Notre Dame vs. USC, 1977

Football Program Cover – Notre Dame vs. Southern California, 10/22/1977

The 1977 game versus the University of Southern California is one of the most legendary games in the history of Notre Dame football all because of the color green. After warming up in the tradition blue jerseys, the team went back into the locker room to find green jerseys hanging in every locker. “Suddenly, the locker room looked like we had just won the National Title and the game hadn’t even started,” cornerback Ted Burgmeier wrote in the 1978 Dome yearbook.

The players’ excitement at the change in jerseys was magnified by the crowd’s reaction once the players came out of the tunnel and on to the field. The return to green jerseys recalled some of the programs best years under coach Frank Leahy and heralded the promise of the 1977 season.

Irish coach Dan Devine had thought about using green jerseys since he arrived at Notre Dame for the 1975 season, but hadn’t yet seized the opportunity. The importance of facing fifth-ranked USC at home in 1977 led him to make the switch. While a few coaches and others knew about the green jerseys for this game, the secret was well kept. However, the players and fans were given many hints during the week leading up to the game.

Football Game Scene – Notre Dame vs. Navy?, 1977. Coach Dan Devine with players in the tunnel.  The players are wearing green jerseys, which continued throughout the 1977 season after the USC game.

At the Friday practice before the game tennis coach Tom Fallon sang several Irish ballads to the players, including “The Wearin’ of the Green.” Coach Devine followed with stories about the plight of Irish immigrants and their struggles in America.  Later that night at the pep rally, Irish basketball coach “Digger” Phelps introduced a new cheer — “We are . . . the Green Machine.”  The players were none the wiser despite all of the hints.

Pregame activities included rolling a student-constructed Trojan horse into the tunnel and out on to the field. The horse was fifteen feet high and had room for a small number of students who were dressed as football players. The student-inspired Trojan horse recalled earlier days when pregame activities came up from the students, including parades, snake dances, bonfires, floats, and dorm decorations. Some were planned, such as the Trojan horse, while others were more spontaneous.

Football Game Scene – Notre Dame vs. Southern California (USC), 1977/1022. Students surrounding the wooden Trojan Horse on the field in Notre Dame Stadium.

Over the years, the 1977 USC game has become known as much for the Trojan horse as for the green jerseys.  The game is often referred to as the “Green Jersey Game,” however, in celebration of the 40th anniversary of the game in 2017, the Notre Dame Bookstore is selling a commemorative tee-shirt with the words “Trojan Horse Game.”

Football Game Scene – Notre Dame vs. Southern California (USC), 1977/1022. Field-level view of the wooden Trojan Horse on the football field.

Coach Devine had correctly predicted the excitement in the locker room before the game against a long-time rival. In his post-game comments he said, “I didn’t even go in the there. I had nothing to say. Everything had been said.” As the players exited the locker room, the Trojan sideline was confused, wondering if the green jerseys were being worn by students leading the team out of the tunnel. The Irish had not beaten the Trojans since 1973, and the eleventh-ranked Notre Dame team had already lost a game to Mississippi early in the season. USC, ranked fifth going into the Notre Dame game, also had one loss. The Trojans were favored by seven points.

Football Game Scene – Notre Dame vs. Southern California (USC), 1977/1022. Player Jerome Heavens (#30) running with the ball.

The pregame excitement carried over into the game with the Irish dominating on both sides of the ball. Burgmeier noted, “in order to win, we needed the help of the student body, and that we got.” Quarterback Joe Montana ran for two touchdowns and threw for two more. Linebacker Bob Golic blocked a punt and defensive end Jay Case ran it back for a touchdown. A bobbled extra point try ended up as a two point conversion for the Irish. The Notre Dame defense pressured the USC quarterback into three interceptions. The final score was 49 to 19.

Football Game Scene – Notre Dame vs. Southern California (USC), 1977/1022. Player Ken MacAfee (#81) and other players celebrating.

After the game Coach Devine commented, “It was a team victory in every sense of the word.” The Irish went on the win the remainder of their games, including a 38 to 10 victory over the Texas Longhorns in the Cotton Bowl. The Cotton Bowl win gave the Irish the national championship.

Football Game Scene – Notre Dame vs. Southern California (USC), 1977/1022. Coach Dan Devine and players celebrating in the locker room after the game.

Notre Dame Football 1913

Since the beginning of collegiate football when Princeton played Rutgers in 1869, the game has been constantly evolving.  One aspect of the game that was in flux for many years was passing.  While lateral and backward passes or pitches were legal, anything that crossed the line of scrimmage was against the rules.  In March 1888, over a month before the second-ever Notre Dame varsity game was played, Scholastic reprinted an abridged list of American football rules from Century, which described the techniques of sequential lateral passes, reminiscent of the 1982 Stanford vs. California game (minus the marching band in the end zone):

“Passing” the ball, or throwing it from one to another, is another feature of the game.  Hardly any combination of team-playing and individual skill is more noteworthy than the sight of a first-rate team carrying the ball down the field, each player taking his turn in running with the ball, and, when hard pressed, passing it over the head of an opponent to one of his own side, more fortunately situated, who carries it farther.  Considering that the egg-shape of the ball makes it the concentrated essence of irregularity, that only the most skilful player can even hazard a guess at the direction which it will take after a bound, and that an error of but an inch in the direction of a throw may carry the ball a dozen feet away from the place at which it was aimed, one may be pardoned for admiring the certainty with which individuals and teams make each point of play and combine them all into an organized system.  A “pass forward” is not allowed, and is a foul; the ball must be thrown straight across the field, parallel to the goal-line, or in any direction back of that line [Scholastic, 03/10/1888, page 391].

