Chris Brown makes a catch in front of Navy cornerback Brendon Clements in last year's 49-39 Irish victory.

Notre Dame-Navy Football 2015: A Game of Mutual Respect

Oct. 8, 2015

ND-Navy Game Week Central | ND-Navy Rivalry in Photos Photos

By John Heisler

It’s no accident that the University of Notre Dame and the U.S. Naval Academy will meet on the football field Saturday for the 89th consecutive season.

When Notre Dame began its five-game-per-year scheduling relationship with the Atlantic Coast Conference in 2014, future Irish schedules had to be adjusted. Three rivalries that were retained on an ongoing basis were those with Navy, USC and Stanford.

One person who had strong feelings about that commitment won’t be around on Saturday. Former University president Rev. Theodore M. Hesburgh, C.S.C., died in February at age 97.

“All I can say is without the Navy during the war (World War II), this institution would have gotten down to a few hundred students,” Father Hesburgh once said. “Instead of that, we were almost twice our normal size during the war, and we were able to contribute something to the Navy.”

During World War II, as Notre Dame’s enrollment dropped to Depression-era size, the Navy’s decision to establish a Navy College Training Program on the South Bend campus in July 1943 provided much-needed economic relief and a surge of energy. Then, during the Vietnam era, as college administrations elsewhere restricted or abolished ROTC programs, Father Hesburgh’s insistence preserved the Navy presence on campus.

“If there’s any relationship that we have in athletics that has really held up over the years, it’s the Navy,” Father Hesburgh said. “It has always been cordial.”

Father Hesburgh served a three-year term in the 1950s as chairman of the Naval Academy’s Board of Visitors and also was awarded the U.S. Navy Distinguished Service Award. He was the University president during a good portion of Notre Dame’s 43-game win streak (1964-2006) over the Midshipmen.

“I’ll tell you, if they had won, we would not have felt terribly bad,” Father Hesburgh said, “because they’re the best friends we’ve got.”

Here are two ways this week the Notre Dame-Navy relationship is being highlighted and celebrated:

— “Onward Notre Dame: Mutual Respect,” a half-hour special detailing the football rivalry between Notre Dame and the U.S. Naval Academy, will re-air at 2:30 p.m. EDT Saturday on the NBC Sports Network (just an hour prior to kickoff of Notre Dame-Navy on NBC). “Onward Notre Dame: Mutual Respect” tells the stories behind the Notre Dame-Navy series, its ties to World War II, Notre Dame’s 43-year winning streak and the 2007 Navy breakthrough win. The two teams pay respect to each other at the end of each game–with the Notre Dame squad standing behind the Navy players during playing of the Navy alma mater and the Midshipmen standing behind the Irish during the Notre Dame alma mater. The longest intersectional rivalry in college football is explained via interviews with 1987 Heisman Trophy winner Tim Brown, former Irish quarterback Steve Beuerlein, former Irish coaches Lou Holtz and Ara Parseghian and others, including current Navy head coach Ken Niumatalolo.

— For the first time in college football on Saturday, two opponents-Notre Dame and Navy–take the field with the exact same Under Armour baselayer, gloves and cleats to pay homage to the storied history and brotherhood between their two schools. The baselayer features both schools’ alma maters on the sleeves and glove palms with the words “respect, honor, tradition” as a reminder of their connection to each other. Both sidelines and coaches also will wear the same sideline gear as a sign of mutual admiration.


— Notre Dame’s seven remaining opponents currently stand a combined 23-8. That includes unbeaten Navy and Temple (both 4-0), plus 17th-ranked USC (3-1) and 16th-rated Stanford (4-1).

— Navy ranks third nationally in rushing at 339.8 yards per game-the Irish are 13th at 251.0 per contest. Navy also rates third in turnover margin at plus-2.0 and has lost only a single fumble all season (to lead the nation with LSU and Florida State). Notre Dame ranks 14th in total offense (512.4 yards per game) and 18th in team passing efficiency (158.96). C.J. Prosise is ninth in rushing yards (650), while DeShone Kizer is 29th in passing yards per completion (13.68).

