The seeming onslaught of horrific losses since Holtz left had me convinced that Notre Dame had lost a lot of games to teams with losing records.
So I decided to check it out. And when I learned that Brennan only lost twice to teams with losing records (both in the 2-8 Hornung Heisman season of 1956), I was certain that would compare favorably with some of our more recent heroes.
Not exactly. Here you go ....
Brennan (2) -- SMU and Purdue in '56
Ara (1) -- Purdue, in his final season, 1974
Devine (2) -- Georgia Tech in '76 and Ole Miss in the '77 national championship seasosn
Faust (3) -- Purdue in '81, MSU in '83 and Purdue in '85 -- hey, Gerry wins the prize!
Holtz (1) -- Stanford in '90
Davie (3) -- Stanford in '97, Pitt in '99 and MSU in '00 -- keeping up with Gerry
Tyrone (1) -- BYU in '04 -- I knew we didn't give this guy enough time!
Chuckles (3) -- MSU in '05, Syracuse in '08 (that should count for two, at least) and Michigan in '09 (that should count for 10)
Kelly (1) -- USF in '11
and determined that Syracuse '08 was the worst team ever to beat ND in football. SU finished 3-9, and was 1-9 against FBS teams other than ND. (The win came against Louisville, who was 4-7 vs. FBS teams that year.)
This year's Northwestern team is 4-6, but was just 2-6 vs. FBS teams before upsetting ND. NU could scrape their way back to .500, but they're a 1-point underdog at Purdue this week.
We played nine teams with winning records and lost them all.
We played three teams with losing records and won them all.
Somehow, that seems appropriate.
who has a serious case to be made that he wasn't given enough time. Brennan's 5-year WP (32-18, .640) was higher than that of all the other coaches shown the door at or before the end of year 5, and he's the only one of that group to have had 3 teams finish in the AP final top 10. One wonders what Brennan might have done if given more time and resources (scholarships were reduced drastically and voluntarily by ND during his tenure). We'll never really know, because Brennan never had another head coaching job after leaving ND, despite still only being 30 years old. In fact, he's still alive, and is four years younger than Ara.
Brennan certainly was "competent," and arguably could've proven himself better than that. Kelly is competent too, even if he makes incompetent decisions far too frequently, with the latest barrage coming last Saturday. Your analysis is very fair and right on target.
You're a marvelous font of info and informed opinion on RH, but you've gone unnecessarily gaga on our first high school coach.
My bona fides for saying this: I matriculated as a freshman the same year Brennan matriculated as a college coach. We freshmen succeeded in graduating in 4 years and moved on; Brennan failed in 5 years and was properly booted.
What little success Brennan had came in his first two years: he had a huge carryover of Frank Leahy's lads, and they carried him to a strong two seasons, despite his inexperience. So a large % of his victories are really attributable to Leahy, not Brennan.
After that it was all downhill for Brennan. He did benefit from having Paul Hornung win the Heisman in his senior year, but the team's record that year was 2-7 (miraculous coincidence that Paul could win the trophy on a team so badly coached).
The students strongly wished him gone long before he was dismissed. As a matter of fact, he coming in as a high school coach (Chicago Catholic League) was the perfect antecedent of Gerry Faust, and Brennan at the end of his tenure received about as much respect as Faust did at the end of his. The FB restrictions enacted while Brennan was there had little or nothing to do with his failure; like Faust, he just wasn't ready for the big time right out of HS coaching.
The only real fun we had with Brennan around was when he had Hornung. Paul was quite a party animal. There were severe student rules in those days, including not being able to leave dorms after curfew each evening. Paul's evening usually began about at curfew, and he would take the screen off his dorm window and head to places like Cal City (sin city of the time). The Prefect of Discipline at ND (now there's an outmoded role) at the time was Father McCarragher. His chosen mission was to catch Paul sneaking out at night. He roamed the campus with flashlight in hand, searching for the wandering Hornung so he could ground him. McCarragher's handle on campus thus was "The Sneakin' Deacon with a Beacon." (Usually never quite caught up with Paul).