|Notre Dame Fighting Irish football|
|Athletic director||Jack Swarbrick|
|Head coach||Brian Kelly|
|Home stadium||Notre Dame Stadium|
|Stadium surface||Natural Grass|
|Location||Notre Dame, Indiana|
|Postseason bowl record||15–16|
|Claimed national titles||11 (1924, 1929, 1930,|
1943, 1946, 1947, 1949,
1966, 1973, 1977, 1988)
|Colors||Gold and Navy Blue|
|Fight song||Notre Dame Victory March|
|Mascot||Notre Dame Leprechaun|
|Marching band||Band of the Fighting Irish|
Michigan State Spartans
Notre Dame competes as an Independent at the NCAA Football Bowl Subdivision level, and is a founding member of the Bowl Championship Series coalition. It is an independent team, not affiliated with any conference. 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.
The Fighting Irish have 13 recognized national championships, tied for first out of all FBS schools in the post-1900 era and tied for third all-time behind Princeton and Yale. Notre Dame has also produced 96 All-Americans and 7 Heisman Trophy winners – both more than any other Football Bowl Subdivision school.
- 1 History
- 1.1 The beginning (1887–1917)
- 1.2 Rockne era (1918–1930)
- 1.3 After Rockne (1931–1940)
- 1.4 Leahy era (1941–1953)
- 1.5 After Leahy (1954–1963)
- 1.6 Parseghian era (1964–1974)
- 1.7 Devine era (1975–1980)
- 1.8 Faust era (1981–1985)
- 1.9 Holtz era (1986–1996)
- 1.10 Davie era (1997–2001)
- 1.11 Willingham era (2002–2004)
- 1.12 Weis era (2005–2009)
- 1.13 Kelly era (2010–present)
- 2 Championships and distinctions
- 3 All-time records
- 4 Players and coaches
- 5 Current roster
- 6 Current coaching staff
- 7 Uniforms
- 8 Facilities
- 9 Rivalries
- 10 Game day traditions
- 11 Irish in the NFL
- 12 Media
- 13 References
- 14 External links
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.
Notre Dame continued its success near the turn of the century 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, five 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 Charles "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.
Rockne era (1918–1930)
Knute Rockne became head coach in 1918. Under Rockne the Irish would post a record of 105 wins, 12 losses, and five ties. During his 13 years the Irish won three 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 football history, college or professional.
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 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 raised funds for the Mayor's Relief Committee for the Unemployed and Needy of the city. 50,000 fans turned out to see the reunited "Four Horsemen" along with players from Rockne's other championship teams take the field against the pros.
Rockne, aged 43, 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. As Notre Dame's head coach from 1918 to 1930, Rockne posted the all-time highest winning percentage (.881) for a football coach, either college or professional. During his 13-year tenure as head coach of the Fighting Irish, Rockne collected 105 victories, 12 losses, 5 ties and 3 national championships. Rockne also coached Notre Dame to 5 undefeated seasons without a tie.
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, nine 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 three ties in seven years under Layden, the most successful record of a Notre Dame coach not to win a national championship. He left Notre Dame after the 1940 season to become Commissioner of the National Football League.
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.
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. He led the Irish to a record of 87 wins, 11 losses, and nine ties including 39 games without a loss (37–0–2), four national championships, 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. Perhaps the best example of this occurred during the Georgia Tech game in 1953. Leahy fell ill during the game, which led to him collapsing during halftime. The situation was so dire that a priest was called in to give Leahy the last rites. However, Leahy recovered, and the consequent diagnosis was that he was suffering from nervous tension and pancreatits.
From 1944 to 1945, Leahy served in the U.S. Navy and was honorably discharged as a Lieutenant. Edward McKeever, Leahy's assistant coach, became interim head coach when Leahy left for 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. He was replaced by Hugh Devore for the 1945 season who 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 and later the freshman squad at Notre Dame. His first two seasons the Irish were ranked fourth and ninth 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 two wins, including losses to Michigan State, Oklahoma, and Iowa. One bright spot in the 1956 season was the awarding of the Heisman Trophy to Paul Hornung, who would go on to a legendary NFL career with the Green Bay Packers. To date, Hornung is the only Heisman winner to win the award while playing for a team that had a losing record. 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. 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 deemphasizing football, severely cutting scholarships and hindering Brennan from building a roster of any meaningful depth.
