Getty Images

Remembrances and Reflections of Ara

3 Comments

Ara Parseghian’s certainly was a life filled. Describing him as a two-time national championship-winning coach misses the point, entirely. These pieces found better ways to encapsulate the coach, the friend, the grandfather.

The Aura of Ara by Tim Prister of Irish Illustrated — “That’s not to say he was perfect and didn’t have his detractors. Everybody does. Or do they? I can say with complete honesty that I have never spoken with a Parseghian detractor.”

ARA: Shining Light of Irish Camelot has Flickered Out by Notre Dame senior associate athletics director John Heisler — “Parseghian ran the Irish program with a stern hand, yet his charges—players, assistant coaches and administrators—lovingly and reverentially held him in the highest regard. In maybe the ultimate compliment, the 1966 Notre Dame Football Guide in Parseghian’s biography suggested, ‘He invented desire.’”

Parseghian rebuilt Notre Dame football during the ‘Era of Ara’ by Mark Schlabach of ESPN.com, perhaps the most-thorough obituary published yesterday — “Along with his successful coaching career, Parseghian’s legacy will be his relentless work to find a cure for a deadly genetic disease that killed three of his young grandchildren. In the last three decades of his life, Parseghian helped raise millions to find a cure for Niemann-Pick Type C, the rare neurological condition that claimed the lives of the three youngest children of his son, Michael.”

Notre Dame legend Ara Parseghian was a great coach, but an even better man by Tom Noie of the South Bend Tribune — “Parseghian did it with grace. With class. Privately, he likely had his moments of utter despair. Days and nights where all hope seemed lost. Publicly, he remained the rock-solid and stoic Ara.”

The South Bend Tribune also published a photo gallery of Parseghian over the years.

‘He Was Our King Arthur’, a first-person account by 1973 starting left guard and tri-captain Frank Pomarico — “He’d talk to us about behaving off the field, the character you needed to get through the season and the discipline needed to be a good teammate. He cared about us and we knew it. A lot of guys didn’t realize it until after they were gone from Notre Dame. They’d call him later in life and he would reach out and help them, one way or another.”

Current Irish coach Brian Kelly took a few minutes during practice to chat with Notre Dame’s Jack Nolan about Parseghian. It was a good conversation between two men who knew the legend the last decade and it sheds some light on Kelly’s relationship with Parseghian and how involved Ara still was.

Ara Parseghian, Coach Who Returned Notre Dame Football to Greatness, Dies at 94 by David Stout of The New York Times — “As for the possibility that he might one day coach college football again, he would say, ‘After Notre Dame, what is there?’”

Why We Mourn by Mike Coffey of NDNation.com — “I know it’ll sound like a cliche, but for those 10 minutes, I felt like I was the only person in his world.  He had genuine interest in me and what I was doing … someone he’d never met before and (unfortunately for me) would never see again.  And he took time to offer me some very valuable advice to boot.  Doing something like that requires a gift, and of all the souls I’ve encountered on my travels, Ara had the most of it to give.”

Ara Parseghian was a man ahead of his time by Pat Forde of Yahoo — “DiNardo said Parseghian communicated about issues important to the players: the Vietnam War; race relations; Notre Dame’s move from all-male enrollment to a coed campus; rules about hair length and sideburn length. He was an extension of the progressive, dynamic leadership of school president Father Theodore Hesburgh. In a time of great societal change, Parseghian didn’t ignore the big issues that rocked campuses nationwide.”

Notre Dame Legend Ara Parseghian Dies At Age 94 by Lou Somogyi of Blue & Gold Illustrated — “Yet the Presbyterian was evidence of how a “Notre Dame man” goes beyond possessing a degree from the school. His character, charisma, competitiveness, integrity, innovation and production placed him alongside Knute Rockne and Frank Leahy in the program’s pantheon when he retired at the young age of 51 while admitting the job had made him emotionally drained and physically exhausted.”

University President Fr. John Jenkins — “Notre Dame mourns the loss of a legendary football coach, a beloved member of the Notre Dame family and good man — Ara Parseghian. Beginning with a historic turnaround in the 1964 season, he returned the Notre Dame program to national prominence, but we will remember him above all as a teacher, leader and mentor who brought out the very best in his players, on and off the field.

He continued to demonstrate that leadership in his later years, raising millions of research dollars seeking a cure for the terrible disease that took the lives of three of his grandchildren. In recent years, whenever we asked for Ara’s help at Notre Dame, he was there.”

Notre Dame director of athletics Jack Swarbrick — “It is impossible for me to reflect on my Notre Dame experience without thinking of Ara Parseghian. As a student, I enjoyed the thrill of being on campus for his last three years as head coach, including the 1973 National Championship season. And during that time I got to see first-hand the profound impact he had on my classmates who played for him.

“When I returned many years later to serve as Notre Dames’ Athletics Director, Ara was among the first people I reached out to for advice. He was unfailingly generous with his time and his counsel proved to be invaluable. I and this university will forever be indebted to Ara Parseghian, a giant of a man who represented everything that Notre Dame and its football program stand for.”

Though not published yesterday in memory of Parseghian, it seems appropriate to include a link to the Sports Illustrated cover story following the infamous 10-10 tie in 1966 between Notre Dame and Michigan State. An Upside-Down Game by Dan Jenkins — “Last week’s game was decided a dozen punishing times, it seemed, the two national powers heaping heroics onto boners, and vice versa — as Michigan State surged to a 10-0 lead and Notre Dame struggled back to the indecisive tie that was earned but unapplauded.”