For Notre Dame, It’s Often Darkest Before Dawn

Notre Dame Fighting Irish wide receiver Chris Brown (2) fumbles the ball on the 1 yard line after being tackled by Northwestern Wildcats safety Ibraheim Campbell (24) at Notre Dame Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports
Notre Dame Fighting Irish wide receiver Chris Brown (2) fumbles the ball on the 1 yard line after being tackled by Northwestern Wildcats safety Ibraheim Campbell (24) at Notre Dame Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

NOTRE DAME has won four national championships in the post-Leahy era: 1) 1966, 2) 1973, 3) 1977, .and 4) 1988.

There were myriad near-misses: ’64, ’70, ’80, ’89, ’93, ’12.

While past performance is never a guarantee of future results,   there was an eerily similar pattern in the year PRIOR to the four championship years.  Three common themes:

(1)  Ugly, repulsive losses late in the year
(2)  Skepticism about coach and player capacity to win a national championship
(3)  Gloomy outlook

In each of the four case studies it was difficult, if not impossible, to see the ensuing championship coming.

And when there is doubt knee-deep in the streets the whiners, the chicken-littles, the bed-wetters, the nattering nabobs of negativism are quite content, in their element, singing their dreary dirges loudly and somberly.  In each of the four case studies we will posit a mind(sic)/mouth scan of the doubtful downers. And a brief mention of the ensuing dawn.


It got ugly early when Purdue’s Junior quarterback, Bob Griese, went 19 of 22 passes for 283 yards (an astounding accuracy performance in that ancient era)

to lead the Boilermakers to a 25-21 victory over the Irish hard by the banks of the Wabash.

Oh, it would get worse. On November 20, 1965, Duffy Daugherty led a Michigan State team starring  Bubba Smith, Harold Lucas, George Webster and Ron Goovert into Notre Dame Stadium  and beat the Irish 12-3, holding the vaunted Notre Dame running attack to MINUS 13 yards.  Those who attended still cringe  at the thought of Stadium announcer Frank Crosiar proclaiming “Zloch fails to gain.”

The Irish bounced back to tie Miami, 0-0, in a game much less compelling than the final score, finishing 7-2-1.


The Linebacker Illuminati convened and the whiners chirped in full voice:

“The Irish are done. Done!  This Parseghian did okay when he inherited John Huarte, but he can not recruit or develop worthy Notre Dame quarterbacks.

I KNEW it was a mistake when we hired a non-Catholic non-alum and he sure proved that he doesn’t “get” Notre Dame when he brought his Miami of Ohio posse with him: Pagna, Shoults, Urich.   He, an insecure non-alum from a small time program, chose comfort over competence.    Pagna? What a poser, a lifetime Ara lackey. 3 poonts in the last two games: 1.5 ppg.   Failure! ’66 will be awful, I GUARANTEE it. Bob Griese and Leroy Keyes will have a field day against us in the opener. Michigan State will crush us AGAIN in East Lansing, and USC will have revenge on their mind.  They’ll probably beat us 50-0 in the Coliseum. Traveler will be worn out from running around the Coliseum.  ND is screwed in ’66.”


Unbeaten, once tied national champion.  The tie was 10-10 against Michigan State  in what some still believe  was the greatest college football game   ever played.  And in the game against USC in the Coliseum one team did scored 50.  It was the Irish in a 51-0 rout.  Traveler never got lathered.


Tom Clements was supposed to be the next oustanding Notre Dame quarterback after the 1971 debacle with Bill Etter, Pat Steenberge and Cliff Brown.  Frosh Steve Niehaus looked like the next great Irish defensive lineman until he went down in mid-season with a non-contact injury.

The Irish started off a rousing 4-0, winning each game by 16 or more points.  The Irish were next entertaining  lowly Mizzou at Notre Dame Stadium. Mizzou came in 2-3, having been stomped 62-0 by Nebraska the prior week.  Hardly a test for the Irish!  Well, Mizzou left 3-3 after beating the Irish 30-26 on a rainy, sloppy day.  But that was not CLOSE to the season’s low point.

The Irish went out to Los Angeles to take on the Trojans.

“Davis! Davis! Davis! Davis! Davis! Davis!” blared the front page of the Sunday  LA Times.  They were not cheerleading, merely reporting, as Anthony Davis scored six touchdowns in a 45-23 rout by the men of Heritage Hall.  Traveler was lathered and panting.

Surely, the Irish would rebound and restore the honor of Notre Dame in the Orange Bowl against Nebraska and Hesiman Troy Winner Johnny Rodgers!

Surely Ara would not let the Irish enter the offseason on a down note.!

Well it wasn’t a down note, but a down symphony as Nebraska manhandled Ara’s Irish 40-6 to end the Irish season at 8-3. Rodgers only scored four touchdowns, two less than Anthony Davis’ half dozen, though Rodgers did throw a touchdown pass also. 8-3 was the Irish final record.


Felonious Veep Spiro Agnew had coined “Nattering Nabobs of Negativism.”

ND’s chapter convened at Nickie’s to “review” the season and the State of the Program.

