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Brey Picks Up a Fourth, Joe Harden

A couple of years ago Mike Brey picked through the bin of overlooked recruits after the bigs had feasted on their McDonalds' All-Americans and nabbed a small school diamond in the rough from New Jersey named Russell Carter. Carter may have turned into Notre Dame's best player by the end of this year. This spring signing season, Brey may have found two more in wings Jonathan Peoples and Joe Harden who yesterday indicated he would soon be Irish. It's pretty much a done deal," said Harden, who averaged 17 points and 10 rebounds in leading the Rams to a 31-4 record and the CIF Division III runner-up spot. "When he calls me later this week, I'll make it official."

Harden is a anywhere between 6'5" and 6'7" (not sure which is "in his bare feet",) has played guard and inside for his St. Marys team in Northern California, really wherever he is needed. The good news is that's a great combination for the three spot where Notre Dame has been unable to land a consistent threat who's big enough to go inside and deft enough to add an outside scoring threat (Miller,Graves.) His pictures on the St. Mary's web site indicate Harden has the ability to get above the rim and his experience as a guard should serve him well on the perimeter, which is where he'll play with three guards already slated for the back court (Jackson, McAlarney, Peoples.)

Harden would appear to be a great late in the game pick-up for Brey who already has Luke Harangody (Bamm Bamm,) Tory Jackson (Pebbles - kidding) and Jonathan Peoples, a group that quite unexpectantly stacks up well with last year's class, considered Brey's best at Notre Dame.Joe Harden, 6-5 JR SG Stockton (Calif.) St. Mary’s.

Greg Hicks of Scout saw Harden at Pangos and had this to say:

"Harden had an outstanding camp, displaying a very good outside shot and a great feel for the game. He’s much bouncier than we remembered him from last summer and, overall, he’s a good athlete. He’s got a solid frame and should end up pretty strong by the time he gets to college. He’s got great hands on defense – he had a ton of deflections and steals. He’s very good at ripping the ball from unsuspecting opponents who let him get too close. Harden’s unselfishness was refreshing in a camp full of gunners. We’ve said it before, but it bears repeating: in an age where very few kids know how to play the game, the ones that do get it stand out in a very obvious way. Harden gets it and that’s why he is, in our opinion, a high major prospect."

Scout's blurb on Harden reads: "Harden has a great feel for the game. May end up a two or three. Solid frame, moves well and terrific instincts. A likely mid major prospect who could go higher."

But his local press is an even better read.
Sure they were the top-seeded Division III team in the Sac-Joaquin Section, but how could they make a serious playoff push without one of their star players?

Harden, always the consummate team player, has had to take charge offensively of late, turning up his scoring output during his team's playoff run.

In the NorCal quarterfinal game, Harden exploded for 40 points to lead St. Mary's in a 95-80 shoot-out victory over Seaside. He followed that performance with a 30-point effort in a 64-49 semifinal win over DeAnza. In the NorCal title game against Sacramento, he only scored 13 points, but that was just enough as the Rams won a defensive struggle 37-35.

"He just produces on both ends," Green said. "Obviously his scoring, but he rebounds, handles the ball and helps out on defense. He just does so many things well right now. We wouldn't be here without him."

Harden's production has also helped his college stock, with more coaches from around the country showing interest in the senior. Major programs such as Notre Dame, Virginia and USC have been contact with him, as well as mid-majors, like UC Santa Barbara, Loyola Marymount and San Diego.

Although Green is quick to point out his star player is not focused on that right now.

"He's gotten more attention, but that's not what drives him," Green said. "He's playing like he's focused on just helping us win as much as possible."

"A lot of our guys have stepped up," Harden said. "Joe Reyes has filled his (Simi's) shoes, making big shots. Ty Kelly, a starter all year, has really stepped up when we needed him. I think that's what a championship team does, a lot of guys make big plays."

Added Harden: "It's just been fun. We're just enjoying it. Probably a lot of people didn't pick us to go this far, so we're just going out and having fun and enjoying it."


Joe Harden scored a career-high 40 points and pulled down 14 rebounds as top-seeded St. Mary's advanced to the CIF Northern California Regional semifinals for the first time in 27 years.

"Tonight, we needed 40 because we couldn't stop (Seaside)," coach Ken Green said after the Rams' 95-80 victory over eighth-seeded Seaside in the Division III showdown on Tuesday night at Morelli Gym. "We definitely had an advantage height-wise, and we were patient enough. We were able to find (Harden) cutting and slashing to the basket."

St. Mary's will face No. 5 DeAnza of Richmond (24-6), a 81-58 winner over Oroville, at 7 p.m. Thursday in a semifinal game at Delta College.

Harden scored 16 of his 40 points as the Rams (29-3) jumped out to a 30-13 lead on 11 of 14 shooting, but it was senior guard Joe Reyes, who connected on four 3-pointers in the first quarter, who sparked St. Mary's.

"When the first one went in, I got more confidence," said Reyes, who finished with 16 points. "They left me open, and I hit them. I knew we needed to get a good start. I was just the spark to get us going."

Harden, who scored his previous high (36 points) against Edison this season, had two dunks, including a one-handed jam and a thunderous slam on a breakaway.

"Thanks to Ty Kelly - he hooked me up with both of those (dunks)," Harden said. "We had some guys step up, and they gave us a little energy - we fed off it."The Rams remained hot in the second quarter, stretching their lead to 50-31 at halftime."They shot the ball extremely well that first quarter, and after that, we had a lot of defensive breakdowns," Trojans coach Kelvin Garnett said."That first quarter set the tone for the game, and we got ourselves in a big hole. If we played the same intensity of the last 12 minutes, it might have been a different ballgame."


St. Mary's senior Joe Harden will play the shooting guard or small forward positions in college, but he does not mind playing all over the court for the Rams this season.

"You get to work on all of your game instead of just one aspect," the 6-foot-7, 210-pound senior said.

Because of Harden's versatility and unselfish attitude, St. Mary's (28-3) has won its first Sac-Joaquin Section title since 1989 and earned the top-seed in the Division III CIF Northern California Regionals. The Rams will host eighth-seeded Seaside at 7 p.m. today at Morelli Gym.

"Joe makes it easy for our staff," Rams coach Ken Green said. "He's willing to accept any role - whether it's point guard, power forward or center. There's not a position he can't play, and he's played them all."

Harden, who averages 17 points and 10 rebounds, recently was named most valuable player of the Tri-City Athletic League and has earned the attention of Division I college basketball coaches by both his prep accomplishments and his efforts on a Fresno-based AAU team.

Harden plans on visiting several schools after the season, and his list includes an eclectic mix of schools from Notre Dame, Virginia and Kansas to UC Santa Barbara and Loyola Marymount.

"A lot of the Big West and WCC schools said I could potentially start as a freshman," Harden said. "If I played high-major basketball, I'd have to work on a few things and possibly redshirt. I think I want to play at the best place where I can play."

Before settling on basketball, Harden was among the top teenage tennis players in California. He also played baseball, football, soccer and hockey.

"In the seventh and eighth grade, I kind of narrowed it down," Harden said. "I wanted to be pretty good at one, rather than mediocre at all of them."

One advantage that the Rams have today over the visiting Spartans is size. Along with Harden, the Rams start 6-6 point guard Mark Payne, who averages nine points and 5.5 rebounds. Junior Joe Brum and sophomore Patrick Jemerigbe both average eight points.

Seaside, which lost to third-seeded Archbishop Riordan of San Francisco 72-53 in the Central Coast Section championship, makes its first NorCal appearance since 1992 and the first with 10th-year coach Kelvin Garnett.

Jermaine Carter leads the Spartans with 14 points is averaging 17.3 in the playoffs.

"It's going to be a challenge for us," Garnett said. "We need to contain and box out. (Not doing that), killed us against Riordan."

Green said he was impressed with what he saw of Seaside on film and knows that any team that contends for a CCS championship is a dangerous one.

"The CCS is a very tough section, and to get to the finals of that (tournament) is a major accomplishment," Green said. "Their strengths are their quickness and their tenacity. They're playing their best basketball right now, so we more than have our hands full."


Sure they were the top-seeded Division III team in the Sac-Joaquin Section, but how could they make a serious playoff push without one of their star players?

The answer: Lodi native Joe Harden.

The 6-foot-7 senior with shaggy, surfer-blonde hair has scored in flurries, rebounded like a madman and come up clutch time and time again.

"I kind of know my role, if it's to score points then I try do my best at it," Harden said. "We needed it the last couple games. Coach told me that I needed to step up and do whatever it takes to win."

Harden did whatever took and now he has his Rams in the school's first-ever state title game.

It came as no great surprise that when Joe Harden's glorious three-year career at St. Mary's came to an end, he left to a loud, heartfelt ovation.

What was a little shocking was that it was opposing players, from Artesia of Lakewood, who led the applause.

James Harden, who'd been in Joe Harden's face guarding him throughout the game, hugged him. So did Artesia sophomore Malik Story.

Shawntell Norman, a 6-foot-11 bear of a player who'd traded elbows with Harden underneath, walked to midcourt, turned and clapped as Harden made his way down the sideline to the Rams' bench.

The gesture screamed class act on the part of Artesia, which was well on its way to winning the California Interscholastic Federation Division III basketball championship, 60-41, by the time Harden fouled out with 3:17 left.

It also spoke volumes about Harden.

Artesia, ranked sixth in the country by USA Today, saw enough film of St. Mary's to know Harden was the player it had to stop if it was going to win a fourth title for the school. If holding him to 17 points and seven rebounds constitutes a stop, the Pioneers succeeded.

They did so by fronting him on the perimeter with their own Harden, James, and sticking the behemoth Norman underneath to impede his drives. It worked to limit Harden to seven first-half points.

"I've been face guarded this season, but usually I'm taller or quicker than the person guarding me and I can get by him," Harden said. "James is my size and he's quick."

It took until the fourth quarter for Harden to get into a scoring rhythm, the kind of flow that led him to score 40 in the first round of the Northern California playoffs, 31 in the second.

He penetrated and took feeds from his teammates to deliver those rolling lay ups that are something of a trademark. He'd scored eight in a row during a two-minute span and looked like Joe Harden. At the defensive end, the whistle blew and his game, his season, his Rams career was over, 3 minutes and 17 seconds shy of the final buzzer.

He showed no great emotion as he left the floor for the last time, stopping to hug his coaches and teammates as he made his way to a chair. There were no tears. He held his head high.

"It was a great senior year," Harden said. "We shared a lot of good times, and went farther than any St. Mary's team has ever gone, so I couldn't ask for a better season. It was quite an accomplishment. I'm proud of this team."

As much as he shared the credit with his teammates, he had to have felt he was going 1-on-5 in the state title game. With senior point guard Mark Payne on crutches, his foot broken, it was left to Harden to take the ball up the floor for the Rams.

Defensively, he took his 6-foot-7 self into the middle of the Rams' 2-3 zone and bellied up to the taller, thicker Norman.

"He's been like that all year," coach Ken Green said. "He'd say, 'Wherever you want me, just tell me. In college he'll play on the wing, but because of his ball handling skills, we needed him back."

Harden has yet to pick a college. He's visited UC Santa Barbara, and plans visits to Notre Dame, San Diego, Loyola Marymount and Virginia.

The team that signs him gets something more than a guard with ball handling, shooting and rebounding skills.

"He's a great student, has a strong work ethic and is a very good teammate," Green said. "He's been so unselfish, sometimes too unselfish."

Arriving at St. Mary's with great expectations already upon him - and playing on the sophomore team as a freshman - didn't faze Harden. Neither did playing big-time talent in big-time summer league games.

His success and growing reputation never breached the head under that floppy blond hair. Harden's ego never ran ahead of his talent. As good as he was on the court, he was of equal quality off of it.

That, as much as leading the Rams to their first-ever state title game, will be his legacy.

"I could have gone to Lodi," Harden said. "My sister (tennis player Kate Harden) did, but my friend (Payne) was going to St. Mary's and we'd played AAU ball together. Then coach came here and it all worked out. I couldn't ask for a better four years. It's gone by fast, but I've made great friendships."

And left a great impression on fans and opposing players, alike.

Press Clippings

Joe Harden Named "Player of the Week"

The Record named Joe Harden it's player of the week March 15, 2006. This is the third time this season that Joe has been named a Player of the Week.. Joe scored scored 84 points in three CIF Northern California playoff games, including 40 in a 95-80 win over Seaside. He is a Division 1 college prospect

Joe Harden scored a career-high 40 points and pulled down 14 rebounds as top-seeded St. Mary's advanced to the CIF Northern California Regional semifinals for the first time in 27 years. The Rams' posted a 95-80 victory over eighth-seeded Seaside in the Division III showdown. Joe Reyes had 16, Mark Paine had 16 and Ty Kelly had 10 in the win. St. Mary's moves on to the second round of the NorCals on Thursday at SJ Delta's gym.

Joe Harden scored 31 points and all other starters scored as top-seeded St. Mary's beat De Anza High School 65-49 to advance to the CIF Northern California Regional championship game at ARCO Arena against Sacramento HIgh.

Joe Harden and Jackie Gemelos Named Players of the Year

St. Mary's seniors Joe Harden and Jacki Gemelos were named the most valuable players of the Tri-City Athletic League for boys and girls basketball, respectively.

Men's Basketball Takes First Section Crown Since 1989

The Rams Men's basketball team overcame a strong Sacramento team to earn a 44-38 victory over the Dragons. With the win in the Division III final at ARCO Arena on Friday night, St. Mary's had its first Sac-Joaquin Section championship since 1989.

Joe Harden had 16 points and 12 rebounds, Mark Payne and Ty Kelly, who scored eight points apiece. With less than four minutes remaining Joe Reyes made one of three 3-pointers for St. Mary's and Mark Payne and Ty Kelly closed the game out with clutch free-throw shooting.

Men's Basketball Advances to Sac-Joaquin Section Final With Win

The St. Mary's Rams' 65-41 semifinal win over No. 5 Union Mine (22-8) on Wednesday at Warrior Gym sets up a re-match with Sacramento High School at ARCO Arena on Friday, March 3, 2006 at 9:00 p.m. for the championship of the Sac-Joaquin Section. Joe Harden said after scoring a game-high 21 points and Mark Payne scored 13 points for St. Mary's.

Men's Basketball Wins In First Playoff Round

Joe Harden had 26 points as the Rams beat Vanden 70-42 to start the playoff season. St. Mary's is 25-3, 10-2 T-CAL.

St. Mary's Out Performs West in League Contest

Behind Joe Harden's and Anthony Simi had 16 points each as the Rams, after a sluggish first half, came out roaring to beat league rival, West, 72-41. SM is 20-2 and 6-1 TCAL

St. Mary's Basketball Stars Named Athletes of the Week

St. Mary's standout players Joe Harden and Jackie Gemelos were named The Records Athletes of the Week. Joe scored 36 points and had 18 rebounds against Edison while Jackie Scored 52 points over Edison, a career high.

St. Mary's Beats Edison in League Contest

Behind Joe Harden's 36 points, the Rams beat their cross-town rivals, Edison, 64-59 in a hotly contested game. After Edison scored the first bucket, SM to the lead and never lost it. SM is 19-2 and 6-1 TCAL

Rams Men's Basketball Avenge Earlier Loss, Beat Tokay to Take First Place Again

A night of basketball to remember occurred when the St. Mary's Rams sought to avenge an earlier loss to the Tokay Tigers and succeeded 67-62 in overcoming their league rivals. Joe Harden scored 12 of his 18 points in the second half and In the fourth quarter, the team shot 8 of 12 from the field and 8 of 11 from the free-throw line, outscoring the Tigers 25-13 to seal the victory. St. Mary's is 18-2 and 4-1 TCAL. The next match between the leading league rivals will be February 11 at San Joaquin Delta College to accommodate the large crowd expected to what could be the deciding game for the inaugural TCAL championship.

SM Men's Basketball Downs Stagg In League Action

Joe Harden scored 18 points for the Rams as St. Mary's beat Stagg 60-48 to improve to 16-2 and 3-1 in the Tri-City Athletic League. Anthony Simi had 13 points for the Rams.

Rams Men's Team In Comeback Win Over Sheldon

Joe Harden scored a game-high 21 points, and Anthony Simi had 11 to help the Rams rally from a 3-point halftime deficit and beat the Huskies 58-52 in the Hoops for the Hungry benefit event at Valley High in Elk Grove. St. Mary's is 16-2 2-1 TCAL.

Rams Beat Edison in League Contest

Anthony Simi scored a game-high 21 points, Joe Harden had 16, Patrick Jemerigbe scored 14 points, Joe Brum had 10 as the Rams defeated the Vickings 72-56 Friday night at Edison. St. Mary's is 15-2 overall and 2-1 in Tri-City play.

