College football’s annual bowl season is full of surprises and spectacular moments. Famous coaches have had some memorable remarks about American’s most popular sport, and here are some of them by legendary Notre Dame coach Knute Rockne, who many consider to be the best of the best.
Knute Rockne’s head coaching record in college football was second to none, and his won-loss percentage is better than any other college or pro coach ever.
In 13 years with the Notre Dame Fighting Irish, Rockne’s regular season won-loss percentage was 90% (105-12-5), his winning percentage among all games was 86%, and he led Notre Dame to 6 national championships, winning titles in 1919 (9-0), 1920 (9-0), 1924 (10-0), 1927 (7-1-1), 1929 (9-0) and 1930 (10-0). Five of his 6 national championships came from undefeated teams.
Along the way he coached the immortal George “Gipper” Gipp, whose multiple skills lifted Notre Dame to national fame, and the “Four Horsemen” backfield of Harry Stuhldreher, Don Miller, Jim Crowley and Elmer Layden that led the Fighting Irish to a 28-2 record.
While covering a Notre Dame football game, sportswriter Grantland Rice penned the famous opening story line-“Outlined against a blue-gray October sky, the Four Horsemen rode again”-that has become legend in sports history.
Rockne’s influence on the game of football was immense. He is credited with helping popularize the forward pass, initiating intersectional rivalries, building a national schedule, and instituting the “Rockne Shift”, a backfield T formation that quickly shifted into a box formation to the right or left as the ball was snapped.
He was also the first coach to realize the market potential of football as an entertainment medium and openly promoted Notre Dame football by courting the media for free advertising so Notre Dame’s football program would be financially successful.
Knute Rockne was a Norwegian immigrant who graduated magna cum laude from Notre Dame in 1914, played end for the Fighting Irish that defeated the highly-ranked Army team for the first time in 1913, and was a graduate assistant in chemistry before eventually becoming Notre Dame’s head coach in 1918. A Protestant, he converted to Catholicism later in life.
Following his undefeated, 6th national championship team in 1930, Rockne died at age 43 as a passenger in a tragic Fokker airplane accident that would help revolutionize the transportation business and lead to the all-metal Boeing 247 aircraft. He was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 1951 as a charter member.
Here are some of Knute Rockne’s best known quotes:
“Four years of football are calculated to breed in the average man more of the ingredients of success in life than almost any academic course he takes.”
“At home we’re the hosts, and I never liked the idea of being embarrassed in front of our friends.”
“On the road we’re somebody else’s guests – and we play in a way that they’re not going to forget we visited them.”
“We count on winning. And if we lose, don’t beef. And the best way to prevent beefing is – don’t lose.”
“Let’s win one for the Gipper.”
“I’ve found that prayers work best when you have big players.”
“It isn’t necessary to see a good tackle. You can hear it.”
“One loss is good for the soul, too many losses is not good for the coach.”
“Show me a good and gracious loser and I’ll show you a failure.”
“Yes, I know that you feel you are not strong enough. That’s what the enemy thinks too. But we’re gonna fool them.”
“The secret is to work less as individuals and more as a team. As a coach, I play not my eleven best, but my best eleven.”
“One man practicing sportsmanship is better than a hundred teaching it.”
“Most men, when they think they are thinking, are merely rearranging their prejudices.”
Copyright © 2008 Ed Bagley