Ir­ish coach Parseghian dies.

The Denver Post - - FRONT PAGE - By Ralph D. Russo

Ara Parseghian, who took over a founder­ing Notre Dame foot­ball pro­gram and re­stored it to glory with two na­tional cham­pi­onships in 11 sea­sons, has died. He was 94.

Ara Parseghian reached the pin­na­cle of his pro­fes­sion at Notre Dame and en­dured the most painful per­sonal losses as a fa­ther and grand­fa­ther.

He walked away from coach­ing at the age of 51 af­ter win­ning two na­tional cham­pi­onships and a record of 95-17-4, but he never re­ally left the Fight­ing Ir­ish. He built a legacy through phi­lan­thropy that he hoped would be far more mean­ing­ful than any of his many vic­to­ries.

Parseghian died Wed­nes­day at his home in Granger, Ind., where he lived with Katie Parseghian, his wife of 68 years. He was 94.

Parseghian had re­cently re­turned home af­ter spend­ing more than a week in a nurs­ing care fa­cil­ity in South Bend, Ind. He was treated for an in­fec­tion in his sur­gi­cally re­paired hip, and was still re­ceiv­ing round-the-clock care at home.

De­spite his 95 ca­reer wins, the most mem­o­rable game he ever coached was prob­a­bly one of those four ties.

In a matchup dubbed the Game of the Cen­tury, No. 1 Notre Dame tied No. 2 Michi­gan State 10-10 in 1966 and went on to win the na­tional ti­tle. Decades later, Parseghian would still bris­tle over sug­ges­tions he was too con­ser­va­tive at the end of the game. He would joke with his play­ers that the re­sult made them fa­mous forever.

“Ara al­ways said I tied the game just to keep you guys name in the pa­per all th­ese years,” said Terry Han­ratty, Notre Dame’s quar­ter­back in that game. “Think about it: Had some­body won, five years later no­body would have re­mem­bered it.”

In 1980, Parseghian was in­ducted into the Col­lege Foot­ball Hall of Fame.

Notre Dame pres­i­dent Rev. John Jenkins will pre­side over a mass for Parseghian on Sun­day at the Basil­ica of the Sa­cred Heart on the cam­pus of Notre Dame. A pub­lic memo­rial ser­vice will be held later at the Joyce Cen­ter.

Parseghian took over at Notre Dame in 1964 when the Fight­ing Ir­ish were down. They hadn’t had a win­ning sea­son in five years and had gone 2-7 in 1963. He quickly re­stored the Golden Dome’s lus­ter and led the Ir­ish to na­tional ti­tles in 1966 and 1973. He abruptly re­tired af­ter the 1974 sea­son, say­ing he was worn out and ready for a change. De­spite of­fers from other col­leges and NFL teams, he never re­turned to coach­ing.

His .836 win­ning per­cent­age puts him third on Notre Dame’s coach­ing list be­hind fel­low Col­lege Foot­ball Hall of Famers Knute Rockne (.881) and Frank Leahy (.855). At Notre Dame, they are con­sid­ered the “Holy Trin­ity” of coaches. Only Rockne (105, 1918-30) and Lou Holtz (100, 1986-96) won more to­tal games at Notre Dame than Parseghian.

“When you find any suc­cess­ful coach, there’s al­ways a por­tion of the play­ers who didn’t like him. From the top All-Amer­i­can to the guy who never got to see the field, ev­ery­body loved Ara,” Han­ratty said. “That’s a re­ally great hu­man be­ing.”

Parseghian started his coach­ing ca­reer at Mi­ami Univer­sity, his alma mater, and then spent eight sea­sons lead­ing North­west­ern.

Parseghian didn’t just re­vive Notre Dame foot­ball. He made Fight­ing Ir­ish fans be­lieve in the pro­gram again. He be­gan his ten­ure in South Bend with an im­promptu pep rally that drew 2,000 stu­dents to the steps of a res­i­dence hall and even­tu­ally per­suaded Notre Dame to end its long­stand­ing pol­icy against play­ing in bowl games.

In 1994, his fam­ily was hit with dev­as­tat­ing news. Three of his son Mike’s chil­dren were found to have Nie­mann-Pick dis­ease type C. Parseghian helped cre­ate the Ara Parseghian Med­i­cal Foun­da­tion in re­sponse.

The Parseghi­ans lost three grand­chil­dren between the ages of 9 and 16 to Nie­mann-Pick dis­ease from 1997-2005. The foun­da­tion has raised more than $45 mil­lion for re­search.

In 2014, Parseghian’s daugh­ter, Karan Burke, died at 61.

Parseghian is sur­vived by wife Katie, son Michael and daugh­ter Kris­tan.

AP file

Notre Dame play­ers give coach Ara Parseghian a ride af­ter the Ir­ish de­feated Alabama 24-23 in the Sugar Bowl to win the 1973 na­tional cham­pi­onship.

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