1947 Notre Dame Fighting Irish football team

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
1947 Notre Dame Fighting Irish football
AP Poll national champion
Conference Independent
AP No. 1
1947 record 9-0
Head coach Frank Leahy (2nd year of 2nd stint; 5th overall year)
Offensive scheme T formation
Captain George Connor
Home stadium Notre Dame Stadium (c. 59,075, grass)
← 1946
1948 →
1947 college football independents records
Conf     Overall
Team W   L   T     W   L   T
#1 Notre Dame         9 0 0
#4 Penn State         9 0 1
Rankings from AP Poll

The 1947 Notre Dame Fighting Irish football team represented the University of Notre Dame during the 1947 college football season. The Irish, coached by Frank Leahy, ended the season with 9 wins and no losses, winning the national championship.[1][2][3] The 1947 team became the sixth Irish team to win the national title and the second in a row for Leahy. The squad is the second team in what is considered to be the Notre Dame Football dynasty, a stretch of games in which Notre Dame went 36-0-2 and won three national championships and two Heisman Trophies from 1946-1949.[1] The 1947 team was cited by Sports Illustrated as the part of the second best sports dynasty (professional or collegiate) of the 20th century[4] and second greatest college football dynasty.[5]



Date Opponent# Rank# Site Result Attendance
October 4 at Pittsburgh Pitt StadiumPittsburgh, PA W 40-6   64,333
October 11 at Purdue No. 1 Ross-Ade StadiumWest Lafayette, IN (Rivalry) W 22-7   42,000
October 18 Nebraska No. 2 Notre Dame StadiumSouth Bend, IN W 31-0   56,000
October 25 Iowa No. 2 Notre Dame Stadium • South Bend, IN W 21-0   56,000
November 1 vs. Navy No. 1 Cleveland StadiumCleveland, OH (Rivalry) W 27-0   84,070
November 8 No. 9 Army No. 1 Notre Dame Stadium • South Bend, IN (Rivalry) W 27-7   59,171
November 15 at Northwestern No. 1 Dyche StadiumEvanston, IL (Rivalry) W 26-19   48,000
November 22 Tulane No. 2 Notre Dame Stadium • South Bend, IN W 59-6   57,000
December 6 No. 3 USC No. 1 Los Angeles Memorial ColiseumLos Angeles, CA (Rivalry) W 38-7   104,953
#Rankings from AP. All times are in Eastern Time.


Award winners[edit]


† John Lujack, QB 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1
George Connor, T 3 1 2 1 1 1 1
Bill Fischer, G 1 1 1 2 1 1 3
Zygmont Czarobski, T 2 1 1 2 3
Leon Hart, E 1
denotes unanimous selection      Source:[1]

College Football Hall of Fame Inductees:

Name Position Year Inducted
George Connor Tackle 1963
Zygmont "Ziggy" Czarobski Tackle 1977
Bill Fischer Tackle/Guard 1983
Leon Hart End 1973
Frank Leahy Coach 1970
Johnny Lujack Quarterback 1960
Jim Martin End/Tackle 1995
Emil "Red" Sitko Halfback/Fullback 1984

[7] Notre Dame leads all universities in players inducted.

1948 NFL Draft[edit]

The 1947 national championship dispute[edit]

While Notre Dame was voted national champion in the final official AP poll, Michigan went on to beat USC, 49–0, in the 1948 Rose Bowl, a greater margin that by which Notre Dame had beaten USC. Notre Dame and Michigan had traded the top spot in the polls through much of the season. Michigan took the #1 spot in the AP poll on November 16, 1947, and Notre Dame moved into the #1 spot on November 23, 1947, by a margin of 1,410 points to 1,289 points.[8][9] This last regular season poll determined the recipient of the AP's national championship trophy.

Debate arose among some prominent sports writers, among them football writer Pete Rozelle"[10] and Grantland Rice, the dean of the nation's sports writers. Rice lauded the Wolverines, saying, "It is the best all-around college football team I've seen this year..."[10] Red Smith of the New York Herald Tribune said, "No other team that I have seen this season did things with so little effort. Crisler has so many that do so much."[10]

Notre Dame supporters argued that the post-season AP poll was final and should not be revisited. They contended that Michigan had run up the score on USC, noted that Notre Dame had not had an opportunity to play in a bowl game, and asserted that Michigan and other Big Nine schools were unwilling to schedule Notre Dame in the regular season.[11]

Detroit Free Press Sports Editor Lyall Smith argued the debate should be answered by comparing the two team's performance against common opponents. Smith noted: "They played three common foes. Notre Dame beat Pitt, 40–6, a margin of 34 points: Michigan beat Pitt 59–0. Notre Dame defeated Northwestern, 26 to 19, a margin of seven points: Michigan beat the 'Cats 49 to 21, for a 28-point advantage. Notre Dame dropped USC, 36 to 7, in what Coach Frank Leahy termed his team's 'greatest game of the year,' while Michigan slaughtered the same Trojans, 49 to 0. Against those three common opponents the Irish scored 104 points to 32. Michigan's margin was 167 to 21."[12]

