Blue and Gold Illustrated

December 2023

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

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44 DECEMBER 2023 BLUE & GOLD ILLUSTRATED IRISH ECHOES JIM LEFEBVRE N otre Dame's victory over Wake Forest Nov. 18 marked the 500th Fighting Irish game at iconic Notre Dame Stadium — "The House That Rockne Built." Head football coach and athletic director Knute Rockne lobbied the Holy Cross fathers for years during the 1920s for a modern, concrete-and-brick stadium. His team was bringing in substantial sums of money for games played in major sta- diums across the country, and he wanted the big-time teams to come to Notre Dame. Continuing to expand the wooden bleachers of Cartier Field just wasn't enough to get the job done. Finally, at a special meeting in April 1929, university of- ficials approved plans for a new stadium seating 50,000- plus and contracted with the Osborne Construction Co. of Cleveland, builders of new stadiums at Michigan and Min- nesota. The sod from Cartier Field, considered some of the best playing turf in the country, would be transported to the new stadium. Rockne's long-awaited dream of a modern stadium that could attract and host big-name opponents was finally in sight. On Oct. 4, 1930, the Stadium opened with Rockne guiding his troops to a hard-fought 20-14 victory over Southern Meth- odist before 14,751 fans in sort of a dry run-through of opera- tions. A week later, before a crowd of 40,593, came the official dedication of Notre Dame Stadium, with speeches, songs and tributes, followed by a 26-2 victory over Navy. Sadly, after all his efforts to get it built, it would be the only season Rockne would coach in his new home — he and seven others died in an airplane accident on March 31, 1931. In its 94 seasons, the Stadium has witnessed countless clas- sic games and memorable performances. Heisman-worthy moments from Bertelli, Lujack, Hart, Lattner, Hornung, Hua- rte and Brown. Thrilling highlights featuring Terrell, Oliver, Brooks, Ismail, Bettis, Quinn, Samardzija and Zbikowski. De- fensive heroics from Page, Zorich and Te'o. Legends aplenty. TOTALS AND TRENDS Notre Dame's record in the 500 games is 377 victories, 118 defeats and 5 ties, for a .759 winning percentage. The most successful stretch was the first 100 games, with Notre Dame teams led by Rockne himself, then Elmer Layden and Frank Leahy. And if you've been attending games the past 15 seasons, you've walked out of Notre Dame Stadium a winner nearly 80 percent of the time. The breakdown by each 100-game segment: Years W L T Pct. First 100 Games 1930-54 82 15 3 .835 Games 101-200 1954-73 73 26 1 .735 Games 201-300 1974-91 75 25 0 .750 Games 301-400 1992-2008 69 30 1 .695 Games 401-500 2008-23 78 22 — .780 Totals 1930-2023 377 118 5 .759 RECORDS BY COACHES A total of 17 different head coaches have led Notre Dame in the 500 games at the Stadium. Brian Kelly had the longest tenure, with 76 games in 12 seasons. Here are the leading winning percentages for ND coaches at the Stadium: Coach Years G W L T Pct. Knute Rockne 1930 5 5 0 0 1.000 Ed McKeever 1943 4 4 0 0 1.000 Ara Parseghian 1964-74 58 51 6 1 .888 Frank Leahy 1941-43, 45 37 6 2 .844 1946-53 Elmer Layden 1934-40 30 25 5 0 .833 Brian Kelly 2010-21 76 62 14 — .816 Lou Holtz 1986-96 65 51 13 1 .792 Dan Devine 1975-80 32 25 7 0 .781 Bob Davie 1997-2001 31 24 7 — .774 Marcus Freeman 2022-23 12 9 3 — .750 Records reflect actual on-field results STREAKS Notre Dame's longest winning streak at the Stadium was 28 games under four-time national championship coach Frank Leahy (and wartime stand-ins Ed McKeever and Hugh Devore) from 1942 to 1950. It began with a 27-20 victory over Northwestern on Nov. 21, 1942, and continued through a 14-7 triumph over North Caro- lina on Sept. 30, 1950. It was broken a week later by Purdue, 28-14 in the rain, setting up the temporary end to Irish na- tional championships. At the urging of head coach Knute Rockne to allow the Irish to attract big-name opponents to South Bend, Notre Dame Stadium was built. The first game in the new facility occurred on Oct. 4, 1930, a 20-14 victory over Southern Methodist. FILE PHOTO Reflecting On The First 500 Games At 'The House That Rockne Built'

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