“The Irish suck! They (nota bene: in down times the Irish are “they” and only “us” or “we” when back in the victory column) played two good teams, USC and Nebraska and got smoked by both by an average of 42-14. Two 20 point losses to end the season!! Clements doesn’t think.  He’s not a student of the game (he could never be a coach) and tries to get by on his athleticism, the same trait that compelled Dean Smith to recruit Clements to play point guard for the Tar Heels. Penick is a trackman masquerading as a football player.

Ara? He was a one-trick pony and the trick was ’66. He won with Devore’s recruits and emphasizes finesse over physicality.  McKay has figured Ara out and  has Ara’s boy Pagna pegged.

Pagna is going nowhere with this wing-T misdirection fetish of his.

Ara hasn’t beaten USC since ’66 and if he ever played Bama he’d get schooled by Bear Bryant. Put a fork in Ara, his Era is over.”

THE DAWN:  1973

When the clock struck midnight in NOLA on New Year’s Eve, (that year the Sugar Bowl, the de facto championship game was played on Dec. 31st in rickety old Tulane Stadium) the Fighting Irish, now  “Us” or “We” were the unbeaten national champions, having vanquished McKay and USC in October and Bear Bryant’s Crimson Tide in the Sugar Bowl.


The Irish “girded their loins” for battle in the opener against Pitt, Tony Dorsett, Matt Cavanaugh, Tom Brzoza and Randy Holloway.  Well, so much for loin-girding!

On the game’s opening play Dorsett popped a 60 yarder and would have scored except for Ross Browner’s clinical demonstration of :

(1) downfield pursuit
(2) taking the right angle to tackle a ball carrier.

Pitt 31-Notre Dame 10.

The Irish kept gallumphing along and winning until they arrived in Atlanta to play what would wind up as a 4-6-1 team under Pepper Rodgers.  The Irish left with a sour, Peppery  taste in their mouth  and a  23-14 loss.

The last Irish regular season game was at the Coliseum, and they fought hard, but went down to mighty USC by a 17-13 final. The Irish accepted a bid to play Penn State in the Gator Bowl and beat the Nittany Lions 20-9 to finish 9-3.


The Linebacker Illuminati changed venue to Corby’s for their annual “review.”

They tucked right there into that corner of Corby’s where the Gassman often presided, and where Yukon Moose Cholak  would hold court while enjoying a post match brew after a match in Elkhart on his way back to Calumet City.

“Dan Devine sucks! No wonder they shot his dog in Green Bay! I knew we were screwed when Ara left.  Look at Devine’s staff.  This guy Jim Johnson is the worst defensive coach we ever had at Notre Dame.

And Gruden? Wow, the coaching genes are not present in his DNA.

We are 1-7-2 in the last decade against USC.  We are not now nor ever again will be on their level as a football program.  I wouldn’t be shocked if they ran off a ten game winning streak against the Irish.

I’ll give Devine this, at least he had enough sense to let Slager start.  That guy Montana showed his limits when he played in ’75. It will be Lisch or Forystek in ’77.  This obsession with Western PA quarterbacks has gone far enough!”


Well, it started out a bit foggy when the Irish lost to Ole Miss in “neutral” Jackson by 20-13. But after the break, the  fog lifted,  and it was dawn and morning in South Bend.  The Irish jelled, pasted USC 49-19 and came roaring down the stretch with the crescendo in Dallas, walloping Texas and Earl Campbell in the Cotton Bowl 38-10.  National Championship.


The season began with promise when Holtz and Terry Andrysiak beat Bo and Michigan in Ann Arbor by 26-7, Bo’s biggest home loss in 18 years.

But when the Irish got to Pittsburgh, Ironhead Heyward led the Panthers to a dominant 30-22 win.

Holtz inserted phenom Tony Rice at quarterback,  and the Irish bested USC and Bama at home.

Then the calendar turned to November.  On a frigid day in State College, the Nittany Lions beat the Irish 21-20.  It got worse thereafter.

The Irish  next traveled to Little Havana and the Orange Bowl for a date with the smirking Jimmy Johnson.  The Hurricanes shut out the Irish 24-0 with the nadir reached when the ferocious Daniel Stubbs tried to corkscrew Kent Graham into the Orange Bowl turf.  But the Irish were still awarded with a trip to Dallas for the Cotton Bowl against Texas  A&M.

Surely the Irish would rally and end the season on a high note led by Tim Brown on his triumphant return as Heisman Trophy Winner to his hometown of Dallas But Bucky Richardson, as nondescript a bowl foe quarterback  hero as Buck Belue was in ’80, led the Aggies to a 35-10 romp over the Irish.  And the Aggies even stole Tim Brown’s signature towel to add Aggie insult to the 25 point injury. 9-4, with an intact three game losing streak.


The Linebacker Illuminati were back at home right there where south Bend Avenue crosses Edison road and brain cells come to die:

“I knew Holtz was a mistake.  He is a better magician than a football coach and just has never won championships. You saw what  Penn State, Miami and A&M did to his beloved option, holding it to a measly 10 points a game!

Of course A&M had that young defensive coaching genius Bob Davie! Notre Dame needs to hire some young, rising star like Davie and give him a shot!

