Blue and Gold Illustrated

February 2017

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

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52 FEBRUARY 2017 BLUE & GOLD ILLUSTRATED BY LOU SOMOGYI U pon his hiring in December 2009, new Notre Dame head coach Brian Kelly affirmed there cannot be five-year plans, but more like "five-minute plans." Nevertheless, five-year plans, or restructuring, have become the norm at Notre Dame in years that ended in 1 or 6 ever since a new Notre Dame publication named The Football Re- port was begun in 1981. The name changed to Go Irish! in 1982, and eventually Blue & Gold Illustrated in 1983. Ever since 1981, years ending with a 1 or 6 at Notre Dame have resulted in upheaval, some for better, some for worse. Here's a review. 1981: FAUST FEVER Part of the reason the new publica- tion began was the arrival of new head coach Gerry Faust from Cincin- nati Archbishop Moeller, the nation's most esteemed high school program and a feeder school to Notre Dame. His "shake down the thunder" personality — plus his silver-tongue recruiting that landed the No. 1 class with an unprecedented 13 Parade All- Americans — electrified the faithful. It was a sharp contrast to predeces- sor Dan Devine (1975-80), who was deemed too bland with his 53-16-1 record (.764) that included the 1977 national title. Four new assistant coaches were added and longtime fixture Joe Yonto (1964-80) moved from the defensive line to administration. Result: A preseason favorite to win the national title, the Irish went from playing No. 1 Georgia in the Sugar Bowl with a young team, and a pop- ular preseason No. 1 pick, to a 5-6 mark in Faust's debut season. 1986: EXPERIENCE COUNTS Following a career mark of 30-26-1, including another 5-6 ledger in 1985, Faust was replaced by Lou Holtz, a proven, battle-tested success. All but one of his nine full-time assistants (running backs coach Mike Stock) were new. His first recruiting class includes "the perfect Lou Holtz quarterback" in South Carolina native Tony Rice. Result: The 1986 Irish finished 5-6 again while playing the nation's No. 3 schedule, but lost five games by a total of 14 points. Before the end of the 1980s, Notre Dame would set a new school record with 23 consecutive victories and the 1988 national title. In 1988-89, the Irish defeated 11 teams that finish in the final Associated Press top 18. 1991: RAISED STANDARDS After having a chance to win a na- tional title on New Year's Day three straight years, Notre Dame is disap- pointed with a 9-3 regular season — although a win over No. 3 Florida in the Sugar Bowl provides some salve. Because the No. 13 finish in the final AP poll was seen as underachieving and unacceptable, four new assistant coaches are hired to shake up the op- eration, including Rick Minter from Ball State as defensive coordinator. The 1991 season also saw a first in Notre Dame football when junior gamebreaker Raghib "Rocket" Ismail opts to turn pro rather than return for his senior season. Result: The Irish post a 21-2-1 record the next two seasons (1992-93), high- lighted by a 17-game winning streak culminated by a win over No. 1 Florida State in 1993 — but finishes No. 2 to the Seminoles that season. 1996: END OF AN ERA After a remarkable run from 1988- 93 with a 64-9-1 record (5-1 in major bowls versus teams that were 64-3-1), Holtz sees his last three Irish teams (1994-96) slip to 23-11-1 with no bowl wins, and opt not to engage in post- season action after an 8-3 mark in 1996. After 11 seasons, Holtz submits his resignation in November '96. Result: Third-year defensive coor- dinator and 42-year-old Bob Davie is promoted to head coach. He hires for- mer Purdue head coach Jim Colletto as offensive coordinator and Michigan's Greg Mattison to run the defense. Unfortunately, the decision not to retain 1988-96 offensive line coach Joe Moore on his staff results in an infa- mous age discrimination lawsuit. 2001: TUMULT & TURMOIL Davie is fired Dec. 2 after a 5-6 finish and a 35-25 record overall. An effort to hire The People's Choice, Oakland Raiders head coach Jon Gruden, who grew up in South Bend when his father was an assistant for Devine, misses. Successor George O'Leary from Georgia Tech submits his resignation Dec. 13 — four days after his hiring — because of false information on his résumé. This results in mocking na- tionally of how unappealing the Notre Dame job has become. Result: On New Year's Eve, news breaks that Stanford's Lionel Tyrone Willingham, who was 3-2 against Da- vie from 1997-2001, will be the new Irish head coach. Eight new assistants are brought in, with Mattison the lone holdover from Davie's staff. 2006: CALM BEFORE THE STORM Charlie Weis completes his second season with an overall 19-6 record — but there is angst about how "9-3 isn't good enough." The 10-3 season in 2006 is unfulfill- ing because the Irish were a popular preseason No. 1 pick, yet in their three marquee games they were thrashed by Michigan (47-21), USC (44-24) and LSU in the Sugar Bowl (41-14). Five-Year Plans Years ending in 1 and 6 consistently prompt change at Notre Dame The Irish were a popular preseason No. 1 pick in Gerry Faust's debut season in 1981, but strug- gled to a 5-6 record that immediately cast doubt on the regime. PHOTO COURTESY NOTRE DAME MEDIA RELATIONS

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