with less than two minutes remaining, Tony Driver, who was switched to cornerback in the offseason, intercepted a Drew Brees pass to set-up the go-ahead field goal for the Irish. With the Boilermakers once again moving the ball, Driver had his second interception with less than a minute remaining to preserve the win for the Irish.[29]

The Irish won all four of their October games, including a win over Stanford,[30] a dominating win at Arizona State,[31] a last minute win over Army,[32] and a win over Baylor led by Denson's career high of 189 yards,[33] to move back into the top-15 in the rankings. In the next game, the Boston College Eagles were poised for the upset of the Irish. Down 30–26, the Eagles had the ball on the Irish four-yard line with less than a minute remaining. The Irish defense, however, held the Eagles for four downs to preserve the win.[34] The next week, led by Denson, who became the all-time leader in rushing yards at Notre Dame, the Irish shut-out Navy to increase their NCAA record winning streak over the Midshipmen to 35 games.[35] Once again ranked tenth, the Irish faced LSU in their final home game. Avenging their loss in the 1997 Independence Bowl, the Irish beat the Tigers on a late touchdown run.[36] With a potential BCS berth on the line, and without Jackson, who was injured in the final play against LSU, the Irish traveled to face rivals USC in their final regular season game. Playing two backups at quarterback, including true freshman Arnaz Battle, the Irish were dominated by the tough Trojan defense that caused five turnovers. Though the Trojans, led by freshman quarterback Carson Palmer, couldn't produce much offense themselves, they only needed two scores to upset the Irish 10-0.[37] Missing out on a BCS bowl game, the Irish, who signed a deal early in the year that gave them a tie-in with the Big East Conference bowl games,[38] accepted a bid to play Georgia Tech in the Gator Bowl. Wearing their alternate green jerseys for the first time since the 1995 Fiesta Bowl, the Irish got behind early to the Yellow Jackets with two long touchdowns. Though closing the gap to a touchdown in the fourth quarter, the Irish couldn't move the ball on their last two drives and lost their fourth straight bowl game.[39] They finished the season with a 9-3 record and dropped to 22nd in the national rankings.[24]

After the season, seven players were taken in the 1999 National Football League (NFL) Draft. Among them were Denson, who left with multiple Notre Dame rushing records, Malcolm Johnson, who left with a Notre Dame record of six consecutive games with a touchdown catch, and most of the offensive line starters.[40] Also, offensive coordinator, Jim Colletto, was lured away to the NFL by Baltimore.[41]

1999 season

1999 Notre Dame Fighting Irish football
Conference NCAA Division I-FBS independent schools
1999 record 5–7 ( Independent)
Head coach Bob Davie
Offensive coordinator Kevin Rogers
Offensive scheme Option
Defensive coordinator Greg Mattison
Base defense 4–3

Home stadium

Notre Dame Stadium (c. 80,795, grass)
Seasons
« 1998 2000 »
Date Opponent# Rank# Site TV Result
August 28 Kansas #18 Notre Dame StadiumNotre Dame, IN (Eddie Robinson Classic) NBC W 48–13  
September 4 at #7 Michigan #16 Michigan StadiumAnn Arbor, MI ABC L 26–22  
September 11 at #20 Purdue #16 Ross-Ade StadiumWest Lafayette, IN ABC L 28–23  
September 18 #24 Michigan State Notre Dame Stadium • Notre Dame, IN NBC L 23–13  
October 2 #23 Oklahoma Notre Dame Stadium • Notre Dame, IN NBC W 34–30  
October 9 Arizona State Notre Dame Stadium • Notre Dame, IN NBC W 48–17  
October 16 USC Notre Dame Stadium • Notre Dame, IN NBC W 25–24  
October 30 Navy Notre Dame Stadium • Notre Dame, IN NBC W 28–24  
November 6 at #4 Tennessee #24 Neyland StadiumKnoxville, TN ESPN L 38–14  
November 13 at Pittsburgh Pitt StadiumPittsburgh, PA CBS L 37–27  
November 20 #25 Boston College Notre Dame Stadium • Notre Dame, IN NBC L 31–29  
November 27 at Stanford Stanford StadiumStanford, CA ABC L 40–37  
#Rankings from AP Poll.

