Notre Dame football = touchdowns and tragedy

Spotlight shines on the program, in good times and bad

November 25, 2012|RedEye

The scenario many have dreamed of, and still many others have dreaded, has come true: Notre Dame football has finished the regular season 12-0 and will play for the national title. The program is often in the spotlight—though that's not always a good thing. Here's a look at the high and low points of each coach since the Fighting Irish last won the national title, in 1988.

Lou Holtz (1986-96)

High: He won the 1988 national title, took Notre Dame to nine consecutive New Year's Day bowl games and to five top-10 finishes in the AP poll.

Low: In 1999, the NCAA placed the Irish on two years probation for extra benefits provided to players between 1993 and 1999 by former Notre Dame student Kim Dunbar, as well as academic fraud that occurred under Holtz's successor, Bob Davie.

Bob Davie (1997-2001)

High: Other than beating rival USC a few times, the biggest feather in Davie's cap was taking the team to its first BCS game. (The Irish lost, 41-9.)

Low: One of the first orders of business after Davie took over as head coach: firing offensive line coach Joe Moore—who successfully sued the university for age discrimination.

Tyrone Willingham (2002-04)

High: Willingham made history when he became the first African-American head coach at Notre Dame in any sport.

Low: The Irish were 10-3 in their first year under Willingham, but he was fired after they finished 5-7 and 6-6, respectively, the next two seasons.

Charlie Weis (2005-09)

High: He's the only coach to take the Irish to two BCS games. Even though they lost both, that's a lot of cash in Notre Dame's pocket.

Low: While Weis was busy leading the Irish, he also was embroiled in the New England Patriots' Spygate debacle. This led some to ask how much of an "offensive genius" he really was.

Brian Kelly (2010-present)

High: Kelly has done what his three immediate predecessors could not: Give the Irish a shot at the national title.

Low: In September 2010, a college freshman who accused a Notre Dame football player of sexually assaulting her committed suicide. A little more than a month later, student Declan Sullivan was killed when the hydraulic lift upon which he was standing while filming practice toppled, and Sullivan did not survive the fall.

Sources: Chicago Tribune, und.com


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