The Hamilton Spectator - - SPORTS - DAVID STOUT

Ara Parseghian, a Pres­by­te­rian of Ar­me­nian de­scent who might have seemed an un­likely saviour of Notre Dame foot­ball but be­came just that, coach­ing the Fight­ing Ir­ish out of the wilder­ness and back to great­ness in the 1960s and ’70s, died early Wed­nes­day morn­ing at his home in Granger, In­di­ana. He was 94. The Rev. John Jenkins, pres­i­dent of the Univer­sity of Notre Dame, an­nounced the death in a state­ment. Parseghian had re­cently been un­der­go­ing treat­ment at a care fa­cil­ity for a hip in­fec­tion. Parseghian ranks with Knute Rockne and Frank Leahy in the pan­theon of Notre Dame foot­ball coaches. In his 11 sea­sons (1964 through 1974), his teams won 95 games, lost 17 and tied four, for an .836 win­ning per­cent­age. His 1966 and 1973 teams were voted na­tional cham­pi­ons. When Parseghian ar­rived at Notre Dame, the univer­sity’s foot­ball pro­gram had been in de­cline for years. The Fight­ing Ir­ish won nine straight games in 1964, with many of the same play­ers from the squad that had lost seven games the year be­fore. South­ern Cal­i­for­nia spoiled a per­fect sea­son with a 20-17 vic­tory in Los An­ge­les, but John Huarte, who had not even won a var­sity let­ter un­til 1964, was awarded the Heis­man Tro­phy. Parseghian was ac­claimed coach of the year. But for all his suc­cess, Parseghian was sad­dled for a time with the rep­u­ta­tion of a coach who “couldn’t win the big ones.” That im­age was re­in­forced on Nov. 19, 1966, when un­beaten Notre Dame met un­beaten Michi­gan State at East Lans­ing in the most ea­gerly awaited col­lege game in 20 years. Notre Dame fell be­hind, 10-0, then ral­lied to tie the score. But late in the game and in its own end of the field, Notre Dame played con­ser­va­tively rather than risk a turnover, and the game ended in a 10-10 tie. Although Notre Dame was voted the na­tional cham­pion by the wire ser­vices, there were many who thought the game had taken some lus­tre from the team’s im­age. Af­ter the 1969 sea­son, Notre Dame ac­cepted an in­vi­ta­tion to meet top-ranked Texas in the Cot­ton Bowl, end­ing four decades in which the Ir­ish did not take part in post-sea­son play. Texas won, 21-17, on New Year’s Day 1970. A year later, af­ter an­other sea­son­spoil­ing loss to South­ern Cal­i­for­nia, Notre Dame re­turned to the Cot­ton Bowl and up­set Texas, 24-11, to snap the Longhorns’ win­ning streak at 30 games. Notre Dame’s next bowl ap­pear­ance was a crush­ing 40-6 loss to Ne­braska in the Or­ange Bowl fol­low­ing the 1972 sea­son. Parseghian’s year of to­tal re­demp­tion was 1973. The team won all 10 reg­u­lar-sea­son games, then de­feated Alabama in the Sugar Bowl, 24-23. The clincher was a dar­ing pass from the Ir­ish end zone for a first down that en­abled Notre Dame to run out the clock and si­lenced those who said the coach lacked nerve when it re­ally counted. The 1974 sea­son was Parseghian’s last, and in some ways his tough­est, even though his team fin­ished 10-2. Ara Raoul Parseghian was born in Akron, Ohio, on May 21, 1923. Af­ter high school, Parseghian joined the Navy and played foot­ball at the Great Lakes Naval Train­ing Cen­ter un­der Paul Brown, who later gained fame as coach of the Cleve­land Browns. When he left the Navy, Parseghian en­rolled at Mi­ami Univer­sity in Ohio and earned all-Amer­i­can men­tion as a half­back. Parseghian joined the Browns af­ter col­lege, but a hip in­jury ended his pro­fes­sional play­ing ca­reer. He re­turned to Mi­ami as the fresh­man coach and be­came the head coach when Woody Hayes left for Ohio State. Af­ter leav­ing Notre Dame, Parseghian was a colour com­men­ta­tor for ABC Sports from 1975 to ’81 and for CBS Sports in ’88. In ’94, Parseghian founded the Ara Parseghian Med­i­cal Re­search Foun­da­tion, ded­i­cated to fi­nanc­ing re­search on Nie­mann-Pick Type C dis­ease, a ge­netic pe­di­atric nerve disor­der that killed three of his grand­chil­dren.


Notre Dame coach Ara Parseghian is car­ried off the field by his play­ers af­ter de­feat­ing Texas, 24-11, in the Cot­ton Bowl on Jan. 1, 1971. ARA PARSEGHIAN, 1923-2017


Ara Parseghian stands in front of a statue of him­self at the Univer­sity of Mi­ami (Ohio) on Oct. 8, 2011. Parseghian died Wed­nes­day.

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