Thursday, February 19, 2009

Mt. Rushmore: Frank Leahy

We continue our profile of Boston College sports greats to arrive at our BC athletics make-believe Mt. Rushmore...

Name: Frank Leahy
Died: June 1973 (age 64)
Sport: Football
BC Era: 1939-1940 (head coach)

Standings: Finished the fan voting in 7th place with 13% of the vote, behind Flutie, York, Ryan, Flynn, Bell and Kelley.  Apparently if there was a J.V. Boston College Mt. Rushmore squad, Leahy makes the cut.

Why He's In
  • Two year head coach of the Eagles football team, posting a 20-2 record, the second highest winning percentage ever for a BC head coach (will again become the best winning percentage after Spazche unceremoniously loses his first game of the 2009 season)
  • Guided the 1939 team to a 9-2 record and an apperance in the Cotton Bowl, the Eagles first ever bowl apperance (a 6-3 loss to Clemson)
  • In 1940, coached the Eagles to a 19-18 victory over Georgetown in front of 41,700 fans at Fenway Park.  The win snapped Georgetown's 22 game (3 season) unbeaten streak.
  • Coached the 1940 "Team of Destiny" to an 11-0-0 record, a Sugar Bowl win and a mythical national championship (the NCAA doesn't recognize BC's claim to the national title this year)
  • The 1940 Sugar Bowl victory over Tennessee 19-13 marked the program's first ever bowl win.
  • During the 1940 season, his team outscored opponents 339-65 in 11 games, 6 of those games shutout victories

Maybe Not?
  • And you thought the TOB and Jags breakups were messy ... from Wikipedia:
  • Although he had recently signed a contract renewal at BC, Leahy accepted the head coaching position at his alma mater, Notre Dame. He tried without success to get out of his BC contract. He pleaded to the school's vice president. When that didn't work, he went to the mayor of Boston. Then the governor of Massachusetts. Then, at a press conference, he told 50 reporters what the South Bend Tribune called "the biggest lie of his life". Leahy stated: "Gentlemen I've called you all here today to inform you that I recently received my release from my coaching contract. With the release went the good wishes and benediction of Boston College." Leahy stepped away, and the buzzing group of reporters battled for phone lines. A phone call came in for Leahy, and he took it.The vice president of Boston College was on the line. "Coach Leahy," he barked. "You may go wherever you want, and whenever you want. Good-bye."
  • After coaching at the Heights, went on to coach the Fighting Irish to 4 National Championships (1943, 1946, 1947, and 1949) in 11 seasons, including 6 unbeaten seasons and 2 unbeaten and untied seasons.  Ahh, what could have been ...
  • Played collegiate football for the Fake Irish (played tackle for Knute Rockne)
  • Did I mention he jumped ship for Notre Dame?

  • Although largely inducted for the gaudy 87-11-9 record he posted at Notre Dame, Leahy was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 1970

Any love for a Notre Dame grad?


Kevin said...

No. No. No. No.

BCMike said...

He left in awful terms, but he took a program that was nothing at the time and gave us our only claim to a football national championship (I claim it, the NCAA chose to award it to a larger state school).

I understand he was only here for a couple years and went to ND...but he took a program that was in the dumps and gave us an undefeated season. Sadly, he's to blame for much of ND's success, which makes it sting that much more.

To be fair to the guy, he WAS, iirc, an ND grad. Wanting to go home and coach for your alma mater isn't the worst thing a guy could do.

Just sayin'. He deserves to be included, but I was swayed away from including him in my top four....but not by much.

Raj said...

No ND Grad will ever be on my Mt. Rushmore.

conlonc said...

Adam DeMong has more of a chance of making my Rushmore. And yes, I am bitter about something that happened 40 years before I was born.

BeantownBC85 said...

Forget that he was here all of 2 years and had a good record here.

He was a Notre Dame grad and did more at Notre Dame. He's not known for what he did at BC.

In fact, I don't think anyone from outside Mass knows he was a BC coach. Consider his time here espionage on the highest level.

Brian said...

conlonc - great reference. We were actually just talking about Adam DeMong last weekend at Jeff's wedding in SC ...

I.e. receiving a text that said "Who was the white guard who rode the bench while we were at BC, that we always cheered for when he got in?"

A: Adam DeMong

conlonc said...

Sweet! And I was THIS close to going with Jon Ekweozar (sp?).