Notre Dame-Miami Preview: Cradle of Coaches--The Irish Have One, Too

Author: Ami Driscoll

Notre Dame-Miami Preview: Cradle of Coaches--The Irish Have One, Too

Sept. 27, 2017

By John Heisler

The names in marquee lights begin with Woody Hayes and Knute Rockne.

Throw in Bo Schembechler and Frank Leahy, John Pont and Dan Devine.

Don't forget Lou Holtz and Bill Mallory.

And Jesse Harper, Sid Gillman and George Little.

For good measure, include Earl "Red" Blaik, Carm Cozza, Jim Tressel and Jim Young.

The common denominator is Ara Parseghian.

What's the connection between all of these people?

They all coached football at either the University of Notre Dame or Miami University-or both, as Parseghian did so impressively as head coach at both institutions.

Members of the College Football Hall of Fame are Hayes, Gillman, Little, Rockne, Leahy, Schembechler, Devine, Holtz, Parseghian and Harper.

Blaik, Cozza, Tressel and Young began as assistant coaches at Miami before becoming successful enough as head coaches to earn selection to the College Hall of Fame.

The only institutions with more head coaches in the Hall of Fame are Ohio State (with seven, Hayes among them) and Michigan (Schembechler included), Nebraska and Texas A&M (six each).

Miami has its Cradle of Coaches, not just a nickname but a university association that also inducts successful RedHawk coaches in other sports besides football.

The Miami coaching tree also includes these names:

--Weeb Ewbank (a Miami graduate who won NFL titles with the Baltimore Colts and a Super Bowl crown with the New York Jets)

--Paul Dietzel and Bill Arnsparger (both LSU head coaches and Miami graduates)--Paul Brown (a Miami graduate who was the Ohio State and NFL Cleveland Browns head coach and founder of both the Browns and Cincinnati Bengals franchises)

--John Harbaugh (a Miami graduate who was Super Bowl-winning head coach with the Baltimore Ravens)

--John Pont and Bill Mallory (graduates of Miami, they both served as head coach in Oxford and went on to become head coach at Indiana)

--Sean Payton (former Miami offensive coordinator in 1994-95 who is the longtime head coach of the NFL New Orleans Saints)

--Randy Walker (former Miami head coach who went on to become head coach at Northwestern-his 1995 Miami team handed Northwestern its only regular-season defeat)

--Terry Hoeppner (former Miami head coach who also became Indiana head coach)

--Kevin Wilson (former Miami assistant coach who became Indiana head coach)

--Ron Zook (former Miami player who became head coach at Florida and Illinois)

Yet another former Miami head coach, Dick Crum, won 34 games, three MAC titles and two bowl games from 1974-77 and went on to become head coach at North Carolina.

Notre Dame doesn't have a formal name for its group-but it has honored those who have won at least one national championship with individual Jerry McKenna sculptures around Notre Dame Stadium. Rockne, Leahy, Parseghian, Devine and Holtz qualify in that category.

Miami created its Cradle of Coaches Plaza in front of Yager Stadium, with life-sized Kristen Visbal sculptures of Cozza, Ewbank, Dietzel, Blaik, Brown, Schembechler, Parseghian and Pont erected in 2010 and 2011:

--Cozza went from Miami to win 179 games and 10 Ivy League titles as head coach at Yale (1965-96).

--Ewbank is the only man to coach winners of the NFL Championship, AFL Championship and Super Bowl games-winning 130 games with the Baltimore Colts and New York Jets.

--Dietzel was named national coach of the year after leading LSU to the 1958 national title.

--Blaik went from being a player and assistant coach in Oxford to being head coach at Dartmouth (1934-40) and Army (1941-58), winning 166 career games and national titles at Army in 1944 and 1945.

--Brown became a major figure in the development of the National Football League.

--Schembechler won 234 games, spending 1969-89 as Michigan head coach.

--Parseghian won 170 games at Miami, Northwestern and Notre Dame.

--Pont was the national coach of the year in 1967 when he led Indiana to the Rose Bowl.

The ESPN College Football Encyclopedia in 2005 wrote about Miami, "The school has perhaps the greatest coaching bloodlines in the sport."

Miami's most well-know player? It's probably a quarterback by the name of Ben Roethlisberger.

