Friday, June 20, 2008

Flipping through the pages | by Pat

For the last day of our look into the SI Vault, we'll just do a quick grab bag of articles that caught our eye. We'll keep the excerpts short, so make sure to click through and read the whole article on ones that interest you.

Let's start with the article detailing ND's decision to halt their 45 year bowl ban and ultimately accept a bid in the Cotton Bowl against Texas.

But, as it turned out, the real reason that Notre Dame lifted its bowl ban was money. The road to the decision was laid as early as last June when the financial committee on scholarship aid discovered it needed help. Notre Dame already was up to its statue of Moses in fund drives totaling $52 million, and, thus, some other source of revenue would be required to aid a program for underprivileged students. The committee thought of a bowl game as one possibility, believing, naturally, that Ara's team would do no worse than 8-1-1.

Then, rather surprisingly, when this was suggested to the Rev. Theodore M. Hesburgh , the president, a man who had never encouraged bowl talk, he said, "Let's think about it," dropping the hard line for the first time and offering encouragement to all those Notre Darners who had long sought bowl play.
Next up is the article about the Game of the Century. Of course, more than a few have been given that moniker. The most obvious is the 10-10 tie with MSU in 1966. Like many at the time, Ara was loudly criticized for his decision to go for the tie. Just imagine how your typical ND message board would have reacted.

Fast forward to the preview article of the '93 Game of the Century against FSU. Notice the writer, ESPN's latest million dollar contract signee, Mr. Rick Reilly and the less serious style of prose that would soon start to take over in sports journalism.

Speaking of famous (infamous) SI writers, here's an article by Under the Tarnished Dome hack writer Doug Looney. No, it's not What if Notre Dame Never Won Another Game? or Luck of the Irish, but rather, surprisingly, a fawning article on ND All-American Chris Zorich.
While consuming a catfish dinner on a recent summer evening in his home on the South Side of Chicago , Notre Dame noseguard and cocaptain Chris Zorich pauses between bites to consider a question. His eyes take on a steely glint. "My dream?" he says. "It's to knock the quarterback's head off, then watch it go rolling down the field." His mother, Zora, looks horrified. "Oh, no, Chris," she says, and buries her head in her hands.

But Zorich is not deterred. He says, "Look, whatever you can do to an opponent is never too much. I will bite somebody's head off. I will tear his helmet off. All I do is give 100 percent. I'm sorry."

Then, this small storm having passed, he refocuses on the catfish. "Pass the salt, please," he says mildly.
Let's hope Zorro gets a chance to pass on his opinion of quarterbacks to the current defensive line.

We'll end on a fun note, taking a look at the recruiting of yesteryear.

If you're looking for the spark that started the college football recruiting craze, look no further than ND grad Joe Terranova. A manager at GM by day, Joe spent his off-hours pouring over the scarce high school film that existed and produced his very own recruiting rankings starting in the mid-70s. These pun-filled Top 10 rankings eventually found their way into Sports Illustrated every spring.

In 1978, USC was Joe's #1 team while ND landed at #6, featuring "the most highly touted fullback in the nation" Pete Buchanan.

Joe was in rare form in '79. Check out the awful jokes and familiar names, though not all at familiar positions.
For the second year in a row Terranova 's winner is...Southern Cal. The Trojans landed seven offensive and defensive linemen who average out to 6'5" and 243 pounds—"more pure beef than at Oscar Mayer's Vernon packing plant." Tops among them are 6'5", 260-pound George Achica and 6'7", 265-pound Don Mosebar, the nation's two "franchise" players. "USC will win at least two of the next four national championships," according to Terranova .

The rest of the top 10:

2. Notre Dame: Also got a good haul of linemen and two blue-chip backs, Dave Duerson on defense and Roderick Bone on offense.

3. SMU: "Like Dolly Parton , Ron Meyer 's contingent is busting at the seams with talent." Included are Eric Dickerson and Craig James , "two of the top five running backs in the country."

4. Penn State : Lots of big linemen, the nation's premier tight end, Mike McCloskey, a hot quarterback prospect in Todd Blackledge and, of course, a future All-America linebacker, Jeff Hostetler .

5. Oklahoma : "So many thoroughbreds, it's rumored that they'll wear silks next season instead of those mesh jerseys." The names: Stanley (the Steamer) Wilson, Kenneth Jenkins, Darryl Goodlow, Weldon Ledbetter.

6. Stanford : In line with Palo Alto tradition, landed the nation's top quarterback, John Elway , who completed 129 of 200 passes for 1,837 yards and 19 touchdowns in just five games after 3,039 yards and 25 TDs as a junior.
The Irish fell to #5 in 1980, behind co-#1's Alabama and Ohio State...
5. Notre Dame "got help where it needed it most. Either Scott Grooms or Blair Kiel could end up the Irish signal-caller this fall. Kiel undoubtedly will do the punting and perhaps the placekicking, regardless of who runs the offense." Tim Marshall, the best defensive tackle in the country, is " Darth Vader in cleats."
...but rebounded to take the top spot in 1981.
1. Notre Dame. Rookie Coach Gerry Faust signed "a collection of athletes at least equal to the Browner, Fry, Hunter class that led to a national championship in 1977." The Irish landed such blue chippers as Quarterback Ken Karcher, touted as being possibly "another Joe Willie ," and running backs Chris Smith , who "may be the only player in America to compare favorably with Herschel Walker (from a pure strength standpoint)" and Mark Brooks , star of Faust 's juggernaut at Cincinnati 's Moeller High and Ohio 's 1980 AAA player of the year.
The follow-up class in 1982 was just as strong coming in at #2...
2) Notre Dame. The linebacking phenoms came "straight from the meat packing houses in Chicago ": Tony Furjanic (6'2", 225), John McCabe (6'3", 220) and Ron Weissenhofer (6'3", 220). Tight End Wally Klein (6'8", 240) is so big "he can eat peaches off a tree without using his hands." Allen Pinkett "is the finest tailback to enter Notre Dame since Vagas Ferguson ." Terranova picked Coach Gerry Faust 's inaugural recruiting class as No. 1 a year ago, so the Irish may be able to get that 5-6 record of last season out of their system in a hurry.
and Faust continued his strong recruiting with the #3 class in 1983.
3) Notre Dame: Gerry Faust 's "exhausting, non-stop speaking engagements" secured Robert Banks, "a 6'4", 220-pound talent out of Hampton, Va. , who could start at defensive end early in the '83 campaign," and Defensive Lineman Mike Griffin of Cleveland Heights , Ohio ("I did not see a more aggressive player on film all year"). The Irish also "landed the Mutt and Jeff of high school receivers," 6'4" Alvin Miller of suburban St. Louis and 5'9" Alonzo Jefferson of West Palm Beach , as well as Quarterback Steve Beuerlein of Fullerton , Calif.
1984, a year were ND did not appear in Joe's Top 10, was the final year that SI included Terranova's recruiting rankings. However, later in the year Joe was quoted in a fall college preview issue about the top 5 individual recruits set to play their final year of high school ball that fall. Future ND player D'Juan Francisco was listed at #3.

There are a ton of other interesting and trivia filled articles from years past in the Vault -- a search for "Notre Dame football" returns 4047 articles -- but we can't link them all. But feel free to post your favorite in the comment section.