Blue and Gold Illustrated

Sept. 17, 2022

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

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Page 52 of 55 SEPT. 17, 2022 53 helped the Irish immensely, with Elmer Layden correctly anticipating two Stan- ford passes, which he intercepted and re- turned for touchdowns. Notre Dame won 27-10 to cement its first national title. The flamboyant Madigan, like Rockne, was skilled at engaging the sporting press and keeping his team in the limelight. He continued to expand the Gaels schedule, and undefeated seasons in 1926 (9-0-1) and 1929 (8-0-1) made Madigan and his team the "toast of the coast." Huge crowds took in St. Mary's games, and the football revenues helped build a new campus in Moraga. It was said the huge letters "SMC" that adorned the hillside there could just as well have stood for "Slip Madigan Col- lege." In 19 seasons (1921-39) at SMC, the Hall of Fame coach went 117-45-12. In 1930, Madigan started one of the most unusual series in college football history. He took his team, and 150 or so well-heeled fans, on a transcontinental trip to New York City, to challenge heav- ily-favored Fordham University. In front of 35,000 fans at the Polo Grounds, St. Mary's emerged with a 20-12 victory — the only blemish on Fordham's season in which the Rams went 8-1, outscoring the opposition 215-29. The trip became an annual staple of the Gaels' schedule, becoming known as "the world's longest bar," on which Ma- digan would regale fans and sports writ- ers, and St. Mary's would often return home with a win. Several victories came against Fordham when the head coach was former Four Horseman Jim Crowley, and the team featured the "Seven Blocks of Granite," including Lombardi. While Santa Clara and St. Mary's were in the limelight challenging Cal and Stan- ford in the 1920s and 1930s, the Univer- sity of San Francisco was a step behind. But that all changed in the postwar years, under former Notre Dame lineman (and future head coach) Joe Kuharich. The Dons won seven games each in the 1949 and 1950 seasons, and then went 9-0 in 1951 behind future NFL stars Gino Marchetti, Ollie Matson and Bob St. Clair, finishing with a No. 14 national ranking. Just as quickly, USF dropped the sport, leaving major college football in the Bay Area to Stanford and Cal. ✦ Jim Lefebvre is an award-winning Notre Dame author and leads the Knute Rockne Memorial Society. He can be reached at: Slip Madigan, another former Irish player, cre- ated a national juggernaut at tiny St. Mary's College. Between 1921 and 1939, he led the Gaels to a 117-45-12 record and became known for his transcontinental series against then- powerhouse Fordham. PHOTO COURTESY KNUTE ROCKNE MEMORIAL SOCIETY For more informa on, please visit: The Knute Rockne Memorial Society is dedicated to preserving and promo ng the life story of Coach Knute Rockne and all he stood for. Through its annual Rockne Awards, the Rockne Society recognizes and inspires great achievement in athle cs…and in life.

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