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The Confidential

The ACC Sports Blog

The ACC School Mount Rushmores: Notre Dame FINAL

This one was so very hard.  Notre Dame has enough names to fill out several Mount Rushmores.  One for coaches, one for quarterbacks, one for running backs, one for other football players, one for basketball, etc.  And when comparing players to coaches, the players had such fleeting careers.  Guys like Gipper, Montana, and Brown only played for four years maximum.  The coaches get to stay for a lot longer, leaving a deeper mark on programs.  And that is definitely true with Notre Dame.

We left it up to the fans to help and help they did–here and elsewhere.  And for Notre Dame, we are going to add coaches Ara Parseghian and Lou Holtz.  Want to know what a mark Parseghian left on the sporting world?  His first name is often an answer to a crossword puzzle clue.  How many mothers and grandmothers would not know what goalposts are, but know his name.  But in all seriousness… his record was outstanding… 95-17-4.  Two national titles, seven years apart.  In the 10 years before Parseghian, Notre Dame was 51-48.  In the year before he took over, Notre Dame was 2-7.  Parseghian restored Notre Dame football at a time of need.

Lou Holtz?  For all the advantages Notre Dame has, Lou Holtz took over a program that was 30-26-1 in the five preceding years.  He went 100-35-2, including a national championship.  Only Rockne has won more games for the Fighting Irish.  By comparison, in the 5 years before Lou and the 13 years after him, Notre Dame’s record has been 121-94, only slightly above .500.  Holtz’s accomplishments stand apart from his contemporaries.

So, with all due respect to the other great players and coaches, the final Notre Dame Mount Rushmore is: Knute Rockne, Frank Leahy, Ara Parseghian, and Lou Holtz.

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   Virginia Tech Final
  6. Syracuse   Syracuse Final
  7. Virginia   Virginia Final
  8. Pittsburgh  Pittsburgh Final
  9. North Carolina State  North Carolina State Final
  10. Clemson   Clemson Final
  11. Georgia Tech  Georgia Tech Final
  12. Louisville  Lousiville Final
  13. Notre Dame
  14. Duke
  15. North Carolina
  16. Florida State

For more on the Notre Dame decisions, see the original discussion…

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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