The option got blanked by Miami.  Jimmy Johnson owns and will continue to own Lou Holtz. We have Miami and FSU on future schedules and that Neanderthal offense will never work against Florida speed.  At least we won’t be playing the Florida Gators. I guarantee you this: a Lou Holtz coached team will NEVER BEAT any of the big three in Florida! We are screwed in ’88. Bo will have revenge on  his mind, Miami will annihilate us on the Ides of October, and Rodney Peete will exact revenge for the Trojans.


The Irish ran the table and won the National Championship.

In ‘65, ’72, ’76 and ’87 the Irish came up short of victory on three or more occasions.  But the ensuing year saw a championship trophy added to the overflowing Notre Dame  trophy case.   Notre Dame has played 50 football seasons since Ara arrived.  In a statistical anomaly, In 13 of those seasons, roughly 25% of the time, the Irish had two or fewer blemishes on their record (the now vestigial ties count as a blemish). But none of those 13 seasons was followed by a national championship.  Often, the truth is stranger than fiction.

There was one constant in each of those four ascents from darkness to dawn.  A good head coach and a good staff worked with good athletes, good football players who ran, lifted and listened to their coaches. Doubt never slows down Notre Dame or deters championship caliber coaches and players. It never will!!

The message is clear.  It is not disappointment, underperformance or a triple dose of defeat that defines a man.  Not on the field of honor, not in the factory, not on the battlefield, not on the court, not in the lab, not in the office,  or elsewhere in the daily struggle in this valley of tears.  It is what a man does next that defines a man.


Go Irish!

You may also like



    “Moss’s dream was to play for the Notre Dame Fighting Irish,[10] but he also considered going to Ohio State, where his half-brother, Eric, had played offensive tackle. Former Notre Dame head coach Lou Holtz said “Randy Moss was the best high school football player I’ve ever seen.”[11] Florida State head coach Bobby Bowden said “He was as good as Deion Sanders. Deion’s my measuring stick for athletic ability, and this kid was just a bigger Deion.”[7]

    After originally signing a letter of intent to play college football with Notre Dame in 1995, Moss took part in a racially charged fight at his high school that left one person hospitalized.[9] Notre Dame subsequently denied his enrollment application, but this did not stop another high-profile college football program from giving him a chance. Notre Dame officials suggested he attend Florida State due to the reputation of its coach, Bobby Bowden, for handling troubled players.[12] However, because of his signed letter of intent at Notre Dame, the NCAA considered him a transfer student, which made him ineligible to play for the Seminoles in the 1995 football season.[9]
    Freshman (redshirt) (1995)

    He was red-shirted in his freshman season.[12] While at Florida State, Moss ran a 4.25 40-yard dash,[13] with only Deion Sanders being faster (4.23). He also ran the 200 metres in 21.15 seconds, missing the conference record by only .02 seconds.[14] Despite the fact that he did not race competitively for four years, his time of 21.15 seconds was one of the best in the country that year.[15]
    Freshman (1996)

    In 1996, while serving his 30-day jail sentence in a work-release program from 1995, Moss tested positive for marijuana, thus violating his probation, and was dismissed from Florida State. He served an additional 60 days in jail for the probation violation.[12]”

    1. Thanks bj for breaking 20 year old news.

      For your next installment can you let us know if we landed on the moon.

    2. I’m still trying to figure out what ND’s “compliance committee” and “honor code” have to do with a player that never attended ND.

      When I take my kids to the zoo, I hope that BJ is in one of the enclosures. I can tell them, “Now this is one interesting animal…”

  2. The Cardinal at Stanford had a down year. It’ll be an interesting parallel to see how they rebound next year compared to the Irish.

  3. I know about the injuries, and the turnovers, and I’m sick that we have to rely on Sark’s benevolence in L.A. to stay within 35 points as we close out 2014. It was like bringing a spork to a drone attack. Felt like Weis’ last year vs. the Trojans mixed with Miami’s slaughter during Faust’s last year. I couldn’t turn away Saturday- watched every second, much like in passing a derailed train engulfed in flames hoping for survivors. As for attracting an established elite coach and admitting and keeping elite players, I recall St. Lou of Holtz reminiscing about the administrative obstruction regarding Randy Moss’ admittance to ND. Shortly after, Lou had had enough and was gone. Regarding the “frozen five” fiasco, Lou commented, “That’s how ND will always be!”
    I am amazed ND still gets and keeps as much talent as they do. Kudos to the recruiting savvy of the coaching staff, and the student-athletes themselves, who relish the challenge and the tradition, despite those in administration or the holier-than-thou compliance committee’s ongoing sabotage forever and ever, Amen. I can imagine it already. Next year, one or more of the ND football players will forego doing their homework or some other violation students do and be driven out of the program, for at least two semesters, of course, while Kelly and Swarbick will stand by in silence, as they must, if they wish to continue in their positions.
    For those who think an established elite coach would expose himself to the ever shrinking pool required by ND’s admissions and the even more absurd compliance lynch mob are literally as clueless about major college football as those within the ND administration who regularly attempt to obstruct and derail their own sports program. College football is a multi-million dollar revenue enhancer, where elite programs hire coaches to win-while administration and their community support and assist their efforts to win; it’s not a cub scout troop. Ask Tallahassee. When competing against elite programs, be it admissions or compliance, if your qualifiers for admission/retention aren’t somewhere between Florida State and a military boarding school, forget about an elite coach who prioritizes winning ever choosing to be part of such a football program run as it is by ND at any school beyond the Ivy League.
    “Although the odds be great or small, ND administration will be there to obstruct it all . . .”
    Kelly will go when he’s had enough, of the demands of what has to be a tough coaching gig with all that goes with it and those empowered few above him working against it. He might be closer than we think. Good luck replacing him with an elite coach who is still hungry to win. As for now, best wishes to Coach Kelly and the team, be it for the bowl game or the season or two they have left together.

