Friday, May 27, 2005

Pencils down | by Jay

First off, a mea cupla: BGS = morons. It was soon apparent after publication of the quiz that several of our clues were either misleading or simply wrong, and of course our intrepid readers here and elsewhere quickly zeroed in on the errors and rightly took us to task. We'll document below where our original text diverged from the Truth. (Note to staff: that new fact checker Jayson Blair doesn't seem to be working out.)

On to the answers...

1. Who was Notre Dame's coach during the program's longest winning streak, how many games was it, and which opponent ended it?

Lou Holtz presided over Notre Dame's longest winning streak, a 23-game stretch that was ended by Miami in 1989. Frank Leahy coached a much longer unbeaten streak, going 39 games in 1946-1950 without a loss, but including two ties.

A couple of other "consecutive-style" records for you:

• The record for consecutive losses is 8, under Joe Kuharich, all during the 1960 season.

• The longest unbeaten streak at home is a marathon 93 games, lasting 23 years from 10/28/05 to 11/17/28 (with only 3 ties). Carnegie Tech finally knocked us off with a 27-7 victory.

• And how about consecutive games where the Irish gave up no points at all? That'd be 9 shutouts in a row, in 1903. I fully expect Charlie Weis to challenge this record in the near future.

2. What was the last away game for which Notre Dame travelled by train to get there?
a. Army (at Yankee Stadium) (1941)
b. Navy (at Baltimore) (1954)
c. Michigan State (1966)
d. Pittsburgh (1972)

Answer: (c), Michigan State in 1966, also known as "The Game of the Century", the epic 10-10 tie that ended with ND running out the clock. As related by Rocky Bleier in his memoir "Fighting Back", the train ride actually had some impact on the game:
The train ride to State was another experience. Their fans were standing on the platforms in Battle Creek and Kalamazoo, some even stood along the tracks, in cornfields and on dairy farms-jeering and holding sheet signs: "Bubba for Pope," "Hail Mary, full of grace, Notre Dame's in second place." None of that, however, was as bad as our arrival in East Lansing. As I disembarked, I noticed the metal steps were slippery with ice. Behind me, I heard a yelp. It was my roommate on the road, Nick Eddy. He'd slipped, missed his grab for the handrail, and reinjured his bruised shoulder. He was doubled over, crying with pain and with the instant realization that he couldn't play in the biggest game of his career. People called it "The Game of the Century" that year... which was not especially important, because somebody makes that statement about one game in nearly every college football season. What is significant is that even today, some experts are still calling it "The Game of the Century."
Notre Dame was ranked #1, State was #2. ND trailed 10-0 as late as the fourth quarter before pulling even. With the ball on his own 30 and 1:10 left, Ara decided to run out the clock and settle for the tie, sparking the heartarche, confusion and controversy that would live with this game forever. Bleier described the scene in the locker room:
Almost everybody was crying. The emotion of the game, the hitting and violent contact, was converted into the emotion of the locker room... the tears, the hugging, the trite phrases. Then Ara spoke to us, "Men, I'm proud of you. God knows I've never been more proud of any group of young men in my life. Get one thing straight, though. We did not lose. We were Number One when we came, we fell behind, had some tough things happen, but you overcame them. No one could have wanted to win this one more than I. We didn't win, but, by God, we did not lose. They're crying about a tie, trying to detract from your efforts. They're trying to make it come out a win. Well, don't you believe it. Their season is over. They can't go anywhere. It's all over and we're still Number One. Time will prove everything that has happened here today. And you'll see that after the rabble-rousers have had their say, cooler minds who understand the true odds will know that Notre Dame is a team of champions."
Ultimately, the tie didn't hurt the Irish, and they were awarded the National Championship after throttling USC 51-0 in the final game of the season. Michigan State ended up #2.

3. Who was Warner Brother's original choice to play Knute Rockne, in Knute Rockne: All-American, only to have the choice nixed by Notre Dame administrators?
a. Humphrey Bogart
b. James Cagney
c. Ronald Reagan
d. Clark Gable

The answer is (b), James Cagney. According to IMDB, Cagney, eager to break out of gangster roles, lobbied hard for the part of Knute Rockne. The image “” cannot be displayed, because it contains errors.But Cagney had signed a petition in support of the anti-Catholic Republican government in the Spanish Civil War, and Notre Dame, having control over all aspects of the filming would not okay Cagney for the role.

