Thursday's football: Notre Dame revisits NYC legacy

Associated Press
Notre Dame QB Ian Book

The Fighting Irish were regular visitors to the New York area during the first half of the 20th century, when their wanderlust turned Notre Dame football into America’s team.

Notre Dame’s famous Four Horsemen rode through upper Manhattan in 1924 at the Polo Grounds. When Knute Rockne implored the Fighting Irish to “Win one for the Gipper” in 1928, it was at Yankee Stadium in the Bronx. The Fighting Irish played mighty Army every season from 1923-46, all but once in New York City and 21 times at Yankee Stadium, cultivating a huge following of so-called Subway Alumni — like Delaney.

The third-ranked Irish return to their East Coast stronghold Saturday to face No. 12 Syracuse (8-2, No. 12 CFP) in the highest-stakes college football game played at Yankee Stadium since the 1946 Game of the Century between No. 1 Army and No. 2 Notre Dame.

These Fighting Irish (10-0, No. 3 CFP) also bring national championship hopes to the Big Apple, two victories away from likely securing a spot in the College Football Playoff. Plenty of supporters are upset such an important game, so late in the season, is being played away from South Bend, Indiana, forcing the Irish to travel to the East Coast this week and then the West Coast next to play Southern California. That will be the second trip to California for Notre Dame in five weeks.

Delaney, like most Notre Dame fans, is concerned about how all that travel will affect the players, but there is no doubt in his mind the Fighting Irish will have a home-field advantage to feed off at Yankees Stadium.

“That crowd will be as raucous and as supportive of the Irish as if they’re playing in South Bend and maybe more so,” said the 73-year-old Delaney, who did not attend Notre Dame but is a longtime member and former president of the Notre Dame Club of Staten Island. “We don’t take for granted when Notre Dame comes to New York to play. We’re out there to support the team 110 percent.”

Panel probes Durkin issue

University of Maryland President Wallace Loh says he told the school’s governing body that “all hell will break loose” if DJ Durkin was retained as head coach of its football team after a player’s death, a prophetic warning that went unheeded.

Loh told a panel of state lawmakers that members of the University System of Maryland board of regents asked him on Oct. 26 if he would support Durkin’s reinstatement as coach. Loh said he explained why he couldn’t do that after the death of 19-year-old offensive lineman Jordan McNair, who collapsed from heatstroke on a practice field in May and died two weeks later.

“I made it very clear that, as president, I have the pulse of the campus,” he said. “I said, ‘If you bring him back, quote, all hell will break loose.’”

The board’s chairman announced on Oct. 30 that Durkin, a former Michigan defensive coordinator, and athletic director Damon Evans would keep their jobs. But a backlash that reverberated far beyond the university’s campus led to Loh firing Durkin a day later.

During the news conference where the board chairman said Durkin would be reinstated, Loh made the surprise announcement that he would retire in June 2019.

“I completely accept the fact that the board has authority to hire and fire presidents. It is also the case that, as president, I have the authority on personnel issues,” Loh told members of the House Appropriations Committee.

James Brady resigned as board chairman a day after Durkin’s firing. Linda Gooden, who replaced Brady, and System Chancellor Robert Caret also spoke at Thursday’s hearing in Annapolis.

Miles, LSU settle

LSU and Les Miles, who played and coached at Michigan, have completed a $1.5 million lump-sum settlement that relieves the university of paying its former coach an additional $5 million through 2023.

Vice chancellor and director of athletics Joe Alleva says the agreement allows both parties to “move on.”

Miles was fired four games into the 2016 season, but was due a buyout of around $12.9 million at the time.

If the buyout had remained in place, Miles would have had to count his salary from a new college head coaching job against what LSU owed him.