  4. I hope Kelly gives Zaire the bowl start. Lets see what he can do. Don’t believe Golson is the answer. Just not a natural runner, can’t process fast enough, turns ball over. Is Zaire the answer. Maybe, maybe not. But what have you got to lose by giving him a shot?

  5. Agreed, pete, about Folston and Bryant. The WRs I’m still not totally sold on but I agree there’s a lot of promise there. Like you say, though, skill and promise meaning nithing without good schemes and coaching. I don’t know if BK can deliver on either.

    I really thought ND finally got it right with BK. 2012 seemed to prove ND right. What has happened? BK’s at fault, no doubt. But the ND administration is killing the football program. Do they know what they’re doing by doing that?

    I’m at a loss right now, pete. I don’t know where this program goes from here.

    If ND does accept a bowl invitation I hope it’s against a mediocre team. Not that that guarantees anything right now. I think that there are probably elite HS teams that could push the Irish to the wall right now. I’m just frustrated.

    Is it possible for BK to please take Mike Tomlin with him where ever he goes next? There’s another loser right there.

  6. Well maybe I was over the top with skilled position players and agree Golson is no Mariotta, Petty, Winston, etc, but Folston and Bryant running behind Wisconsin or Alabama’s line would put up huge numbers and would be all americans. Also, Notre Dame’s receivers as a whole are very good with Fuller and Robinson trending toward elite. The big question is why can’t Notre Dame run the ball consistently? Line coach, scheme, play calling, talent, strength and conditioning?

  7. No, no and no. No coach wants to come to ND, you don’t control anything with your program and the administration sucks. Bruce Kelly is what you got until his contract ends.

  8. C-Dog,

    If I were a betting mand, I’d say BK’s here for at least next season. Another mediocer season, though, and he’s done, though. No more excuses!

    1. Yeah, it might be interesting to speculate. The AD certainly won’t make a move. It would be premature anyway and always risky. Plus the money rolls as if they’ve won national championships within the last 25 years. There’s no real pain in the purse yet.

      I do think Kelly will quit on ND before ND quits on Kelly.

  9. What about the Michigan St. or Wisconsin coaches? Both have taken those programs to championship games. Granted I don’t think the Little 10 is a great conference. But those are about the level of coaches ND can realistically expect to get. Forget about any big names. ND is not an attractive job anymore. How sad is that?!

    1. Interestingly if kelly did leave, Harbaugh could be as much in play for ND as Michigan. That is if he’s really in play at all.

      But now there is a third program looking for a head coach. Nebraska just fired PELINI. So the carousel has Florida, Nebraska, and likely Michigan. If a few more get added it’ll just add to speculation about Kelly.
      I don’t think focusing on Kelly staying or leaving is the answer.

    2. That’s exactly why BK will get another year next year. Another lackluster year next year, however, and ND will have to decide what to do about its future. Top coaches are not lining up to coach at ND. I really hope BK can turn the tide next year, because I really don’t know where ND will go if he does not.

      This year, though, you will not see a knee jerk reaction by Swarbick. It’s just not going to happen. If for no other reason, as C-Dog noted, there is too much competition. You have Florida and Nebraska looking for new HC’s and Michigan will probably be added to that list. I know it’s hard to believe but there are worse head coaches out there.

      I was a big BK supporter coming into this season. Needless to say my faith has been badly shaken. But I’m not at the point that I was at the end of the Weis era, where I was basically rooting for ND to lose so we could move on. I still am holding out hope that BK is the one to make ND relevant again. Next year will tell the tale once and for all. We all basically know that. All the pieces will be in place next year, including depth at key positions. There can be no excuses.

      It could be worse. I’m a NY Giants fan and they look like they may lost to 1-10 Jacksonville. Ugh, not my year for football.

  10. This team lacks a leader. Kelly out all of his eggs in Everett ‘ s basket and he isn’t a leader. He became a turnover machine regressed and is incapable of leading this team. When they lost Schmidt they loss their defensive leader. This team is a ship without a captain. Right now they need this time to figure who is the leader on the team or Kelly is going to have to figure out what he can do to get their confidence back. This team looked helpless in the first quarter and wait I got for something bad to happen. When EG threw the his interception it was game. Hopefully Zaire becomes a leader and Kelly gives him a legitimate shot

  11. The way I judge a coach is I evaluate the talent and I ask myself if the top coaches in the country were coaching Notre Dame this year what would their record be. Before the season started I felt Notre Dame had enough talent to go 10 and 2. I truly believe if Meyer or Saban were coaching Notre Dame this year we would have been 10 and 2. Is Kelly a good coach. Yes, but he is not elite. If he leaves next year or gets fired 3 names I would look at are Kill- Minnesota, Harbaugh 49ers and paul Johnson- Georgia Tech. I truly don’t buy into this excuse about admission standards. Notre Dame has a lot of talent- Folston, Bryant, Koyack, Fuller, Robinson, Brown, Stanly Elmer, Martin, Jaylon Smith, Day, etc.

