Blue and Gold Illustrated

August 2020

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

Issue link:

Contents of this Issue


Page 51 of 55

52 AUGUST 2020 BLUE & GOLD ILLUSTRATED BY LOU SOMOGYI O ne of Notre Dame's great ambassadors, Brian Boulac, passed away June 3 at age 79. To me, he was my genera- tion's version of Edward "Moose" Krause. For 50 years, from his freshman year as a football player for head coach Knute Rockne in 1930 until he retired from his role as the school's athletics director in 1981, Krause earned the moniker "Mr. Notre Dame." There can be only one Moose, but Boulac carried on the torch as the consummate "Notre Dame man and gentleman" for his own 50-year stint, first as a freshman football player in 1959 through his retirement as an administrator in 2009. "From my perspective, being a Notre Dame employee is not a job. It is a vocation," he would say. As an 8-year-old who was born into a strong Catholic upbringing in Walla Walla, Wash., Boulac's first experience with Notre Dame was its 27-7 victory at the University of Wa s h i n g t o n i n 1949. That Irish s q u a d , l e d b y head coach Frank Leahy, went on to win the program's third national title in four years. "My father took me to Seattle to watch the game, and on the way back I said, 'I'm going to Notre Dame,'" said Boulac, who devotedly listened to all the Notre Dame games on radio thereafter. A star athlete first at Gonzaga Prep and then Olympia High, Boulac won 10 varsity letters in four different sports, and was first contacted by Irish head coach Terry Brennan in 1958 before enrolling at Notre Dame as a tight end under first-year mentor Joe Kuharich in 1959. During the four-year Kuharich era, the Fighting Irish never had a win- ning record (17-23 overall) — but Bou- lac's affinity for the school only grew. "I was amazed by the spirit on the campus even though we had such a poor record," he recalled. "One of the strengths of Notre Dame is that your roommates are not varsity athletes. When we walked into the dorm, we were part of the dorm … we went to class together and went to eat together." Here are some of my own recollec- tions of "Coach Bou." *** One day in September 2006 I stopped by Boulac's office in the Joyce Center — one of 12 he had through the decades — to inform him that former Fighting Irish All- American teammate and longtime NFL star Monty Stickles had died. "How well did you know him?" I asked. He gave a smirk … and then pulled out a dental bridge in his upper mouth to answer the inquiry. During one of his first practices as a freshman, Boulac's intensity was frustrating Stickles so much that Stickles walked behind Boulac, turned him around by the shoulders and clocked him in the mouth, dis- lodging two of his teeth. (Years later, Stickles wore "the dirtiest player in the NFL" label as a badge of honor.) Boulac and Stickles were then in- volved in a melee before senior cap- tain Ken Adamson gave the business to Stickles. Boulac's first start was as a sopho- more versus Navy and Heisman Tro- phy winner Joe Bellino. "I remember vividly in the second half how the guy across from me said, 'You're the biggest 195-pound guy I've ever seen,'" Boulac said. "I was actually 225, but that was a [sports information director] Charlie Calla- han thing. I weighed 195 one day as a freshman after I had the flu, and that's how I was listed most of my career. "I was 240 as a senior, but still listed at 200." *** A physical education major with a desire to pursue a coaching career, Boulac graduated with 152 credit hours, or 32 more than required, dur- ing his undergraduate years. He also was in the last Notre Dame gradu- a t i n g c l a s s (1963) with a physical edu- cation major. A f t e r t r y - i n g o u t f o r the NFL's St. Louis Cardi- nals, Boulac was released just in time to return to grad- uate school at Notre Dame to pursue his master 's degree in educational administration. He also served as a graduate as- sistant for that year 's freshman class that featured one of the two or three strongest line harvests in Notre Dame history, led by future first-round picks Alan Page, Kevin Hardy, Tom Regner and Paul Seiler. When Ara Parseghian was hired as Notre Dame's head coach in 1964, he tabbed George Sefcik as the freshman coach and asked Boulac to remain on the staff as a second-year graduate assistant. "The most fortunate moment of my life," Boulac said. Boulac remained at Notre Dame to pursue a doctorate and continued to work on the staff as an assistant coach of the freshman. The lone interruption of his time at Notre Dame occurred in Boulac was an integral part of the Fighting Irish athletics department for five decades, serving as a student-athlete, coach and administrator. PHOTO COURTESY FIGHTING IRISH MEDIA Memories Of 'Coach Bou' Brian Boulac carried on Moose Krause's ambassador mantle for his alma mater

Articles in this issue

Archives of this issue

view archives of Blue and Gold Illustrated - August 2020