SOUTH BEND, Ind. (AP) Terry Brennan, a half-star of three undefeated Notre Dame teams who was hailed as a prodigy when he took over from great Irish coach Frank Leahy at just 25, has passed away. He was 93 years old.
The school announced his death on Wednesday. Brennan died on Tuesday, said the funeral home in Skokie, Ill., Which was handling the arrangements. He had lived in the nearby town of Wilmette.
Brennan led the Irish in receptions and goals as they won back-to-back national championships in 1946 (8-0-1) and 1947 (9-0) and were 9-0-1 and finished in second in 1948. His teammates included Heisman Trophy winners John Lujack and Leon Hart.
Both player and coach, Brennan has played in some of the most important games in Notre Dame history.
In 1946, Brennan made a key interception when the second-ranked Irishman tied 0-0 against the No.1 Army at crowded Yankee Stadium in a clash dubbed “The Game of the Century.”
Army made it to Notre Dame 12, but Brennan passed a 5 pass. On the next play, he had Notre Dame’s longest 22-yard run.
“It turned out to be kind of the boring game of the century,” he said in a 2010 interview.
Both teams finished the season unbeaten and neither bowled. Notre Dame was voted # 1 in the latest AP poll and Army finished # 2.
“Most of us were young guys and we didn’t realize how important it was until 10 or 20 years later,” he said.
Just over a decade later, he coached the Irish to a 7-0 victory over Oklahoma in 1957, ending the Sooners’ record of 47 consecutive wins.
After his playing career ended, Brennan was drafted into the NFL, but instead opted to coach at Mount Carmel High School in Chicago while earning a law degree from DePaul University. After leading Mount Carmel to the city championships in 1951, 1952, and 1953, Brennan was hired to coach the freshman team at Notre Dame.
A season later, Brennan was promoted to head coach, which shocked the college football world. Leahy had won four national titles in 11 seasons at Notre Dame, but retired due to health concerns.
Brennan started off strong, Notre Dame finishing 9-1 and ranked No. 4 in 1954 and 8-2 and No. 9 a season later. But the Irish fell to 2-8 in 1956 despite Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback Paul Hornung, and were beaten 47-14 by Michigan State and 40-0 by Oklahoma at South Bend in the most unbalanced loss. of the team at Notre Dame. Stadium.
As a result, the board of directors of the school that controls athletics recommended that Brennan be fired. But the Reverend Theodore Hesburgh, president of the university, decided to bring Brennan back.
Notre Dame went 7-3 the following season, finishing No.10 and spurred on by the big Oklahoma upheaval.
Brennan said in 2007 that when the Irish were eliminated by Oklahoma in 1956, he took risks that didn’t work. He felt more confident in his team’s capabilities in 1957, so he called the game more conservative and the defense played particularly well.
“You never play a perfect game, but I don’t think the guys made a lot of mistakes,” he said. “There were very few, if any, and that was the key.”
Brennan recalled that Oklahoma fans were shocked.
“The silence was deafening,” he said.
Brennan was sacked after the Irish finished 6-4 in 1958, with the sacking coming four days before Christmas. The move was criticized by many not only because of its timing, but supporters said Brennan was taking the plunge after the school cut scholarships as it raised academic standards.
Brennan finished 32-18 with a 0.640 winning percentage. He was replaced by Joe Kuharich, another former Notre Dame player who posted a 17-23 record in four seasons.
It was the last time Brennan coached football. He served as the player conditioning coach for the Cincinnati Reds’ spring training in 1959. He worked for years in banking and investing and lived in suburban Chicago.
Brennan was predeceased by his wife, Kel. He is survived by four sons, two daughters, 25 grandchildren and 32 great grandchildren.
Former AP Sports writer Tom Coyne contributed to this report.