Rams Men's Basketball Adds Another Win
Boys Basketball St. Mary's 72, Kaiser 30

At Honolulu, the Rams finished up the Walter Wong Prep Classic with a lopsided win. Joe Harden led St. Mary's with 18 points and Anthony Simi had 11. Joe Harden and Anthony Simi were both named to the all-tournament team. St. Mary's is now13-1.

Men's Basketball Winning Streak Continues in Hawaii

The Rams (12-0) led by Joe Harden with 20 points beat Kimuki High in the Hawaiian Walter Wong Classic. Anthony Simi had 18 points in the winning effort.

Men's Basketball Winning Streak Continues

The Rams (11-0) led by as many as 22 points in the game and remained undefeated as they beat Franklin of Elk Grove 71-46. Joe Harden scored 22 points and Anthony Simi had 15 for St. Mary's.

Mens Baketball Wins Fr. Barry Tournament with Win

St. Mary's Mens Basketball, continued their unbeaten season with a 64-60 win over Jesuit to win the Father Barry Tournament. Joe Harden, who was named tournament MVP, scored 18 points for St. Mary's. Mark Payne and Anthony Simi scored 21 points in the win against Jesuit to lead the Rams, were named to the All-Tournament team.

Mens Baketball Wins South Lake Tahoe Tournament

At Lake Tahoe, the Rams 5-0 kept every Nevade Union Miner 2-1 under double digits, outscoring them by 30 to take first in the South Lake Tahoe Huskie Classic.

Joe Harden, who scored 19 points for St. Mary's, was named tournament MVP, while Mark Payne and Anthony Simi took home all-tournament honors.

No End in Sight

There's no end in sight
St. Mary's finds energy to roll into NorCal final

STOCKTON - Teams that reach the semifinals of the CIF Northern California Regional are supposed to engage in classic, hard-fought battles.

The St. Mary's boys basketball team made it look easy Thursday.

Joe Harden scored a game-high 31 points and the Rams continued their impressive postseason run with a 64-49 rout of De Anza at Delta College's Joe Blanchard Gymnasium.

The Dons, who made a two-hour trip from Richmond for the game, were lethargic in the first half, trailing 30-12 at halftime. Harden matched De Anza's production with a dozen points.

"I don't think they want the season to end," St. Mary's coach Ken Green said of his top-seeded team. "It's a reflection of the way they treat themselves on the court, and how they handle themselves in practice. They just don't want it to end."

Led by Harden, the Rams continued their efficient ways against De Anza. Harden scored 19 of his points in the second half, including a dunk following an alley-oop pass.

Harden's basket made it 42-18 midway through the third quarter, as the fifth-seeded Dons (20-7) were continually fouling the Rams.

"We just look to bring some energy early and not get too high or too low," Green said. "We know it's a 32-minute game. We're playing pretty good as a team now."

If you're passionate about ND Basketball, Mike Coffeys Echoes on the Hardwood is an absolute must read. It's the one book that lets you experience the history of Notre Dame hoops through the players and coaches who wrote it. Echoes on the Hardwood by Mike Coffey

3.30 Rockne Coaching Tree (Updated)

(taken from a composite of internet resources)

Great coaches, of course, seem to move in packs. Bill Walsh’s coaching family tree is well documented. But Walsh's legacy is trivial compared to the royal and surprisingly short coaching lineage that connects the greatest coaches in football history to Knute Rockne.

Knute Rockne is the greatest coach in the 136-year history of college football. He coached 13 years, posted a 105-12-5 record and his .881 winning percentage remains unmatched at the pro or Division 1 college levels. He led the Four Horseman and the Gipper and is the spiritual father of the most successful "franchise" in North American sports, Notre Dame football. Rockne was widely considered the most innovative coach of his day. He invented the Notre Dame “shift,” foresaw the advantages of the two-platoon system long before it became popular and, as a player, is credited with popularizing the forward pass. As a coach, Rockne “attempted to outsmart his coaching peers by downplaying his squads' talent.”

Rockne once had a player named Jim Crowley. In case you don't know, Crowley, a left halfback with the fighting Irish between 1922-'24, was one of the famed "Four Horsemen of Notre Dame."

Soon after his playing career ended, Crowley became the head football coach at Fordham in New York. Along the way, he coached a small, scrappy offensive lineman from Brooklyn named Vince Lombardi.

Lombardi's offensive line coach at Fordham was none other than Rockne protégé, Frank Leahy, a tackle on two of his national title teams in the 1920s who was in the locker room when Rockne delivered the most famous pep talk in sports history. Leahy then helped his team win one for the Gipper. Leahy learned about coaching from Rockne while both were bedridden for two weeks in the Mayo Clinic and shared the same room. Leahy coached an unmatched four Heisman Trophy winners and stands second only to Rockne as the most successful coach in major college or pro football history.

At Fordham, Leahy forged the most famous offensive line in football history, the "Seven Blocks of Granite," which included the small, bull-dog tough Lombardi. According to Jack Connor, who played for Leahy at Notre Dame and who wrote the book, “Leahy’s Lads,” Leahy had a profound impact on Lombardi’s football philosophy.

Lombardi was later hired by a guy named Earl Lambeau, who happened to play at the University of Notre Dame under the same Knute Rockne and went on to found the Green Bay Packers.

Lombardi’s record in the NFL is well-documented. Among coaches with 100 victories, his .740 winning percentage is the best in history and, suffice it to say, the championship trophy is named for him.

By the way, Lombardi suffered his first (and only) postseason loss to Buck Shaw, who also played for Rockne.

The second most famous coach in college football might be Paul "Bear" Bryant who learned the trade under a man named Frank Thomas. Thomas was Bryant's football coach and mentor who went 115-24-7 (.812) at 'bama.

There was also book written about him, "Coach Tommy and the Crimson Tide." Thomas is second only to Coach Bryant in Alabama wins and included consecutive wins at Orange,Cotton,Sugar and Rose as well as National Championships in 1930, 1934 and 1941. Coach Thomas is a member of the Football Hall of Fame and played quarterback for Rockne at Notre Dame. He was, according to Coach Rockne, the smartest player he ever coached. His roommate and best friend at Notre Dame was the famous George " The Gipper" Gip.

Back to Lombardi. Lombardi’s "pet" player at St. Cecilia’s (like Hornung was later at Green Bay) was a kid named Mickey Corcoran. The name Corcoran might not be well-known in coaching circles. But he became a New Jersey high school coach and, according to Lombardi biographer David Maraniss, passed Lombardi's lessons and coaching strategies on to his players and “to his own disciple ... a North Jersey boy named Bill Parcells."

Parcell's most famous protégé might now be more famous than he is, the Patriots' Bill Belichick. The two won a pair of Super Bowls with the N.Y. Giants. Belicick went on to guide the Patriots to three super bowl wins in four years.

Belichick's coaching tree begins with a man named Nick Saban who won a national championship at LSU. His tree continues with Cleveland Brown head football coach Romeo Crennel and current Irish head coach Charlie Weis, who brings the Rockne legacy back full circle to its birthplace.

3.28 - Rockne's Secrets of Success

The following articles are taken from the Honolulu Star Bulletin
First of a three-part series

COACH Knute Rockne (1888-1931) was a man who looked for inspiration in unlikely places. He studied, developed, and put into use many of the successful motivational principles we take for granted today.

For instance, his thinking was so outside the box that Rockne studied dance troupes so that he could integrate the tempo, precision, and gracefulness of these dancers into his teams' trainings at Notre Dame.

He produced 20 first-team All-Americans and many top pro players, coaches, and career professionals. Now you can use these same principles to accelerate your own success in business and life.

As you read on, think about what great things you can accomplish if you were to apply these same principles of success in your life. How can you help your team be the best they can be?

» Look for ways to do things better than anyone else.

At the age of 19, when Rockne was working as a postal dispatcher in Chicago, he memorized every delivery route on the map. This activated his brain and challenged his memory.
Coach's insight: Focus is what made the difference for Knute. He knew he was not going to be a postal worker forever. So he focused on the fact that he was saving for college. He saw an opportunity to actually prepare for college while he was working, and focused on his long-term goals rather than the current situation.

By doing this, he improved his memory skills and freed his mind to focus on his goals and not waste time on fruitless distractions.

» Think of new and unique ways to overcome challenges and solve problems.
At a time when studying tapes of opponents' previous games was just a dream, Rockne once again thought outside of the box. He developed a team structure that would yield the information he needed to win. Knute used a two-team system where he would start his second team with strong defensive skills and a good punter in the first quarter. Their job was to play the first quarter without giving up any points. Meanwhile, Knute would huddle with the lighter, faster first team to observe and analyze the second team in order to decide what approach to use. The first team's mission was to score points during the remaining periods.
Coach's insight: Sometimes, what may seem like a step back can be a way to create the energy needed to lunge forward with full power.

Stepping back to observe and analyze when we want to move forward can be very difficult. It does no good to run into a situation if you don't have all the information you need, no matter how motivated you are.

Part Two

COACH Knute Rockne gives us a great model for success in business -- if we just look at the clues his strategies provide. Last week we covered two of his strategies. Here are strategies three and four:

» Keep an eye on the long-term goal, and plan according to that view.

Rockne knew this was a critical ingredient to the success of his team, and developed another exclusive practice that is now used by most schools.

By adding a new spring football practice, he was able to get a glimpse of the future. He wanted to see what his team would look like in the fall. So the spring practice gave him a chance to see what he had to work with. He could then plan and make adjustments far in advance of the regular season's play.

Coach's insight: It is helpful to see into the future as much as possible and develop a plan based on that vision.

Great leaders never plan based on what the current situation is. If they do, by the time the action is taken, it's too late.

When IBM was ready to release a new computer in the late '60s, it decided to scrap the entire model line, even though it was ready to roll. Why? Because the CEO at that time made a "you bet your company" decision, and it paid off, big time!

What was this decision based on? The current market? No. It was based on what the market and competition would look like in 2+ years. IBM jumped ahead of the curve by seeing into the future. They planned based on that vision.

» Do not let obstacles stand in your way. If an obstacle appears, find a way around, over, under, or through it.

Rockne would not let obstacles stand in his way. When he agreed to take his first coaching position he had no assistants to help him. He did it all -- coaching defense and offense-- and worked as the teams' trainer. On top of that, he taught chemistry and coached track at Notre Dame to support his growing family. (Sound familiar to you entrepreneurs/ business owners?)
Knute's reward? Under his coaching, Notre Dame won 105 games, lost only 12, and tied five. His teams went undefeated for five seasons! He was one of the first people to be inducted into the Football Hall of Fame in 1951.

Coach's insight: Very often in life, it is the challenges or perceived obstacles that eventually yield the greatest growth for us. By focusing on the big picture and your long-term goals, you will more likely see the challenge set before you on a more accurate scale. Rather than a mountain, it can often take the shape of a mogul on a ski slope. Moguls can be fun and often are put there to make our trip down the slope easier.

March 31st will mark the 75th Anniversary of death of the greatest coach college football has ever known, Knute Rockne. Rockne coached football at Notre Dame from 1918 to 1930, losing just 12 games and winning three consensus national championships. He died when his plane went down in the Flint Hills of Kansas in 1931 and this month, on the 31st, NDNation members from around the country will pilgrimage to the site to pay their respects. From now until then we'll look back at the man that was known as Rock, the stories that made him famous and his legacy. Thank you for sending in articles like this one, if you have a Rock story email it to ops@ndnation.com.

Book note: If you're in downtown Philly, pick up a signed copy of The Ten Secrets on the third floor of the Barnes and Noble in Rittenhouse, there are TWO signed copies that I need to move to get a re-order. Give it to your wife or your girlfriend, they'll think you're sensitive. Ask anyone who's given one to a spouse... it's instant points.

Just passed sales of ONE THOUSAND copies of The Ten Secrets. THANKS!

3.25 - Rockne's Tragic Death Shocks Nation

Click Here For Full Article - Thanks to Dennis Nigro
March 31st will mark the 75th Anniversary of death of the greatest coach college football has ever known, Knute Rockne. Rockne coached football at Notre Dame from 1918 to 1930, losing just 12 games and winning three consensus national championships. He died when his plane went down in the Flint Hills of Kansas in 1931 and this month, on the 31st, NDNation members from around the country will pilgrimage to the site to pay their respects. From now until then we'll look back at the man that was known as Rock, the stories that made him famous and his legacy. Thank you for sending in articles like this one, if you have a Rock story email it to ops@ndnation.com.

Book note: If you're in downtown Philly, pick up a signed copy of The Ten Secrets on the third floor of the Barnes and Noble in Rittenhouse, there are TWO signed copies that I need to move to get a re-order. Give it to your wife or your girlfriend, they'll think you're sensitive. Ask anyone who's given one to a spouse... it's instant points.

Just passed sales of ONE THOUSAND copies of The Ten Secrets. THANKS!

3.24 - Old Vs. New

Rudy36 put together this comparison of Willingham's and Weis's press conferences and patched them together.

A quick look at Seal Team vs. Mall Cops:

Q. From a busy standpoint, how busy you are, a understand from the importance of the visits in the whole recruiting process standpoint.

COACH TYRONE WILLINGHAM: Let me give you my perspective a little bit on that.

My getting out into the home is really determined about the needs of the young man. And that's where we have to do a great job of identifying of where he's at in the recruiting process, exactly where the head coach's visit fits in and the timing of that. Some will be early, some will hopefully come later in January, depending on that young man's timetable and how you place him within our Notre Dame structure.

You are extremely busy at that time because, one, you're hopefully wrapping up a season. Two, there is hopefully a Bowl game in line. Then, three, you're still trying to prepare and maintain continuity within your own team structure. So it does become a very busy period. Trying to get into all the homes takes a little organization.

COACH CHARLIE WEIS: We start practice tomorrow, the spring game is on April 22.

Just so you know, as far as recruiting goes, I am hitting the road on the 23rd (of April). What we did last year is we went on the road a week later. We're ready to go on the road the day after the spring game. So I know I am personally hitting the road the night after the spring game. You get four weeks to use and we're using from that Monday, the 24th of April, through Saturday, the 20th of May, so if you are looking for me don't look real hard because you probably won't find me. If I am in town I will probably watch my kid play baseball or doing some honey do list for Maura (Weis) so if you want to know just go ask Maura, she will have a better idea of what I am doing.

The game has changed in recruiting, and it's a much earlier game. You better be on them early and make as few mistakes as you possibly can, because everyone will make them, but you better get on them early and you better get them on board.

Q. Why was he (Pete Carrol) able to build a national title in three years where you're at 6-4 right now?

COACH TYRONE WILLINGHAM: I think Pete has done a great job of bringing a very talented group of athletes to being a team. I felt like when I was at other places, playing SC, the talent was there in abundance, but they weren't functioning as a team. I thought the strongest thing he's done is bring them together as team.

Now, to be able to parallel those our paths could be totally different. It could be that my path is the fourth year, could be the fifth. I don't know.

COACH CHARLIE WEIS:Can this guy help us win a National Championship. Not can this guy play at Notre Dame. Can this guy help us win a National Championship? Because, to me, that should be the goal. If you are the head coach at Notre Dame, that should ultimately be your goal.

Q. You used the word "inconsistent." We played at times, quite a few times throughout the season, very, very well, which means, as I see it, the talent is there. Why is the inconsistency, in your opinion? Is it a fair question?

COACH TYRONE WILLINGHAM: No, every question I think is fair, okay? I don't think you hear me ever say, "That's not a fair question."

But I would imagine, and I hate to be so general to talk about human nature, but I also believe in it, but I also believe that most of us that have been parents, good parents, that we teach our kids certain things. But why do kids do something other than what we teach them? So we all pause for that answer, is that right?

Q. That's right.

COACH TYRONE WILLINGHAM: It's the same thing. We hopefully instruct our guys well and try to bring them to do all the things you want to do. But things happen. They don't respond. I don't think, if I'm correct, even as we look at the No. 1 team in the country, that every play that they've run has been a great play for them. They've made some mistakes also. So it happens.

But the better teams are more consistent than other teams, and that's why they win, and that's why they're successful.

COACH CHARLIE WEIS:See, last year I really felt it took me half the spring just to get them to turn my way of thinking. That doesn't mean anyone else's way of thinking was wrong. It's just that I am the head coach so it's going to be my way of thinking. Well this year, that's not I mean, there's like last year, we had a whole mass exodus of players, and didn't faze me in the least. It wasn't like I was worrying about it at all. I think now most people understand me. I understand them, and we can just move forward. And hopefully we're well past those stages.

Q. How much further into the play book are you compared to last year?.

COACH TYRONE WILLINGHAM: The whole key is how you execute each individual play. To be very honest with you, I would love it if we only had one play in our system. That sounds strange, that you only want one play in your system. But if we had perfect execution of that play and our opponent could not stop it, I'd be very happy with that.

