FORMER SUBWAY ALUMNI LEADER REFLECTS ON HIS "NOTRE DAME ODYSSEY"


Herb Juliano
(1922-1998)

This month's edition of Herb's Archive will feature excerpts from Chet Grant's files, in the  on rememberences of his personal contact with the Horsemen. These notes were later used to write the text for Notre Dame The Golden Tradition. Chet Grant was a quarterback on one of Gipp's teams and for 80 years the unofficial historian of Notre Dame athletics.

Chet Grant; for more than 80 years, Chet was a fan, player, coach, archivist and Notre Dame football historian

Chet Grant; for more than 80 years, Chet was a fan, player, coach, archivist and Notre Dame football historian

 

The future Four Horsemen and Seven Mules were working out on the dirt floor of the Big Gym one winter's afternoon in 1922, as I dropped by and Rock asked me to check out the timing of a group quarterbacked by Harry Stuhldreher, my roommate who, in my judgment, was bound to beat out both senior Frank Thomas and sophomore Frank Reese, who had been my roommate the year before. During the fall I had scrimmaged against the freshmen at least once when three of the future Horsemen were involved: Stuhldreher, Don Miller, and Jim Crowley. My recollection of James Crowley is defensive. He was called on an off-tackle play to the longside of the field and forced wide so that I had an early crack at him. I embraced only air while forcing him to run wider. Still on his feet at the sideline, he reversed his field. I was still on my knees when he fell over me. That day or another, I scrimmaged on offense against the  freshmen when Stuhldreher was at safety and Don Miller at defensive right half. When I called myself to my right off-tackle, Don was explosively reactive. As I cut through the hole I knew all I had to do in order to get clear was head-fake right and cut sharply left. Sure enough, Don took himself out of position. He was so fiercely eager he literally ran past me; I could hear him sharply condemning his overcommitment, a tendency he would learn to control. It was a must now to get past Stuhly, as an antidote for his natural cockiness. I didn't have the speed to outrace him. Instead of trying to maneuver me to one side or the other he tried for a head-on tackle. For a dark fraction of a moment I thought I was a goner. But his neglect to hold his head back enabled me to contact the top of his helmet with my free hand and pump my knees, almost in place, again and again it seemed, in order to be rid of him. This was rather a social gesture than technical, as I've hinted: to keep him tolerable as a roommate!

The circumstance that sold me on Stuhly's prospects physically was a scrimmage of which I was an observer. He completed a forward pass with an authority and precision I envied, then called a running play to his right for which he was a blocker. His target was a sophomore or junior end of some substance. Never before or after did I see anything on a football field resembling what happened to that end. Stuhly made contact about shin high, literally laid his man flat on the ground, and rolled over him foot to head as if he were a rug.

As for Don Miller, he was considered by the Miller family to be the best football player of his generation. This day Don Miller didn't gain an inch on a significant drive off tackle I witnessed. Nonetheless, the way he slammed into a wall of opposition persuaded me that I had just spotted the greatest football Miller since the immortal Red, and so reported to Tedo (Ray) Miller of my own generation.

The Horseman I bore least acquaintance with, Elmer Layden, would designate me as one of his assistants when he became athletic director and head coach in the 1930s. Elmer was the scoring star when the Four Horsemen and Seven Mules crowned their national championship with a sensational victory in the 1925 Rose Bowl. Stanford's Pop Warner could point out that his Cardinal and White dominated the statistics. Notre Dame might have won them too but for a foot-injury that hampered Stuhldreher's resort to passes. The degree of that deprivation is more than suggested by his 1924 passing record: thirty-three attempts, twenty-five completions, for an average Of .788, a fabulous percentage I have never seen or heard expressly recognized in pertinent commentary.

Off field I once had painful occasion to regret Stuhldreher's pregame optimism. Notre Dame had been upset by Nebraska in 1922. The Rockneites were en route in 1923 to a perfect season and championship acclaim again. They had only to defeat Nebraska and the title was assured. At Hullie & Mike's [South Bend restaurant, pool hall and student hang out] you had to give eighteen points in order to get a bet down. I caught Stuhly at the railroad station in time to be infected by his manifest optimism. Back at Hullie & Mike's I laid down a week's salary, giving the eighteen points on the board. In 1924 it would be Notre Dame 34, Nebraska 6. In 1923 the score was Nebraska 14, Notre Dame 7. That made the Cornhuskers thirty-two points better than I had been influenced to calculate.

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