following is a description of the 1909 Notre Dame team from Michael
Steele's The Fighting Irish Football Encyclopedia:
Victor Place [Notre Dame's coach in 1908] was replaced by Frank
"Shorty" Longman, a former fullback for Yost from 1903 to
1905. He had coached at Arkansas and Wooster; at Wooster he had beaten
Ohio State, the first time in 18 tries for the small school. In
picking Longman, Notre Dame signalled the end of the domination of
eastern personnel and methods.
The Fighting Irish had some good players- especially Miller and
Vaughan in the backfield and linemen Ralph Dirnmick and George
Philbrook. The school also now had its own song, the "Notre Dame
Victory March." The scene was set for a good year of football. It
should also be noted that this was the first season in which the field
goal scored the 3 points known in modern football.
Olivet opened the season, losing 58-0. The Fighting Irish had a big
lead at the half but still used an onside kick. Longman also showed a
preference for"smash-mouth" football, as his big linemen
scored five touchdowns.
Rose Poly befell a similar fate, 60-11. Longman showed that he could
combine power with passing by turning loose the towering Philbrook as
a receiver. He promptly scored on a 50-yard touchdown pass. Dimmick
also scored, but on the ground. Miller scored four times and Vaughan
three. Rose Poly did score a touchdown when a Fighting Irish onside
kick went astray, and a Rose Poly player snatched it just in time to
see Philbrook steaming after him. Notre Dame blocked a field goal try
that ended up in a second touchdown for Rose Poly.
A still-improving Michigan Agricultural College lost 17-0 in a
well-played game. Dimmick ran in a touchdown from the 20-yard line,
and Vaughan scored twice. Then Notre Dame went east to begin a series
with Pitt and escaped with a 6-0 win; the issue was settled with the
first game-winning touchdown pass in Fighting Irish history -a
35-yarder from Don Hamilton to Lee Mathews. The referees were so
objectionable that Pete Dwyer, substitute QB (second team), protested
too much, was ejected, and then tried to hit a refeme. They invented a
45-yard penalty to end the argument.
After that, Ann Arbor must have seemed peaceful. But the 5,000
Michigan fans were stunned by a thrilling 11-3 Fighting Irish win.
Walter Camp was there, too. Longman had been showcasing a long passing
attack, but changed to a patient, short game. He still liked the
onside kick, but it backfired when Allerdice recovered the first one
and scored a field goal. Vaughan replied with the first Irish
touchdown, shocking the fans when at the end of his run, he ran into
and demolished the goal posts. Michigan fought back; but a blocked
field goal try was recovered by Notre Dame on the Michigan 35-yard
line, setting up Billy Ryan's touchdown. A dejected Yost said
afterwards, "Those are the worst kind of games to lose. They
leave a worm in a man's heart to gnaw and gnaw." Longman
introduced Miller to Yost the next day, who (Yost) promptly complained
that Miller had called for fair catches too late five times, earning
cheap penalties. A week later, Yost changed his tune completely:
"...we went into the game caring little whether we won or
lost." He would eventually define it as a "practice
game"--even though 5,000 fans came to the proceedings on November
6, and Walter Camp just happened to drop by.
The Fighting Irish high lasted through a 46-0 win over 0hio Northern.
Longman turned his tackles loose on tackle-around plays, and
Phillbrook and Dolan garnered two touchdowns each. Wabash was
dispatched 38-0. Harper [Editors note: Jesse Harper would become
ND's first full time football coach and athletic director in 1913]
liked what he saw and chose seven Fighting Irish players for his 11
-man All-State squad.
Mounting injuries contributed to a scoreless tie with Marquette to end
the season. Vaughan was out; Dolan broke his collarbone early in the
game, although he continued to play. The field was a sticky mess, and
the referees called a tight game. Still, the team thought Marquette
was the best they'd seen all year. Dimmick, Dolan, and Vaughan made
All-Western; Dimmick earned honorable mention All-American. Walter
Camp praised Miller.
1909. Let it stand with the other great years and other great teams.
After waiting 22 years, Notre Dame had finally reached the point that
it considered commensurate with its destiny. Although there would be
genuine national championships ahead, this was a year to cherish for
its special accomplishments.
1909 record: 7-0-1 (.937)
Record to date: 96-30-10 (.742).
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