February Calendar

Calendar Grotto

 

On this date in Notre Dame Football History:

Sources for the calendar are 100 Years of Notre Dame Football by Gene Schoor, The Fighting Irish 1999 Calendar, Knute Rockne by Francis Wallace, The Notre Dame Football Scrapbook by Cohen, Deutsch and Neft and The Fighting Irish Football Encyclopedia by Mike Steele, Shake Down The Thunder by Murray Sperber, One for The Gipper by Patrick Chelland, Knute Rockne by Francis Wallace and 75 Years of Notre Dame All-Americans.

February 1

Lou Holtz corralled one of his best recruiting classes in 1989. Six Parade All-Americans signed letters of intent with Notre Dame, including four future NFLers - quarterback Rick Mirer, kicker Craig Hentrich, tight end Irv Smith, and tailback Dorsey Levens.

 

February 2 

Dave Casper, tight end, tackle, is born in 1952. A rare starter in the modern era at two line positions. Excellent technician in blocking, with superb lateral quickness for a tackle. As tight end on the 1973 national championship team, presented a formidable problem for defenders. In 1971, backed up at LT and caught one pass for 12 yards. In 1972, played tackle for most of the year. He caught one pass for six yards and made two tackles for the year. In 1973, he started at TE; made 19 receptions for 317 yards and four touchdowns to go with one tackle. He was a consensus All-American in 1973. For his career, he caught 21 passes for 335 yards and four touchdowns and also made three tackles on special teams.

Mike Fanning, Defensive end and Defensive tackle, is born in 1953. Mike was a big, quick defensive lineman for Ara Parseghian and a force in the 1973 championship year. Excellent pass rusher, part of the defensive line that included Browner, Niehaus, and Stock. In 1972 he was a back up at defensive end. He made thirteen tackles for the year, two for -10 yards. In 1973, Mike started at defensive tackle. For the year, he was Notre Dame’s fourth leading tackler with 61, also recovered one fumble and led all defensive linemen with 205 minutes of playing time. In 1974, he started at defensive tackle and for the season made 85 tackles, broke up one pass, and recovered one fumble. He was named All-American that year. For his career, he made 159 tackles, 26 for -138 yards, recovered two fumbles and broke up one pass.

 

February 3

Walt Patulski, defensive end, was born in 1950.

 

Patulski did not come to Notre Dame as a defensive end or even as a defensive player. He was a fullback -and a very good one -at Christian Brothers Academy in Liverpool, N .Y .He won nine letters in football, basketball and track and was a football high school All-American. Liverpool is a suburb of Syracuse, and coach Ben Schwartzwalter was very interested. "I was tempted to go to Syracuse," Patulski admitted. , 'They told me they were going to build their offense around me. They told me I would follow Larry Czonka, who was a senior then, in their backfield."

 

His career in the offensive backfield at Notre Dame lasted less than a week, once freshman practice started. "One practice they had me try defensive end," Walt remembers, "and on my first play there I stopped a sweep cold. Coach Moore (then a freshman coach) went crazy. It was my first play there and I stuck out. From that moment on I was a defensive end."

 

Co-Captain of the 1971 edition of the Fighting Irish, Patulski was one of the main reasons Notre Dame's

defense was ranked in the nation's top ten. He started every game in his collegiate career. In his final year at South Bend Walt made 74 tackles, 22 more than his entire total for the '70 season. Seventeen of those stops resulted in the loss of 129 yards for the opposing team. Patulski also broke up six passes, recovered one fumble, and returned a punt for 12 yards.

 

He was awarded the game ball for his performance in the Irish initial contest against Nortnwestern and was acclaimed as national lineman of the week following the North Carolina game. His play versus Michigan State prompted head coach Duffy Dougherty to hail him as Notre Dame's "finest defender".

 

Patulski was named to Football News sophomore All-America squad in 1969 and was an honorable mention AlI-American recipient in 1970. He was a consensus All-America as a senior. He was the top vote reciver on the UPI team as well as being selected the nation 's lineman of the year by UPI and Gridiron Magazine.

 

He finished ninth in the balloting for the Heisman Trophy but was the winner of the Lombardi Trophy, emblematic of America 's finest collegiate lineman. His teammates voted him as the Irish most valuable player of 1971, and he was accorded the same honor following his play in the Hula Bowl.