Sadly, the rough style of play and lack of much protective equipment led to serious injuries on the gridiron – from cuts to broken bones and even death.  Many colleges began banning the football programs.  The public, however, loved the game and flocked to newly built stadiums to see the contests.  In December 1905 as part of an effort to try to save football, President Theodore Roosevelt called upon college administrations to unite and come up with standards that would make the game safer.  One of the recommendations that eventually came out of the committee was to open up the game with the forward pass.

Once it became a legitimate strategy, the forward pass slowly made its way into the playbooks across the country for the 1906 season.  Saint Louis University is credited with being the first to legally and successfully use the forward pass.  In recapping Notre Dame’s first game of the season against Franklin, Scholastic was disappointed not to see the forward pass immediately used on Cartier Field:

The new rules were much in evidence, especially in the way of penalties, as the Varsity was penalized at least 100 yards during the game.  The rooters did not get a chance to see the new game tested, as straight football was used by the Varsity; the much-talked of forward pass and short kicks did not show up as it was hoped.  During the first half, and in fact most of the time, Notre Dame resorted to the old style of play [Scholastic, 10/13/1906, page 75].

Notre Dame and Army had both sporadically used the forward pass to success well before 1913.  However, there were still a lot of disadvantages to the forward pass such as penalties for in completions and much higher risks of turnovers than running the ball.  While many football programs were aware of the pass and occasionally used it, it was still a rarity in the game.  Proponents of the traditional style of football tried to revoke the forward pass from the rule book.  However, by 1913, many of the penalties and restrictions were removed and it came time for coaches and players to develop their athletic skills and try their hand at using the open game to their advantage.

The Eastern teams tended to stick with the old-style of play while the Western schools were more comfortable with the open passing game.  Since there had been little interconference play, Harvard, Yale, and Army were apples and oranges to Michigan, Wisconsin, and Notre Dame.  No one was really sure how to compare them to one another.  The Western schools also had the disadvantage in that many East Coast sports reporters were biased toward the Eastern schools and their style of play.

Since 1887, Notre Dame had worked her way up to the top of the Western Conference, even nabbing the title in 1909.  Louis “Red” Salmon (1902) and Harry Miller (1909) garnered third team All-America nods before Gus Dorais became the first Notre Dame player to earn first team recognition in 1913.  In 1912, the Notre Dame football team chalked up its first undefeated, untied season, under the helm of Coach Jack Marks, a Dartmouth man who taught the Notre Dame squad Eastern tactics.  While Marks never lost a game in his two years, the record was against light schedules that brought in little revenue.  The administration, students, and alumni knew Notre Dame athletics could do better.

In this vein, Notre Dame hired the talented and much sought-after Jesse Harper of Wabash College in December 1912.  Harper, who played under Coach Amos Alonzo Stagg at the University of Chicago, would assume his post of Athletic Director and coach of all varsity sports at Notre Dame in September 1913.  In those nine months, he worked hard on behalf of the Blue and Gold to schedule the most competitive opponents possible and to fill the bleachers, and thus the coffers.  Due to conflicts within the Western Conference, Harper sought to schedule teams outside of the Midwest, which proved fortuitous in the long-run for Notre Dame.  The 1913 schedule was one of the most difficult Notre Dame had seen to that point with six of seven opponents Notre Dame had never faced before.

GSBC 1/02: Football Team with a toy mule, 1913. Back Row: Assistant Coach Edwards, Emmett Keefe, Ray Eichenlaub, Albert King, Freeman (Fitz) Fitzgerald, Charles (Sam) Finegan, Coach Jesse Harper Middle Row: Ralph (Zipper) Lathrop, Keith (Deak) Jones, Joe Pliska, Captain Knute Rockne, Gus Dorais, Fred (Gus) Gushurst, Al Feeney Front Row: Allen (Mal) Elward, Alfred (Dutch) Bergman, Bill Cook, Art (Bunny) Larkin
Football Team with a toy mule, 1913.
Back Row: Assistant Coach Edwards, Emmett Keefe, Ray Eichenlaub, Albert King, Freeman (Fitz) Fitzgerald, Charles (Sam) Finegan, Coach Jesse Harper
Middle Row: Ralph (Zipper) Lathrop, Keith (Deak) Jones, Joe Pliska, Captain Knute Rockne, Gus Dorais, Fred (Gus) Gushurst, Al Feeney
Front Row: Allen (Mal) Elward, Alfred (Dutch) Bergman, Bill Cook, Art (Bunny) Larkin

The 1913 Notre Dame squad was chock-full of veterans and the students were all hopeful for another successful season; however, Scholastic complained “we know Mid-West critics too well to hope for the Western Championship this year” [Scholastic, 10/25/1913, page 80].  The Montgomery [Alabama] Adviser noted that Notre Dame’s “[p]resent prospects point to one of the strongest elevens the university [Notre Dame] had ever had” [“Twenty-Two Candidates Out at Notre Dame,” The Montgomery Adviser, 09/20/1913].

