Notre Dame And College Football’s Other Delays Of Games
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Notre Dame & College Football’s Other Delays Of Game

A delay of game(s) option for college football in 2020 was proposed by Notre Dame vice president and director of athletics Jack Swarbrick earlier this week.

Because of the coronavirus pandemic, he believed it would buy time and provide extra data to monitor how the Fighting Irish football players acclimate to the fall semester and the rest of the student body, starting with on-campus classes Aug. 10.

His preference also was to cut back the regular season to eight to 10 games.

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The Notre Dame campus following the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks
The Notre Dame campus was draped with mini American flags following the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, 2001. (

The last time Notre Dame played only 10 games in a regular season was 1973, a national title campaign. Most every other team that year played 11 regular season contests.

The 11-game slates began in 1974, and Notre Dame then started 12-game regular seasons in 2006.

Some delay already has begun with the originally intended opener against Navy Aug. 29 in Ireland shifted to Sept. 5 or 6 in Annapolis, Md. Whether it will be moved back further likely will be answered by the end of next week when ACC officials meet to hash out a plan of action.

There have been four other crises in the United States over the past century that necessitated cancellations, delays or other dramatic action:

• During Knute Rockne’s debut season in 1918, the Spanish Influenza hit the States in late September.

The epidemic would afflict 20 million Americans and kill about 675,000 in the States. Worldwide, approximately 500 million people — about one-third of the world’s population back then — became infected and the death toll was estimated at 50 million.

All games in October were cancelled, but remarkably, play resumed in November, resulting in a final 3-1-2 record that season.

• During World War II the Notre Dame-USC series was not played from 1942-45 while travel restrictions were enforced. The series with the Trojans resumed annually in 1946 — until this season.

Even the 1942 Rose Bowl was shifted from Pasadena, Calif., to Duke’s campus in Durham, N.C. (Oregon State defeated Duke 20-16) because of fears about more attacks on the West Coast by the Japanese after doing so at Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7, 1941.

More than 60 schools did not field football in 1942, and by 1943 among the schools that did not play were many in the SEC such as Alabama (although it did create the Alabama Informals with 17-year-old students and draft deferrals) Tennessee, Auburn, Florida and Kentucky, plus Michigan State in the North.

Consequently, many war-time teams in the United States were created with college or semi-pro players called to train for service overseas.

In 1944, the final Associated Press top 20 included: Army (No. 1), Randolph Field (No. 3), Navy (No. 4), Bainbridge (No. 5), Iowa Pre-Flight (No. 6), 4th AAF (No. 10), Norman P-F (No. 13), El Toro Marines (No. 16), Great Lakes (No. 17), Fort Pierce (No. 18), St Mary’s P-F (No. 19) and Second Air Force (No. 20).

For the record, Notre Dame finished No. 9 that year, with a youth-laden roster that allowed freshmen to play, per the NCAA, because of roster shortages.

• The assassination of President John F. Kennedy on Nov. 22, 1963 led to Notre Dame canceling its football game the next day at Iowa.

It was never rescheduled, and the Fighting Irish finished their season 2-7 under interim coach Hugh Devore following a Thanksgiving Day loss to Syracuse (14-7) Nov. 28 in Yankee Stadium.

• On Tuesday, Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks on the United States resulted in the cancellation of college and NFL games for the following weekend.

In many cases they would be rescheduled later. For Notre Dame it meant that it had to move the Sept. 15 game at Purdue to Dec. 1 as the regular-season finale.

Although the Irish ended up winning 24-18 to finish 5-6, the following morning fifth-year head coach Bob Davie was fired.

What still awaits in 2020, or doesn’t, remains uncertain.



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