From Sea to Shining Sea

Author: Sarah Rodts

A Legendary Rivalry Built on Gratitude & Respect for the US Navy


On Saturday, November 2nd Notre Dame and Navy will come together at Notre Dame Stadium to compete and celebrate the longest uninterrupted intersectional rivalry in college football, which began in 1927.

Notre Dame leads the series 73-12-1. Prior to 2007 Notre Dame had a winning streak of 43 games, the longest series win streak between two annual opponents in the history of Division I FBS football. While there is great history between these two footballs programs, the relationship between the Naval Academy and the University of Notre Dame is one that is built on more than football alone.

During World War II Notre Dame faced financial troubles that many feared would force the University to close its doors. However, the Secretary of the U.S. Navy, at the recommendation of the Commander-in-Chief of the Pacific Fleet, Admiral Chester Nimitz, agreed to make Notre Dame a training center for the Navy and paid to use University facilities, allowing Notre Dame to keep its doors open. In a letter to Admiral Nimitz, Notre Dame President Rev. Hugh O’Donnell, expressed the University’s deepest gratitude for the opportunity to continue to be Notre Dame and train men for the United States of America. He wrote, “Yes, Notre Dame is doing its part. We are in this war as much as you are. But Notre Dame is still operating as Notre Dame. We are training men for America, for today and tomorrow.” According to the United States Navy, by 1945 the Notre Dame Naval Reserve Officers Training Program resulted in over 10,000 trainees being commissioned ensigns in the naval reserve.

Since the Navy’s incredible gesture and partnership during that time, Notre Dame has invited the Midshipmen to play the Fighting Irish each year. Throughout the series the Irish and Midshipmen have twice traveled across the ocean to compete in Ireland, most recently meeting in 2012 at Aviva Stadium, further signifying and solidifying an unbreakable bond built on mutual respect between Navy and Notre Dame.

The Irish will kick off against Navy on Saturday, November 2nd at 3:30 PM ET and the game will be broadcast on NBC.

Message from Rev. Hugh O’Donnell to Admiral Chester Nimitz:



My address on the Nineteenth annual Universal Notre Dame Night is a little different. The sons and friends of Notre Dame will not mind if I say a few words to a friend of Notre Dame, the Commander-in-Chief of the Pacific Fleet, Admiral Chester Nimitz ’05 (Naval Academy). He is somewhere in Far Eastern waters. He may be on his favorite submarine, aboard a battleship, or aloft a plane, directing operations against the enemy. Even now, he may be engaged in battle.

Admiral Nimitz, wherever you are, Notre Dame greets you. I send this message on behalf of 15,000 Notre Dame men throughout the world. A thousand of them are in our armed forces. This is in keeping with our heritage of patriotism…


Last fall, Admiral, you gave a Navy Day address in Washington Hall. You had never been on our campus before, but you and Notre Dame were not strangers. We had admired you for a long time, and you knew us and our traditions. As Chief of the Bureau of Navigation, you recommended to the Secretary of the Navy the establishment of the Notre Dame unit of the Naval R. O. T. C.

Did you know that our students have doubled up to make room for a thousand of your boys-future officers of the United States Navy? They are sitting before me now.

Yes, Notre Dame is doing its part. We are in this war as much as you are. But Notre Dame is still operating as Notre Dame. We are training men for America, for today and tomorrow.

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