From "NOTRE DAME:
REMINISCENCES OF AN ERA"
He came here as a freshman in 1910, Knute Kenneth Rockne, aged twenty-two. He'd been born in Norway; he grew up in Chicago; he worked for five years in the post office there to get enough money to come to college. Why he came to Notre Dame I don't precisely know. The legend has it that he impulsively joined a friend who was coming here; but one would like to know the complex motivations behind such an impulse as this.
He was a complicated character, this Rockne; his round flat face never gave away any secrets.
He became head football coach in 1918; from then until his sudden dramatic death in 1931 he was a kind of synonym in the popular mind for Notre Dame. I don't think he was ever a whole or full or adequate synonym; there was always a tremendous lot here that he did not represent. But popularly, simply, and undeniably, he stood in the mind of America for this place. And by the force of his own personality and accomplishment he attracted a special national attention to Notre Dame. A great many students came here, in his time, purely because of him. I came here myself in 1926 purely because of him.
At seventeen, weighing a hundred thirty-five soaking wet, I
aspired to the exclusive glory of a Notre Dame monogram, won under Rockne; and when I went
out for freshman football I was deeply moved, even inspired, when at the counter where
equipment was issued, the coach himself threw me a pair of cleated shoes. My gridiron
My considered opinion as of the present moment is that this decision affected Rockne's career not at all; neither did it change the course of graphic art in this country.
But when the old jeering question-the interminably proffered question-the question which has bored and irritated thousands of Notre Dame men these many years is put to me, I can at least give it an unusual answer. When a hairy hand grabs my lapel and a hot voice brays into my ear, "What did you go to Notre Dame for? To play football? Huh!" I can say quite honestly- "Yes."