Notre Dame Football: Wikis

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Notre Dame Fighting Irish
First season 1887
Athletic director Jack Swarbrick
Head coach Brian Kelly
1st year, 0–0  (–)
Home stadium Notre Dame Stadium
Stadium capacity 80,795
Stadium surface Grass
Location Notre Dame, Indiana
Conference Independent
All-time record 837–291–42 (.733)
Postseason bowl record 14–15
Claimed national titles 11 (1924, 1929, 1930,
1943, 1946, 1947, 1949,
1966, 1973, 1977, & 1988)
Heisman winners 7
Consensus All-Americans 95
Colors Gold and Navy Blue            
Fight song Notre Dame Victory March
Mascot Notre Dame Leprechaun
Marching band Band of the Fighting Irish
Outfitter Adidas
Rivals Michigan Wolverines
Michigan State Spartans
USC Trojans
Purdue Boilermakers
Navy Midshipmen

Notre Dame Fighting Irish football team is the football team of the University of Notre Dame, located in Notre Dame, Indiana, USA. The team is currently coached by Brian Kelly. The team competes as an Independent at the NCAA Football Bowl Subdivision level, and is a founding member of the Bowl Championship Series coalition.[1] The Fighting Irish have been awarded the most consensus national championships and produced more All-Americans than any other Football Bowl Subdivision school. In addition, seven Fighting Irish football players have won the Heisman Trophy.

Notre Dame is one of only two Catholic universities that field a team in the Football Bowl Subdivision, the other being Boston College. The team plays its home games on Notre Dame's campus at Notre Dame Stadium, with a capacity of 80,795. All home games are televised on NBC.


Championships and distinctions

National championships

  • Notre Dame has won eight wire (AP or Coaches) national championships.
  • Notre Dame claims national championships in an additional three seasons, for a total of 11 consensus "national championships." Notre Dame, however, is often credited with 13 in total. The 1938 and 1953 seasons are the reason for the discrepancy. In 1938, 8-1 Notre Dame was awarded the national championship by the Dickinson System, while Texas Christian (which finished 11-0) was awarded the championship by the Associated Press. In the 1953 season, an undefeated Notre Dame team (9-0-1) was named national champion by every major selector except the AP and UPI (Coaches) polls, where the Irish finished second in both to 10-1 Maryland. As Notre Dame has a policy of only recognizing AP and Coaches Poll national championships post-1936, the school does not officially recognize the 1953 national championship.[2][3]
  • Notre Dame has been voted national champion by at least one selector in an additional eight seasons (1919, 1920, 1927, 1964, 1967, 1970, 1989, 1993).[4]

The following is a list of Notre Dame's 11 consensus national championships:

Year Coach Selector Record Bowl
1924 Knute Rockne Helms, CFRA, NCF 10-0 Won Rose
1929 Knute Rockne Helms, CFRA, NCF 9-0 -
1930 Knute Rockne Helms, CFRA, NCF 10-0 -
1943 Frank Leahy AP 9-1 -
1946 Frank Leahy AP 8-0-1 -
1947 Frank Leahy AP 9-0 -
1949 Frank Leahy AP 10-0 -
1966 Ara Parseghian AP, Coaches 9-0-1 -
1973 Ara Parseghian AP 11-0 Won Sugar
1977 Dan Devine AP, Coaches 11-1 Won Cotton
1988 Lou Holtz AP, Coaches 12-0 Won Fiesta
Consensus national championships 11


  • Notre Dame has the 3rd highest winning percentage in NCAA history (.736), behind only Michigan and the Texas Longhorns (.737).[2][5][6]
  • As of the end of the 2009 football season, Notre Dame has the 3rd most wins in NCAA history (837), trailing only Michigan (877) and Texas (845).[7] Notre Dame also has the fewest losses of any program (291) (minimum 800 games played).[7]
  • Notre Dame has 102 winning seasons in 121 years of football, and only 13 losing seasons.[5]
  • The football program is tied with USC for most Heisman trophy winners at seven (Ohio State has seven Heisman trophies that were won by six players).
  • Notre Dame has produced more All-Americans (99), consensus All-Americans (80) and unanimous All-Americans (31) in football than any other college program.[8][9]
  • Notre Dame is represented by 48 players and coaches in the College Football Hall of Fame, the most of any university.[10][11]
  • Ten former players are in the Pro Football Hall of Fame, second only to USC(11). Notre Dame has produced the largest number of players to go on to play in the National Football League of any program in the country. As of the 2008 NFL draft, 463 players have been drafted.[12]
  • Helped by its status as a highly regarded academic institution (ranked 18th by U.S. News & World Report),[13] Notre Dame is second only to Nebraska in Academic All-Americans (43).
  • Since 1962, Notre Dame has graduated 98.74% of its football players in four years. As of 2006, only 13 football players in this time have left Notre Dame without finishing their degree requirements. Also of note is the 90% graduation rate of ND's African-American players (only Navy and Boston College have higher African American graduation rates).[14]
  • Notre Dame holds the NCAA record for Most consecutive wins over one opponent, beating the US Naval Academy (USNA) 43 times in a row before falling to them in 2007.[15]
  • The football program is also known for ending the Oklahoma Sooners' NCAA record winning streak of 47 games in 1957. Coincidentally, Oklahoma's 28-21 loss to Notre Dame to open the 1953 season was the last loss before the beginning of the streak.[16]
  • Notre Dame has had 12 undefeated seasons and 10 others with at most one loss or tie.[17]
  • Notre Dame is 3-3-1 in games where the national title winners from the previous two years have met in a regular season game. There have only been 11 of these games played in college football history, the most recent being LSU (2007 winner) vs. Florida (2008 winner) in 2009. Notre Dame has played in 7 of the 11 games:
  • 1945 - Army def. Notre Dame 48-0
  • 1947 - Notre Dame def. Army 27-7
  • 1968 - Notre Dame tie USC 21-21
  • 1974 - USC def. Notre Dame 55-24
  • 1978 - Notre Dame def. Pitt 26-17
  • 1989 - Miami def. Notre Dame 27-10
  • 1990 - Notre Dame def. Miami 29-20
  • The Bowl Championship Series' "Notre Dame rule" gives the university unique privileges in the postseason, due to its independent status. If Notre Dame finishes in the top 8 of BCS teams, they are automatically selected. If they finish in the top 12, they are considered for a BCS spot. Notre Dame now receives $4.5 million for playing in a BCS game and $1 million when they do not. In essence, they are treated like a conference team in either case. This is a change from the previous arrangement in which the Irish received $14 million for a BCS appearance and no cash otherwise.
  • Notre Dame is one of only three of the 120 Football Bowl Subdivision (formerly Division I-A) teams to have never played a Football Championship Subdivision (formerly Division I-AA) team since the divisions were created in 1978.[18]