Notre Dame had an easy time with the home opener against Ohio Northern, the only previously-played team on the schedule, winning 87-0 while Knute Rockne sustained an early rib injury.  South Dakota was next and proved a bit more of a struggle, even though the scored ended up 20-7 with some late Notre Dame scores.  Alma rounded out the end of the home stretch with Notre Dame defeating them soundly 62-0.

[photoshelter-img i_id=”I0000RxoaICemHGw” buy=”1″ caption=”Football Game Scene – Notre Dame vs. Ohio Northern, 1913/1004.  Captain Knute Rockne leading the team onto Cartier Field before the first game of the season.” width=”576″ height=”469″]

The last four games were on the road, taking the Notre Dame squad to far-flung corners of the country for the first time.  The road trip started with the famous game versus Army at West Point on November 1, 1913.  Army was a big dog in the Eastern Conference, so it was a big deal to get on their schedule.  Fortunately, Army had a few dates open on their schedule and they were accommodating to Notre Dame.  When Jesse Harper was making the schedule for the 1913 season, he actually wrote to Yale a few days before Army.  Unfortunately, there is no reply in the files, so we don’t know if there was a scheduling conflict or a lack of interest as to why Notre Dame didn’t play them in 1913 but did in 1914.

Part of the legend is true – the forward pass was crucial to Notre Dame’s victory, as the Army team outweighed many of the Notre Dame players.  Notre Dame didn’t invent the forward pass, but they brought a balanced offense of running and passing played with such precision and speed as had never before been seen in a major collegiate game.  The mix of offensive plays weakened and confused the Army defense.  The plays weren’t formulated overnight and it wasn’t a secret, as Notre Dame had used such game strategy previously throughout the season.  The Dallas Morning News even predicted that Notre Dame could edge out Army with use of the forward pass balanced with Ray Eichenlaub’s running game, which was thoroughly tested out in the Alma game [Dallas Morning News, 10/30/1913].

Quarterback Charles (Gus) Dorais had perfected the timing of routes with his open receivers Knute Rockne, Joe Pliska, and Charles (Sam) Finegan so that the plays ran like a well-oiled machine.  Dorais was never under pressure and he constantly switched things up, never throwing to the same receiver twice in a row.  Dorais completed 13 of 17 passes for 243 yards and three of the five touchdowns in the air to defeat Army 35-13.

Notre Dame proved that the forward pass could be an effective weapon in an offensive arsenal and that it wasn’t just a trick play or a last-ditch option, as it had mostly been seen in the past.  The defeat of Army in 1913 gave more legitimacy to the open Western-style of playing versus the traditional, smashmouth football of the East.  If done right, the passing game allowed for more scoring in a quicker amount of time and it was safer for the players.  In regards to the Army game, the New York Times noted that “[f]ootball men marveled at this startling display of open football.  Bill Roper, former head coach at Princeton, who was one of the officials of the game, said that he had always believed that such playing was possible under the new rules, but that he had never seen the forward pass developed to such a state of perfection” [reprinted in Scholastic, 11/08/1913, page 107].

Football team members and boosters in Kingston, New York en route to West Point, 1913/1101. Including Ray Eichenlaub, Charles (Gus) Dorais, George (Hullie) Hull, Art (Bunny) Larkin, Keith (Deac/Deak) Jones, Joe, Gush (Fred Gushurst?), Em (Emmett Keefe?), Charles (Sam) Finegan, Paul (Curly) Nowers, Allen (Mal) Elward, Knute Rockne, and Mike Calnon.
Football team members and boosters in Kingston, New York en route to West Point, 1913/1101. Including Ray Eichenlaub, Charles (Gus) Dorais, George (Hullie) Hull, Art (Bunny) Larkin, Keith (Deac/Deak) Jones, Joe, Gush (Fred Gushurst?), Em (Emmett Keefe?), Charles (Sam) Finegan, Paul (Curly) Nowers, Allen (Mal) Elward, Knute Rockne, and Mike Calnon.

Notre Dame then traveled to Penn State and handed them their first defeat on home soil 14-7.  A few weeks later, Notre Dame defeated Christian Brothers College in Saint Louis 20-7, and then headed to Texas for a Thanksgiving Day game.  Notre Dame was the first school north of the Mason-Dixon line to play Texas.  Notre Dame took advantage of their time in Austin to practice at Saint Edward’s University, an institution also founded by Rev. Edward Sorin and run by the Congregation of the Holy Cross.  The extra practice paid off as Notre Dame secured a 30-7 victory.

After Notre Dame’s second undefeated, untied season in as many years, many schools tried to plan a post-season game with Notre Dame, including Louisiana State University, Michigan State, Oklahoma, and Seattle A.C.  Timing, extra training, and extraneous travel were obstacles to scheduling more games in 1913, so nothing materialized at the time, but it probably did give Jesse Harper leverage when it came to negotiating future schedules.

While already on the college football map before 1913, Notre Dame athletics was becoming better known as a household name outside of the Midwest.  Notre Dame’s student population, and thus alumni, have always been geographically diverse, so rooters met them along the way.  Notre Dame had an entire bleacher section filled with fans and alumni at West Point.  The extensive road trips starting in 1913 coupled with the pervasive anti-Catholicism in America helped Notre Dame to begin building her “subway alumni.”  Jesse Harper saw that he could build a fan base, and thus revenue, by having competitive athletic schedules.  His vision of excellence was the foundation upon which Knute Rockne continued to build when he became Coach and Athletic Director, securing Notre Dame’s place at the top of collegiate football history.



