Thursday, July 27, 2006

Time's up...pass your papers to the front. | by Pat

How'd you do on our quiz?

1. Since the inception of Sports Illustrated in 1954, there have been 11 Notre Dame quarterbacks pictured on the cover. Name them.

The list of ND quarterbacks on the cover of SI reads as follows:

Paul Hornung -'56
George Izo - '59
John Huarte - '64
Terry Hanratty - '66, '67
Joe Theismann - '70, '70
Tom Clements - '74
Rick Slager - '75
Tony Rice - '88, '88, '89, '89
Rick Mirer - '90
Ron Powlus - '96
Brady Quinn - '05

All told, there have been 40 different SI covers that reference Notre Dame in some way.

2. The very first college football game televised live in Hawaii was a Notre Dame regular season game. What was the year, and who was the opponent?

The year was 1966, and the game was the "Game of the Century" 10-10 tie with Michigan State. In addition to being the first game televised live to Hawaii, the game was also the first televised live to Vietnam. And in what also makes an excellent trivia question, the regular season matchup drew better TV ratings than that year's Super Bowl. (Of course, 1966 was the year of Super Bowl I, so it's a little lesser distinction.)

3. Frank Leahy was known as an excellent recruiter and judge of talent. Which of the following players was not recruited and offered a Notre Dame football scholarship by Leahy?

a. Jack Kerouac
b. Creighton Miller
c. Harry Agganis
d. Paul Hornung

The correct answer is b. Creighton Miller. Miller would star on Frank Leahy's teams in the early 40's, but Creighton came to campus just as Leahy arrived as the new head coach. In fact, no coach actually "recruited" Miller.
"Neither Tom nor I had a choice of colleges to attend," says Creighton with a smile, "My father simply told us what time the train left for South Bend. And he added, 'and you better be on it.' "
And once on campus and playing in the team, the wealthy Miller didn't even start out on a football scholarship, much to the exasperation of Coach Leahy.

Jack Kerouac, most commonly known for his voice of a generation with On the Road was recruited by Frank Leahy to play football at Notre Dame. Turning down ND, Kerouac accepted a football scholarship to Columbia University. He broke his leg playing during his freshman year, and didn't get along with his coach anyway, so he quit the sport.

Harry Agganis is a not a familiar name to many college football fans outside of Boston, but Leahy called the quarterback "the finest propsect he had ever seen". Agganis chose hometown Boston University over 75 other offers and became an All-American for the Terriers. He was then drafted into the NFL by Cleveland's Paul Brown to become his quarterback of the future. But Agganis decided to play first base for the Red Sox instead, where he notched a .316 average. Agganis was on the verge of becoming the first two-sport star after agreeing to be the quarterback of the Baltimore Colts in 1955, before suddenly dying of a pulmonary embolism at the young age of 26.

And of course, Paul Hornung played under Terry Brennan at ND, but it was Leahy who recruited and signed the talented prospect out of Louisville, Kentucky right before retiring from the Irish. Of course, Leahy had some help beating out rival recruiter Bear Bryant thanks to a well-timed nap.

4. Which Notre Dame football player was named the 2005 Offensive Lineman of the Year at the annual football banquet?

Three-year starter Dan Stevenson was named the winner of the Guardian of the Year Award at the annual post-season football banquet.

5. George Gipp's final play in a Notre Dame uniform resulted in a touchdown. True or False?

True. With the Fighting Irish playing Northwestern in 1920, Gipp was injured and wasn't even going to play. But the fans were clamoring for Gipp, so Rockne put him in for the final play with a giant pad on his shoulder. Gipp took the ball on the snap and heaved a pass downfield that was caught by All-America halfback Norm Barry, who ran the ball into the end zone for a 70-yard touchdown. Gipp came down with strep throat a few days later and never played again. You can read more about this final play at Irish Legends.

6. Notre Dame has played a football game in 8 different baseball stadiums. Name them. (question thanks to William P. Tunell, Jr.)

