McKay's Corner

John McKay talks about the USC vs Notre Dame game, "Not many people can say they've played in a USC-Notre Dame game," I told our players. "It will be heard all over the world. No matter where you go the rest of your lives, you will remember you played in this game."

Coach McKay's Corner 10.18.01

Some of Coach John McKay's thoughts on playing against Notre Dame

"Kiss me I'm Irish"

      "When I grew up as a Catholic in West Virginia I loved Notre Dame and its football team. The Fighting Irish were the first team in any sport that I rooted for. I think they've always held that fascination for Catholic kids, and today I still cheer for them - except when they play us.

      Notre Dame has lent a lot of dignity and tradition to college football, and I am fond of most of the people there. The enthusiasm of their student body is tremendous, and their fight song is inspiring, and I get goose bumps when I go back to South Bend and I see the leaves falling and the Golden Dome shining in the sunlight.
      From the stadium you can see the huge mosiac of Jesus Christ on the front of Notre Dame's library. They've dubbed him "Touchdown Jesus," because both of his hands are upraised. There is also a statue of Moses, who is holding the Ten Commandments in his left hand, with one finger on the other hand pointing skyward. Moses, the Irish fans say, is simply signaling "We're number one."

      I've said it a hundred times and I'll say it again. There's no greater thrill in football than playing in South Bend. I get keyed up and ready to play myself, but thank God that won't happen. I always hope my kids are as keyed up as I am.
      There's no intersectional rivalry that compares with USC-Notre Dame, because it has nationwide interest. We've played Notre Dame 15 times since I became head coach, and the outcome has either determined or helped to determine who was national champion ten times.
      By percentage, Notre Dame is the winningest college team in history, and USC is eighth. The Irish have had far and away the most All-Americans, Heisman Trophy winners, and national champions. The university with the second most All-Americans, and Heisman Trophy winners is USC.
      Pick any year. The Irish will be as good or better than any team we play. I tell our kids if you don't get up for Notre Dame, you must be dead.

      I usually let my assistants have quite a bit of freedom at practice, but the week of that momentous game they'll do less and I'll come out of my golf cart and get more active in the practices.
      If you're a team member and the season has moved along consistently for several weeks, and suddenly you see me becoming more involved at practices, you can't help but snap to attention. The week we play Notre Dame, I'm much more vocal. And loud.
      To beat Notre Dame you must make big plays. Ball control won't win for you. Because of their big, tough defense, you won't make a first down that consistently. You'll get all psyched up, run off tackle, and make an inch. Usually, when we've beaten them we've passed well or broken off a long run.
      I may dislike pep talks, but I'll admit I was a little emotional before we left the dressing room.
      "Not many people can say they've played in a USC-Notre Dame game," I told our players. "It will be heard all over the world. No matter where you go the rest of your lives, you will remember you played in this game."

All above from McKay: A Coach's Story by John McKay & Jim Perry (1974)

RIP Coach McKay.
Fight On.

 
       

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