Allen L. Sack ’67 | November 14, 2019
When I played football at Notre Dame in the 1960s, the NCAA allowed teams to make only one national television appearance during the season. For instance, in 1966, the late-season Notre Dame-Michigan State game, often referred to as the “Game of the Century,” was televised only regionally because Notre Dame had used its one national TV slot against Purdue.
Both No. 1-ranked Notre Dame and No. 2 Michigan State were undefeated. A controversy continues to this day over Notre Dame’s decision to run out the clock rather than risk a turnover in the final moments of the game. The final score was 10-10. The following week Notre Dame crushed 10th-ranked Southern Cal 51-0 and the players learned on the flight back to South Bend that the Associated Press and other polls had named our team the national champion.
In that era, the champion was named before the college football bowl games. Because of this, and Notre Dame’s policy of not playing in bowl games, team members were able to concentrate on school work and prepare for final exams.
College football in my era had its share of corruption, but NCAA policies were in place that made it very clear that being a student was a priority. There was no freshman eligibility, we practiced 20 hours a week during our 10-game season and, after spring practice, there was no reason to make contact with a coach until preseason practice in late August. Most players worked out on their own during the summer.
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