Number 1 vs. number 2

Notre Dame has participated in nine "#1 vs #2" matchups since the AP poll began in 1936.[19] They have a record of 5-2-2 in such games, with a 4-0-1 record as the #1 team in such matchups. Here's a list of such games:

Date #1 Team #2 Team Outcome
9 October 1943 Notre Dame Michigan W 35-14
20 November 1943 Notre Dame Iowa Pre-Flight W 14-13
10 November 1945 Army Notre Dame L 48-0
9 November 1946 Army Notre Dame T 0-0
19 November 1966 Notre Dame Michigan State T 10-10
28 September 1968 Purdue Notre Dame L 37-22
26 November 1988 Notre Dame Southern Cal W 27-10
16 September 1989 Notre Dame Michigan W 24-19
13 November 1993 Florida State Notre Dame W 31-24

Historic games

Notre Dame has played in many regular season games that have been widely regarded by both the media[20] and sports historians[21] as historic or famous games. Notre Dame has played in many games labeled as "game of the century" games as well as several #1 vs #2 matchups,[22] It has also participated in several games that ended record streaks in college football. The games listed are widely regarded as of historical importance to the game of college football and are written about by sports historians and make many sports writer’s lists.

Notre Dame has also played in several bowl games considered by many sportswriters to be among the best bowl games played:[33][34]


The beginning (1887–1917)

American football did not have an auspicious beginning at the University of Notre Dame. In their inaugural game on November 23, 1887 the Irish lost to Michigan by a score of 8–0. Their first win came in the final game of the 1888 season when the Irish defeated Harvard Prep by a score of 20–0. At the end of the 1888 season they had a record of 1–3 with all three losses being at the hands of Michigan by a combined score of 43–9. Between 1887 and 1899 Notre Dame compiled a record of 31 wins, 15 losses, and four ties against a diverse variety of opponents ranging from local high school teams to other universities.

At the beginning of the 20th century college football began to increase in popularity and became more standardized with the introduction of the Intercollegiate Athletic Association of the United States (IAAUS) in 1906. That organization would become the NCAA in 1910. Notre Dame continued its success during this time and achieved their first victory over Michigan in 1909 by the score of 11–3 after which Michigan refused to play Notre Dame again for 33 years. By the end of the 1912 season they had amassed a record of 108 wins, 31 losses, and 13 ties.

Jesse Harper became head coach in 1913 and remained so until he retired in 1917. During his tenure the Irish began playing only intercollegiate games and posted a record of 34 wins, 5 losses, and one tie. This period would also mark the beginning of the rivalry with Army and the continuation of rivalries with Michigan State.

In 1913, Notre Dame burst into the national consciousness and helped to transform the collegiate game in a single contest. In an effort to gain respect for a regionally successful but small-time Midwestern football program, Harper scheduled games in his first season with national powerhouses Texas, Penn State, and Army. On November 1, 1913, the Notre Dame squad stunned the Black Knights of the Hudson 35-13 in a game played at West Point. Led by quarterback Charlie "Gus" Dorais and end (soon to be legendary coach) Knute Rockne, the Notre Dame team attacked the Cadets with an offense that featured both the expected powerful running game but also long and accurate downfield forward passes from Dorais to Rockne.

This game has been miscredited as the "invention" of the forward pass but is considered the first major contest in which a team used the forward pass regularly throughout the game. (For example, Homer Woodson Hargiss regularly called the play for quarterback Arthur Schabinger at the College of Emporia as early as 1910.[35])

Rockne era (1918–1930)

Knute Rockne

Knute Rockne became head coach in 1918. Under Rockne the Irish would post a record of 105 wins, 12 losses, and 5 ties. During his 13 years the Irish won six national championships, had five undefeated seasons, won the Rose Bowl in 1925, and produced players such as the "Four Horsemen,". Knute Rockne has the highest win percentage (.881) in college football history.

Among the events that occurred during Rockne’s tenure none may be more famous than the Rockne’s Win one for the Gipper speech. George "the Gipper" Gipp was a player on Rockne’s earlier teams who died of strep throat in 1920. Army came into the 1928 matchup undefeated and was the clear favorite. Notre Dame, on the other hand, was having their worst season under Rockne’s leadership and entered the game with a 4–2 record. At the end of the half Army was leading and looked to be in command of the game. Rockne entered the locker room and gave his account of Gipp’s final words: "I've got to go, Rock. It's all right. I'm not afraid. Some time, Rock, when the team is up against it, when things are going wrong and the breaks are beating the boys, tell them to go in there with all they've got and win just one for the Gipper. I don't know where I'll be then, Rock. But I'll know about it, and I'll be happy." The speech, although possibly fictional, inspired the team and they went on to upset Army and win the game 12–6.

The last game Rockne coached was on December 14, 1930 when he led a group of Notre Dame All Stars against the New York Giants in New York City. The game[36] raised funds for the Mayor's Relief Committee for the Unemployed and Needy of the city. Fifty-thousand fans turned out to see the reunited "Four Horsemen" along with players from Rockne's other championship teams take the field against the pros.[37]

Rockne died in the plane crash of TWA Flight 599 in Kansas on March 31, 1931, while on his way to help in the production of the film The Spirit of Notre Dame. The crash site, located in a remote expanse of Kansas known as the Flint Hills, now features a Rockne Memorial.[38] Knute Rockne is considered to be one of the best football coaches in the history of football, professional or college level.

