March 4 ~  Win or Lose Knute Rocke: Portrait

"Win or lose, do it fairly." ~ Knute Rockne

knute rockne

All-American football great Knute Kenneth Rockne (1888-1931) was born on this day in Voss, Norway.

He is best remembered as the charismatic head coach of Notre Dame's Fighting Irish from 1918-1930 with the highest winning percentage (.881) in collegiate history, 105-12-5, and six national championships. His team was undefeated for five seasons.

"Show me a good and gracious loser," Rockne said, "and I'll show you a failure."

With imagination and passion, Rockne revolutionized college football by redefining offensive formations and making the forward pass an important gridiron weapon.

He coached the backfield's Four Horsemen (quarterback Harry Stuhldreher, fullback Elmer Layden, and halfbacks Jim Crowley and Don Miller) and the legendary athlete George "Gipper" Gipp who died two weeks after his final game. His death inspired the historic locker room speech, "Win one for the Gipper" at the 1928 Notre Dame-Army game.

"Build up your weaknesses," he advised, "until they become your strong points." Rockne was charming, clever, and charismatic. He had the press eating out of his hand.

When Rockne died in a Kansas plane crash, Will Rogers said, "It takes a big calamity to shock a country all at once, but Knute, you did it. You died one of our national heroes. Notre Dame was your address, but every gridiron in America was your home."

In carrying on his legacy and leadership, eighty-nine of his former players went on to become coaches.

"The best thing I ever learned in life was that things have to be worked for. A lot of people seem to think there is some sort of magic in making a winning football team. There isn't, but there's plenty of work," Rockne said.

More FOOTBALL Quotations

Knute Rockne, kindleWith fairness, everyone wins.