Blue and Gold Illustrated

February 2020

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

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44 FEBRUARY 2020 BLUE & GOLD ILLUSTRATED BY LOU SOMOGYI I t is probably safe to assume that the Notre Dame football program will never have another decade like the 1940s. In that 10-year span from 1940-49 — with four different coaches, two of them interim for one season — the Fighting Irish were 82-9-6 (.876 winning percentage) and won four national titles. That compares favorably with Alabama's reign of dominance from 2010-19 (bowl game still to come) with a 123-15 ledger (.891 winning percent- age) and also four national titles. What might be a surprise is that in the seven completed decades from 1950-59 through 2010-19, the one that was finished this month ranks sec- ond in best winning percentage. That is a reflection of the challenge that comes with sustaining consistency over a 10-year span. Here are the records for Notre Dame in each decade since the conclusion of the Golden Years in the 1940s: 1950-59 Record: 64-31-4 — .667 AP Top-10 Finishes: 5 Best Season(s): Head coach Frank Leahy's final team in 1953 finished 9-0-1 and No. 2. There were three straight top-five final rankings from 1952-54, the latter coming under first- year head coach Terry Brennan. Worst Season: In 1956, Notre Dame finished 2-8, its worst record ever and first losing season in 23 years. Epic Moment: On Nov. 16, 1957, the Fighting Irish ended Oklahoma's NCAA-record 47-game winning streak with a 7-0 win. One year after losing at home to the Sooners 40-0 — still the worst Irish defeat in Notre Dame Stadium — this win propelled a No. 10 finish in the Associated Press poll. 1960-69 Record: 62-34-4 — .640 AP Top-10 Finishes: 6 Best Seasons: Under first-year head coach Ara Parseghian, Notre Dame won a share of the 1964 national title while getting awarded the MacArthur Bowl, and then the Irish were consen- sus national champs in 1966 (9-0-1). Worst Seasons: In the four years (1960-63) prior to Parseghian's arrival, Notre Dame was 14-25, beginning with a 2-8 ledger in 1960 under head coach Joe Kuharich, and 2-7 in 1963 with interim coach Huge Devore. Epic Moment: The week after the 10-10 tie at No. 2 Michigan State, the Irish crushed No. 10 and Pac-8 champion USC 51-0 in Los Angeles to clinch the national championship. 1970-79 Record: 91-22 — .805 AP Top-10 Finishes: 5 Best Seasons: The Fighting Irish captured consensus national titles in both 1973 and 1977 by defeating No. 1-ranked teams in bowl show- downs. The first was versus Alabama in the Sugar Bowl (24-23), and the second versus Texas in the Cotton Bowl (38-10), thereby vaulting Notre Dame all the way from No. 5 to No. 1. This was easily the top overall de- cade since the 1940s, with Parseghian producing a 47-8 mark in his five years from 1970-74, highlighted by the 1973 national title, and Dan Devine following with a 44-14 output the next five, notably the 1977 championship. Notre Dame also was a remarkable 5-1 in the major bowls — and four of the wins were versus unbeaten and No. 1-ranked teams. Worst Season: A 7-4 record in 1979 marked the only time in this 10-year stretch Notre Dame had more than three defeats and did not finish in the top 20 of either the AP or UPI polls. Epic Moment: In addition to the two bowl wins to capture national titles, the lone two victories from 1967-82 versus archrival USC — 23-14 in 1973 and 49-19 in the 1977 — were the impetus behind the title marches. 1980-89 Record: 76-39-2 — .658 AP Top-10 Finishes: 3 Best Seasons: Notre Dame posted a school-record 23-game winning streak in 1988-89, winning the national ti- tle in 1988 (12-0) and finishing No. 2 in 1989 (12-1) while defeating seven teams that finished in the top 10. Worst Seasons: For the first time, Notre Dame had a sub-.500 finish three times in a decade — 5-6 in 1981, 1985 and 1986. When Lou Holtz (1986-96) succeeded Gerry Faust (1981-85) as head coach, the 1980s were similar to the 1960s in that the Fighting Irish sputtered early in the decade before the hiring of a pre- mier coach turned around the fortunes. Epic Moment: The 1988 national title was spearheaded by a 31-30 vic- tory over No. 1 and reigning national champ Miami on Oct. 15, ending the Hurricanes' 36-game regular season winning streak. 1990-99 Record: 84-35-2 — .703 AP Top-10 Finishes: 3 EBBS & FLOWS The 10-year period from 2010-19 had a little of both The 1970-79 decade with head coaches Ara Parseghian and Dan Devine, who each won a national title in that span, had the best winning percentage among the seven decades since 1950-59, while the recent one completed from 2010-19 was second. PHOTOS COURTESY NOTRE DAME MEDIA RELATIONS

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