    1. Fantastic! And I assume this evaluation was done by attending pre season workouts, practices and pouring over hours and hours of film. Either that or you just read in some magazine or somebody on ESPN told you they had talent. Or it was somebody on this site predicting 10-2. Regardless, I salute you!

    2. I don’t see Kill coming here if there is a vacancy, besides he may have some health issues given the number of seizures he has endured. Harbaugh? No way would he come to ND and I see Mishitgan making a hard pitch for him to come to his alma mater & coach. Johnson? Not a bad coach but the option he runs may win games, IT WON”T lead to a NC in this day of FBS college defenses are to stop it. Triple option was great in the 70’s and 80’s when it did win NC’s (Oklahoma and the Bear’s Alabama teams come to mind) but there is a reason those types of offenses went out the door-for the most part except with the variations now run by the academies and Georgia Tech. I don’t know if a change at head coach is the answer at this point unless Kelly leaves on his own. I just don’t see any big names out there that have publicly expressed desire to come to ND. I wouldn’t be thrilled with a NFL coach unless he had prior college coaching experience too. This place does not carry the weight of prestige like it once did for football coaching. Just feeling a large sense of disappointment as a ND fan about how things ended up this season.

  12. WE are all seeing the same thing- right now this team is a mess- there did not seem to be any real fight in much of the game – D line hard to really measure with all the injuries – but it needs work – The O line has been a constant issue for years – need to think about a new O-line coach here – The O-line is one of the most important pieces of the team – and one of the least mentioned – if it doesn’t work the whole offense is screwed – needs a lot of work there – EG seems lost – if he doesn’t get his head together he will be a non factor – Zaire did show something and really sets up a QB fight for next year
    Kelly needs to do some self searching and regroup and VG has to get his defense to work –
    A long way from the top tier of teams -a lot of work to do – start with the trenches on both sides – that is and always has been where games are won or lost

  13. watching Notre Dame yesterday and then watching Oregon, Alabama, Florida State it only reaffirmed my original thoughts. Notre Dame is just not very good in the 2 most important areas of a football team. the o-line and the d-line. The o-line can’t run block or pass protect and the d-line can’t stop the run or pressure the quarterback. the result- game,set,match. I actually think Notre Dame’s skill guys are among the best in the country.

    1. pete,

      I agree that the ND lines are weak. But the skill players aren’t elite either. EG is not Mariotta. No receiver on the ND roster is close A. Cooper. ND RBs Folston and Bryant may be the closest thing ND has to elite talent.

      There are some excellent OL recruits. ND need all of them. BK needs to keep Joe Tillery.

      Need to recruit some big-time skill players. Top CBs, WRs, RBs. Speed kills.

      1. Could not disagree more regarding offensive talent. Offensive line is a huge problem not the skill players. Execution has been less then terrible so I have to look at the coaching. Defense has been decimated by injuries so my expectations were not high for the last two games.

        I say go after Jim Harbaugh; and yet, Michigan will most likely go after him too.

      2. One, Harbaugh is not coming to ND.

        Two, my point is that we don’t have a lot of ELITE talent at the skill positin when compared to the big boys. We don’t have a QB like Mariotta (at least not yet). No receiver close to Cooper at Bama. Elite level talent? Not a lot yet. Perhaps some good promising players.

        Three, I agree about the injuries. But the D was already looking bad against NC at home before all the rash of injuries.

        Four, also agree about the O line. Need major talent upgrade there. I think Heistand is a good coach. Not so much this year.

  14. C-Dog,


    But ND needs to adapt or die.

    It doesn’t need to sell its soul but it must change.

    There’s no choice. Unless joining the Ivy League is acceptable.

    1. Well put. So let’s work with that.
      ND doesn’t need to sell out. It can’t and still be ND. We old timers have a somewhat stricter definition but that’s another debate.
      Join the Ivy League? I’d be ok with that. But would prefer that the universities with decent academics kick the SEC out of the NCAA. Other schools that believe athletes should be sacrificial lambs to satisfy greed for donors can also get kicked out. It’s so obvious that those schools violate that “student” athlete concept like East Germany used to violate the “amateur” athlete concept.

      My remaining question is how Notre Dame can adapt to the current or likely future. I think the IRISH need the coach and the athletic department to operate with greatest competence and at a contemporary level of sophistication. But at the same time they need to rekindle the spirit of old Notre Dame during the time of Rockne and Leahy. Not just the athletic part of it, but the entire spirit of the school back in those times.

      1. “I think the IRISH need the coach and the athletic department to operate with greatest competence and at a contemporary level of sophistication. But at the same time they need to rekindle the spirit of old Notre Dame during the time of Rockne and Leahy. Not just the athletic part of it, but the entire spirit of the school back in those times.”

