Blue and Gold Illustrated

January 2024

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

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52 JANUARY 2024 BLUE & GOLD ILLUSTRATED IRISH ECHOES JIM LEFEBVRE W hen the Fighting Irish take on Oregon State in the Sun Bowl Dec. 29, it will mark the third meeting of the teams — all in bowl games. In 2000, Bob Davie's Notre Dame squad brought a 9-2 record, a seven- game winning streak and a No. 10 na- tional ranking into the Fiesta Bowl against Oregon State on Jan. 1, 2001. But the No. 5-ranked Beavers were on a roll of their own at 10-1, with their only blemish a 33-30 defeat at Washington. Head coach Dennis Erickson's team led the Irish 12-3 at halftime, then ex- ploded for 29 points in an 8-minute stretch of the third quarter to cruise to a 41-9 victory. Beavers quarterback Jonathan Smith (recently named head coach at Michigan State after serving in that post at Oregon State) threw for 305 yards with 3 touchdowns to win MVP honors. In 2004, Notre Dame stumbled to a 6-5 regular season, finishing with a 41- 20 loss at Southern Cal, but accepted an invitation to the Insight Bowl in Phoe- nix versus the 6-5 Beavers. Two days later, Ty Willingham was fired as head coach, so defensive coordinator Kent Baer guided the Irish in the bowl game. The Beavers rolled to a 21-0 lead early in the third quarter and were never seri- ously threatened, despite Brady Quinn touchdown passes to Anthony Fasano and Rhema McKnight. OSU won, 38-21. Decades before these two games, however, the two schools had a rich ath- letic connection. And at the center of it was Knute Rockne. Rockne's connection to the Pacific Northwest was emblematic of the rela- tionships that he developed with ath- letic figures near and far, over the course of many years. In his post-high school years in Chi- cago, Rockne was heavily involved as a track and field athlete, competing for the Chicago Athletic Club. There, he fell under the influence of Michael "Dad" Butler, a legendary figure who guided club members to great success in track, and trained football players and boxers as well. In 1907, Butler headed to Oregon, where he became head track coach at Oregon Agricultural College (today's Oregon State). He and Rock remained close, as Butler sang the praises of his new home. Another connection was Sam "Rosy" Dolan, who came from Albany, Ore., to attend Notre Dame, starting at right guard for the Irish in 1905-09. After his playing days, Dolan befriended Rockne as the latter was entering Notre Dame. In the fall of 1911, Dolan became head football coach at OAC. That season, though, the big annual game with the University of Oregon had been can- celed due to a riot the season before. In 1912, Dolan was able to get the se- ries restarted, offering his hometown of Albany as a neutral site for the hotly contested rivalry. Then there was Paul Schissler, whom Rockne got to know when Schissler was assistant coach at Nebraska in 1918-20, when the Huskers faced Notre Dame each season. Schissler became head coach at Lombard College in Gales- burg, Ill., in 1921 and guided the Golden Tornado to a 22-1-2 record in three seasons, the only loss a 14-0 defeat at Notre Dame in 1923. After that sea- son, Schissler made the jump from tiny Lombard to head coach of the OAC Ag- gies, thanks in part to a letter of recom- mendation from Rockne. As Rockne's success at Notre Dame Rockne took center stage in demonstrating a play at his summer coaching school at Oregon Agricultural College in Corvallis, Ore., in 1927. PHOTO COURTESY OREGON STATE Knute Rockne's Ties To Corvallis Are Steeped In Respect And Relationships

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