In response to the debate over which team truly deserved to be recognized as the nation's best, an unofficial post-bowl ballot was held, with the only two options being Michigan and Notre Dame. The AP reported on the rationale for the special poll this way: "The Associated Press is polling sports editors of its member papers throughout the country to help settle the argument as to which is the better football team -- Michigan or Notre Dame. The AP's final poll of the top ten teams, released Dec. 8 at the conclusion of the regulation season, resulted in Notre Dame winning first place with 1,410 points. Michigan was second with 1,289. . . . Returns so far received indicate that voting in this latest poll is likely to be the heaviest ever recorded."[13] Another AP report indicated the special poll was "conducted by popular demand" to answer "the burning sports question of the day" and to do so "at the ballot box."[14][15]

Commenting on the post-Rose Bowl poll, Michigan coach Fritz Crisler said "the men who voted couldn't have made a mistake if they had picked either team." He described Notre Dame coach Frank Leahy as a "superb coach."[16] Notre Dame President, Father John Cavanagh said, "We at Notre Dame feel grateful for the magnanimous statement of Coach Crisler. I listened to Michigan against Southern California and have only praise for the skill and accomplishment of your fine team."[16]

Despite the magnanimous statements of Coach Crisler and Father Cavanagh, the reversed decision in the post-Rose Bowl poll only stoked the debate over which team was best. Said one columnist: "Hottest argument of the moment is the one over which had the better football team, Michigan or Notre Dame. To settle it the Associated Press polled better than 350 sports writers in 48 states . . . with a two to one nod for the Wolverines."[11]

Forty years later, the debate was still ongoing. In 1988, Michigan All-American Dan Dworsky noted: "Notre Dame still claims that national championship and so do we."[17] The NCAA, the governing body for college athletics, presently cites Notre Dame as the official AP title winner.[2] The Associated Press also does not recognize the special poll and the special poll does not supersede the original final poll.[18][19]


  1. ^ a b c "2007 Notre Dame Media Guide: History and Records (pages 131-175)". und.cstv.com. Retrieved 2008-12-31. 
  2. ^ a b "Past Division I Football Bowl Subdivision (Division I FBS) National Champions (formerly called Division I-A)". ncaa.org. Archived from the original on March 25, 2008. Retrieved 2009-01-01. 
  3. ^ "NCAA History". ncaa.org. Archived from the original on 2010-11-28. Retrieved 2009-01-01. 
  4. ^ "SI's Top 20 Dynasties of the 20th Century". sportsillustrated.cnn.com. 1999-06-03. Archived from the original on 29 January 2009. Retrieved 2008-12-31. 
  5. ^ "College Football's 12 Greatest Dynasties". sportsillustrated.cnn.com. Retrieved 2008-12-31. 
  6. ^ "Heisman Voting". und.cstv.com. Retrieved 2008-12-30. 
  7. ^ "College Football Hall of Famers.". collegefootball.org. Retrieved 2008-12-30. [dead link]
  8. ^ Chandler, John (1948-01-07). "Writers Rate Irish Second to Wolverines". The Kingsport (Tenn.) News. 
  9. ^ Chandler, John (1948-01-07). "Scribes of Nation PIck Michigan: A.P.'s Poll Favors Wolverines; Final Vote Stands at 226-119". The Salt Lake Tribune. 
  10. ^ a b c Rozelle, Pete (1948-01-02). "Scribes Warble Praises of Mighty Big Nine Kings". Long Beach Press-Telegram. 
  11. ^ a b Warden, Al (1948-01-11). "Patrolling the Sport Highway with Al Warden". The Ogden Standard-Examiner. 
  12. ^ Smith, Lyall (1948-01-04). "Michigan or Notre Dame? Hot Argument Still Raging Throughout U.S.". Florence (S.C.) Morning News. 
  13. ^ "AP to Conduct Special Poll". Ironwood Daily Globe. 1948-01-03. 
  14. ^ "Michigan Winner Nearly 2-1 Over Irish in AP Poll". Albuquerque Journal. 1948-01-07. 
  15. ^ Grimsley, Will (1948-01-06). "Michigan the Uncrowned National Grid Champion: Wolves Win 2-1 In Special Poll; 119 Ballots Cast for Irish, 226 for Mich.". Ironwood Daily Globe. 
  16. ^ a b Liska, Jerry (1948-01-07). "Leahy Praises Wolverines After Voting". The Kingsport (Tenn.) News. 
  17. ^ Florence, Mal (1988-12-27). "The Magicians: Split Personality in 1947 Helped Michigan Drive Everyone Crazy". Los Angeles Times. 
  18. ^ "College Football national champions". collegefootballpoll.com. Retrieved 2011-10-22. 
  19. ^ "AP Polls". wisc.edu. Retrieved 2011-10-22.