Ara Parseghian, Coach Who Returned Notre Dame Football to Greatness, Dies at 94

When Parseghian arrived at Notre Dame, the university’s football program had been in decline for years. The collapse started in 1956, when Notre Dame won only two games and lost eight. Though there were some victories, Notre Dame never won more than five games in a season from 1959 to 1963. Twice it won only two games.


Parseghian gained a reputation as coach at Northwestern, where he moved after five highly successful seasons at his alma mater, Miami of Ohio.

Paul Cannon/Associated Press

Notre Dame fans and Notre Dame haters — there have always been armies of each — offered theories: The university’s leaders were de-emphasizing football as they sought to raise the school’s academic reputation; good players didn’t want to go to an all-male school; tradition alone could not attract enough talented athletes; the coaching was bad; all of the above.

Meanwhile, Parseghian was gaining a reputation. After five highly successful seasons at his alma mater, Miami of Ohio, where he was a protégé of Woody Hayes, he moved to Northwestern for the 1956 season. He barely…

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