Semper Victurus

 

Art Parisien, Notre Dame quarterback and hero of the first Notre Dame - USC game.

Art Parisien, Notre Dame quarterback and hero of the first Notre Dame - USC game.

Disce Quasi Semper Victurus Vive Quasi Cras Moriturus"
("Study like you will live forever; live like you will die tomorrow".)

Starting in the late 1870's, this rather intimidating phrase was the Scholastic Magazine credo. Ironically, the Scholastic proved to be the vehicle which has allowed the daily experiences of Notre Dame students during the past 150 years to truly "live forever". Scholastics are a virtual gold mine of Notre Dame history, and more importantly, of insight into the daily lives of its students. These first hand reports of campus life, written by student reporters, give a candid and personal view of important (and trivial) events on the Notre Dame campus. Joe Madonia, an '82 alum and partner in the Chicago law firm of Wildman, Harrold, Allen & Dixon, will edit a monthly column of excerpts from his rare and wonderful collection of original Scholastic Magazines spanning the period from 1869 - 1931.

If you could look at Bob Davie's Christmas list this year, you probably would see a request for a straightforward and decisive victory over Southern Cal. [We are withholding all other editorial comments about what else should be on that list].  If Santa comes through, he will be bringing Coach Davie the exception rather than the rule. The ND - USC series has turned into one of the most unpredictable and exciting traditions in college football history.  More often than not, the underdog has emerged to spoil the National Championship or Bowl hopes of the other, and frequently, both have been in contention for the mythical National title.

Not only has the series benefitted from the historical pedigree of its founders, Howard Jones and Knute Rockne, and from the aura of the "roaring 20s" when the series flourished, but the two teams have benefitted from an unlikely (if not downright spooky) series of unsusual finishes and quirky story lines which have fueled the public's fascination with these games. The 1977 "Green Jersey" game is one of the more recent examples of the unlikely story lines which this series has enjoyed, but more than 40 years before that game, people already regarded this as a truly special and unusual rivalry.  Little did they know that some of the best was yet to come.

 The following excerpt, titled "Great Games, Weird Plays, and Thrill Finishes Have Marked Irish-Southern Cal Series", is from the November 26, 1937 edition of the Scholastic, and it shows that long before the Irish donned their Green Jerseys, the magic already was in the air: 

"Great Games, Wierd Plays, Thrill Finishes Have Marked Irish-Southern Cal Series."
by Bill Donnelly

Anything may happen tomorrow afternoon when Notre Dame meets Southern California in the twelfth consecutive game of one of the craziest and most thrill-making rivalries in the history of football.

The Irish won three of the first four games by one-point margins, overwhelmed a favored U. S. C. team to win the national championship in the last game Rockne coached, lost three games under Hunk Anderson, who was apparently Jonahed by the Trojans, won two games for Elmer Layden, and also played last year. Each battle has been ideal for the spectator who does not fully appreciate the technical excellence of an impregnable defense; with a total of 135 points for Notre Dame and 131 for Southern California, there has been an average of over 24 points a game.

In 1926 Notre Dame traveled to Los Angeles for the first game of the series. With his team trailing 12-7 after 58 minutes of play, Art Parisien entered the game at quarterback for the Irish, ran once himself, called two running plays, and threw two left-handed passes, the second of which completed an 80-yard march for the winning touchdown. Thus, the very first game of the series was given a story-book ending.

The next game, played at Soldier's Field in Chicago, was won again by a Notre Dame pass and the failure of Southern California to kick the extra point; the score was 7-6. In 1928 the Trojans overpowered the Irish, 27-14, in the least favorable season Rockne ever experienced. Notre Dame's 13-12 victory in 1929 won a national championship before the largest crowd ever to see a football game - 112,912 paid admissions in Soldier's Field. Bucky O'Connor starred in 1930's 27-0 slaughter of the Trojans, a vindictive
reversal of the score which the Los Angeles sports writers had predicted.

Southern California scored two touchdowns and a field goal in the final quarter of the 1931 game to win 16-14 and break Notre Dame's string of 26 victories. It was Hunk Anderson's first defeat as head football coach at Notre Dame, but after that the Trojans never let up on him. In the next encounter they won by a 14-0 score, and in 1933 they brought a little fellow named "Cotton" Warburton to Notre Dame to lead his team to a 19-0 victory.

Mike Layden scored both touchdowns of the 1934 game to give brother Elmer his first victory over Southern California. In 1935 Wally Fromhart scored on a touchdown pass and intercepted a Trojan pass for a 73 yard runback. Bill Shakespeare, also playing his last game for the Irish, threw two
touchdown passes and scored on a seven yard end run. The final score was
20-13.

Fate had evidently decreed that ten games without a tie was enough, and last year it practically moved mountains to keep the Trojans on even terms with an Irish team that scored 19 first downs to the Trojan's one which resulted from a penalty. The first Trojan touchdown was due to a lateral pass that bore much closer resemblance to a forward fumble.

Southern California not only received a tremendous break when "Bud" Langley broke up an Irish touchdown by intercepting a pass on his own one yard line, but the referee ran perfect interference for the fortunate Trojan when he became so absorbed in the proximity of Langley's feet to the sidelines that he forgot his own material presence on the field. At another time Ed Beinor recovered a punt that had brushed against Ambrose Schindler before bouncing into the end zone. Schindler slammed his helmet to the ground in disgust at his own carelessness, but circumstantial evidence has no value in football and the referee's eyes had been elsewhere. The final score of the mad game was 13-13.

 

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