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 (1964–1974)
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 #1 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 30 game winning streak in the 1971 Cotton Bowl Classic.
During his eleven year career, the Irish amassed a record of 95–17–4 and captured two 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 resignation in 1975. Devine was already a highly successful coach and had led Arizona State, Missouri, and the Green Bay Packers. Devine had been a leading candidate for the head coaching job at Notre Dame in 1964, when Ara Parseghian was hired. When approached for the job following Parseghian's resignation, Devine accepted immediately, joking that it was probably the shortest job interview in history. When he arrived at Notre Dame he already had a college coaching record of 120 wins, 40 losses, and eight ties and had led his teams to victory in four bowl games. At Notre Dame he would lead the Irish to 53 wins, 16 losses, and a tie as well as three bowl victories.
His lasting achievement came midway through this run, when Notre Dame won the 1977 national championship, led by junior quarterback Joe Montana. The championship season climaxed with a 38-10 win in the 1978 Cotton Bowl Classic over previously top-ranked Texas, led by Heisman Trophy winner Earl Campbell. The win vaulted the Irish from fifth to first in the polls. Earlier in the season, before the annual game against USC, played at home on October 22, Devine changed the team's jerseys from navy blue & white to kelly green & gold, later known as the "green jersey game" resulting in a 49-19 victory over the Trojans. The Irish continued to wear green for the rest of Devine's tenure at the school.
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 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 (following fan cries of "Oust Faust") to take over as head coach for the University of Akron.
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 & 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.
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 USC in the final regular season game of 1988. In a controversial move, coach Lou Holtz took his 10–0 Irish squad to Los Angeles without stars Ricky Watters and Tony Brooks, who he suspended for disciplinary reasons. 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.
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, nine consecutive New Year’s Day bowl games, and top 10 finishes in the AP poll in five seasons. 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. On Davie's watch, the team suffered three bowl game losses (1997 Independence Bowl, 1999 Gator Bowl, and 2001 Fiesta Bowl), and 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 #5 Michigan, the defending national champion. Davie also posted a 25–24 home 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 lost 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 resume that had influenced the administration's decision to hire him. The resulting media scandal embarrassed Notre Dame officials, and tainted O'Leary; he resigned five days later, before coaching a single practice.
On December 17, 1999, Notre Dame was placed on probation by the NCAA for the only time in its history. The association's Committee on Infractions found two series of violations. The New York Times reported "the main one involved the actions of a booster, Kimberly Dunbar, who lavished gifts on football players with money she later pleaded guilty to embezzling." In the second series of events, a football player was accused of trying to sell several complimentary game tickets and of using others as repayment of a loan. The player was also said "to have been romantically involved with a woman (not Dunbar), a part-time tutor at the university, who wrote a term paper for another player for a small fee and provided players with meals, lodging and gifts." The Dunbar violation began while Lou Holtz was head coach: "According to the NCAA committee report, Dunbar, the woman at the center of the more serious violations, had become romantically involved with several Notre Dame football players from June 1995 to January 1998 and had a child with one, Jarvis Edison." Notre Dame was placed on probation for two years and lost one of its 85 football scholarships each year in what the Times termed "minor" penalties.
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 five occasions. Furthermore, Willingham's 2004 recruiting class was judged by analysts to be the worst at Notre Dame in more than two decades. Citing Notre Dame's third consecutive four-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. 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 enroute 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 five 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. 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 loss, the longest drought in NCAA history. As a result, Notre Dame dropped to #17 in the final rankings.
In the wake of a graduating class that sent eleven players to the NFL, the 2007 season (3–9) included various negative milestones: the most losses in a single year (9); 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. The Naval Academy recorded their first win over the Irish since 1963, breaking the NCAA-record 43-game streak.
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. Weis's Notre Dame squad ended the season breaking the Irish's NCAA record nine-game bowl losing streak by beating Hawaiʻi 49–21 in the Hawai'i Bowl. 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. 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. This loss was the second to Navy in the last three years. Weis was fired on November 30, 2009, exactly five years after his predecessor.