        IMO, this means a new coach. BK certainly isn’t creating any great ‘spark’ at Notre Dame.

      2. I would like to know who that coach would be because big name coaches are not lining up at the door to come coach here.

      3. Storespook,
        Agreed. And what up and comers know about the history of Notre Dame and the fight against prejudice, the fight to beat the machine? Holtz was a believer. ND was a cause for him. The question is whether the administration truly believes in that part of the cause or whether the administration just wants a pacified alumni and fan base while it gets very comfortable building a country club. My question goes to the heart of the unversity

  15. Make an argument. Sorry about that. Must of hit something by accident.

    Like I said, this team doesn’t deserve to go to a bowl. A bowl isn’t a life-time achievement award. This season is done and this team doesn’t deserve to humiliate the program any more.

    Nothing is going to change for this team in a few weeks. BK’s not going to get any smarter. EG isn’t going to become Joe Montana. This D isn’t going to transform into the Steel Curtain.

    The only one who needs to sleep and dream on is itty, bitty, Greenie.

    Don’t let the bed bugs bite, Green horn!

    1. The only reason the Irish should go to a bowl is for extra practice. If all they do is run a skills and conditioning camp they might get a jump on next season.
      I bet they get either the sun bowl or the Yankee stadium bowl again. It’s going to be a crap bowl.

  16. The tragedy is that they accept incompetence and mediocrity at every level. From lizzy seeberg to cheating to an infantile quarterback to a coach with no big time collegiate experience to a athletic director that takes ten days to find him. It all makes me ashamed and embarrassed.

  17. Fire everyone when things go bad? Reality check, what were you all thinking was going to happen against the Trojans in the Coliseum? Depleted injured defense with young guns who don’t fully understand BVG scheme yet. USC ran right thru them – shocking. Offensive line – work in progress ish. QB – been saying it for 4 weeks, not a leader, game manager and in a funk. Read his body language this past month. Did you see him out of the game today? Pouting, real team player? Give credit to MZ, comes in getting their asses kicked and plays pretty damn well and changes the dynamic of the offense. Yeah his timing on passes will improve but overall he played pretty well. Kelly, well very suspect as a coach/manager. His play calls?????? Not trying MZ sooner?????? Special teams??????

    Moving forward, don’t accept a bowl bid? Really? Are you that stupid? Let the seniors have a bowl game. I don’t care now who we play, we get to practice for another month. Some of the defense heals, work on the weaknesses for next years cause and most importantly, MZ takes reps with the first team and starts in the bowl. Golson done period. The team is not as bad as the record indicates. Kelly gets one more year like it or not. Thats the reality period.

    1. This team should definitely not accept a bowl game if it’s going to play like this! There’s no need to further drag this program through the mud. Nothing is going to change in a few weeks. Very few key players will be ready. BK will not all of a sudden become a great coach. It’s not like he’ll give MZ a shot in the bowl. You’ve said that BK’s a poor coach. Do you think that’s going to change in a few weeks? If so, that’s really stupid!

      Perhaps the only reason to play a bowl is if MZ were going to start or play a lot. But I doubt it.

      This team is done. So should this season!

  18. This was about as gutless a performance as I ever fast-forwarded through.

    Duranko is a homer so expect and endless litany of excuses and hopeful thinking for next year from him. Say what you want but you know Duranko will shill for BK.

    If this class falls apart, then BK has no reason for being. Right now his only job is keeping this class intact while adding a few key players.

    Talent is meaningless without the right coaching.

    ND should not go to a shit bowl and suffer the indignity of getting blown out by Western Kentucky or Middle Tenn.

    This is an embarassment for all of us. Let’s hope BK, his staff, his team is equally humiliated!

  19. I will never, ever accept that Notre Dame should get beat 49-14 by anyone – especially USC. Fire Kelly (he is not the right man for the job), decline a bowl invitation (don’t deserve one), and give Zaire a shot in the Spring because Golson is not the answer at quarterback (27+ turnovers in a season is mind boggling) and put an end to this agony. Is ND completely devoid of talent or what? I don’t think they are – they have a lot of talent – so I cannot accept their performance over the past 5 weeks (Navy, ASU, NW, Louisville, and USC). Kelly has lost this team and I refuse to watch it anymore. I will tune in in the future when they have proven they are worth watching. This is absolutely gut-wrenching. Kelly should give back his salary this year – he certainly hasn’t earned a damn cent!!

  20. I don’t understand how so many of their players get hurt, it seems after almost every play on defense someone comes up lame. Maybe their strength coach or whatever they do needs to be looked at.

  21. Golson is not playing well and their down by 14. No pass rush a Kessler is picking them a part. The team looks out of it. Offense better get their head rear end or this is going to be a blow out. Why doesn’t Kelly try to run the ball

  22. Yes, Burgy, I understand the law of transitivity doesn’t apply to sports. Plus, I was building on your irony. So I guess we’re saying the same thing.

    However, the NW loss was unforgivable on its own terms. No need to point out who beat NW yesterday or today or tomorrow.

    What are you planning on drinking for today’s game Burgy?