The eight stadiums are Comiskey Park (previously known as South Side Park), Ebbets Field, the Polo Grounds, Yankee Stadium (pictured right - squint to see the band spelling out "Irish" at midfield), Fenway Park, Briggs Stadium (later known as Tiger Stadium in Detriot), Shea Stadium, and Bank One Ballpark.

William was nice enough to provide a list of all of the Irish game played in these ball parks, and you can check that list out here. Out of 33 games, Notre Dame is 22-7-4 when playing in baseball park. Notice that the Irish have a winning record in all of these parks, save one: the Irish are 0-1 at Bank One Ballpark after losing the Bowl 38-21 to the Oregon State Beavers while under the direction of interim head coach Kent Baer.

And I still say that the Irish should play one last game in Yankee Stadium before it closes after the 2008 season. Currently, ND has two byes in October of 2008. I say get San Diego State off the schedule, replace them with Army, and pencil in a Notre Dame-Army game at Yankee Stadium on Saturday, October 25th, after the Yankees season is over. Make it happen, ND.

7. Of all the great Notre Dame quarterbacks, one QB in particular led the Irish to an undefeated season in his junior year. But in his senior year he was moved to another position. Who was it? Why was he moved? (question thanks to Bob McConn)

The answer to this question is Harry Wright. In 1941, Wright was the quarterback of the Fighting Irish as they marched to an undefeated 8-0-1 record in Frank Leahy's first year as head coach. Still running the famed box formation installed by Knute Rockne, Wright's duties involved more blocking than running or passing, but he was still the team's quarterback.

In the off-season, Leahy decided to scrap the Rockne shift -- much to the utter dismay of many Irish fans -- and install a new offense built around the "T" formation. But this required a more accurate passer at quarterback, and Leahy had one in mind in halfback Angelo Bertelli. So the undefeated quarterback Harry Wright was moved to guard, where he earned All-America honors in 1942, and Bertelli was installed as the new quarterback, where he won the Heisman Trophy in 1943.

8. What Big Ten Conference team has Notre Dame never defeated? (question thanks to John Lukacs)

In four games against the University of Chicago, one-time member of the Big Ten Conference, the Irish went 0-4. The first game was played in 1893 and the Irish lost 8-0 to a Chicago team that was led by quarterback Frank Hering. The 1896 Irish team (pictured left) and 1897 team, now coached by Hering, lost to Chicago 18-0 and 34-5. The final game between Notre Dame and the orignal Monsters of the Midway was a 23-6 victory for the University of Chicago in 1899.

It should be noted that while the University of Chicago was a charter member of the Big Ten, the conference did not come into existence until 1896, so the first matchup between ND and Chicago was a battle between two schools with no conference affliation.

9. Notre Dame has played a game out of the country twice. When and where were these games? (question thanks to Ryan Moran)

The two trips for the Fighting Irish outside of the country were to Japan and Ireland. On November 24th, 1979, Notre Dame beat the Miami Hurricanes 40-15 in the Mirage Bowl at National Olympic Stadium in Toyko, Japan. Seventeen years later in 1996, Notre Dame traveled to Dublin, Ireland and won a 54-27 contest against Navy at Croke Park. A third international matchup is scheduled with ND set to play a rematch game with Navy in Dublin in 2012.

10. Who wrote the following?
"I will stand for the fierce and continued spirit of Notre Dame teams. Spirit is the most vital of all football factors. They got this from the Fathers at Notre Dame and from Knute Rockne. It can't and should not be destroyed. During more than one period in Notre Dame's illustrious football history was this spirit in danger of destruction. But always, something or somebody would come along to revive it."
That fantastic quote was written by none other than Grantland Rice. I haven't been able to find when or where this quote first appeared, other than this reference on Irish Legends, so if anyone can help track that down, it would be greatly appreciated.

