Devine’s image to be set in stone


The late Dan Devine, former Green Bay Packers coach, University of Notre Dame coach and member of the College Football Hall of Fame, will be honored in stone this coming October … In South Bend, not Green Bay.

His likeness in stone will be unveiled Friday, Oct. 7 (the day before Notre Dame’s home football game against Air Force), at Notre Dame Stadium.

The statue dedication will be at Notre Dame Stadium’s Gate A, which in 2010 was designated the Devine gate.

At that time, sculptures of Knute Rockne (north tunnel), Ara Parseghian (Gate B), Frank Leahy (Gate C) and Lou Holtz (Gate D) were placed outside the stadium. Rockne, Parseghian, Leahy, Holtz and Devine are the five former Irish football coaches – all of them Hall of Fame inductees – who have won one or more national titles at Notre Dame.

We all remember how Devine went from a highly successful program at Missouri to Green Bay where he failed miserably and then on to national prominence by leading the Irish to a national title in 1977.

We also all remember the high hopes and slogans that breathed new life into the Packers organization with Devine’s arrival there in 1971.

We also remember with disdain how he was run out of Green Bay when the team fell to new lows after Devine led the team to the Central Division title behind Scott Hunter, John Brockington, and MacArthur Lane in 1972.

In retrospect, Devine’s record at Green Bay was 25-27-4 – not terribly bad, but when following so closely in the footsteps of Vince Lombardi, three of four seasons with losing records was unacceptable.

Devine, an Augusta, Wis., native, was honored to take over the team in 1971 at the age of 47.

His first year the team went 4-8-2, followed by the division championship year of 1972 when the team went 10-4.

That was the year when Brockington rushed for more than 1,000 yards in a 14-game season. Together with MacArthur Lane, they rushed for nearly 1,900 yards.

For the first time in the 1970s, that 1972 team made the playoffs, but lost in the first round to the Washington Redskins, 16-3. It turned out to be the only time in the 1970s that the Packers would make it to the playoffs.

When the Devine-led team fell to sub-.500 records the next two years, fans and team administrators lost patience and Devine was fired. We won’t even mention anything about the incident with his dog … too many variations of that story to get into here …

After Green Bay  he moved on to Notre Dame and national prominence.

As Notre Dame’s head football coach from 1975-80, Devine won the 1977 consensus national title and two of the most dramatic postseason bowl games in Irish history – the 1978 Cotton Bowl victory over top-rated Texas and the ’79 Cotton Bowl triumph over Houston that featured a second-half comeback from a 34-12 deficit.

He was elected into the National Football Foundation College Football Hall of Fame in 1985 with an overall collegiate mark of 173-57-9. Born in Augusta, Wis., Devine (a Minnesota-Duluth graduate) died in 2002 at the age of 77.