Notre Dame took a significant step toward respectability, prominence, and stability when they hired a part-time coach, bearded James L. Morison. He wrote an acquaintance after his first day on the job: “I arrived here [Notre Dame] this morning and found about as green a set of football players that ever donned a uniform…They want to smoke, and when I told them that they would have to run and get up some wind, they thought I was rubbing it in on them. “One big, strong cuss remarked that it was too much like work. Well, maybe you think I didn’t give him hell! I bet you a hundred no one ever makes a remark like that again.” … Morrison had been hired for $40 plus expenses for two weeks.
Morison had once played tackle for the University of Michigan. He stressed conditioning, speed, and an abundance of end runs and convinced his players that conditioning and speed would lead them to victory. Such tactics led to an opening 13-0 win over Hillsdale. Next came Albion, fresh from a 26-12 loss to Michigan, who proved to be tough. The game ended in a 6-6 tie when substitute fullback John Studebaker fell on a fumble for the only Fighting Irish touchdown. Next, Wabash was dispatched easily, 30-0; the score might have been higher, but Wabash left the field with 18 minutes to go in the game. Notre Dame then whipped Rush Medical 18-6 in a workmanlike game, serenaded by a band led by a Pioneer Prescott. The season finale was a 19-12 loss to Albion in a return match, although Notre Dame felt the game was stolen from them when it was called due to darkness. Morison, however, left campus after the season to take the head coaching job at Hillsdale College.