 

Walt went on to become a prominent star in the pro football ranks.

 

February 4

Irish Legend

Alan Page was a starter at defensive end from 1964 to 1966 under Coach Ara Parseghian. In his senior year, Page made sixty-three tackles and helped the Fighting Irish win the national championship. He was a consensus All-American selection that year. Page would become a dominant defensive lineman in the NFL with the Minnesota Vikings.

 

February 5 

1990

Notre Dame rocks the sports world with the announcement that it has struck a landmark deal with NBC to broadcast Fighting Irish home games for five years, beginning in 1991. Notre Dame thereby becomes the first university to sell its football games to a national TV network. Two subsequent five-year extensions would cement the school’s partnership with NBC.

 

February 6 

Irish Lore

Even Knute Rockne wasn’t able to attract high school halfbacks from heaven every year. The Four Horsemen graduated after the 1924 season, and in 1925 the Fighting Irish went an un-Rockne-like 7-2-1. At a postseason banquet in New York, Rockne was at his self-deprecating best: "If anyone knows where there are four more horsemen, I’ll see him outside immediately."

 

February 7 

Irish Legend

Jim White of Edgewater, New Jersey, was one of the finest tackles Frank Leahy had a Notre Dame in the 1940s. White was instrumental in leading the Fighting Irish to the national championship in 1943 and helped his quarterback, Angelo Bertelli, win the Heisman Trophy. White was honored for his outstanding line play by finishing ninth in the Heisman voting himself and being named a consensus All-American.

 

February 8 

Irish Lore

On November 8, 1952 Notre Dame appeared in the first game ever broadcast live on national television. In that game, Frank Leahy’s tenth-ranked Fighting Irish upended No. 4 Oklahoma 27-21 before 57,446 at Notre Dame Stadium.

 

February 9 

1969: Todd Lyght, outstanding defensive back under Lou Holtz from 1987-1990, is born in Flint, MI. Todd came to Notre Dame as a wide receiver but made the switch to defense and had an immediate impact and had more starting time in 1987 than any other freshman. He had superb speed and excellent coverage skills and was at his best with the ball in the air. In 1988, he started at cornerback for the national champions and led the team with six tackles in the Fiesta Bowl win over West Virginia. For the year he made 36 tackles, three for a - 8 yards, and broke up nine passes. In 1989, he started at cornerback and made four tackles in Orange Bowl win over Colorado. For the year, he made 47 tackles, broke up 6.5 passes, and made 8 interceptions for 42 return yards and one touchdown. He was named All-American in 1989. In 1990, he again started at cornerback, made 49 tackles, broke up three passes, two interceptions for 13 return yards. Was also consensus All American in ‘90.

 

February 10

Irish Legend

Raghib "Rocket" Ismail of Wilkes-Barre, PA, was one of the fastest, most dynamic players in college football history. As an All-American in 1989 and 1990 - a consensus choice and Heisman Trophy runner-up in 1990 –Ismail was a deep threat at wide receiver with incredible moves and quickness. He also was a breathtaking kick returner, as he scored four touchdowns on kickoff returns as well as one on a punt return.

 

February 11

1950

Clarence Ellis, safety on Ara’s teams from 1969-1971, was born.

Few and far between have been the Grand Rapids young men who have traveled south seeking the glories of Notre Dame football under the Golden Dome. Ellis was not heavily recruited despite his run- ning skills at Central High, where he played under coach Larry Barcheski. It was Barcheski's brother who kept raving to the Notre Dame coaches about Ellis' potential. They talked to Clarence, looked at the Central game films and invited him down to South Bend for a visit.

"I fell in love with the place right away," said Ellis. "Shucks, only two schools really approached me. One was Western Michigan. The other Notre Dame. I liked it down here because it isn't very big and I can get a good education here."

Ellis is a Methodist Episcopal, and he says one factor in going to Notre Dame was the influence of his pastor who was extremely high on the school.

He still remembers his sophomore year of 1969 when he was thrust onto the field as starting safety for Notre Dame and swallowed his Adam's apple a few times before getting ready for the first play.

