June 11, 1928 |
|Coaching career (HC unless noted)|
|Chicago Mount Carmel HS (IL)
Notre Dame (freshmen)
|Head coaching record|
Terence Patrick Brennan (born June 11, 1928) is a former American football player and coach. He served as the head football coach at the University of Notre Dame from 1954 to 1958, compiling a record of 32–18.
Early life and playing career
After graduating from Notre Dame, Brennan coached at Mount Carmel High School in Chicago and won three successive city championships. Brennan returned to Notre Dame in 1953 as freshman football coach and succeeded Frank Leahy as head coach the following year. When asked if he thought he was too young to be named head coach at the age of 25, Brennan replied, "Oh, I don't know. I'll be 26 in a few months."
Brennan got off to a good start with a 9–1 campaign in 1954 with players recruited by Leahy. In 1955, the Irish slipped a notch to 8–2. Then the roof fell in. Brennan was forced to play mostly sophomores in 1956 because of numerous injuries and the result was a 2–8 record, the first losing season for Notre Dame since 1933 and the worst in the history of the school. The lone bright spot was Paul Hornung, who won the Heisman Trophy and remains the only player ever to win the award while playing for a team with a losing record. Many fans called for Brennan's ouster, but the young coach was retained.
One thing that worked against Brennan was a movement by school administrators to put more emphasis on academics and less on athletics, leading to the popular notion that Notre Dame had deemphasized football. Consequently Brennan had to make do with players of lesser talent than in previous years, with a limit of 20 football scholarships per class, while continuing to play tough schedules. While academics had always come first at Notre Dame, Frank Leahy had carte blanche to do what he wished until the Rev. Theodore Martin Hesburgh became president of the university. One of Hesburgh's first priorities as president was to reaffirm Notre Dame's position on academics.
Brennan's 1957 squad earned the nickname, "Comeback Comets" after finishing 7–3. Among their victories was a 23–21 comeback over Army and a 7–0 shutout of Oklahoma, snapping the Sooners' NCAA record 47-game winning streak. After a 6–4 record in 1958, the movement to dismiss Brennan gained momentum, and the coach was fired along with his entire staff in mid-December; Hugh Devore was eventually retained. Notre Dame's administration was heavily criticized for the firing, since Brennan's overall 32–18 record was not bad considering the caliber of their opponents. He was succeeded as Notre Dame's head coach by Joe Kuharich.
Later life and honors
Brennan served as player conditioning coach for baseball's Cincinnati Reds during spring training in 1959 and eventually joined a Chicago investment banking firm. He has six children, 25 grandchildren, and eleven great-grandchildren.
Head coaching record
|Notre Dame Fighting Irish (NCAA Independent) (1954–1958)|
|#Rankings from final Coaches Poll.
°Rankings from final AP Poll.