— The key to defeating Navy in most years is the ability to deal with the Midshipmen and their triple option attack. Over the last decade, here’s where Navy has ranked nationally in rushing coming into the game against Notre Dame-along with yards allowed by the Irish defense-with Notre Dame holding Navy below its average in seven of those 10 contests:

Year Navy Rank Navy Rushing Avg. Navy Yds. Gained vs. ND Difference
2004 6th 267.4 255 -12
2005 2nd 281.63 239 -42
2006 2nd 316.57 271 -45
2007 1st 342.88 257 -85
2008 2nd 308.0 178 -130
2009 3rd 279.8 348 +69
2010 9th 259.0 367 +108
2011 3rd 325.14 196 -129
2012 — Not applicable — season opener for both teams —
2013 10th 292.1 331 +39
2014 1st 352.3 336 -16
2015 3rd 339.8 ??? ???
Avg. 4th 302.4 277.8 -24

— Here’s what happened the previous six times an Irish football started 4-1 by winning its first four games and then losing its fifth:

Year Final Record Final AP Ranking
1893 4-1
1900 6-3-1
1916 8-1
1957 7-3 10th
1972 8-3 14th (Orange Bowl)
1982 6-4-1
2015 ??? ???

Here’s how 30 other Notre Dame teams finished that started 4-1 (no matter when the defeat occurred). Eleven of these teams played in bowl games and nine finished in the Associated Press top 10:

Year Final Record Final AP Ranking
1902 6-2-1
1904 5-3
1908 8-1
1910 4-1-1
1914 6-2
1915 7-1
1921 10-1
1925 7-2-1
1932 7-2
1936 6-2-1 8th
1951 7-2-1
1954 9-1 4th
1955 8-2 9th
1965 7-2-1 9th
1968 7-2-1 5th
1974 10-2 6th (Orange Bowl champion)
1975 8-3
1976 9-3 12th (Gator Bowl champion)
1977 11-1 1st (Cotton Bowl champion)
1979 7-4
1987 8-4 17th (Cotton Bowl)
1990 9-3 6th (Orange Bowl)
1991 10-3 13th (Sugar Bowl champion)
1994 6-5-1 — (Fiesta Bowl)
1996 8-3 19th
1998 9-3 22nd (Gator Bowl)
2005 9-3 9th (Fiesta Bowl)
2006 10-3 17th (Sugar Bowl)
2008 7-6 — (Hawai’i Bowl champion)
2009 6-6

— Capt. John Carter, the commanding officer of Naval ROTC at the University of Notre Dame, chairman of the Naval Science Department and professor of Naval Science, will join former Irish women’s basketball and military veteran Danielle Green as speakers at the Notre Dame-Navy pep rally Friday in the Joyce Center Fieldhouse (north dome). Carter is a career nuclear submarine officer, having served 28 years in the United States Navy. He has completed numerous deployments in support of national defense strategy. His most recent assignment was as commander of Submarine Squadron 16, responsible for the operational readiness of the Atlantic based guided missile submarine fleet and the ballistic missile submarines undergoing engineering refueling overhaul in Norfolk, Virginia.

A former Notre Dame women’s basketball guard who later enlisted in the U.S. Army, Green in July took home the second annual Pat Tillman Award for Service at the ESPY Awards in Los Angeles. In May 2004, Green suffered significant injuries, including the amputation of her left hand and numerous shrapnel wounds, during a grenade attack while serving in Baghdad, Iraq, with the 571st MP Company. Green was one of the first female casualties during the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Green, who later earned the Purple Heart for injuries suffered in combat and now works with returning veterans as a readjustment counselor in South Bend, received this year’s Pat Tillman Award for Service at the ESPYs. The honor, created in 2014 by the Pat Tillman Foundation, is named for the late Arizona State University and Arizona Cardinals football player who set aside his playing career to enlist in the U.S. Army before being killed in the line of duty while serving in Afghanistan in April 2004, one month before Green was injured.

The pep rally begins at 5:45 p.m. EDT Friday and also will feature Irish head football coach Brian Kelly and his Notre Dame squad-along with the Band of the Fighting Irish and the Notre Dame cheerleaders. There is no admission charge for the rally.

