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Name that Kansan… from the Wide World of Sports! - August 17, 2018

One of the University of Notre Dame's logos. The other is a fighting Irishman.

Q: Notre Dame's legendary football coach, Knute Rockne, died in a plane crash in the Flint Hills of Kansas in 1931. A rancher from Clark County, Kansas, was contacted to identify Rockne's body because, as fate would have it, this rancher had been Rockne's football coach and knew him well. What's the name of Knute Rockne's former football coach?


A: Jesse Harper

Jesse Clair Harper was an American football and baseball player, coach, and college athletics director. He served as the head football coach at several schools including the University of Notre Dame. He compiled a career college football record of 57–17–7. Harper was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame as a coach in 1971. His 1913 football squad at Notre Dame posted a 35–13 win over Army and is regarded by many as the game that put the Fighting Irish in the spotlight of college football. Harper stepped down as head football coach after the 1917 season and returned to ranching in his home state of Kansas.

His ranch in Clark County was not too far from where Knute Rockne was killed in a 1931 plane crash. Harper accompanied Rockne's body on the train from Kansas back to South Bend, Indiana, for the funeral and burial. The University of Notre Dame immediately hired Harper to fill Rockne's role as athletic director, a position in which remained for the next three years.  

Read more about Jesse Harper and his importance to Notre Dame.

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