COACH CHARLIE WEIS: Well, we always start from scratch when we're putting in the system. You never assume that everyone has retention of everything you are doing. It's just the speed of which you put things in picks up because it's the second time around so I think we will be playing a little catch-up but what we have done, we have really narrowed a lot of the stuff down that we weren't very good at last year, so at least now with what they're being coached at, are the things that we know we're going to end up doing.

The stuff that didn't stick got thrown out.

There's a number of things you can do mentally in football that makes the game a lot easier. For the coach it makes it easier because I can stand on the sideline and tell you what is going to happen before the ball is snapped but it doesn't do any good because if I am the one that knows and the quarterback doesn't know.....

Q. Some of the players suggested you really don't want them to talk about last season...?

COACH TYRONE WILLINGHAM: I don't think there's any problem about talking about last year. I think last year speaks for itself. It was a good year.

COACH CHARLIE WEIS: I think out of all of the objectives that we have for the spring, the number one objective of this football team is to raise their own expectations. I know a lot has been said; some of you have popped in the weight room and seen my subliminal message that isn't so hidden when you walk through there, but I think that last year the football team just didn't know at this point whether they were going to be any good or not, and I am hoping that they are not satisfied with the season they had last year. I know that I am not satisfied with the season that we had last year. And I am hoping this time around that raising the expectations should be a rather simple task.

Q. There's been a lot of discussion about the schedule maybe being too tough and academics maybe being too tough here for Notre Dame to be an elite program. I wonder what your feelings are?

COACH TYRONE WILLINGHAM: COACH WILLINGHAM: Is September is traditionally better than October, yes, it is. Any time you have a chance to play at home most coaches will tell you that you have to play extremely well. You have an advantage when you're at home because there are so many disadvantages when you hit the road. You've got to travel, you've got different hotels, you've got different food preparation. There are a lot of things you encounter on the road that shouldn't be distractions at home. Hopefully being at home, having that kind of success, catapults you to a very good position as you get into the November part of the season

COACH CHARLIE WEIS: Well, let's start with the schedule issue first of all. They schedule them and we play them. That's the way it is. If they are on road, you have to go win on the road. If they are at home, you have to win at home. And I think that the people complain about those things are looking for excuses. The schedule is what it is. I don't make the schedule. I just play it. That's what I do. If I answered that any other way, what I would be doing is letting the players have a reason for or have an excuse for failure.

So I can't complain about the schedule. I don't make the schedule. All I do is play the game. That's what we do. Doesn't make any difference, whatever night or day they schedule them, we play them and that includes being able to win on the road and it goes back to having that toughness and playing smart and playing disciplined and being nasty and going in there with an arrogant attitude. Doesn't make any difference where you go, you intend on beating them.

3.23 - Rockne in... Popular Mechanics?

Popular Mechanics; 11/1/2003; Seelhorst, Mary

What does it take to be a football star? The most important requirements are "brains, courage, self-restraint, co-ordination, fire of nervous energy and an unselfish point of view." Says who? None other than the legendary football coach Knute Rockne in his October 1926 POPULAR MECHANICS article, "How To Be A Football Star."

"Of course, he must have a bit of speed and a bit of physique," the legendary Notre Dame coach added, "but then these things are taken for granted."

And by 1926, Rockne's reputation as one of the best college football coaches in the country attracted players with these attributes. His colorful coaching style made him a favorite of journalists, and his success drew fans not just from the ranks of Notre Dame alumni, but from the rank and file--Catholics, laborers and other self-perceived underdogs across the land.

When the editors of POPULAR MECHANICS asked Rockne to write a piece on the wildly popular sport of football, Rockne's innovations on the field and in the business office had already built Notre Dame football from its marginal, war-depleted position in 1918 to a national championship winner in 1924. Rockne was known for his motivational skills as well as for his ability to strategize. And he was a perfectionist who would have his team drill for hours until they could precisely execute his plays.

He was also a great mentor who produced knowledgeable players who were sought after as coaches. By 1931, 90 of his former players had become college coaches, and, eventually, 50 of his proteges became head coaches.

Prior to coaching, Rockne was a Notre Dame player. Under the direction of Coach Jesse Harper, Rockne and quarterback Gus Dorais practiced and used the forward pass to great effect.

In his coaching, Rockne emphasized hard work, speed and agility, and wits. And, as it turns out, much of the advice Rockne gave to PM readers in 1926--which covered everything from treating injuries, to diet, to strategy--remains sound.

But the key was hard work. "It is so much pleasanter to go out and play a game than to spend hours working over tackling, running, signals and other drill points," the coach wrote. "Without the training, however, there can't be much success in the playing."

Rockne, who is perhaps best known for his ability to motivate his players, delivered his most famous team talk before the 1928 game against Army. Folklore has it that eight years earlier, when Notre Dame's star football player George Gipp was on his deathbed, he asked Rockne to "win just one for the Gipper." And Rockne asked his team to do just that. Notre Dame went on to win the game 12-6.

That moment, and Rockne's life story, were later immortalized in the 1940 film "Knute Rockne--All-American" starring Pat O'Brien as Rockne and Ronald Reagan as his protege George Gipp. The film enjoyed a revival when later, in his political career, Reagan exhorted voters to "win one for the Gipper."

Rockne is also remembered for making the forward pass a regular and effective part of offensive strategy, first as a player for Notre Dame, then as a coach. But he didn't use it all that often. Instead, as he cautioned PM's readers: "The good quarter back ... needs to know when to try a forward pass, but more important still, he must know when not to try it." He suggested saving the best forward-pass plays for the second half.

Another famous Rockne innovation was his improvement on Harper's backfield shift, in which the backfield was in motion before the snap (so effective it was later outlawed). Rockne's expertise even extended to uniforms and equipment, which he redesigned to be lighter, more wind-resistant and less bulky.

Rockne, a Norwegian immigrant, was raised in Chicago, studied chemistry at Notre Dame and graduated magna cum laude in 1914. Upon graduation, he took a job at his alma mater as a graduate assistant in chemistry, while also serving as an assistant coach to Jesse Harper. When Harper retired, Rockne became head coach and proceeded to rack up an impressive list of statistics. During 13 seasons as head coach--1918 through 1930--Rockne compiled a winning percentage of 0.881, which was the all-time record for both college and professional football for well over six decades. Nearly as impressive are Rockne's other gridiron statistics. In 13 years, he had five unbeaten and untied seasons. His teams won three national titles and lost only 12 games.

Although Rockne was building a big football program, Notre Dame was a small school--just over 1200 students in 1920. Despite the school being rejected for inclusion in the Western Conference (later known as the Big Ten), Rockne scrambled for games against bigger schools like Nebraska, Purdue and Michigan State. In the process, he built Notre Dame into the national football powerhouse that it still is today. He filled the holes in his schedule with contests--some would say cakewalks--against smaller Midwestern schools. And, of course, those wins counted toward his overall record.

Rockne believed that size didn't matter, whether it was the size of the school or the size of the player. When Notre Dame won its first national championship in 1924, none of Rockne's backfield--the fabled "Four Horsemen"--was over 6 ft. tall or 162 pounds. Instead, Rockne believed that "the good team is the one that is able to study the other fellow and beat him by quicker wits."

March 31st will mark the 75th Anniversary of death of the greatest coach college football has ever known, Knute Rockne. Rockne coached football at Notre Dame from 1918 to 1930, losing just 12 games and winning three consensus national championships. He died when his plane went down in the Flint Hills of Kansas in 1931 and this month, on the 31st, NDNation members from around the country will pilgrimage to the site to pay their respects. From now until then we'll look back at the man that was known as Rock, the stories that made him famous and his legacy. Thank you for sending in articles like this one, if you have a Rock story email it to ops@ndnation.com.

Book note: If you're in downtown Philly, pick up a signed copy of The Ten Secrets on the third floor of the Barnes and Noble in Rittenhouse, there are three signed copies that I need to move to get a re-order. Give it to your wife or your girlfriend, they'll think you're sensitive. Ask anyone who's given one to a spouse... it's instant points. I'm now just seven books away from selling a thousand copies... thanks!

3.22 - Rockne crash-site tribute keeps memory alive

Rockne crash-site tribute keeps memory alive

BAZAAR, Kan. -- Oh, the money that could have been made. Easter Heathman knows it. It wouldn't have been the first time a tragedy would have been converted into a comfortable living for some indecent huckster.

What Elvis is to the kitsch souvenir industry, Knute Rockne could have been to Heathman and his lonely seven-acre plot in the Flint Hills of Kansas. Squint your eyes and the scene looks like the Depression-era day of March 31, 1931, when a 13-year-old Heathman heard what sounded like two cars racing down the road.

A 10-foot tall memorial marks the site of the plane crash that killed Knute Rockne.
A 10-foot tall memorial marks the site of the plane crash that killed Knute Rockne.(Provided to SportsLine)
"Then I came out and it was all quiet," said Heathman, looking back over seven decades to one of the turning points of the 20th century. "Not a sound. About that time, the phone rang."

It was at a spot not far from Heathman's home near Bazaar that the legendary Notre Dame football coach died in a plane crash along with seven others. The news of the end of Rockne's life changed Heathman's.

Saturday will mark 70 years since the teen-aged Easter came upon the mangled wreckage of the Fokker F-10. He is believed to be one of only three men still alive who were there that day to view the lifeless bodies of five passengers scattered alongside the wreckage. Three other bodies were still strapped in the fuselage.

He is the only one of the three to devote his life to the caretaking of the Rockne legend. It has become his destiny. On the day the winningest major-college coach in history died, Rockne's mythos also began to live. All because of a man whose first name means "resurrection," has the Rockne memory been preserved this vividly.

"It's a lot bigger attraction now than it was 60 years ago or 50 years ago," Heathman said of the 10-foot tall obelisk that marks the crash site. "I went to Notre Dame last year and arranged a meeting with (Notre Dame president emeritus) Father Theodore Hesburgh. In our conversation I said, 'Father, it's amazing how this has enriched my life.' 'Of course it has,' he said."

Heathman's life has converged at the intersection of the two most influential figures in Notre Dame history -- Hesburgh the academic leader and Rockne the football leader.

The crossroads have become part of Notre Dame lore. Out Route 1 in Kansas, just past the Bazaar Cemetery, sits Heathman's modest home. He moves a little slower now and his spirits are down. Heathman's wife, Betty, died just two weeks ago. But come unannounced or make an appointment, and Heathman will take you the mile or so through two cattle gates, a babbling creek and up, over and around the treeless Flint Hills to see the Rockne Memorial.

The middle-of-nowhere stone monument is surrounded by a stone fence and barbed wire. Not that anything or anyone would desecrate the site. Heathman's only company on a recent visit was a reporter and six wild horses which ran over the horizon to see what was happening, almost confused by the presence of humans.

"It's given him a reason to be," said friend David Kil, Notre Dame's assistant registrar. "People start stopping by and he takes them up there. If they offer him money, he won't take it. If they insist he'll use it to put a new wreath out. He is an ambassador who is an unsung hero."

Because of Heathman's treatment of Rockne -- the man and the legend --the story has not faded. In fact, Saturday will be a full day for Heathman, 83. He will be taking relatives, historians and strangers to see the memorial.

But he will take no money. Never has.

"Because I'm old-fashioned, I don't believe money ought to be made off of something as tragic as this one," Heathman said. "Both times I was at Notre Dame, they introduced me to the Quarterback Club. They wanted autographs. It made me feel not too good. You know what I mean?"

Few would in this age. If Rockne had died today, his likeness would be plastered all over souvenir T-shirts. The crash site would be made into a voyeuristic pay-per-view tourist attraction.

Because of Heathman, decency rules. He cares for the memorial like one would care for a grave plot. He personally made eight wooden crosses to commemorate the dead. He sees to it that a new wreath is placed at the memorial each year.

The remote location of the crash site probably has helped keep it mostly pristine. The land hasn't changed much since 1931 when it was a 3,000-acre ranch owned by Seward Baker. His son, Edward Baker, had to run two miles to a telephone to call for help.

Heathman was shelling corn with his brothers that day when he heard the roar. Then ...

"My Uncle Clarence seen it come out of the clouds," Heathman said. "He said the wing was broke off. The plane was turning end-over-end. You can picture in your own mind what that ride was like.

" ... There wasn't any fire. There was the smell of gasoline and hot oil. I can still smell that today."

Over the years, Heathman has become a minor celebrity in the Notre Dame community. Heathman pulled out a box and showed a visitor an autographed game ball from Lou Holtz. He owns what are believed to be the only existing photos of the intact plane before the crash. Heathman had business cards printed that bear his name, phone number, address and the moniker: "A witness of the Knute Rockne crash." He has stared into the eyes of relatives of the dead who have come from across the country to view the barren prairie where their loved ones died.

"I think God blessed you with this incredible memory," Heathman remembers the wife of one of Rockne's grandsons telling him once, "so you could tell this story."

Countless times he has climbed into his pickup, crossed the two-lane and taken some stranger up into the Flint Hills. It isn't the desolation that brings them to stare at the memorial on which eight names were chiseled seven decades ago. You've got to have a good map and a good car (preferably with four-wheel drive) to get there.

It's a fascination with living oral history that brings them, because Heathman is about all that's left to tell the story of a momentous point in history. Fans, vacationers, professors and historians have come for decades, pausing at Heathman's for an entrée into the past.

It will be history preserved in perpetuity. Five years ago, Heathman made a recording of his recollections and donated it to the National Air and Space Museum. No charge, of course.

The memories are as crisp as a Bazaar spring day. The sight of five lifeless bodies on an impressionable 13-year-old was imprinted forever. Young Easter didn't eat lunch or dinner that day.

"He remembered the face, he explained the face," Kil said. "It's rare that he would talk about what he saw. I don't tell anybody that for the benefit of the family, out of respect."

Despite stories to the contrary, the body of the great man was intact. Rockne wasn't found clutching a rosary, as some outlets reported, but he did have one in a pocket. As the bodies were loaded on stretchers, Heathman picked up a rubber wrap attached to the leg of one of the victims.

"On the 60th anniversary of the crash, Rockne's daughter was here," Heathman said. "I was telling her about this. She said, 'Yes, dad had phlebitis. He wore a wrap around that one leg. That was definitely him.'"

Over the years the curiosity seekers have made Route 1, Box 73 their launching point. Once, an elderly couple drove up from Florida in a Cadillac and got lost looking for the memorial. After hours of wandering around and near exhaustion from hiking, they found Heathman's house. He pumped fresh water from his well, refreshed the couple and took them to the site on his own.

"I got to thinking afterward that was a setup for a bad accident," Heathman said. "Two elderly people -- passing out, heat stroke, anything. Nobody would have known anything about it."

Twenty-eight years ago, a Notre Dame fan traveling back from vacation in Colorado was criss-crossing the Flint Hills trying to find the site. He stopped at the house of an elderly man and asked for directions.

Heathman was that man. From that point on, he and Kil became comrades. Kil has arranged for Heathman to visit campus twice. Heathman donated the plane's gas cap to Notre Dame. It now resides in a display at the Joyce Center.

Amazingly, Heathman can go out any day and still pick up remains of the crash 70 years later. On Friday, he picked up three pea-sized pieces of glass from the plane's windows and gave them to a visitor. He has had a ring made out of a portion of the green landing light on the right wing. Don't think it gruesome. Heathman plans to surprise a relative of the pilot with it as a gift this weekend.

Rockne was only 43 when he died, at the height of his powers. Notre Dame had just come off a national championship in 1930. The country was coming out of the golden age of sport in the 1920s, an age that Rockne helped define with Notre Dame and "The Four Horsemen." At the time of his death, he was flying to Hollywood to negotiate a deal about a film documentary.

Rockne reportedly was ready to give up coaching after 1931, having already signed a promotion deal with Studebaker. The car company was already manufacturing the Studebaker Rockne Sedan Six 65 in early 1931 when the tragedy hit.

"In my opinion he was what you would call a straight, honest man and he liked to win football games," Heathman said. "His record still stands today -- 105-12-5. He loved every one of those players. The Gipper was his favorite."

"Rock" had lived the American dream. Born in Norway in 1888, his family moved to Chicago in 1891. Young Knute knocked around at odd jobs until scraping together enough money to attend Notre Dame in 1910.

After playing three years at Notre Dame, Rockne eventually was hired by Irish football coach and athletic director Jesse Harper to be head track coach and football assistant. Harper left in 1918 to assist with his in-laws' 20,000-acre ranch in Kansas.

Rockne was handed the job at age 30 and won more than 88 percent of his games over the next 13 years. The rate of success hasn't been approached since.