Rockne was the subject of the 1940 film Knute Rockne, All American.

After Rockne (1931–1940)

Upon Rockne’s death Heartley "Hunk" Anderson took the helm of the Irish leading them to a record of 16 wins, 9 losses, and two ties. Anderson was a former Irish player under Rockne and was serving as an assistant coach at the time of Rockne's death. Anderson resigned as Irish head coach in 1934 and was replaced by Elmer Layden, who was one of Rockne’s "Four Horsemen" in the 1920s. After graduating, Layden played professional football for one year and then began a coaching career. The Irish posted a record of 47 wins, 13 losses, and 3 ties in 7 years under Layden, the most successful record of an ND coach not to win a national championship. He left Notre Dame after the 1940 season to become Commissioner of the National Football League (NFL).

Leahy era (1941–1953)

Frank Leahy was hired by Notre Dame to take over for Layden in 1941, and was another former Irish player who played during the Rockne Era. After graduating from Notre Dame, Leahy held several coaching positions, including line coach of the "Seven Blocks of Granite" of Fordham University that helped that team win all but two of their games between 1935 and 1937. He then coached the Boston College Eagles to a win in the 1941 Sugar Bowl and a share of the national championship. His move to Notre Dame began a new period of gridiron success for the Irish, and ensured Leahy's place among the winningest coaches in the history of college football.[39]

Leahy coached the team for 11 seasons, from 1941 to 1943 and 1946 to 1953. He has the second highest winning percentage (.864) of any college coach in history.[39] He led the Irish to a record of 87 wins, 11 losses, and 9 ties including 39 games without a loss (37–0–2),[39] four national championships,[39] and six undefeated seasons. A fifth national championship was lost because of a tie in 1953 against Iowa, in a game that caused a minor scandal at the time, when it appeared that some Irish players had faked injuries to stop the clock. Leahy retired in 1954 reportedly due to health reasons, although he later maintained that he left because he felt he wasn't wanted anymore.[citation needed]

From 1944 to 1945, Leahy served in the U.S. Navy and was honorably discharged as a Lieutenant. Ed McKeever, Leahy’s assistant coach, became interim head coach while Leahy was in the Navy. During his one year at the helm the Irish managed 8 wins and 2 losses. McKeever left Notre Dame in 1945 to take over as head coach of Cornell University. McKeever was replaced by Hugh Devore for the 1945 season and led the Irish to a 7-2-1 record.

After Leahy (1954–1963)

The departure of Leahy ushered in a downward slope in Notre Dame’s performance, referred to in various circles as a period of deemphasis. Terry Brennan was hired as the Notre Dame head coach in 1954 and would stay until 1958. He departed with a total of 32 wins and 18 losses. But note: the 32 wins included 17 in 1954 and 1955. From 1956 to 1958 his record was 15–15. Brennan was a former player under Leahy and before joining the Irish had coached the Mount Carmel High School team in Chicago, Illinois and later the freshman squad at Notre Dame. His first two seasons the Irish were ranked 4th and 9th respectively.It was the 1956 season that began to darken his reputation, for it became one of the most dismal in the team’s history and saw them finish the season with a mere 2 wins, including losses to Michigan State, Oklahoma, and Iowa. The Irish would recover the following season, posting a record of 7-3 and including in their wins a stunning upset of Oklahoma, in Norman, that ended the Sooners' still-standing record of 47 consecutive wins. In Brennan’s final season, though, the Irish finished 6-4. Brennan was fired in Mid-December and served as the conditioning coach for the Cincinnati Reds during spring training in 1959. Brennan's tenure can only be properly framed with the understanding that in a time of zero scholarship limitations in college football, Notre Dame's administration inexplicably began a process of demphasizing football, severely cutting scholarships and hindering Brennan from building a roster of any meaningful depth. While Leahy's recruits were allowed to maintain their scholarships, newly issued scholarships were limited in a most draconian fashion. Brennan's firing is still seen by many as one of the most unjust moments in the history of Notre Dame football.

Fifty years after Brennan's appointment, one could look back at Notre Dame's hiring policies and notice a curious pattern: the recurrent hiring of inexperienced coaches in the wake of legends. Brennan following Leahy; Gerry Faust following the hall-of-fame tandem of Parseghian and Devine; and, finally, Davie following Lou Holtz. In each case the Irish had hired a youthful coach with no experience as a head coach, and in each case the choices led to bitter disappointment on the field.[citation needed]

Joe Kuharich took over for Brennan in 1959, and during his 4 year tenure as coach the Irish finished 17-23, never finishing better than .500 in a season. Hugh Devore once again filled in the gap between coaches and led the Irish to a 2-7 record in 1963.

Parseghian era (Era of Ara)(1964–1974)

Ara Parseghian Statue, dedicated September 22, 2007

Ara Parseghian was a former college football player for the Miami University Redskins until 1947 and became their assistant coach in 1950 and head coach in 1951, after a two year stint playing for the Cleveland Browns. In 1956 he moved to Northwestern University, where he stayed for eight years.

In 1964, Parseghian was hired to replace Devore as head football coach and immediately brought the team back to a level of success comparable only to Rockne and Leahy in Irish football history. These three coaches have an 80% or greater winning percentage while at Notre Dame — Rockne at .881, Leahy at .864, and Parseghian at .836. Parseghian's teams never won fewer than seven nor lost more than two games during the ten game regular seasons of the era.

In his first year the Irish improved their record to 9–1, earning Parseghian coach of the year honors and a cover story in Time magazine. It was under Parseghian as well that Notre Dame lifted its 40-plus year-old "no bowl games" policy, beginning with the season of 1969, after which the Irish played the number one ranked Texas Longhorns in the Cotton Bowl Classic, losing in the final minutes in a closely-contested game. The following year, Parseghian's 9–1 squad ended Texas' Southwest Conference record thirty game winning streak in the 1971 Cotton Bowl Classic game.

