Michael Stonebreaker Interview Highlights

In the first of many interviews with members of Notre Dame’s 1988 National Championship team, Frank and I had the pleasure of talking Irish football with all-american linebacker Michael Stonebreaker. The interview can be listened to in its entirety over on the UHND Podcast page. For those that don’t have time to listen to the interview in its entirety, the following are some of the highlights.

Staying in contact with old teammates:

“Frank Stams, Wes Pritchett and I talk periodically. Todd Lyght was a roommate of mine my senior year. Todd and I are good friends. I was in South Bend last week for the Charlie Weis, Hannah & Friends Golf Tournament and got together with a few of those guys; Chris Zorich, Tony Rice, Frank was there, Todd Lyght was there. So we sat around and told old war stories and laughed and had a really good time.”

The 1988 National Championship reunion weekend at the College Football Hall of Fame ND vs. Michigan weekend – Friday, September 12th:

“Everybody is really excited about getting back together…seeing what everybody is doing now, telling old stories and remembering the glory days of that really unbelievable season we had.”

Was he involved in the pregame brawl against Miami in 1988:

“Did I get mixed in with it? Yeah I might have been mixed in with it a little bit.”

Why he got involved in the brawl:

“There’s no way that anybody was going to disrespect me, Notre Dame, the team I was on, the stadium we were in, that was not going to happen.”

Stonebreaker gives a goose bump worthy recollection of what happened pregame Miami 1988, Lou Holtz’s reaction and the atmosphere in the locker room before the game and sums it up with:

“The energy in that locker room was the most intense, most fun thing I’ve ever experienced in my life.”

Defending your home turf isn’t about brawls, it’s about the effort each player gives every play that develops the reputation of defending one’s turf:

“To just be defending your turf, you have to be knocking people out on the field. You have to be hitting people hard on every single play. That’s how you defend your field, that’s how you become a good team. It’s not the antics before the game, it’s doing it on first down, second down and third down.”

Was there one play that could sum up his style of play and his attitude on the field:

“I prided myself on playing hard on <u>every</u> down. You have to be consistent <u>every</u> play.”

The possibility of Notre Dame and Miami renewing their rivalry:

“I think it’s great. It’s great for college football. Those are two storied programs. And that’s how you become a better team by playing the top programs in the country.”

Was there one guy in his career he wanted to flatten but didn’t get the chance:

“No. Not at all. I hit everybody I wanted to hit. I hit them as hard as I wanted to hit them. They weren’t going to get away from me. I was going to chase them down…to hit them if I had to.”

Practical jokes between Stonebreaker, Stams & Pritchett and a unique Christmas present:

“They acted like they got over on me but I think I really got over on them most of the time. I was tough enough to be the scapegoat on most of their gags. I went down to the biology lab and they had a pig fetus they were working on. I was digging through the trash and got the leftovers, I put a really pretty bow on the package and addressed it to my dear friend Frank before he left for Christmas break.”

The Gary Darnell experience:

“Gary Darnell had a gap control defense. And that lasted about a game and a half and then Lou Holtz took the defense away from him and we went back to our reacting style of defense.”

His favorite Notre Dame player ever:

“Paul Horning, The Golden Boy.”

He was headed to UCLA:

“I went out to UCLA and they didn’t have dorm rooms. All the players had condos and it was really sunny out there and that was the place I wanted to go. I told them I really like UCLA but I have one more visit. I’m going to take my trip to Notre Dame, but I’m leaning to UCLA. And the UCLA coach called me during the week before I went to Notre Dame and said ‘We no longer have a scholorship offer for you.’ Ten years later I ran into the same coach and he’s been kicking himself in the ass ever since.”

Going to Notre Dame:

“It was a no brainer after I went up there to visit. To have the opportunity to go there and play football. It was a 40 year decision and not a four year decision.”

Wishing he had eligibility left to crush Reggie Bush:

“I’d crush him on every play. He wouldn’t be able to bounce outside on me. People ask me if I miss playing football. I miss knocking people out for a living.”

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