— Here are introductions and recognitions scheduled for the Notre Dame-Navy football game Saturday:

  • Presenting the national colors in the north end zone will be U.S. Navy Capt. Sunita Williams and retired Air Force Col. Kevin Ford. Captain Williams is a graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy and Colonel Ford earned his bachelor’s degree from the University of Notre Dame. Both are veteran U.S. astronauts who served together aboard the International Space Station in the fall of 2012.
  • There will be a pregame flyover by four U.S. Navy F/A-18 Hornets from the Sunliners of VFA-81 and the Valions of VFA-15 (flown by Cmdr. “Stump” Miller, Cmdr. “Tex” Kelly, Lt. “Cromag” Kennedy and Lt. “Fuzzy” Hagerman. They will be introduced at a third-period timeout.
  • 1947 Heisman Trophy winner John Lujack will take part in the coin toss (1956 Heisman Trophy Paul Hornung also will be in attendance Saturday).
  • The Notre Dame faculty recognition goes to Paul Schultz, John W. and Maude Clark Professor of Finance.
  • Members of the Pre-Commissioning Unit of the USS Indiana, the Navy’s newest Virginia-Class, nuclear powered, attack submarine will be introduced at a first-half timeout: Cmdr. Jesse Zimbauer (commanding officer of the USS INDIANA), Lt. Cmdr. Thomas Kim (executive officer), Master Chief Lafrederick Herring (chief of the boat) and the ship’s sponsor Mrs. Diane Donald.
  • At halftime the Notre Dame Alumni Association will make its Rev. William Corby, C.S.C., Award presentation to Rear Adm. Mathias Winter (Notre Dame class of 1984). Admiral Winter’s decorated Naval career began as a student in the Notre Dame Naval ROTC program. He has gone on to hold many leadership positions and in 2014 was named the chief of Naval Research. Presenting the award will be association executive director Dolly Duffy, Alumni Board president Tim O’Neill and the commanding officers of Notre Dame’s ROTC units.
  • The Presidential Team Irish Award goes to the Notre Dame Fire Department.
  • Postseason games represented at the game Saturday will be the Orange Bowl, Belk Bowl and Florida Citrus Sports.
  • Pick up a copy of the official Notre Dame-Navy Game Day Magazine this weekend and check out these feature stories and subjects:
    • Irish wide receiver Will Fuller (by Denise Skwarcan)
    • First-year Irish offensive coordinator Mike Sanford (by Todd Burlage)
    • Irish linebacker Joe Schmidt (by Todd Burlage)
    • Great Last Minute Plays in Notre Dame History (by Lou Somogyi)
    • New Irish women’s swimming coach Mike Litzinger (by Curt Rallo)
    • Tribute to former Irish swimming coach Dennis Stark (by Curt Rallo)
    • Military Appreciation feature (by Renee Peggs)
    • The Last Word (by John Heisler)

    Featured on the game program cover and the tickets this weekend is Pat Terrell’s play to known down Miami’s two-point conversion attempt in 1988 at Notre Dame Stadium in Notre Dame’s 31-30 victory over the top-rated Hurricanes.

    Programs are $10 per copy and are available all around campus all weekend as well as at specific Notre Dame Stadium locations on game day.

— The University of Notre Dame and the Irish football team will play host to a 17-year-old boy named Jack from South Jordan, Utah (and his family), this weekend through Make-A-Wish Ohio, Kentucky & Indiana. Jack, who has dealt with a life-threatening heart condition, will attend Irish practices, meet with Notre Dame head coach Brian Kelly and the coaching staff, sit in on team meetings, attend the Friday pep rally and be on the sidelines during pregame warm-ups prior to the Notre Dame-Navy game. Jack has been a longtime Notre Dame fan in part because his brother-in-law attended Notre Dame Law School.


Extra Yard for Teachers, the primary philanthropic initiative of the College Football Playoff Foundation, is coming to the University of Notre Dame.

Designed to honor, celebrate, inspire and empower great teachers, the Extra Yard for Teachers (EYFT) program is committed to making an impact. College football represents the most readily visible representation of students achieving their dreams of attending college. That road to higher education is often attributed to the support and commitment of gifted teachers.

The CFP Foundation has designated this week Extra Yard for Teachers Awareness Week, a promotion to increase exposure for this important initiative. While activities are taking place across the country, Notre Dame is one of several institutions playing host to a special activation during its football game this weekend.