"He wasn't a go-getter, he was a go-giver," Kil said. "He gave of himself entirely. He was an excellent mentor of youth. ... He could motivate some kid to believe he was one of the best running backs around or one of the best blockers around. He always did it with kindness and caring."

There is anguish in everything that happened that fateful day. Rockne missed seeing his sons, Knute Jr., 14, and Billy, 11, by 20 minutes. The boys were traveling back from vacation with their mother to school in Kansas City. Rockne had spent the night in Chicago and arrived in Kansas City at 7 a.m. His family's train from Miami was delayed. Finally, he had to leave for the airport.

The night before in Chicago, friend Al Fuller wished Rockne a happy landing.

"Thanks Al," Rockne reportedly said, "but I'd prefer just an ordinary soft landing."

About 90 minutes into the flight, the plane went down in fog and cold temperatures in the pasture 60 miles northeast of Wichita.

The switchboard at nearby Cottonwood Falls was jammed with calls from relatives and friends trying to find out the fate of their loved ones. Rockne's funeral was broadcast in Europe and Asia. He was knighted posthumously by Norwegian King Haakon V.

In Depression-era America, the news hit like another punch to the gut.

"It is not untrue to say that no death within the confines of the United States caused more grief and depression in those years," one historian wrote in 1943.

Heathman has led a long and healthy life but his efforts will not go on forever. His preservation of a legend without compensation should be one of the biggest stories of the 21st century when it is re-told.

"I talked to his daughter," Kil said. "What's going to happen when Easter goes? What's going to happen to the monument? I care about your dad a lot. We've become very, very close friends. We go way back. That engenders a bond that is almost inexplicable.

"She wrote me last week and said possibly her son will do the best he can. But I don't think there's going to be anybody like Easter because he was one of the ones at the crash site. He has first-hand knowledge."

Nothing can replace that.

The above article was written by Dennis Dodd in 2001

3.21 - Rockne Vs. The KKK

A reader asked about the KKK incident in 1924, so The Rock dug up a few articles and links on the conflict. Irish Legends has a full page on it below.

From Herb's Notre Dame Odyssey:

In Herb's Archive this month, an interesting analysis of the conflict from Herb's Notre Dame Odyssey.

Knute Rockne's most popular pep talk may be his "Win one for the Gipper" exhortation in 1928, but his most crucial pep talk was delivered four years earlier...and it was not to his football team. In fact, it was not even during the football season. But it had all the rudiments of a football rally.

It was a Tuesday morning in May. It was during a period when feelings ran high, even to fever pitch, between students of the University of Notre Dame and the Ku Klux Klan.

A headline in the Saint Paul, Minnesota, Daily News on May 17, 1924, read: "NOTRE DAME COLLEGIANS CLASH WITH KLUXERS."

The Ku Klux Klan had gathered in South Bend -approximately 4,000 of them from Indiana, Illinois, Michigan, and Ohio -- for a "May Festival" and parade. Although the parade had been postponed by a move on the part of city officials, it did little to cool anti-klan feelings. When masked men robed in white appeared on downtown street corners early Saturday morning to direct incoming Klan families to the festival at Island Park, angry Notre Dame students, reinforced with Catholic townspeople, tore at Klan regalia. Domers had baseball bats and boards swung at them. The students ran wild, overturning cars, smashing windshields, throwing vegetables and eggs, and attacking anyone holding an American flag. Not because the students were anti-American, but because that was the assigned badge of identity for arriving Klansmen.

Klan people arriving on South Shore trains from Michigan City and Gary were met by mobs and had their white robes torn to pieces. A crowd of five hundred protesters milled around Klan headquarters at the northeast corner of Michigan and Wayne streets, where an electric fiery cross hanging on the building added fuel to their rage. They shattered windows and were bent on storming the building, but then it happened.

In the early evening a torrential downpour of rain put the damper on both Klan and anti-Klan anger, avoiding more serious injuries and possibly even deaths, and resulting in this dramatic editorial in the following day's South Bend Tribune:


There is no sacrilege in this spelling.
It is the plain truth that last night this city was saved by a providential downpour from what seemed to offer all the possibilities of tragedy.

The responsible heads of government and of business were frightened by the appearance in this city of a delegation whose coming was heralded by robes and masks.
Rightly or wrongly, these visitors were advertised as fanatical opponents to certain races and creeds. They came with the reputation of being violently opposed to the religious theories of a large number of citizens, the color of others and the race of still more.

For weeks the responsible men of this community have conferred with the one man they could find who represented this organization and pointed to the fact that whatever following his order may have obtained elsewhere, an invasion of this city was fraught with dangerous possibilities.

The mysterious mask and gown which seems to have attracted the members of this organization has a different meaning to those who do not belong.

To them it means a menace and a threat. It means a challenge that some secret body intends to supplant the orderly processes of government and install in its stead the rule of an invisible empire.

Mobs are easily formed. They always spring from prejudice. It takes but a spark to light the flames of passion and once in motion, a mob is a terrible thing, hideous, hateful, devilish and without restraint.

Saturday morning opened with a balminess that breathed the atmosphere of friendship and good will. There was the scent of violets in the air. Men might easily have become poets. It was spring with all its promise of future harvest of friendships and affections. Passion and prejudice are always easily aroused. It takes but a slight thing, unimportant, to fire the torch of hate and to cause men to lose their reason.

That slight thing was the appearance of men who hid their faces behind masks standing upon street corners, supplanting the servants of the people in the peaceful occupation of directing traffic.

From then until the time that, that Providence which guards fools and children sent his clouds of rain to quiet the passions of men, there was never an hour when one untoward incident might not have precipitated bloody clash of force against force, passion against passion, prejudice against prejudice.

Thank God that it rained and that He reigns.

The respite was short-Iived. Anti-Kluxers, infuriated by a report of a local Klan meeting and the beating of a Notre Dame student, were back in force by the following Monday. Once again, they formed a mob, gathered before the electric cross and demanded its removal. South Bend and Mishawaka police took two hours to disperse the mob from in front of the Klan headquarters. This time, the day was saved by Father Matthew Walsh, University of Notre Dame president, through his hurried arrival and emotional speech from the steps of the courthouse

The next day, Father Walsh, again pleading for peaceful calm, was aided and abetted by head football coach Knute Rockne.

The Rock told the 2,000 students gathered, "You can not expect to win a game of football unless the players follow the signals of the quarterback." The crowd of students roared its approval.

"Father Walsh is your quarterback and you are the great Notre Dame team," continued Rockne. "It is your duty to follow the signals of Father Walsh, and when you do that you will be in the right, and will not be a party to any disorder."

The more Rockne talked, the more the students cheered. As one reporter put it: "The students pledged to play a winning game for law and order."

The story of Notre Dame students battling Klansmen in the streets of South Bend is part of the University's folklore. Many years later, alumni were still discussing their angry marches into town to fix those masked bigots.

At that time, there were a reported 4,000 Klansmen in St. Joseph County, 500,000 in Indiana, and somewhere between 2 and 6 million in the nation. The Klan was on the verge of electing assorted officials in St. Joseph County and a governor in the state. Grand Dragon David Stephenson boasted of being "the law" in Indiana. But Notre Dame students were not intimidated.

And this at a time when "audacious acts against the KKK were rare," according to Indiana historian Irving Leibowitz. The Ku Klux Klan of the 1920's was an organization too imposing for effective opposition.

Related Stories:

Campus Life Story - Irish Legends
Reflections From the Dome - Irish Legends
Observer - Irish Legends

3.20 - President Reagan Congratulating the Championship University of Notre Dame Football Team

January 18, 1989

The President. Well, I thank you, and thank you all very much. Vice President-elect Dan Quayle and Reverend Edward Malloy, Coach Lou Holtz, Members of the Congress that are here, and distinguished guests and players and coaches and the Irish at heart -- [laughter] -- welcome to the White House. My life has been full of rich and wonderful experiences. And standing near the top of the list is my long and honored association with the University of Notre Dame and its legendary hero Knute Rockne. So, I want you know the INF treaty and George Bush's election were important, but having the Fighting Irish win the national championship is in a class by itself. [Laughter] And Lou, what you've achieved in only 3 years is inspiring. Maybe you could coach Congress on the deficit. [Laughter] With Notre Dame going undefeated this season, they might listen to you.

You know, Coach Rockne believed there are no shortcuts to success. Practice and hard work combined with respect for your opponent is the path one must take to achieve the greatest glory. And as Rockne himself once wrote: ``Sportsmanship means fairplay. It means having a little respect for the other fellow's point of view. It means a real application of the golden rule.'' Well, you young fellows here today are living proof of the truth of Rockne's ideas. All of you, coaches and players, have made sacrifices and bore many a burden, and you did it all for one goal: to be the very best.

Well, as I mentioned when I was on your campus last year, Knute liked spirit in his ballplayers. Once when he was working with the four backfield stars who became known as the Four Horsemen, one of the them, a fellow named Jim Crowley, just couldn't get it right. Now, you know, I never tell ethnic jokes -- unless they're about the Irish. [Laughter] But maybe today I can be permitted some leeway. Rockne, who by the way was Norwegian, was commonly called the Swede. He finally got exasperated after Crowley muffed a play and hollered, ``What's dumber than a dumb Irishman?'' And without missing a beat, Crowley says, ``A smart Swede.'' [Laughter]

Well, at this year's Fiesta Bowl, you showed us what you're made of and reached the goal of being the very best. The West Virginia Mountaineers didn't luck into playing you for the national championship. No, just like you, they fought hard all season and earned the right to play for the title of being number one. And just like the Fighting Irish, they're a talented, well-coached team, and they deserve a salute. Their records should make them proud.

And speaking of pride, I noticed that Coach Holtz thought Rockne would be proud of this team. And I'm sure he would be. Right now, I can't help but think that somewhere, far away, there's a fellow with a big grin and a whole lot of pride in his school. And he might be thinking to himself that maybe you won another one for the Gipper. [Laughter]

Congratulations, and God bless you all.

Reverend Malloy. Mr. President, we are extremely proud of this team and of its fine coaching staff headed by Lou Holtz. You have honored our campus twice during the term of office as President, once as commencement speaker and honorary degree recipient, which obviously makes you a Notre Damer, and more recently for the Knute Rockne stamp commemoration. We thought it would be fitting, on this time in which you have honored the university and its winning football team, to make a small presentation to you. Since I'm a little puny, I've asked two of our seniors and leaders this year to bring over a particular plaque that I'd like to read the inscription for. This is Frank Stams and Wes Pritchett. It reads, ``Monogrammed sweater awarded to George Gipp, halfback of the Fighting Irish, 1917 - 1920, presented to Ronald Reagan by the University of Notre Dame.''

The President. I think that's a great sacrifice by the university. But believe me, no one could have it and treasure it more than I will. Oh, thank you very much.

Reverend Malloy. Thank you very much.

Mr. Holtz. Mr. President, it's indeed a thrill for us to be here. It's the number one football team in the country, and we're exceptionally proud of that. We're also exceptionally proud of the fact that we've won an award for graduating 100 percent of our football team of 5 years ago. We also realize that to reach a position such as this you have to be very lucky and very fortunate. We're also aware of the fact that many other teams could have been standing here rather than us had it not been for many good, fortunate things that happened to us.

It's a great thrill to be number one, but it's also a great thrill for any American -- it's a dream to be able to come to the White House to meet the President. I know I speak on behalf of our football team when we say we're deeply gratified and feel blessed to be here. It's been a great honor for us, but it's also a great honor to come here representing the University of Notre Dame family.

We have just a small gift, and we have three captains here, Mark Green, Andy Hech and Ned Bolcar. And we know that you're going to be packing up, Mr. President. [Laughter] We just brought you something that you can pack in. It says ``Notre Dame.'' It says ``Ronald Reagan.'' And it said ``The Gipper.'' We brought you a sweater that said ``The National Championship.'' But we brought you something that signifies a great accomplishment for us. But we consider the accomplishments that you've made since you've been in the Oval Office -- this may seem very small. But we wanted to share our greatest accomplishment with you, Mr. President. Thank you.

[At this point, the team gave the President a football.]

The President. Right guards stick together. [Laughter] This is a great day. Well, I won't find anyone else to throw it to. I'll just hang on to it. [Laughter] Well, I thank you all very much. Congratulations. Thank you.

The idea of guards in the line, instead of charging forward against the other linemen on many plays, backing out and coming out of the line and leading the interference -- and I don't know whether I could have had a football career if he hadn't done that, because our coach copied it. I weighed 175. And I remember one day when the player opposite me on the line would go on to play with the Chicago Bears and then later be 8 years all pro tackle, and he weighed 275 pounds to my 175. His name was George Musso. And I can't tell you how grateful I was to Rockne as I went back out of the line to run the interference -- [laughter] -- made the job possible.

March 31st will mark the 75th Anniversary of death of the greatest coach college football has ever known, Knute Rockne. Rockne coached football at Notre Dame from 1918 to 1930, losing just 12 games and winning three consensus national championships. He died when his plane went down in the Flint Hills of Kansas in 1931 and this month, on the 31st, NDNation members from around the country will pilgrimage to the site to pay their respects. From now until then we'll look back at the man that was known as Rock, the stories that made him famous and his legacy. Thank you for sending in articles like this one, if you have a Rock story email it to ops@ndnation.com.


Book note: If you're in downtown Philly, pick up a copy of The Ten Secrets on the third floor of the Barnes and Noble in Rittenhouse, there are five signed copies that I need to move to get a re-order. Give it to your wife or your girlfriend, they'll think you're sensitive. Ask anyone who's given one to a spouse... it's instant points.

3.19 - Prayer to Play Fair in the Game of Life

Dear Lord,

In the struggle that goes on through life

we ask for a field that is fair,

a chance that is equal with all the strife,

the courage to strive and to dare;

and if we should win, let it be by the code,

with our faith and our honor held high;

and if we should lose, let us stand by the road

and cheer as the winners go by.

Knute Rockne (1888-1931)
Coach and Educator

Thanks to Other1928 for providing this prayer. March 31st will mark the 75th Anniversary of death of the greatest coach college football has ever known, Knute Rockne. Rockne coached football at Notre Dame from 1918 to 1930, losing just 12 games and winning three consensus national championships. He died when his plane went down in the Flint Hills of Kansas in 1931 and this month, on the 31st, NDNation members from around the country will pilgrimage to the site to pay their respects. From now until then we'll look back at the man that was known as Rock, the stories that made him famous and his legacy. Thank you for sending in articles like this one, if you have a Rock story email it to ops@ndnation.com.


Book note: If you're in downtown Philly, pick up a copy of The Ten Secrets on the third floor of the Barnes and Noble in Rittenhouse, there are five signed copies that I need to move to get a re-order. Give it to your wife or your girlfriend, they'll think you're sensitive. Ask anyone who's given one to a spouse... it's instant points.

3.18 - A Red Dot in Kansas

March 31st will mark the 75th Anniversary of death of the greatest coach college football has ever known, Knute Rockne. Rockne coached football at Notre Dame from 1918 to 1930, losing just 12 games and winning three consensus national championships. He died when his plane went down in the Flint Hills of Kansas in 1931 and this month, on the 31st, NDNation members from around the country will pilgrimage to the site to pay their respects. From now until then we'll look back at the man that was known as Rock, the stories that made him famous and his legacy. Thank you for sending in articles like this one, if you have a Rock story email it to ops@ndnation.com.

by Joseph J. Casey, M.D. (From NDMagazine)

I was flipping through the pages of my new road atlas, planning a cross-country motorcycle trip, when I saw it. As Route 70 headed west out of Kansas City near the town of Emporia, there was a little red dot indicating the Rockne Memorial. My mind flashed back to the movie, the books and the lore I had grown up with, and I knew I had to include it in the trip. The Rocky Mountains would have to wait one more day.

I was now two days out from the pancake house in Fort Lauderdale. My wife had kissed me goodbye in the parking lot after breakfast as she knowingly released me for two weeks of middle-age folly. A cool misty morning easing my way to the banks of the Mississippi turned into a hot afternoon ride across Missouri. I had made good time the previous day and had spent the night just south of Mount Vernon, Illinois. I had gone to bed exhausted and sore. My leather back brace made a big difference but riding a motorcycle requires a lot of stamina. By the third day, my body was beginning to adapt. The Harley seemed to like the long runs.

Route 64 into Saint Louis was a picture postcard of Midwestern farms. It gave way to the tension of city traffic around Saint Louis and a long haul across Missouri in the increasing heat of the midday July sun. I had to stay alert in the labyrinth of Kansas City to pick up Highway 35 toward Emporia. I got off the highway in Emporia and felt a sense of accomplishment. My goal was within reach.