PATH 1913 Football Season
Shake Down the Thunder:  The Creation of Notre Dame Football by Murray Superber
Forward Pass by Philip Brooks
Notre Dame Scrapbook c1910-1913 [GSBC]
Notre Dame Football Scrapbook 1913 [GSBH]
GCLE 1/03

Souvenirs from the 1953 Notre Dame vs. USC Game

The Archives of the University of Notre Dame recently received a donation of interesting memorabilia from the Notre Dame vs. Southern California (USC) football game on 11/28/1953.

Football Program Cover:  Notre Dame vs. Southern California (USC), 1953/1128.
Football Program Cover: Notre Dame vs. Southern California (USC), 1953/1128.

An eight year old Felix Quesada Jr. attended the game at the Coliseum with his father. After the 49-14 Notre Dame victory, Felix Sr. and Felix Jr. made their way down to the field. As Felix Jr. recalls,

“My dad told me to stand near the ND bench as the players left the field. My dad was able to catch up with the ND players as a large crowd gathered on the field. My dad reached out and grabbed a hold of one of the player’s jersey – #9 Don Schaefer. The team wore green tear away jerseys then. The jersey did as intended, tore away, and my dad ended up with the #9 from the jersey in his hand. Don looked back, smiled, and ran into the tunnel toward the locker room.

Numeral (#9) worn by player Don Schaefer in the Notre Dame vs. Southern California (USC) football game, 1953/1128.  Felix Quesada Sr. grabbed the jersey as Schaefer was leaving the field.  The tear-away jersey gave way, leaving the number in Quesada's hand.
Numeral (#9) worn by player Don Schaefer in the Notre Dame vs. Southern California (USC) football game, 1953/1128. Felix Quesada Sr. grabbed the jersey as Schaefer was leaving the field.  The tear-away jersey gave way, leaving the number in Quesada’s hand.

“My dad and I went to the locker room exit and waited for the players to come out. They exited and we got to meet Don and eight other players and get their autographs – it was a thrill to meet Don and Ralph Guglielmi, etc.

Chin strap worn by player Nick Raich in the Notre Dame vs. Southern California (USC) football game, 1953/1128
Chin strap worn by player Nick Raich in the Notre Dame vs. USC football game, 1953/1128

“This is one of my fondest memories of time spent with my dad. He saved these mementos during his life and passed them to me.”

Football Tickets:  Notre Dame vs. Southern California (USC), 1953/1128
Football Tickets: Notre Dame vs. Southern California (USC), 1953/1128

The Notre Dame Archives gratefully thanks Felix Quesada for this generous donation that helps to document Notre Dame’s history.

Rupert Mills

Only four Notre Dame student athletes have earned monograms in four different sports – Alfred Bergman (Class of 1914), Rupert Mills (1915), Johnny Lujack (1948), and George Ratterman (1949).  Mills earned monograms in baseball, basketball, track, and football.  Along with his athletic ability, Mills was president of the Senior Law Class and appeared in several theatrical productions at Notre Dame, along with his roommate Ray Eichenlaub.

Baseball Game Scene - Player Rupert Mills at bat, c1915.
Baseball Game Scene – Player Rupert Mills at bat, c1915.

After graduating in 1915, Mills signed an iron-clad contract to play professional baseball for the Newark Feds in the Federal Baseball League.  When the team disbanded after the 1915 season, Mills was intent on getting his piece of the $3000 contract.  Pat Powers, President of the ball club, was also under pressure from other players who had contracts.  He tried to buy Mills’ contract in April of 1916 at $500 and to place Mills on a minor league team.  Mills refused the compromise “and then Powers is reported to have said that if Mills wouldn’t be ‘reasonable’ and insist upon the fulfillment of his contract, Mills would have to report each day at the deserted Federal league park… each day at 10am, remain until noon, get back at 2pm and linger until 6pm.  That’s what Mills will have to do seven days a week, over a stretch of twenty-two weeks, rain or shine.  And Powers figures that the loneliness of the job will soon make Mills ‘open to reason'” [Scholastic, April 29, 1916, page 488, quoting an unnamed Newark newspaper].

[photoshelter-img i_id=”I0000ZU_irgYqEWs” buy=”1″ caption=”Men’s Basketball Team, 1913.  Rupert Mills is seated at the far left” width=”576″ height=”401″]

Mills called Powers’ bluff, showing up at the field every day to play “solitaire baseball”:

“I’ve played 12 games since the season started,” said Rupe, “and won ’em all. What’s more, working alone has whipped me into great trim.  It’s kinda hard to slam ’em out, beat the ball down to first and then have to call myself out.  The first thing I know I’ll be chasing myself to the club-house and Pat Powers is liable to fine me $1o.  When I get through in this league I ought to be a valuable utility player.

“If I don’t lead the league in everything but errors it won’t be my fault.  So far I have knocked the cover off the ball every time.  Everything is a hit because Rupe Mills is official scorer.  I simply can’t fail to hit safely, because I do my own pitching.

