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The Legend of The Four Horsemen
In 1918, Coach Knute Rockne was promoted from assistant coach to head coach of the University of Notre Dame, South Bend, Indiana. Coach Rockne, known as 'Rock,' would coach for thirteen years. He would capitalize on his work ethic, humor, and famous locker room stories. Most of all, his genius of coaching his teams to numerous victories. His record speaks for itself as 105-12-5 with a .881 percentage.
The infamous game was scheduled for October 18, 1924, at the Polo Grounds155th Street and Eighth Avenue, New York City, between Notre Dame and Army. The crowd began filling the stadium for the sports event of the year.
In marched the West Point Band playing the marches as columns of cadets marched in. The crowd watched in awe as the Notre Dame squad seemed confusing to Army. Rockne's tactics were mesmerizing. He used the 'shift play cross-blocking and fakes. Paving the way for the Four Horsemen would be the essential linemen of Notre Dame. Later they too got a nickname, the 'Seven Mules.'
Up in the press box sat Garland Rice, who later would pen the most famous lead in newspapers. Before he began his authority, he recalled a young Notre Dame publicist, George Strickler, who commented, "Yeah, just like the Four horsemen of the Apololyst," a movie he had seen earlier starring Rudolph Valentino.
As Rice later wrote his lead story, he made the Four Horsemen legend. His lead was as follows:
Outlined against the blue-gray October sky, the Four Horsemen rode again. In lore, they were known as famine, pestilence, destruction, and death. But, their real names were Struldreher, Miller, Crowley, and Layden, forming the South Bend cyclone beating Army before 55,000 spectators.
The Famous Picture of The Four Horsemen
After defeating Army13-7, the team returned to South Bend, suiting up for practice again. This time, Strickler had the ingenious idea to place the Four Horsemen on horses, in their football attire, each man with a football. He had four horses brought to Rockne's practice field with his photographer. Of course, Rockne was furious his practice was being interrupted, but in the end, after yelling at Strickler, the men got on the horses even though they were scared of horses.
The Four Horsemen, none of which were over six feet nor weighed over 162 pounds. The four were:
Harry Stuhldreher,5'7" from Massillon, Ohio. He would go on to serve as head coach at Villanova, then as athletic director and coach at Wisconsin-Madison. He died in 1965 and was inducted into the Football of Fame in 1958.
Don Miller, 5'11" from Defiance, Ohio. He would go on to coach at Georgia Tech for four years. Later he practiced law in Cleveland, Ohio. He died in 1979 and was inducted into the Football of Fame in 1970.
Jim Crowley, 5'11" from Green Bay, Wisconsin. was an assistant coach at the University of Georgia and later head coach at Michigan State and Fordham University. He died in 1986 and was inducted into the Football Hall of Fame in 1966.
Elmer Layden, 6' from Davenport, Iowa. Went on to coach Notre Dame for seven years, later as athletic director and the commissioner of the NFL. He died in 1973 and was inducted into the Football Hall of Fame in 1951.
Notre Dame Football
Notre Dame Football has a long and glorious history. The university was founded in 1842 by French priest Edward Sorin, a young 28-year-old, and seven companions. The inaugural football game was played on November 23, 1887, against Michigan, where Notre Dame lost 8-0. Their first win was at the final match in 1888, beating Harvard Prep School of Chicago 20-0.
Notre Dame football had several names they were referred to. First, they were often called the 'Catholics' since many alumni were Irish and Catholic. During the era of head coach Knute Rockne, his team was referred to as the Rovers or Ramblers due to their travels far and wide.
Students began to relish the name 'Fighting Irish,' and even the media picked up on t. So finally, in 1920, university President Matthew Walsh decided the 'Fighting Irish' would be the preferred nickname.
Under the genius of head coach Knute Rockne, his stats were three national championships, five undefeated seasons, Rose Bowl win in 1925. Sadly, Knute Rockne died in a plane crash in 1931. Notre Dame has many memorials honoring him.