From "Out of
confers with Coach Dan Devine.
The following is an accout of how the Irish
became "The Green Machine." It's from Weaver and Bonifer's Out
Devine had gotten the idea from a letter
amidst the huge stack of mail waiting on his desk his first day at Notre
Dame: a former student manager under Frank Leahy wanted to see the Irish
wear green again. The new coach was intrigued by the notion and kept it in
mind. Two-and-a-half years later he would use it with maximum possible
In 1977 Notre Dame was facing a mid-season crisis with Southern Cal. After a
sputtering start the team had shown signs of life, and the game with the
Trojans loomed as an acid test. As he does before all big games, Devine
looked for a psychological sword.
He had called Willie Fry, one of the captains, into his office several weeks
earlier and asked how he'd feel about changing to green jerseys. Fry had
been lukewarm to the idea. ("I thought the man had gone over the
edge," he recalled later. "I tried, but I just couldn't picture us
in green.") But Devine had gone ahead with his plan. On the Wednesday
before USC he invited Fry, Steve Orsini and Terry Eurick - the other two
captains - to the football auditorium. When the trio arrived Ross Browner
was on stage, modeling the most fantastic green and gold football get-up
they had ever seen. Their glee was unbridled. (Willie Fry: "I said,
'Bring on USC!' I wanted to play them right there.") The coach huddled
with the four players and told them of his scheme. They vowed to keep it a
After Friday's practice Irish Tennis Coach Tom Fallon serenaded the team in
its dressing room with a number of Irish ballads, among them The Wearin'
of the Green. Then Devine spoke to the players of the torments suffered
in years past by the Irish people. He spoke of their fierce pride. he told
them what it meant to wear green during the Black and Tan oppression. And he
reminded them of their own proud ethnic backgrounds, that their ancestors,
like the Irish, had to fight for their beliefs. It was a speech that would
gain significance the next day.
That night at the pep rally Fry urged all the fans to wear green to the
game. Basketball coach Digger Phelps did the same, and concluded his speech
by whipping the crowd into a chant of "Green Machine! Green
Machine!" Some of the fans looked a mite puzzled, but the players were
too busy with thoughts of the Trojans to make any deductions.
Saturday .... Before the game warm-ups were taken in the standard blue
jerseys. Only when the players returned to the locker room ten minutes
before kick-off did they see the new uniforms hanging in their stalls. The
discovery touched off a celebration. "Like kids on Christmas
morning," is the way one coach described it. The cheer of the night
before made sense now, and the team picked it up: "Green Machine! Green
Machine! Green Machine! ... "
And when the sartorially splendid Irish stormed the field ... well, there's
only one way to describe fan reaction: 59,075 people turned simultaneously
to the person next to them and shouted, "They're wearing green!"
"I saw them come out screaming in those jerseys," said USC
linebacker Clay Matthews, and I knew we were in trouble." And
indeed they were. If the Irish had come out pulling howitzers the Trojans
wouldn't have been more surprised - or more defenseless. They were stymied
at every turn. Linebacker Bob Golic jammed up the middle on defense. Joe
Montana stoked the offense to full throttle. And Ted Burgmeier was underfoot
all day long.
The five-ten cornerback bedeviled the Trojans by: returning an interception
thirty-eight yards with a classic broken-field run; running a faked field
goal attempt for a key first down; again from his position as holder turning
a muffed snap from center into a two-point conversion by sprinting wide and
dinking a short pass to Tom Domin; and making eight tackles. Folks in the
stands were pulling hamstrings just from watching Ted go.
The final score of 49 to 19 was just about the size of it. The Irish struck
a dizzying emotional peak before the game and would have steamrolled anyone
in their way. USC was the unlucky victim. For the first time that season,
Notre Dame realized its awesome potential. And why not? It was easy wearing
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