Today's meeting in football between the Irish and RedHawks would have been a proud moment for Parseghian who passed away Aug. 4.

Yet there remains plenty of current and former connections between the two institutions, both on and off the football field.

After Parseghian's death, the Miami delegation in attendance at the service at the Basilica and memorial service was led by president Greg Crawford, formerly dean of the College of Science at Notre Dame, and current RedHawk head coach Chuck Martin, who came to Oxford after four seasons as the Irish offensive coordinator and quarterback coach.

Crawford, one of speakers at the memorial service, had worked closely while he was at Notre Dame with the Parseghian family to raise funds and create awareness via the Ara Parseghian Medical Foundation for the fight against Niemann Pick Type C, which claimed the lives of three Parseghian grandchildren.

Parseghian, a 1947 Miami graduate, served a single season in Oxford as an assistant coach under Hayes. When Hayes left for Columbus and the head coaching job at Ohio State, Parseghian became the Miami head coach at age 27. From 1951-55, he won 39 games against six losses and a single tie. His 1954 and 1955 Miami teams won Mid-American Conference titles and his final squad finished unbeaten before Parseghian left to become the Northwestern head coach.

A few years ago, Parseghian told ESPN's Mark Schlabach, "You've got guys who waited 10 or 15 years, and even Vince Lombardi waited a long time for a head coaching job. I was the freshman coach, and in less than a year I was the head coach. I was 27 years old. I've often looked back and remembered how lucky I was."

Parseghian actually enrolled first at Akron University but left to enlist in the Navy during World War II. He was assigned to Great Lakes Naval Training Center north of Chicago-and the football coach there happened to be Brown, a Miami graduate. After the war, Parseghian enrolled at Miami (where he played football with Dietzel for Gillman and also earned letters in basketball and baseball). When Ara played briefly in the professional ranks, he did so for the Cleveland Browns of the All-American Football League who were coached by Brown. At one point, Parseghian played in the same Browns backfield with Otto Graham and Marion Motley.

While with the Browns, Parseghian took classes at Miami to complete his master's degree and also assisted Hayes during spring football drills. Hayes offered Parseghian the Miami freshman coaching position after Ara retired from pro ball in 1950-and Parseghian inherited the top spot a season later. His success in Oxford included wins over Big Ten members Northwestern and Indiana. Among the players he inherited when he became head coach was an offensive lineman named Schembechler.

The Notre Dame-Miami connections go on and on. Here are more:

--Tom Pagna, Notre Dame's offensive backfield coach during all 11 of Parseghian's years as head coach at Notre Dame 1964-74, was the first Miami player to rush for more than 1,000 yards in a single season. A two-time Little All-American, Pagna played in 1950 under Parseghian when Ara was the Miami freshman coach, then in 1951-53 in Parseghian's first three seasons as Miami head coach. A 1954 Miami graduate, Pagna was chosen team MVP as a senior after setting season records for rushing and scoring.

--Paul Shoults, Notre Dame's offensive line coach under Parseghian in South Bend, earned four letters as a player at Miami (1945-48), playing two seasons in the same backfield with Parseghian. Chosen the Miami MVP as a senior, he helped the Redskins to a combined 30-6-3 record. Ara hired him to coach the Miami freshmen in 1952, he moved up to become backfield coach a year later and followed Parseghian to both Northwestern and South Bend.

--Jerry Wampfler played tackle at Miami under Parseghian from 1951-53. He became Schembechler's offensive coordinator at Miami starting in 1963, then joined Parseghian's Notre Dame staff in 1966, working through 1969 as Irish offensive line coach. He later spent three years as head coach at Colorado State and went on to a long career as an NFL assistant coach through 1993.

--Richard "Doc" Urich played under Hayes at Miami from 1947-50, then he served on Parseghian's staff for five years at Miami and eight at Northwestern. Urich was a member of Parseghian's Notre Dame staff in 1964 and 1965-coaching the offensive line and receivers--before becoming a head coach for three years at Buffalo and two at Northern Illinois. He later spent 15 seasons as an NFL assistant coach for Denver, Washington and Green Bay.

--Mike Haywood, a former Irish flanker (1982-86), spent two seasons as Miami head coach, taking the RedHawks from a 1-11 record in 2009 to a 9-4 mark and conference title the following season. The MAC named Haywood its coach of the year in 2010.

