Aug. 27, 2017
By John Heisler
Fans attending this week’s Notre Dame-Temple game might want to hold onto their tickets.
Fifty years from now they can tell their grandkids they were there for the first football game at Notre Dame Stadium in 2017, with all new fan amenities, premium seating, wider seats in the bowl, updated technology and the first Irish home game with a video board.
And that doesn’t count what transpires on the field on Saturday.
With three new buildings surrounding the Irish football venue, Notre Dame Stadium now becomes completely integrated into both academic and student life as a 365-day-a-year facility that becomes a year-around destination.
That’s the latest in a long list of firsts when it comes to football at Notre Dame:
1887 — Notre Dame plays its first football game on campus in South Bend, inviting Michigan to, in essence, teach the Notre Dame players the game. The two teams share lunch, and the visitors go on their way.
1888 — Notre Dame’s first victory comes by a 20-0 count versus Harvard Prep School of Chicago.
1889 — Notre Dame’s notches its first undefeated and untied season (thanks to a one-game season, a 9-0 win over Northwestern).
1896 — Francis Hering becomes Notre Dame’s first full-time football coach (his three-year record was 12-6-1). He later is credited with the invention of Mother’s Day–and for years the top players in Irish spring practices (by position) receive Hering Awards.
1897 — Notre Dame’s first field goal is by Mike Daly versus the Chicago Maroons.
1899 — Cartier Field doesn’t officially open until a track meet is held there in the spring of 1900. But University records indicate the facility is used for the first time during the 1899 home football season. So the first game on that field is a win over Englewood (Chicago) High School to open that 1899 season.
1903 — This season marks the first time a Notre Dame football team goes an entire year (8-0-1 record) without allowing a point. Notre Dame, led by all-star Red Salmon, plays six straight home games to open the season. Salmon becomes the first Notre Dame player to earn All-America honors that year, as Walter Camp names him to its third team.
1909 — The “Notre Dame Victory March” is performed on campus for the first time, then is played at an athletic event for the first time 10 years later.
1911 — Right halfback Alfred (Dutch) Bergman wins his first monogram in football and becomes Notre Dame’s first four-sport athlete (also winning monograms in baseball, basketball and track).
1911 and 1912 — John L. Marks becomes the first undefeated Notre Dame football coach, with his Irish teams finishing 6-0-2 and 7-0 in consecutive years and outscoring their opponents 611-36. Though Jesse Harper earns the accolades a year later when Notre Dame defeats Army, Marks deserves credit for putting together the passing combo of Gus Dorais and Knute Rockne.
1913 — It’s been mistakenly tagged as the game that features the first forward pass, but Notre Dame’s win over Army at West Point without doubt convinces skeptics that teams can throw the ball to win football games. Notre Dame’s 35-10 victory marks its most noteworthy in history to that point. That same year quarterback Gus Dorais becomes Notre Dame’s first first-team All-America, as named by the Frank Menke Syndicate.
1919 — Notre Dame for the first time earns national championship recognition, as its 9-0 season prompts selection by the Parke H. Davis Ratings and later the National Championship Foundation (Harvard and Illinois also are selected by various pollsters).
1922 — A Notre Dame game against Indiana is broadcast on radio for the first time (by WSBT).
1924 — Notre Dame plays in a postseason bowl game for the first time (and does not do so again for 45 years). The Four Horsemen make their final collegiate appearance at the Rose Bowl, with Elmer Layden scoring three times, twice on runbacks of intercepted passes, as Notre Dame defeats Stanford 27-10. Student manager Leo Sutliffe is in charge of the budget for that game. He receives $15,000, spends $14,985 and returns $15 to the University. Notre Dame that same season claims its first consensus national title.
1927 — This marks the first year Fighting Irish officially becomes the nickname for Notre Dame teams.
1929 — Quarterback Frank Carideo is Notre Dame’s first unanimous All-American. The first Old-Timers spring football game is played.
1930 — The first game in Notre Dame Stadium is a 20-14 victory over SMU. The dedication game isn’t until a week later against Navy (a 26-2 Notre Dame win).
1936 — Notre Dame’s win over USC marks the first in modern times when the opposing team does not earn a first down (the Trojans have one via penalty). That same year Bill Shakespeare becomes Notre Dame’s initial first-round NFL Draft selection. Notre Dame faces off against a number-one-ranked opponent (Associated Press poll) for the first time, defeating Northwestern at Notre Dame Stadium.
1938 — Notre Dame for the first time plays a football game while ranked number one in the AP poll (defeating Northwestern).
1941 — Notre Dame’s first national coach of the year honoree is Frank Leahy (selected by the American Football Coaches Association).