At a small service station in the Emporia area, I asked the attendant if she knew where the Knute Rockne Memorial was located. She stared at me blankly. This was the first indication that finding the little red dot might not be so easy. I went to the pay phone and called the Emporia Chamber of Commerce. I spoke to a man who at first sounded chipper, but his voice dropped an octave as our conversation unfolded. I told him that I had called months ago about the Knute Rockne Memorial near Emporia. Someone in the Chamber of Commerce had told me that yes, in fact it was there and that the little red dot on my map was no mistake. He responded that while he thought that the memorial existed he did not know exactly where it was and did not think it was on public land. I told him that the woman in his office a couple of months ago told me that people go there all the time. He asked me the name of the person to whom I spoke. Of course I didn't know. I never know those things. He suggested that I go to Cottonwood Falls and ask someone there. I had always dwelt in big cities, originally Chicago and now Fort Lauderdale, and this suggestion did not resonate with my urban instincts. But I figured I didn't travel all that distance not to try, so I mounted up and headed west on Route 50.

Cottonwood Falls is a wonderful little town. I'm sure that the folks there think it's big enough, but it has only one main street. A few pedestrians looked suspiciously at my passage. I parked the bike and looked around at the signs and store windows. For some odd reason an attorney's office looked the most promising.

The attorney wasn't in that afternoon, but his secretary was. She had heard of the Rockne Memorial and knew it was down the road aways. In fact it was almost across the street from the Heathman Ranch. She would call the Heathmans and see if they could be of any help. After a few silent moment on the phone however, she told me the Heathmans were not home. She gave me a small photocopy map and indicated where the ranch was and approximately where the Rockne Memorial was located. I thanked her and went outside and studied the map. If I proceeded south on 177 beyond the town limits, it appeared that the road bent off to the right almost even with the town of Bazaar. The road then bent back to the left and shortly after that bend was the Heathman Ranch on the left and the Rockne Memorial a little further on the right.

I followed this route studying both sides of the road but I couldn't be sure which ranch was which. On the right hand side there was no indication of any monument. I came to the railroad tracks and knew that this was too far south. I turned around and headed back slower than the first time but equally unsuccessful. Again I pulled a U-turn back to the south and just before the first bend stopped the motorcycle in the middle of the road. There was no traffic on this narrow two-lane highway. I looked off to the west and into the lowering sun and took note that somewhere out there in those rolling Flint Hills, Rockne met his untimely death in a storied 1931 plane crash. I tried to savor the moment, figuring this was as close as I would get. I made up my mind to head north and make as much westward time as I could before nightfall.

Just then I heard some noise off to my left and saw some men in the field picking up bales of hay. I would give it one last shot. I parked the bike by the side of the road at a gap in the fence. Then, feeling very much like a city slicker, I lumbered across 40 or so yards of plowed field. The men stared at my approach.

"Can I help you?" said the man on top of the machine. Don't ask me what kind of machine it was.

"Is this the Heathman Ranch?"

"No, that's the next ranch north."

"You fellas don't know where the Rockne Memorial is do you?"

"No," he answered slowly while scanning the horizon. I know it's around here somewhere but we're really not from these parts, just here doin' a job."

"Thanks anyway."

"Sure. Nice bike."


I mounted back up and headed around the now familiar bend to the next ranch house and turned into the driveway. I stopped the bike by the sidewalk to the house and noisily scuffed my feet as I slowly walked up the stairs. As I walked across the big wooden porch I noticed that only the screen door was closed. The big wooden door was thrown all the way open, as were the windows. A slight breeze ruffled the curtains on what was becoming a stifling hot late afternoon.

I knocked loudly on the door, waited, and knocked again. I figured that either my luck had run out and no one was home or they were home and not about to answer the door for some strange looking biker. I walked back down the front porch steps and leaned on the motorcycle. It would be good to get going again since the wind at highway speeds was the only thing that could take the edge off the heat. I did want to stop for a moment to reflect on this vignette of Midwestern life. I was thankful that small town living wasn't extinct. There really was more space, the pace was slower, the people were friendly, and the doors were unlocked.

It was a nice feeling. But my meditation was broken by the sound of a car coming up the driveway. It was an older car but except for a little fading of the blue paint, well maintained. My urban instincts took over and I felt immediate trepidation. What would these folks do upon seeing a sinister figure on the front walk of their home? As the car came closer, I realized that it was occupied only by an elderly woman. She drove up close to me and locked the brakes with gravel flying.

"I am sorry that I wasn't here for you. I am Mrs. Heathman," she said in an excited voice.

I introduced myself, explained my purpose, and apologized for bothering her.

"Nonsense! Come on in," she said.

As she opened the door, I felt an overwhelming urge to tell her that she shouldn't let strangers in her house. She was too deliberate and quick for any such interjections so I simply followed her and had a seat at the kitchen table. I politely declined her offers of coffee and tea but eventually had to capitulate to a soda. As I drank she ambled through the house shouting, "Easter! Easter! Are you there?" She came back and announced that she feared Easter had left.

Easter was her husband, and he had gone this afternoon to another town to help his son move. She said that Easter knew exactly where the Rockne Memorial was and he would take me over there himself if he were home. Unfortunately she did not expect him back for a day or two.

"Could you stay until he comes back?" she asked.

I explained that I had come from Fort Lauderdale and had to be in Denver the next day.

She shook her head. "That's a shame because Easter really likes to take folks out there. He was there you know."

"He was where?"

"He was there when the plane crashed. He was just a boy but he remembers it like it was yesterday."

A rush of excitement ran through me but quickly faded. There are few remaining eyewitnesses to the legend of Rockne, and the enticing thought of talking to one of them was countered by the depression of having missed the opportunity.

Mrs. Heathman didn't share my interest regarding the monument. She knew it was there, but it was something she allowed Easter to have all to himself. She thought it was a mile or two off the road but did not know exactly where.

"So do you think if I parked in the bike, climbed the fence, and took a walk back in there I could find it?" I pressed.

"That's funny country back there. Everybody thinks it's flat but it's really not. I would be worried about you going back there, especially in this heat."

I didn't know quite what she was trying to say. It seemed a simple matter to me to climb a fence and walk a mile or so.

"Do you think it's dangerous?" I asked, searching for more information.

"I just really think you could get lost back there and I don't know exactly where to tell you to go. I wish Easter was here and he would take you there himself. He has the key to the gate and you could just drive back there with him. Are you sure you can't come back?"

"No, I can't," I said, although I was already trying to figure out a way that I could. "Whose land is that anyway?" I persisted.

"There's a new owner. Just bought the land recently. He's a Texan. He seems like a nice enough fellow but I don't know him very well. He not here very much and I don't think he's here now."

"Mrs. Heathman I came all the way from Fort Lauderdale and I really would like to see the monument. I think I'm just going to go down there and hop over the fence and walk back a little way and see if I can see it. I won't lose track of the road and if I can't see it after awhile I will give up and just come back."

"Easter always said it was straight back from the corral area," she said, conspiring with me. "You follow the bend around away and if you look along the fence you'll see a small corral. There's a gravel turn-in right there where you can leave your motorcycle. The gate is right there at the other side of the corral. Like I said, Easter has the key to the lock but I don't know where he keeps it."

"That's okay Mrs. Heathman I can climb over the fence easily enough."

I thanked her for being so hospitable. I was still in a state of bewilderment as to how friendly and open she was with an absolute stranger. She seemed to have a genuine interest in the motorcycle and she let out a holler and a laugh when she heard the engine roar.

"You be careful now!" she yelled. Her serious tone gave me pause.

"If I go out on that fella's property you don't think he'll shoot me do you?"

"Well I don't know. He is a Texan!"

She chuckled but it made me wonder. I waved and rode down the driveway and took a left at the highway. After the bend in the road I looked for the corral. It was empty and in disrepair but the gravel turn-off was good enough to accommodate the bike. I took off my jacket and gloves and tucked them into the saddlebags. I looked out into the field to the west as the sun was getting lower but remained as hot as ever. I approached the fence with deliberate steps, then with one of those oh well, here we go kind of sighs, put a leg up on the fence.

At that moment I heard a sharp loud crack, then another, and another. My reflexes made me duck. Just when I thought that maybe the sound was deceptively distant, I heard it again and saw him. He was on the opposite side of the corral behind a post hammering a crossboard into place. He was medium height and thin but had limbs that were used to working. He looked to be in his late 50s or 60. I quickly retreated from my climbing posture. I don't know if he read my intentions but I suspected that he did. He came toward me with a mallet clenched in his hand.

"Can I help you?" he drawled with a less than interrogatory tone.

"Are you the owner of this property?"

"This is my land you're standing on."

"Mrs. Heathman told me I might find you over here, " I said, hoping to diffuse the situation by interjecting a common friend.

"Yup, I'm here."

I got right to the point and I asked him if the Rockne Memorial was on his ranch.

"Yup, there's a stone back there aways."

"Would you mind if I go back there and take a look at it?"

"No! You can't go back there." He must have read the disappointment on my face. "I got cattle back there. The fence ain't fixed and you'll scare the cattle. I'll lose my cattle."

My eyes dropped dejected toward the ground.

"It seemed like a good idea at the time. I called the Chamber of Commerce in Emporia from Fort Lauderdale months ago and they told me that the monument was here and that people visit it all the time."

"Folks in Emporia don't know much," he retorted.

"Yeah, but it took me 2,000 miles to figure that out."

"You drove that motorcycle all the way from Fort Lauderdale?"


"What does a grown man do something like that for?"

"Good question. I don't know, maybe I'm just having a midlife crisis."

"Why did you want to see that monument anyway?"

"Well, I'm a Notre Dame fan. I went to school there, so did my dad, and my grandfather. I know almost everything about Notre Dame football, especially Rockne. My dad was there in the Rockne era. He played on the freshman team but had to take a year off school because of the Depression. He had to work to make tuition money. One of the jobs he had was as a laborer on Rockne's stadium. Then in 1931 Rockne died. Everyone at Notre Dame was devastated. I looked over his shoulder to the western horizon, And he died right out there on March 31, 1931."

"What you do for a living back in Fort Lauderdale?" he asked after a pause.

"I'm a surgeon."

"You're a surgeon, a medical doctor surgeon?"


"Where did you get your medical degree?"

"Northwestern University in Chicago."

"Where's your liver?"

"My liver?"

"Yeah, your liver. Where's it located in your body and what's it attached to?"

The question baffled me, but then I figured out what he was up to. He was a tough, proud man and wasn't about to be fooled. He had probably had his gallbladder removed and knew a little bit about the anatomy and function, and he would use that knowledge to call my bluff. Standing in this strange place and having this strange conversation I could understand his incredulity. I answered his question at length and obviously to his satisfaction.

"Well, if you pull your motorcycle up about a quarter mile and turn in the dirt road you can park it down by that gate. Nobody will bother it there. I'll meet you down there and drive you back."

"Back where?"

"To the monument. You said you wanted to see the monument."

I was stunned. "I thought you said I couldn't go."

"You can't go by yourself 'cause you'll scare the cows. But I'll drive you back."

"What made you change your mind?"

Immediately I realized I shouldn't have asked. He stopped, turned, and faced me. "When I first saw you I thought you were a hippie." He paused briefly again, looking at me and wondering if maybe he wasn't right the first time. "But you're not, you're a professional man. You work for a living and you've got a good reason to want to see that monument. So I'll meet you by the gate."

It was his land and I was now his invited guest As I got back on the bike I looked at myself in the rear view mirror. I had been on the road for three days with the same clothes. They were dusty and smelly. My old jeans stood on top of scuffed motorcycle boots. I had a denim vest over a long sleeve cotton T-shirt, which was a lot darker than the day I started out. My beard was a lot fuller than I normally wear it. The sunglasses and leather bandanna were a practical touch to protect my eyes and balding head. I had to dredge up 20 or 30 years of memory to bring the concept of hippie back into focus, but I could see his point. He obviously didn't have the simplicity and trusting nature of Mrs. Heathman, but then again, he was a Texan!

I parked the bike and jumped into the pickup truck. We followed the serpentine road back through that strange land, which looked flat but rolled and curved deceptively. We were in the middle of what they called the Flint Hills. The rugged pickup splashed through creeks and bounced through ruts. We went pretty far back. It would have been a tough, long walk. I now understood Mrs. Heathman's concern. But suddenly we were there, jostling to a stop.

The site was low and flat and in the middle was the stone obelisk. It was surrounded by a wooden railing. The stone stood nine or so feet tall with eight names chiseled on one side. All of these had died in the crash. At the base was a wreath. The flowers could not have been more than a few days old. The place felt hot, empty and surreal under a cloudless sky with a bright, burning sun now at eye level.

His voice broke the still moment. "They just come back here. They sneak back here. You can see where they chipped little pieces of it. Take a look at the middle of the Os and the As. They chip away part of it. It's a shame."

I was both dismayed that anyone would harm the monument but somehow gratified that people wanted a piece of it for themselves. I walked full circle around the railing and stepped back to take a couple of pictures. I felt reluctant to consume any more of my host's time. I thanked him and we moved back toward the pickup. As we headed toward the highway, I asked him if he understood the significance of what had happened here and how he felt about having the monument in the middle of his ranch. He said he had certainly heard of Rockne and knew he was a famous football coach but that was really about it.

I told him a little bit of the history. I recounted the use of the forward pass against Army in 1913 when Rockne was a player and described the great teams he coached in the 1920s up to the time of his death in 1931. What happened in this field was heard all over the country. Rockne was one of the most widely recognized personalities of his time. Friends and foes alike loved him and the entire nation grieved at his death.

The Texan listened carefully. He wondered out aloud if there wasn't some way to move the monument or construct a facsimile at the side of the road so that people would have easier access and wouldn't have to trespass on his land. I couldn't blame him. There was no telling how many uninvited disciples in addition to myself made the pilgrimage to this spot. I felt a special gratitude for his hospitality.

Back by the road we got out of the pickup. His posture and voice had relaxed considerably since out initial encounter. He stood by the motorcycle and admired it as I drew on my fingerless leather gloves.

"Where are you headed now?" he asked.

"West. Way west. I want to ride through the Rockies."

"Well you got some daylight left and this here is pretty country, too."

Rather than going right back to I-70, he suggested some nice state roads that would give me a better sense of the land. I liked the idea. I thanked him again and wished him well. The Harley thundered back to life and my last glimpse of him was in my rearview mirror as I headed back toward Cottonwood Falls. I went by Mrs. Heathman's house and waved. I hoped she heard the motorcycle and caught a glimpse as I gestured her way.

The Texan was right about the roads. There were ranches and small towns. There were Norman Rockwell scenes of children playing in yards and riding their horses along the road. Mothers hung laundry outside and fathers sat atop tractors that worked the land.

I stopped at a small intersection with a grocery story named Casey's. I picked up a bottle of soda and decided to drink it as I rode to save the little daylight that was left. As I pulled out of the gravel parking lot, a rusted pickup truck veered in front of me. The soda bottle was in my brake hand and as I lurched for the handle the bike toppled over. All 600 pounds of the bike rested on my right leg, and I could not get out from under the bike. Fortunately the driver jumped out and lifted the bike just enough to allow me to extricate myself. My jeans were a bit torn and my boot was scorched from the hot exhaust pipe, but otherwise I was okay. I thanked the pickup driver and got back on the bike. The only damage to the bike was a shattered turn signal light that I would replace the next day a the Harley shop in Hayes, Kansas for one dollar and 29 cents. While riding away from my embarrassment, a silly, macabre smile came across my face as I realized that Rockne and I had both crashed in Kansas.

The remainder of the trip was uneventful but memorable. Riding through the Rockies did wonders for my head and I returned home with one of the most relaxed feelings I can ever recall. On the evening before returning to work I decided to call Mrs. Heathman and thank her.

I called Cottonwood Falls information and got the Heathman phone number. She answered in her cheerful friendly tone.

"Mrs. Heathman this is the guy on the motorcycle from a couple weeks ago."

"I remember," she responded.

"I just wanted to let you know that after I left you and headed on toward the corral I ran into the Texan. He turned out to be a very nice man and he took me back to the Rockne Memorial."

"I know," she said. "We were talking about you after church that Sunday. You forget this is a small town and there is not much that goes on here that folks don't notice and gossip about. I'm just sorry that you missed Easter. Easter felt real bad that he didn't get to take you there himself. Would you like to talk to him now?"

"Is he there? I'd love to!"

"Just a second then, I'll get him."

I heard her set the phone down and walk off calling his name. In just a few moments his friendly voice greeted me.

"Well it's nice to finally meet you," he said. "Sorry I missed you when you passed through."

"I'm sorry I missed you too, but hopefully on my next trip I'll get to meet you."

"Well, you better hurry up because I'm not getting any younger! I'll be 74, you know."

Seventy-four years didn't seem that old in Fort Lauderdale but maybe it was in rural Kansas. Before I could respond he continued.

