Blue and Gold Illustrated

Preseason 2016

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

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Page 96 of 99 PRESEASON 2016 97 era (1918‑30) at Notre Dame is not included in the survey. Rockne's 105‑12‑5 record is still the best win‑ ning percentage (.881) in major college football annals, and was highlighted by what is recognized as consensus national titles in 1924, '29 and '30. MINIMUM EXPECTATION Of the 12 non‑interim Notre Dame coaches on the job since the poll's inception in 1936, the only one to not finish at least one season in the AP final rankings was Gerry Faust (1981‑85). His 1984 team did enter the Aloha Bowl No. 17 with a 7‑4 record after finishing with four straight wins, in‑ cluding 30‑22 at No. 6/SEC champ LSU, 44‑7 versus Penn State and 19‑7 at Pac‑10/Rose Bowl champ USC, its first win in the Los Angeles Coliseum in 18 years. However, a 27‑20 loss in the bowl to SMU dropped Notre Dame out of the top 20, which is all the AP ranked back then. Interestingly, first‑year head coach Joe Kuharich's 1959 unit finished No. 17 with a 5‑5 record on the strength of closing with victories at No. 16 Iowa (20‑19) and then at home against No. 7 USC (16‑6). Bob Davie had No. 15 (2000) and No. 22 (1998) finishes with 9‑3 re‑ cords, and Charlie Weis was No. 9 (2005) and No. 17 (2006) his first two seasons. Tyrone Willingham finished No. 17 in his first year (2002). Conversely, in Frank Leahy's 11 seasons with the Irish (1941‑43, 1946‑53), he finished among the top six a total of nine times, highlighted by four national titles. However, his 1950 (4‑4‑1) and 1951 (7‑2‑1) squads did not place. ARA'S ERA Unofficially, Notre Dame's longest streak through the regular season without being ranked in the AP was 29 straight weeks from 1961‑64. On Oct. 28, 1961, Kuharich's No. 8 Irish were upset 12‑10 by Ara Par‑ seghian's Northwestern team to fall out of the top 20 for good. The Irish were not ranked in 1962 and 1963 (when there was only a top 10) while finishing 5‑5 and 2‑7 respectively, and began 1964 under new coach Parseghian unranked — until an opening game 31‑7 win at Wisconsin rocketed them up to No. 9. In the ensuing 11 seasons under Parseghian, Notre Dame would never finish the year lower than No. 14 (1972) in the AP poll. Particularly notable was that at the end of the 1969 regular season, Par‑ seghian's 8‑1‑1 Irish were No. 9 in the AP poll. It then lost in the closing minute to No. 1 Texas in the Cotton Bowl — yet was elevated to No. 5 with an 8‑2‑1 ledger. Think that could happen in this era? REACHING NO. 1 In Parseghian's final seven years from 1968‑74, Notre Dame was No. 1 in only two weekly polls. The first was in 1970 after a 7‑0 start — but it fell to No. 2 the next week after squeaking by Georgia Tech by only a 10‑7 score at home. The other was the final poll in 1973, after defeating No. 1 Alabama (24‑23) in the Sugar Bowl. Likewise, in the six seasons with Parseghian successor Dan Devine (1975‑80), Notre Dame spent only two weeks at the top. The first was the final poll of 1977 — after thumping No. 1 Texas (38‑10) in the Cotton Bowl (similar to 1973). The other was, after a 7‑0 start in 1980, just like in 1970. And just like in 1970, in the next game Georgia Tech knocked the Irish off the top perch in 1980 with a 3‑3 tie. Notre Dame's worst decade‑long stretch was 2000‑09, when it was in only 45.2 percent of the AP polls. During Brian Kelly's first two sea‑ sons in 2010‑11, Notre Dame was never ranked his first year, and then started at No. 16 in 2011. But it dropped out for 10 weeks after a 23‑20 loss to South Florida in the opener (followed by a 35‑31 loss at Michigan). ✦ Associated Press All-Time Top 10 Notre Dame has had three major down cycles in its football program since the start of the Associated Press poll in 1936. • A 34‑45 record in the eight years from 1956‑63 (with three losing seasons), although it did finish No. 10 in 1957 at 7‑3. • The 43‑36‑1 mark from 1981‑87 (with three losing seasons), and a lone final ranking of No. 17 in 1987 (8‑4). • From 1997‑2011 (and some would argue into today), it fired three coaches and had only one top‑10 finish, No. 9 in 2005. Consequently, even though Ohio State has five national titles — 1942, 1954, 1968, 2002 and 2014 — or three less than Notre Dame, it has been more consistent overall to earn the top spot the past 80 years. 1. Ohio State (1,112 points) 2. Oklahoma (1,055) 3. Notre Dame (1,042) 4. Alabama (993) 5. USC (974) 6. Nebraska (901) 7. Michigan (844) 8. Texas (822) 9. Florida State (714) 10. Florida (674) In addition to USC and Texas, other past traditional rivals of Notre Dame or those on the 2016 sched‑ ule that are in the top 100 include Miami (13), Michigan State (19), Pitt (22), Virginia Tech (31), Stanford (32), Purdue (36), Syracuse (41), Army (42), North Carolina State (56), Navy (60) and Nevada (tied at 99). The bad news is among the top 10 programs, the Fighting Irish are the farthest removed from a national title, that occurring in 1988. Next is Nebraska in 1995. The Cornhuskers split the national title with Michigan in 1997, with the Wolverines winning the AP and Nebraska the coaches' poll. — Lou Somogyi Notre Dame did not place in the final AP polls from 1981-86, but under Lou Holtz they became a regular in the top 10, highlighted by the 1988 national title. Among the all-time top 10, the Irish have the longest current championship drought. PHOTO COURTESY NOTRE DAME MEDIA RELATIONS

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