During his eleven year career, the Irish amassed a record of 95–17–4 and captured two uncontested national championships as well as the MacArthur Bowl in 1964. The Irish also had two undefeated seasons in 1966 and 1973, had three major bowl wins in five appearances, and produced one Heisman Trophy winner. In 1971, Cliff Brown became the first African-American quarterback to start a game for the program. Parseghian was forced to retire after the 1974 season for medical reasons.

Devine era (1975–1980)

Dan Devine was hired to take over as head coach upon Parseghian's retirement in 1975. Devine was already a highly successful coach and had led Arizona State, Missouri, and the Green Bay Packers. When he arrived at Notre Dame he already had a college coaching record of 120 wins, 40 losses, and 8 ties and had led his teams to victory in 4 bowl games. At Notre Dame he would lead the Irish to 53 wins, 16 losses, and 1 tie. The Irish were winners of 3 major bowl games and captured one national championship in 1977. Devine resigned as head football coach in 1980.

Faust era (1981–1985)

Gerry Faust was hired to replace Devine for the 1981 season. Prior to Notre Dame, Faust had been one of the more successful high school football coaches in the country. As coach of Moeller High School in Cincinnati, Ohio he amassed a 174-17-2 record. Despite his success in the high school ranks, his success at Notre Dame was mixed and his record mediocre at best. In his first season the Irish finished 5-6. The most successful years under Faust were the 1983 and 1984 campaigns where the Irish finished 7-5 and made trips to the Liberty Bowl and Aloha Bowl respectively. His final record at Notre Dame was 30-26-1. Faust resigned at the end of the 1985 season to take over as head coach for the University of Akron. Faust was recently invited by ex-head coach Charlie Weis to speak to the 2006 team at the annual football awards banquet.

Holtz era (1986–1996)

Lou Holtz had 17 years of coaching experience by the time he was hired to lead the Irish. He had previously been head coach of William and Mary, North Carolina State, the New York Jets, Arkansas, and Minnesota. Holtz began in 1986 where his predecessor left off in 1985, finishing with an identical record of 5 wins and 6 losses. However, unlike the 1985 squad, which was generally outcoached and outplayed, Holtz's 1986 edition was competitive in nearly every game, losing five out of those six games by a combined total of 14 points. That would be his only losing season as he posted a record of 95–24–2 over the next ten seasons adding up to a 100–30–2 docket overall.[2]

In contrast to Faust, Holtz was well-known as a master motivator and a strict disciplinarian. He displayed the latter trait in spades when two of his top contributing players showed up late for dinner right before the then top-ranked Irish played second-ranked Southern California in the final regular season game of 1988. In a controversial move, coach Lou Holtz took his 10–0 Irish squad to L.A. without stars Ricky Watters and Tony Brooks, who he suspended for disciplinary reasons.[40] This was not the first time these players had gotten into trouble and the players had been warned there would be serious consequences if it happened again. His move was vindicated when the Irish defeated USC anyway.[40]

Holtz was named national coach of the year (Paul "Bear" Bryant Award) in 1988, the same season he took Notre Dame to an upset of #1 Miami in the Catholics vs. Convicts series and a win over #3 West Virginia in the Fiesta Bowl, thus capturing the National Championship. His 1989 and 1993 squads narrowly missed repeating the feat. Overall, he took Notre Dame to one undefeated season, 9 consecutive New Year’s Day bowl games, and top 10 finishes in the AP poll in five seasons.[2] Holtz resigned from Notre Dame in 1996.

Davie era (1997–2001)

Bob Davie, who had been Holtz's defensive coordinator from 1994 to 1996, was promoted to head coach when Holtz departed. One of his first major decisions was to fire long-time offensive line coach Joe Moore, who then successfully sued the university for age discrimination.[41] On Davie's watch, the team suffered three bowl game losses (1997 Independence Bowl, 1998 Gator Bowl, and 2001 Fiesta Bowl), it failed to qualify for a bowl game in two others (1999 and 2001). The highlight of Davie's tenure was a 36–20 upset win in 1998 over fifth ranked Michigan, the defending national champion. Davie also helmed the thrilling 25–24 home game victory over USC in 1999. Davie nearly defeated top ranked Nebraska in 2000, with the Irish comeback bid falling short in overtime 24–27. The aforementioned 2001 Fiesta Bowl was Notre Dame's first invitation to the Bowl Championship Series. The Irish were humbled by 32 points to Oregon State, but would finish #15 in the AP Poll, Davie's highest ranking as head coach. The 2001 squad was awarded the American Football Coaches Association Achievement Award for its 100% graduation rate.

Following the 1998 season, the team fell into a pattern of frustrating inconsistency, alternating between successful and mediocre seasons. Despite Davie's rocky tenure, new athletic director Kevin White gave the coach a contract extension following the Fiesta Bowl-capped 2000 season, then saw the team start 0–3 in 2001 – the first such start in school history. Disappointed by the on-field results, coupled with the Joe Moore and Kim Dunbar scandals, the administration decided to dismiss Davie. His final record at Notre Dame was 35-25. On December 9, 2001, Notre Dame hired George O'Leary to replace Davie. However, New Hampshire Union Leader reporter Jim Fennell — while researching a "local boy done good" story on O'Leary — uncovered misrepresentations in O'Leary's résumé that had influenced the administration's decision to hire him.[42] The resulting media scandal embarrassed Notre Dame officials, and tainted O'Leary; he resigned five days later, before coaching a single practice.

