A play in the final seconds is part of college football and movie history
The only real drama heading into fourth-ranked Notre Dame's game Saturday against 2-4 Georgia Tech is whether the Yellow Jackets can pull off an upset and derail the Irish’s plans for an epic showdown against Clemson next week. However, nostalgic football fans can get excited about the fact that this is the 45th anniversary of the "Rudy" game. You know what I'm talking about. It's the 1975 game where pint-sized Notre Dame walk-on Rudy Ruettiger got to play in the final seconds against Georgia Tech and sacked quarterback Rudy Allen. Ruettiger's life and the play were immortalized in the 1993 movie "Rudy." Here are five facts you may or may not know about that game.
1. Ara Parseghian encouraged walk-ons
The Notre Dame head coach who won two national titles in South Bend encouraged members of the student body to try to walk-on. Some, like the 5-foot-6, 165-pound Ruettiger, had to push themselves beyond their limits just to be on the scout team, which helps the varsity squad practice. Others were diamonds in the rough. For example, Mike Oriard walked on, made the varsity, became the Irish's starting center in 1969, and played four seasons with the Kansas City Chiefs.
2. Georgia Tech played Notre Dame regularly in the 1970s
Georgia Tech left the SEC in 1964 and operated as an independent before joining the ACC in 1983. The program played fellow independent Notre Dame 12 times between 1967 and 1981. In 1975, the Irish were 6-2 and ranked 12th heading into their matchup with the 6-2 Yellow Jackets in South Bend.
3. The famous jersey scene did not happen
Parseghian retired after the 1974 season and Dan Devine became the head coach. It was actually his idea to dress Ruettiger for the game, but the movie him made him the bad guy for dramatic effect. The most memorable scene is where the Notre Dame players hand in their jerseys to give Rudy a spot on the roster. Devine had initially agreed to go along with the filmmakers' dramatic license, but the jersey scene went too far. He later said, "The jersey scene is unforgivable. It's a lie and untrue."
4. Rudy was not publicly credited with the sack at the time
When Notre Dame took a commanding 24-3 lead late in the fourth quarter, Devine put Ruettiger in the game. When Ruettiger tackled Allen, the Irish players knew what happened, but if you listen to radio announcer Don Criqui's broadcast of the game juxtaposed with the game, Ruettiger is not credited with the sack. It is probably because Criqui had no idea who he was.
5. Ruettiger was the first Notre Dame player to be carried off the field
One aspect of "Rudy" that is completely accurate is that Ruettiger became the first player in Notre Dame history to be carried off the field after making his sack, but's he not the only one. Fullback Marc Edwards also was carried off the field after he scored three touchdowns when the Irish upset fifth-ranked USC in 1995.