--Martin a year ago led his Miami team to six straight victories to end the regular season, earning the RedHawks a berth in the St. Petersburg Bowl-after becoming the first team in NCAA Football Bowl Subdivision history to win six straight games after losing six straight to start the season.

Parseghian in 2016 received the prestigious President's Medal from Miami University in recognition of a lifetime of selfless devotion and dedication to improving the lives of others.

The President's Medal is presented to individuals of high achievement who have made significant contributions to Miami or to exceptional individuals who exemplify the university motto through their extraordinary service to their community.

"I have seen his commitment to social justice, I have seen him create change, and I have followed his virtuous leadership," Crawford said. "He exemplifies what it means to be a Miamian."

One of Parseghian's greatest fans was 1966 Irish team captain and linebacker Jim Lynch.

"By and large, what you see is what you get with Ara Parseghian," Lynch told Schlabach.

"He is a tremendous human being, really intelligent and a great motivator. He definitely had some edge to him, but he always had the best interests of his players and the program at heart."

A legendary figure at both his alma mater and in South Bend, Parseghian helped make the Cradle of Coaches a household name.

Notre Dame and Miami Coaching Timeline

Here's a combined timeline of the coaching greats who have impacted the Notre Dame and Miami programs:

1913: NOTRE DAME-Jesse Harper's first year as Notre Dame head coach. His first Notre Dame team claims a landmark victory against Army at West Point and his five seasons produce a 34-5-1 record. He also serves as head coach at Alma and Wabash. He is selected to the College Football Hall of Fame in 1971.

1916: MIAMI-George Little's first year as Miami head coach. His four seasons produce a 27-3-2 record, including 20 shutout victories. His first team in 1916 goes 7-0-1 and allows only six points all season. He also serves as head coach at Cincinnati, Michigan and Wisconsin through 1926. He is selected to the College Football Hall of Fame in 1955.

1918: NOTRE DAME-Knute Rockne's first year as Notre Dame head coach. His 13 Notre Dame teams produce three consensus national titles and a 105-12-5 record that still ranks as the best winning percentage in college football history. He is selected to the College Football Hall of Fame in 1951 in its first year of existence.

1924: MIAMI-Earl "Red" Blaik's first year as a Miami assistant coach. A player at Miami in 1915-17, Blaik goes on to serve as head coach at Dartmouth and then at Army from 1941-58, winning national crowns in 1944-45. He is selected to the College Football Hall of Fame in 1964.

1941: NOTRE DAME-Frank Leahy's first year as Notre Dame head coach. His 11 seasons produce four consensus national titles and an 87-11-9 record that trails only Rockne on the all-time win percentage list for college football. He previously serves as head coach at Boston College. He is selected to the College Football Hall of Fame in 1970.

1944: MIAMI-Sid Gillman's first year as head coach at Miami. His four seasons produce a 31-6-1 record. He goes on to become head coach at Cincinnati and later is head coach of the NFL Los Angeles Rams and San Diego Chargers. He is selected to the College Football Hall of Fame in 1989.

1949: MIAMI-Woody Hayes' first year as Miami head coach. His two seasons produce a 14-5 record before he leaves to become head coach at Ohio State (1951-78) where he wins 205 games and consensus national titles in 1954, 1957, 1961, 1968 and 1970. He is selected to the College Football Hall of Fame in 1983.

1950: MIAMI-Carm Cozza's first year as an assistant coach at Miami. A former Miami player, Cozza goes on to become head coach at Yale where he wins 10 Ivy League crowns. He is selected to the College Football Hall of Fame in 2002.

1951: MIAMI-Ara Parseghian's first year as Miami head coach. His five seasons produce two Mid-American Conference titles and a 39-6-1 record before he leaves to become head coach at Northwestern. He is selected to the College Football Hall of Fame in 1980.

1963: MIAMI-Bo Schembechler's first year as Miami head coach. A former Ohio State assistant under Woody Hayes, his six seasons produce a 40-17-3 record and two MAC titles before he leaves to become head coach at Michigan where he wins or shares the Big Ten Conference title 13 times. He is selected to the College Football Hall of Fame in 1993.

1964: NOTRE DAME-Ara Parseghian's first year as Notre Dame head coach. His 11 seasons produce a pair of consensus national tiles in 1966 and 1973 and a 95-17-4 record. He is selected to the College Football Hall of Fame in 1980.

