Welcome to another edition of 5WF---One Foot Down's best 5-question article.
This week I answer some burning questions, some historically debatable questions, and even sneak in some hockey in honor of my mom for this Sunday's Mother's Day.
Five Wide Fullbacks coming at you in full HD right after the jump.
1. Rank the top five coaches in Notre Dame history
If you just go by winning percentage the list goes: Rockne, Harper, Leahy, Parseghian, Layden, Holtz, and Devine for men who coached at least 2 seasons.
My rankings would go like this:
5) Jesse Harper
He basically built the modern version of the football program and set up Knute Rockne for all the success he and Notre Dame would find in the late 1910's and 1920's. He's second in winning percentage, coached perhaps the most significant game in school history, and is responsible for Notre Dame turning into an unknown and into a football powerhouse. That's kind of important.
4) Lou Holtz
Since he's the last coach to win a national title and Notre Dame went into its biggest historic funk ever after he left, I'm sure people will hold Holtz in very high esteem. But does he belong any higher on this list?
He deserves major credit for turning around the program and delivering the aforementioned national title, but there's only 4 elite seasons out of 11 total, and many have said that Holtz' success at Notre Dame was due to the recruiting efforts of Vinny Cerato in the late 1980's. Once Cerato left, Notre Dame never quite got back to that elite level---and still hasn't.
Still, it's hard to bump him any higher when he had 3 times as many losses in the same amount of years as the coach ahead of him on my list.
3) Frank Leahy
I really hate to have Leahy down this far, but I feel like I have to do it. I know some intelligent people will make a convincing case that he should be No. 1 as well. But here's my argument: He took over from a coach that still had Notre Dame among the best teams in the country.
The program took a hard dive (compared to Rockne's standards) after 1930 for a couple seasons, but 7 seasons of nearly .800 winning football is nothing to sniff at. Put another way, Leahy walked into perhaps the finest situation any Notre Dame coach ever will. The school was popular, had a lot of tradition and national titles to hang its hat on, while the talent about to come streaming into South Bend after World War II was beyond absurd.
So while 11 losses in 11 season is ridiculous in its own right, it's a testament to Notre Dame and the legendary coaches that Leahy is outside the top two, not necessarily a knock on Leahy's accomplishments.
2) Ara Parseghian
You could wonder "what would have happened to Notre Dame if Lou Holtz didn't come around in the late 80's" but I think there could have been even more problems---and perhaps 4 fewer national titles---if Ara didn't come around in the early 1960's.
Notre Dame was way below its historical winning percentage for a decade and downright bad in the few years before Parseghian and he completely turned the program around. His turnaround was drastic, lasting, and as impressive as any coach in college football history.
He won two national titles, was a couple losses away from perhaps a couple more championships, and suffered 2 or fewer losses in 10 out of his 11 seasons in South Bend. That's amazing.
1) Knute Rockne
Could it be anyone else? Maybe...if you prescribe to the theory that Harper set Rockne up for success and that success was so long ago that its meaning has been diminished.
Yet, only 12 losses in 14 seasons, 5 undefeated seasons, and he left the game on top with back-to-back perfect seasons and national titles. If he coaches just 5 more seasons how many more national titles does Notre Dame own?
2. If the spread for the Navy game is set at Notre Dame (-26.5) will you take the Irish to cover?
I'll take Notre Dame to cover.
We should put up 50 points---let's say 5 rushing touchdowns, a couple more through the air and a field goal or two. I really think the Irish are ready to dominate the triple option and hold Navy under 20 points.
That should amount to an easy cover.
3. Notre Dame rushed for 2,000 yards last season for the first time since 2001, and for only the third time since the 1995 season. 5 BCS conference teams (Oregon, Georgia Tech, Wisconsin, Missouri, and Baylor) rushed for 3,000 yards last season---will Notre Dame ever achieve this feat under Brian Kelly?
My immediate reaction is hell-to-the-no.
Two of the above teams (Wisconsin and Georgia Tech) play a completely different offense, but the other three are similar to Notre Dame's under Brian Kelly.
Obviously, the Irish would need two things to happen: The offense would have to start running at a much higher tempo (and running the ball more but yeah...duh) and the quarterback would have to chip in a good amount of yards.
Out of Baylor, Oregon, and Missouri their quarterbacks ran for an average of 700 yards on the season. I don't think there's anyone on the Notre Dame roster who can do that right now, but maybe, just maybe, Everett Golson could do that (54 yards a game) in 2013 if Cierre Wood comes back and George Atkinson has a tremendous sophomore season this year.
But probably not happening.
It's tough to pick two guys who will likely be journeymen backups on the offensive line, so I'll go with Farley.
He may never start at safety (or wherever he finally settles on the depth chart) but he should be a very valuable special teams player and someone who can lay the occasional big hit. I also think his potential is much higher and maybe as a senior he'll make his way into the rotation in the secondary.
5. Explain the coolest thing your mother ever did for you.
Well, my mom has done a lot of cool things for me because I've been blessed with a pretty awesome mother, but one thing sticks out above all the rest from my childhood.
I'm a 4-year old little guy just learning how to play hockey and really getting into the sport. The cool thing to do was to collect baseball and hockey cards which pretty much any kid at that age did back then. But there was also something else me and my friends collected which I thought was way more amazing.
Panini hockey sticker albums!!!
Holy crap were these things amazeballs on so many levels.
Essentially what happened was every late-summer these books would be put on the shelf at your local grocery store. Inside of them they had two pages devoted to every team in the league, and they sold these thin little individual packets of stickers (I think 5 per packet) and you had to collect all of them to fill the book.
You had to collect about 8 to 10 players per team, each team's logo, each team's uniform, and they also made extra stickers and room in the book for All-Star teams and the NHL awards trophies. Best of all, in one particular year you had to collect like 20 different stickers to form the Stanley Cup in a two-page layout.
As far as I was concerned this blew collecting cards out of the water.
Anyway back to my story with my mom. At that age I did not want to tie my shoe laces---didn't care, didn't want to put in the effort, and would rather walk around without them tied than "struggle" with it. Well, my mom made me a deal. She probably got sick of me begging for a packet or two of stickers every time we left the house so she said that once I learned to tie my shoes, she'd buy me as many packets as I wanted.
I didn't believe her but when I finally learned how to tie those laces, I came home and there were multiple cases of the stickers waiting for me to rip open. Needless to say, I opened those packets for hours until my fingers bled and yes, I did finally fill the entire book for once!
Happy Mother's Day to all the great mom's out there!