The Irish were playing Georgia Tech, on national television yet, when Ellis was whipped for a touchdown pass that just about crumbled his pride -and self confidence -into bits. "It was like I was standing there in a hole, " he said, "and all of a sudden that dude was behind me and there was absolutely nothing I could do about it. I was just paralyzed, and he got a touchdown off me."

It didn't matter a bit to his personal pride that he should pick off an enemy aerial shortly thereafter and return it for 90 yards and a touchdown of his own.

As a sophomore, he set an Irish record by breaking up 13 passes while playing safety. His best game was against Southern California, breaking up four passes in the end zone. In the struggle with Louisiana State, the LSU punter kicked to Ellis who returned the ball to the 36 and helped set up the march that culminated in a field goal and an Irish 3-0 victory.

In the Cotton Bowl Clarence was involved in a do-or-die play against Texas. Using their strongest quarter back, Jim Bulger, and the fastest runner, Ellis, it was a simple Irish concept. Throw the ball as far as you can, and let Ellis run as fast as he can. The result was a 37-yard completion which set up a 36-yard field goal by Hempel.

In the 1971 contest with Purdue the Boilermakers were forced to punt from their own end zone. Ellis screamed in and batted the ball down. Fred Swendsen fell on it for an Irish score.

The Irish beat Texas 24-11 in the 1971 Cotton Bowl game. Ellis switched to the offensive unit to make a 37-

yard completion. That set up the field goal completing the days scoring.

Ellis holds the all-time individual Notre Dame record for passes broken up in a single season -13 in 1969; also for the most passes broken up in a career -32 from 1969 to 1971.

 

February 12

Irish Lore

For generations, Notre Dame has seldom played in front of anything but a jam-packed stadium. Officially, the fourth largest crowd ever to witness the Fighting Irish play was at Michigan Stadium on September 11, 1993, when 106,851 saw Notre Dame upset the Wolverines, 27-23. The third largest was in 1999 in Knoxville, Tennessee were the Vols beat the Irish before a crowd of 107,619. The second largest was the 1999 game in Ann Arbor against the Wolverines, where 111,523 were in attendance.

Unofficially, the largest crowd to see Notre Dame play-and probably the biggest in college football history-was when 120,000 people wedged their way into Chicago's Soldier Field on November 1, 1927, to see the Irish edge USC, 7-6.

 

February 13

1934

Don Schaefer, All-American fullback on the 1953-1955 Irish, was born.

In 1953 a sophomore from Pittsburgh who was born in Cleveland, took over for the injured Menil Mavrades in the Notre Dame-Iowa game. That afternoon he place-kicked the tying point, his second-such performance of the day.

 

The next year Coach Terry Brennan had to build the Irish team around four men; Schaefer, Hornung, Bisceglia and Jim Mense. Don was the workhorse of the backfield that year with a total of 776 yards gained in 141 carries, for an average of 5.4. He also kicked the ex- tra points and scored three times on touchdowns.

He led the squad in rushing in 1954, caught three passes for 60 yards, returned five kickoffs for 82 yards, and intercepted one pass. He was an outstanding back as a junior when the Irish won nine of ten games. His top single game performance was against Penn when he gained 135 yards on the ground, including a beautiful 69-yard dash on which he was dragged down short of the Penn goal line.

In the next to last game of that season, against Southern California, Schaefer played a major part in the 23-

17 Notre Dame victory. He gained 87 yards on the ground, and in the fourth period, with the Irish trailing 14-

17 and defeat imminent, Jim Morse, N.D. sophomore halfback, broke through the left side of the line and ran 72 yards for the winning touchdown. Schaefer was the man who threw the key block on the play as he took the linebacker out and gave Morse running room. On five other occasions in that contest Don threw a perfect block of the Trojan linebacker, enabling Irish backs to gain ten yards or more on each play.

At the conclusion of the '54 season Schaefer ranked 13th in the nation in rushing yardage. For purposes of comparison, Wisconsin's Alan Ameche, everybody's All-America fullback, ranked behind Schaefer -in 19th position with a total of 641 yards on 146 carries for a 4.4 average.

