Blue and Gold Illustrated

January 2020

Blue & Gold Illustrated: America's Foremost Authority on Notre Dame Football

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52 JANUARY 2020 BLUE & GOLD ILLUSTRATED BY LOU SOMOGYI T is the college football season of making numerous lists — although maybe not always checking them twice. The 150th anniversary of football's birth in 1869 has prompted various media outlets to assemble all-time lists in various categories, from great- est players and coaches, to top fight songs and stadiums. In mid-December, ESPN released its Top 150 College Football Coaches of all time from every division of the sport. In any such chart, disagreements and even bias inevitably will abound, and we certainly had our share of them, but also respect the effort in assembling such a difficult all-time outline. It is impossible to construct this without intense debate. Still, Notre Dame had the most representation with eight former and one current head coach who made the cut, and four of them were among the top 25. AMONG TOP 25 • Leading the way was Knute Rockne (1918-30), who finished No. 3, behind the Alabama duo of Paul "Bear" Bryant at No. 1 and current Crimson Tide boss Nick Saban at No. 2. In his 13 seasons, Rockne produced to this day the highest winning per- centage among major college coaches at .881 (105-12-5) and had three con- sensus national titles (1924, 1929 and 1930), plus the NCAA recognizes a fourth in 1919. • At No. 10 is Frank Leahy, who first coached at Boston College for two sea- sons (1939-40) before returning to his alma mater, first in 1941-43, and then after World War II from 1946-53. His 13-year stint matches that of his mentor Rockne, and his 107-13-9 record practically mirrors it as well. Leahy's .864 winning percentage is second only to Rockne among major college coaches, and his four national titles don't even include three other unbeaten campaigns. Of Leahy's 13 seasons on the side- lines, seven produced no defeats, one at Boston College (which he took to a No. 5 final ranking in 1940 with an 11-0 mark) and six at Notre Dame. A case could be made for him to be among the top five, but we suspect the lesser number of years coached con- tributed to not ranking as high as most of the people in front of him. Rockne also had 13 years, but his end came via a premature death in a plane crash. • Ara Parseghian (1964-74) came in at No. 15, which sounds about right, especially with main nemesis John McKay of USC (1960-75) at No. 12. Call us biased, but we also believe that Ohio State's Woody Hayes at No. 9 should not be ahead of Par- seghian for numerous reasons. First, Parseghian succeeded Hayes as the head coach at Miami (Ohio) and did marvelous work with a 39-6-1 mark, even outdoing Hayes. Second, when he went to mori- bund Northwestern, Parseghian was 3-3 versus Hayes' Ohio State jugger- naut, and 3-1 in the last four meetings. That's akin to a Honda Civic beating a souped-up Ferrari in a drag race. • Finally, we don't like the selective references to national titles. Hayes is credited with having five national titles while Parseghian is given credit for two. What is not mentioned is that two of Hayes titles were not from wire ser- vices, but from two other NCAA-rec- ognized branches. One was the Foot- ball Writers Association in 1961 with an 8-0-1 mark, even though Alabama received the vote in the Associated Press and United Press International polls, plus the MacArthur Bowl. The other was Ohio State receiving the MacArthur Bowl in 1970 with Texas — even though Ohio State would then lose to 8-3 Stanford in the Rose Bowl, 27-17, while Notre Dame that same day snapped No. 1 Texas' 30-game winning streak in the Cotton Bowl. Meanwhile, no recognition is given to Parseghian for getting awarded the MacArthur Bowl in 1964, in addition to the consensus titles in 1966 and 1973. • Rounding out the top 25 among Fighting Irish coaches was Lou Holtz (1986-96) at No. 23 — although we specifically have a problem with Michigan's Bo Schembechler ranked ahead of him at No. 20. Holtz was 3-1 versus Schembechler while at Notre Dame, won a national title, and had 23- and 17-game win- ning streaks, the former a school re- cord, with seven of those 23 wins coming against teams that finished in the top 10. Meanwhile, Schembechler in 20 years never won a national title at a blue-blood program, his longest win- ning streak while with the Wolver- ines was 11 and his bowl record (the ones he actually coached in because in two he had to sit out for health reasons) was 4-11. AN ELITE EIGHT From Jesse Harper To Brian Kelly, Notre Dame coaches make ESPN's all-time top-150 list From left to right, Brian Kelly (89th), Lou Holtz (23rd) and Ara Parseghian (15th) were among the eight Fighting Irish head coaches ranked in the Top 150 College Football Coaches of all time by ESPN. PHOTO BY JOE RAYMOND

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