By Jim Lefebvre
The Notre Dame-Clemson game is the talk across much of the college football world this week. Today on College Sports Nation (XM Sirius), hosts Mark Packer and Brady Hoke were analyzing Clemson’s unusual 16-day layoff prior to hosting the Irish Saturday. Packer delivered this item: it’s the longest in-season layoff for Clemson since 1918.
Hmmm. 1918. What major events dominated the fall of 1918? Well, first there was the Great War raging across Europe. And then the worldwide Spanish Influenza epidemic, which killed millions of people, had hit the U.S.
It wasn’t just Clemson (which played no games between an Oct. 5 battle with Georgia Tech and a Nov. 2 visit to South Carolina). Travel bans were put into effect across the nation, severely limiting college football. Overnight travel, especially, was off limits. So games were postponed, re-scheduled, cancelled. Colleges scrambled to find fill-in opponents, especially military units. Most schools saw their October schedule completely wiped out.
At Notre Dame, the football team traveled to Case Tech in Cleveland for a Sept. 28 game – then didn’t get another chance to play until a Nov. 2 visit to in-state rival Wabash College. Four more games did get played in November, and the Irish finished 3-1-2 under first-year head coach Knute Rockne, with a backfield that included George Gipp and Curly Lambeau. One of the ties came against the Great Lakes Naval team led by George Halas.
Here is how we described this most unusual football season in the pages of Coach For A Nation: The Life and Times of Knute Rockne, in a chapter entitled A Year Unlike Any Other:
For more information on the book, click here.