The University is partnering with EYFT to encourage football fans to support an educational initiative unique to Notre Dame, the Alliance for Catholic Education. Known as ACE, this program comprises a dozen initiatives that seek to form the next generation of teachers and leaders, to strengthen under¬-resourced Catholic schools and give disadvantaged children the opportunities they need and deserve–and to extend the Catholic school advantage to thousands of new families. Irish fans have an opportunity between today and Nov. 29 to contribute specifically to Notre Dame’s ACE program to equip its teachers and school leaders with much-¬needed classroom materials and tools to give their students a fighting chance for a better future.

From Oct. 7 through Nov. 29, all donations made to ACE will be matched by the CFP Foundation. The matching of gifts will enable ACE to have a greater impact on communities across the country. Gifts over $10 made to ACE also will make contributors eligible for a lottery to win the opportunity to purchase two tickets for the 2016 College Football Playoff National Championship.

Members of the Notre Dame family can contribute gifts of $10 or more online (, via phone (574-631-9385) or by texting DISCOVER to 80077.* Kiosks also will be available on campus for the Navy, USC and Wake Forests home football games, providing an opportunity to learn more about ACE’s unique mission, the partnership with the CFP Foundation-and ways to make a gift.

Britton Banowsky, executive director of the CFP Foundation, will be on campus this weekend to help bring awareness of EYFT to the Notre Dame community. The CFP Foundation has generously committed $50,000 to provide matching support for a portion of each ACE gift between today and late November, making every gift even more impactful.

To learn more about ACE, the CFP Foundation and this exciting opportunity please visit

* Text gifts will be exactly $10, billed through your wireless carrier. Message and data rates may apply. Terms:

About the College Football Playoff Foundation and Extra Yard for Teachers
Extra Yard for Teachers is the College Football Playoff Foundation’s primary philanthropic initiative to honor, celebrate, inspire and empower great teachers nationally and in the communities that host the College Football Playoff. Extra Yard for Teachers seeks to support teachers through the development and implementation of programs in four key focus areas: direct provision of resources, teacher recognition, professional development and leadership training, and by inspiring a college-going culture.


From NPR and Frank Deford comes this, “It was 75 years ago this week – Oct. 5, 1940 – when the movie Knute Rockne, All-American was released and first we heard, “Rock, some day when the team’s up against it, breaks are beating the boys, ask them to go in there with all they’ve got, win just one for the Gipper.” It isn’t just because a future president of the United States was the actor who uttered it, that this became the single most famous line ever spoken in a sports movie. No, it was because of who the Gipper was playing for: Notre Dame. Really: think about it. Seventy-five years later, Notre Dame – well, Notre Dame football – remains one of the most enduring things in American sport, in the company of the Kentucky Derby, the Masters, the Harlem Globetrotters and the ivy at Wrigley Field. It is a thing unto itself in college sport.”

Check out Deford’s commentary here.


Former University of Notre Dame men’s lacrosse goaltender Joey Kemp every so often thinks back to things his father used to say.

“He would always tell us, ‘Use the sport, never let the sport use you.’ What he meant was to use the sport for what it had to offer in the long run of life–building character, leadership, picking your head up when things didn’t go well, and to never let the ups and downs of competition get the best of you or go to your head,” said Joey.

Kemp has missed hearing those sage pieces of advice since May 10, 2014. That turned out to be a bittersweet day for anyone connected with men’s lacrosse at Notre Dame.

On one hand, the Irish team opened NCAA Championship play that afternoon with a 13-5 win over Harvard at Arlotta Stadium on the Notre Dame campus.

On that same day came news of the passing of Bob Kemp–father of Notre Dame’s two former All-America goaltenders, Joey and John-due to a heart attack at age 63.

On the next two weekends when the Irish continued NCAA play-including a landmark overtime win over Albany and an eventual appearance against Duke in the championship game in Baltimore-the Notre Dame players wore BK stickers on their helmets.

Mention BK around Notre Dame, and most fans might first think of Irish football coach Brian Kelly.

The suggestion that a parent of an Irish lacrosse player might be memorialized in that manner proved a strong indication that Bob Kemp was no ordinary father.

Notre Dame continues its tribute to Kemp this weekend by participating in the Bob Kemp Lacrosse Classic, celebrating Kemp’s legacy and his commitment to faith, family and athletics.

