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Ghosts of football past

Chris Khorey | Friday, August 26, 2005

I was walking by the stadium the other day on the way to class in DeBartolo when I noticed the huge new banners hanging in the concourses.

The sight of the old players got me to thinking. As Coach Charlie Weis and the players work hard preparing for the season opener in Pittsburgh, I realized I should take a moment and reflect on those players, coaches, and students that gave this school the greatest of all college football traditions.

There were the brave “footballists” in 1887 that learned the game from Michigan’s experienced team in less than an hour and then proceeded to give the Wolverines all they could handle. As the members of the marching band looked on, Notre Dame lost just 8-0 to Michigan in the first ever intercollegiate game for the Irish.

There were the brothers Michael and John Shay, who wrote the Notre Dame Victory March and performed it for the first time in 1908.

There were students Gus Dorais and Knute Rockne, inventing the forward pass on the beach at Cedar Point and then torching opponents with it.

There was Rockne, after he became coach, leading the Irish to an astounding 105-12-5 record over 13 seasons as head coach.

There were Coach Frank Leahy’s Lads, who returned from World War II to go undefeated over their four years under the Dome and win three national titles.

There was the Golden Boy, Paul Hornung, who won the Heisman Trophy despite playing with two broken thumbs.

There was the 1966 defense lead by Alan Page and Jim Lynch that allowed only 38 points all season en route to the national championship.

There was Rudy Reuttiger, the “5-foot-nothin’, a hundred and nothin'” walk on that somehow reached his dream of playing football for Notre Dame.

There was Joe Montana, eating chicken soup to overcome hypothermia and then re-entering the 1979 Cotton Bowl in time to lead the Irish to a comeback victory over Houston.

There was Lou Holtz’s 1988 team led by Tony Rice that won Notre Dame’s most recent national championship by routing West Virginia 34-21 in the Fiesta Bowl.

There was the 1998 team that ran all over defending national champion Michigan in a 36-20 blowout victory.

There was the 2002 team that was left for dead before the season started but burst onto the national scene by winning the first eight games of Tyrone Willingham’s tenure.

And now we have the 2005 Irish, led by Weis. Optimism is high on campus that he can lead the team back to the glory days of Rockne, Leahy, Parseghian, and Holtz.

So fellow Domers, get ready for Sept. 3, because here come the Irish!