Kelly era (2010–present)
Brian Kelly became the 31st head coach of the Fighting Irish on December 10, 2009, after coaching Cincinnati to a 12–0 record and BCS bowl-game berth. In his first season, Kelly led the Fighting Irish to a 7–5 regular season. Dayne Crist would start the season at quarterback, but would be injured for a second consecutive year in the Washington State game. Kelly turned to freshman quarterback Tommy Rees, who led the Irish to victories in the last three games against #14 Utah, Army in Yankee Stadium, and breaking the eight year losing streak to USC in the LA Coliseum. Kelly guided the Irish to a 33 – 17 victory over Miami (FL) in the 2010 Sun Bowl to finish 2010 with an 8–5 record.   With senior wide out Michael Floyd returning for his senior season and an outstanding recruiting class that included several highly touted defensive linemen, Kelly and the Irish looked to improve on their 8-5 record from the prior year. However, an early season upset to a Skip Holtz led South Florida team, and a last second loss to Michigan in Ann Arbor would leave the Irish at 0-2 to start the season. The Irish bounced back to beat #15 Michigan State and had two 4-game winning-streaks, with the only loss during that stretch coming at the hands of the Trojans. The Irish also broke Navy's 2-winning streak over Notre Dame (2009-10). Notre Dame finished the season an identical 8–5 record, with an 18 – 14 loss to Florida State in the 2011 Champs Sports Bowl. In their loses, multiple turnovers from the quarterback position were often the culprit, and as a whole turnovers at critical times in the game would often derail potential Irish comebacks.
Championships and distinctions
- Notre Dame has won eight wire service (AP or Coaches) national championships.
- Notre Dame claims national championships in an additional three seasons, for a total of 11. Notre Dame, however, is often credited with 13 in total. The 1938 and 1953 seasons are the reason for the discrepancy. In the 1938 season, 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 1938 and 1953 national championships.
- Notre Dame has been voted national champion by at least one selector in an additional ten seasons (1919, 1920, 1927, 1938, 1953, 1964, 1967, 1970, 1989, 1993).
The following is a list of Notre Dame's 11 claimed national championships:
Appearances in the final Associated Press Poll
Notre Dame has made 715 appearances in the Associated Press poll over 71 seasons. Notre Dame has spent 496 weeks in the Top 10, 277 weeks in the Top 5, and 95 weeks at #1. Notre Dame has finished the year ranked in the final Associated Press poll of the season 49 times:
- As of the end of the 2011 regular season, Notre Dame has the third highest-winning percentage in NCAA Division I history (.731), behind Michigan (.734) and South Alabama (.852).
- As of the end of the 2011 regular season, Notre Dame has the fifth most wins in NCAA Division I history (853), trailing Nebraska (856), Texas (858), Yale (870), and Michigan (895).
- As of the end of the 2011 regular season, Notre Dame also has the fewest losses of any NCAA Division I program (301) that has been playing football for 100+ years.
- As of 2011, Notre Dame has 104 winning seasons in 123 years of football, and only 13 losing seasons.
- The football program has the most individual Heisman Trophy winners at seven (Ohio State has seven Heisman Trophies that were won by six players).
- As of 2009, Notre Dame has produced more All-Americans (99), consensus All-Americans (80) and unanimous All-Americans (31) in football than any other college program.
- Notre Dame is represented by 48 players and coaches in the College Football Hall of Fame, the most of any university.
- Ten former players are in the Pro Football Hall of Fame, second only to USC(11). Notre Dame has produced the second largest number of players drafted into the National Football League of any program in the country. As of the 2011 NFL draft, 469 players have been drafted, second only to USC's 472.
- Helped by its status as a highly regarded academic institution (ranked 19th by U.S. News & World Report), 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).
- 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.
- 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.
- Notre Dame has had 12 undefeated seasons and 10 others with at most one loss or tie.