From 3-7:30 p.m. EDT Saturday at The Terrace in Washington, D.C. (101 Constitution Avenue N.W.), the Irish lacrosse team will play host to a game watch and tailgate to view the Notre Dame-Navy football game-including a networking component for Irish players and alumni. Order tickets here:

Then, at noon EDT Sunday, the Notre Dame and Navy lacrosse teams will face off at Georgetown Prep’s Fegan-Galvin Field. Admission is free, and the game will be followed by a 2 p.m. clinic featuring Major League Lacrosse players.

Proceeds from the weekend will benefit the Washington Jesuit Academy, a cause dear to Bob Kemp, and will create a WJS scholarship in Bob’s name. Washington Jesuit Academy, founded in 2001, serves students from low-income communities in grades 5-8 in the Washington, D.C., area. All WJS students attend on full scholarship.

Living in Potomac, Maryland, mortgage banker Bob Kemp (he played football for Lou Holtz at William & Mary) and his wife Cheryl were parents to seven children, all of them aspiring (and eventually prolific) athletes:

  • Rob, who graduated from Providence
  • Julie, an All-America swimmer at the University of Miami
  • C.J., the first All-America lacrosse goaltender at Fairfield (2002-03)
  • Erin, who swam at Towson University
  • Joey, an All-America goaltender at Notre Dame (2006-08)
  • Liz, an All-America swimmer at Florida who helped the Gators win a national championship as a team captain in 2010
  • John, an All-America goaltender at Notre Dame (2012-13)

Tales of the Kemp clan growing up in the youth sports world became legendary:

  • Rob, the only Kemp of the seven kids not to play Division I sports, kidded that his tuition cost more than his six siblings combined.
  • “He (Bob) always got in the stadium early so he could watch his kids get warmed up. He never made a big deal about it . . . they just always knew they could look up and find him when they were getting shots before the game. He was usually by himself unless someone intruded,” recalls Irish head coach Kevin Corrigan.
  • In John’s freshman lacrosse season at Notre Dame in 2010, Bob and Cheryl came to see the Irish play Ohio State in South Bend-while driving back and forth twice to West Lafayette, Indiana, to watch Liz swim in the NCAA Championships (Liz swam the first leg of a relay that clinched the title for the Gators). “That was a great weekend,” noted Bob.
  • Family pride rooted strongly: “Everyone is rooting for the person on the field or in the pool. When I go to their games, many times it’s hard for me not to say, ‘I’m Julie Kemp.’ My name has changed (since she married) but I want to say ‘Kemp,'” she said.
  • “Do you know how many socks we had in our house?” asked C.J. “Thousands, thousands, all unmatched,” said Julie.
  • Bob displayed his thrift in college by ordering the cheapest item on the deli menu-a 75-cent tuna fish sandwich. So his kids would roar when their dad, years later, still ordered a tuna sub for lunch.
  • The Kemps would set their alarm for 4:12 a.m. because that was the exact time required to get two Kemp daughters to morning swim practice at American University. When Julie began driving, Bob often followed her for the first month just to make sure she arrived safely.
  • The only one of John’s Notre Dame lacrosse contests that Bob missed was one in 2010 in South Bend against Rutgers when Irish veteran goaltender Scott Rodgers suffered a hamstring injury, and John ended up finishing the game.
  • Bob refused to let any of his children move out of the house until they had saved $50,000.

In fact, Bob became so wise in the ways of college athletics that he often could be found consulting other lacrosse parents as their offspring began considering playing at the college level.

“My dad got a new Irish lacrosse jacket for Christmas, and he was so excited to wear it. Well, our first game that next year was in Jacksonville, Florida, and the temperature was 80 degrees and he wore that jacket proudly the entire game,” said Joey.

“He never played lacrosse but he grew to love the game. And as proud as he was of all of his kids, he was most proud of marrying my mom.”

This weekend is for Bob Kemp.

Those BK stickers suggest his impact reached farther than your average parent and father, mentor and fan.


John Heisler, senior associate athletics director at the University of Notre Dame, has been part of the Fighting Irish athletics communications team since 1978. A South Bend, Indiana, native, he is a 1976 graduate of the University of Missouri School of Journalism and a member of the College Sports Information Directors of America Hall of Fame.