Frank Leahy


Frank Leahy

College coach infobox
Name = Frank Leahy


ImageWidth =
DateOfBirth = August 27 1908
DateOfDeath = death date and age|1973|6|21|1907|8|27
Birthplace = flagicon|USA O'Neill, Nebraska
Deathplace = flagicon|USA Portland, Oregon
Sport = Football
College =
Title = Head coach
CurrentRecord =
OverallRecord = 107-13-9 (.864)
BowlRecord = 2-0
Awards =
Championships = 4 National Championships (1943, 1946, 1947, 1949)
CFbDWID = 1357
Player = yes
Years = 1928-1930
Team = Notre Dame
Position = Tackle
Coach = Yes
CoachYears = 1939-1940
1941-1943
1946-1953
CoachTeams = Boston College
Notre Dame
Notre Dame
FootballHOF = 1970
CollegeHOFID = 40002

Francis William Leahy (August 27, 1908–June 21, 1973) was an American collegiate football coach. He was born in O'Neill, Nebraska and died in Portland, Oregon.

Early career

Leahy was a tackle on Knute Rockne's last three teams, graduating from Notre Dame in 1931. He went to Georgetown as line coach in 1931 and went to Michigan State the following year to take a similar position. He learned a lot about coaching at MSU. Leahy took over as line coach at Fordham in 1933 and stayed until 1938 under Jim Crowley, coaching the famed Seven Blocks of Granite from 1935-37 when the Rams lost only two combined games. (The undersized right guard on the 1935 and 1936 teams was future coaching legend Vince Lombardi). In 1939, he went to Boston College as head coach, guiding the Eagles to a 20-2 record including an undefeated 1940 season capped off by a Sugar Bowl victory and a share of the national championship. At Boston College he tried relentlessly to recruit beat author Jack Kerouac while in high school.

Notre Dame

Leahy went to his alma mater, Notre Dame, as head coach the next season. His impact was felt right away as the Irish posted an 8-0-1 mark in 1941. The following season, he caused an uproar when he junked Rockne's box formation and installed the T. After a 7-2-2 season in 1942, Leahy led Notre Dame to a national championship in 1943 despite losing the season finale against Great Lakes by a score of 19-14. He entered the Navy in 1944 and was discharged as a lieutenant. He returned to Notre Dame for the 1946 season in which Notre Dame won the national championship after playing rival Earl Blaik's Army team to a scoreless tie at Yankee Stadium in New York. National championships followed in 1947 and 1949, with only a 14-14 tie against USC in the season finale marring a perfect season in 1948 and a possible third "(and then a fourth)" consecutive national title. It was regarded by many as the most successful run in Notre Dame history and Leahy appeared to be well on his way of meeting his goal of ten consecutive seasons without a loss. Then with most of the wartime talent gone from the scene, the Irish fell to 4-4-1 in 1950. Scholarships had been reduced from 33 to 18 per year in 1948 when other teams, tired of getting beaten year in and year out, began dropping Notre Dame from their schedules. Consequently the talent level had dropped off drastically.

Scholarships were increased afterwards, and the situation improved. Aided by freshman eligibility brought on by the Korean War, Notre Dame finished 7-2-1 in 1951 and 1952 while the 1953 squad, Leahy's last, posted a 9-0-1 docket. A controversial 14-14 tie against Iowa denied the Irish another potential national championship. There was some concern about Leahy's health when he collapsed from a pancreatic attack in the locker room during halftime of the 1953 Georgia Tech game. A priest allegedly gave Leahy the last rites of the Catholic Church when it was feared he was dying.

The controversy over the tie with Iowa stemmed from the fact that both of Notre Dame's touchdowns (one late in the first half and the other late in the game) came after a player had faked an injury. In both instances, Notre Dame had used up their allottment of time outs, and under normal circumstances, time would have expired in each half before they could run another play. Faking an injury was a widely-used ploy in football as a means of buying time, but in most cases there was no impact on the outcome of a game. In Notre Dame's case, they used this ruse not once but twice in the same game, and both times they managed to score touchdowns. A new rule was implemented the following year forbidding players from faking injuries, and many saw this as punishment directed at Notre Dame, who were branded as the "Fainting Irish." It tarnished the image of both the school and its coach.

Leahy resigned on January 31, 1954 with two years remaining on his contract. Supposedly he had been ordered to give up coaching by his doctors for the sake of his health, but he later revealed that he left because he felt he was no longer wanted. While at Notre Dame, Leahy had six undefeated seasons, four national championship teams and an unbeaten string of 39 games (37-0-2) in the late 1940s. He also coached four Heisman Trophy winners - Angelo Bertelli (1943); Johnny Lujack (1947); Leon Hart (1949) and John Lattner (1953) - and recruited a fifth, 1956 winner Paul Hornung. His overall record at Notre Dame was 87-11-9.