11. What year was Notre Dame's first homecoming game?

a. 1920
b. 1929
c. 1948
d. 1957

The answer is a. 1920. Knute Rockne had the idea to bring back notable football alumni from great Irish teams of the past for the November matchup against Purdue. Over 12,000 fans were on hand to watch ND beat the Boilermakers 28-0 and see former greats like ND's first All-American Louis "Red" Salmon paired up with current greats like George Gipp (both pictured right). Perhaps the best line about the event is this one from an Irish Legends description of the weekend.
Homecoming wasn't restricted to former athletes, because more than 600 alumni showed up for the three-day celebration. Most of them cheered when it was announced that the Oliver Hotel (reunion headquarters) had seceded from the United States for the weekend, effectively eliminating enforcement of the Volstead Act (Prohibition).

12. The running backs on the 1990 team were about as talented a collection as Notre Dame has ever had. The depth chart included Jerome Bettis, Ricky Watters, Rodney Culver, Tony Brooks, Reggie Brooks, and Dorsey Levens. Which one led the team in rushing? (question thanks to K. Mullaney)

The answer is Rodney Culver, who led all rushers with 710 yards rushing. Watters was second with 579 yards. Rocket Ismail actually came in third with 537 yards and Tony Brooks notched 451 yards. Freshman Jerome Bettis picked up 115 yards while the lightly used Dorsey Levens picked up 53 yards. Reggie Brooks was actually still a cornerback in 1990, and didn't shift to running back until his season year in 1992. All told, the Irish ran for 2,760 yards and 31 touchdowns that year.

13. How many Notre Dame national championships resulted from Lou Holtz bowl victories?

The correct answer is two. Every Irish fan remembers the 34-21 Fiesta Bowl win over the West Virginia Mountaineers to give the Irish the 1988 National Championship. But in 1977, the Holtz-led Arkansas Razorbacks defeated the Oklahoma Sooners 31-6 in the Orange Bowl. This win allowed Dan Devine's Fighting Irish squad, who dispatched the Texas Longhorns 38-10 in the Cotton Bowl, to move up from 5th place to 1st place in the rankings and claim another national championship.

14. Who or what is "The Phantom" and what role did it play in ND football history?

"The Phantom" was the author of pre-game motivational letter that each Irish football player found in his locker in the days leading up to that week's game. The true identity of "The Phantom" was never revealed as far as I can determine. Some thought it was Parseghian himself, although it could have been an assistant coach.

Here's an excerpt from one of the letters, written to the players in 1966 after the 10-10 tie to Michigan State and right before the Irish traveled out to California to battle Southern Cal.
Irish! You are hurting...but unbowed and unbeaten. There are no sophmores on our squad. Having lived and fought your way back against Michigan State made all of you grow up...beyond any point of inexperience.

I remember 1964 in this same Coliseum, the Irish squad walking the long, empty walk from the field to the tunnel after our defeat. I remember their full-grown bodies -- shaking with sobs of dejection. I recall the fantastic turn of events that robbed us of a national championship. We never cried FOUL!

We're going back there. The odds are these: They are a good wound, quick football team on their home turf. We must travel there and play in warm weather. We must overcome their advantages. We are fighters-hurt tho we may be! We are aware of all the obstacles, all the memories. Go, Irish-become undefeated!!! The champions you are!

15. Who holds the NCAA record for most career touchdowns on interceptions, punt returns, and kickoff returns, with a total of 9? The player must have had at least one TD in each category. (question thanks to Joe Donovan)

The answer to this question is Allen Rossum(see page 9). Technically, the record he owns is "Most Touchdowns on Runbacks" with the caveat that said player must have at least one touchdown in at least three categories. Rossum finished with 3 touchdowns via interception return, 3 via punt return, and 3 via kickoff return. He had two TDs his sophomore year, four during his junior year, and three his senior year, with the record-breaking 9th touchdown coming in his last regular season game. On the first snap of the match with Hawaii, the Rainbow Warrior QB Josh Skinner dropped back and fired a pass that Rossum intercepted and returned for a TD.