"I was 13 years old the date happened and I remember it like it was yesterday."

"So did you see the plane go down? You actually saw it crash?"

"No, no I got there right after. You see we had just gotten back from running some chores. My dad had just got a new Chevy pickup truck and it was a beauty. But we had just come home and they sent me back out to the barn to fetch something. I was the youngest, you know. When I was heading back to the house I heard loud engines revving in the distance. I thought they were car engines. Fellas used to race their cars on the highway there."

"Was that the same place you're living in now?"

"No, no I grew up on a farm just a little further down the highway. Do you know where the railroad tracks cross the road? I lived just a little bit south of those tracks. That's where I grew up."

"So you heard those engines revving and you thought it was a car race?" I said, anxiously getting back to the story.

"Yeah. Yeah and I ran into the house and I got my brothers and we all went out to the road to watch the race. By the time we get back out there though we didn't hear anything. We waited for a while but no cars came by and I didn't hear those engines again. My brothers thought I was just tricking them so they put snow down my back and ran into the house. Right after we got in the phone rang and it was my uncle. He told us a plane had gone down and we better get up there to see if we could help. We got our coats and ran back out in dad's pickup truck and came up to the site of the crash."

"Is the memorial at the exact site of the crash. Is that where you remember it?" I felt like a police detective, validating details.

"Oh yeah. Yeah, that's the exact spot."

"What did you do when you got there?"

"Well the ambulances were arriving but there wasn't anything they could do. The passengers were all dead. There were a few bodies scattered about and I just helped wherever I could. I remember the smell of oil. There was just a real strong smell of oil everywhere but the funny thing was there was no fire and no blood. I remember seeing cuts on the bodies, on arms, legs and all you could see was the fat underneath. At least I think it was fat. It was kind of like when you skin an animal and it's the fat under the skin. But there was no blood. Does that make any sense?"

"Yes. Yes I understand." I was interested in the forensics but didn't want my curiosity to seem morbid.

"Of course we didn't know who those people were, not until the next day anyway. But I always remember putting one fella on a stretcher. He had long black rubber bandages around his legs. They were wrapped around his legs but had come unraveled. They were hanging down on the ground so I remember running over and taking the end of the bandage and stuffing it back up his pant leg so the ambulance driver wouldn't step on it and trip. I remember reading that Rockne had phlebitis and he used to wear those kinds of rubber bandages around his legs so I figured that was him. I didn't know it at the time though.

"We worked for a while and got the bodies gathered up. The hardest were the pilots. That was a mess. You couldn't separate them from the engine. You know it was on of those Fokker trimotors with one engine in the front and an engine on each wing. It must have been coming in nose first and of course the pilots are sitting right behind that engine in the front and the impact drove them right into it. The others were thrown free.

"We took a break for lunch and when we came back all I remember is that oil. I smelled that oil and I just couldn't go back there. It made me a little sick you know so I asked my dad if it was okay to go on home and he said that was fine. Next day in the papers of course we found out that Rockne was on that plane and it seemed like everyone everywhere was talking about it.

"There were a lot of newspaper articles and I have saved quite a few of them over the years. As I understand this was the first crash of a scheduled commercial airline flight. There had been mail planes that crashed and other flights with passengers that crashed but as I understand it this was the first scheduled commercial airline crash in history. The folks from Washington investigated it. I think they were from the Commerce Department. They decided that the wings of the airplane broke. The wings were made out of wood on those old Fokker trimotors. They figured the wood rotted or cracked. I guess they never made another airplane like that again. The folks from Washington also recommended that they form a special department to inspect airplanes and investigate air accidents. Apparently the formation of the FAA was a direct consequence of Rockne's crash. If you're interested I could send you some of these articles."

"Yes! Yes I would be very interested."

"Sure, I'll get them in the mail to you this week."

"Mr. Heathman I really appreciate the opportunity of talking to you. I feel like I have relived a very special moment in history with you."

"Yeah, well it's something I'll never forget. You know they go out there a have a ceremony every March 31st."

"No, I didn't know that."

"Yeah, a few of them gather there a say a few prayers. One year not too long ago even Rockne's daughter came. She said she didn't ever think she would want to see the place but after many years it seemed like a good idea. The only problem is that March 31st is not the nicest time of year to come to Kansas."

"Well, I'll have to get out there anyway one of these years."

"Yeah, well like I said, don't wait too long because I'm not gettin' any younger."

We both chuckled. I thanked him again and we said goodbye. As I hung up the phone I was a bit overwhelmed. Rockne had been a hero to me since I was a little boy. However, he had always seemed to have lived so long ago. Now I had just spoken to a man who had picked him up off the ground on that fateful day. Suddenly history didn't seem so far away.

Time has rolled on and one workday blends into the next. When stress and fatigue cause my mind to wander, I think about that trip. I think about the Heathmans and the Texan. I can look at my old Harley-Davidson Road Atlas and the pages come alive with memories. I still have the motorcycle but take it on much shorter rides. Maybe the midlife crisis has passed, but I just noticed that in the new edition of the atlas the little red dot in Kansas has disappeared and I may have to find out why.

Book note: If you're in downtown Philly, pick up a copy of The Ten Secrets on the third floor of the Barnes and Noble in Rittenhouse, there are five signed copies that I need to move to get a re-order. Give it to your wife or your girlfriend, they'll think you're sensitive. Ask anyone who's given one to a spouse... it's instant points.

3.17 - Notre Dame's master motivator

Knute Rockne was Notre Dame's master motivator
By Bob Carter

"It was almost the size of President Kennedy's type impact. It was amazing. They turned out on the train, and at the funeral. He was a national hero," says Elmer Layden, one of Notre Dame's "Four Horseman," about his coach, Knute Rockne.

No college football coach has ever had the success of Knute Rockne. In his 13 years as the leader of Notre Dame, his teams went 105-12-5, making his .881 winning percentage the highest in history. Emphasizing quickness, deception and finesse, he had five undefeated teams and won three national championships.

Knute Rockne
When you think college football, you think Knute Rockne at Notre Dame.
His squads more than quadrupled their opponents' scoring.

Much like the grand design of his football program, Rockne's oratory carried few statutes of limitations. He was renowned for his inspirational pep talks and his magnetic personality won over not only players but alumni, school officials, sportswriters and all those important to the growth of his football fiefdom.

"There never was a greater showman than Knute Rockne," said John Cavanaugh, a Notre Dame president.

And when Rockne wanted something badly enough, he wasn't adverse to stretching the truth. In one locker-room speech, he concocted a story about his six-year-old son being hospitalized and pleading for a victory. In another, Rockne dramatically told of a possible Rose Bowl bid awaiting the team.

In yet another, he implied that Indiana's fierce tackling style the previous year might have contributed to Notre Dame star George Gipp's death. Gipp, though, had died of pneumonia.

"They were all lies, blatant lies," said Jim Crowley, a Rockne admirer and part of Notre Dame's famed "Four Horsemen" backfield in 1924. "The Jesuits call it mental reservation, but he had it in abundance."

Rockne's celebrated "win one for the Gipper" halftime speech during the 1928 Army game, which purportedly revived Gipps' last words eight years after the player's death, fostered much debate. By some accounts, the coach hadn't been at Gipp's bedside in his final days and the reference was fabrication.

Beyond the pomp, play-acting and persuasion, though, was undeniable coaching genius. Rockne developed a passing offense that helped to broaden the game's appeal. His "Notre Dame shift" -- a quick, pre-snap movement by his backfield -- was so successful that college rules-makers soon outlawed it.

He was among the first to teach his linemen brush blocks, to break his team into smaller groups, a precursor of platoon football, and to employ "shock troops," early-game substitutes who tried to wear down rivals.

A master motivator, he publicized his team endlessly, often angering faculty who were worried about football's rise. Rockne fended off accusations that his program was growing too professional, that he was illegally paying players, that the growing schedule was requiring too much travel. He argued that football's revenues supported minor sports and that its regimen built character.

"Four years of football," Rockne said, "are calculated to breed in the average man more of the ingredients of success in life than almost any academic course he takes."

Fans swooned over Rockne's teams and attendance swelled, at home and on the road, widening the path for the game's expansion. The attraction of Notre Dame football, especially among Catholics, continued even after Rockne's death in 1931.

Rockne was born on March 4, 1888 in Voss, Norway. His father, a carriage maker, brought the family to the United States when Knute was five. At Chicago's North West Division High School, Rockne ran track and played football briefly, but he didn't graduate. After working as a postal clerk for several years, he passed an entrance exam to Notre Dame and, at 22, enrolled in 1910.

"I went to South Bend with a suitcase and $1,000," he wrote later, "feeling the strangeness of being a lone Norse Protestant invading a Catholic stronghold."

Notre Dame became his home, and in 1925 he converted to Catholicism.

Undaunted by his stature (5-foot-8, 160 pounds), Rockne went out for football, playing sparingly as a fullback and end as a freshman. The next season, he was a starting end under new coach John Marks.

In the summer of 1913, Rockne and quarterback Gus Dorais practiced the forward pass on an Ohio beach. "Dorais would throw from all angles," Rockne recalled. "People who didn't know we were two college seniors making painstaking preparations for our final season probably thought we were crazy."

The team unveiled a different offensive look that fall under new coach Jess Harper and upset Army 35-13 as Dorais completed 14-of-17 passes for 243 yards, including a touchdown to Rockne, a third-team All-American.

Rockne graduated with honors in 1914, receiving a bachelor's degree in chemistry and pharmacology. He considered going to medical school in St. Louis but stayed at Notre Dame to teach chemistry and serve as Harper's assistant.

Notre Dame lost five games in his four years as an assistant. After rejecting Michigan State's head coaching offer in 1917, Rockne took over for Harper, who resigned in early 1918.

Rockne's first team went 3-1-2 in a season shortened by World War I, and he began upgrading the schedule the next year. The 1919 and 1920 teams were unbeaten, led by Gipp, a renegade who enjoyed pool, poker, partying and skipping classes. Though Rockne had a deserved reputation for toughness, his pragmatism helped him deal with Gipp's escapades. Rockne called the all-purpose back "the greatest player Notre Dame ever produced."

The boom times were just starting, and when the Irish played Army in 1921 a crowd of 20,000 watched, a West Point record. Soon, Rockne sought larger sites for the Army game, with the teams meeting at Ebbets Field, the Polo Grounds and Yankee Stadium. Notre Dame's own Cartier Field held 3,000, far too small for the football revolution, but by 1930, Rockne's last season, the school had a stadium seating 54,000.

Thanks to Grantland Rice and other sportswriters, the fame of Notre Dame players grew as well. After the small but shifty backfield of Crowley, Harry Stuhldreher, Don Miller and Elmer Layden lifted the Irish to a 13-7 victory over Army in 1924, Rice penned a famous homage to the quartet that began, "Outlined against a blue-gray October sky, the Four Horseman rode again."

Supported by a line dubbed "The Seven Mules," Notre Dame won its first national championship that season, capped by a 27-10 victory over Stanford in the 1925 Rose Bowl.

Rockne, who said the 1924 team was his favorite, sensed early on that the Horsemen would be special, describing them later as a "product of destiny."

After a two-loss season in 1925, Rockne agreed to take the head coaching job at Columbia for $25,000 - $15,000 more than his Notre Dame salary. When the agreement went public, much to his embarrassment, he decided to stay at South Bend.

The near-exit irritated some supporters but did nothing to slow his program. Notre Dame lost only twice over the next two years, though one defeat brought adverse publicity. Rockne put an assistant coach in charge against Carnegie Tech in 1926 while he went to the Army-Navy game to do some publicity work and to scout the Midshipmen for the next fall. Carnegie Tech won 19-0, ruining Notre Dame's bid for an unbeaten season.

While slumping to 5-4 in 1928, Rockne's worst record, Notre Dame recorded one of its more memorable victories when it rallied to upset Army 12-6 after the "Gipper" speech.

Notre Dame rebounded the next season, when Rockne was diagnosed with life-threatening phlebitis in his leg, missed some games and at times directed the team from a wheelchair. The team went 9-0, punctuated by a 13-12 victory over powerful USC, and won the national title. Notre Dame followed up with a 10-0 record and another national championship in 1930 as Rockne regained his health.

Early the next year, Rockne received a lucrative offer to help in the production of a Hollywood movie, "The Spirit of Notre Dame." Traveling to Los Angeles on March 31, he was killed when his plane crashed in a pasture near Bazaar, Kan. Knute Rockne was 43.

March 31st will mark the 75th Anniversary of death of the greatest coach college football has ever known, Knute Rockne. Rockne coached football at Notre Dame from 1918 to 1930, losing just 12 games and winning three consensus national championships. He died when his plane went down in the Flint Hills of Kansas in 1931 and this month, on the 31st, NDNation members from around the country will pilgrimage to the site to pay their respects. From now until then we'll look back at the man that was known as Rock, the stories that made him famous and his legacy.

3.16 - Grantland Rice's "The Four Horsemen"

March 31st will mark the 75th Anniversary of death of the greatest coach college football has ever known, Knute Rockne. Rockne coached football at Notre Dame from 1918 to 1930, losing just 12 games and winning six national championships. He died when his plane went down in the Flint Hills of Kansas in 1931 and this month, on the 31st, NDNation members from around the country will pilgrimage to the site to pay their respects. From now until, then we'll look back at the man that was The Rock, the stories that made him famous and his legacy, beginning with the most famous words ever written about college football, Grantland Rice on Rockne's Four Horsemen.

Outlined against a blue-gray October sky, the Four Horsemen rode again. In dramatic lore they are known as Famine, Pestilence, Destruction and Death. These are only aliases. Their real names are Stuhldreher, Miller, Crowley and Layden. They formed the crest of the South Bend cyclone before which another fighting Army football team was swept over the precipice at the Polo Grounds yesterday afternoon as 55,000 spectators peered down on the bewildering panorama spread on the green plain below.

A cyclone can't be snared. It may be surrounded, but somewhere it breaks through to keep on going. When the cyclone starts from South Bend, where the candle lights still gleam through the Indiana sycamores, those in the way must take to storm cellars at top speed.

Yesterday the cyclone struck again as Notre Dame beat the Army, 13 to 7, with a set of backfield stars that ripped and crashed through a strong Army defense with more speed and power than the warring cadets could meet.

Notre Dame won its ninth game in twelve Army starts through the driving power of one of the greatest backfields that ever churned up the turf of any gridiron in any football age. Brilliant backfields may come and go, but in Stuhldreher, Miller, Crowley and Layden, covered by a fast and charging line, Notre Dame can take its place in front of the field.

Coach McEwan sent one of his finest teams into action, an aggressive organization that fought to the last play around the first rim of darkness, but when Rockne rushed his Four Horsemen to the track they rode down everything in sight. It was in vain that 1,400 gray-clad cadets pleaded for the Army line to hold. The Army line was giving all it had, but when a tank tears in with the speed of a motorcycle, what chance had flesh and blood to hold? The Army had its share of stars as Garbisch, Farwick, Wilson, Wood, Ellinger, and many others, but they were up against four whirlwind backs who picked up at top speed from the first step as they swept through scant openings to slip on by the secondary defense. The Army had great backs in Wilson and Wood, but the Army had no such quartet, who seemed to carry the mixed blood of the tiger and the antelope.

Rockne's light and tottering line was just about as tottering as the Rock of Gibraltar. It was something more than a match for the Army's great set of forwards, who had earned their fame before. Yet it was not until the second period that the first big thrill of the afternoon set the great crowd into a cheering whirl and brought about the wild flutter of flags that are thrown to the wind in exciting moments. At the game's start Rockne sent in almost entirely a second-string cast. The Army got the jump and began to play most of the football. It was the Army attack that made three first downs before Notre Dame had caught its stride. The South Bend cyclone opened like a zephyr.

And then, in the wake of a sudden cheer, our rushed Stuhldreher, Miller, Crowley and Layden, the four star backs who helped to beat Army a year ago. Things were to be a trifle different now. After a short opening flurry in the second period, Wood, of the Army, kicked out of bounds on Notre Dame's 20 yard line. There was no sign of a tornado starting. But it happened to be at just this spot that Stuhldreher decided to put on his attack and began the long and dusty hike.

On the first play the fleet Crowley peeled off fifteen yards and the cloud from the west was now beginning to show signs of lightning and thunder. The fleet, powerful Layden got six yards more and then Don Miller added ten. A forward pass from Stuhldreher to Crowley added twelve yards, and a moment later Don Miller ran twenty yards around Army's right wing. He was on his way to glory when Wilson, hurtling across the right of way, nailed him on the 10 yard line and threw him out of bounds. Crowley, Miller and Layden -- Miller, Layden and Crowley -- one or another, ripping and crashing through, as the Army defense threw everything it had in the way to stop this wild charge that had now come seventy yards. Crowley and Layden added five yards more and then, on a split play, Layden when ten yards across the line as if he had just been fired from the black mouth of a howitzer.