Now, as cherished as it is among Irish fans, "Knute Rockne, All American" really isn't that great of a movie, let alone a good football flick. In fact, I don't think it would be in my top ten football movies of all time (of the ones I've seen. I'm still holding out on PCU). Okay, it's kind of cool for the scenes on campus and the sight of Ronald Reagan punting footballs, but it's no North Dallas Forty.

10 Football Movies I've Seen That Are Better than Knute Rockne, All-American: The Freshman, Remember the Titans, Brian's Song, The Longest Yard, North Dallas Forty, Lucas, Horse Feathers, Jerry Maguire, Black Sunday, and yes, Rudy.

4. One of Rocket's kick returns came against a team that hadn't allowed a kickoff or punt return for a touchdown in 37 years. Who was it?

Answer: Michigan, 1989. And as we all know, he did it twice that day. To quote a chastened Bo Schembechler: "He's faster than the speed of sound...and we didn't tackle him."

Video bonus: here's Rocket's first return. And here's #2. Clilps courtesy of Charlie Kenny, ND '63 -- and there's some more video available at his site.

I usually play these every morning when I get up, as sort of a daily affirmation. It helps start my day off on the right foot.

The image “” cannot be displayed, because it contains errors.5. Rick Mirer, Kevin McDougal, and Ron Powlus each had the same thing happen during their last game in Notre Dame stadium. What was it?
a. They lost.
b. They were knocked out of the game.
c. Their last attempted pass was a touchdown.
d. Their last attempted pass was an interception.

Ahh, the first of our mea culpas. The answer is (c) Their last attempted pass was a touchdown, but originally we omitted the "attempted" and that caused some confusion.

You see, in Mirer's last game at ND, the legendary "Snow Bowl" against Penn State in 1992, Mirer actually threw the ball one more time after the touchdown to Bettis, on a two-point conversion to Reggie Brooks to ice the win. In terms of official game statistics, however, a two-point throw doesn't count as an "attempted pass", and therefore our original wording was a little misleading. A couple of keen observers called us on it. Know-it-alls.

6. Everyone knows that ND has seven Heisman Trophy winners. But over the years, there were eight players that finished either 2nd or 3rd in the Heisman voting. Name as many as you can. (Hint: a couple of them eventually did win it).

This might have been the toughest question in the quiz. A handful of names were repeatedly mentioned: The image “” cannot be displayed, because it contains errors.Brown, Snow, Ismail, Theisman, Browner, etc...mostly people just taking wild stabs in the dark. Here's the complete list:

• Bill Shakespeare, 3rd, 1935 (first year of the Heisman)
• Angelo Bertelli, 2nd, 1941 (Bertelli was a sophomore)
• Johnny Lujack, 3rd, 1946 (eventually got it, so you can't feel too bad)
• Nick Eddy, 3rd, 1966 (Spurrier won it this year)
• Terry Hanratty, 3rd, 1968 (the Juice took the trophy)
• Joe Theismann, 2nd, 1970 (second to Plunkett)
• Ken McAfee, 3rd, 1977 (tough to unseat Earl Campbell)
• Rocket, 2nd, 1990 (screwed)

7. Who was Notre Dame's opponent in the Dedication game for the new Notre Dame Stadium in 1930? Hint: They are on the 2005 schedule.

Another misfire on our part. Originally we had no mention of the "Dedication" game, and ShermanOaks over on NDN caught us with our pants down. "The hint suggests the answer is Navy, the team ND played in the dedication game of the Stadium, " wrote Sherman. "But the first game was actually played one week earlier against SMU -- who is not on our schedule in 2005 or anytime soon."

Sherman's right: the intended answer was Navy, who played in the Dedication Game in 1930. But SMU was actually the first opponent at ND Stadium.

This one might be good for a bar bet.

8. Lou Holtz finished behind Rockne with the second-most career victories (100 to 105). What coach is third on the list?

Ara Parseghian, 95 wins. Leahy's third with 87. After that it drops off.

9. And on the flipside of that...what Notre Dame coach has the most career losses?

That would be Lou Holtz, 30 losses. Faust and Davie came damned close, with 26 and 25 respectively. Of course neither of those posers had anywhere close to 100 wins.

In perusing the all time wins & losses list, it still amazes me at just how dominant Rock was. 105 wins...12 losses. In 13 seasons. Hell, Bullet Bob had 12 losses by the beginning of his third year.

10. What are the three designs to ever appear on a Notre Dame helmet? (The little American flag on the back doesn't count.)

Okay, class...if you've been doing your required reading you know from Will's fantastic History of the ND Uniform we posted last week that the three designs were white numbers, a green shamrock, and little blue stars. A couple people mentioned a black stripe from the Lattner era, and I suppose that counts, too.