16. How many Heisman winners faced Notre Dame during their Heisman winning year?

a. 13
b. 19
c. 24
d. 31

The answer is c. 24. Here is the list of the 24 that won the Heisman in the same year their team played Notre Dame. We lost every game unless otherwise noted.
1939 - Nile Kinnick (Iowa)
1945 - Doc Blanchard (Army)
1946 - Glenn Davis (Army) - T
1952 - Billy Vessels (Oklahoma) - W
1958 - Pete Dawkins (Army)
1960 - Joe Bellino (Navy)
1961 - Ernie Davis (Syracuse) - W
1963 - Roger Staubach (Navy)
1965 - Mike Garrett (USC) - W
1968 - O.J. Simpson (USC) - T
1972 - Johnny Rodgers (Nebraska)
1976 - Tony Dorsett (Pitt)
1977 - Earl Cambell (Texas) - W
1979 - Charles White (USC)
1981 - Marcus Allen (USC)
1991 - Desmond Howard (Michigan)
1993 - Charlie Ward (FSU) - W
1994 - Rashaan Salaam (Colorado)
1995 - Eddie George (Ohio State)
1997 - Charles Woodson (Michigan)
2001 - Eric Crouch (Nebraska)
2002 - Carson Palmer (USC)
2004 - Matt Leinart (USC)
2005 - Reggie Bush (USC)
So the overall record of Notre Dame against Heisman winners was a not-surprising 5-17-2. When you mix in the ND Heisman honorees, 44% of all the Heisman winners (31 of 71) played in a Notre Dame game in their Heisman-winning season.

17. The world premiere screening of Knute Rockne: All-American was held in South Bend on a Friday in the fall of 1940. The following day, the Irish played a game against a team whose head coach made a credited appearance in the movie. Who was the coach and what was his team?

The coach in question was Amos Alzono Stagg and his team was The College of the Pacific at the time. As part of a week-long world premiere that filled up downtown, Elmer Layden and the Irish faced off against Stagg and came away with a 25-7 win. In the movie, Stagg is one of the many famous coaches, including USC's Howard Jones, Glenn 'Pop' Warner, and William 'Bill' Spaulding, who all have cameo appearances backing up Rockne as he delivers an impassioned speech to NCAA reformers. On a related sidenote, Knute Rockne: All-American will finally be released on DVD this August.

18. Why did the late Dave Huffman wear red elbow pads while manning the center position for the Irish in the 1970's? (question thanks to Tom Hedrick)

The All-American center wore them so his mom could pick her son out of the pile while watching the game on TV. No kidding.

19. How many Heisman Trophy winners played in the 1946 scoreless tie between Notre Dame and Army? Who were they? (question thanks to Dick Meece)

The answer is four. John Lujack (1947 winner) and Leon Hart (1949 winner) played for the Irish while Army featured Mr. Inside and Mr. Outside, also known as Doc Blanchard (1945 winner) and Glenn Davis (1946 winner).

20. Among Brady Quinn, Jeff Samardzija, Victor Abiamiri, and others, ND has a number of hopefuls for the NFL draft. Since 1967, the current record for most number of Fighting Irish football players drafted in a single NFL Draft is 11. In what year did this take place?

a. 1969
b. 1975
c. 1989
d. 1994

The answer is a. 1969. When the draft was still a marathon 17 rounds, 11 ND players were selected starting with George Kunz as the 2nd overall pick and ending with Tom Quinn in the 13rd round. 1994 saw 10 Irish players drafted, though it should be noted that all 10 went in the newly-shortened 7-round draft. 10 players were also selected in the 1975 draft while only 5 players were drafted in 1989.

You can check out every ND pick in the history of the NFL Draft starting in 1935 at this website. Scroll down to "Notre Dame" and enjoy. I'll point out here that the reason I picked 1967 as a starting point in the question is because that draft was the very first AFL-NFL combined draft.

And that's all she wrote for the 2006 edition of the BGS Trivia Challenge. Thanks to all those who sent in guesses and special congrats to those who nailed a few correctly. As you can guess, a lot of the history behind these questions and answers came from the Irish Legends website. I highly recommend all ND fans take some time to browse through the expansive collection of stories, pictures, and antcedotes about the good 'ol days of Fighting Irish football.