- 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 13 of these games played in college football history. Notre Dame has played in 7 of the 13 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 among independents. If Notre Dame finishes in the top eight of BCS teams, it is automatically selected. The university receives $4.5 million for playing in a BCS game and $1.3 million when it does not. In essence, Notre Dame is treated like a conference team in either case. The university's athletic director acts as an equal to the commissioners of the 11 Football Bowl Subdivision conferences when they discuss BCS issues.
- Notre Dame is one of only three out of the current 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. The other two are UCLA and USC.
- Notre Dame is one of only two Catholic universities that field a team in the Football Bowl Subdivision, the other being Boston College.
Number one vs. number two
Notre Dame has participated in nine "#1 vs #2" matchups since the AP poll began in 1936. 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 California||W 27–10|
|16 September 1989||Notre Dame||Michigan||W 24–19|
|13 November 1993||Florida State||Notre Dame||W 31–24|
Notre Dame has played in many regular season games that have been widely regarded by both the media and sports historians 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, 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.
- 1913 Notre Dame vs. Army ("The Forward Pass")
- 1935 Notre Dame vs. Ohio State ("Game of the Century")
- 1946 Army vs. Notre Dame ("Game of the Century")
- 1957 Notre Dame vs. Oklahoma (End of Oklahoma's NCAA record 47 game win streak)
- 1966 Notre Dame vs. Michigan St. ("Game of the Century")
- 1988 Miami vs. Notre Dame (Catholics vs. Convicts)
- 1993 Florida St. vs. Notre Dame ("Game of the Century")
- 2005 USC vs. Notre Dame ("Bush Push" game)
- 1970 Cotton Bowl Classic vs. Texas
- 1973 Sugar Bowl vs. Alabama
- 1979 Cotton Bowl Classic vs. Houston (Chicken soup game)
Notre Dame's all time record through the 2011 regular season stands at 853 wins, 299 losses, and 42 ties. The winning percentage of .732 is second behind Michigan. Its 853 wins are third behind Michigan and Texas, while its 299 losses are the lowest of any college programs that have been playing football for 70 years or more.
|1896–98||Frank E. Hering||3||12||6||1||.658|
|1902–03||James F. Faragher||2||14||2||2||.843|
|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|
|1941–43, 1946–53||Frank Leahy||11||87||11||9||.855|
|1945, 1963||Hugh Devore||2||9||9||1||.500|
|* George O'Leary did not coach a single practice or game, resigning five days after being hired for misrepresenting his academic credentials.|
|† Kent Baer served as interim head coach for one game at the 2004 Insight Bowl after Tyrone Willingham was fired.|
Notre Dame has made 31 Bowl appearances, winning 15 and losing 16. 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), Hawaiʻi Bowl (1 win) and the Sun 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.
|January 1, 1925||Rose Bowl||W||Stanford||27||10|
|January 1, 1970||Cotton Bowl Classic||L||#1 Texas||17||21|
|January 1, 1971||Cotton Bowl Classic||W||#1 Texas||24||11|
|January 1, 1973||Orange Bowl||L||#9 Nebraska||6||40|
|December 31, 1973||Sugar Bowl||W||#1 Alabama||24||23|
|January 1, 1975||Orange Bowl||W||#2 Alabama||13||11|
|December 27, 1976||Gator Bowl||W||#20 Penn State||20||9|
|January 2, 1978||Cotton Bowl Classic||W||#1 Texas||38||10|
|January 1, 1979||Cotton Bowl Classic||W||Houston||35||34|
|January 1, 1981||Sugar Bowl||L||#1 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||#3 West Virginia||34||21|
|January 1, 1990||Orange Bowl||W||Colorado||21||6|
|January 1, 1991||Orange Bowl||L||#1 Colorado||9||10|
|January 1, 1992||Sugar Bowl||W||#3 Florida||39||28|
|January 1, 1993||Cotton Bowl Classic||W||#3 Texas A&M||28||3|
|January 1, 1994||Cotton Bowl Classic||W||#6 Texas A&M||24||21|
|January 2, 1995||Fiesta Bowl||L||#5 Colorado||24||41|
|January 1, 1996||Orange Bowl||L||#8 Florida State||26||31|
|December 28, 1997||Independence Bowl||L||#15 LSU||9||27|
|January 1, 1999||Gator Bowl||L||#12 Georgia Tech||28||35|
|January 1, 2001||Fiesta Bowl||L||#5 Oregon State||9||41|
|January 1, 2003||Gator Bowl||L||#17 North Carolina State||6||28|
|December 28, 2004||Insight Bowl||L||Oregon State||21||38|
|January 2, 2006||Fiesta Bowl||L||#4 Ohio State||20||34|
|January 3, 2007||Sugar Bowl||L||#4 LSU||14||41|
|December 24, 2008||Hawaiʻi Bowl||W||Hawaiʻi||49||21|
|December 31, 2010||Sun Bowl||W||Miami (FL)||33||17|
|December 29, 2011||Champs Sports Bowl||L||#25 Florida State||14||18|
|Total||31 bowl games||15–16||671||727|
Players and coaches
Seven Notre Dame football players have won the prestigious Heisman Trophy, more than any other university (Ohio State has 7 trophies won by 6 players; USC has 6 trophies, following R. Bush's forfeit of the 2006 award due to NCAA violations).