 

Don’s versatility was incredible. In the final game of the undefeated 1953 season, when Notre Dame defeated Southern Methodist 40-14, sophomore Don Schaefer is believed to have set some kind of record

by appearing at three backfield positions in one game; quarterback, left half and right half.

 

Don played in the 1956 East-West game and in the fall of ‘56 was the rookie fullback with the Philadelphia Eagles in the NFL.

 

February 14

1990

Of the twenty-three high school players who on this day sign letters of intent to attend Notre Dame and play football, fourteen are rated among the top 100 in the country, according to several recruiting analysts and newspapers. Among the fourteen arefuture superstars Jeff Burris, Jerome Bettis, Pete Bercich, Tom Carter, Lake Dawson, Kevin McDougal, TJffi Ruddy, Aaron Taylor. and Bryant Young.

 

February 15

1941

Frank Leahy signs a contract to become the head football coach at his beloved alma mater, the University of Notre Dame. He would become the second most successful coach both in Notre Dame and college football history.

 

February 16

1972

Jerome Bettis is born in Detroit, Michigan. He would become a fantastic fullback under Lou Holtz from 1990 to 1992, combining a rare mix of power, shiftiness, and speed from a five-foot-eleven, 247-pound package. Bettis would go on to a great career in the NFL with the Los Angeles Rams and Pittsburgh Steelers.

 

February 17

Irish Legend

Jack Snow of Long Beach, California, was a consensus All-American at split end on Ara Parseghian’s first Notre Dame team in 1964. He caught sixty passes for nine touchdowns and 1,114 yards that year, and he helped quarterback John Huarte win the Heisman Trophy. Snow himself finished fifth in the Heisman balloting.

 

February 18

1895

George Gipp is born in Laurium, Michigan. "The Gipper," as he would be remembered, would become one of the most legendary names in American sport. After a dazzling career as halfback at Notre Dame from 1917 to 1920, Gipp would tragically learn of his becoming the first AlI-American first-team selection in Notre Dame history on his deathbed. He would die of complications following a severe strep throat infection on December 15, 1920.

 

February 19

Irish Legend

Tom Gatewood of Baltimore, Maryland, set a slew of pass-receiving records as a split end from 1969 to 1971. He led the team in receiving as a sophomore with forty-seven grabs, as a junior with seventy-seven, and as a senior with thirty-three. Gatewood was a consensus All-American selection in 1970, and was also a two-time Academic All-American

 

February 20

Irish Legend

Wayne Millner of Salem, MA, earned lasting fame as the recipient of the game-winning pass in the "Game of the Century" –an 18-13 victory over Ohio State at Ohio Stadium, in 1935. An end, Millner latched on to a 19- yard touchdown pass from Bill Shakespeare with a half minute remaining to cap an amazing Notre Dame comeback. Millner was a consensus All-American selection after the season.

 

February 21

1921

Bob Dove, All-American end for Frank Leahy’s teams of 1940-1942, was born.

In 1954 Johnny Druze, line coach under Frank Leahy said of the 1942 Notre Dame team: "Angelo Bertelli, Bob Dove, Steve Juzwik, and Bernie Crimmins the most prominent players. The qualities that made this team outstanding were. ..the defensive play by Dove who made several All-America teams."

In 1939 Dove, a freshman, flanked the frosh team, and the next year he became a regular after the season's second game. That year he caught 15 Bertelli-thrown passes for 187 yards. In 1942 the Canfield, Ohio, native was transferred to slot in the "T" machine, but a shortage of left ends sent him back to his original position. '42 was Dove's big year. He caught a pass from Bertelli in the game with Stanford. In the Navy game the "play of the week" was Bertelli's pass to Dove, the only touchdown in Notre Dame's winning cause.

In 1942 Bob Dove received the Rockne Trophy as the outstanding college lineman of the year .

After three years in service, where he spent some time with the famed El Toro Marines, Dove spent enough years in pro football to earn the nickname, "Grandpappy.' , Two years with the defunct Chicago Rockets were followed by six with the Chicago Cardinals. Altogether Dove has played under eleven coaches.

In 1954 he became an assistant coach at the University of Detroit and four years later the end coach of the Detroit Lions in the pro league. He remained there two seasons.

