Blue and Gold Illustrated

February 2024

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

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44 FEBRUARY 2024 BLUE & GOLD ILLUSTRATED IRISH ECHOES JIM LEFEBVRE O ne of the most defining of Notre Dame football traditions didn't happen this past fall. Come late November, there was no interhall foot- ball championship game played at Notre Dame Stadium. No triumphant celebra- tion by a group of students playing for the love of the game. The decision by university officials in the spring of 2023 to end the time- honored tradition of full-equipment, tackle football on an intramural level was a sensible one, given the realities of the day — a decline in the number of students with football experience, lead- ing to questions regarding player safety. Interhall tackle football survived at Notre Dame long after colleges nation- wide had given up the tradition. Students who had grown to love the game as high school football players had an opportu- nity to continue to suit up and play in a competitive atmosphere. They savored it. Some very skilled players down through the years have chosen interhall football, rather than being buried deep on the ros- ter for the varsity or reserve team. "With interhall football, there is no adulation, just the fun of playing a game with your friends who will give you all the small taunts or accolades you de- serve," observed Bill Cragg '65, who played for Keenan and Morrissey halls. The history of interhall football at Notre Dame goes back nearly as far as the varsity program. On Nov. 11, 1890, Sorin defeated Brownson 2-0 in the first recorded inter- hall game. In 1895, a Thanksgiving Day matchup between the same two residence halls drew as much attention as the varsi- ty's battle with Chicago Physicians & Sur- geons that weekend. And varsity players regularly showed up on interhall rosters. During the 1920s, athletics director Knute Rockne saw the great possibilities for a healthy interhall system. Not only did the halls play each other, but Rockne ar- ranged for travel and referees for off-cam- pus games, where Notre Dame hall teams traveled to play, for instance, freshman teams at other colleges. Rockne also made sure several of his varsity players were in- volved coaching interhall teams, to fur- ther their understanding of the game, the strategy involved and leadership needed. The 1921 Scholastic Football Review reported: "A good deal of the success of football at Notre Dame can be traced back directly to interhall football. These teams are coached by capable men who play on the varsity and impart many ideas into the hall men who in turn often rise to stardom. Worthy examples are Gipp and Norm Barry. They played their first years on interhall teams and rose rapidly, and their fame last year is a fact of common knowledge." That season, varsity captain Eddie Anderson coached Brownson to the interhall championship, led by tackle Gene Oberst, who was named to the All- Interhall team chosen by the Scholastic Football Review. Oberst started for the Fighting Irish the next two seasons. Sev- eral significant contributors to the na- tional championship run of 1929-30 had interhall experience, including Frank Leahy, Joe Savoldi and Frank Carideo. Over the years, the varsity players were more likely to be spectators. Fight- ing Irish captain Rocky Bleier recalls being on the sideline supporting his So- rin Hall classmates at the 1967 interhall championship game. "I don't think you can compare interhall football to anything," Bleier said. "It's an outlet to continue to do something you did in high school. It's the camaraderie, the success or failure you share, an outlet in being a part of a team, the memories and Interhall football at Notre Dame dates back to 1890. Shown above are the Badin Hall 1923 interhall champions. PHOTO COURTESY THE INTERHALL FOOTBALL BIBLE Interhall Football Will Be Remembered Fondly At Notre Dame The Badin Hall 1954 interhall champs were undefeated, untied and unscored upon. PHOTO COURTESY THE INTERHALL FOOTBALL BIBLE

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