    I’m DVR-ing the game so I have to check out before someone let’s me in on the score!

    Go Irish!

      1. It’s sad, they look sad and out of it. Not worth watching, hopefully he pulls Golson after they are up by 7 td’s

    1. Steel,
      So based on the hope theory above (or is it a plea to keep coming to the blog so Frankie, Duranko and co get ad money?), what is YOUR prognosis for next year? In all previous cases key changes during the offseason occurred whether publicly known or not. Either coaches changed or they changed their offseason prep. Will Kelly stay? Will VanGorder stay? Will o-line or d-Line coaches stay? Will everyone talk about 2016 as the year Kelly was originally hired to turn the program around? Will this team win more than 8 games in 2015,2016 or beyond? And will anyone accept current reality? Or is there some law that Irish fans are required to believe that this has an elite program in he last 20 years or is currently?

      Steel, Shaz, or any or the rational originals on this blog what say you?

      1. C-Dog,

        This program is a joke right now.

        BK’s lost control, momentum, you name it.

        Karma for flirting with the NFL perhaps.

        I hope he goes to the NFL.

        I just don’t think ND can compete in big-time college football as things stand.

        The ND administration needs to either BBQ its cash cow or make some changes.

        ND isn’t even Ivy League level right now. I’d think ND couldn’t even win the Ivy.

        Don’t go to a bowl unless they get a pulse on this team and how it will respond. Also BK needs to take a pulse on the recruits.

        ND football as we know it as at a crossroads in its history.

      2. I think college football is at a crossroads. Is it possible for a school with real standards to compete?

  23. What about the other 21 starters? Are they all out?

    I guess that NW QB is a combination of Montana, Marino, Elway, Manning, Brady, Rodgers, etc.!

    1. Just pointing out a fact Roberto. The whole this team beat that team who beat that team is a stupid argument.
      ND beat Stanford who beat UCLA who beat USC will have no bearing on the game today.

      But to answer your question, yes he is a combination of all those players.

      1. Whether you care to admit or not this is exactly one of the things the playoff committee looks at. So while you may consider it a stupid argument and I might agree…the people choosing the 4 teams use this as criteria.

  24. Wow that is a Xmas wish list! Good luck today Irish because were gonna need alot of it. Nothing has changed between last week and this week though Kelly will tell you they had a great week of practice. Question is, practicing what?



  26. Duranko , great article and memories. In Hawaii almost a month , first thing I did getting back was go to UHND this morning the best website for Irish football. The 4 NC’s ’66 , ’73 , ’77 , ’88 is fun to go back and remember where you were. 1966 my sister’s wedding , ’73 New Years eve my Dad’s party in basement , ’77 a local bar , ’88 watching with my kid in living room. In the 1977 Cotton Bowl at the bar, place packed with Irish fans, Linebacker Bob Golic hits All Ammerican Heisman trophy winner Eric Campbell in a head on collision I’ll never forget. Campbell is 230 lbs and Golic’s hit timed perfectly as Campbell went from low to upright GA3 at line of scrimmage.

  27. Negative nabobs…this made me laugh out loud by myself. It sounds like something that could have been used in Monty Pythons search for the Holy Grail. “Twas but a mere scratch.” The Knights that say Neee!! Look at that rabbit, he’s just a little fella, but he’s vicious.

    Anyway, you gentlemen take care. At least you get to watch the games real-time, I have watched the last three games from Ethiopia and Qatar…whoa! Little rest and a kick in the bag at the end of the game.

    Don’t lose hope, BK is stockpiling talent to aid the attrition. (Drop Navy) Look for a run next year, it’s all up front with the Oline and the Dline, we will be as good as those two units.

    Take Care–>>DK

  28. I have great respect for Brian Kelly and his staff. Believe it or not I was thinking the same in terms of this article even before the Northwestern game. This is not an easy job, and if you think you can go in and just rely on the schools name you are badly mistaken. If anybody in the country can get it done it’s the man we have now. Go irish!

  29. I have been a fan all my life,i had alot of great expetations for this season as a ND fan,and forgive my french,but after the florida gamebecause of what i call an injustice (cheap shot call in the end zone),we let that get to us and knocked the wind out of our sails and the next games we just pissed away. We let that get to us,(we got screwed)and we let it get to us,and in the words of grantland rice i think, i hope,( its not if u win or loose its how u played the game),that game was exciting we didnt give up,those kids played hard on both sides but we were going to win we had the game and we won……….we won that game we reached down inside there was something there that said we can do this and those kids didnt give up and they won in their hearts but not on paper,but in your heart you won,but we let the paper get to us,its how u played the game and how bad do you want it and you proved how bad you wanted it,never give up! ND

      1. The point of this article. The college football landscape is always in flux, but leaders character never changes.

  30. I hope this is another one of those moments. I hope in 2 years we look back and think we should never have doubted BK after winnning an NC next year. Nothing would make me happier for the Irish.

    Do I have doubts? Sure. Even the most ardent BK supporters have had their faith shaken. Losing to Northwestern was a low point for sure. Now I am not panicking, saying BK should be fired this year, or anything of that sort. Since last year, I thought the 2015 season would be the true test for BK. All the pieces will be in place, including depth at key positions (so losing players to injury won’t be as costly). I really do think next year will tell the tale for BK. If they don’t improve next year, then we’ve probably seen as good as BK can give.

