Former Notre Dame head football coach dies at 93

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The following release is courtesy of the University of Notre Dame athletic department:

Terry Brennan, two-time national championship winning halfback and five-year head coach at the University of Notre Dame, has passed away at the age of 93. He won 65 games as a student-athlete and head coach with the Irish, played in the legendary ‘Game of the Century’ scoreless tie with Army in 1946 and led Notre Dame to one of its greatest upset victories – ending Oklahoma’s record 47-game win streak in 1957.

Brennan was an outstanding halfback at Notre Dame, rushing for over 1,716 yards during his four-year career under legendary coach Frank Leahy. The Milwaukee, Wisconsin, native averaged 5.8 yards per carry while helping the Irish compile a 33-2-3 record over four seasons and earning the 1946 and 1947 National Championship.

Brennan was drafted in the fifth round (51st overall selection) of the 1949 NFL Draft but chose to enter the coaching ranks at Mount Carmel High School in Chicago. He led the Caravan to three consecutive city championships before being called back to his alma mater in 1953 as an Irish assistant and leader of the freshman team.

Leahy retired as the Notre Dame head coach after the 1953 season and Brennan became the youngest head coach in Notre Dame history, assuming the position just before his 26th birthday.

In his first game as the Irish head coach Brennan’s team handed Texas its first shutout in 77 games and assumed the nation’s number-one ranking. The Irish eventually finished 9-1 and fourth in the final Associated Press poll – one of four top-15 AP finishes in Brennan’s five years with the team.

Adjusting to a lowered scholarship limit as the University doubled-down on its academic focus, Brennan’s team stumbled to a 2-8 record in 1956, but still provided a highlight, as Paul Hornung earned the fifth of Notre Dame’s seven Heisman Trophies.

The 1957 team, dubbed the “Comeback Comets,” jumped back into the national discussion in 1957, finishing 7-3, ninth in the final AP poll and posting the aforementioned 7-0 upset of top-ranked Oklahoma.

Brennan’s final season with the Irish was 1958, a 6-4 campaign that earned the team a final AP ranking of 14th.

Brennan was preceded in death by his wife Kel (Mary Louise Kelley) and is survived by Terry Brennan (Gilmore), Denise “Dinny” Dwyer (John), Jane Lipton (Richard), Chris Brennan (Dianne), Joe Brennan, Matt Brennan (Marilyn) along with 25 grandchildren and 32 great grandchildren.

A Celebration of Life mass service will be held Friday, September 10, 2021, (11 a.m.) at Saints Faith, Hope & Charity Catholic Church in Winnetka, Illinois.

Notre Dame season results under Brennan:
1954, 9-1, fourth AP
1955, 8-2, 10th AP
1956, 2-8
1957, 7-3, 9th AP
1958, 6-4, 14th

Related: Notre Dame’s 13 winningest football coaches of all-time