Season overview

The 1999 season began on a positive note for Davie, who, after signing 21 recruits,[42] was given a contract extension to coach until 2003.[43] Though there were high hopes that the Irish could finally get another national championship,[44] there were also many questions facing the team,[45] top among those would be whether Jackson could lead a young Irish team.[46] With some controversy surrounding a verbal agreement between Notre Dame and Michigan to not schedule a game before their September 4 matchup,[47] the Irish instead opened the season in the Eddie Robinson Classic against Kansas. Though Jackson didn't answer all the questions in the game, he threw three interceptions, the Irish still dominated the Jayhawks in the 48–13 win.[48] With the Irish ranked 16th they went next to face the seventh-ranked Wolverines. Watched by a, then NCAA record, crowd of 111,523, the Wolverines took the lead late in the game on an Anthony Thomas touchdown run. With under two minutes remaining, Jackson led the Irish down the field with three quick passes, however, the time ran out as he completed his fourth of the drive. Though the Irish lost, 26–22,[49] they would remain at 16th in the national polls until stumbling against Purdue the next week.[50] With Davie blaming poor communication on the loss,[51] the Irish dropped from the rankings for the first time in two years.

With a 10 game home winning streak, the Irish hoped to get back on track with a win against Michigan State.[52] With the game tied 7–7 starting the fourth quarter, it looked to be headed for another last minute decision, however, with five minutes left in the game, with the scored tied again 13–13, Spartan quarterback Bill Burke threw a quick pass to Gari Scott who ran for an 80 yard touchdown. Though the Irish had a chance and drove to the 50 yard line, Davie elected to punt the ball on fourth down with three minutes left in the game. The Spartans added a field goal to put them up 23–13 and win the game.[53] After a week off, the Irish faced the 23rd ranked Oklahoma Sooners. Down 30–14 mid-way through the third quarter, Jackson led the Irish on two scoring drives to bring them within two points. With the ball at their own 2 yard line, Jackson led a 98 yard drive that gave the Irish the winning touchdown.[54] The Irish continued at home, blowing out Arizona State,[55] coming from behind by 21 points to defeat USC,[56] and scoring a last minute touchdown to beat Navy,[57] to move back into the rankings.

For the first time since September the Irish would go on the road. Facing the fourth-ranked Tennessee Volunteers, the Irish knew they were in for a tough test as Tennessee, the reigning winners of the inaugural BCS National Championship, had not lost a non-conference home game since the 1990 Irish team won there.[58] Against the tough Volunteer defense, the Irish were only able to score 14 in the 24 point loss,[59] and once again dropped from the rankings. With a loss to Pittsburgh in the final game at Pitt Stadium,[60] and a last second loss on a failed two-point conversion against Boston College,[61] the Irish lost all chances to go to a bowl game with a 5–6 record. Hoping to avoid their first losing season since 1986, they traveled to Stanford to face the Cardinal. With Jackson splitting time with Arnaz Battle, the Irish come from behind bid failed on a last second field goal by Stanford.[62]

Though the season was a disappointment, Jackson, a fifth-year senior ended his career with the Irish on a high note. Named the team Most Valuable Player, he set the single season records in passing yards, total yards, pass attempts, and completions. He also left with the fourth most passing yards in Irish history.[63] Jackson was drafted in the seventh round of the 2000 NFL Draft, and, although he was the only player from the team drafted, nine others signed free agent contracts with NFL teams.[64] The year ended on a bad note for the Irish program, as the NCAA placed the program on probation for two years after a number of major secondary violations by the university and others involved in athletics.[65] Then-university president Rev. Edward Malloy disbanded all varsity booster clubs, the first time any university took such actions, and put into place other safeguards against violations, pledging his administration would give a greater effort to stop any future violations.[66]

