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The Confidential

The ACC Sports Blog

The ACC School Mount Rushmores: Notre Dame

The Confidential has been having some fun with league-wide coaches Mount Rushmores.  Football and Basketball, plus polls for each of football and basketball to share your thoughts.  In fact, it was so sufficiently fun and controversial that we are going to do school-wide Mount Rushmores now.  And we will only put three people on the list, leaving you–our readers–to comment as to who should be the fourth.  We will not do polls anymore.  For today, let’s go with a school that is in the ACC, not in the ACC, or partially in the ACC (depending on how you feel about it): Notre Dame.

As we discussed previously, these school-wide Mount Rushmores are limited to sports only–players and coaches.  That being said, athletes that have gone on to have careers that have furthered their legend are rewarded also.   And negative publicity will also be factored in.  We do not believe that USC would put OJ Simpson on its Mount Rushmore.  It is what it is.  Admittedly, there will be a recency bias too.  While historical accomplishments are typically quite impressive, coaching college football (as an example) in 1955 was a lot different than coaching today, where coaches rarely get 5 years to make their mark anymore.  Similarly, in an era of up to 14 college football games or 40 college basketball games, as well as daunting pressure from the fans and media, today’s game is more challenging.  That’s our opinion and we are sticking to it.

Let’s see… does Notre Dame have anyone notable in its history?   Just kidding.

As a preliminary matter, the Confidential understands that Notre Dame has had players in a variety of sports.  Did you know that baseball greats Cap Anson and Carl Yastrzemski attended Notre Dame?  The former was a racist, the latter played basketball.  Who knew?  We’ll leave it to you to judge where they stand in Notre Dame history.  For basketball purposes, Adrian Dantley and Kelly Tripucka had outstanding careers, especially Dantley.  Bill Laimbeer and John Paxson also had lengthy careers in the NBA after stints for the Fighting Irish.  And Digger Phelps has his own brand of unique.  But Notre Dame is a football school.  If Notre Dame’s Mount Rushmore is going to have a non-football player, it is up for you–the fans–to make that happen.  The Confidential’s top three will be football-related, end of story.

The Confidential gives the first spot to Knute Rockne His life was cut short by a plane crash, but his time at Notre Dame is the stuff of legends.  You know how Lambeau Field is named after Curly Lambeau?  Well, Rockne coached him.  You know how Frank Leahy won several championships for Notre Dame?  Rockne coached him.  The Four Horseman?  Rockne coached them.  Win one for the Gipper?  That was Rockne.  And Rockne won several national titles of his own, posting a ridiculous 105-12-5 record.  He was an American icon, not just a Notre Dame icon.  

The #2 spot goes to Frank Leahy.  Like Rockne, Leahy coached Notre Dame for only a short time–roughly eleven seasons (he lost two to service in World War II).  His .864 winning percentage is second only to Rockne.  Leahy won four national championships (perhaps five, depending on how you count them), edging Rockne.  Given the dearth of titles between Rockne and Leahy, it is fair to credit Leahy with rebuilding the Notre Dame winning mystique. 

The #3 spot for Notre Dame is also difficult.  With 50 players and coaches in the College Football Hall of Fame, where do you begin?  Ara Parseighian started up another new era for Notre Dame in the 1960’s/1970’s, winning two national titles.  There are seven Heisman Trophy winners for Notre Dame, with perhaps Paul Hornung and Tim Brown being the most notable in the modern era.  Alan Page went from Notre Dame to the NFL to the Minnesota Supreme Court.  You’ve heard of Joe Montana and Joe Theismann.   Lou Holtz?  John Huarte?  George Gipp?  The list goes on.

And now it is your turn to let us know who you think should be #3 AND #4. Let’s hear from some Notre Dame fans!

Who will be the Confidential’s third and fourth on its Mount Rushmore for Notre Dame?

Other Mount Rushmores:

  1. Maryland Preliminary   Maryland Final
  2. Boston College    Boston College Final
  3. Wake Forest   Wake Forest Final
  4. Miami   Miami Final
  5. Virginia Tech
  6. Syracuse   Syracuse Final
  7. Virginia
  8. Pittsburgh
  9. North Carolina State
  10. Clemson
  11. Georgia Tech
  12. Louisville
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11 thoughts on “The ACC School Mount Rushmores: Notre Dame

  1. Joe Montana is strong… as is Tim Brown and Raghib Ishmael.
    I think the Heisman Trophy puts Brown over the top.

    for #4, why not Jack Swarbrick for leading the Irish into the future by joining the ACC!

  2. Montana & Holtz? Why not.

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  10. FLP_NDRox on said:

    No argument on 1 and 2…obviously. If we were making a Rushmore for the university generally Rockne would be on there as #2 (ND founder Fr. Sorin as #1 and longtime president Fr. Hesburgh at #3) and you could make an argument for Leahy at the 4 spot (personally, I’d go with former Rockne supervisor in the Chem Dept., Fr. Neiuwland who was big in developing synthetic rubber, but that’s just me). I think you have to go with Ara at 3 for essentially the same reason that you went with Leahy at 2. The fifties were as bad as Notre Dame ever was, and Ara led us back again to the Promised Land when many if not most thought the Irish would fade away in the then new era of college football.

    Dan Devine, Ara’s successor and the villain of Rudy, would be the 4th according to “The Shirt”, a Notre Dame charity project, from 1992.

    I disagree. I personally would go, albeit reluctantly, with Lou Holtz. Devine was Ara’s immediate successor, and won his MNC 4 years after Ara’s final one. Lou, like Leahy and Ara before him, came to a down Notre Dame program and again turned it around when many in the media again thought it couldn’t be done. Also, like the others, he was a great cheerleader for the University.

    I thought about a player for the 4 spot, but there’s so much similarity with the main outlines of their story to not want them together. Plus, how do you pick just ONE of the great players at ND? Gipp would have to be the first choice, but 1920 is a long time ago…even if he still holds school records. If you don’t choose him, how does one decide even between Heisman winning QBs Angelo Bertelli, Johnny Lujack, Paul Horning, and John Huarte? Heck, most non-ND fans wouldn’t even know those names, and would be thinking of Theissman and Montana. And that’s just the quarterbacks. Leon Hart won the Heisman as a lineman, which has to at least merit some consideration. It’s not too off the mark to say that each football position at Notre Dame could support a Rushmore.

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