• Phil Houk

ARA Would Have Been 97 Today.

Ara Parseghian would have been 97 today. He led the Irish from 1964-1975, and amassed a win percentage of .836. He coached a Heisman trophy winner and 22 consensus All-Americans. Parseghian won two national titles in 1966 and 1973. In 11 seasons, his Notre Dame record was 95-17-4.

More than a coach, he was an honest to goodness molder of men, and his accomplishments went well beyond the football field. When he retired from coaching at the age of 51 in 1974, he made it his life’s work to raise millions of dollars for medical research. And his former players adored him. According to the book Ara's Knights authored by 1973 Captain Frank Pomerico, playing for Ara was like playing for royalty, "not because he had been born into a family of kings, but because he became a great leader, the kind who inspired the best in those 'Knights' who followed him".

Ara passed away on August 2, 2017. A few days later I was privileged to attend his funeral and memorial service which were held on campus. I will never forget that day as multitudes of his former players congregated to say goodbye to their beloved Coach. I wasn't family, wasn't a player, not a friend. I was just a kid who had lived a couple of blocks from his house while growing up. But, I sat there that day watching the outpouring of admiration and inside I felt a tremendous loss, and gratitude for his life well lived.

Happy birthday Ara.

(Photo Credit: Charles Harrity, AP/1967)

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