Blue and Gold Illustrated

August 2017

Blue & Gold Illustrated: America's Foremost Authority on Notre Dame Football

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Page 60 of 63 AUGUST 2017 61 5. EARL "RED" BLAIK (ARMY) — 4-3-2 Like Stoops, he coached 18 years (1941-58) and he had eight AP top-10 finishes, and two others at No. 11. His 1944 and 1945 juggernauts captured national titles and posted 59-0 and 48-0 wins versus the Irish, the former the worst-ever beating administered on a Notre Dame team. In the nine games played between the two programs, both were ranked each time, with Notre Dame never lower than No. 12. Blaik ended his career in 1958 on a high when his Cadets won 14-2 at No. 4 Notre Dame en route to a final record of 8-0-1 and a No. 3 placement in the final AP poll. 4. BO SCHEMBECHLER (MICHIGAN) — 6-4 In his 21 seasons at Michigan from 1969-89, Schembechler never won a national title, but his .796 winning percentage is right there with Stoops' .798. Notre Dame and the Wolverines met 10 times from 1978-89, and four straight triumphs against Michigan by Lou Holtz's Irish teams from 1987- 90 — the first three versus Schem- bechler — clinched the winning mark. Dan Devine was 2-1 versus Schem- bechler from 1978-80, while Gerry Faust was 1-2 from 1981-85. 3. HOWARD JONES (IOWA, USC) — 8-7-1 Before Jones and Notre Dame's Knute Rockne began the famed cross country rivalry in 1926, Jones' Hawkeyes ended the Irish 22-game unbeaten streak with a 10-7 victory in 1921. It was Rockne's lone defeat in a 40-game stretch from 1918-22. Rockne was 4-2 overall against Jones, who would win 75.1 percent of his games at USC from 1925-40 while winning or sharing four na- tional titles. 2. BUD WILKINSON (OKLAHOMA) — 5-1 The three-time national champion coach for the Sooners won 82.6 per- cent of his games and finished in the AP top 10 in 13 of his 17 seasons from 1947-63. He also handed the 1956 Irish that finished 2-8 their worst defeat ever in Notre Dame Stadium (40-0). Overall, though, Notre Dame won 83.3 percent of their games against Wilkinson, highlighted by snapping the Sooners' NCAA-record 47-game winning streak in 1957 (7-0) at Nor- man as an 18-point underdog. Head coach Joe Kuharich's ma- ligned Irish teams also vanquished OU in 1961 (19-6) and 1962 (13-7). 1. BEAR BRYANT (ALABAMA) — 4-0 Venerated often as maybe the great- est college football coach of all time, Bryant also lamented that his tomb- stone might read he never beat the Fighting Irish. What is particularly amazing is Alabama finished 41-3 against every- one else in the four seasons the Irish defeated them. The Irish vanquished 11-0 Crimson Tide teams in the 1973 Sugar Bowl (24-23) and 1975 Orange Bowl (13- 11), the former to capture the national title, and also won at home in 1976 (21-18), the first regular-season meet- ing between the two superpowers. "I don't think I'll be around for the four-pointer," said Bryant after the 1976 contest, looking ahead to the 1980 matchup. The Irish won that one too (7-0), preventing the Crimson Tide from playing Georgia in the Sugar Bowl as the reigning two-time national champ. ✦ Let The Rumors Begin … Again Throughout his 18 seasons as Oklahoma's head coach, Bob Stoops' name often was linked to major job openings in college or the NFL. A native of Youngstown, Ohio, Stoops' name arose whenever the Ohio State Buckeyes or Cleveland Browns had a vacancy, and the Sooners' head coach even admitted he was "intrigued" by the NFL. Stoops also would be mentioned for the University of Florida vacancy — various media outlets even reported he had "verbally committed" to the Gators — because he had been the defensive coordina- tor for head coach Steve Spurrier when the Gators won their first national title. And yes, Notre Dame also supposedly was in the mix in the past for Stoops, who is Catholic and whose family rooted for the Irish. When fifth-year Notre Dame head coach Bob Davie was fired in December 2001, the third-year Sooners head coach did not issue a flat-out denial when asked if he would talk should Notre Dame call. "When you answer your phone, someone's always on the other line. It's hard not to talk to them, right?" Stoops coyly replied. A day later, he issued a more emphatic denial. "Oklahoma is one of the truly special places and coaching jobs and places to play in all of college football," Stoops said. "… I have no intention of speaking with or dealing with anybody else." When Charlie Weis was fired as Notre Dame's football coach in November 2009, Stoops was per- ceived as the prime Irish target, with Cincinnati's Brian Kelly Plan B. ESPN NFL reporter Adam Schefter declared that Stoops would be the next Notre Dame coach — but retracted soon thereafter while claiming negotiations had broken down. Stoops strongly denied Schefter's report in the days following. "I will never confirm or deny whether I talk or not talk to anybody," Stoops replied to Schefter's report. "And I won't be interviewing for any jobs. I couldn't be more happy and pleased with what we're doing here. I'm not confirming or denying anything about Notre Dame or any other job. My point is this is what I love doing right now." The combination of the 56-year-old Stoops' availability, owning a home in Chicago (his wife Carol's favorite city) and Kelly coming off a 4-8 season last year is likely to create Stoops/Notre Dame specula- tion if the Irish falter again in 2017. Or it might be viewed as a ship that long ago sailed. — Lou Somogyi Bob Stoops (left) has been identified as a candidate for the Notre Dame head coaching position in the past, and could be again after retiring from his post at Oklahoma if Brian Kelly (right) is unable to get the Irish turned around after a 4-8 record in 2016. PHOTO BY BILL PANZICA

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