1943 — Angelo Bertelli becomes the first of a record seven Notre Dame Heisman Trophy winners. A year later he becomes the first Notre Dame player selected as the overall number-one pick in the NFL Draft (by Boston). Notre Dame for the first time ranks number one in the final Associated Press poll — and Notre Dame is the number-one team in every poll during the season, the first college football team to be wire-to-wire number one in the AP poll and still one of just four teams to do it.
1947 — An Irish home football game is televised for the first time (WBKB in Chicago showed the game against Iowa).
1951 — Knute Rockne, George Gipp and Elmer Layden are Notre Dame’s first selections to the National Football Foundation’s College Football Hall of Fame. Notre Dame plays its first night game at Briggs Stadium in Detroit against Detroit.
1952 — Notre Dame’s victory over Oklahoma marks the first Irish game to be nationally televised. Running back Joe Heap becomes Notre Dame’s first Academic All-America selection (he repeats in 1953 and 1954)
1953 — Wayne Edmonds becomes the first African-American player to win a football monogram at Notre Dame.
1956 — A Notre Dame player appears on the cover of Sports Illustrated for the first time. It is Paul Hornung as part of a preview of a game against Oklahoma.
1960 — Indiana State Police Sgt. Tim McCarthy delivers his first safety message at Notre Dame Stadium.
1962 — Notre Dame Stadium lists its highest single-game attendance (61,296 versus Purdue) before eventually going to a standard 59,075 tickets-sold number.
1964 — The C.D. Chesley Company begins producing the one-hour Sunday morning replays of Irish games, the first of 16 seasons in that role after United Press International began the replays in 1959.
1967 — Paul Hornung and Red Mack become the first former Notre Dame players to win NFL Super Bowl champion rings (thanks to Green Bay’s win over Kansas City).
1970 — This marks the first year the Band of the Fighting Irish accept women from neighboring Saint Mary’s College.
1973 — Notre Dame finishes 11-0 and wins the national title, and it also marks the last time a game at Notre Dame Stadium is not sold out. That’s because a game against Air Force is moved to Thanksgiving Day for television, and many students do not attend.
1976 — Notre Dame has its first 1,000-yard rusher as Al Hunter finishes with 1,058 yards and 12 rushing scores. The Irish also have three brothers playing on the same team for the first time — Ross, Jim and Willard Browner. Dave Reeve becomes the first Irish kicker to boot a field goal of 50 yards or more when he makes a 53-yarder in Notre Dame Stadium against Pittsburgh. Legendary coach Bear Bryant brings his 10th-rated Alabama Crimson Tide to Notre Dame Stadium for the first time, the Irish come away with a 21-18 victory — and Bryant completes his career with an 0-4 record against Notre Dame.
1977 — Notre Dame has a back gain 200 yards in a game for the first time, as Jerome Heavens does it against Army (exactly 200 yards on 34 carries).
1978 — Notre Dame’s schedule for the first time is rated the most difficult in the country by the NCAA.
1979 — Notre Dame for the first time plays a game overseas, in a 40-15 victory over Miami at National Olympic Stadium in Tokyo, Japan, in the Mirage Bowl.
1982 — Notre Dame Stadium plays host to its first night football game, as the portable Musco Mobile Lighting towers surrounding the stadium become as much or more of the story than the game. In what is a hotly contested game, Notre Dame defeats 10th-rated Michigan 23-17 thanks to a late Dave Duerson interception. Current Notre Dame Stadium public-address announcer Mike Collins makes his debut in that game.
1988 — In the same year the Irish win the national title on the field, the Irish also produce the first 100 percent graduation rate in winning the Academic Achievement Award presented by the College Football Association. That same season Notre Dame plays seven home games at Notre Dame Stadium for the first time.
1991 — A home game against Indiana becomes the first Irish contest televised by NBC Sports as part of a relationship that remains intact today. A home game later that season against Tennessee marks the 100th straight sellout at Notre Dame Stadium.
1997 — The latest version of Notre Dame Stadium opens, with approximately 20,000 more seats in an addition atop the original bowl. The seating capacity ultimately becomes 80,795. Georgia Tech is the opponent in that first game in ’97 (Bob Davie’s first as Irish head coach) and the Irish come from behind to prevail 17-13. That game against Georgia Tech also marks the first for which the traditional Friday night pep rally is held in Notre Dame Stadium.
2000 — Notre Dame wins its first overtime game, a 34-32 verdict over Air Force on a Joey Getherall nine-yard scoring run.
2003 — Notre Dame becomes the first school in the country to hold a football fantasy camp.