Willingham era (2002–2004)

Once again in need of a new head coach, the school turned to Tyrone Willingham, the head coach at Stanford. Bringing a feeling of change and excitement to campus, Willingham led the 2002 squad to a 10–2 regular season record, including an 8-0 start with wins over #7 Michigan and #11 Florida State, and a #4 ranking. This great early start, however, would be the lone highlight of Willingham's tenure, as Notre Dame finished the year with a heart-breaking loss to Boston College, then lopsided losses to USC and North Carolina State (in the Gator Bowl). The program faltered over the next two seasons under Willingham, compiling an 11–12 record. During this time, Notre Dame lost a game by at least 30 points on 5 occasions. (For perspective, in the previous 40 seasons (1961–2000), Notre Dame had lost by at least 30 points only four times. Bob Davie lost by 30 points only once.) They also suffered a home loss to Purdue by 25 points. Furthermore, Willingham's 2004 recruiting class was judged by analysts to be the worst at Notre Dame in more than two decades.[43] Citing Notre Dame's third consecutive 4-touchdown loss to arch-rival USC compounded by another year of sub-par recruiting efforts, the Willingham era ended on November 30, 2004 (after the conclusion of the 2004 season) when the university chose to terminate him and pay out the remainder of Willingham's six-year contract.

Reports circulated that Urban Meyer might be hired as Willingham's successor. Meyer was a highly sought after coach and a former wide receivers coach at Notre Dame.[44] Following a well-publicized courtship by the Irish, Meyer chose instead to accept the head coaching position at the University of Florida. Notre Dame subsequently hired Charlie Weis, the offensive coordinator of the New England Patriots (who at the time were en route to their third Super Bowl victory in four years). Weis had graduated from Notre Dame, but had never played for its football team.

Weis era (2005–2009)

Charlie Weis became head football coach for the Irish beginning with the 2005 season. In his inaugural season he led Notre Dame to a record of 9–3, including an appearance in the Fiesta Bowl, where they were defeated by the Ohio State Buckeyes 34-20. Weis's impact was apparent when, in the first half of the first game (against Pittsburgh), Notre Dame had gained more offensive yards than it had in 5 games combined, during the previous season. Quarterback Brady Quinn would go on to break numerous team passing records that season and rise to the national spotlight, by holding 35 Notre Dame records as well as becoming a top Heisman contender. The school administration was so impressed with the turnaround, it made the surprise move of offering Weis a (ten-year) contract extension midway through his inaugural season.[45]

Weis and the Irish went into the 2006 season with a #2 preseason ranking in the ESPN/Coaches Poll. They finished the regular season with a 10-2 record, losing only to Michigan and USC. Notre Dame accepted a bid to the 2007 Sugar Bowl, losing to LSU 41-14. This marked their ninth consecutive post-season/bowl game loss, the longest drought in NCAA history. As a result, Notre Dame dropped to #17 in the final rankings. This also gave the program the Division 1-A record for the most consecutive bowl game defeats. In the wake of a graduating class that sent eleven players to the NFL,[46] the 2007 season (3-9) included various negative milestones: the most losses in a single year (9);[47] two of the ten worst losses ever (38-0 losses to both Michigan and USC); and the first 6-game losing streak for home games. Its losses to Navy and Air Force marked the first time Notre Dame has lost to two military academies in the same season since 1944, and the first time in the BCS era that Notre Dame went winless against mid-majors. The Naval Academy recorded their first win over the Irish since 1963, breaking the NCAA-record 43-game streak. Notre Dame did manage to close out a season with two straight wins for the first time since 1992.[48]

In 2008, the Irish started 4–1, but completed the regular season with a 6–6 record, including a 24–23 home loss to Syracuse, the first time that Notre Dame had fallen to an eight-loss team. Despite speculation the university might fire Weis, it was announced he would remain head coach.[49] Weis's Notre Dame squad ended the season breaking the Irish's NCAA record nine-game bowl losing streak by beating Hawaiʻi 49-21.[50] Charlie Weis entered the 2009 season with the expectation from the Notre Dame administration that his team would be in position to compete for a BCS Bowl berth.[51] Notre Dame started the first part of the season 4-2, with close losses to Michigan and USC. Many of their wins were also close, aside from a 35-0 victory over Nevada and a 40-14 thrashing of Washington State. Sitting at 6-2, however, Notre Dame lost a close game at Notre Dame Stadium to an unranked Navy team, 23-21.[51] This loss was the second to Navy in the last three years, after Notre Dame had beaten Navy forty three straight times dating back to 1963.[51] Notre Dame Athletic Director Jack Swarbrick, when asked about what his biggest disappointment had been that season, took a long pause, then said, "the Navy outcome."[51] While Swarbrick clarified that he would not evaluate the football season until season's end, he stated that "Up until the Navy game we were in the BCS conversation." [51] The Navy game, however, was the first of a four game losing skid, as Notre Dame followed up the Navy loss with losses to a top-10 Pittsburgh team, an overtime loss to Connecticut at home, and a season ending loss at Stanford. Weis was fired on November 30, 2009, exactly 5 years after his predecessor.[52]

Kelly era (2009–present)

Brian Kelly was announced as the 29th head coach of the Fighting Irish on December 10, 2009, after coaching Cincinnati to a 12-0 record and BCS bowl berth.[53] Kelly had previously coached at Grand Valley State from 1991–2003 (118-35-2/.767) and Central Michigan from 2004–06 (19-16/.542), and Cincinnati (34-6/.850).

All-time records

Notre Dame's all time record stands at 837 wins, 291 losses, and 42 ties. The winning percentage of .733 is second behind Michigan. Its 837 wins are third behind Michigan and Texas, while its 291 losses are the lowest of any college programs that have been playing football for 70 years or more.[54]