11. Notre Dame had a self-imposed bowl ban for 45 years. What bowl games bookend this bowl game absence, and who were the opponents?

We played in our very first bowl game in 1925, beating Stanford in the Rose Bowl, then we promptly went into hibernation for 45 years before reemerging for the 1970 Cotton Bowl against Texas (a loss). The image “” cannot be displayed, because it contains errors.I'm trying to think of an equivalent's like Roy Hobbs disappearing from baseball for decades before coming back to the game, or maybe the Iceman being chipped out of the glacier by Arctic scientists and breathing fresh air again for the first time in years.

Interestingly, it was Father Hesburgh that gave the go-ahead to jumpstart our bowl participation again -- and chiefly because the $200,000 income could be used to finance scholarships for blacks and Spanish-speaking students. According to this ND Mag profile of Father Joyce, the money from the 1970 Cotton Bowl went, at Hesburgh's suggestion, to minority scholarships, reinforcing the policy that athletic monetary surpluses go for educational purposes, rather than, as the case at many big-time athletic schools, flowing back into athletic department coffers.

12. Georgia Tech plays a decent role in Notre Dame's football history. Which is not true?
a. They were the program's 500th victory.
b. They are the only program that Rudy played against.
c. They were the last team to beat Coach Leahy before he retired.
d. They were the first team to play in the post-expansion ND Stadium.

The answer, as many guessed, is (c); they were NOT the last team to beat Leahy before he retired. That distinction belongs to Michigan State, who beat the Irish in Leahy's second-to-last year, 1952.

Leahy went undefeated (with one tie) in 1953, his final year under the Dome.

13. In 1963, a Notre Dame game was cancelled on account of the death of President Kennedy. Who was the opponent?

The cancelled game was a November 23rd match at Iowa.

“That Notre Dame chose not to play Iowa in football is a small but significant tribute to a man who loved sports, the late President John Fitzgerald Kennedy,” wrote the Scholastic at the time. In comparison, every NFL football game was played on Sunday, two days after the assassination. Many college football games were also played.

According to an article appearing in the New York Times immediately following Kennedy’s assassination, Fr. Hesburgh personally pledged to the Kennedy family that 100 Masses would be offered for President Kennedy in the weeks following the assassination.

In his tribute, Fr. Hesburgh wrote, “May this sad day be not one of darkness, no triumph for the powers of evil, but the birth of a great new light that will for years to come inspire others to great deeds, come what may.”

The last time ND cancelled a game was in the wake of 9/11, when an ND-Purdue tilt was rescheduled from its September date to later in the year.

14. Four ND players have been selected #1 overall in the NFL draft. Who were they?

Another goof (!) on our part. I was going from memory on this one, but according to, there were not four, but FIVE Irish #1 picks over the years:

Angelo Bertelli, 1944, to the Boston Yanks
Frank Dancewicz, 1946, to Boston
Leon Hart, 1950, to Detroit
Paul Hornung, 1957, to Green Bay
Walt Patulski, 1972, to Buffalo

In terms of pro success, Hornung has to be frontrunner in this group. He played 11 years, was a four-time All-Pro, two-time MVP, won four championships with Lombardi's Packers, and was a first-ballot NFL Hall of Famer. He still holds the record for most points scored in a 12-game NFL season (176).

And all of this as a running back, after winning the Heisman as a split-T formation quarterback.

15. ND has had many consensus first-team All-Americans through the years. What position on the field has produced the most Irish All-Americans?
a. Quarterback
b. Guard
c. Defensive back
d. Linebacker

This question gets a little tricky when you start looking back into the archives, because so many of the early-era guys were full two-way players and probably made their AA bonafides on both sides of the ball. Likewise, positional specifications changed over the years; do you group running backs with full backs? How about ends, tight ends and split ends?

However, in looking at the list, it's pretty clear that ND has produced more All-American Guards than any other position, with 13, and that satisfies our quiz question. Hunk Anderson, Dick Arrington, Jack Cannon, Gerry DiNardo, Larry DiNardo, Al Ecuyer, Pat Filley, Moose Fischer, Nordy Hoffmann, Mirko Jurkovic, Bert Metzger, Tom Regner, and Clipper Smith were All-American guards for Notre Dame.

The rest of the All-American positions break down thusly: Quarterbacks (10); Offensive Tackles (10); Running Backs, but not Full Backs (9); Defensive Backs, including Corners and Safeties (8); "Ends", listed as such (8); Centers (6); Linebackers (5); Split Ends and Flankers (5); Defensive Ends (4); Defensive Tackles (4); Full Backs (4); and Tight Ends (2).