“The other day I wrenched my ankle while sliding and I had to put myself in to run for me.  I have a dickens of a time trying to pull a double steal.  Everything else is a set-up.

“I do mostly pitching in the morning to get wise to my curves for the afternoon game. So far this year I haven’t been in any extra inning games.”

[Scholastic, May 20, 1916, page 533, quoting the Toledo News Bee].

Football Player Rupert Mills, full-length portrait in uniform and monogram sweater, c1913.
Football Player Rupert Mills, full-length portrait in uniform and monogram sweater, c1913.

Later that summer, after many a game of solitaire baseball, Mills and Powers eventually settled their differences.  Mills went on to play for a farm club associated with the Detroit Lions and for the Denver Bears.  His baseball career sputtered out and he enlisted in the Army during World War I.  After being discharged, Mills decided to concentrate on a career in law.

Roommates Rupert Mills and Ray Eichenlaub in costume for the senior play "What's Next?," April 1914
Roommates Rupert Mills and Ray Eichenlaub in costume for the senior play What’s Next?, April 1914

Professionally, Mills held political positions including State Senator of New Jersey and Under Sheriff of Essex County.  However, he did remain athletically active in local baseball and polo clubs.  Mills was also a representative of Notre Dame in the East, sending reports of potential athletic recruits to his old teammate, Athletic Director Knute Rockne.

On July 20, 1929, Mills was visiting with political friends at Lake Hopatcong when he convinced a reluctant Louis Freeman to explore the lake in a canoe.  Freeman was not a good swimmer, which turned fatal for Mills.  The boat capsized 100 feet out and Freeman panicked, although he was wearing a life vest.  Mills rescued Freeman, towing him back to shore with the help of an oar.  About twenty feet from shore, Mills apparently suffered a heart attack and sank below the water.

Rupe was only 35 years old and his death was a shock to the Notre Dame and New Jersey communities.  Notre Dame Alumnus reported that “twenty thousand persons lined the blocks around St. Augustine’s Church.  The funeral procession was one of the largest and most impressive ever seen in the county” [September 1929, page 22].  The New York Herald Tribune reported, “Troop A of the 102nd Cavalry, of which Mr. Mills had been captain since the World War, led the procession from the home to the church. … Behind the regiment came the mourners and behind them marched World War veterans in uniforms, members of the Veterans of Foreign Wars, the American Legion and the Essex Troop.  A police platoon under the command of Police Commissioner McGregor and a contingent of 200 firemen completed the procession” [July 25, 1929, page 2].



PATH:  Rupert Mills
UATH 16/78-79
Baseball Anecdotes by Daniel Okrent
GMIL 1/11
GTJS 7/28
GNDS 28/24
GKLI 1/12

Bookstore Basketball

Bookstore B-Ball Tournament Finals
The Basketball Bible (The King James Brogan Version) lists 3 virtues: faith, hope, and the greatest of these, the charity stripe.  If you like Hoosier Hysteria, you’ll love An Tostal’s Bookstore B-Ball tourney.  It’s a single elimination tourney with the finals being played on Frivolous Friday.  A lot of the all-star players (including Chuck Taylor) are already conversing about what type of shoes to wear. — 1972 An Tostal Program

The Notre Dame Bookstore Basketball Tournament began in the spring of 1972 as part of An Tostal.  Organized by students Vince  Meconi and Fritz Hoefer, the first tournament only drew 53 teams, but it became an instant classic.  Inspired by standard pick-up game rules, the structure of Bookstore Basketball has changed slightly over the years, but the spirit of competition remains true to its core after all these year.

Bookstore Basketball game scenes with fans on the roof of the old South Quad bookstore, c1970s
Bookstore Basketball game scene with fans on the roof of the old South Quad Bookstore, c1970s.  During the 1977 finals, the number of spectators on the roof of the Bookstore caused the roof to cave in.  The finals were then moved to courts behind the Joyce Center to accommodate the crowds with bleachers.  After Rolfs Aquatic Center was built, the finals were move to Stepan Courts in 1984.  The finals are currently played on the courts by the new Bookstore.

Bookstore Basketball is a single-elimination, student-run, outdoor tournament, drawing hundreds of five-person teams.  The games are played to 21 points and early rounds are self-refereed.  In 1983, 512 teams competed and the Guinness Book of World Records deemed it the largest five-on-five outdoor basketball tournament in the world, a title Bookstore Basketball still touts today as the number of teams continues to grow past 700.

The tournament’s name, coined by alumnus Jimmy Brogan, is derived from the courts behind the old South Quad Bookstore, now occupied by the Coleman Morse Center, not from any involvement from the Hammes Bookstore.  The courts were also a parking lot, so they came with particular hazards – from manhole covers to standing water.  With the popularity of Bookstore Basketball, it was only natural that courts accompany the new Hammes Bookstore when it opened in 1998.  To accommodate all of the teams, games play day or night, in all weather – sunshine, pouring rain, or under a blanket of snow.