    But I hope they do improve. I really want BK to succeed, because I want ND to succeed. We can’t survive as a relevant program with another failed coach.

    1. I think you’ve seen Kelly’s best. In 2012 everything went the Irish way and I think it’s obvious to most people they had no business in the NC. Kelly gets the best recruits and look what’s happened the last two years.

  31. Probably spot on for most of those cases except 1987 to 1988. Any of who were around knew right after the season that a change for the better was coming. First Foge Fazio was fired. That signaled Holtz’s willingness to adapt and do what it takes even within his own staff. Fazio was a competent coach but failed to adjust his game plan when conditions changed during the game. And so Barry Alvarez was brought in. No one was sure before the 1988 season if Barry was the man but by game two you knew something had changed.

    Then. January conditioning came about. Holtz picked up a pioneer in strength and conditioning. I’ll never forget Mark Green coming back to the dorm after one of those sessions remarking that no game was or could be as tough as those sessions. And by game 1 it showed. But lose faith in Holtz. I don’t think so. First of all since blogging and 24 hour coverage weren’t around so much you put it on ice until August.

    We had a lot more patience with Holtz after Faust.

    Interestingly, Devine was never truly embraced having won as many NCs as Holtz. For whatever reason Devine was like a rebound coach after the over all love affair with Ara.

    1. I think you’re missing the point of the article. The article is just saying there is reason to hope.

      Under the 4 scenarios above, the Irish still had a lot of work to do. And they will this time to succeed.

      BK, his staff and players are going to have to work hard this off season to have a successful season this year.

      I think Duranko’s article was more for the fans.

    2. “And when there is doubt knee-deep in the streets the whiners, the chicken-littles, the bed-wetters, the nattering nabobs of negativism are quite content, in their element, singing their dreary dirges loudly and somberly.”

  32. duranko
    So many memories. I especially remember those miserable ’72 season finales my senior year at ND, culminating in the slaughter vs. Nebraska in the Orange Bowl. But I also remember the experiences of:
    ’66 Purdue, my first ND game ever. ND’s opening drive to the goal, who are these two new starting sophs, Hanratty and Seymour, mixing pass completions with Nick Eddy’s rushes- then a fumble; LeRoy Keyes returns the fumble 90+ yards. ND down 7 after the first drive. From my end zone seat, the lady next to me assures all around her Eddy will run the kickoff back to tie the score. My uncle and I shake our heads with a mix of disgust/ disbelief how anyone could be so positive after such a devastating setback. You know the rest. Eddy sprints up the middle of the field with his kick return as the blockers parted the Purdue pursuers like the Red Sea. A PAT later and the score was tied. Doubt be damned ! All the way to MSU and the tie, with backup QB Coley O’Brien, and no Nick Eddy, injured slipping on the ice getting off the train before the game and two great Ds battling to a 10-10 tie, followed by ND going to the Coliseum in L.A. to win 51-0, and getting voted the national champs.

    ’73 vs. USC- Erik Pennick takes a handoff and goes the distance as he heads towards the same end zone from where I watched Nick Eddy’s return about 7 years and a month earlier. Pennick scores, waves to Patrick M’s mother, and the rest is history, culminating in the victory over Alabama in the Orange Bowl, sealed by a pass from the end zone from Clements to second string TE Robin Weber to run out the clock. Had Weber even caught a pass before that epic highlight?

    Thanks for this post that stirred so many memories, and for the optimism which ND football history justifies.

  33. Duranko, I hope to meet you some day. Your ability to write is duly noted. Your ability to help those of us fortunate enough to read your articles stay positive and see beyond the “sky is falling” small picture is invaluable!
    This Irish team many of us are so passionate about will indeed reach greatness again but it will certainly happen sooner than later if we, the fans, adopt a bit more of a Duranko-like approach to being these fans.
    Go Irish!!!

      1. I think I sat by him at the ND-Mich game this year, I told him the perfect ending would be a pick 6 before Shumate pick it and took it to the house. Not sure who the gentleman was but was very knowledgeable on football. GO IRISH from ND fans in Texas

      2. Who is Duranko? He is supposed to be Turkish. Some say his father was German. Nobody believed he was real. Nobody ever saw him or knew anybody that ever worked directly for him, but to hear Kobayashi tell it, anybody could have worked for Duranko. You never knew. That was his power. The greatest trick the Devil ever pulled was convincing the world he didn’t exist. And like that, poof. He’s gone.

      3. Nobody has ever seen him since. He becomes a myth, a spook story that criminals tell their kids at night. “Rat on your pop, and Duranko will get you.”

  34. “You’re never as good as everyone tells you when you win, and you’re never as bad as they say when you lose.”

    ― Lou Holtz

    1. My old man used a version of that with me after every game. He used to tell me that you never as good as you are on your best day and never as bad as you are on your worst. It is something I have always followed. He used baseball, since that was my favorite sport. You can go 4-4 and hit triblers in the infield and you can go 0-4 and hit rockets to outfielders. It’s true

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Back to top button