- Angelo Bertelli – 1943
- Johnny Lujack – 1947
- Leon Hart – 1949
- Johnny Lattner – 1953
- Paul Hornung – 1956
- John Huarte – 1964
- Tim Brown – 1987
Other national award winners
- Tyrone Willingham – 2002
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. Notre Dame leads all universities in players inducted.
|Tim Brown||Wide Receiver||2009|
|Ross Browner||Defensive End||1999|
|Ken MacAfee||Tight End||1997|
|Alan Page||Defensive End||1993|
|John "Clipper" Smith||Guard||1975|
|Chris Zorich||Defensive Tackle||2007|
- Team Roster:
Current coaching staff
|Brian Kelly||Head Coach|
|Bob Diaco||Asst. Head Coach/ Defensive Coordinator/ Linebackers Coach|
|Paul Longo||Director of Football Strength and Conditioning|
|Chuck Martin||Offensive Coordinator/ Quarterbacks|
|Harry Hiestand||Offensive Line Coach/ Running Game Coordinator|
|Mike Denbrock||Outside Wide Receivers/ Passing Game Coordinatoor|
|Tony Alford||Running Backs Coach/ Slot Wide Receivers Coach/ Recruiting Coordinator|
|Kerry Cooks||Co-Defensive Coordinator/ Cornerbacks Coach|
|Bob Elliott||Safeties Coach|
|Mike Elston||Defensive Line Coach|
|Scott Booker||Tight Ends/ Special Team Coordinator|
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.
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 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. 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. The navy blue jerseys returned in 1984.
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, Michael Floyd, Rick Mirer and Ron Powlus, among others. Number 5 is also notable, as it is the only number to be worn by one of the Four Horsemen (Elmer Layden) a Heisman Trophy Winner (Paul Hornung) and a National Title winning Quarterback (Terry Hanratty). Number 7 has been worn by such Irish greats as 1964 Heisman Trophy winner John Huarte, 1970 Heisman runner-up Joe Theismann, Steve Beuerlein, Jimmy Clausen and Jarious Jackson.
Notre Dame Stadium
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". With no JumboTron and just two modest scoreboards, the stadium experience evokes a more traditional feel. Notre Dame Stadium is used for football related activities and for Commencement (since 2010).
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.
USC is Notre Dame's primary rival. The rivalry has produced more national titles, Heisman trophies, and All-Americans than any other. It is considered one of the most important rivalries in college football, and is often called the greatest rivalry not dictated by conference affiliation or geography. Other than during World War II, the teams have played each other since 1926. Notre Dame leads the series 43–33–5.
Michigan is considered Notre Dame's other major rival. The rivalry is Notre Dame's first and oldest, although the two teams did not play each other for many years. It is heightened by the two schools' competition for all-time win percentage, which Michigan leads. The 2011 meeting was won by Michigan 35–31 in Ann Arbor.  Michigan leads the all-time series 23–15–1, with 6 of the Wolverine victories coming before 1900.