All-time coaching records

Years Coach Seasons Wins Losses Ties Pct.
1887–89, 1892–93 None 5 7 4 1 .625
1894 J.L. Morison 1 3 1 1 .700
1895 H.G. Hadden 1 3 1 0 .750
1896–98 Frank E. Hering 3 12 6 1 .658
1899 James McWeeney 1 6 3 1 .650
1900–01 Pat O'Dea 2 14 4 2 .750
1902–03 James F. Faragher 2 14 2 2 .843
1904 Red Salmon 1 5 3 0 .625
1905 Henry J. McGlew 1 5 4 0 .556
1906–07 Thomas A. Barry 2 12 1 1 .893
1908 Victor M. Place 1 8 1 0 .889
1909–10 Shorty Longman 2 11 1 2 .857
1911–12 Jack Marks 2 13 0 2 .933
1913–17 Jesse Harper 5 34 5 1 .863
1918–30 Knute Rockne 13 105 12 5 .881
1931–33 Hunk Anderson 3 16 9 2 .630
1934–40 Elmer Layden 7 47 13 3 .770
1941–43, 1946–53 Frank Leahy 11 87 11 9 .855
1944 Ed McKeever 1 8 2 0 .800
1945, 1963 Hugh Devore 2 9 9 1 .500
1954–58 Terry Brennan 5 32 18 0 .640
1959–62 Joe Kuharich 4 17 23 0 .425
1964–74 Ara Parseghian 11 95 17 4 .836
1975–80 Dan Devine 6 53 16 1 .764
1981–85 Gerry Faust 5 30 26 1 .535
1986–96 Lou Holtz 11 100 30 2 .765
1997–01 Bob Davie 5 35 25 .583
2001* George O'Leary 0 0 0 .000
2002–04 Tyrone Willingham 3 21 15 .583
2004† Kent Baer 0 0 1 .000
2005–09 Charlie Weis 5 35 27 .564
2010– Brian Kelly 0 0 0 .000
Totals Coaches Seasons Wins Losses Ties Pct.
1887–2009 31 119 837 291 42 .733
* George O'Leary did not coach a single practice or game, resigning five days after being hired; O'Leary misrepresented his academic credentials.
† Kent Baer served as interim head coach for one game at the 2004 Insight Bowl after Tyrone Willingham was fired.

Bowl games

Notre Dame has made 29 Bowl appearances, winning 14 and losing 15.[55] It has played in the Rose Bowl (1 win), the Cotton Bowl Classic (5 wins, 2 losses), the Orange Bowl (2 wins, 3 losses), the Sugar Bowl (2 wins, 2 losses), the Gator Bowl (1 win, 2 losses), the Liberty Bowl (1 win), the Aloha Bowl (1 loss), the Fiesta Bowl (1 win, 3 losses), the Independence Bowl (1 loss),the Insight Bowl (1 loss) and the Hawaiʻi Bowl (1 win). From 1994 to the 2006 football seasons, Notre Dame lost 9 consecutive bowl games and setting an NCAA record for consecutive bowl losses. That streak ended with a 49-21 blowout of Hawaiʻi in the 2008 Hawaiʻi Bowl. In the process, Notre Dame scored its highest point total in post-season play.

Date Bowl W/L Opponent PF PA
January 1, 1925 Rose Bowl W Stanford 27 10
January 1, 1970 Cotton Bowl Classic L Texas 17 21
January 1, 1971 Cotton Bowl Classic W Texas 24 11
January 1, 1973 Orange Bowl L Nebraska 6 40
December 31, 1973 Sugar Bowl W Alabama 24 23
January 1, 1975 Orange Bowl W Alabama 13 11
December 27, 1976 Gator Bowl W Penn State 20 9
January 2, 1978 Cotton Bowl Classic W Texas 38 10
January 1, 1979 Cotton Bowl Classic W Houston 35 34
January 1, 1981 Sugar Bowl L Georgia 10 17
December 29, 1983 Liberty Bowl W Boston College 19 18
December 29, 1984 Aloha Bowl L SMU 20 27
January 1, 1988 Cotton Bowl Classic L Texas A&M 10 35
January 2, 1989 Fiesta Bowl W West Virginia 34 21
January 1, 1990 Orange Bowl W Colorado 21 6
January 1, 1991 Orange Bowl L Colorado 9 10
January 1, 1992 Sugar Bowl W Florida 39 28
January 1, 1993 Cotton Bowl Classic W Texas A&M 28 3
January 1, 1994 Cotton Bowl Classic W Texas A&M 24 21
January 2, 1995 Fiesta Bowl L Colorado 24 41
January 1, 1996 Orange Bowl L Florida State 26 31
December 28, 1997 Independence Bowl L LSU 9 27
January 1, 1999 Gator Bowl L Georgia Tech 28 35
January 1, 2001 Fiesta Bowl L Oregon State 9 41
January 1, 2003 Gator Bowl L North Carolina State 6 28
December 28, 2004 Insight Bowl L Oregon State 21 38
January 2, 2006 Fiesta Bowl L Ohio State 20 34
January 3, 2007 Sugar Bowl L LSU 14 41
December 24, 2008 Hawaiʻi Bowl W Hawaiʻi 49 21
Total 29 bowl games 14-15 624 692

Players and coaches

and Fighting Irish football players

Heisman Trophy

Seven Notre Dame football players have won the prestigious Heisman Trophy. As of 2006, Notre Dame, Ohio State, and USC are tied for the most Heisman Trophy winners, with 7.[56]

Heisman Voting:


Other national award winners

Leon Hart - 1949[59]
Johnny Lattner - 1952, 1953[59]
Jim Lynch - 1966[59]
Ross Browner - 1977[59]
Brady Quinn - 2006[60]
Ken MacAfee - 1977[61]
Tim Brown - 1987[62]
Raghib Ismail - 1990[62]
Tony Rice - 1989[63]
Brady Quinn - 2006[63]
Brady Quinn - 2006[64]
Golden Tate - 2009[65]
George Connor - 1946[66]
Bill Fischer - 1948[66]
Ross Browner - 1976[66]
Walt Patulski - 1971[67]
Ross Browner - 1977[67]
Chris Zorich - 1990[67]
Aaron Taylor - 1993[67]
Terry Hanratty - 1967[68]
Brady Quinn - 2005[68]

Coaching awards

Ara Parseghian - 1964[69]
Lou Holtz - 1988[69]
Ara Parseghian - 1964[70]
Lou Holtz - 1988[70]
Charlie Weis - 2005[70]
Tyrone Willingham - 2002[71]

College Football Hall of Fame

49 former Notre Dame players and coaches have been inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame, located in South Bend, Indiana.[72] Notre Dame leads all universities in players inducted.

