Shenanigans


Another time, Rockne used a "little white lie" to motivate his players against Army. Jim Crowley recalls:

"Before the game, Rockne came in and told us: 'I just heard that Army's going to kick you off the schedule.' Then he paused for effect. 'Well, they might be able to kick you off the schedule, but they can't kick you off the field.' He used that as his theme for that day, and we went out and won the game. The next day we picked up the New York Times and found out that he had signed a new five-year pact with West Point officials. We found out reading the story that he had signed it the Friday before the game - and he was telling us the night before the game that they were going to kick us off the schedule!"

Crowley adds with good humor, "They were all lies, blatant lies. The Jesuits would call it mental reservation, but he had it in abundance."

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Don Miller almost didn't even get to the practice field. When two hundred freshmen turned out, Miller was near the end of the line as the uniforms were passed out. There was none left for Miller and one other kid. The other kid said to hell with it and never came back. Don Miller came back every day for a week until he could scrounge something to wear. The ripped pants came to his ankles. The jersey was full of holes. The socks were unraveling and the shoulder pads were held together by tape. When he appeared on the field, he was more of a Mack Sennett apparition than a football player.
"My God!" said Rockne, almost convulsed. "That's Red Miller's kid brother, isn't it?" He turned to an aide. "Get him an old pair of varsity pants before somebody sees him. This is still Notre Dame!"

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Jim Crowley, one of Notre Dame's tabled Four Horsemen, later recalled an incident before the 1925 Rose Bowl when Knute Rockne almost sent him and teammate Ed Huntsinger back to Indiana after catching them buying Christmas cards just before curfew. When Huntsinger recovered a fumble and ran for a touchdown early in the game, Crowley ran up to his buddy and said, "Isn't it a good thing Rock didn't make us go home?"

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Rockne once said that part of the job of coaching was playing the martinet in front of the team. He practiced such ego-smashing stunts as running the Four Horsemen behind a third-string line and then snapping at them, "Show 'em your clippings, boys  ... show 'em your clippings."

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