Blue and Gold Illustrated

Sept. 12, 2016

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

Issue link:

Contents of this Issue


Page 51 of 55

52 SEPT. 12, 2016 BLUE & GOLD ILLUSTRATED BY LOU SOMOGYI T his year 's Nevada game will mark the third straight contest — and fourth in the last five — that Notre Dame will face a head coach who previously had been an assistant for the Fighting Irish. It began last Nov. 21 against Bos- ton College's Steve Addazio, who coached Notre Dame's offensive line and aided the special teams from 1999-2001 before thriving under Ur- ban Meyer at Florida from 2005-10 and winning two national titles. Speaking of Meyer — Notre Dame's wide receivers coach from 1996-2000 — his Ohio State Buckeyes throttled the Irish 44-28 in the Fiesta Bowl Jan. 1. Three of his assistants, offensive line coach/coordinator Ed Warinner, running backs coach Tony Alford and tight ends coach Tim Hin- ton (now on the support staff), had been with current head coach Brian Kelly at the outset of his Notre Dame career. Now in 2016, Notre Dame began the season against Texas boss Char- lie Strong, who instructed the Irish defensive line from 1995-98, followed by Nevada's Brian Polian, who coor- dinated Notre Dame's special teams under head coach Charlie Weis from 2005-09. Like Addazio, Strong also won two national title rings as the defensive coordinator for Meyer at Florida be- fore becoming the head coach at Lou- isville, where his last two Cardinals teams (2012-13) were 11-2 and 12-1. As for Polian, after Notre Dame's ouster of Weis, he landed on his feet with Jim Harbaugh at Stanford in 2010 and helped the Cardinal achieve a 12-1 record his first year before be- coming the Wolf Pack head coach three years later. Notre Dame's "reunion month" with former assistant concludes Sept. 24 with Duke's David Cutcliffe. He was hired as the quarterbacks coach by Weis in 2005 before major heart surgery led to a leave of ab- sence and eventual resignation that then resulted in becoming the Duke head coach in 2008, where he has thrived while reviving what once was perhaps the worst Power Five conference football program. U n d e r t h e l e g e n d a r y K n u t e Rockne from 1918-30, Notre Dame became the Cradle of Coaches, a title held by Miami (Ohio) since the 1950s. At the time of his death in a plane crash in 1931, Rockne's coaching tree from his playing and coaching days at Notre Dame had nearly 100 men instructing teams at the collegiate level, with 38 of them head coaches. The latter didn't even include his greatest protégé of all, Frank Leahy, who became an assis- tant for Four Horseman Jim Crow- ley at Michigan State and Fordham before leading Boston College to an 11-0 record in 1940 and winning four national titles at Notre Dame. Next to Leahy, maybe the most prominent figure to come from the Rockne coaching tree was Frank Thomas, who produced an ex- traordinary 141-33-9 career record, notably 115-24-7 at Alabama from 1931-46 when one of his players was Paul "Bear" Bryant. Thomas' .812 winning percentage with the Crim- son Tide is not too far off from Bry- ant's .824 in 25 years (1958-82), while current boss Nick Saban is at .854. Over the past 60 years, there have been far fewer Notre Dame gradu- ates moving on to the football coach- ing ranks and achieving prominence in that field, although in 2015 Kelly hired all-time leading rusher Au- try Denson (1995-98) and two-time consensus All-American cornerback Todd Lyght (1987-90) to join his staff. Louisiana Tech's Skip Holtz, who played for his father as a walk-on at Notre Dame in 1986, has quietly fashioned a 110-88 record as a head coach, including 9-4 last year in his third season with the Bulldogs. His most famous victory came in the 2011 opener at Notre Dame when his South Florida Bulls stunned the Irish 23-20. Over the last 60 years, Meyer has become far and away the most fa- mous former assistant who coached at Notre Dame. His astounding 154-27 career record gives him a .851 winning percentage, which is clos- ing in on the all-time major college football standards of Rockne's .881 and Leahy's .864. Closest to rivaling Meyer dur- ing the past 60 years on the colle- giate level with past Notre Dame ties is Barry Alvarez, the defensive coordinator for Lou Holtz during the school record 23-game winning streak in 1988-89. In 16 seasons at Wisconsin (1990- 2005), a major rebuilding job when he took the reins, Alvarez was 118-73-4 (.615). Especially notable is that he was 8-3 in bowls (not including 1-1 in 2012 and 2014 bowls in an interim capacity) and won three Rose Bowls for the Badgers — one more than the esteemed Bo Schembechler did in 21 seasons at Michigan. Lurking somewhere on the 2016 Notre Dame staff might be another prominent future head coach. ✦ Urban Meyer, who served as Notre Dame's wide receivers coach from 1996‑2000, led Ohio State to a 44‑28 win over the Irish in last season's Fiesta Bowl. PHOTO BY JOE RAYMOND A New Cradle Of Assistants Former Notre Dame aides are now running their own teams

Articles in this issue

Archives of this issue

view archives of Blue and Gold Illustrated - Sept. 12, 2016