Most Irish fans know about the 1913 meeting between the University of Notre Dame and Army. At the time, Notre Dame was an obscure program located in the Midwest that utilized the forward pass when most other schools had barely heard of it. Army was a program looking for an easy win and the Irish, lead by a young coach by the name of Jesse C. Harper, was the team that could give it to them. Supposedly.
What happened on that November day however was anything but ordinary and would become the start of something very special for the University of Notre Dame. Harper’s team shocked the college football world by utilizing quarterback Gus Dorais’ unique passing talents and the receiving skills of a tight end named Rockne. Army was on their heels and with no prior experience against this type of aerial attack, they folded under the Irish by the score of 35-13.
There’s a new book out by author Frank P. Maggio, entitled Notre Dame and The Game That Changed Football, and you’ll probably find it a little different than some of the other recent Notre Dame related releases. This isn’t a Lou Holtz motivational speech (not that there is EVER anything wrong with one of those) and it’s not a story of Charlie Weis and his ascent into Super Bowl glory. This isn’t a chronicle of events throughout Notre Dame history, although you will be treated to a plethora of historical facts and information that would satiate even the most ardent Irish enthusiast. What this book is is the tale of the very foundation that Notre Dame football was built on.
You will read about the early days of football in South Bend, but you will also be taken on a historical roller coaster that details the very life and times of that era. You’ll learn about team travel in the early 20th century and how the game news and results were communicated via telegraph to the South Bend gymnasium where one of the male students would read the play-by-play aloud to eager fans. You’ll learn of the lasting friendship between Harper and Rockne, but more than anything you will read about the turn of events that created the foundation for the most storied program in college football history.
Author Frank P. Maggio graduated from the university’s School of Law in 1963 and presents this story in a way that only an alumnus of his era can. The introduction is written by legendary college football broadcaster Keith Jackson.