1964: MIAMI-Jim Young's first year as an assistant coach at Miami. He goes on to become a head coach at Arizona, Purdue and Army. He is selected to the College Football Hall of Fame in 1999.

1975: NOTRE DAME-Dan Devine's first year as Notre Dame head coach. His six seasons produce a 53-16-1 record. He also serves as head coach at Missouri and Arizona State and with the NFL Green Bay Packers. He is selected to the College Football Hall of Fame in 1985.

1979: MIAMI-Jim Tressel's first year as a Miami assistant coach. He goes on to serve as a head coach at Youngstown State (four NCAA Division I-AA national titles) and Ohio State (94-22 and six Big Ten titles from 2001-2010, plus a BCS national title in 2002). He is selected to the College Football Hall of Fame in 2015.

1986: NOTRE DAME-Lou Holtz's first year as Notre Dame head coach. His 11 seasons produce a consensus national title and a 100-30-2 record. He also serves as a head coach at William & Mary, North Carolina State, Arkansas, Minnesota and South Carolina. He is selected to the College Football Hall of Fame in 2008.


Here are Irish coach Brian Kelly's takes this week on the matchup Saturday between his Irish and Miami and his former offensive coordinator, current RedHawk coach Chuck Martin:

--"I think we showed great growth Boston College week in terms of our grit, in terms of coming back from some adversity. Then I think the growth that was shown against Michigan State was a great deal of poise, being on the road for the first time in that kind of environment, and then coming out with a big lead at halftime and really responding to Michigan State's push at us in the third quarter. 

"I'm really looking for those areas where your football team grows, and I think in both those instances, really important growth opportunities for our team--they were able to answer those calls in both instances. 

"Now we've got another opportunity for growth and that is to continue to play with the kind of mindset that we've developed since January--that's one of living up to the standard of excellence that we have here in this football program. The mission is to play for championships and to have championship-type performances week in and week out. So we expect nothing less from our football team again this weekend. 

"Miami University is a Mid-American Conference champion team that went to a bowl game. From here on out, we'll only play teams that have gone to bowl games, so that's another challenge for our football team in terms of quality opposition, a team that's won, and has an instilled sense of winning football games. Chuck Martin has done a great job of doing that in a very short period of time. He's done that obviously at Miami and certainly did that in incredible fashion at Grand Valley State. He'll do a great job in preparing his football team. He does a great job of handling these kinds of games. You just need to look at the games where he's played on big stages. They do a great job of controlling the football. I think they average almost 34 and a half minutes time of possession offensively. 

"So we have to be extremely efficient with the football offensively. They don't give up big plays defensively. This is a lot like playing Navy in the sense that you've got to be extremely efficient on offense against them, and you've got to keep the points down because they're going to do some really good things. 

"But Chuck and I are not going to be playing the game. I know how he is going to prepare his football team. He knows how I'll prepare my football team. I think that's probably it. I think I've gone against other coaches that I know very well in terms of how they'll prepare their football team, and I think that's probably the similarity.

"We're our harshest critic, and we don't really listen to a lot of the noise, whether it's good or bad. We know what we did against Georgia and what we needed to improve on quite frankly, and it really wasn't an impetus for what we did against Boston College. We knew what we needed to clean up. We knew we needed to do things better as a coaching staff and put our kids in better positions. But it's just a group that was still evolving and still coming together, and so I think each week is a new week. Georgia is a good football team, and they beat us that week--and we were ready to move on and tackle the next challenge.

"I'm sure that there's a great deal of pride in both institutions based on Ara Parseghian's connection-it's where he started (Miami) and where he finished (Notre Dame), the Cradle of Coaches and then arguably the greatest college football tradition. To be on both ends of that spectrum, I'm sure it's satisfying and fulfilling in so many ways that Ara is at the center of that Saturday."


Here are details of presentations and introductions that will take place during the Notre Dame-Miami game Saturday night:

-- Notre Dame, Miami and the nation lost a beloved figure Aug. 2 with the passing of Ara ParseghianA graduate of Miami, Parseghian was the RedHawks' head football coach for five years. He then coached at Northwestern before coming to Notre Dame in 1964 and leading the Irish to two national championships. In recent years, he devoted himself to raising money in the fight against Niemann-Pick Type C, the disease that took the lives of three of his grandchildren. The national colors will be presented Saturday night by Ara's wife of 69 years, Katie Parseghian. She will be joined by his longtime friend and Notre Dame emeritus trustee Art Decio. In addition, there will be four "Remembering Ara" vignettes that will play on the video board at different points during the game Saturday night.

