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Terry Brennan

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Terry Brennan
Brennan, circa 1946
Biographical details
Born(1928-06-11)June 11, 1928
Milwaukee, Wisconsin, U.S.
DiedSeptember 7, 2021(2021-09-07) (aged 93)
Northbrook, Illinois, U.S.
Playing career
1945–1948Notre Dame
Coaching career (HC unless noted)
1949–1952Chicago Mount Carmel HS (IL)
1953Notre Dame (freshmen)
1954–1958Notre Dame
Head coaching record
Overall32–18 (college)
Accomplishments and honors

Terence Patrick Brennan (June 11, 1928 – September 7, 2021) was an American college 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[edit]

A native of the Village of Whitefish Bay, Wisconsin, a suburb of Milwaukee, Wisconsin, Terry Brennan was a standout multi-sport athlete at Marquette University High School. He went on to play halfback at the University of Notre Dame from 1945 to 1948, graduating in 1949.

In 1951, he married Mary Louise "Kel" Kelley. His wife died in 2001, following fifty years of marriage.

Coaching career[edit]

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.

In 1954, Notre Dame had a 9–1 record, with players recruited by Leahy. In 1955, the Irish were 8–2. In 1956, Brennan had mostly sophomore starters, due to numerous injuries; the result was a 2–8 record, and the first losing season for Notre Dame since 1933 and the worst in school history. However, running back Paul Hornung won the Heisman Trophy that year.

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, considering Brennan's overall 32–18 record against the caliber of their opponents. He was succeeded as Notre Dame's head coach by Joe Kuharich.

Later life and honors[edit]

Brennan served as player conditioning coach for baseball's Cincinnati Reds during spring training in 1959 and eventually joined a Chicago investment banking firm.

Brennan is a member of the Chicagoland Sports Hall of Fame and was elected to the Wisconsin Athletic Hall of Fame in 1981.

He was the author of the book Though The Odds be Great or Small, about the 1957 Notre Dame football season, which was published in 2021. [1]


He died on September 7, 2021, at the age of 93.[2] He is survived by his wife, six children, 25 grandchildren, and 32 great-grandchildren.

Head coaching record[edit]


Year Team Overall Conference Standing Bowl/playoffs Coaches# AP°
Notre Dame Fighting Irish (NCAA University Division independent) (1954–1958)
1954 Notre Dame 9–1 4 4
1955 Notre Dame 8–2 10 9
1956 Notre Dame 2–8
1957 Notre Dame 7–3 9 10
1958 Notre Dame 6–4 14 17
Notre Dame: 32–18
Total: 32–18


  1. ^ Kellu, Lisa (September 9, 2021). "Throwback Thursday: Though the Odds Be Great or Small by Terry Brennan". SB Nation. Retrieved March 4, 2022.
  2. ^ Bromberg, Nick (September 8, 2021). "Former Notre Dame running back and head coach Terry Brennan dies". Yahoo Sports. Retrieved September 8, 2021.