Observer article regarding registration for the first annual Bookstore Basketball Tournament, 1972
Observer article regarding registration for the first annual Bookstore Basketball Tournament, April 10, 1972

Athletic abilities vary widely among the teams, from varsity athletes to players who have barely picked up a ball.  For many teams, Bookstore is all about the creativity and potential notoriety of team names and costumes.  Crazy team names have always been an important part of Bookstore Basketball.  Usual themes among the names are puns, innuendos, trash-talk, self-deprecation, celebrities, and current events.  The following is a selection of names over the years:

  • One Guy, Another Guy, and Three Other Guys
  • Dolly Parton and the Bosom Buddies
  • Hoops I Did It Again
  • 5 Guys Even Dick Vitale Wouldn’t Watch Play Basketball
  • We’re Short but Slow
  • 5 Girls Who Got Cut from the Cheerleading Squad
  • Bobby Knight & the Chair Throwers
  • Picked Last in Gym Class
  • Unlike Tiger Our Rebounds Don’t Text Back
  • Weapons of Mass Seduction
  • Time-Out, I’ve Lost My Pants
  • We Make the Ladys Gaga
  • By George, We’re Good This Year

Every year teams push the envelope of the names.  The student commissions were originally responsible for censoring anything potentially offensive and were generally vigilant about the policy.  However, some names have slipped by the censors over the years.

See Mary Beth Sterling’s book on the history of Bookstore Basketball to see the full listing of teams from 1972-1992.  More recently, student Scott Frano has written a guide to choosing a name, with examples from the 2013 tournament for ND Today.  The full listing of teams and seeds for the current year can be found on the Bookstore Basketball website.

The idea of costumes for teams probably came from the Jocks vs. Girls basketball games played during An Tostal in the 1970s.  The members of the men’s varsity basketball team would play a team from Saint Mary’s College while wearing boxing gloves to help level the playing field.  Some years the jocks add to the ensemble – “various dresses, hats, false boobs, aprons, jock straps, and whatever else Chris ‘Hawk’ Stevens and his cohorts could find to don in order to further entertain the crowd” [Sterling, pages 12-13].

Bookstore Basketball Game Scene - Tom Keely's Team, 2002/0415
Bookstore Basketball Game Scene – Bootney League All Stars vs. Cuidado Piso Mojado, 2002/0415.  The members of Cuidado wore large cardboard caution signs on their backs, which proved difficult to defend against, but also difficult to maneuver.  The All Stars easily won the first-round game 21-1.

Bookstore Basketball is open to the students, faculty, and staff of the University of Notre Dame, Saint Mary’s College, and Holy Cross College.  Women compete in the tournament alongside the men, but there is also a separate women’s bracket, which was established in 1978.  Notable members of the administration, faculty, and staff have participated with as much gusto as the students.  University President at the time, Rev. Edward “Monk” Malloy fielded the team All the President’s Men.

In 1978, Rick Telander wrote an article on Bookstore Basketball for Sports Illustrated, giving the tournament national coverage.  The idea of a such a tournament piqued the interest of a number of other colleges and universities.  The coverage also drew the attention of the NCAA, which declared that current basketball players were ineligible to play Bookstore Basketball because of its competitive nature.  Notre Dame protested the ban of student-athletes from participating in a student-organized event, but were eventually unsuccessful.  Since 1979, varsity basketball players could only compete if their eligibility had expired or if they hadn’t dressed for the season. Bookstore rules only allows one varsity basketball player per team.  Football players can only number three, unless mixed with a basketball player, in which case a team can only have one of each.

Bookstore Basketball Game with Football Coach Lou Holtz and player Tim Brown on outdoor courts, April 1987
Bookstore Basketball Game with Football Coach Lou Holtz and player Tim Brown, April 1987

While it may seem unfair to compete against varsity athletes, many students welcome the challenge.  As alumnus Ken Tysiac recounts, “I think most students, if given the choice between losing by two points to some no-names and losing by 20 to LaPhonso Ellis’ club, would choose the latter.  It gives them something to remember the tournament by, and maybe something to tell their grandchildren” [Sterling, page 9].  Besides competing with campus celebrity, here’s also the thrill of potentially defeating a team with varsity athletes and coaches.  While teams that reach the finals tend to have varsity athletes, a number of championship teams had no varsity athletes on the roster.

Since 1995, Bookstore Basketball has partnered with the Notre Dame Alumni Club of Jamaica to raise money for Jumpball.  Jumpball aims to teach fundamental life-lessons to children of Jamaica through the game of basketball.

Notre Dame Magazine
GPUB 16/32
GPHR 35m/10475

Look out for the Manhole Cover: A History of Notre Dame’s Bookstore Basketball Tournament, by Mary Beth Sterling

“Look out for the Manhole Cover,” by Rick Telander, Sports Illustrated, 05/15/1978

“Bookstore Basketball XXXI: Crazy Costumes Take the Court, All Stars drive through road signs on way to victory” by Kerry Smith, The Observer, 04/16/2002

“How to Name Your Bookstore Team,” by Scott Frano, ND Today

“That Would Make an Excellent Team Name,” by Rick Reilly, ESPNMagazine, 03/27/2010

“The Censored List,” run by Carroll Hall alumni

Notre Dame vs. Alabama

Before the 2012 Championship Game held on January 7, 2013, the Notre Dame and Alabama football teams have met six times:  1973 Sugar Bowl, 1974 Orange Bowl, 1976 at Notre Dame, 1980 and 1986 at Birmingham, and 1987 at Notre Dame.  Of the six meetings, Notre Dame dominates the series 5-1, dropping only the 1986 game.