2000 season

2000 Notre Dame Fighting Irish football
Fiesta Bowl, L, 41–9 Oregon State
Conference NCAA Division I-FBS independent schools
Ranking
Coaches #16[24]
AP #15[24]
2000 record 9–3 ( Independent)
Head coach Bob Davie
Offensive coordinator Kevin Rogers
Offensive scheme Option
Defensive coordinator Greg Mattison
Base defense 4–3

Home stadium

Notre Dame Stadium (c. 80,795, grass)
Seasons
« 1999 2001 »
Date Opponent# Rank# Site TV Result
September 2 #25 Texas A&M Notre Dame StadiumNotre Dame, IN NBC W 24–10  
September 9 #1 Nebraska #23 Notre Dame Stadium • Notre Dame, IN NBC L 27–24 OT 
September 16 #13 Purdue #21 Notre Dame Stadium • Notre Dame, IN NBC W 23–21  
September 23 at #23 Michigan State #16 Spartan StadiumEast Lansing, MI ABC L 27–21  
October 7 Stanford #25 Notre Dame Stadium • Notre Dame, IN NBC W 20–14  
October 14 vs. Navy #20 Florida Citrus BowlOrlando, FL CBS W 45–14  
October 21 at West Virginia #20 Mountaineer FieldMorgantown, WV CBS W 42–28  
October 28 Air Force #19 Notre Dame Stadium • Notre Dame, IN NBC W 34–31 OT 
November 11 Boston College #11 Notre Dame Stadium • Notre Dame, IN NBC W 28–16  
November 18 at Rutgers #11 Rutgers StadiumPiscataway, NJ CBS W 45–17  
November 25 at USC #11 Los Angeles Memorial ColiseumLos Angeles, CA ABC W 38–21  
January 1, 2001 vs. #5 Oregon State #10 Sun Devil StadiumTempe, AZ (Fiesta Bowl) ABC L 41–9  
#Rankings from AP Poll.

Season overview

After losing ten players to the NFL, the Irish began the 2000 season signing 17 recruits.[67] Having to replace two-year starter, Jarious Jackson, Davie chose Arnaz Battle,[68] who looked to have a rough road ahead with the Irish playing four ranked teams in a row to begin the season, including a game against the favorite to win the national championship, Nebraska. Battle, however, did have some help with three veterans named to pre-season award watchlists.[69][70][71] The Irish started the season playing the 25th ranked Texas A&M Aggies. With Battle throwing two touchdowns and the defense holding the Aggies to only a field goal in the second half, the Irish won by two touchdowns.[72] Moving into the rankings for the first time since early November 1999, the Irish would next face the top-ranked Cornhuskers. After coming back from being down by two touchdowns, the Irish eventually fell in overtime after they settled for a field goal and Nebraska quarterback, Eric Crouch, ran for the winning touchdown.[73] Despite the loss, and losing Battle indefinitely to a wrist injury that he suffered on the first play of the game,[74] the Irish felt they proved something to the country,[75] and moved up in the rankings to 21st.

The Irish next faced the 13th ranked Purdue Boilermakers, led by Heisman Trophy-hopeful quarterback Drew Brees.[76] The Irish defense held Brees to only 13 completed passes, while Irish backup quarterback Gary Godsey completed 14, and led the team to a last minute win with a Nick Setta field goal.[77] Moving into the top-20 the Irish next went to Michigan State to face the 23rd ranked Spartans. Though the Spartans were led by freshman quarterback Jeff Smoker, he led the team to a win with a 68 yard touchdown pass on a fourth down attempt with a minute remaining in the game. Losing the game, the Irish hadn't won an away game in eight attempts and hadn't beaten the Spartans since 1996.[78] Dropping almost out of the rankings again, the Irish started playing freshman quarterback Matt LoVecchio and began to roll with wins over Stanford and Navy.[79][80] Going to Morgantown to face the West Virginia Mountaineers, LoVecchio led the Irish with two touchdown passes to Tony Fisher to give the Irish their first road win in two years.[81] With a win over Air Force the next week, their first ever in overtime, the Irish were once again bowl eligible.[82]