Name Position Year Inducted
Hunk Anderson Guard 1974
Angelo Bertelli Quarterback 1972
Tim Brown Wide Receiver 2009
Ross Browner Defensive End 1999
Jack Cannon Guard 1965
Frank Carideo Quarterback 1954
George Connor Tackle 1963
Jim Crowley Halfback 1966
Zygmont Czarobski Tackle 1977
Dan Devine Coach 1985
Bob Dove End 2000
Ray Eichenlaub Fullback 1972
Bill Fischer Tackle/Guard 1983
George Gipp Halfback 1951
Jerry Groom Center 1994
Ralph Guglielmi Quarterback 2001
Jesse Harper Coach 1994
Leon Hart End 1973
Frank Hoffman Guard 1978
Lou Holtz Coach 2008
Paul Hornung Quarterback 1985
John Huarte Quarterback 2005
Johnny Lattner Halfback 1979
Elmer Layden Fullback 1951
Frank Leahy Coach 1970
Johnny Lujack Quarterback 1960
Jim Lynch Linebacker 1992
Ken MacAfee Tight End 1997
Jim Martin End/Tackle 1995
Bert Metzger Guard 1982
Creighton Miller Halfback 1976
Don Miller Halfback 1970
Edgar Miller Tackle 1966
Fred Miller Tackle 1985
Wayne Millner End 1990
Alan Page Defensive End 1993
Ara Parseghian Coach 1980
Knute Rockne Coach 1951
Louis Salmon Fullback 1971
Marchy Schwartz Halfback 1974
Bill Shakespeare Halfback 1983
Red Sitko Halfback/Fullback 1984
John "Clipper" Smith Guard 1975
Harry Stuhldreher Quarterback 1958
Joe Theismann Quarterback 2003
Adam Walsh Center 1968
Bob Williams Quarterback 1988
Tommy Yarr Center 1987
Chris Zorich Defensive Tackle 2007

Current roster and staff


The team in their current home uniforms
Former quarterback Brady Quinn in the current away uniform

Notre Dame's home jersey is dark blue with white numerals, gold outlining, and a small interlocking "ND" logo at the base of the collar. The away jersey is white with blue numerals, gold outlining, and the interlocking "ND" at the collar. In recent years, neither jersey included the player's name on the back, but names were included during the Dan Devine and Gerry Faust eras. However, for the Irish's Hawai'i Bowl appearance in 2008 vs. the University of Hawai'i, Notre Dame once again wore last names on their jerseys. Gold pants, with a small ND logo just below the left waist, are worn with both home and away jerseys.

Notre Dame's helmets are solid gold with gray facemasks, the gold being emblematic of the University's famed "Golden Dome." It is a Notre Dame tradition for the team's student managers to spray-paint the team's helmets prior to each game, ensuring that they keep their gold shine each week.

Left arm Body Right arm
Left arm Body Right arm
Left arm Body Right arm
Current uniforms

Over the years, Notre Dame has occasionally worn green instead of blue as its home jersey, sometimes adopting the jersey for an entire season—or more—at a time. Currently, Notre Dame reserves its green jerseys for "special" occasions. Often on such occasions, the Irish will take the field for warmups dressed in blue, only to switch to green when they go back to the locker room before kickoff. This tradition was started by Dan Devine in 1977 before the USC game. Notre Dame has also been known to switch jerseys at halftime, as during the 1985 USC game, and in the epic loss to Nile Kinnick-led Iowa in 1939, although this was to help avoid confusion between their navy uniforms and Iowa's black ones. The current design of the jersey is kelly green with gold numbers and white outlining. For the 2006 Army game, Coach Charlie Weis broke out the Green jerseys as a reward to his senior players, as well finally ending the string of losses by the Irish when wearing green. Notre Dame wore throwback green jerseys in 2007 against USC in honor of the 30th anniversary of the 1977 National Championship team.[74] On at least one occasion (1992 Sugar Bowl) Notre Dame has worn an away variant of the jersey: a white jersey with green numbers. Adidas is the current outfitter of Notre Dame football and all Notre Dame athletics.

During Gerry Faust's tenure (1981–85), Notre Dame's blue jerseys switched from the traditional navy to royal blue with gold and white stripes on the sleeves. When Lou Holtz succeeded Faust in 1986, navy blue returned.

No uniform numbers have been retired by Notre Dame. Upon being issued a number, each player is given a card which lists some of the more famous players who have worn that particular number. Number 3 is perhaps the most famous number in Irish football history, having been worn by Ralph Guglielmi, George Izo, Daryle Lamonica, Coley O'Brien, Joe Montana, Rick Mirer and Ron Powlus, among others.[75] Number 5 is also notable, as it is the only number to be worn by one of the four Horseman (Elmer Layden) a Heisman Trophy Winner (Paul Hornung) and a National Title winning Quarterback (Terry Hanratty).[75] Number 7 has been worn by such Irish greats as 1964 Heisman Trophy winner John Huarte, 1970 Heisman runner-up Joe Theismann, Steve Beuerlein and Jarious Jackson.[75] It is currently worn by starting quarterback Jimmy Clausen.


Notre Dame Stadium

Notre Dame Stadium on game day, with student section and band

Notre Dame Stadium is the home football stadium for the University of Notre Dame Fighting Irish football team. Located on the southeast part of the university's campus in Notre Dame, Indiana and with a seating capacity of 80,795, Notre Dame Stadium is one of the most renowned venues in college football. The Sporting News ranks Notre Dame Stadium as # 2 on its list of "College Football Cathedrals".[76] With no JumboTron and just two modest scoreboards, the stadium experience evokes a more traditional feel. Notre Dame Stadium is used exclusively for football related activities.

Cartier Field

Cartier Field was the original playing field of the Fighting Irish. In 1930, it was replaced by Notre Dame Stadium, due to the growing popularity of ND football. Notre Dame's practice facility still bears the Cartier Field name. Most ND practices take place on Cartier Field.