The Michigan State Spartans are one of Notre Dame's most important rivals with the two teams playing for the Megaphone Trophy. Notre Dame holds an all-time 46–28–1 series winning margin. The one tie was the Game of the Century, one of the greatest college football games ever played. The Spartans' 28 victories over Notre Dame are second-most of any school after USC. The Megaphone Trophy series record is 32–26–1 in favor of Notre Dame. Michigan State won the Megaphone Trophy in 2010 after beating the Irish 34–31 in East Lansing on an overtime fake field goal play known as "Little Giants". In 2011, the Irish reclaimed the trophy with a 31–13 victory in which they led all the way.
Navy and Notre Dame have one of the longest continuous series in college football, having played 83 games without interruption since 1927. Notre Dame had a 43 game win streak, the longest in Division 1-A football, which ended in 2007. Navy won in 2007, 2009, and 2010.
Game day traditions
Due to its long and storied history, Notre Dame football boasts many traditions unique to Notre Dame. Some of these are:
- On Monday evenings, prior to each game, the team's student members paint all football helmets gold, using paint containing real gold dust. The gold particles that are used on the helmet were collected from the re-gilding on the Notre Dame dome in 2007. *Prior to the start of the game, the team attends mass in semi-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.
- 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 "K" for Kelly. ("W" for both Weis and Willingham and "L" for Lou Holtz)
- 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.
- 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.
- 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|
|First picks in draft:||5|
|In the Super Bowl:||42|
|Won the Super Bowl:||36|
|Hall of Famers:||10|
Pro Football Hall of Fame
- 1963: Curly Lambeau – Green Bay Packers 1919–49
- 1963: John McNally* – Milwaukee Badgers 1925–1926, Duluth Eskimos 1926–1927, Pottsville Maroons 1928, Green Bay Packers 1929–1933, 1935–1936, Pittsburgh Pirates (Steelers) 1934, 1937–1938
- 1964: George Trafton – Chicago Bears 1920–22
- 1968: Wayne Millner – Boston and Washington Redskins 1936–41, 1945
- 1975: George Connor – Chicago Bears 1948–55
- 1986: Paul Hornung – Green Bay Packers 1957–62, 1964–66
- 1988: Alan Page – Minnesota Vikings 1967–78, Chicago 1978–81
- 2000: Joe Montana – San Francisco 49ers 1979–92, Kansas City 1993–94
- 2001: Nick Buoniconti – Boston Patriots 1962–68, Miami Dolphins 1969–74, 1976
- 2002: Dave Casper – Oakland Raiders 1974–80, Houston Oilers 1980–83, Minnesota Vikings 1983
*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.
Current NFL players
The Fighting Irish are unique among sports teams in the United States, as they are the only team, professional or college, to have all their games broadcast nationally on television and radio. Notre Dame famously left the College Football Association, a consortium that administered television broadcast rights on behalf of over 64 schools, in 1990, in order to establish its own broadcasting deal with NBC. From 1968 to 2007, Westwood One served as the official radio partner for the Irish, broadcasting their games for 40 consecutive years.
Until the 2006 Air Force game, Notre Dame had a record 169 consecutive games broadcast nationally on either NBC, ABC, ESPN, or CBS. The 2006 ND vs. Air Force game was broadcast on CSTV, a college sports channel owned by CBS who had an exclusive contract with the Mountain West Conference, of which Air Force is a member (the Irish have only hosted Mountain West teams since, to keep all of its games on one of the four aforementioned networks). 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. The deal was considered to be a major coup for NBC, given the high popularity of Notre Dame football at the time.
Notre Dame is the only Division 1-A football team to have all of its home games televised exclusively by one television network. In addition to TV broadcasts, NBC also maintains several dedicated websites to ND football, and Notre Dame Central, 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.
Current broadcast team
Radio rights to the Fighting Irish are currently held by ISP Sports, who began a 10 year deal with the team in 2008. The new deal displaced its previous broadcast partner, Westwood One, who had 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.
Current broadcast team
- Don Criqui (play-by-play) – 1974–1976, 2006–current
- Allen Pinkett (color commentary)
- Jeff Jeffers (pre and post-game)
- 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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