Ranked 11th, the Irish continued with wins over Boston College,[83] Rutgers,[84] and their first win at USC since 1992.[85] With a 9–2 record, the Irish got a BCS Bowl bid for the first time ever, with an invitation to the Fiesta Bowl to play the Oregon State Beavers.[86] Getting blown out by the Beavers,[87] the Irish ended the season ranked 15th with a 9-3 record.[24] With the end of the season, Davie was named finalist in two coach of the year awards. In addition, four Irish players were named to All-America Teams,[86] seven players were selected to play in post-season All-Star games,[88] and six players were selected in the 2001 NFL Draft,[89] while another three signed free agent contracts with NFL teams.[90] The season ended on a positive note for Davie who signed a five-year contract extension.[91]

2001 season

2001 Notre Dame Fighting Irish football
Conference NCAA Division I-FBS independent schools
2001 record 5–6 ( Independent)
Head coach Bob Davie
Offensive coordinator Kevin Rogers
Offensive scheme Option
Defensive coordinator Greg Mattison
Base defense 4–3

Home stadium

Notre Dame Stadium (c. 80,795, grass)
Seasons
« 2000 2002 »
Date Opponent# Rank# Site TV Result
September 8 at #4 Nebraska #18 Memorial Stadium, LincolnLincoln, NE ABC L 27–10  
September 22 Michigan State #23 Notre Dame StadiumNotre Dame, IN NBC L 17–10  
September 29 at Texas A&M Kyle FieldCollege Station, TX ABC L 24–3  
October 6 Pittsburgh Notre Dame Stadium • Notre Dame, IN NBC W 24–7  
October 13 West Virginia Notre Dame Stadium • Notre Dame, IN NBC W 34–24  
October 20 USC Notre Dame Stadium • Notre Dame, IN NBC W 27–16  
October 27 Boston College Chestnut Hill, MAAlumni Stadium ESPN L 21–17  
November 3 #7 Tennessee Notre Dame Stadium • Notre Dame, IN NBC L 28–18  
November 17 Navy Notre Dame Stadium • Notre Dame, IN NBC W 34–16  
November 24 at #13 Stanford Stanford StadiumStanford, CA L 17–13  
December 1 at Purdue Ross-Ade StadiumWest Lafayette, IN ABC W 24–18  
#Rankings from AP Poll.

Season overview

With 19 recruits signed to help replace the nine players leaving for the NFL,[92] there were high expectations for the Irish for the 2001 season. Three players were named to pre-season All-America teams while the team was ranked as highly as 12th in the nation.[93] With former starting quarterback, Arnaz Battle, moving in the off-season to wide receiver,[94] Davie faced the decision of having to play his replacement from 2000, Matt LoVecchio, or to replace LoVecchio with fellow sophomore Carlyle Holiday. Prior to their first game, Davie hinted that he might have a surprise at quarterback,[95] however, LoVecchio started at the fourth-ranked Nebraska Cornhuskers. Notre Dame's first play from scrimmage proved to be a harbinger of things to come when the Irish fumbled and Nebraska recovered. With LoVecchio ineffective throughout the first quarter, Holiday took over and led the Irish to a field goal. Holiday, however, was ineffective throughout the rest of the game and the only other Irish score came after Shane Walton blocked a punt and gave the Irish the ball on the 4 yard line. Unable to capitalize on Nebraska's mistakes, and having four turnovers themselves, the Irish lost the game 27–10.[96] With a small quarterback controversy, the season was interrupted by the September 11, 2001 attacks. With all Division I-A football games canceled after the attacks,[97] the September 15 game against Purdue was moved to the end of the season. With promises of heightened security,[98] prayers, and a stadium-wide fundraiser to help the victims of the attacks,[99] the Irish returned to the field the next week to face the Michigan State Spartans. With LoVecchio getting the start, he had a better game than his first, but the Irish fell short of the Spartans for the fifth straight year.[100]