Guglielmino Athletics Complex

Known by fans as "the Gug" (pronounced "goog"), the Guglielmino Athletics Complex is Notre Dame's brand new athletics complex. The Gug houses the new football offices, a brand new state-of-the-art weight room, and practice week locker rooms for the football team. The Gug is utilized by all Notre Dame athletes. The complex was underwritten by Don F. Guglielmino and his family.


The First Jeweled Shillelagh, awarded to the winner of the annual Southern Cal vs Notre Dame game.
  • USC is considered to be Notre Dame's current primary rival. The Notre Dame-USC rivalry has produced more national titles, Heisman trophies and All-Americans than any other collegiate rivalry. This football rivalry is considered one of the most important rivalries in college football,[77] and is often called greatest intersectional rivalry in college football,[78] meaning that the rivalry is not dictated by conference affiliation or geography. Other than a brief interruption during World War II, both teams have been playing each other since 1926. Notre Dame leads the series 42 wins to 33 wins with 5 ties.
  • Michigan is considered Notre Dame's other (as well as their first and oldest) major rival, although the two teams did not play each other for many years. The rivalry is heightened by the two schools' competition for all-time win percentage, which each has held during their history, (UM currently leads in winning percentage as of 2009). Fierce competition for the same type of student-athletes as well as disputes over Notre Dame's potential conference membership in the Big Ten conference also serve to fuel the rivalry.
  • Navy and Notre Dame currently have one of the longest continuous series in college football, having played 80 games without interruption since 1927 (Nebraska and Kansas is the longest in the Football Bowl Subdivision [formerly called Division 1-A], having played uninterrupted since 1906). Notre Dame had a 43 game win streak against them, the longest such streak in Division 1-A football. This win streak was finally broken on November 3, 2007. This series is scheduled to continue indefinitely.

Game day traditions

The band playing in a pre-game ceremony before a football game

Due to its long and storied history, Notre Dame football boasts many traditions unique to Notre Dame. Some of these are:

  • Prior to each game, Notre Dame students paint all football helmets gold, using paint containing real gold dust.[29]
  • Prior to the start of the game, the team attends mass in formal attire at the Sacred Heart Basilica. At the conclusion of mass, fans form a line from the chapel to the stadium, which the team walks through.[79]
Team raising their helmets to the student section after a win (or loss)
  • Coming out of the locker room, players slap the famous "Play Like a Champion Today" sign.
  • Between the third and fourth quarters of home games, the Notre Dame Marching Band plays the finale to the 1812 Overture, as the crowd reacts with synchronized waving of arms, with their fingers in the shape of a letter designating the name of the head coach
  • Since 1961, Sergeant Tim McCarthy for the Indiana State Police has read out a driving safety announcement to the crowd during the fourth quarter. When Sergeant McCarthy begins his announcement, the crowd goes silent to hear his message, which invariably ends with a pun.[80]
  • At the conclusion of every home game, the team turns to the student section to salute them by raising their helmets in the air. They do this after a win or after a loss.[79]
  • At the conclusion of every home game, the band plays the Alma Mater, "Notre Dame, Our Mother". Those who stay link arms and sing the lyrics.

Irish in the NFL

Irish in the NFL
NFL Draft Selections[81]
Total selected: 463
First picks in draft: 5
1st Round: 61
NFL Achievements[82]
In the Super Bowl: 42
Won the Super Bowl: 36
Hall of Famers: 10

Pro Football Hall of Fame

Ten former Notre Dame players have been inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame, second only to USC (11).[83]

*McNally graduated from St. John's (MN), but started his career at Notre Dame and is listed as a hall of famer under both schools in the Pro Football Hall of Fame.[84]

Current NFL players


Notre Dame is the only college football team to have all of its home games televised nationally.[citation needed] Until the 2006 Air Force game, Notre Dame had a record 169 consecutive games broadcast nationally on either NBC, ABC, ESPN, or CBS.[85] The 2006 ND vs. Air Force game was broadcast on CSTV, a CBS affiliate who had an exclusive contract with the Mountain West conference, of which Air Force is a member. Notre Dame is also famous for being the first team to leave the College Football Association, which controlled TV rights, and establish its own network TV deal with NBC.



NBC has been televising Notre Dame Home football games since the 1991 season.[86] Notre Dame is the only Division 1-A football team to have all of its home games televised exclusively by one television network. Ironically, Pat Haden, the color commentator, is an alumnus of USC and as a senior Quarterback led the USC Trojans to the biggest second-half comeback against Notre Dame in 1974.[citation needed] In addition to TV broadcasts, NBC also maintains several dedicated websites to ND football, and Notre Dame Central,[87] which provides complete coverage, full game replays and commentary of the Notre Dame team. NBC's television contract with Notre Dame was renewed in June, 2008 and is set to continue through the 2015 football season.[88]

Current Broadcast Team:


Notre Dame is the only team, professional or college, to have all of its games broadcast nationally in the USA on the radio.

Current Announcers:

  • Don Criqui (play-by-play) - 1974–1976, 2006–current
  • Allen Pinkett (color commentary)
  • Jeff Jeffers (pre and post-game)

ISP (2008–Present) In February 2008, Notre Dame and ISP Sports agreed to a 10 year deal to serve as the exclusive rights holder of all Notre Dame football radio broadcasts.[89] ISP will broadcast all Notre Dame football games beginning with the 2008 football season and extending through the 2017 season.

Westwood One (1968–2008) Westwood One broadcast Notre Dame football nationally on radio for 40 consecutive years (after taking over from the Mutual Radio Network). Notre Dame ended its relationship with Westwood One at the conclusion of the 2007 football season citing financial reasons.[90]

Former Announcers:

  • Tony Roberts (play-by-play) - 1980–2005
  • Al Wester (play-by-play and/or color commentary) - 1968–1983
  • Tom Pagna (color commentary)
  • Ralph Guglielmi
  • Lindsey Nelson


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