16. Since the inception of the new college overtime rules in 1996, ND has been involved in five matches that went to OT. What were they, and what were the outcomes?

The image “” cannot be displayed, because it contains errors.At one point we listed the question with four OT games, but then I checked my stack of polaroids and my short-term memory kicked in and I remembered the Washington State game from two years ago. There are indeed five overtime games that ND's been involved in:

• 1996 vs Air Force. Lost 20-17.
• 1996 at USC. Lost 27-20 (ended the 13-year unbeaten run).
• 2000 vs Nebraska. Lost 27-24.
• 2000 vs Air Force. Won 34-31.
• 2003 vs Washington State. Won 29-26.

That makes Willingham undefeated in overtime, Davie .500 and Holtz O-fer. More useless trivia for you.

17. True or False: Leon Hart is the only lineman (of any school) to ever win a Heisman.

Patently false; fellow end Larry Kelley won it for Yale in 1936, the second year of the award. After that, it's been all Quarterbacks, Running Backs and Wide Receivers as far as the eye can see. Except for Hart, of course, and Charles Woodson, who frankly owes his trophy to Tim Brown.

18. What NCAA record does Tony Driver hold?

Most fumble returns for touchdowns in a single game, with two in the 2000 bout against Navy. Tony actually shares this record Minnesota's Tyrone Carter who set it in 1996.

As far as other Irish record holders go, John Carney's got a raft of kicking records on the books (Most Consecutive Field Goals Made 40-49 Yards, stuff like that). And there are a couple of other scattered achievements.

But Rocket's got the coolest record: he shares the distinction of returning two kickoffs for touchdowns in a single game with a few others, of course, but he's also the only guy in NCAA football history to do it twice in two games ('88 vs Rice, '89 vs Michigan).

19. From Knute Rockne on, ND has had 15 coaches. How many of them attended Notre Dame as students?

This is quite amazing, and the answer fully surprised me. From Rockne on, 8 of 15 coaches have been students at ND.

That's right, Rockne, Hunk Anderson, Elmer Layden, Frank Leahy, Ed McKeever, Hugh Devore, Terry Brennan, and of course, Charlie Weis all attended Notre Dame, and everybody but McKeever graduated (he transferred to Texas Tech).

So when the coaching carousel starts turning again, you might pay better attention to those folks stressing the importance of a "homegrown" coach and clamoring to keep it "in the family". Turns out tradition's on their side.

20. The namesake of this blog is taken from Grantland Rice's famous article on the Notre Dame win over Army in 1924. What newspaper was Rice writing for?

Grantland Rice penned his famous "Four Horsemen" article while a writer for the New York Herald-Tribune.'s got the story:
It was 77 years ago that a dramatic nickname coined by a poetic sportswriter and the quick-thinking actions of a clever student publicity aide transformed the Notre Dame backfield of Stuhldreher, Crowley, Miller and Layden into the most fabled quartet in college football history.

"Outlined against a blue, gray October sky the Four Horsemen rode again. In dramatic lore they are known as famine, pestilence, destruction and death. These are only aliases. Their real names are: Stuhldreher, Miller, Crowley and Layden. The image “” cannot be displayed, because it contains errors.They formed the crest of the South Bend cyclone before which another fighting Army team was swept over the precipice at the Polo Grounds this afternoon as 55,000 spectators peered down upon the bewildering panorama spread out upon the green plain below."

George Strickler, then Rockne's student publicity aide and later sports editor of the Chicago Tribune, made sure the name stuck. After the team arrived back in South Bend, he posed the four players, dressed in their uniforms, on the backs of four horses from a livery stable in town. The wire services picked up the now-famous photo, and the legendary status of the Four Horsemen was insured.

"At the time, I didn't realize the impact it would have," Crowley said later. "But the thing just kind of mushroomed. After the splurge in the press, the sports fans of the nation got interested in us along with other sportswriters. Our record helped, too. If we'd lost a couple, I don't think we would have been remembered."

After that win over Army, Notre Dame's third straight victory of the young season, the Irish were rarely threatened the rest of the year. A 27-10 win over Stanford in the 1925 Rose Bowl gave Rockne and Notre Dame the national championship and a perfect 10-0 record.
And lo, a blog was born.

Hope you enjoyed the quiz. If you have any good trivia questions for us, please don't hesitate to send them along, and we'll be happy to pose them to the constituency.