After the loss, Davie named Holiday the starting quarterback for the Texas A&M game.[101] Though LoVecchio would play in later games, he would never start again for the Irish and eventually transferred from the school.[102] Playing in front of, at the time, the largest crowd ever to watch a football game in Texas, Holiday was knocked out of the game with a neck injury before halftime. The Irish were unable move the ball and lost 24–3, moving to 0–3 for the first time ever.[103] With Holiday back the next week, he led the Irish to their first victory of the season against the Pittsburgh Panthers,[104] and continued to roll with wins over West Virginia and USC to put the Irish back to a 3–3 record.[105][106] With a loss the next week to Boston College,[107] however, the Irish hopes for a bowl game were dwindling and all but gone with a loss the next week to the seventh-ranked Tennessee Volunteers.[108]

With a 3–5 record, the Irish would need to win all of their remaining games to avoid Davie's second losing season for the team. The Irish looked to turn it around with a dominating win over Navy that increased their record winning streak over them to 38 games,[109] however, fell to Stanford the next week after both Holiday and LoVecchio completed only one pass each the entire game.[110] Assured of Notre Dame's eighth losing season ever, the Irish traveled to face the Purdue Boilermakers for the game missed after the September 11 attacks. Though the Irish defense helped secure the win and the 5–6 record,[111] it wasn't enough for the Notre Dame administration who fired Davie the next day.[112]

After Davie

When Notre Dame athletic director Kevin White announced to the media that Davie would not be retained as head coach of Notre Dame, he cited a disappointing season with the Irish heading in the wrong direction on the field.[113] A week after the firing of Davie, George O'Leary, seven–year head coach of Georgia Tech, was hired by Notre Dame for the head coaching position.[114] Five days after being hired, however, O'Leary resigned from the position,[115] because of discrepancies on his résumé about receiving a varsity letter and a Master's degree while in school.[116] While O'Leary was criticized for lying,[117] some said it gave Notre Dame a chance to make a better decision.[118] Finally, two weeks after O'Leary resigned, Notre Dame signed Tyrone Willingham, the seventh–year coach of Stanford, to a six year contract,[119] ending the Bob Davie era at Notre Dame.

See also

References

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  2. ^ Gagnon, Cappy (November 8, 1999). "Holtz is gone, let's move on". The Observer. http://www.nd.edu/~observer/11081999/Viewpoint/1.html. Retrieved 2007-08-28.  
  3. ^ "Notre Dame Coaching Biographies" (PDF). UND.cstv.com. http://www.cstv.com/auto_pdf/p_hotos/s_chools/nd/sports/m-footbl/auto_pdf/FBRecSuppCoachingBios. Retrieved 2007-08-28.  
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  5. ^ Perry, Matt (November 25, 1996). "Irish Fans Say Goodbye To Holtz". Times-Union. http://www.timeswrsw.com/archive/1996/S1125961.HTM. Retrieved 2007-08-28.  
  6. ^ "Davie Named Head Coach At Notre Dame". UND.cstv.com. November 24, 1996. http://und.cstv.com/sports/m-footbl/archive/96season/96spec-rel/nd-m-footbl-spec-rel02.html. Retrieved 2007-08-28.  
  7. ^ "Bob Davie's Opening Press Conference". UND.cstv.com. November 24, 1996. http://und.cstv.com/sports/m-footbl/archive/96season/96spec-rel/nd-m-footbl-spec-rel03.html. Retrieved 2007-08-28.  
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