Like his former coach, Knute Rockne, Leahy believed that games were won in practice and had the reputation for being relentless. It is said that Leahy's teams never had a practice without hitting and that his quarterbacks would catch snaps every practice until their hands bled. His teams were always well conditioned and Leahy was merciless when it came to the toughness of his players.

In addition to his practices, Leahy coached a tough-nosed style of football during the games. Leahy's teams rarely kicked field goals when they were on the goal line because Notre Dame didn't kick field goals. Notre Dame was too tough to kick field goals. This philosophy backfired against Army in 1946, when the Irish drove all the way to the Cadets' 4-yard line and turned the ball over on downs. A field goal might have won the game. Leahy was succeeded by Terry Brennan, ushering in a downward slide for Notre Dame's football fortunes for the next decade.

In 1949 he wrote a book on the T-formation, "Notre Dame Football T-Formation".

Leahy always referred to his players as his "lads."

Post-Notre Dame

Leahy served as general manager for the Los Angeles Chargers during their inaugural 1960 season in the American Football League. He was selected to the National Football Foundation Hall of Fame in 1970. He died of Leukemia in Portland, Oregon in June 1973.

Personal life

Leahy was married to the former Florence Reilly in 1935. They had eight children. Their son, Jim, and grandson, Ryan, played football at Notre Dame. An intense fundamentalist, Leahy had little time for personal relationships outside of those with his family and his team.

Head coaching record

CFB Yearly Record Subhead
name = Boston College
startyear = 1939
conf = Independent
endyear = 1940
CFB Yearly Record Entry
championship =
year = 1939
name = Boston College
overall = 9-2
conference =
confstanding =
bowlname = Cotton
bowloutcome = L 6-3
bcsbowl =
ranking =
ranking2 =
CFB Yearly Record Entry
championship =
year = 1940
name = Boston College
overall = 11-0
conference =
confstanding =
bowlname = Sugar
bowloutcome = W 19-13
bcsbowl =
ranking =
ranking2 =
CFB Yearly Record Subhead
name = Notre Dame
startyear = 1941
conf = Independent
endyear = 1943
CFB Yearly Record Entry
championship =
year = 1941
name = Notre Dame
overall = 8-0-1
conference =
confstanding =
bowlname =
bowloutcome =
bcsbowl =
ranking =
ranking2 =
CFB Yearly Record Entry
championship =
year = 1942
name = Notre Dame
overall = 7-2-2
conference =
confstanding =
bowlname =
bowloutcome =
bcsbowl =
ranking =
ranking2 =
CFB Yearly Record Entry
championship = national
year = 1943
name = Notre Dame
overall = 9-1
conference =
confstanding =
bowlname =
bowloutcome =
bcsbowl =
ranking =
ranking2 = 1
CFB Yearly Record Subhead
name = Notre Dame
startyear = 1946
conf = Independent
endyear = 1953

CFB Yearly Record Entry
championship = national
year = 1946
name = Notre Dame
overall = 8-0-1
conference =
confstanding =
bowlname =
bowloutcome =
bcsbowl =
ranking =
ranking2 = 1
CFB Yearly Record Entry
championship = national
year = 1947
name = Notre Dame
overall = 9-0
conference =
confstanding =
bowlname =
bowloutcome =
bcsbowl =
ranking =
ranking2 = 1
CFB Yearly Record Entry
championship =
year = 1948
name = Notre Dame
overall = 9-0-1
conference =
confstanding =
bowlname =
bowloutcome =
bcsbowl =
ranking =
ranking2 = 2
CFB Yearly Record Entry
championship = national
year = 1949
name = Notre Dame
overall = 10-0
conference =
confstanding =
bowlname =
bowloutcome =
bcsbowl =
ranking =
ranking2 = 1
CFB Yearly Record Entry
championship =
year = 1950
name = Notre Dame
overall = 4-4-1
conference =
confstanding =
bowlname =
bowloutcome =
bcsbowl =
ranking =
ranking2 =
CFB Yearly Record Entry
championship =
year = 1951
name = Notre Dame
overall = 7-2-1
conference =
confstanding =
bowlname =
bowloutcome =
bcsbowl =
ranking = 13
ranking2 =
CFB Yearly Record Entry
championship =
year = 1952
name = Notre Dame
overall = 7-2-1
conference =
confstanding =
bowlname =
bowloutcome =
bcsbowl =
ranking = 3
ranking2 = 3
CFB Yearly Record Entry
championship =
year = 1953
name = Notre Dame
overall = 9-0-1
conference =
confstanding =
bowlname =
bowloutcome =
bcsbowl =
ranking = 2
ranking2 = 2
CFB Yearly Record End
overall = 107-13-9
bcs = no
poll = two
polltype = Coaches Poll (started in 1950)

Quotes

*Egotism is the anesthetic that dulls the pain of stupidity.
*When the going gets tough, let the tough get going.

References

External links

* [http://www.hickoksports.com/biograph/leahyfrank.shtml Hickok Sports bio]
* [http://und.collegesports.com/sports/m-footbl/mtt/leahy_frank00.html Notre Dame bio]
*


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