In that second period Notre Dame made eight first downs to the Army's none, which shows the unwavering power of the Western attack that hammered relentlessly and remorselessly without easing up for a second's breath. The Western line was going its full share, led by the crippled Walsh with a broken hand.

But there always was Miller or Crowley or Layden, directed through the right spot by the cool and crafty judgment of Stuhldreher, who picked his plays with the finest possible generalship. The South Bend cyclone had now roared eighty-five yards to a touchdown through one of the strongest defensive teams in the game. The cyclone had struck with too much speed and power to be stopped. It was the preponderance of Western speed that swept the Army back.

The next period was much like the second. The trouble began when the alert Layden intercepted an Army pass on the 48 yard line. Stuhldreher was ready for another march.

Once again the cheering cadets began to call for a rallying stand. They are never overwhelmed by any shadow of defeat as long as there is a minute of fighting left. But silence fell over the cadet sector for just a second as Crowley ran around the Army's right wing for 15 yards, where Wilson hauled him down on the 33 yard line. Walsh, the Western captain, was hurt in the play but soon resumed. Miller got 7 and Layden got 8 and then, with the ball on the Army's 20 yard line, the cadet defense rallied and threw Miller in his tracks. But the halt was only for the moment. On the next play Crowley swung out and around the Army's left wing, cut in and then crashed over the line for Notre Dame's second touchdown.

On two other occasions the Notre Dame attack almost scored. Yeomans saved one touchdown by intercepting a pass on his 5 yard line as he ran back 35 yards before he was nailed by two tacklers. It was a great play in the nick of time. On the next drive Miller and Layden in two hurricane dashes took the ball 42 yards to the Army's 14 yard line, where the still game Army defense stopped four plunges on the 9 yard line and took the ball.

Up to this point the Army had been outplayed by a crushing margin. Notre Dame had put underway four long marches and two of these had yielded touchdowns. Even the stout and experienced Army line was meeting more than it could hold. Notre Dame's brilliant backs had been provided with the finest possible interference, usually led by Stuhldreher, who cut down tackler after tackler by diving at some rival's flying knees. Against this, each Army attack had been smothered almost before it got underway. Even the great Wilson, the star from Penn State, one of the great backfield runners of his day and time, rarely had a chance to make any headway through a massed wall of tacklers who were blocking every open route.

The sudden change came late in the third quarter, when Wilson, raging like a wild man, suddenly shot through a tackle opening to run 34 yards before he was finally collared and thrown with a jolt. A few minutes later Wood, one of the best of all punters, kicked out of bounds on Notre Dame's 5 yard line. Here was the chance. Layden was forced to kick from behind his own goal. The punt soared up the field as Yeomans called for a free catch on the 35 yard line. As he caught the ball he was nailed and spilled by a Western tackler, and the penalty gave the Army 15 yards, with the ball on Notre Dame's 20-yard line.

At this point Harding was rushed to quarter in place of Yeomans, who had been one of the leading Army stars. On the first three plays the Army reached the 12 yard line, but it was now fourth down, with two yards to go. Harding's next play was the feature of the game.

As the ball was passed, he faked a play to Wood, diving through the line, held the oval for just a half breath, then, tucking the same under his arm, swung out around Notre Dame's right end. The brilliant fake worked to perfection. The entire Notre Dame defense had charged forward in a surging mass to check the line attack and Harding, with open territory, sailed on for a touchdown. He traveled those last 12 yards after the manner of food shot from guns. He was over the line before the Westerners knew what had taken place. It was a fine bit of strategy, brilliantly carried over by every member of the cast.

The cadet sector had a chance to rip open the chilly atmosphere at last, and most of the 55,000 present joined in the tribute to football art. But that was Army's last chance to score. From that point on, it was seesaw, up and down, back and forth, with the rivals fighting bitterly for every inch of ground. It was harder now to make a foot than it had been to make ten yards. Even the all-star South Bend cast could no longer continue to romp for any set distances, as Army tacklers, inspired by the touchdown, charged harder and faster than they had charged before.

The Army brought a fine football team into action, but it was beaten by a faster and smoother team. Rockne's supposedly light, green line was about as heavy as Army's, and every whit as aggressive. What is even more important, it was faster on its feet, faster in getting around.

It was Western speed and perfect interference that once more brought the Army doom. The Army line couldn't get through fast enough to break up the attacking plays; and once started, the bewildering speed and power of the Western backs slashed along for 8, 10, and 15 yards on play after play. And always in front of these offensive drivers could be found the whirling form of Stuhldreher, taking the first man out of the play as cleanly as though he had used a hand grenade at close range. This Notre Dame interference was a marvelous thing to look upon.

It formed quickly and came along in unbroken order, always at terrific speed, carried by backs who were as hard to drag down as African buffaloes. On receiving the kick-off, Notre Dame's interference formed something after the manner of the ancient flying wedge, and they drove back up the field with the runner covered from 25 and 30 yards at almost every chance. And when a back such as Harry Wilson finds few chances to get started, you can figure upon the defensive strength that is barricading the road. Wilson is one of the hardest backs in the game to suppress, but he found few chances yesterday to show his broken-field ability. You can't run through a broken field unless you get there.

One strong feature of the Army play was its headlong battle against heavy odds. Even when Notre Dame had scored two touchdowns and was well on its way to a third, the Army fought on with fine spirit until the touchdown chance came at last. And when the chance came, Coach McEwan had the play ready for the final march across the line. The Army has a better team than it had last year. So has Notre Dame. We doubt that any team in the country could have beaten Rockne's array yesterday afternoon, East or West. It was a great football team brilliantly directed, a team of speed, power and team play. The Army has no cause to gloom over its showing. It played first-class football against more speed than it could match.

Those who have tackled a cyclone can understand.

Grantland Rice, October 19, 1924

(If you have articles to contribute to this tribute, forward them to ops@ndnation.com)

3.15 - What Is Is Not What Was, Nor What Will Be

While Bill Clinton's still trying to figure out the meaning of the word "is" is, the rest of us are thinking football.

How many times have fans labeled players "busts" when really the player is just within a growth stage of mental or physical development?

Carson Palmer was a bust at one point in his career, he ain't now.

Stovall was a bust, now he could go in the first round.

Quinn was even a bust to some. Uh hum, fisherman TK.

We all tend to focus on the now, which is really all we can do with any certainty, but the real challenge is to discern what will be... and with kids who are still growing and maturing, it's a crap shoot.

The mob mentality of fandom said Wooden was too soft to play corner. Okay the name Ambrose ain't exactly instilling fear in people, but it turned out the little corner that could, does hit. In fact, he delivered a couple of game saving hits last year. He may still be learning corner, but the "common wisdom" that the kid was soft was not wisdom at all.

Stovall had "bad hands," couldn't handle the pressure of games and was a waste of physical talent to many. A year and 15 pounds lighter, he's a high round draft pick.

LeVoir was also labled a bust, not.

So what's the point?

Yeah, sometimes players surprise us. So what you hunk of petrified minerals?

Sometimes players put it together in one year, more likely in the third and less likely by the fourth year, but none of that that means a player's past is equal to his future.

Looking back, I'm thinking forward.

Who will be the Stovall of this year?

I have to think Nedu and the defensive line are the prime candidates. Nedu's been put on the Stovall diet. Which means he ain't playing linebacker and he better get a tad faster if he's going to help this defense out. But he's a tough player, with heart who's being written off by common wisdom. I'll take Nedu in this one, though I'm very interested to see what Bruton can do... he has NFL speed right now.

On the DL, I'm waiting for the real Victor Abiamiri to please stand-up. VA was unblockable in high school, since then he's actually kind of blockable. We need someone to come off the edge and create havoc and I'm hoping the VA is going to finally live up to his potential.

On offense there just aren't many darkhorses to choose from, we're pretty well stacked.

Chase Anastacio probably won't receive much playing with the return of Rhema and The Shark, but I've got a feeling he's going to start making strides this year. He's got size, ability and wiggle.
I'll choose him if he can get out of Charlie's dog house.

Just a little Abe Froman to kill the time.

3/10 - Dead Silence

(from Bacchus)

Just received this forwarded e-mail. The author is a retired CPO writing about the ND football team's salute to the Naval Academy after the game this year. I thought it worth passing along here.

Call me a sissy. Call me corny, out-dated, or whatever you think appropriate. But on Saturday, 12 November, I cried. I sat in front of my television with tears streaming down my face. It was not a war movie or a love story on the screen, but a football game!

I had just watched my team, Navy, seriously defeated by a powerhouse Notre Dame, 42-21. But that was not the reason for my tears. When the game ended, a reporter ran up to Charlie Weis, Notre Dame's phenomenal coach, and asked him one of the usual post-game questions. Coach Weis politely but firmly, told the reporter he had something more important to do and, pushing the microphone aside, headed for the opposite side of the field. And with him came the entire Notre Dame team.

What I saw next I will never forget. With their fans looking on, The Fighting Irish joined the Midshipmen and stood respectfully with them as the latter sang Navy Blue and Gold, their alma mater.

An article appeared in a Notre Dame newspaper and described the event as follows: The weather was beautiful, the team looked great, and the home crowd at Notre Dame Stadium had plenty to cheer about on that Saturday.

However, the most impressive event in that stadium was when 80,795 people did no cheering at all. No yelling, no talking, not even an odd sneeze. Dead silence. That's what the Navy band received at the end of the game while they played their alma mater.

From that moment on, I am forever a Notre Dame fan (though I will still root for Navy when the two teams meet). It was a moment of pure class, of unabashed patriotism, and of true sportsmanship. An all-too-rare combination.

The class part is not too surprising. Though I am not Catholic and have been to Indiana only once, I have long had a healthy respect for Notre Dame as a university with class. Educational standards and the value of tradition have always brought this school much well-deserved respect.

The patriotism part is a bit more complicated. As a Viet Nam veteran, I lived through an era when respect for the military was wanting by too many Americans. It was a time when CBS actually considered taking the Army-Navy game off the air. It was a time when no one thanked you for your service. It was a lonely time.

I suspect that some of the tears I shed in front of the TV were a bit self-indulgent, because I saw something I would have given much to have seen in those dark days. But it was not bitterness I felt; it was gratitude and thanks that we are now doing it right.

The sportsmanship part is something that lately we are not getting right. I have all but given up on my beloved NFL because it just isnt much fun any-more, when I have to watch players dance and strut after every routine tackle and wave the football in their opponents face after scoring a touchdown. I won't say sportsmanship is dead, but it is seriously wounded. But when those Notre Dame players stood beside their Navy opponents it was a gesture that said more than thousands of words could ever convey. Class, patriotism, sportsmanship. All in one simple, but noble, gesture.

I have since learned from friends who were there, that the nobility went well beyond that one moment. I was told that the Notre Dame fans did not boo the opposing team when they first ran onto the field which is all too often the case these days instead, they cheered them. And at the end of the first quarter, the stadium announcer asked the fans to recognize Navy on this day after Veterans Day and they gave the Midshipmen a long standing ovation.

The Irish band played Anchors Aweigh several times during the game and one witness watched as total strangers walked up to the Midshipmen and thanked them for their service. He described it as not just one act of manners it was all day long.

In post-game interviews, I watched spellbound as Notre Dame players spoke not of their own (awesome) achievements on the field, but talked instead of their opponents and how they faced far greater challenges in the future, not on the football field, but on the battlefield. Again, I cried.

Thank you, Charlie Weis, for a class act. Thank you, Notre Dame, for embracing patriotism.

Thank you, Navy, for your service.

3.9 - The Three Year Test Comes Early - Offense II

Finally, the offense Part Deux. As critical as the passing game is going to be to making a run at the national championship, establishing a dominant running game will be just as, if not more, critical to Irish title hopes. Simply, if Weis can get Darius running effectively, there will be no stopping the Irish offense.

Walker was injured for much of last year and a step slow, but he sliced through Ohio State's defense early in the Fiesta Bowl and I still think he could have been effective if used more. Weis loves to run Darius on Draws, but it would be heartening to see the big uglies get a chance to blow opponents off the line of scrimmage and try to dominate opponents.


Weis has an effective pair of workmen backs in Walker and Thomas. Walker is a slippery , deceptively powerful, cutback guy, while Thomas is more of a hammer with speed. Weis used them well against USC and it would be great to see him go to these guys even more this year. In 1993, Holtz got the most out of Lee Becton's skills and rode him to a national championship (I know,) Holtz said you couldn't tackle Lee in a telephone booth, but Lou probably could have caught him in the open field. Walker has that same ability, the inate awareness to stop, let tacklers go by, then slither for some extra yards which he usually got averaging 4.7 yeards a carry. He has great vision, sets up his blocks and finds daylight. He'll never be a home run hitter, but you can win big and frustrate tacklers by letting Darius find holes. He's got a little Payton in him. Thomas runs with speed and power and, as evidenced against USC, has the ability to take it to the house. They've proven to be a very good twosome and I expect those two to get the bulk of the carries even with five-star recruit James Aldridge coming to the Bend. Here's why: A back's primary responsibility is to protect the football and Notre Dame lost just six fumbles all of last year. Also important in this offense is the ability to pass block and catch out of the backfield, both of which Walker proved to be expectional at last year. I don't expect him to come out much.

Out: Jeff Jenkins
In: James Aldridge, Munir Prince


The Rock tabbed Asaph Schwapp as a darkhorse in last year's freshmen group. He has incredible size at 6' 250lbs for a young kid and surprising feet, but he proved to either lack instincts or experience last year when called upon to run. I was hoping for a Bettis-like emergence, but I just didn't see it. That said, he played as a true frosh and many kids don't fulfill their potential until their upperclassmen years. He's a sledge hammer of a back, who may benefit if the staff concentrates more on the running game this year, more importantly, he's going to hell to deal with as a blocker. Ashley McConnell actually has similar size to Schwapp, but received only one carry all of last year. I'm very high on freshmen Luke Schmidt who adds an open field breakaway dimension and will be a matchup nightmare coming out of the backfield or lining up as an h-back. We should be improved at the fullback position both in terms of experience and talent.

Out: RPN
In: Luke Schmidt


You can't lose an Anthony Fasano and not feel it, but John Carlson brings more speed and a different dimension to the tight end position. While Fasano looks like a protypical tight end, Carlson looks more like a really big wide receiver and he can really run for a big guy. Fasano's departure also makes room for Marcus Freeman who has had an unremarkable career to this point, but will likely play a lot as Weis works to find mismatches. Freshmen Konrad Rueland, who's more of a Carlson type Tight End, will have to be ready early and often because of the departure of Joey Hiben, who wants to concentrate on academics. Carlson and Fasano give Brady Quinn two experience targets, but in Fasano had a Mr. Dependable, a guy who made some deceivingly great catches. You just can't count on anyone, no matter how talented, replacing him in full, but Rueland and Carlson will give Quinn two big agile targets and something tells me that Freeman is going to make a statement at the position this year. Paddy Mullen may see action at tight end if Rueland doesn't make early strides, but he's also needed desperately on the defensive line where Irish recruiting turned in a goose egg last year.

Out: Anthony Fasano, Joey Hiben
In: Konrad Rueland, Paddy Mullen


I don't know squat about kickers and punter, except that DJ was one of the best position punters in the game and I wish used him more that way last year. Burkhart turned in the best numbers at a camp according to ProKicker.com (yes, there really is such a thing,) averaging 66 yards on his kickoffs(endzone) and grading out at 90% for field goals. I don't really get such things, but that's them.

Out: DJ Fitzpatrick
In: Ryan Burkhart

Housekeeping Notes:

The Ten Secrets: A Father's Last Gift should be restocked at Amazon.com for those who inquired. The new shipments will be there anytime. Hey, better than not selling out, right? BTW, I'm slowly coming around to dropping The Ten Secrets from the title and just going with A Father's Last Gift. If you have feedback on this idea, please forward it to sme@thetensecrets.com. I've been told the current title is too hard to remember.

Also, we had a few inquiries about the great painting shown in last week's The Rock. I looked it up and it can be bought here:


Neither NDNation nor The Rock have anything to do with it, nor do we endorse it. Just providing the info.

~ The Rock

3/2 - Notre Dame, Brown, Harvard, Yale....

The last two coaching staffs managed to turn a positive into a huge negative, complaining about academics and restrictions. The new staff sells Notre Dame's elite academic status and the fact that if you come to school in South Bend, the school will help you raise your academic achievement. In a recent NCAA study, Notre Dame ranked with Ivy League schools in having its student athletes outperform academic standards, while opponents have been put on watch for underperforming... no surprise the worst performers were football and basketball factories.

