Fighting Irish Coaching Legends Take Their Place Under the Sun

Fans attending games at Notre Dame Stadium this fall — or just visiting campus — can’t miss the new locations of the sculptures honoring Fighting Irish coaching legends Knute Rockne, Frank Leahy, Ara Parseghian and Lou Holtz.  All have been repositioned, and each has a stadium gate named for him. The changes just make “everything look right,” fans seem to agree.

When the Rockne sculpture was unveiled in a special ceremony last October, it sat on the east side of the Stadium, facing the larger-than-life Leahy sculpture.  Considering that this is “the house that Rock built,” it seemed an odd juxtaposition, and not quite the proper amount of respect for the coach most responsible for putting Notre Dame football on the map.

Now, however, Rock has his own spot — proudly overlooking the North entrance, where players, coaches and band enter the Stadium on game day, just feet from the famed tunnel to the field.

The Knute Rockne Gate sits as a perfect complement to Touchdown Jesus at the other end of the library quad.

And the Leahy, Parseghian and Holtz sculptures each have their own position and gate.  For the latter two, it was literally a move into the light, as they previously sat inside the Stadium.

Among the most pleased Irish fans is the creator of each of the sculptures, ND grad and sculptor Jerry McKenna.

“I was delighted with the decision to move the Holtz and the Parseghian sculptures out into the light of day,” noted McKenna.  “That’s the way they are meant to be seen…with sunlight bringing out the variations in the bronze patina.

“And I like the idea of placing each sculpture next to a gate named in honor of a national championship coach. It has been 22 years since our last championship. Let’s all hope that we’ll be able to add more coaches in the not too distant future.”

McKenna’s work spans the globe, and includes other campus favorites such as the Moose Krause Bench, site of perhaps more photos snapped than anywhere else at ND, and the Four Horsemen sculpture in the lobby of the Guglielmino Athletics Complex.

McKenna will be on campus signing copies of his new book, “A THIRD LIFE – Sculptures For God, Country & Notre Dame” on the weekend of the Tulsa game, at the Hammes Notre Dame Bookstore.