For the 1976 and 1987 home games, the Notre Dame students kept up the long tradition of banners showing their support for the Irish.

Football Game Day - Notre Dame vs. Alabama, November 1976.  A banner sign hanging between Grace and Flanner Halls that reads "Beat 'Bama."
Football Game Day – Notre Dame vs. Alabama, November 1976.
A banner hanging between Grace and Flanner Halls that reads “Beat ‘Bama.”
A banner hanging from Pasquerilla Hall East that reads "Tide may work in hot but the Irish work in all temperatures," regarding the Notre Dame vs. Alabama football game, 1987.Caption:  "A Sign of Pride.  As Pasquerilla East shows, the Fighting Irish spirit is evidenced all over our campus, not just in the football stadium."
Football Game Day – Notre Dame vs. Alabama, 1987.
A banner hanging from Pasquerilla Hall East that reads “Tide may work in hot but the Irish work in all temperatures.”
Caption: “A Sign of Pride. As Pasquerilla East shows, the Fighting Irish spirit is evidenced all over our campus, not just in the football stadium.”


In first meeting of these two football titans, Notre Dame, ranked #3, faced a #1 Alabama team in the 1973 Sugar Bowl with the title on the line, a scenario echoed in the 2013 Championship Game.  In 1973, the two teams were well matched and the game was hard fought, coming down to the final minutes.  In the middle of the fourth quarter, Alabama scored a touchdown to take the lead, but missed the point-after attempt, which would come back to haunt them.  Notre Dame responded with a field goal to go ahead by one point.  With a few minutes left on the clock, an Alabama punt pinned the Irish back to the one-yard line, a defensive dream position to potentially set up a final opportunity for the Tide to retake the lead.  On third and eight and backed up against the end zone, Notre Dame quarterback Tom Clements found backup tight end Robin Weber wide open.  Weber caught his only pass of the season from Clements for a gain of 35 yards.  With a fresh set of downs, the Irish was able to run out the clock out, securing the 24-23 win and the National Championship Title.

Four students standing outside in winter with snow with a banner with a drawing of the Leprechaun and text that reads "Oh Alabama, don't you cry on me, the Irish'll roll the Crimson Tide way back to No. [number] 3" in regards to the 1973 Sugar Bowl football game, December 1973.
Four students standing outside in winter with snow with a banner with a drawing of the Leprechaun and text that reads “Oh Alabama, don’t you cry on me, the Irish’ll roll the Crimson Tide way back to No. 3” in regards to the 1973 Sugar Bowl football game, December 1973.
Football Game Scene - ND vs. Alabama, Sugar Bowl, 1973/1231.  Coaching legends Bear Bryant (Alabama) and Ara Parseghian (Notre Dame) talking on the sidelines.
Football Game Scene – Notre Dame vs. Alabama, Sugar Bowl, 1973/1231.
Coaching legends Bear Bryant (Alabama, left) and Ara Parseghian (Notre Dame, right) talking on the sidelines.


Notre Dame Football Media Guide 2012
, Notre Dame Athletic Department
The Fighting Irish Football Encyclopedia, Michael R. Steele
“Irish Edge Tide for National Championship,” Notre Dame Athletic Department
“Epic Battle of Opposites: Irish vs. Tide in 1973,” Bill Pennington, NY Times, 12/08/2012
GDOM 9/60B
GDOM 1987 (uncataloged)
GDOM 11/02F
GRMD 11/04


Decoration Weekend

A lot of hoopla surrounded Football Homecoming during the 1920s through the 1960s.  Events for the weekend usually included alumni reunions, a dance, a pep rally and bonfire, a parade, and hall decorations.  The decorations were often elaborate, constructed solely by students on a very limited budget.  A healthy dose of competition with trophies hanging in the balance added to the excitement of the hall decorations.

Some years had a theme, such as “The Spirit of ’76” was used in 1964, celebrating 76 years of Notre Dame football.  Often, the themes revolved around the opponent for the Homecoming game, such as “Wreck Tech” when Notre Dame played Georgia Tech in 1953.  Below are some examples of Homecoming decorations through the years:

Students putting up decorations on Badin Hall for Football Homecoming Weekend, c1930s.
The decorations feature a drawing of coach Elmer Layden and text that reads “Notre Dame Fights.”


Football Game Week – Students constructing hall decorations for Morrissey and Lyons Halls for Homecoming, 1957


Football Game Day decorations on Sorin Hall with banners that read
“We Got Army’s Ass, Now We’ll Get Navy’s Goat,” 1965.


Students constructing a Leprechaun figure on South Quad for
Homecoming decorations, 1965. Below is the finished product.


Football Game Day decoration of a large Leprechaun on South Quad,
smashing a shillelagh through a Navy battleship, 1965.



Dome yearbook
GBBY 45F/4958
GNDS 23/18-19
GPUB 47/62


1928 Olympic Tour

Ever the entrepreneur and marketing guru, Athletic Director Knute Rockne organized a six-week European tour with a stop over to watch the Track and Field events at the 1928 Olympic Games in Amsterdam.  He recruited friends, colleagues, and former Notre Dame athletes across the country to act as representatives to sell the tour within their social and professional circles and to the general public.  Many of these representatives held positions as coaches and athletic directors at colleges, high schools, and local athletic clubs.