--The Presidential Team Irish Award goes to the Hesburgh Library Renovation Prep Team. Through extensive planning, coordination, and execution, and in partnership with numerous architects, contractors, and other vendors, the Hesburgh Library Renovation Team has transformed an iconic campus building into a 21st century nexus for teaching, learning, and research. The building has remained open and services have continued to be offered to campus, thanks largely to the Document Delivery/Stacks Management Unit. To accommodate the building of new spaces, this unit moved nearly three million books between floors, re-shelved more than 750,000 books, and helped to deliver nearly 130,000 books and documents across campus.

-- The Karen and Kevin Keyes Family Head Women's Basketball Coach at the University of Notre Dame, Muffet McGraw will be recognized for her Sept. 8 Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame induction. When McGraw first came to Notre Dame in 1987 the Irish had never been to the NCAA Women's Basketball Championship. Three decades later McGraw boasts one of the glossiest coaching resumes in basketball history, and that helped earned her a spot earlier this month in the Naismith College Basketball Hall of Fame.

McGraw's career features . . .

--853 victories-765 of those at Notre Dame,

--along with an NCAA title in 2001,

--seven NCAA Final Four appearances,

--15 NCAA Sweet 16s,

--nine 30-win seasons,

--and a current streak of 22 straight invitations to the NCAA Championship.

While three times winning national coach-of-the-year honors, she and her teams have captured 12 regular-season conference titles and 10 conference tournament crowns-including winning both of those four years in a row in the Atlantic Coast Conference.

She will be joined on the field by Notre Dame vice president and James E. Rohr director of athletics Jack Swarbrick.

-- For the third consecutive year, the College Football Playoff Foundation and the University of Notre Dame Athletics Department have joined forces in the Extra Yard for Teachers Initiative, raising awareness and funds for teachers in underserved Catholic schools around the country. At Notre Dame, those proceeds directly benefit the Alliance for Catholic Education (ACE) program. Through December 31, gifts made to the ACE program will be matched by the College Football Playoff Foundation. Last season, thanks to this initiative, ACE teachers from 30 different schools were awarded grants providing the tools they need to help their students succeed. The last two years, Notre Dame finished in first place among 74 universities who participated, raising nearly $1million for ACE. In celebration, ACE teachers, representatives from the College Football Playoff Foundation, members of the ACE administration and ACE co-founder Father Tim Scully will be recognized Saturday at the game.

--The Notre Dame faculty recognition goes to Luis Fraga, director of Institute for Latino Studies ; acting chair of Department of Political Science; Notre Dame Professor of Transformative Latino Leadership; Joseph and Elizabeth Robbie Professor of Political Science; fellow of Institute for Educational Initiatives.

--The Notre Dame student military recognition goes to Staff Sgt. Kevin Burke, a former U.S. Army veteran and current Notre Dame student. Staff Sgt. Burke served for seven years in the U.S. Army and was deployed to Iraq once as a part of Operation Iraqi Freedom and twice to Afghanistan for Operation Enduring Freedom. He was awarded an Army Commendation Medal, a Combat Infantryman's Badge, and a Purple Heart for injuries suffered in multiple IED attacks. It's been his lifelong dream to attend Notre Dame, and after leaving the Army in 2014 he enrolled at Holy Cross College and then transferred to Notre Dame in the fall of 2015. He's now a senior majoring in film, television and theatre and will graduate in January.

--Each year, approximately 50 men join the Notre Dame football program for a week in the summer to "Live. Their. Dream." during the Notre Dame Football Fantasy Camp. This weekend many former campers returned to campus for their annual reunion event. A portion of the Fantasy Camp proceeds are donated to the Monogram Club to support initiatives for current Notre Dame student-athletes. For more information, visit The 2017 Fantasy Camp captains and the players of the game will be introduced, joined by Ron Powlus, director of player development for Notre Dame football and Reggie Brooks, director of football alumni relations for the Monogram Club.

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