Blue and Gold Illustrated

Sept. 17, 2022

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

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52 SEPT. 17, 2022 BLUE & GOLD ILLUSTRATED IRISH ECHOES JIM LEFEBVRE BY JIM LEFEBVRE N otre Dame meets the University of California for just the fifth time in history this Saturday, and 2022 marks the first season in which the Irish play both Bay Area foes Cal and Stanford in the same year. There was a time when the area's three major Catholic schools — the universities of San Francisco and Santa Clara, and St. Mary's College — were also major players on the col‑ lege football scene. And there were Notre Dame connections aplenty. From 1925 through 1942, Santa Clara was led by three Notre Dame men who had played for Knute Rockne. Adam Walsh, captain of the 1924 na‑ tional champions as leader of The Seven Mules, took his ND degree and led the Broncos the next four seasons, going 17‑18‑2 in 1925‑28 before head‑ ing east to coach at Yale. Next came a pair of linemen who blocked for George Gipp at Notre Dame — Maurice "Clipper" Smith and Lawrence "Buck" Shaw. Smith was head coach and Shaw line coach from 1929‑35, guiding the Broncos to a record of 37‑23‑4. When Smith headed east to succeed Harry Stuhldreher at Villanova in 1936, Shaw was elevated to head coach and led the Broncos to their greatest period of success. In seven seasons, they had a dominat‑ ing record of 47‑10‑4, including back‑ to‑back upsets of LSU in the Sugar Bowl, 21‑14 in 1937 and 6‑0 in 1938. The Bron‑ cos had top‑10 finishes both seasons, and the 1937 team went 9‑0, outscoring opponents 163‑9 with seven shutouts. In total, Shaw guided Santa Clara to national top‑15 finishes in five of his seven seasons, before World War II halted play. After the war, he crossed the bay to lead the Cal Bears in 1945, then turned to pro football, coaching the San Francisco 49ers the next nine seasons. He finished with the Philadelphia Ea‑ gles, winning the 1960 NFL title with a victory over the Green Bay Packers and handing Vince Lombardi his only playoff defeat. The battles matching Bay Area schools were often epic clashes. In 1933, for ex‑ ample, Santa Clara opened with a 7‑0 win over Cal in front of 60,000 at Berke‑ ley. The next week, Stanford edged the Broncos 7‑0 before 36,000 at The Farm. Later, in November, 59,000 turned out at Kezar Stadium in San Francisco to watch Santa Clara and St. Mary's battle to a 6‑6 tie. Santa Clara took local honors by downing USF by a score of 7‑0. They earned a postseason trip to Honolulu and defeated Hawaii 26‑7 on Jan. 1, 1934. The most notable figure in Bay Area football of the time was another former Notre Dame player, Edward "Slip" Madigan, who created a national juggernaut out of tiny St. Mary's. Madigan had played center under Jesse Harper and Rockne in 1915‑19, backing up All‑American Frank Rydzowski and future pro Hall of Famer George Trafton. After graduation in 1920, Ma‑ digan headed west to coach Co‑ lumbia College in Portland, Ore., for one season, and then showed up at St. Mary's when they ad‑ vertised for a coach in 1921. The school, housed in a sin‑ gle building in Oakland known as "The Brickpile" and enroll‑ ing fewer than 150 male un‑ dergraduates, had lost its 1920 battle to the national champion Cal Bears by a score of 127‑0. Madigan rolled up his sleeves and got to work. He emulated Rockne in his gregarious per‑ sonality, which easily attracted dozens of new football players to the school. He taught the Notre Dame shift and the win‑ ning soon followed. By 1924, he had the Saints (who became the Gaels in 1926) at 9‑1, losing only a hard‑fought battle with Cal. That season, while the Four Horse‑ men were leading Notre Dame to an undefeated campaign, Stanford and Southern Cal were battling it out to reach the Rose Bowl to take on the Irish. But the week of their game, an eli‑ gibility dispute boiled over, and the contest was canceled. Southern Cal scrambled to find an opponent, Ma‑ digan offered his team and St. Mary's headed to the Los Angeles Coliseum, where they shocked the Trojans 14‑10, ending their Rose Bowl hopes. Madigan also played a key role in scouting Stanford for Notre Dame, making particular note of when to ex‑ pect a pass from the flat. On New Year's Day 1925, his recon Buck Shaw, who blocked for George Gipp at Notre Dame, served as head coach at Santa Clara, leading the Broncos to top-10 seasons in 1937 and 1938. After World War II, he became head coach at Cal for one season before going on to coach in the NFL for more than a decade with the San Francisco 49ers and the Philadelphia Eagles. PHOTO COURTESY KNUTE ROCKNE MEMORIAL SOCIETY Knute Rockne Protégés Helped Catholic Colleges Challenge For Bay Area Supremacy

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