According the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, “The Rockne pilgrimage is expected to be the largest tour ever conducted by an individual to the continent, and it is the first time that an individual has arranged for the use of a boat of such great tonnage as the Carmania for a trip to the old world” [“Rockne to Conduct Olympic Tour,” January 30, 1928].

 Form letter regarding the details of Knute Rockne’s Olympic Tour, 1928

The nearly 200 participants were made up of Rockne’s friends and colleagues, including the likes of Pop Warner, Harry Stuhldreher, and Tom Lieb, college students, single men and women, and families.  The party departed New York City on July 20, 1928, and returned on September 2nd.  During the six-week summer trip, they visited England, Holland, Italy, Germany, Switzerland, and France.  Due to the success of the 1928 trip, it is likely that Rockne would have organized future Olympic excursions had he not met his untimely end on March 31, 1931.


PATH 3-5-Ol Folder
UADR 22-23
Rockne to Conduct Olympic Tour,” Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, January 30, 1928
Many Will Journey with Rockne abroad for Olympic Events,” St. Petersburg Times, March 27, 1928

William J. Burke Golf Course

In the Fall of 1929, the William J. Burke Memorial Golf Course in the southwest corner of campus opened for use of Notre Dame students, faculty, clergy, and friends of the University.  The course was donated by Notre Dame Trustee William J. Burke, President of the Vulcan Last Corporation of Portsmouth, Ohio.  Vulcan was involved in a wide variety of industries and its divisions included the Vulcan Golf Company and the Vulcan Aircraft Company.  Burke never played the course – he died suddenly of a heart attack in July 1928.

Aerial view of campus with the Burke Golf Course in the foreground, c1933. Construction of the golf course required the permanent closure of public access to Dorr Road, which ran east to west through South Quad.

Interest in the game began to grow around the turn of the 20th century.  In 1901, a course was created on the north side of St. Mary’s Lake [Scholastic, 05/04/1901, page 522].  In the 1910s, students were known to play on the quad in front of Badin and Bond Halls.  Otherwise, students had to venture off-campus to courses in South Bend.  As with other sports such as baseball, the students organized golf clubs.  The number of interested students continued to grow, which propelled the team to varsity minor sport status in 1923.

Male students playing golf on the Burke Memorial Golf Course with South Dining Hall in the background, c1930s

The 18-hole course was first shortened to accommodate the building of the Rockne Memorial in 1939.  More land was taken in the 1950s for the construction of Pangborn and Fisher Halls.  In 1995, the back nine was sacrificed for the construction of the West Quad dorms – O’Neill, Keough, McGlinn, and Welsh Family Halls.  These new halls became necessary for the displaced male students of Grace and Flanner Halls when they were converted from residential halls to office space.  The women of Siegfried and Knott Halls were moved to McGlinn and Welsh Family to balance the gender mix on West Quad.

Burke Memorial Golf Course – View of the first hole sign post with construction equipment in the background, 1995



PNDP 30-Go-04
UPCO 9/101-106
GNDL 6/21
GBBY 45G/0559
GSCO 1/63

Baseball Clubs

For most of the second half of the 19th century, baseball was the king of sports at Notre Dame.  Games were played in the spring and fall and at special events such as Founder’s Day, Commencement, and field days.  The students organized baseball clubs, complete with directors (usually faculty or staff members) and students filling the traditional officer positions of president, treasurer, and secretary.  An 1894 topographical survey of campus shows five baseball fields and one football field at Notre Dame.  Certainly pick-up games also occurred on good-weather days elsewhere on campus.

Star of the East Baseball Club Team, including John Nester, Crawford, T. Mall (?), McNulty [Anthony or Joseph], and James Rahilly, c1885

Some clubs only lasted a season or two, while others remained organized for many years.  The more successful teams included Juanita, Enterprise, Star of the East, Star of the West, Excelsior, Mutual, Young America, University Reds, and University Blues.  The most famous player to come out of the Notre Dame Baseball Clubs was Adrian Constantine “Cap” Anson, who was a student from 1866-1868 and a member of the Juanita team.

Full page from a scrapbook with a photo of the Minim Baseball Team, 1889, and the University Blues Baseball Club

In the 1890s, Notre Dame assembled a varsity team to compete against teams from other colleges and universities.  The growth of the student population at the end of the 19th century necessitated more dormitories, which transformed the look of intramural athletics at Notre Dame.  Students formed an allegiance to their dorm and their place of residence was a part of their identity.  They formed teams with fellow dorm-mates and took the name of the hall as their team name.  In the early part of the 1900s, competition was fierce between the teams from Sorin, Corby, Carroll, Brownson, and Walsh Halls, as the names of Juanita and and Excelsior faded into the history books.

Star of the West Baseball Club, Champions of Notre Dame, 1872. Individual portraits of Leo McOsker, Samuel Dum, William Dum, Charles Berdel, Brother Camillus, Charles Dodge, Dennis Hogan, Peter Reilly, Charles Hutchings, Benjamin Roberts, Mark Foote, and Frank Arentz [or Arantz]


Notre Dame: One Hundred Years by Arthur J. Hope, CSC
GNEG 9A/24:  Topographical Survey Map of Notre Dame Campus, 1894
GFCL 61/06
GSBA 2/18
GMLS 4/01