Notre Dame announced former football coach Ara Parseghian died early Wednesday morning at the age of 94.
A native of Ohio, Paraseghian played halfback for Miami University in Oxford, OH and played two years for the Cleveland Browns before an injury forced him into retirement in 1949.
Upon retirement, he returned to Oxford to begin his coaching career under Wood Hayes. When Hayes left for Ohio State, Parseghian became the head coach for Miami in 1951. He coached in Oxford for five years and then spent eight years for Northwestern from 1956-63.
In 1964, Parseghian contacted Notre Dame to notify them of his interest in the open Fighting Irish coaching job according South Bend Tribune. Despite his coaching success, the Fighting Irish brass was hesitant to hire him because he wasn’t a Notre Dame graduate, which is something their coaches always were up until that time.
But eventually, Parseghian relented and hired him. In his third season, Notre Dame won the national championship with a 9-0-1 record.
“The talent was there,” Parseghian told the Associated Press regarding his turnaround of the Irish program, which went 2-7 the year before he took the job. “It was just misplaced.”
He also led Notre Dame to an 11-0 record and another national title in 1973. In 11 years as head coach for the Fighting Irish, he posted a 95-17-4 record. Notre Dame won at least nine games (back when in some years there were only 10 contests) under Parseghian five times. Nine of his 11 teams finished in the AP Top 10, and during his tenure, the Fighting Irish never finished lower than 15th.
He retired after the 1974 season, citing feeling “physically and emotionally drained” as his reason for leaving. Parseghian considered returning to the sidelines but never did. He was elected into the College Football Hall of Fame in 1980.
In his entire coaching career, Parseghian went 170-58-6 (.739).