 

February 22

1909

The Victory March is given its first public performance on the Notre Dame campus during Washington Day exercises. The song had been written the previous fall by brothers Michael J. and John E. Shea, a pair of Notre Dame grads. Michael was the gifted musician who composed the tune and likely most of the lyrics, while John - although given half the credit for the composition - probably just suggested word changes.

 

February 23

Quote of the day

"There is a Notre Dame mystique that defies definition or description. It is something special in its combination of religion, education, and athletics. It is not only national, but international in scope. And there is a real tradition of achieving excellence whatever the odds...The first time I drove up Notre Dame Avenue after being named head football coach, an enormous sense of responsibility overwhelmed me."

—Coach Ara Parseghian

 

February 24

Irish Landmark

While leading Notre Dame to the national championship in 1988, the elusive Tony Rice not only set a school record for the most rushing yards in a season by a quarterback, with 700, but he also led the team in rushing that year. Rice averaged an amazing 5.8 yards per carry – amazing because that includes sacks. A year later, Rice would break his QB rushing record with 884 yards.

 

February 25

1970

Lindsay Knapp, great offensive tackle on Lou’s teams of 1989-1992, is born.

 

February 26

Irish Legend

John Yonakor of Dorchester, MA, was an exceptional end on Frank Leahy’s first national championship team of 1943. He was very tall for his day, at six-foot-four, and led the team with fifteen catches for 323 yards and four touchdowns. Yonakor earned consensus All-American recognition that year.

 

February 27

Irish Legend

Jack Cannon, an unorthodox, crowd-pleasing roving guard on Notre Dame's 1929 National Champions, roamed allover the field without a headguard making almost impossible tackles. He loved hard-nosed bodily contact and almost seemed to eat up the football. His jungle tactics brought out atavistic urges in fans.

"On that 1929 team," testified Harry Stuhldreher, " Jack was the outstanding player. They had to overcome all sorts of obstacles while beating all teams from every section of the country. After beating Navy in Baltimore, I was talking to Bill Ingram, coach of the Midshipmen. I asked him how he liked the Notre Dame team. ' All during the summer I made up my mind to stop the strong side play, and I did,' he replied. 'But, boy, they went on the weak side. ' Cannon was spectacular. He was the apple of everybody's eye. Attention was fastened upon him as he wandered all over the field in his role of roving guard. Occasionally, however, Jack would get careless and not cover his position. Then Rock would discipline him in front of the team. This was just the right tonic for Jack. He'd come back and play like a wild man from then on. Without doubt, he was one of the best linemen Notre Dame turned out. He had the faculty of being able to diagnose opponents plays and seemed to be at the point where the play developed every time. His bare head bobbing across the gridiron will long remain in the memory of those who had the pleasure of seeing him play."

In 1928 Rockne fought the bugaboo of overconfidence. Guard Cannon had taken up the habit of roaming about the field, defensively, making tackle after tackle away from his own zone. Glory piled up in the papers, but Rock saw that while Cannon was out promenading for headlines, tackle Ted Twomey was filling the gap. Rock lifted Twomey from one scrimmage and a sub was unable to take care of his and Cannon's area as Twomey had done.

"All right, boys," Rock said, with an air of resignation, "let's take a shower before Cannon messes up any more."

Thereafter the guard stayed closer to home.

In 1929 playing against Army before 85,000 fans at Yankee Stadium, Cannon kicked off four times and on three occasions made the tackle. He was regularly the first man down under punts. In that famous Army game Jack threw the key block that sprung Elder loose on his 96-yard touchdown jaunt that beat the Cadets.

At the end of the season Jack played sixty minutes in the Shrine game in San Francisco, leading Bronko Nagurski to describe him as "the perfect guard."

 

In 1947 Grantland Rice wrote: "On a trip to South Bend I ran across more than a few old timers. One was Jack Cannon, the Notre Dame guard who played without a helmet. Cannon was all over the field. He was a big, black-headed, bounding beggar who ranged and roved far and wide. He is still the best guard that I can recall in Notre Dame’s history."

 

February 28

Quote of the day

 

"Ara was the quietest boy in the family. I never once thought that he would ever become an athlete."

–Amelie Parseghian, Ara’s mother

 

 

 

 

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