Here's the AP Story:

Ninety-nine teams at 65 schools produced failing marks under the NCAA's new academic measurements and could begin losing scholarships next fall. Teams that fall below the NCAA's cutoff line would not be able to replace those scholarships when academically ineligible athletes leave school. The NCAA has limited penalties to a maximum of 10 percent of the scholarships.

Football teams had the worst overall results Thursday, followed by baseball and men's basketball. Nine women's programs were penalized.

The NCAA also released a list of schools that consistently outperformed the academic standards. Among those were Brown, Harvard, Yale, Notre Dame, the three U.S. military academies and William and Mary.

NCAA officials said they were pleased with the improvement over last year when it appeared 6 percent of schools could be sanctioned. Less than 2 percent of all teams were actually penalized Thursday because of their academic performance.

NCAA president Myles Brand attributed some of the improvement to a statistical adjustment made for squad size - something that will eventually be phased out.

"Our goal is not to sanction schools but to change behavior, and we are seeing some positive results," Brand said. "But those schools who were helped by the squad-size adjustment are at risk."

Sacramento State in California had the most teams affected (six) and could face the loss of as many five athletes. The school could lose as many as 2.3 scholarships.

Prairie View A&M, in Texas, was among the hardest sanctioned schools. It could lose nearly 10 athletes in five sports and be penalized 5.3 scholarships in football and nearly eight altogether.

Ten schools could lose more than 17 athletes in football alone.

Only seven teams in the six power conferences - Atlantic Coast, Big East, Big Ten, Big 12, Southeastern and Pac-10 - were sanctioned. Four schools - Oklahoma State, Texas Tech and Texas of the Big 12, and Tennessee of the SEC - had insufficient scores in baseball. West Virginia of the Big East was penalized in men's wrestling and Mississippi of the SEC was sanctioned in men's indoor track.

DePaul of the Big East was the only power conference school to be penalized in football or men's basketball. It could lose one scholarship in men's basketball.

There is some concern that historically black colleges and universities were affected disproportionately.

"It is an issue," Brand said. "A number of those institutions received mission exemptions, but there are a number of institutions that are still not performing as well for student-athletes as they are for the rest of the student body."

Kevin Lennon, the NCAA's vice president for membership services, said 63 teams received waivers, primarily based on mission statements. Sixteen waivers were rejected.

Forty-three football teams fell below the cutline, with 23 actually sanctioned. Baseball was second with 40 teams missing the cutline and 21 facing penalties; and men's basketball was third with 37 teams failing to make the grade and 17 receiving sanctions.

Brand said baseball has been hit harder because more players leave school early for professional leagues and transfer rules do permit baseball players to sit out one season before continuing their college career.

Harsher penalties will be handed out in the future.

Next year, the NCAA will begin sending warning letters to schools whose teams have historically fared poorly in academics. In 2007-08, those schools could face the loss of scholarships and in 2008-09, the penalties could include a ban from postseason tournaments.

~ The Rock

Signed copies of The Rock's first book are now available at the Barnes and Noble on Walnut Street in Rittenhouse Square in Philadelphia. If you're in Philly, it's up on the third floor in the fiction section.


Barnes & Noble

The Ten Secrets

Notre Dame is the next dynasty of college basketball

"Notre Dame is the next dynasty of college basketball"

Al McGuire said this after ND beat DePaul by 20 in 1978 to reach the Final Four. Digger said the rest is all gravy. That was the absolute highest of the highs for ND basketball. We were poised to become what Duke is today and then Digger stopped. To those who think if the Ainge play would have changed anything are about three years too late. The slide started when we mde the Final Four. Digger rode out the string with a group of very talented players but he stopped recruiting after the Woolridge, Jackson and Tripucka class. We could have been somebody Charlie, we could have been a contender.


There's been a refocus in recruiting towards speed and (to an extent) defense. This is good. Now there needs to be a similar refocus on the team at large. A faster tempo on both ends of the court and more focus and tenacity on D should be the theme. They'll have lots of options on this team with a lot of varied skill sets. Those options should be utilized. It might be rocky at first, but in the long run, the team and the program will be better for it.

Defense or the lack thereof killed this team. ND's inability to make a critical stop either stem the oppositions momemtum, or to keep their offense flow going, was the reason why we lost so many winnable games. As brother Webb stated below Marquette is by no means shape or form a great team but we could have had them and the game with two possesions of defense. Instead we let them run off 9 straight points to take the lead, the game, and our season in our own house! Defense is about heart and coaching. These may not be the most athletic bunch in the BE but they have heart.

That leaves coaching. From where I sit our defense under Brey was never great but all conception of it went out the door when Anthony Solomon left for St. Bonaventure. I think it fair that coach Brey, in light of some of the apparent institutional hurdles that he's saddled with, get another season. But my attitude on him will be that of Willingham after the BYU game if he doesn't make some staff changes to address area's of obvious deficiency . ND might have saddled him with some hurdles but that doesn't extend to staff. That's an area that he himself controls.


I see some encouraging things in terms of changes made, whether it's the types of players we're recruiting, how Brey approaches handling his players, etc. But he always appears to be at least a full beat slow on making the necessary adjustments, many of which are somewhat obvious to those paying close attention to the program. The time to change assistants was after last season, not after this one. The time to recognize that Francis had to prove himself worthy of 30+ minutes a game was at the beginning of the season, not a week-and-a-half ago. The time to figure out that we can't succeed in the BE without playing better team defense (and recruit players with entirely different skill sets, if necessary) was...well, it was a hell of a lot earlier than last night's post mortem. The basketball program obviously has some problems and issues to resolve that run deeper than the man who happens to be coaching it currently. Still, I find myself losing confidence in Brey's ability to self-evaluate with a critical eye and make adjustments as necessary in a timely fashion (emphasis on that final part), even when the change required is a painful one. And I don't believe he can be a championship-caliber basketball coach without possessing that trait, regardless of what our practice facilities look like.


Kevin White's inability to develop support for the program, financially and otherwise, has taken a severe toll; and I don't trust him to conduct an effective replacement process. For those and sundry other reasons, I want White gone before a new coach is hired. I want the university committed to basketball excellence from the top down before a new coach is hired.
I want ND to make a firm facilities commitment, to commit the money for a top of the line head coach and first rate assistants, and to provide the same admissions support it has for football before a new coach is hired. Replacing Brey before those things happen is just hoping to get lucky by hiring a promising but unproven coach praying that he becomes a great one.
If the new coach is hired before the other stuff happens and he doesn't work out, it will be a three year setback at the minimum. If ND takes a year to get the other stuff in place, keeping Brey risks a one year setback. If ND can make the necessary commitments right now, I'm all for making a change.


11-5 (first place-West Division)
NCAA Midwest Regional second round

BIG EAST quarterfinals (first-round bye)

10-6 (second place-West Division)
NCAA South Regional second round

BIG EAST semifinals (first-round bye)

10-6 (tied for third place-West Division)
NCAA West Regional round of 16

BIG EAST first round

9-7 (seventh place)
NIT Third Round

BIG EAST quarterfinals

9-7 (sixth place)
NIT First Round

BIG EAST first round

6-10 (12th place)
NIT Second Round

BIG EAST first round

Balanis and Preston


I know for a fact that these types of conversations have not been had in the past, well he did tell them to have a great summer. Problem here is Mike expects these kids to do these things on their own, and have his captains be the policeman. He needs to demand excellence. His coversations should go something like this.

Message to Colin Falls:

During the summer establish competency taking the ball and finishing in the lane with both hands. Also establish a ball fake and put the ball on the floor for a mid range jumper. If you come back in the fall as a 3 point jump shooter and not exploit the areas inside the arc, your minutes will dimish. I don't care if you are a captain.

Message to RuC

During the summer lose 15 pounds. It will not take away any finishing strength and it should add an inch to your verticle and make you a 1/4 to 1/2 step quicker. It will also improve your stamina, and your going to need it cause our opponenets will run fresh bodies at you all season long. If you don't believe me look what losing 10 pounds did for JJ Reddick. Don't do it and Ryan Ayers will be right up you ass, cause I expect him to add 15 pounds of muscle and shoot 2,000 jumpers a day. That free scholarship our managers get is going to be earned this summer shagging RA's jumpers.

Message to RA

Read above threat to RuC.

Message to Rob Kurz:

Get to a big man camp, you need to be a high low threat. Work on the jumper from the soft spots in the zone. Study tapes of last years games (pickup copies from Coach Ellis on your way out) and learn passing out of the low post. I got sick and tired of watching the ball go into the low post and watch cutters go through the lane while Francis and Cornett only hunted their shots. Do these things and you be rewarded with extended minutes next season.

Message to Luke Zellar:

Jump rope for at least an hour every day. After that establish basic footwork skills with a soccer ball, cause if you don't improve your footwork you'll only see mop up time the rest of your career. Work on you low post moves as you and Rob Kurz can be an efective high low combo. Continue to work on you shot from soft spots in the zone and keep your passing skills sharp. Don't accomplish these goals and Harangody or Hillesland will have your ass next season.

Message to KMac: Focus exlusive on finishing with you left hand inside 3 feet. You have no problem breaking down your defender and getting inside the paint however you 6-feet tops and unless you establish profeciency with both hands our opponenets will camp on your right. Your outside shot and floor vision are just fine. Do this and you play extended minutes, but know this, Jackson up in Michigan could be just as dynamic as you are and he's working on the same skills I asked of you. We'll see come fall who really worked in the summer.

Message to Hillesland:

Spend the summer with Ayers as I'll have a ball boy available to shag you jumpers. After your done with you jumpers bang on Zellar and Kurz for a while pefecting some go to low post moves.

Message to Harangody:

Lose 10 to 15 pounds and watch tons of tape to learn where the soft spots in zones are. Run Run and Run. Do a lot of slide step drills as well. You'll be surprised at how fast the college game is so see Coach Gillen to pick up some plyometeric excersizes to increase you quick twitch muscle reaction time. Know this, your recieving a 35,000 dollar a year education plus your going to get plenty of exposure on tlevision playing basketball, I expect someting in return.

Message to People's

Spend the summer with Harangody.

Message to team:

The time for puking is in the summer, running and conditioning are your reposibility. You have all been timed, your body fat's been measured and your vericle jumps have been recorded. We know exactly what type of physical shape you were in at the end of the season. If you don't come back in fall camp in better shape then you are right now, you will not pick up a basketball untill you are. If that means it takes half a season so be it, just remember it's your scholarship. Additionally we will be conducting physical testing the first two days of practice and we will know the amount of effort you put out over the summer. Gentlemen if all 10 of you do what is reguired over the summer there will be minutes available to all 10. Minutes will be distibuted based on productivity not seniority. I repeat minutes will be distributed pbased on productivity not seniority. Have a great summer.

El Capitan on Development

Notes on individuals

Board consensus is probably that Murphy is the best player during the Brey era, but Thomas and Francis have better high school credentials while Carroll (outstanding player from large state) and Carter (similar senior year statistics in the same state) enjoyed comparable careers.

Thomas is the best player that Brey has coached, based on high school accolades, but Humphrey is pretty close. Statistically, Carroll enjoyed a better senior season than Thomas and I would suppose that their homestates are comparable in terms of competition (although I cannot comment intelligently on the level of competition within their conferences).

Carroll had a tremendous prep career (he is historically great within the state of Pennsylvania) and most likely benefitted from not being the team's centerpiece until his senior year. He also benefitted from some strong players (2000/2001: Murph/Hump/Ings/Swan, 2001/2002: Hump/Swan/Graves/Thomas 2002/2003: Miller/Thomas/Francis) throughout his career.

Torrian Jones is a fairly disappointing player. His high school resume would compare favorably to other guards: Inglesby/Graves, yet he had nowhere near the productivity of those two.

Russell Carter's recent emergence match the player expected from his high school resume. It is not unreasonable to hope for him to guide this program to success next season.

Rick Cornett's high school accolades probably best compare to Chris Quinn's. I would posit that this indicates with similar dedication to development (i.e. playing time, analogous coaching, etc.) that Rick Cornett should be the "Chris Quinn" at the post at this point in his career.

Torin Francis and Rick Cornett both have significantly better high school resumes than Harold Swanigan. Francis and Humphrey earned similar honors. Cornett's honors seem to parallel Francis's, but at a lower level of magnitiude, perhaps reflecting the lower limelight of his high school.

The three weakest players of the "full-time players" are probably Timmermans, Jordan Cornette, and Jones. These three were counted on as contributors in 2004, which most likely accounts for the NCAA absense that season.


Someone on und really likes the phrase "final scholastic campaign".

Big Men: the disparity of the prep careers of Swanigan and Humphrey and their high production contrasted to low production of Cornett and Francis (and even Latimore) and their similar prep careers make this a tough analysis. Swanigan earned fair recognition (first team all-state) and had comparative averages as a senior, but neither are at the level of the other four examples. Were the later three all "over-rated" or were they victims of a confluence of factors (i.e. injury for Francis, playing time for Cornett)? Perhaps a more accurate view is that big men need a level of development to be successful, particularly within the Big East, which has been absent for whatever reason the last 3 years. Conclusion: hiring a good big-man coach (discussed heavily) seems necessary. Ideally, this coach would be an expert in developing post players, as strong talent has been brought in to generate solid post production.

Guards: our guards have on the whole had very strong prep careers, ranging from All-conference honors to a McD's AA, with many school/state records littering the landscape. Almost without exception, these players have become solid starters and some have gone onto Big-East honors, but have been weakest at breaking down a defense off the dribble. Production has been fairly uniform, despite oscilations in prep career. Conclusion: No substantial improvement required, unless there is a "break down off the dribble" coach.

Transfers: All three transfers enjoyed very strong prep careers (all earned high honors and were probably higher overall than the composite of the "regulars"), but Humphrey stands head-and-shoulders ahead of Miller and Latimore in terms of averages and honors earned at previous college. Latimore's honors were the least and probably had the worst ND career of the three. Likewise, Humphrey had the best and had the best career at ND. Conclusion: Humphrey was a damn good player and we were lucky to get him. Beware players "voluntarily" leaving the team and only transfers demonstrating high level of performance should be accepted.

Overall Talent: It seems that the team is similarly if not more talented overall than it was early in Brey's tenure, but the inability to develop big men despite strong prep careers (indicative of "talent") has hampered this program from entering the Big East elite and in fact has contributed to its decline since his early tenure.


Is it not self-contradictory for the Notre Dame administration to say, "Well, we didn't start the renovations we promised you six years ago because we wanted to wait until all the money is in, even though we held up most construction on campus except the former president's pet projects. And we've held you to a higher standard for giving athletes early offers than some of the other coaches on campus. But since you finished below .500 in the Big East for the first time in your career, we're going to have to let you go."

People like to point out our lack of dribble penetration, etc.

But in watching some of the NCAA games, the one thing that I think we really lack is the post player who is explosive, decisive and powerful. I watch some of these teams have a guy in the paint who simply looks effortless in going to the hoop.

Then I watch our plodders in Francis and Cornett as if they are in slow motion.

As much as I like Kurz, I am not sure he is that type of interior player. And I doubt Harangody will be ready to be that big of an impact, at least early.

Not only does Brey's "system" need to change, I think his whole recruiting approach needs to change.

Although his recent class with a speedy PG, an athletic wing who can defend and a wide body for the paint is a nice start.

1. Stop the timeout promotions These have the unfortunate effect of sucking the life out of the crowd. Once the sponsor is announced, there is no more presence or awareness for the sponsor. I can't tell you who sponsored the Hummer game or the hamster ball game last night. There is no lasting effect for the sponsors, so I can't imagine they'd resist a change. There are other and better ways to recognize the sponsors.
2. Overhaul the musical selections A lot of the non-ND songs have gotten stale through the passage of time and over-use. Look around the arena when these songs are played. Nothing is happening. The band used to feed the crowd, and that is simply not happening now. Piped-in music is fine as a supplement to the band, but clearly some different selections must be played.
3. Hire a new PA announcer Jon Thompson is a good man and does many things for the University. He is completely in his element as the announcer for the band. I listen to his radio show every morning. He is a kind and sensitive soul. Having said that, he is simply not the man to keep the crowd in the game. In fact, he has the opposite effect. There is no reason that his replacement must be a media member - the great Jack Lloyd was an insurance agent. Less media polish and more Irish passion would carry the day. I urge you to talk to alumni and local residents who can remember the days when it was truly an event to attend a Notre Dame home basketball game. The players, coaching staff, students, faculty, alumni and local residents would all be grateful to you if you would make a serious effort during the coming offseason to reinvent the game experience.


Austin Carr, Troy Murphy, Bill Lambier,

I was the guy who came in second in the contest for John Mellencamp tickets. I'm also the guy who stood up with three or so minutes left in the second half and implored the rest of you to get up and start making noise.