Friday, September 21, 2007

Honoring a Legend | by Pat

This Saturday morning, put aside the tailgating for a short while and head over to the stadium, as Irish great Ara Parseghian will finally be honored with a statue at Gate D of Notre Dame Stadium. has the details.

A statue of former University of Notre Dame football coach Ara Parseghian, a member of the College Football Hall of Fame, will be dedicated on Saturday, Sept. 22, 2007, at Notre Dame Stadium.

The dedication, slated for 9:30 a.m. EDT, on the morning of the Notre Dame-Michigan State football game, will take place at Notre Dame Stadium's Gate D, which honors the Irish national championship football coaches.

All of Parseghian's former players and coaches have been invited to the dedication ceremonies - and more than 200 of them are expected to attend. John Huarte - winner of the 1964 Heisman Trophy - will be speaking at the dedication on behalf of Parseghian's former players. The general public is welcome to attend the ceremony.
The statue itself is a larger-than-life representation of Ara being carried off the field by his players after the 1971 Cotton Bowl upset over the Texas Longhorns. Notre Dame alumnus Jerry McKenna created the sculpture, making it his third sculpture of an Irish coach. He also created the statue of Frank Leahy between the Stadium and the JACC and the statue of Knute Rockne at the downtown College Football Hall of Fame.

The Era of Ara was an impressive one. 11 years coaching, 95 victories, a staggering .833 winning percentage, two consensus national championships, and of course, one famous 10-10 tie against this Saturday's opponent. Ara arrived during one of the darker periods in the program's history and instantly revived the Fighting Irish and restored them as a national power. What's more, he's remained a vibrant consigliere and champion for the program to this day. Charlie talked about Ara during yesterday's press conference and about how he values his relationship with Ara..
Q. They're unveiling a statue of Ara Parseghian on Saturday. Thoughts on that?

COACH WEIS: Ara Parseghian, a lot of people look at him as a legendary coach, great ambassador to Notre Dame. To me he's been more than that. He's been much more of a mentor. He's the first person that calls me after a loss. It's easy for people to call you after a win.

But he's always there. He's always there to give me advice on the good and the bad. I can't think of anyone that is more deserving to be honored than Ara. He's been just great to me.
Here's a clip of the 1975 Orange Bowl against Alabama, Parseghian's final game as a Notre Dame head coach. (Many thanks to T.J. for once again providing the video.)

If you want to watch more of the game, here's the second half highlights.

And here's a special that was done at halftime of the 2004 Notre Dame-Boston College game on the Ara Parseghian Medical Research Foundation, that was formed to study and combat Niemann-Pick Type C Disease. If you would like to make a donation to this worthy cause, here is the place to do so.

Finally, here's a profile of Ara from Time from 1964 that we posted a while back. It's a great read, and interesting, too, because it was written just as his first year at ND was underway. Even then, you could see the foundation he was laying for a spectacular Irish career.